Category Archives: Politically correct

Will New Zealand ever escape Zero Covid?

Most of what Mr Chodor is hooie. Not sure if he’s ever actually been at a “anti-mandate” protest. What his piece does is highlight the extremes to which progressives in power will go in total disregard for “constitutional rights” that have been guaranteed for generations. And then to have the gall to castigate those who push back FOR those rights. mrossol

UnHerd  12/2/2021 by Tom Chodor

As Auckland — home to a third of New Zealand’s population — prepares to exit its 100-plus day lockdown on Friday, there has been little celebration or fanfare. Instead, the population is cautious and guarded; worries abound about further cases and deaths once the country opens up.

The mood is a far cry from the breathless commentary during the first 18 months of the pandemic, when New Zealand was held up as an extraordinary case of pandemic management, contrasted with the disasters in Europe, the UK and US. Indeed, the country’s tough border closures, skilful contact tracing, tough lockdown restrictions, commitment to Zero Covid and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s empathic and inclusive leadership were lauded as a model for the rest of the world.

 
 

And yet, contrary to ill-informed hot takes half a world away, New Zealand’s approach had its merits. Following an initial lockdown last year, the country recorded only 1,500 cases and 22 deaths from Covid-19, and succeeded in eliminating the virus in the community. Importantly, this was achieved without significant restrictions on individual liberties or substantial cost to the economy. While the rest of the world has spent the past two years in crisis, New Zealanders have lived remarkably normal lives. Undoubtedly, there was some luck involved, given New Zealand’s isolation from the rest of the world. But, as its neighbour Australia illustrated, isolation is no guarantee of success.

However, this New Zealand model came with two important caveats. First, the cost of normality enjoyed by citizens at home was paid for by its citizens abroad. The country’s harsh border regime, which allocated a limited number of places in a 14-day hotel quarantine system, meant that thousands were stranded abroad, unable to return home, often left facing destitution. Likewise, while the economy thrived, the cost was borne by the tourism industry — 18% of the economy — whose reliance on international visitors left it on the verge of collapse.

 
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Inside Melbourne’s eternal lockdown

By Tom Chodor

Secondly, the New Zealand model could never be sustained long-term, once it became clear that global elimination of the virus was unlikely. As such, there was a need for an exit strategy, which seemed to centre on vaccinating the whole population before the virus got in. This was always a gamble and a race against time; one which Ardern lost this August, when a cautious re-opening of the border to Australia led to the arrival of the Delta variant, and sparked a new outbreak.

Despite the fact no country had managed to eliminate Delta, the Government reverted to its tried and tested approach, closing the limited openings at the border, announcing a snap lockdown, and re-committing to eliminating the virus. But this time, it didn’t work.

While the outbreak was contained to Auckland, the key pillars of New Zealand’s model — contact tracing and tough lockdown restrictions severely curtailing people’s movements — proved no match for the infectiousness of the Delta strain. Case numbers refused to budge, totalling more than 8,400 for the current outbreak, while deaths have nearly doubled to 43. Admitting defeat, the Government formally abandoned elimination as a strategy in October. Nevertheless, Auckland’s “snap lockdown” — meant to last for two weeks — has now dragged on for over 100 days, with predictable consequences for children’s schooling, mental health and the economy.

While the situation still compares very favourably to many parts of the world, New Zealand’s sheen has started to come off. Contrary to its claims of exceptionalism, throughout the current Delta outbreak, it has shown itself to be a normal country just like every other: faced with the same dilemmas, failures, trade-offs and divisions when it comes to dealing with the pandemic. What’s more, it hasn’t necessarily dealt with them any better.

Take vaccination. One consequence of the New Zealand model was complacency when it came to the roll-out, with many convinced that the country could take its time while the pandemic raged elsewhere. As a result, less than 20% of the population was fully vaccinated when Delta arrived in August, leaving it unprepared for the outbreak. In response, the government tied the lifting of lockdowns to the vaccination rate, setting a very high target of 90% before restrictions would be eased.

 
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New Zealand’s Zero Covid delusion

By Tom Chodor

Still, while this was eventually abandoned, 86% of New Zealanders are now double-jabbed, making it one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. As we also saw in Australia, nothing concentrates the mind when it comes to vaccinations like a prolonged lockdown.

This is not to say that the issue hasn’t been divisive. Behind the high overall rates, there remain significant pockets of unvaccinated people in New Zealand, especially in the regions, and among the indigenous Maori population. Higher rates of poverty and disadvantage, and low levels of trust in the Government mean that only 68% of Maori are fully vaccinated, despite repeated efforts to roll out culturally specific and targeted programmes.

Meanwhile, the high rates of poor health outcomes have left the Maori more vulnerable to the virus, leading to demands that any re-opening be delayed until vaccination rates exceed the rest of the country. The Maori Party has been warning of a “modern genocide” if lockdowns are lifted while the virus remains in the community, with some local iwi (tribes) threatening to set up roadblocks to keep Aucklanders from visiting their regions once freedom of travel is restored.

More broadly, despite the high vaccination rates, the Government has not shied from introducing controversial vaccine mandates. With the country slowly opening up, Ardern has described vaccination as “the golden ticket to freedom“, requiring vaccine passes to enter most workplaces, hospitality, retail and entertainment venues. At the moment, unvaccinated people can do little more than shop for essentials, creating a two-tier society and sparking bitter conflicts. The Government has doubled down, stressing the mandate will continue into next year, and showing little sympathy for the unvaccinated minority.

This, in turn, has sparked protests for the first time in the pandemic. When the current outbreak started, commentators mocked a lone demonstrator at an anti-lockdown protest in Auckland. Since then, crowds have grown, with thousands recently marching across the country against lockdowns and the vaccine mandates. While they have not matched the numbers or violence recently seen in Europe, these protests bring together a similar constellation of far-Right agitators, conspiracy theorists, wellness gurus and ordinary citizens increasingly marginalised and excluded from society. It’s part of a wider fragmentation taking hold in the country, with support for the Government’s handling of the pandemic dropping from 80% to 46%. Ardern’s personal popularity has also declined to 34%, while more people now think the country is heading in the wrong direction for the first time since 2008.

This is a far cry from the ‘Team of Five Million’ approach championed by the Government in the first 18 months of the pandemic. And Ardern seems fully aware of this: the Government recently rushed through new laws to lock in many of the draconian restrictions on the unvaccinated, bypassing the usual means of oversight and scrutiny, in a move labelled “a constitutional disgrace” by legal experts.

 
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What’s the point of Australia?

By Shahar Hameiri and Tom Chodor

In short, over the course of the past four months, many of the key features of New Zealand’s pandemic response have been found wanting. Yet old habits die hard. While the rest of the world has largely opened up and travel has begun to stage a comeback, New Zealand’s plan for reopening its borders announced last week remains extremely cautious.

Fully vaccinated citizens will only be able to return from Australia from mid-January, provided that they quarantine at home for seven days. This will be extended to other countries in mid-February, while foreign nationals will not be allowed to enter until the end of next April. There is no detail yet on how long the seven-day quarantine requirement will remain in place, and the tourism sector has reacted with dismay, describing the plan as a “body blow” that will delay its recovery until 2023. For a country approaching a 90% vaccination rate, this seems needlessly restrictive, a relic of the Zero Covid mentality, rather than the long-promised exit strategy.

And this was before the emergence of the new Omicron variant. Here, New Zealand has been depressingly ordinary, following many other countries in shutting the border to non-citizens from the nine ‘high risk’ countries in southern Africa, and holding out the possibility of delaying the border reopening plan. While labelled as ‘temporary’ and intended to buy time to learn more about the new variant, this response highlights the continuing reluctance to finally begin living with Covid.

As the pandemic enters its third year, New Zealand might end up with the worst of both worlds: facing the same problems as everyone else, but persisting with an unsustainable Zero Covid approach to them.

https://unherd.com/2021/12/will-new-zealand-ever-escape-zero-covid/?tl_inbound=1&tl_groups[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3&mc_cid=af947e1540&mc_eid=0ff3e7ea29

And some comments:

Paul Smithson
8 hours ago
 

“these protests bring together a similar constellation of far-Right agitators, conspiracy theorists, wellness gurus and ordinary citizens”

Have ‘journalists’ who write such utter garbage actually been to one of the protests.

It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with such protests. What should concern everyone is that the media is constantly lying about things. If they are willing to lie about the attendees at protests what else are they lying about? And why are they lying?

The truth is that 99% or more of the people attending these protests throughtout the world (they’re happening pretty much everywhere) are compassionate, kind, freedom loving souls.

There are people of all skin colours, sexualities, socio-demographic backgrounds and political persuasions. Reggae music is the most heard genre of music and at many you’ll hear African drums and you’ll even see African dancers at some.

The fact that the media will outright lie about this, and the police will go out of their way (instructed by their bosses I assume) to try to stir up conflict for the media, really does make one wonder what on earth is going on.

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Josh Woods
3 hours ago
 
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I agree Paul this is a condescending label. I’m a libertarian leftie in his mid-20s and I wholeheartedly support this worldwide resistance even when the world’s opinion was still in Oz & NZ’s favor, because I already saw and even 1st hand experienced(I lived in Oz till last March) the mainstream approach’s colossal collateral damage amongst those sidelined by mainstream public discourse, eg domestic violence victims, people with health conditions living alone(like myself) deprived of access to the help they need). There are eminent scientists who disagree with the covid orthodoxy, just that few evaded censorship of the scientists hijacking the whole medical/health science community, including the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration(everyone go sign it!!), which was first trashed upon, but now proven to be the better approach that most countries didn’t follow.
So you see, the diversity of political views, ethnicities, professions, ages, sexualities, beliefs, socio-demographic backgrounds and all walks of life among this Great Revolt has shown far more unity, love and solidarity than those finger-wagging Hollywood celebs & establishment talking heads who proclaim that “We’re all in this together.” In other words, the authoritarian left(along with some authoritarian right wingers, eg BoJo & Dominic Cummings of the UK, Scumo & Gladys B. on Oz) has alienated themselves from everyone else in their grandiose, self-righteous collective narcissism!

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Francis MacGabhann  [Among the best. mrossol]
5 hours ago
 

We keep getting bogged down in the specifics of individual countries’ reaction to covid and arguments about this or that variant. We’re arguing tactics when we’ve abandoned all attempts at strategy. Here’s the skinny —

1 – It’s a virus. It will constantly mutate. Vaccines won’t stop it, quarantines won’t stop it and lockdowns won’t stop it.

2 – It has struck at the lowest ebb of western civilization, ie, when the assumptions of the political left are completely encultured into the practices and dogmas of every institution, political, legal and, unfortunately, medical in the west.

3 – These assumptions are promethean, ie, they proceed from the belief that absolutely everything is controllable by the wit of man. They are also utterly inflexible. When they are proven wrong, that just means we haven’t done them enough, we need to double down.

4 – They are based in the belief that the individual is worthless in himself, all that matters is the collective. The omelette, not the egg. Consequently, they are inhumane, which is why Ardern had no problem a) taking it upon herself to lock thousands of Kiwis out of their own country and b) leaving them in destitution.

5 – Leftists believe in nothing greater than themselves. It follows then that there is no transcendent source of strength to carry people through rough times.

So, if you have no fortitude to face into the trials of life, if you think the world is perfectible but isn’t perfect, and if you’re dogma isn’t working but you think it should so you just keep doing the same thing over and over regardless of the fact that you keep getting the same result, then you’ve got a perfect storm of stupidity and all it takes is a virus that wouldn’t have even slowed down our grandparents to shut down the world.

Our strategy should be to stop being such physical cowards and take our share of misfortunes in defence of our basic liberties, and to stop trading those liberties to the likes of Ardern in return for a safety she cannot deliver. I’m not even sure she cares enough to deliver it if she could.

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Europe’s Energy Crisis Is About to Go Global as Gas Prices Soar – Bloomberg

And the Greens and Democrats want to get off carbon based fuels? And discussion of the most rationale solution, nuclear power, will get you branded as an “enemy of the world”.. This is not craziness? mrossol

 
A power failure in November 2016 plunged London's West End into darkness. Energy supplies in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe may become more unreliable this winter.

A power failure in November 2016 plunged London’s West End into darkness. Energy supplies in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe may become more unreliable this winter.

Photo illustration by 731; Photo: Getty Images

This winter, the world will be fighting over something that’s invisible, yet rarely so vital—and in alarmingly shorter supply.

Nations are more reliant than ever on natural gas to heat homes and power industries amid efforts to quit coal and increase the use of cleaner energy sources. But there isn’t enough gas to fuel the post-pandemic recovery and refill depleted stocks before the cold months. Countries are trying to outbid one another for supplies as exporters such as Russia move to keep more natural gas home. The crunch will get a lot worse when temperatures drop.

The crisis in Europe presages trouble for the rest of the planet as the continent’s energy shortage has governments warning of blackouts and factories being forced to shut.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
Employees patrol a tank at a liquefied natural gas terminal operated by China Petrochemical Corp. in Qingdao, Shandong province.
Photo: VCG/Getty Images

Inventories at European storage facilities are at historically low levels for this time of year. Pipeline flows from Russia and Norway have been limited. That’s worrying as calmer weather has reduced output from wind turbines while Europe’s aging nuclear plants are being phased out or are more prone to outages—making gas even more necessary. No wonder European gas prices surged by almost 500% in the past year and are trading near record.

European Natural Gas Prices

Per megawatt-hour

Data: Intercontinental Exchange

 

The spike has forced some fertilizer producers in Europe to reduce output, with more expected to follow, threatening to increase costs for farmers and potentially adding to global food inflation. In the U.K., high energy prices have forced several suppliers out of business.

Even a normally cold winter in the Northern Hemisphere is expected to drive up natural gas prices further across much of the world. In China, industrial users including makers of ceramics, glass, and cement may respond by raising prices; households in Brazil will face expensive power bills. Economies that can’t afford the fuel—such as Pakistan or Bangladesh—could simply grind to a halt.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
Low water levels in the Parana River are forcing Brazil’s hydroelectric plants to rely on other fuels for generation.
Photographer: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

Utilities and policymakers are praying for mild temperatures because it’s already too late to boost supplies. The prospect of accelerating energy costs, in conjunction with squeezed supply chains and food prices at decade highs, could make more central bankers question whether the jump in inflation is as transitory as they’d hoped. Traders will be carefully dissecting every weather forecast published from now to December.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
A man fishes in front of a liquefied natural gas tanker berthed at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s power plant in Futtsu, Chiba prefecture, Japan.
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

“If the winter is actually cold, my concern is we will not have enough gas for use for heating in parts of Europe,” Amos Hochstein, the U.S. State Department’s senior adviser for energy security, told Bloomberg Television on Sept. 20. For some countries, “it won’t only be a recessionary value, it will affect the ability to actually provide gas for heating. It touches everybody’s lives.”

Global LNG Imports

In tons

Data: BloombergNEF

 

In Asia, importers of liquefied natural gas are paying record prices for this time of year to secure supplies, with some starting to snap up dirtier fuels such as coal and heating oil in case they don’t obtain enough. This may undermine efforts by governments to hit ambitious green goals: Gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal when burned.

China, the world’s biggest buyer of natural gas, hasn’t filled stockpiles fast enough, even though imports are almost double what they were last year, according to customs data. Several Chinese provinces are already rationing electricity to industries to meet President Xi Jinping’s targets for energy efficiency and pollution reduction. A power crisis could exacerbate shutdowns if authorities divert gas to light and heat households.

If Chinese factories have to contend with widespread power shortages, global prices for steel and aluminum will jump. To make matters worse, the country is also grappling with a coal shortage.

 

Utilities in Japan and South Korea are largely protected by long-term LNG contracts that are indexed to oil. Still, Korea Electric Power Co. said on Sept. 23 that it will increase electricity prices for the first time in almost eight years. A sudden cold snap could force more power companies to dive into the spot market to buy emergency gas supplies at record-high rates. That’s what happened last winter.

The cost of securing LNG supplies has sparked a political controversy in strapped Pakistan, with opposition politicians demanding an inquiry into purchases by the state-owned importer.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi.
Photographer: Donat Sorokin/Getty Images

In Brazil, the lowest flows to the Parana River Basin in almost a century have slashed hydropower output and forced utilities to rely more heavily on gas. The country boosted gas imports to an all-time high in July, and power bills are rising. With inflation already ballooning, that could hurt President Jair Bolsonaro’s chances in next year’s election.

The stage is set for an all-out scramble among Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America for shipments of LNG from exporters such as the Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. “We have huge demand from all our customers and unfortunately, we can’t cater for everyone,” warned Saad Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister, at an industry conference this month.

Global Power Generation

In gigawatt-hours

Data: IEA Electricity Information 2020

 

American exporters are poised to ship more LNG than ever as new projects come online toward the end of the year. But as more gas goes abroad, less will be available at home. Even though gas prices have been notably lower in the U.S. than in Europe and Asia, they are trading near the highest level since 2014. Gas inventories are running below their five-year seasonal average, yet U.S. shale drillers are reluctant to boost production out of concern that would crimp their profitability and put off investors.

The Industrial Energy Consumers of America has requested that the Department of Energy reduce U.S. exports until storage levels get back to normal, a move that might exacerbate shortages abroad.

It used to be that the average person paid little attention to the market price of natural gas. It isn’t like oil, where a snap decision from OPEC will almost immediately affect how much they pay at the pump. This winter, the world is likely to learn how much the global economy depends on natural gas. —With Lynn Doan and Anna Shiryaevskaya

via Europe’s Energy Crisis Is About to Go Global as Gas Prices Soar – Bloomberg.

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The hatred behind Stop Funding Hate – UnHerd

We might then add that, as a hate-group, Stop Funding Hate seems to be propelled by racism and sexism. Since the initial team who are presenting shows on GB News appears to be notably more ethnically diverse, and with a better gender balance than any competitor channel, we could say that there can really be only one reason why Stop Funding Hate is trying to rid them of their salaries. And that is a desire to return women to the drudgery of household chores and ethnic minorities to the era of Jim Crow laws.  Would these claims be outrageous? Certainly. Would they have any basis in fact? Only if you allow hysterics and catastrophists the right to decide that their interpretation of events is reality. But that is what Stop Funding Hate has been doing. It would be an irrational and blinkered approach — yet it is the logical extension of the world that this vicious hate group has chosen to instigate.

via The hatred behind Stop Funding Hate – UnHerd.

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