Today is Thursday July 7th, 2022. Kia ora!

Today JD and I are both staying at home, but neither of us thinks we have Covid 19.

Of the people whose deaths are reported today: four were from Auckland region, five were from the Wellington region, two were from Nelson / Marlborough and four were from Canterbury / West Coast. Three were in their seventies, nine were in their 80s, and three were aged over 90. Of these people, five were women and 10 were men. There have now been 1619 deaths from Covid 19 in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The breakdown of cases in hospital is as follows: Northland: 15; Waitematā: 123; Counties Manukau: 38; Auckland: 48; Waikato: 52; Bay of Plenty: 31; Lakes: 15; Hawke’s Bay: 13; MidCentral: 16; Whanganui: 5; Taranaki: 12; Tairawhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 4; Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley: 56; Nelson Marlborough: 15; Canterbury and West Coast: 63; South Canterbury: 13; Southern: 33.

Across the country it’s reported that there are large numbers of new cases in Waitematā, 1445, Auckland 1051, Canterbury/West Coast, 1603 and Capital & Coast/Hutt, 1279. The location of new community cases over past 24 hours are as follows Northland (271), Auckland (3,458), Waikato (683), Bay of Plenty (445), Lakes (187), Hawke’s Bay (448), MidCentral (360), Whanganui (163), Taranaki (273), Tairāwhiti (103), Wairarapa (125), Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley (1,279), Nelson Marlborough (324), Canterbury and West Coast (1,603), South Canterbury (131), Southern (849), Unknown (8).

Those numbers are quite staggering, really; especially in the Wellington area (1,279) and Hawkes Bay is up to 448.

Meanwhile, all medical systems are under extreme pressure, with a surge in omicron cases, flu and RSV – a childhood respiratory disease, that was prevalent here last winter. Omicron sub-variant BA.2.75  has been detected, although if you’re using RAT tests, you wouldn’t know which sub-variant you had. Evidently the Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahua has tested positive for Covid 19, and is working from home.

On a personal note, one of my sons rang yesterday to say he’d tested positive for Covid 19 (with a weak second red line).  That has thrown arrangements into confusion. At first I thought, I’ll be all right (having had a negative RAT test on Tuesday – after the Saturday workshop), but then I realised that he and my husband were working together closely on the previous day (the Tuesday), and so JD may well be infectious, and thus, me.  It’s so frustrating!  I hope he and his lovely family will be all right. We’ll do RAT tests again tomorrow.

I’ve cancelled today’s singing (and lunch to follow), a friend’s visit tomorrow, and I’ll cancel Access sending someone tomorrow too. We were going to visit another old friend on Saturday – that’s off too, as is going physically to church on Sunday. By next Wednesday we should be clear to associate with other people again, providing we continue to test negative for Covid 19.

This morning I booked our second booster shots of the vaccine. They’re not until July 23. Of course, if we do turn out to have Covid 19, I’ll have to reschedule. They’re doing these shots at the Johnsonville Medical Centre, unfortunately; it’s not a great venue, given its small, cramped rooms. It seems the vaccination centre in the Johnsonville Shopping Centre is going to stay closed.

In the US, they are obsessed with US politics, and seemingly oblivious (apart from Mehdi Hasan) to the UK political crisis (more on that to come).  They celebrated Independence Day (July 4) with fireworks and parades (Parades were cancelled because of Covid 19 for the past two years), but there was yet another mass shooting in a city called Highland Park in Illinois, where the people were celebrating an Independence Day parade. 7 people were shot dead, and I think 41 injured, to say nothing of those traumatised by this incident. One little boy lost both his parents. The shooter, was, (you’ve guessed it), a disaffected young white man, armed with an AR15 gun, which was obtained legally, despite plenty of “red flags” being raised about the young man. Needless to say, this is extremely upsetting, coming as it does after the Buffalo shooting, the Uvalde school shooting, and the Ohio hospital shooting. How does being angry about something give you the right to shoot people? How come people that go to utmost lengths to protect the unborn, have so little respect for other people’s lives once they’re living (and supposedly enjoying) them?

Actually this young man was evidently into rap music and conspiracy theories, and had plenty of affirmation; he dressed up as a woman, since women don’t do mass killings. Evidently he intended to shoot on another parade. Americans are terrified – where can one be safe? Where, indeed, since churches, hospitals, schools, and even patriotic parades aren’t safe.

I listened to The Rest is History podcast which devoted four episodes to the US Civil War, and then their latest one to Gone with the Wind. What a conflicted, strange and violent society the US is!  What a sorry, sad, place – where a black man became president, only to have hate unleased in the form of Trump leading the charge. On reflection, it did not suggest an improvement that he became president (and survived), but it was an interruption of otherwise continuously bad behaviour on the part of Republicans, with many displaying overt racism, sexism, love of guns (why?), God and babies, all in the same breath. Lauren Boebert even had the temerity to suggest Jesus should have had an AR15, so that he could fight back at his accusers. It reminds me of Jeff Daniels’ line in The Newsroom television series, where he compared some republicans to the Taliban, and the Taliban were offended. This was before Obama and Trump, but the Trump-ism was ever there.

I found Gone with the Wind extremely frustrating, both the book and the movie. The book was a page-turner, but oddly unsatisfying – Scarlett O’Hara was such a stupid minx.  But then that’s America, I guess – wilfully misunderstanding situations, and displaying a gross lack of insight and intelligence. Listening to the podcast, that’s just so American – the search for the perfect actress to play Scarlett, the exclusion of black actors from the opening viewing in Atlanta, and the fact that so many Americans love it! The kind of indulgence accorded Scarlett is simply not realistic. It makes me realise though how someone like Phyllis Schlafly (now embodied to some extent by Amy Coney Barrett) was so successful. You could get your own way by being coquettish and feminine – in other words, by playing games, not by being sincere.

In other news, yesterday we heard that Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and Senator Lindsay Graham have been subpoenaed by the District Attorney of Fulton County in Georgia, Fani Willis; that Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel, is to testify to the January 6 Committee; and that the January 6 Committee is to hold a special hearing next Tuesday.  And it still seems that more and more people are shocked and disgusted by Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony. They’re arguing over which bits shocked them the most. It seems, though, that for a while there the fate of the free world hung in her hands, Cipollone having instructed her to see that Trump didn’t go to the Capitol (as he wanted to do).

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in a whole heap of trouble, still (as I write this on Thursday afternoon) hanging desperately on to power. We heard that Rishi Sunak (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Sajid Javid (Minister of Health) had resigned, then late last night I heard three more ministers had resigned. Then today Michael Gove was demoted (because of disloyalty) and the Welsh Secretary had resigned; Patel and Shapps tried to intervene (whatever that means); then mid-afternoon that over 30 ministers had resigned. This follows the scandal about multiple parties being held at Downing Street during Covid 19 lockdowns; the scandal of trying to find his wife Carrie a job for at least £120,000 a year (doesn’t she have two children with Boris?), and his odd statements about a party whip called Chris Pincher. This person was credibly accused of sexual harassment, and unwanted touching; he lived up to his name, it seems. I’ve probably omitted some scandals. There was the vote of no-confidence.  The attempt to prorogue Parliament. The issue of sending refuges to Rwanda. The recent resignation of his ethics advisor, Lord Geidt, and Boris musing about whether to replace him. Oh, of course, there was Brexit, and the English treatment of Northern Ireland. And the interactions with the Russian oligarch Lebedev. And the handling of the pandemic – and then Boris being in Intensive Care after he contracted it. I watched a BBC news clip about someone trying to get the tranquilliser gun into Boris, and still finding it impossible. (I was somewhat surprised to hear this on a BBC news clip!) This man, like Trump, has no shame, and is very careless about everything – except staying on as Prime Minister. President Zelensky of Ukraine is grateful. I doubt that anyone else is, seeing Johnson attempt his Churchillian moment. I’m sure another trip to Kyiv is in order, right now, although Boris needs to stay home, right now. Now, at 6 pm, more than 40 ministers have quit. I have not heard of many of them. Sajid Javid made a good speech in Parliament, accusing the PM of lying, among other things. This has made quite an impact. So what is the last straw for the conservatives?  The Pincher issue (Pincher by name, and Pincher by nature, Boris was heard to opine), or the Northern Ireland protocol? JD thinks the latter is the prime issue. I doubt if these people have this much intelligence. I think the Good Friday Agreement, over Northern Island, negotiated by then Prime Minister Tony Blair, was a huge achievement; I doubt that many others remember it.

Bojo’s foppishness, lies and carelessness will certainly be remembered long after his passing. Sir Keir Starmer, on the other hand, will be remembered (among other things, I hope), for two rather good jokes: The charge of the lightweight brigade, and The sinking ships fleeing the rat. Even at this most serious of moments, Johnson just can’t take this seriously. Whatever is he smoking, I wonder? I apologise for saying Americans aren’t interested – I’ve just(been allowed to) read a long story in WAPO (The Washington Post) about Johnson’s political woes.  Chris Hayes has mentioned the crisis surrounding Prime Minister Johnson in his All In show. Sky News is maintaining a helicopter above 10 Downing St. Now (at 6:30 pm) 41 ministers have resigned. “Does the Prime Minister think there are any circumstances under which he should resign?” asked one wit in Parliament. There’s lots of Hear, hear!  When the Poms turn on you, they really turn. It seems, though, that Johnson enjoys the attention, even if it’s bad attention. Tonight there was a delegation to 10 Downing Street, but it seems he hasn’t resigned yet.

And what of the war in Ukraine? It seems to have reached a stalemate. How does it end? It’s predicted that Russia will run out of armaments before Ukraine does, so that’s kind of hopeful for Ukraine, who are bravely sticking in there, despite terrible casualties and random shelling.  What a sad situation.

It’s now Friday July 8th.

Last night I saw that Boris Johnson will resign.  Yes, but…Gone but not gone, Boris Johnson quite but still clings to power. He is to resign as head of the conservative party, but will stay on as Prime Minister until a replacement is appointed. All right, so what does that mean?  Still and all, as David Frum said on the Bulwark podcast, he’s unlikely to march on Parliament.

There are “obituaries” for Boris and inevitable comparisons with Trump.  Both are really dangerous men, although there are differences. It’s ironic that many Britons who supported Boris loathed Trump and were ready to mock him. He hasn’t died, and many commentators have said what an awful Prime Minister he was, and what an awful person he is.

Today’s Covid 19 report is worse, with 13,344 new community cases, and a further 23 deaths. There are 587 people in hospital, and 9 of them are in Intensive Care.

Of today’s 23 deaths seven people were from the Auckland region, one each from Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Tairawhiti, Whanganui and MidCentral, two were from the Wellington region, four were from Canterbury / West Coast, and two from Southern. One was aged in their 60s; three were in their 70s, 13 were in their 80s, and six were aged over 90. Of these people, nine were women and 14 were men.

The breakdown of today’s 587 Covid hospitalisations is: Northland: 13; Waitematā: 128; Counties Manukau: 38; Auckland: 35; Waikato: 57; Bay of Plenty: 32; Lakes: 14; Hawke’s Bay: 20; MidCentral: 18; Whanganui: 6; Taranaki: 11; Tairawhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 4; Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley: 60; Nelson Marlborough: 13; Canterbury and West Coast: 90; South Canterbury: 15; Southern: 31.

It was revealed today that about 14,000 New Zealanders are known to have been infected with Covid twice and Ministry of Health figures show 183 people have had the virus three times.

Actually it was later admitted that today’s total is 9,318 (some new cases were reported yesterday). There were a further 245 imported cases.

Of the new cases reported today, 334 are reinfections. Reinfections are cases in an individual who reported a case 29 or more days previously.

A breakdown of today’s (Friday’s)cases by region are: Auckland: 955; Bay of Plenty: 370; Canterbury/West Coast: 1512; Capital and Coast/Hutt: 1063; Counties Manukau: 888; Hawke’s Bay: 378; Lakes: 177; Mid Central: 334; Nelson Marlborough: 258; Northland: 233; South Canterbury: 98; Southern: 658; Tairāwhiti: 64; Taranaki: 204; Waikato: 568; Wairarapa: 104; Waitematā: 1322; and Whanganui: 131. That’s still pretty bad.

This afternoon I went shopping. Since it was raining, JD took me in the car (I sat in the back).  Although his RAT test  was negative, he has a cold with a runny nose and a cough. So it could be Covid 19. Either way, I hope I don’t catch it.

I bought plenty of food, given that Covid 19 numbers are high, and we may both become infected with Covid 19. Since we had the car, I could buy plenty of stuff – that I couldn’t carry if I were walking. I also bought more KN95 masks and some cough mixture for JD.

That’s it for now. After lots of activity (for me), things are very quiet again. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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