Coalition of the Willing

Toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003

Today is Monday March 13, 2023. Kia ora!

I didn’t go to my exercise class this morning, partly because I didn’t feel up to going, and partly because rain was forecast. There were some heavy showers this morning, but then there’s sunshine trying to gleam through the clouds between showers. The intensity of the showers is a bit scary.

The weekly Covid 19 report is out, and it’s not great, perhaps worse than last week’s report. It reads as follows: there have been 11,544 new cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand over the past week, and 22 further deaths. Of the new cases, 4717 were reinfections. The ministry reported 22 deaths with 12 attributed to Covid-19.

Of the 22 people deaths being reported today, one was from Northland, six were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, two were from Lakes, one was from Hawke’s Bay, two were from MidCentral, one was from Wellington region, five were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury and one was from Southern.

Two were in their 30s, two were in their 50s, two were in their 60s, five were in their 70s, eight were in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, seven were women and 15 were men.

There were also 190 people with Covid-19 in hospital as of midnight Sunday, with five cases in ICU. The seven-day rolling average of cases is now 1644.

Figures reported last week showed there had been 11,453 new cases, with six deaths and 177 people hospitalised.

So that’s not great. I seem to keep saying every week that people are still dying, people are still getting Covid 19, while there are a few brave souls who haven’t had it (yet); and the numbers are still alarmingly high. Meanwhile, one sees very few masks around. You have to wear one to a medical centre, or a pharmacy, and I always keep one handy just in case. It’s now three years since Covid 19 entered New Zealand, and how it has changed everyone’s lives.

But I was reminded again last night of how we’ve abandoned all Covid 19 restrictions, as we gathered at a local café for a Lenten celebration of what Māori means in connection with established religion in terms of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It strikes me again that Aotearoa is so fortunate to have a treaty; that we are also so fortunate that the Māori language is fairly common among different tribes, and that Māori have a deep sense of spirituality, and worship one unseen God, and don’t worship idols, while they have a deep sense of reverence for their ancestors.

It’s now Wednesday March 15th.

Yesterday was quiet but one of my sons brought his three year-old daughter to visit in the morning. She wanted to give him a toy for his birthday; we suggested that maybe she should leave it here, so that she or her older brother can play with it whenever she visits. She’s a busy little girl, but quite delightful.

This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing.  JD had an appointment soon afterwards, but we encountered heavy traffic, so it was a frustrating journey. Other attendees had trouble with traffic too. I think we’ll have to go back to leaving home before 9 am, and going around the back way which is longer but usually has less queuing.

After this I had a Te Reo Māori class. There was a driving class for older drivers at the same time, so we had fewer people than usual. But there were several new faces, and I knew most of them!  It was lovely, and we’re due to have a catch-up class in a few days’ time.  I am feeling slightly more comfortable with it now.

Afterwards I caught a bus into town where I was to meet my cousin for lunch. On the bus, I met someone who used to come to hymn singing. What a lovely conversation we had!  It was good to see him again.

It turned into a fine sunny day. When I got up, I agonised over what to wear – whether I could still get away with a summer skirt and sandals, or should wear warmer clothes. I chose summer clothes, an, for the most part, I was warm enough, although the daylight time is much shorter now, and it’s quite cold in the morning. Last night I had the heater on in my bedroom.

Lunch was pretty good: we each had a pie, with lovely pickles, and salad; I also had garlicky mashed potato. There was lovely thin gravy, too. I bought a jar of boysenberry jam, one of my favourites. Afterwards we went shopping together, before I caught a bus home. But the day wasn’t over yet: I was due to get my stitches out later that afternoon. The would in my back seems to have healed up well. I’m relieved to have the bandage off: I think it was causing some discomfort. Now there are some plaster strips, which should come off soon. I cannot see this scar!

It’s now Thursday March 16th.

Apparently Christopher Luxon, National Party leader, has diagnosed positive for Covid 19.  One of my son’s partners has it too, having held out when we all had it last July.  People are still getting it. It’s very strange how some people avoid it and others get it regardless.

This morning I went to my Thursday morning singing. I agonised beforehand over what to wear: it’s not cold today but not as warm as yesterday. We’re missing now the hot days when one wore sandals and loose skirts and tops; the days are much shorter, and getting more so every day, although we try to think it’s still summery. Singing was just lovely.

I’ve finally finished reading a book leant to me by one of my friends. It grabbed my attention from the beginning, but I have to admit that I was speeding through it at the end.

In the US Silicon Valley Bank has failed. Another bank, I think called Signature Bank, based in New York, has failed too. General nervousness has increased when we heard this morning that Credit Suisse has failed.  In New Zealand, the government still doesn’t provide a guarantee of bank deposits. Meanwhile, our major banks, Australian owned, are making bigger profits than previously. Here in New Zealand and Australia, some building firms and joinery firms and a Tiny Homes firm have gone bust. And this in a time when many people were seeking to build additions onto their homes; many new homes are boing built; and then we just had Cyclone Gabrielle, which has surely created a need for more building. In almost every street, it seems, there are red cones, and workmen forcing two lanes of traffic to queue up and wait a long time for each other to pass.  So how can any business be failing?  I know there are stringent building requirements, and supply-chain delays, but nonetheless, it’s really hard to get any work done, should you want to do so.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Hipkins is doing quite well in the polls, although his actions to address cost of living issues and defer climate proposals have been described as “reckless” by the UK’s Guardian. 

It’s now Friday March 17th.

Yesterday afternoon we bumped into our old family doctor, whom I haven’t seen since he retired several years ago. He was already well past retirement age when he retired, but it was a great loss of someone who’s delivered all my babies, except for the first, who was delivered by a specialist.  JD and I have known him for decades. He looks really well, as though retirement agrees with him, but I suspect he misses us too.

This morning I listened to a really interesting podcast from The Rest is History, talking not so much about climate change but climate challenges over the years, as humankind have had to deal with whims of the climate, severe winters, droughts, eruptions, plagues and other natural events. It was claimed that Lloyds of London say that Florida is uninsurable. Someone should tell Ron de Santis and his supporters.

In the UK people are reflecting on the Iraq War 20 years on. While it’s rather annoying to be reminded of things we would rather forget about, I think that this calls for reflection.  I feel that I’m living through so much history during my lifetime that it’s useful to remember pivotal moments, and this was certainly one of them. That would be the one where the US cobbled together a coalition, The Coalition of the Willing, in which the UK was the biggest partner, although Australia and Canada were in there too. I think even New Zealand sent some troops, under prime Minister Helen Clark. The premise was that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, aka Weapons of Mass Destruction, or WMD.  There was also the fact that many people wanted to see Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, removed. And there was also the fact that the US had suffered some scary germ warfare incidents. There were a number of Republicans known as Neo cons who were keen for the US to go to war, despite their massive failure and the unpopularity of the long war in Vietnam.  There is a podcast series under Slow Burn about the lead up to the Iraq War from an American perspective: here’s a link.

There were huge protests against the American invasion of Iraq, especially in London. It turned out that a specialist Prime Minister Tony Blair had perhaps mistakenly relied on, David Kelly, committed suicide as a result of what came to be known as the “sexed up dossier” case. Keira Knightley starred in a 2019 film made about reasons for the invasion called “Official Secrets”. Blair was thought to be far too cosy with President George “Dubya” Bush and his warlike mates, although there was a suggestion from Alastair Campbell that Bush wanted Blair to restrain them. There’s a British Scandal podcast series about this:

I’ve listened to Campbell and Rory Stewart podcasts about this, about the lead up, and the effects. It was very interesting to hear Rory gently taking Campbell to task for his part in Blair’s decision, although it was stressed that the decision to go to war was the Prime Minister’s.  It’s good to hear about this from a British perspective.  Of course, the aftermath was just awful, and it was interesting to hear Stewart talking about the immense difficulties of the so-called reconstruction. The Americans, after early success, including the famous toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein, and the revelation that his sons, Qusay and Uday, used Viagra, seemingly had no plan to reconstruct society there, seeking to install a Republican-type government.  It has all been so terribly sad, and on the face of it led to failed government, enormous destruction, and then to the rise of Isis and even more terrorism. An article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper claims it led to more distrust in government in the US and the UK, the Brexit referendum, the election of Trump, and the belief by many that democracy no longer works as the best form of government, and extreme cynicism – about everything.  Governments that followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, i.e. Tory governments in the UK and Republican government under Trump in the US, have confirmed many in the belief that the right are desperate to hang on to power, although deeply unpopular, and unfair and unkind to many of their less well off citizens, while refusing to take their problems or concerns seriously. Here’s a link to the Guardian article:

I have to admit I’m quite cynical about Dick Cheney’s never-again Trump stance, whereas he was so in favour of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and encouraged the use of Halliburton, a firm he had links to.

I had to work really hard to find this article, after reading it on my phone. It certainly doesn’t have priority in the paper’s webpage. I warned you that I’m a podcast junkie!  But I like to think that I listen to a better class of podcasts.

This morning I watched another Youtube video of Lady Colin Campbell.  At the beginning of this presentation Prime Minister “Chippy” Hipkins popped up making a compelling speech about cost of living increases to many benefits, including superannuation. He looked and sounded great. She’s very right wing, so I can only presume she doesn’t have any say in which advertisements air during her segment.

I read in the Guardian Australia newsletter that Covid is rearing its ugly head again. Certainly there are odd cases  around, of people who have held out up till now, and then many getting it again. There is a new wave of a variety of covid variants in NSW.      

Most weekdays I listen to Charlie Sykes’ The Bulwark podcast, mainly to keep up with what’s happening in the world of conservative politics. I readily admit it can be irritating at times. In my opinion, Charlie just wants his former conservatism back, which is probably not going to happen.  He continues to find fault with democrats, and is not a fan of President Joe Biden. In fact it seems to me that he’s ultra-critical of progressives, while criticising factors that are so different from the Trump era of politics, which shocked everybody. While Biden is an old man who tells stories (we all know old men who love to tell stories!), they’re pretty harmless, for the most part, and he’s always done this.  I know that with so much accumulated knowledge and memories, it can be hard to “cut to the chase” when recounting an incident.  In addition, I have really vivid dreams, and sometimes when I’m remembering them I have to remind myself that it was only a dream.

In the US, First Republic Bank is now being propped up by “Wall St giants”, according to the Guardian.  Does this herald further bank failures? Could it be that greed is still rampant, causing banking crises? 

This morning we drove to Mana where I had a hair appointment. As we’ve come to expect, we navigated a sea of red cones and queued up for stop/start one lane pass throughs.  Yet we’re told there has been a 6% drop in the December quarter. How can this be, when there are heaps of road gangs employed, it’s a waiting game to get any kind of work done on your house, and all hospitality venues are short staffed? The economy looks to be buzzing, with people in the towns and lots of building going on.  Very strange.

This morning it rained very heavily, but it’s quite warm.  Since it was raining, I didn’t want to wear a long skirt or sandals; but I didn’t want to be too hot either. I compromised and wore trousers, non-suede shoes, and a green top, but even so I was too warm. The rain’s stopped now, but there was some flooding in Waikanae.

That’s it for now. Interesting times!  Will Trump be indicted? Ever? We continue to wonder.  Ngā mihi nui.

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