Tyranny Down Under

Every day I ask myself: Is this real? Is this really happening? Still? Please note that this totalitarian absurdity is being rolled out in a country with – checks Worldometer – 232 total COVID deaths:

After reading yesterday’s “Postcard From Melbourne” I didn’t think things could get any worse in the capital of Victoria. But yesterday the power-crazed Premier of the state – Daniel Andrews, known as Kim Jong Dan – announced tough new “Stage 4” restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne, including an 8pm curfew. […]

Here is a list of the “Stage 4” measures introduced from 6pm yesterday and due to last for six weeks:

The “state of emergency” in Victoria has been upgraded to a “state of disaster”, meaning police can now enter your home to carry out spot checks even if you don’t give them permission and they don’t have a warrant.
Between the hours of 8pm and 5am, you’re not allowed to leave your homes except for work, medical care and caregiving.
Outside those hours, you may only leave your home for four reasons: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise and work. “We can no longer have people simply out and about for no good reason whatsoever,” said Kim Jong Dan.
Daily exercise can only take place within a 5km radius of your home and cannot last longer than an hour.
You cannot exercise in groups of more than two, even if they’re members of the same household.
Apart from daily exercise, you are only allowed to leave your home once a day for essential supplies and food.
In the whole of Victoria, you cannot buy more than two of certain essential items, including dairy, meat, vegetables, fish and toilet paper.
Schools have closed again, with all Victoria school students returning to remote learning from Wednesday (except for vulnerable children and children of permitted workers). Childcare and kindergarten will be closed from Thursday.
Golf and tennis venues, which were open, have now been closed.
Weddings will no longer be allowed from Thursday, and funerals will be limited to 10 people.
Face nappies anywhere outside your home have been mandatory for people in metropolitan Melbourne since July 22nd, but that rule has now been extended to the entire state of Victoria.
You cannot have visitors or go to another person’s house unless it is for the purpose of giving or receiving care. However, you can leave your house to visit a person if you are in an “intimate personal relationship” with them, even during curfew hours. So no “bonk ban”.
If you have a holiday home or were planning a holiday outside Melbourne, tough cheese. You must remain in the city for the next six weeks.
The maximum fine for breaching a health order currently stands at $1,652, but Kim Jong Dan said he would have more to say about penalties later today, i.e. he’s going to increase them.

That’s a good boy

Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo

Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo

The Australian government happily complies with China’s demand to keep the public in the dark about the terms of an infrastructure MOU between the two countries:

The Turnbull government has refused to release an agreement it signed with China covering the controversial “Belt and Road Initiative” infrastructure program on the grounds Beijing does not want it made public.

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo signed the memorandum of understanding last September for cooperation on building infrastructure such as roads, bridges and dams in third countries – including under the Belt and Road Initiative – during a visit to Beijing. […]

The MOU would be expected to state Australia’s conditions for cooperating with China – such as that projects are financially transparent, do not involve corruption, genuinely help other countries and do not burden them with unsustainable debt.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has refused to release the agreement under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr Ciobo told Fairfax Media that “both parties are required to agree to release the text of the MOU and China has not agreed to do so”.

Why all the secrecy? Is there some aspect of building roads, bridges and dams that needs to be concealed from the public? The comments to the article tend to indicate that the Australian people are *not* happy about this.

Daily links: Geopolitics and Tom Cruise

US teams up with Japan and Australia to invest in Asian infrastructure projects. China’s Belt and Road Initiative has competition.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces $113 million in new technology, energy and infrastructure projects in emerging Asia as part of Trump’s “Indo-Pacific” strategy.

Generals from the rival Koreas meet at the border to ease military tensions.

But there’s still a long and difficult road ahead with North Korea. “Washington and Pyongyang, however, are not the only players. Racing against a clock of its own, Seoul will aim to drive Trump and Kim toward an early trilateral summit to declare an end to the Korean War as a first step toward peace, fueled by President Moon Jae-in’s determination to go down in history as the peacemaker.”

Professor Stephen Cohen points out that in early 1986, President Ronald Reagan met alone with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for about two and a half hours, during which they discussed abolishing nuclear weapons, paving the way for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which was signed a year later.

Behind-the-scenes on Tom Cruise’s HALO jump from a C-17 military aircraft at 25,000 feet for the latest Mission: Impossible movie. HALO means high altitude, low open (i.e. the parachute is deployed at below 2,000 feet).

Reminds me of this incredible scene from Moonraker.

Tom Cruise is “our last remaining movie star.”