(V) indicated!

One of Donald Trump’s “bleats” on Truth Social railing at his indictment.

It’s now Wednesday March 29th, 2023. Kia ora!

We had an adventure, nipping up to Napier to see our daughter (briefly), and then driving back today.  Last Sunday I went to church, which was lovely; JD picked me up afterwards. We did not go to the fourth Lenten session for our church, although I would have liked to go. JD preferred not to. He was really busy.

On Monday the weekly Covid 19 report was published. The numbers are still stubbornly high. The report reads as follows: there have been 11,258 new cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand over the past week and 76 further deaths attributed to the coronavirus. Of the new cases, 4712 were reinfections.

There were also 211 people with Covid-19 in hospital as of midnight Sunday, with seven cases in ICU. The seven-day rolling average of cases was 1605.

Last week 11,544 new cases were reported and 12 further deaths attributed to Covid-19.

Three years on from the country’s first lockdown, former director-general of health Sir Ashley Bloomfield said New Zealand had stayed below predicted death rates, which was” virtually unique around the world”.

Royal Commission of Inquiry into Aotearoa’s pandemic response is due to be completed in June 2024.

On Monday we finally got away after 2 pm, as JD had several appointments in the morning.  We stopped at Shannon, at a café that was still open; we then drove over the Pahiatua Track to Pahiatua, and thence to Woodville, and on to Napier. It seemed a very long drive, although the contractors had stopped work after 4 :30 pm.  Sometime after 7 pm we got to Napier, and then found our motel. We hadn’t stayed there before: there was a cricket final (domestic) at McLean Park on the Tuesday, and it was very hard to get accommodation for that night. 

In the event, we had an apartment, which was very well equipped with plenty of room, plenty of beds, two couches, and a washing machine and dishwasher. There was beautiful bed linen, and nice thick towels. We were very comfortable there, although it was quite noisy, being on a busy road.

The first evening we went to a pub for dinner. I ordered a salad, but it was far more than I could eat; there was an unpleasant odour of cooking oil.  It was hard to sleep that night, but then it’s usually difficult to sleep the first night one is away.  The next day we visited Hōhepa at Clive to see our daughter. She was in a singing session, and we joined in. Later that day we picked her up from her house, and walked along the waterfront, before taking her to dinner. We went to the same pub again, and the food was pretty good.  I had brought her Easter eggs and card with me, so we gave them to her too. This time, when we took her home, we went into the house, and into her bedroom. It’s lovely!

In Hawkes Bay, there are signs of the recent Cyclone Gabrielle, although some areas are quite untouched. We didn’t go to the Esk Valley, or up Pakowai Road, not wanting to be rubber-neckers. There were fences down, and a lot of debris, but what really shocked us was the damage to the railway line that we saw when we went along SH 51 to Clive. 

Before seeing our daughter, we had coffee and I had a mini-doughnut at Adoro Café.  We tried to have lunch at Ajuna Café, but despite the internet saying it was open, it’s very much closed. We had lunch at Tennyson Bistro (Formerly Ujazi) instead. I went to Farmers in Napier, but they’ve moved everything; they’re doing some development upstairs. Fortunately, although there was a sale (!), I didn’t buy anything.

I slept better the second night.  In the morning, it was very cold, even in Napier. Fortunately, as an afterthought I had brought some shoes and socks (as opposed to sandals), a pair of velveteen trousers, and a blouse and warm top. I was really thankful to have some warmer clothes to put on; I also enjoyed the lovely robe at our motel (which I had been trying not to use).

We had morning tea in Waipukurau, at Stella Café – a long black coffee, and a date and orange scone – yummy! We had lunch in Woodville, at Café 88, where I’m happy to report that the toilet facilities have been upgraded. We usually drive back to Wellington via the Saddle Road, but it was closed for a few days, so we had to use the Pahiatua Track again – a highway not meant for lots of large vehicles. Still, it was very hard for me to make such a short trip; I much prefer to stay at least three nights there.

I have been trying to work out how I’d get around and just what I’d do if I were there on my own, apart from shopping and drinking coffee, of course!

It’s now Friday March 31st.

Yesterday I was very tired, but I went to my Thursday singing, which was lovely. It was very cold, however. With a sudden drop in temperature, we’re not used to wearing warmer clothes. There was a Te Reo refresher class at 1 pm, so with a 30 minute break, some of us went to a nearby café to buy something to eat. I would have liked to order a coffee to takeaway, but they were very busy, with a queue, and someone learning on the till, I did not. As it had been so warm, I had left my woollen hat and gloves behind! Normally I would keep them in my tote bag in case I needed them. The refresher class was very enjoyable. We went over much that we had supposedly learnt, and I have actually learnt quite a lot. Afterwards I caught a bus home, again regretting that I hadn’t worn a warmer jacket and hat and gloves.

This afternoon we have an appointment in town, but I have just heard that a New York grand jury has voted to indict Donald Trump on hush money charges. The specific charges aren’t announced yet, but the Dompost, the NZ Herald and the Guardian websites all lead with this news. The local papers have red highlights, so you can’t miss this news.

Well, there has been much opining during the last few days, with Trump announcing he would be indicted, and many fulminating on Alvin Bragg’s delay, and the reasons for the grand jury taking a month’s leave.  Republican reactions to Trump’s predicted indictment have also been shocking. As usual, Trump has managed to hog the news, knocking other important things off the front pages. My initial reaction would be Well done, Alvin Bragg!  There was some upset that this – the Stormy Daniels hush money case,   was not a serious enough misdemeanor to warrant all the fuss.  Well, it was pretty serious. At the time of it potentially being exposed, the famous Access Hollywood tape had just come out; several women announced they would sue Trump for sexual assault.  Stormy Daniels’ revelations would potentially cause his chances of winning the presidential election even more harm. Accordingly, his then attorney, Michael Cohen, went to great lengths, on Trump’s behalf, to conceal these payments. Cohen even took out an extra loan on his house. Apart from the issue of cheating on Melania, who had just given birth to son Barron Trump, this issue could have done Trump great harm. Cohen spent time in prison because of this! So yes, it’s very significant.   We await further developments.

There is some other significant news. Evidently Turkey has voted in favour of Finland joining NATO (it was a previous holdout); exposure of the Vulcan files shows Putin’s involvement in global and domestic cyberwarfare tactics – I’ve yet to find out more about that. The Russians have taken a Rupert Murdoch-owner Wall St Journal reporter hostage. In Israel there are huge protests against Netanyahu’s effort to compromise the authority of Israel’s Supreme Court.  In France there are huge protests about President Macron’s intention to raise the pension age from 62 to 64 years.  Many of us are saying, really?  When will the somewhat volatile French get this anger out of their system?

And locally the Stuart Nash furore is heating up. Do I care? The local media are making it a front page issue. Is it because of lack of other news? Is it just a storm in a teacup? And what’s happening in Ukraine?

Of course Trump went to Waco, Texas to hold a rally, Waco being the site of an FBI action against the Branch Davidian sect commanded by David Koresh.  I listened to a podcast series about this on American Scandal podcasts, and I watched a Netflix three-part series also examining what happened there. While there’s no doubt that the FBI made some mistakes, surely David Koresh should have let more people go. Both series presented him as being extremely difficult to deal with. I am reminded again of Joy Reid’s saying, that while Christians believe their Saviour died for them, cults tend to believe that you should die for the supposed saviour, be it David Koresh, Jim Jones, Donald Trump, or whomever. It also struck me again just how gullible some people are.  Of course Trump wasn’t sharing any compassion with those who’s lost loved ones; he was, as usual, feeling sorry for himself, and celebrating lawlessness.

It’s now Saturday April 1st.

Last night we went to a concert at the Michael Fowler Centre, where the NZSO were performing Mahler’s Third Symphony, preceded by a Waiata by Robert Wiremu. They were conducted by the wonderful Gemma New. We don’t know Mahler’s music well at all, although I had tried to listen to this symphony. But the concert hall was full, and the enthusiastic audience gave a standing ovation afterwards. The audience was very respectful, with very little coughing or disturbance like we had at the opera a few months ago.  But goodness me, the seats are very cramped! They’re comfortable, but I couldn’t cross my legs. We managed to find a carpark in Dixon Street, (not too far away), and it wasn’t raining. It was nice to get dressed up again. And the tickets were only $25 each!

Oh, and there’s been another mass shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, at a Presbyterian School, that had previously been attended by the shooter, a transgender female, i.e. a woman who wanted to be a man. Her parents did not accept this, and insisted that they dress as a woman at home. They would then change afterwards.  Yet again, it’s a terribly sad story. It’s also a sad first: previously, mass shooters have been mainly male, rarely if ever female. They carried two assault rifles and a pistol, and shot through a closed door, dispelling the myth from the Uvalde shooting that doors should always be closed to keep shooters out.  Yet again, republicans insist on every child being born, and insist that someone has a right to carry an assault weapon, that may be used to shoot said child.  The price of freedom is accepting that children (and others, such as their teachers, support workers, and other staff) may well be shot, even in private schools.  That is a very high price to pay. Yet again, many of us are mystified at this contradiction in values.  What price human life?  Many of these children are traumatised at having seen their friends shot dead, or wounded, and at doing regular lock down drills, as if they were real.  In the US, most people are afraid all the time.

There’ve been some emergency podcasts following Trump’s indictment. Initial elation is turning perhaps to cooler reflection; Ron de Santis has said he won’t assist in Trump’s extradition to New York, where he is due to appear next Tuesday; Trump has apparently said No to that. Oh the irony, of de Santis declaring Florida a Sanctuary State! Some have pointed out that once indicted, things move out of Trump’s control: if he doesn’t surrender, he becomes a fugitive from the FBI; decisions whether he should be handcuffed (unlikely), or imprisoned (even more unlikely), move completely out of his control, although no doubt he’ll find a way to spin next Tuesday’s appearance to his own benefit. I like Meghan McCain’s tweet: “I like people who aren’t indicted…”

Americans are, for the most part, upset that a former president has been indicted: this has never happened before! Trump has always managed to evade serious legal jeopardy. I guess many of us are wondering, what took you so long, America?  Why did you elect him in the first place? I guess there’s never been a president like Donald Trump; he’s scored many firsts, including being the first president to be indicted..

There’s also argument about use of the hush-money/election finance scandal to cause the first indictment. Well, we don’t know what the actual charges are, although there are rumoured to be 15 (the Guardian’s Marina Hyde says 34 charges of falsifying records).  Apparently Stormy Daniels said Don’t pay me; anyway, he wasn’t president when he had his fling with her. He now calls her Horse-face, and claims she wasn’t his “type”, although he told her she reminded him of his daughter, who was very much his “type”.  I wonder what Ivanka’s thinking now, although apparently she’s said she loves her dad. My point is, if Trump hadn’t covered up this liaison, involving David Pecker in a “Catch and Kill” operation to hide the potential scandal, Trump may well not have been elected president, and his subsequent crimes may not have happened: this was maybe the start of this particular presidential crime spree, although many of us are very suspicious about Trump’s knowledge of the Russian involvement in his win.

I’d better stop now, No doubt there’ll be more pontification as the days go on. Trump will continue to be in the news, for all the wrong reasons; like the American love-affair with guns, many are seemingly in love with Trump and conspiracy theories.  

Meanwhile, life goes on. Stuff happens, and the Covid 19 numbers are still high in Aotearoa. But there’s the flu vaccine, and a new Covid 19 vaccine out, so that’s good. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

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