Struggling On

General Pavel, now in charge of the special military operation in Ukraine

It’s now Monday June 27th, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I have been listening to a very interesting podcast about a man whose grandfather was in the Nazi SS.  One of his daughters came to Scotland after world War II, and married a Scotsman; they had a son and a daughter, and the son has written a book about his grandfather’s history, and his relationship with his grandfather (and his mother).

It’s a Monday morning, so the news sources are quiet today, as they continue to digest the latest news: the January 6 Committee hearings in the US; the US Supreme Court’s ruling making abortion illegal in the US; the loss of two by-elections by the Tories in the UK; and the continuing war in Ukraine. Ukrainians are now taking heavy deaths as well as casualties, and there has been a bomb strike in Kyiv, killing one person.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin has appointed a retired over-weight General Pavel, aged 67, weighing perhaps 20 stone over the military operation in Ukraine. The former general Alexander Dworkin (?) is now – where?  There is much mockery of General Pavel, known as General Lunchtime; he certainly doesn’t look fit. We are still to see how effective he’ll be.

It’s now Tuesday June 28th.

This morning I went out with one of my sons and his daughter. It’s raining steadily, but we went to Commonsense Organics in upper Tory Street. It was a treat to go there, although the prices are steep. I did get some Hōhepa Danbo cheese there. It’s rather nice, and very hard to come by. 

This afternoon, I’m due to go to an afternoon tea for a friend who died recently. Sadly, there was no formal funeral for her.  She was always very proper and beautifully attired; hence I have made some effort over my appearance, wearing a scarf, jewellery, and make up. There were lots of elderly folk there – perhaps 60 people.

In the US, now that the Supreme Court has struck down Roe, stopping a federal right for a woman to have an abortion, protests and discussions continue. Many states have so-called “trigger” laws that now come into effect, making abortion under almost any circumstances illegal in that particular state.  This Supreme Court ruling displays gross ignorance about the often perilous journey to have a child – which, once you’ve given birth successfully, could be black, gay, transgender, abnormal, the wrong sex…as well as being “normal” and being a delight. All kinds of things can go wrong, which would endanger the mother’s life, if not treated. Any pregnancy (and its after-effects) can be an emotional roller-coaster. The cruelty is just beyond belief.  Is anyone talking about (male) vasectomies? No, I thought not. Have they been outlawed? No, I thought not.

You’d think the anti-abortion right wing in America (i.e. the Republican Party, the Catholic Church, evangelicals and others would be pleased. After all, they’ve won a great victory in getting Roe struck down. Bit no, they’re far from satisfied. They want to see abortion completely outlawed in all states. And they’re coming after gays, gay marriage, and contraception too. Woe betide that a gay person has republican parents. As JD says, there aren’t many votes in success; there are far more in outrage. In my view, Americans are so absolute about such matters, where in my experience there are so many grey areas – as many women have noted. There’s the issue of ectopic pregnancies and other failed pregnancies, where mothers need medical care and sympathetic counselling and advice to get through such tragedies somehow. Much of this will be illegal, and those providing such care are terrified of getting prosecuted for “murdering babies.” It seems such a shame to add needlessly to existing sadnesses in this was.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t great.  The person who leads us for singing on Thursdays has advised that one of her daughters has Covid 19, and consequently she’ll stay away on Thursday this week. Most committee members advise getting someone else to stand in for her.

Today there are 8,082 new community cases, and there have been 16 deaths, including one of a person aged between 10 and 19. There are 383 people in hospital, including 7 in Intensive Care.

It’s reported that of the people whose deaths were reported today, four were from Auckland, two were from Waikato, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from MidCentral, two were from Taranaki, one was from Wairarapa, one from Wellington, two were from Canterbury and one person was from the Southern region. One of the people who died was aged between 10 and 19 years old. Three people were in their 70s, six were in their 80s and six people were aged over 90. We’re not told how many were women and how many were men.

The locations of today’s community cases are: Northland (169), Auckland (2584), Waikato (465), Bay of Plenty (274), Lakes (111), Hawke’s Bay (257), MidCentral (217), Whanganui (76), Taranaki (251), Tairāwhiti (87), Wairarapa (88), Capital and Coast (744), Hutt Valley (301), Nelson Marlborough (281), Canterbury (1,225), South Canterbury (107), Southern (733), West Coast (55). The location of three cases is unknown. There are reportedly 94 new cases at the border.  Those numbers still remain stubbornly high. I bought a new set of RAT tests this afternoon, seeing we have only 3 left; the price has gone up. I looked up the website for obtaining free ones, and you have to either have symptoms yourself, or be a close contact of a positive case. So that rules us out for the free ones. We live in hope, that we don’t see the second red line. It seems you can get false negatives with RAT tests, but if you test positive – you most likely do have Covid 19.  And there don’t seem to be many if any asymptomatic cases here.

The 383 hospitalised Covid patients are in Northland (four), Waitematā (71), Counties Manukau (43), Auckland (56), Waikato (33), Bay of Plenty (five), Lakes (19), Tairāwhiti (one), Hawke’s Bay (nine), Taranaki (10), Whanganui (three), MidCentral (15), Wairarapa (nine), Hutt Valley (13), Capital and Coast (20), Nelson Marlborough (13), Canterbury (32), South Canterbury (four) and the Southern region (23). The average age of hospitalised cases is 63. There are 20 (yes, you read that right) cases in the Wellington area!  And 13 in the Hutt Valley. The two DHB hospitals in Wellington are Wellington Hospital and Kenepuru Hospital, so that’s pretty dire.  The good news is that we should be able to have second boosters – next week – from 8 July (that date being six months since we had our first boosters). The All Blacks team, and their coaches, have been badly affected by Covid 19. I believe they’re due to play Ireland (who beat them last time, I think!)

The January 6 Committee has a surprise session tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon US time. We don’t know what it will be about, but we’re all agog, after previous dramatic hearings. Apparently one of Trump’s lawyers, John Eastman’s phone was seized by the Feds.

In Ukraine, a busy shopping centre in Kremenchuk was hit by a missile; it’s reported that at least 18 have been killed. This was hardly a “military target”.  The Russians seem to be winning some territory, but JD says, as I suspect, that they’re Pyrrhic victories.  They aren’t really winning.

It’s now Wednesday June 29th.

During the night I didn’t get a lot of sleep. As the night wore on, I saw snippets of Cassidy Hutchinson’s evidence to the January 6 Committee: dramatic and alarming.  Shocking, really. I read about Trump’s letting armed people into his rally; Trump losing his temper and throwing his lunch (not for the first time, evidently); a lot of text messages; and Trump physically attacking (“lunging at the man’s neck”) a secret service officer who tried to prevent him driving The Beast. Mark Meadows does not come out of this well. I look forward to seeing and hearing lots of reflection about this.

Meanwhile, 44 people died in Texas in a truck that should have been refrigerated (and evidently wasn’t), and Texas Governor Greg Abbott has politicised this dreadful incident. Honestly, the pro-life party has little regard for life.

This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. Thankfully traffic is not a problem at present, as it used to be. We sang Holy, holy, holy, and a beautiful hymn by John Milton (Let us with a gladsome mind). There were familiar and beautiful tunes.

After this I went to catch a 10 am bus into town. There were several of us at the bus stop, but the bus was several minutes late. It wasn’t cancelled, though; my phone told me it was running late, and eventually it turned up. At the Railway Station I caught a bus to Brooklyn, having just missed the one I wanted to catch. I got to the Penthouse just in time to see a French Film Festival film. Maigret at 11 am.

It was a very good film, although I don’t know that I’d recommend it. It stars Gerard Dépardieu as Chief Inspector Maigret, and several beautiful women, including his hard-done-by wife. He is over-weight and not very attractive, although he’s quite sensitive as he goes about solving the murder. Evidently he and his wife lost a daughter themselves – one senses a deep grief there.

Afterwards I had a cup of coffee and a cheese roll, then caught a bus to Wellington Railway Station, and then to Churton Park.

Shortly after 1 pm today’s Covid 19 report came out. There are 7,829 new community cases and there’ve been 15 more deaths. There are 385 people in hospital, including 8 in Intensive Care.

Of the people whose deaths are reported today three were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Lakes, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Taranaki, one was from the Wellington region, one was from Nelson Marlborough, one was from Canterbury, one was from West Coast, and two were from the Southern region. One person was in their twenties, one was in their fifties, five were in their 70s, three were in their 80s and five were over 90. Of these people, six were male and nine were female.

The people in hospital are as follows: Northland: 4; Waitematā: 70; Counties Manukau: 42; Auckland: 57; Waikato: 30; Bay of Plenty: 7; Lakes: 21; Tairāwhiti: 1; Hawke’s Bay: 12; Taranaki: 10; Whanganui: 1; MidCentral: 15; Wairarapa: 7; Hutt Valley: 13; Capital and Coast: 24; Nelson Marlborough: 12; Canterbury: 39; South Canterbury: 3; West Coast: 0; Southern: 27. The average age of hospitalisations is 63.

There are 100 new cases at the border.  I can’t now get the data about the distribution of these new cases, but they’re alarmingly high; higher than they have been in Wellington and Hawkes Bay.  Apparently the B.A.5 sub-variant of omicron is now prevalent in New Zealand.  Along with flu, and Covid 19, and it’s being winter, the health services are under extreme pressure at the moment.

Since I got home, I’ve been listening to Cassidy Hutchinson’s amazing testimony, and US journalists’ reactions to it. I have grown to really enjoy hearing Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the January 6 Committee, introduce each hearing. He is unfailingly polite, and a tad old-fashioned, introducing Deputy Chair Liz Cheney as the “gentlewoman”. At first I doubted this quiet Southern gentleman’s ability to chair this group, but I think he’s been quite amazing, and a good counter-foil to others on the Committee.

It’s now Thursday June 30th.

This morning I listened to the Hacks on Tap podcast with Sarah Longwell (of the Bulwark), and then to the Bulwark podcast, where Charlie Sykes was speaking to Lawfare’s David Priess. All very interesting. After that I went to my Thursday singing. There had been considerable drama over what would happen, since our leader’s daughter has Covid 19, but in the event we had a stand-in who was very good.  Afterwards I got a lift to Johnsonville with a friend of mine, and then had lunch at the café at the library. I met my cousin there, and then she dropped me at home.

This afternoon I’ve been digesting my new Listener, and listening to – you’ve guessed it -more podcasts. It’s fair to say everyone in the US is still reeling at Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony to the January 6 committee, which was aired yesterday. She was an aide to Mark Meadows, the former president’s Chief of Staff. Today the White House lawyer Pat has been sub-poenad by the committee. I didn’t mention Trump’s obsession with crowd size, and his readiness for his followers to bring arms to the rally – after all, they weren’t going to hurt him.  Many Americans are saying they thought they couldn’t be shocked any more – but now they have been.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t great. There are 7,423 new community cases, and there’ve been 19 further deaths. There are 411 people in hospital, and 6 in Intensive Care.

Of the deaths being reported today, the ministry said two were from Northland, three were from the Auckland region, three were from Waikato; one was from Bay of Plenty; one was from Hawke’s Bay; two were from the Wellington region; one was from Nelson-Marlborough; four were from Canterbury; and two were from Southern. Two people were in their 50s, three were in their 60s, one was in their 70s, six were in their 80s and seven were aged over 90.

There were also 206 new cases at the border. Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson has been diagnosed with Covid 19.

I can’t now see there the individual cases are located, but I know they’re increasing again. Although Aotearoa remains at Orange status, there seem to be very few protections now. Here in Wellington, at least people still wear masks.

At present President Biden is in Europe, and Sweden and Finland are to join NATO, the differences with Turkey having been resolved. The war grinds on, but Putin has achieved greater strength and resolution in NATO.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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