Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Rā kirihimete 2020

Meri Kirihimete (Merry Christmas) one and all.

I appreciate that for some of my readers, it’s still Christmas Eve, but for us in Aotearoa New Zealand, Christmas day is drawing to a close.

The wife and I travelled the 110 Km (70 miles) to Paraparaumu for lunch with our daughter’s family and some of her friends. As usual it was an extended affair where we all ate too much, and by the time dessert and coffee had been served it was 5:00 pm. Three hours later I am still uncomfortably full. I think it was the third helping of the wife’s truly wonderful trifle that finally told me I had consumed too much. Although it might have been the second helping of tiramisu or pavlova…

It’s the realisation that many of my readers (most are in North America and Western Europe) will not be so fortunate this year, being unable to celebrate the festive season with friends and family, that requires me to acknowledge how fortunate we are to be living in a Covid-free bubble of five million people.

Christmas fare

Top: What was left of mains after everyone had taken their first helping.
Bottom left: My first serving of mains.
Bottom right: Selection of desserts.

Perhaps not typical Northern Hemisphere Christmas fare, but hey, it’s summer and the only fire burning today was the gas barbeque used for cooking the lamb chops and sausages.


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A covid free (Kiwi) Christmas

We might not be able to join with overseas relatives this Christmas, but the authorities have put in place measures to ensure that Santa will be able to visit Aotearoa New Zealand. He will not need to quarantine for fourteen days as do other visitors. As the interview with the Prime Minister illustrates, this country has pulled out all the stops to make sure Santa’s delivery run is as safe and Covid free as possible. Not sure if the same is true in other jurisdictions…


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Feilding Friday

Sometimes, when reviewing world news, my life seems surreal. I see headlines such as US virus deaths top 2,800 in a single day for 1st time and Coronavirus claims 1.5 million lives globally with 10,000 dying each day I wonder if I’m on the same planet as the news gatherers.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand we are going about our lives as we have always done. Sure there’s an expectation that we scan a QR code whenever when enter a shop or where crowds are, but most most members of the public conveniently “forget” to do so. And if we travel by air, then there is a necessity to wear a face mask while onboard the aircraft, but otherwise we go about our business just like we did twelve months ago.

The pandemic has affected us indirectly. For example many supply chains that cross our borders are broken or under stress. Part of the cause is demand for many goods has increased dramatically as Kiwis abandon international travel in favour of retail therapy and home improvement projects. Part of the problem is due to this nation’s isolated location in the South Pacific, so it can take some time for supply to catch up with unexpected demand. The pandemic only exacerbates the situation as international freight services have been reduced and freight terminals are struggling to cope with demand. A large part of their workforce is typically made up of international visitors on working holidays. They are conspicuous by their absence since the Pandemic started and delays are now a fact of life.

A typical example is the Ports of Auckland, where arriving ships are queued up at anchor outside the harbour for eight to ten days before being able to berth. It can take even longer for containers, once offloaded, to be delivered to their destination and some containers currently piled up at the port won’t be delivered until after Christmas.

The stressed supply chain affects the wife and I mostly by the lack of Japanese food products available from the supermarket and specialty food shops. What’s available arrived in the country prior to the current crisis and no one knows when, or even if, new stock will arrive. Where we were previously able to procure difficult to find products directly from Japan, those suppliers now inform us they are unable to ship to New Zealand. Even Amazon won’t ship – we’ve tried.

But apart from those relatively minor irritations, life goes on as normal. One ritual we often perform is to visit the Friday Feilding Farmers’ Market for local, in season produce. This morning was no different:

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Summer officially started here on the 1st of December, but strong winds made being at the market somewhat unpleasant, not to mention the the need to avoid occasional flying signage. Don’t be alarmed at the lack of face masks and social distancing. Neither are necessary.

The strong winds are more of an inconvenience that the pandemic at the moment. Most of the wife’s evening entertainment is derived from free-to-air television. That provides sufficient choice for her needs. but on Tuesday evening, the wind brought down our UHF aerial. I’m now at the age where I roof climbing fits into the “not me” category, especially as the roof is pitched at 45 degrees and the ridge where the aerial is was mounted is a little over 9 metres (30 ft) from the ground.

The electrical company I called sent around two youngish electricians this afternoon, but they decided that due to the height and strong wind, discretion is the better part of valour. Neither were height certified (I didn’t know such a thing existed) and the work would necessitate the use of safety harnesses. I’m beginning to understand why multistorey homes cost much, much more to maintain than the typical NZ single floor home. So we need to wait on the availability of their only height certified tradesman, which apparently won’t be until the middle of next week. I hope the wife survives.


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New Zealand sets up mandatory quarantine ‘camps’ for COVID patients

Anyone who values freedom should take note because the Kiwis have a terrifying new response to rising covid case numbers. They are throwing people into quarantine camps.

Fox News ‘The Ingraham Angle

Please watch The Ingraham Angle video clip to ensure you have the full background of the facts before reading the rest of this post.


Pretty terrifying isn’t it? Just imagine being locked up just because you don’t want to take a test. What ever will they do next to take away our freedoms?

Except it’s hardly a new response. These so called quarantine ‘camps’ (some conservative right wing sources call them internment camps) have been around for the last six months. I don’t know why it has taken Fox and The Ingraham Angle so long to discover this story. As for Ardern’s ‘announcement’, it’s actually part of an interview that took place some time after the ‘camps’ were established – if I recall correctly, several weeks, perhaps a month, after the ‘camps’ were first announced. So it’s factually incorrect to describe Jacinda Ardern’s words as an announcement. Perhaps I’m being picky, but I do like to get the facts right.

Taking the story at face value, it would seem that New Zealand residents who refuse a COVID-19 test are being thrown into quarantine camps indefinitely until they submit to a test. It would also appear that in spite of the such draconian measures, infection rates are rising.

It would seem appropriate to seek more information on two important points:

  • are people being thrown into quarantine ‘camps’ for refusing a test?
  • are coronavirus cases really rising?

Number in ‘camps’

So how many people are in ‘camps’? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? The clip doesn’t provide that information. At any time there’s around five or six thousand people in quarantine ‘camps’, but the ‘camps’ or not filled by local residents whether or not they have refused a test, nor whether or not they might be infected with COVID-19. The “detainees” are travellers who have just arrived in New Zealand.

Anyone wishing to travel to Aotearoa New Zealand must pre-book accomodation in one of these ‘camps’ before they purchase a flight to this country. In other words it’s part of a package deal if one wishes to travel to these islands. Every country has measures at the border to reduce the possible harm that travellers might bring into the country. COVID-19 is simply another potential harm added to the list of harms.

Does that sound like “throwing people into quarantine camps” to you? Yes, it’s an inconvenience for anyone wishing to travel here, but it means those living here have complete freedom to do whatever they want, congregate wherever they want in crowds as large as they want – even in stadiums with 50,000 other individuals without being required to wear face masks or to socially distance.

It means that we as residents carry on much as we did before the pandemic and all businesses apart from those in the tourism sector operate as they always have. The pandemic as ensured that international tourism is buggered world wide for the time being irrespective of what restrictions this country imposes at the border.

There’s more than one type of ‘camp’

And let’s clarify what is meant by quarantine ‘camps’. This Foxnews term actually refers to two different types of facilities. Both types of facilities are located within hotels, almost all of which have a 4-star or 5-star rating.

  • Managed isolation facilities: these are for travellers to NZ who are well but have a risk of having COVID-19. In other words travellers who have been in or passed through a region where community transmission of the virus exists. At this point in time that means the rest of the world, but it’s likely that regions of Australia, and parts of south and east Asia will be deemed community transmission free before the end of the year or early in the New Year. My hunch is that America will possibly be one of the last places to go covid free.

    Tests are carried out on travellers on day three and day twelve of isolation. If both are negative, the traveller is free to leave on day fourteen. If either test is positive, the traveller is transferred to a quarantine facility. A refusal to have a test is, I believe, treated as if a test had been positive.
  • Quarantine facilities: These are for travellers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone with suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

    These facilities have additional medical staff to cater for non-critical COVID-19 cases. Critical cases are transferred to public hospitals. Once the traveller is deemed to be COVID-19 free they can leave. If a traveller refuses to have a test, then they will be required to remain in quarantine for an additional fourteen days and remain symptom free, after which they will be free to leave.

Clearly, if you’re symptom free, the normal time for isolation is 14 days, or 28 days if the traveller refuses testing. Unless you’re a COVID-19 denier or conspiracist, such measures are unlikely to be considered oppressive or unreasonable given the nature of the pandemic. The measures have a sound scientific footing for a community that wishes to enjoy the benefits of freedom as we have historically practised it and be coronavirus free at the same time. How many other places have that level of freedom?

Rising covid case numbers

As for the rising covid case numbers, it’s true that it has increased recently, but none of these are due to community transmitted cases. The Ingraham Angle makes the implication that it is rising within the community. It is not. All the cases involve travellers in managed isolation – they have caught the virus while overseas, on their way here, or less likely while in isolation. The biggest number of cases recently have been in travellers from Russia who are replacement crew for fishing vessels operating from New Zealand. at one stage they were responsible for around 12 cases in a single day – an astronomical number for this country. They will be quarantined until they are Covid free.

The simple truth is that that we in Aotearoa New Zealand are virus free, and enjoy freedoms that most other places, including America, can only dream about for the time being. There is no draconian authoritarian regime restricting our freedom nor throwing the sick or dissidents into camps. The video clip is no more that a selection of half truths cobbled together to tell a whopping lie. A perfect example of Fake News™.

As for why this fake news is created at all, this Daily Blog article seems to cover it


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Why aren’t we in Sendai?

COVID-19. That’s why

This week, we were supposed to be in Sendai (the wife’s home town) as part of a seven week journey around Japan. But we’re not. Instead we’re stuck here in covid-free Aotearoa while the rest of the world goes mad.

The airline cancelled our flights to and from Japan months ago, but due to quirks of history, the Consumer Protection Act does not cover the sale of air tickets. Consequently the airline is not obligated to refund the price of the tickets. Instead it has given us a credit that must be used by December 2021 to purchase tickets for flights to be completed by December 2022.

Legally, they’re only required to provide tickets for a single journey to the same destination: the airline pocketing the difference if the fare is less or charging the difference if the fare is more. Instead they are “generously allowing” us to purchase tickets for multiple flights up to the value of the credit to any destination they serve.

Given that the airline has already stated that after the pandemic is over, they’ll be a regional carrier instead of a world wide international carrier, and it’s very unlikely that they will ever resume passenger flights to Japan, there’s nothing generous about their offer.

How many short haul journeys within New Zealand or to Australia would it take to spend the credit from a return business class fare between New Zealand and Japan? Somewhere between 20 and 50 domestic trips or between 10 and 20 trips to Australia. All to be taken by by the end of 2022. I think not.

The airline is using its legal “right” to make ticket holders bankroll them through the pandemic. Who is going to bankroll the ticket holders?

I’m pleased that we hung onto the tickets until the airline cancelled the flights, because had we cancelled them, there would have been no credit, let alone refund. But I’m still holding out for a change of heart that will allow us to get most, if not all, of our money back.


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It’s over for New Zealand: News from President Trump

Three campaign rallies and three times President Trump calls out the abject failure of the country of New Zealand in fighting the pandemic. It’s time Kiwis kissed their elderly and sick goodbye, throw away masks and hand sanitiser and await their fate. It’s no use fighting it, for as the PONTUS knows, it’s over for New Zealand. Everything’s gone.

So America, and the rest of the world, take a lesson from the dumb ass Kiwis – don’t try to emulate them. Celebrate the great job being done by Donald Trump. You only need to look at the US mortality rates to know how well they’re doing, and as the president has said, other countries would know just how well you’re doing if only fewer of you were tested.

If you think I’m jesting about the wisdom the President Trump, then I highly recommend you listen to the three video clips below. Not only will you be greatly informed, you will also be greatly inspired.

Donald Trump scoffs at NZ, calling latest Covid-19 cluster a ‘big surge’ – The US President added New Zealand to his campaign rhetoric in Minnesota.

Donald Trump mentions New Zealand in Covid-19 briefing for second time
The US president said during a White House press conference that Aotearoa “had a big outbreak”.

‘It’s over for New Zealand’ – Trump slams Aotearoa’s Covid-19 outbreak response yet again. President Trump made reference to a “massive breakout” here.

Now I realise the President was a short on details. Well it was a political rally after all. So I have prepared some charts. I’ve used charts because I know how well the President is able to explain them. You saw how he slayed that interviewer when he challenged the President: The President used charts to really sock it to that guy.

Just in case you find charts a little more difficult to read than the President, I have included a brief explanation below each one.

You can see that America is doing very good in new cases. There was a time in June where Sweden was winning, but they’ve since gone down and America up. But look at New Zealand – it’s over.
This one charts deaths. As you can see, there’s no comparison between New Zealand and the other three countries. It’s over New Zealand, beautiful. America does more testing than Sweden and England so that is why America’s score is not as big.
This is charting the number of tests done each day. America is winning big time. Look at New Zealand. Loosers. They should test like America does. That’s why it’s all over for them.
This chart is more difficult to understand as there’s some maths going on. You need to be a genius like President trump to grasp its complexity. See how good America’s percentages are – they are higher than the other country. England tried to beat America in April, but they couldn’t keep it up. Losers just like New Zealand. But America is doing just great.

As you can see, America is higher on every chart (except one, and that’s because America tests too much). If you want to keep America high in the charts, then don’t forget to vote for Donald Trump in November. If you vote for that other guy, America might end up like New Zealand.


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Move over Hollywood

Our (relatively) safe COVID-19 status has seen increased interest in basing international film and TV productions here. As well as Avatar 2 and Power of the Dog already under way, permission has been granted to another five production teams to enter Aotearoa New Zealand and due to start production soon. These include:

At a time where our livelihood from overseas visitors has all but dried up, such productions are a lifeline to our economy. The more. the merrier.


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The perils of a New Zealand Border Force — Will New Zealand Be Right?

Keeping the coronavirus out of Aotearoa New Zealand is fraught with difficulties, the most significant perhaps being that it requires the cooperation of multiple agencies. I’m glad I’m not the only person who regards the setting up of a Border Security Force as a potential source of abuse and tyranny.

Whilst the current multi-agency arrangement involving Customs, Health, Police and Military has revealed many flaws from managing security to testing for COVID-19, these are being acknowledged and corrected as they come to light. This is uncharted territory, and if anyone believes that a plan of action can be brought from the drawing board to fruition in record time taking into account every possibility with every permutation already considered and planned for, then they are living in cloud cuckooland.

Would a Border Security Force result in appalling forms of abuse as can be witnessed in countries such as Australia and the United States? I would hope not, but I’d prefer that the opportunity does not arise. Better to resource the existing agencies adequately and create a management task force dedicated to coordinating the agencies and quickly respond to issues as they arise.

If there are legal barriers to setting up such a task force in any future national emergency, then sure, bring in legislation that will allow it ensuring that transparent oversight is included. But having a permanent independent force with little in the way of transparent oversight on the American or Australian model with all their reported abuses? No thanks!

With a general election coming up in less than two months, several political parties are promoting a Border Security Force, but this does not appear to be on the radar for the governing Labour party at the moment. However, they are just as subject to public pressure as other parties, so I want to put my position now in the hope that I’m just one of many voices opposing the formation of a Border Security force.

On this matter I can do no better than reblog Robert Glennie’s post on Will New Zealand Be Right?

Normally I am quite tough on matters of national security, and I am, but the concept of a New Zealand border agency fills me with dread. One does not have to look far to see in other countries why it is controversial. And the last a government agency with enormous control was created in New […]

The perils of a New Zealand Border Force — Will New Zealand Be Right?


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“Necessary, reasonable and proportionate”, but unlawful

That’s the opinion of the High Court of New Zealand after a legal challenge to the COVID-19 lockdown. The challenge was only partially successful, in that the court found that all but one of the orders made in regard to the lockdown were lawful. What was not lawful was the “stay at home” order.

The Court concluded that:

By various public and widely publicised announcements made between 26 March and 3 April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, members of the executive branch of the New Zealand Government stated or implied that, for that nine-day period, subject to limited exceptions, all New Zealanders were required by law to stay at home and in their “bubbles” when there was no such requirement. Those announcements had the effect of limiting certain rights and freedoms affirmed by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 including, in particular, the rights to freedom of movement, peaceful assembly and association. While there is no question that the requirement was a necessary, reasonable and proportionate response to the COVID-19 crisis at that time, the requirement was not prescribed by law and was therefore contrary to s 5 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

It’s important to note that the court recognised that while the government did have the authority to make such regulations, it did not in fact make them. That was corrected in regulations made nine days into the lockdown that did make the “stay at home” order lawful

For those interested in in the details of the court’s decision, a High Court media release can be found here (PDF), and the full judgment can be found here (PDF).


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The wisdom of Donald Trump

Lots of places they were using to hold up, they are having a big surge, they are… And I don’t want that, I don’t want that. But they were holding up names of countries and now they are saying whoops! Even New Zealand. You see what’s going on in New Zealand. They beat it. They beat it. It was like front page. They beat it because they wanted to show me something. The problem is big surge in New Zealand. It’s terrible. We don’t want that.

Donald Trump, 17 August 2020

Of course, the surge is terrible in New Zealand. While we might want to see the Trump administration emulate us, it’s out of spite. We know that Donald will never allow that to happen to the USA.

MAGA

Here’s the evidence in the form of a chart of daily infections per million:

I know that President Trump says we can’t use per capita measurements because it it makes US testing rates look bad, so here’s a chart showing new infections in absolute numbers:

As you can see, New Zealand is flatlining. That’s terrible. Not many people know this, but when a brain scan or heart monitor flatlines, it means you’re dead, very dead. That’s terrible for New Zealand. I have every confidence that the President of the United States will not let that happen to America.