Red Flags

The attack on the Russian air base in Crimea by Ukrainian forces

It’s now Wednesday August 10th, 2022. Kia ora! Today there’s lots to write about.

Early this morning I listened to another We Have Ways podcast about the extreme bravery of the resistance in France, and a SOE operation in Greece, during the Second World War. Once I had got over some rather annoying banter, I wondered at these stories, and again at the ease with which people in the Northern Hemisphere can travel around.

New National Party MP for Tauranga (replacing erstwhile National leader Simon Bridges) Sam Uffindell is in a spot of bother.  Christopher Luxon (new National leader) and his deputy Nicola Willis continue to support him, as stated by this morning’s Dom Post, but there was news from a former female flatmate about his taunting her, and her escaping though a window!  The information was later removed and could not be found during the day. It seemed that Uffindell had told someone on the candidate selection committee about his assault on a thirteen year old boy, but Luxon was not told. Matty McLean pointed out that there was some irony in the fact that Luxon was supporting Uffindell while voting against getting rid of the three strikes act for violent behaviour. There was much discussion during the day about bullying along the lines of “boys will be boys”, bullying was part of life, especially at prestigious private schools,  and excusing something that happened 22 years ago.  I would pick that since Uffindel was effectively expelled from the Kings College, the college had probably given him several warnings, and had had enough of his behaviour. Uffindel was stood down (whatever that means) pending a two week investigation of – what exactly? The terms of reference of the investigation weren’t announced. As I noted earlier, he obviously wasn’t captain of the 1st Fifteen, or even of the 2nd Fifteen, or in any senior position.

There’s more rather shocking news this morning, courtesy of Radio NZ news, 87 people (an average of four per week) have died of Covid 19 at home since March; over 400 had died in rest homes. There are valid questions as to whether any medical support was provided, or whether these folk had simply slipped under the radar.  I felt grateful that I’d had JD here during my severe illness with Covid 19; I don’t think I could have coped on my own, but I didn’t want to go to hospital.

In the US, many have expressed fears about the extreme response of republicans to the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago. At first, many people wondered which of Trump’s many legal entanglements had caused this move. This was not a raid, by the way; it was a legitimate search. It transpired during the day that the search was for documents, some presumed classified, that were official documents and not necessarily Trump’s personal property.  This was a follow-up to two previous attempts to get documents that should not have been there. Although there has not been a “protest” as yet, there has been the threat of violence; this is very scary. Many republicans expect another civil war; meanwhile, President Biden is doing wonderful things to help America, and perhaps confront the ever more evident drastic effects of climate change. It was later reported that congressman Scott Perry’s phone was seized by the FBI. Make of that what you will, but some will recall that Perry wanted a pardon for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election. He was the dude who introduced Jeffrey Clark (aka Acting Attorney General) to Trump.  While there are millions of people, not only in the US but ourselves looking on, wondering when if ever Trump will be held to account, there’s a huge backlash against this legitimate action (a legal search warrant, granted by a judge), it’s feared that Trump’s potential run for President in 2024 has been given a huge boost, just when it was hoped that his lustre amongst republicans was fading somewhat. There have been many discussions as to whether he should be charged;  most now think that he should. The consequences  are going to be ghastly, in either event.

I listened to an American scandal podcast, the last in the series about chemicals created by the big firm Du Pont.  The author interviewed Robert Bilott, the lawyer played by Tom Ruffalo in the film Dark Waters. Forever chemicals American scandal.  The discussion about what are now known as “forever chemicals” was particularly concerning.

There’s news from Ukraine that the large nuclear plant at Zaporizhia with six reactors has been shelled by the Russians, causing enormous concern amongst nuclear experts and others about potential radiation leaks. Like Covid 19, radiation is an invisible threat. Dr John Campbell departed from his usual non-hysterical disease analysis to talk about the threat of nuclear radiation; he also went over what happened at Chernobyl in 1986, and the spread of radiation from that disaster. He didn’t wat to e alarmist, but he did rather alarm this viewer. It seems the Russians may not need to use “tactical nuclear weapons” (whatever they are) to achieve their objectives (what objectives?). It seems that Putin wants to render Ukraine a waste land – all if not most of it. It does upset me when so many people say “nucular” instead of nuclear. It’s not difficult, for goodness sake!

On the other hand, the Ukrainians blew up a Russian fuel depot in Crimea, shocking Russians sunning themselves on the beach. There were huge explosions and spectacular “mushroom” clouds. It’s thought that at least 8 aircraft were destroyed.   I have been listening to a week-day podcast produced by the Telegraph about the war in Ukraine, and it noted recently that it’s thought there have been 80,000 Russian casualties, and Putin is having trouble recruiting soldiers.  It must have been interesting for Russian tourists in Crimea to see Ukrainians having a devastating effect on a Russian base. Many of them left – this wasn’t the kind of holiday they’d bargained for.

I can’t resist briefly commenting on the Sussex saga.  It seems that Meghan is channeling Wallis Simpson in some of her clothes and actions. I have been listening to a British Scandal  podcast about the abdication of King Edward VIII (Prince David) in 1938; I had always thought Wallis Simpson was quite unwilling to marry her David and live with him (and his dependency) abroad – they were banned from living in England); she found herself in an unfortunate situation by his abdication. There’s no doubt that she gripped her David’s arm the same way that Meghan grips Harry’s hand or arm, depending how hard he’s trying to escape. There’s also a funny story about Harry’s grundies (from a naked escapade in his pre-marriage days, having had various escapades in Las Vegas) being auctioned in the US. Proceeds are to go to Archewell. 

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: There are 5169 new reported community cases of Covid-19 in Aotearoa today, the Ministry of Health says. There are 11 people in intensive care and 599 hospitalisations. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 4938. Last Wednesday it was 6355. An additional 228 imported cases had been detected in recent arrivals.

There are now a total of 1705 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, the ministry says, which are deaths where Covid-19 is either the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. So we’re not told how many new deaths.

The 599 people in hospital are across Aotearoa: Northland: 36; Waitematā: 59; Counties Manukau: 53; Auckland: 68; Waikato: 60; Bay of Plenty: 23; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 35; MidCentral: 21; Whanganui: 16; Taranaki: 12; Tairawhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 7; Capital & Coast: 15; Hutt Valley: 16; Nelson Marlborough: 15; Canterbury: 86; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 23; Southern: 31.

It’s now Thursday August 11th.

This morning I went to Tai Chi instead of singing. I figured that it would be easier to cope with. Despite the very cold weather, there was a big turn out there. It was lovely – I did enjoy it. I was a bit unsteady, but I remembered most moves, and only coughed at the end. I was near the door, so could leave for a few moments. I was going to catch the train back to Wellington, and go to Unity Books, but I thought better of that plan and asked JD to come and pick me up (he had offered).   I said to one of my friends there that it was like recovering from my illness almost 11 years ago (my “ground zero”), when Tai Chi was one of the first activities I took up in my new life.

Today’s Covid 19 report tells that there are 4,818 new community cases, and 571 people in hospital, with 13 in Intensive Care. There have been a total of 1,726 deaths; we’re told this past week’s average is 12 per day.

Sam Uffindell is in even more trouble. Uffindell was stood down from National’s caucus late on Tuesday by Luxon as an investigation was launched into allegations made by a female flatmate of Uffindell when the pair studied at Otago University in the early 2000s.

The flatmate said Uffindell had been an aggressive bully who once pounded on her bedroom door, screaming obscenities, until she fled through her window. This was being ignored yesterday, as the bullying incident was  focussed on. This morning it transpired that Uffindell’s flat was disgustingly dirty – the toilet wasn’t cleaned for over a year, and for some time the toilet was discharging into the house’s back yard. Uffindell was attending Otago University, but he doesn’t appear to have graduated.  He drank, and smoked weed – as you do, but this does not excuse some rather unpleasant behaviour, including intimidating a female flatmate, and having female underwear on display. Uffindell joins a list of unsavoury National Party guys who have had to be let go including Jami-Lee Ross, Andrew Falloon, Todd Barclay,  Aaron Gilmore, and probably others. While some of the Labour Party people are less than likeable, and not always very intelligent, they have not all been shown to be this predatory.

It’s now Friday August 12th.

Today at midday someone was supposed to come from Access. Although I was really tired, I got up early, changed the towels, emptied the rubbish, loaded the dishwasher and did some tidying up – in preparation. Someone left a message on my phone, but I couldn’t decipher it at all.  Then I checked my schedule again, and someone else was due to come at 1:30 pm. I rang Access (a mission in itself), and left a message cancelling the “cares”.  I couldn’t cope with having a stranger come: I don’t want strangers coming to my house, and I didn’t want to show him where everything was. It’s a large house, so it’s not that straightforward, although I have tried to streamline things as much as possible.

Other than that, I’ve been reading, writing, and listening to podcasts.

Sam Uffindell is in even more trouble: his student flat in Dunedin was so dirty that flatmates were put on notice by the local council to clean it up. Really, I know students can be pretty gross, but this seems disgusting.

In the US, there’ve been further developments concerning the FBI search of Trump’s private club at Palm Beach in Florida called Mar-a-Lago. Attorney General Merrick Garland said that he had known about the search warrant (the Biden White House did not know), and he’s offered to disclose what was being looked for. He’d giving Trump an opportunity to respond. Someone armed with a nail gun and an AR15-like weapon tried to enter the FBI headquarters in Cincinnati, and was later killed after fleeing police.  He was evidently at the January 6 riot, and advocated civil war – as do many republicans, being shocked by this legal search. “Defund the FBI” is the chant of some politicians – which is highly ironic, since the call by some democrats of “defund the police” was seen as being very problematic for them.  There is a very real threat of violence, as enacted by this person in Cincinnati, and many Americans are afraid, comparing these times to those before the Oklahoma bombing in 1995. This was seen as being due to private far-right militia anger at some developments. Americans have reason to be afraid, given the prevalence of gun violence in their society. Free to be afraid, what?

Then the Washington Post broke some alarming new news: it claimed that some if not all of the documents sought (some if not all classified) related to nuclear weapons.  This is truly terrifying.  Republicans calling for the search warrant to be disclosed are not so sure now that that’s what they want.   There are very real fears about what may happen next, and what peril the US may be in, internally and externally.

Today’s covid 119 report seems mundane compared to these issues. Today there are 4,126 new community cases, and there’ve been 13 more deaths. There are 609 people in hospital, says the RNZ News headline, but their actual report says 549 people are in hospital. we’re not told how many are in Intensive Care. The NZ Herald says 549 people are in hospital, and 16 are in Intensive Care.

The 13 people with Covid-19 whose deaths were reported include five people in their 70s, five in their 80s and three aged over 90. Eight were women and five were men. One was from Northland, three were from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Canterbury, three were from Southern.

So I guess the numbers are inching down, gradually.  I still wish I hadn’t got it. That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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