The contrast was jarring. A Melbourne press conference featuring Health Minister Greg Hunt, billionaire philanthropist Andrew Forrest and the Chinese consul-general in Victoria was an enthusiastic celebration of the friendship between China and Australia, allowing delivery of 10 million vital Chinese coronavirus testing kits.
This started late because it overlapped with a prime ministerial press conference in Canberra where Scott Morrison airily dismissed China’s fury at Australia’s “commonsense” call for an international inquiry into the genesis and handling of the virus.The disconnect reflects the risks being willingly taken by Australia in an increasingly acrimonious confrontationwith China. Although it’s impossible to argue with the need for an international independent investigation into what went so disastrously wrong, the timing, tone and obvious target in Australia’s call guaranteed an angry response from China.
Beijing’s return loudspeaker came in an interview by China’s ambassador, Cheng Jingye, with The Australian Financial Review this week, predictably backed up by vehement attacks in state-controlled media outlets. The ambassador’s threat of economic retaliation inevitably led to outrage-in-kind from the Morrison government about such “coercion”. It included a formal bollocking of the ambassador from the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which the embassy immediately disparaged in a statement.
Yet while the Prime Minister sounds sternly resolute as he insists the need for an inquiry is completely “unremarkable” and in Australia’s national interest as well as the world’s, the government knows its own China problem has gotten a whole lot worse.
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Availabilityof COVID-19 related products on Tor darknet markets
The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a new paper on the availability of COVID-19 related products on Tor darknet markets.
- The Australian Institute of Criminology commissioned the Australian National University Cybercrime Observatory to undertake a rapid census of COVID-related medical products and supplies being sold on the darknet as at 3 April 2020.
- There were 645 listings and 222 unique listings for COVID-related products across 12 omnibus darknet markets. Unique listings exclude those listings duplicated within or across markets. 110 active vendors were identified; of these, eight were active in multiple markets. The estimated value of unique product listings was A$369,000.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) was the most commonly listed item, accounting for about half of all unique listings, most often surgical masks, hand sanitizers and gloves. Anti-viral and repurposed medicines were the next most common products, accounting for one third of unique listings, and most often included the malaria treatment Chloroquine and antibiotic Azithromycin.
- Supposed COVID-19 vaccines and antidotes, and COVID tests and diagnostic instruments each made up less than 10 percent of unique listings. One listing for a ventilator and five listings of a COVID-19 Handbook were also identified.
- Darknet market Agartha had the largest market share, accounting for more than two-thirds of all COVID-19 product listings, followed by DarkBay (20%). Three markets accounted for 84 percent of all unique listings identified – Agartha, DarkBay and Empire. A small proportion of vendors accounted for most of the listings and potential profit—17 of the 110 vendors had more than 4 listings each and an overall value greater than A$5000.
- Three listings claimed to be shipped from Australia (less than one percent), while more than sixty-percent of all listings claimed to be shipped from the United States.
- On darknet forums, vendors and buyers are stating that lockdowns are creating delays in the shipping process of all products. Some vendors anticipate halting their operations due to ceasing postal services, while others are informing their customers of a 6 week wait for packages that usually take 10 days.
The paper is available for free download on the AIC website: https://aic.gov.au/publications/sb/sb24
ABC - Dark Net Covid-19
Even by the Chinese government’s own numbers, they’re producing jaw-dropping quantities of medical equipment that aren’t up to the right standards: “As of last Friday, China’s market regulators had inspected nearly 16 million businesses and seized more than 89 million masks and 418,000 pieces of protective gear, said Ms Gan Lin, deputy director of the State Administration of Market Regulation, at a press briefing.”And that’s just the stuff they’re catching before it goes out the door.Almost every country that is dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has ordered masks, tests, or personal protective equipment from China, only to open the boxes and find that the deliveries are unusable. In some cases, the equipment was distributed and used before the poor quality was discovered — offering false protection to medical personnel and exacerbating the spread of the virus instead of mitigating it.
Previous epidemics might have prepared us for Covid-19 — if only their histories were better remembered and their victims duly honored. We could have been more like Venice, a city defined by disease
When his "theory of the firm" went bust, the economist Michael Jensen needed a scapegoat. He found one in basic Human Irrationality
— Amy Olberding (Oklahoma) on meditates on the “the stuff of lives that have no more use for stuff