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TV and Movies

The Internet Can't Handle Fan Poster of the Avengers Without CGI

With a record-shattering $2.8 billion at the box office, Avengers: Endgame is simply one of the biggest movies of all time. It will probably take movie historians a few years to figure out just why Avengers: Endgame and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been so consistently successful.

One of the many reasons why the MCU movies have been so successful may be because of how cool and awesome every character and fight scene looks like. Not all fight scenes in the MCU look cool, but most do, thanks to the magic of CGI. That said, without CGI, everything in the MCU looks different, and Marvel fans can’t help but laugh.

What the creatures of the MCU look like

RELATED: Why Comic-Accurate Superhero Costumes Only Make Brief Cameos in the MCU

There are many creatures and animals in the MCU, but obviously, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon is not played by a real raccoon. That said, as a CGI-free fan poster on Reddit showed, in the movies, Rocket Raccoon, before the CGI artists do their magic, is played by a guy in a green suit holding up a ridiculous looking raccoon puppet. This puppet looks so silly that one fan said that it looked “cursed.” 

Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, rides into battle with a very cool looking Pegasus. Pegasuses don’t exist in real life, so, for the movie, they just put her on a machine and had two crew members, also wearing a green suit, rocking her back and forth so that it looks like she’s flying.

What the Hulk and Thanos look like

In the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, the two most jacked dudes in the universe, the Hulk and Thanos, have a bare-knuckled brawl. While this was a cool looking fight scene, both characters were, of course, almost entirely CGI. The only part of their body that even resembles their actor is their face. 

As that CGI-free fan poster showed, when Mark Ruffalo is playing the Hulk, he just shows up on set in a motion-capture suit. It’s just a black spandex suit with a lot of bells and whistles for the CGI artists to use. Josh Brolin’s Thanos is even funnier looking. Brolin also wears a motion-capture suit, but, unlike Ruffalo, he also has to wear a massive torso that’s supposed to show how wide Thanos is as a character. 

However, for some reason, Marvel and its CGI artists apparently don’t need a pair of massive, Thanos-sized legs for Brolin to wear. So, he looks really funny since, above his waist, he has this oversized costume on, while below the waist, it’s just his regular human-sized legs.

As one fan said, “It’s a testament to Brolin’s acting that he got such a serious complex performance out of that goofy looking thing.”

Another fan just replied, “He skipped leg day.”

Some characters look fine without CGI, though

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When the lockdown lifts

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RELATED: Scarlett Johansson Filming Solo Might Prove the MCU Relies Too Much On CGI

While CGI is extremely important to the MCU, Marvel has also made attempts to do things with practical effects. As a result, many of the characters don’t look that different without CGI.

For example, Chris Evans’ Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man look mostly the same without CGI. Of course, even though Iron Man’s armor needs a lot of CGI, Downey is still wearing a practical costume a lot of the time.

That said, while many of the human characters looked fine, Marvel fans did have a debate over Karen Gillan’s Nebula. 

The CGI-free fan poster showed her looking like she does in real life, but, in reality, her whole look was mostly practical. In fact, when she first got the role, she actually shaved her head for it. That said, in Avengers: Endgame, Marvel just made her look bald and then painted her face. So, without CGI, Nebula would look about the same as she does in the movies.

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World News

You can’t mask the Joe Biden mess: Devine

I’m sorry, but Joe Biden looked ridiculous wearing a Michael Jackson mask and sunglasses that covered most of his face on Memorial Day.

It was his first outing in more than 10 weeks from his Delaware basement and should have been an opportunity to project strength and hope for the campaign ahead.

Instead, it was a total downer.

Politics is about perception, and the image of Biden that history will record shows a frail and muzzled Democratic presidential nominee.

The black mask only accentuates the impression with an extra dash of weirdness.

As Biden shuffled out to his limo Monday, hand in hand with wife Jill, a large boom microphone hovered overhead to catch any bon mots. Which he duly delivered, but they were so muffled, you couldn’t hear a word.

It was a surreal scene, and you expected any minute that someone would burst out laughing. Yet this pandemic kabuki passes for virtue signaling in the modern-day Democratic Party.

Look what a good boy Joe is. He does what he’s told. Unlike that ­irresponsible Mr. Trump.

Inevitably, Bondage Biden was mocked online. He was likened to the tiny man-fly hybrid crying “help me” at the end of the horror movie “The Fly.”

If the intention was to look tough, it backfired big time.

Biden could have kept his appearance low-key with a normal surgical mask. Instead, he had to make a political point with the most ostentatious facewear his campaign could find, with his entourage kitted out in matching ensembles. The getup reeked of overthinking and micromanagement.

Even if Biden’s campaign is clueless, the symbolism of a black mask on the momentous occasion of his emergence from the basement can’t be overlooked. In every culture, it has gloomy overtones, the opposite of what America needs right now.

Biden keeps telling us he is following the orders of “my governor” or “docs,” but he was just driving down the street from his home with his wife and Secret Service detail to place a wreath at a veterans park for a private photo opportunity.

The only interaction with members of the public was as he was leaving, when he briefly greeted two men in masks standing 10 feet away.

In other words, overkill in the mask department probably wasn’t strictly necessary.

After all, the CDC recommends masks only “in public settings where other social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

The president, who went bare-faced during two wreath-laying events, couldn’t resist a dig, retweeting a post from Fox News’ Brit Hume that said, “This might help explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public,” over a photo of Biden.

In his first face-to-face interview in weeks, sitting maskless 12 feet from CNN’s Dana Bash Tuesday, Biden ­responded by branding Trump “a fool, an absolute fool.”

“Every leading doc in the world is saying we should wear a mask when you’re in a crowd . . .

“Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine.”

But if Biden aspires to be the leader of the free world, he should be mindful of the message he sends to the rest of the world. Is America on its knees, or is it going to bounce back from ­adversity? Perception matters.

When Democrats berated the president for not wearing a mask to the Ford factory in Michigan last week, they overlooked the geopolitical ­optics.

It’s no accident that Chinese President Xi Jinping went barefaced at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing last week, where ­almost everyone else was wearing a mask.

The same goes for other leaders, such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s Boris Johnson.

Masks are a necessary evil for the rest of us. But national leaders have a special symbolic role. Even if they wear masks behind the scenes, they cannot face their people in disguise, with their words muffled.

In any case, they have security guards to maintain physical distance from others. They are virus-tested all the time.

Each to their own, but if Biden is like this now in a safe, stage-managed outdoor setting, how on earth will he be able to campaign around the country?

Is the plan to gaslight us into believing excessive masking and extended quarantining is essential until Election Day so that Biden can remain in witness protection?

Maybe he’ll do the debates muffled in a mask. That way, his staff can provide the subtitles, and no one will know what he really said.

Twitter’s ‘fact police’ just embarked on a slippery slope

For Twitter to impose a biased new fact-check system targeting the president five months before an election is an intolerable effort to influence the political process.

When it slapped a fact-check alert on two of President Trump’s tweets about voter fraud, Twitter went from freewheeling social-media platform to a publisher with all the curbs on its freedom and legal vulnerabilities that entails.

It’s a slippery slope.

Now that Twitter has set itself up as the arbiter of truth on a Republican president’s posts, will it also go after fact-challenged liberals?

It could start by retrospectively adding fact checks to the millions of tweets that propagated the Russia-collusion conspiracy theory that was proven false by the Mueller probe. A lot of blue “chekists” should find themselves permanently branded as fact-free zones.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, for instance, needs a slew of fact-check boxes on his rancid tweets accusing Trump of being “in the pocket of Putin.” Twitter could link to declassified material showing Brennan is a liar.

There’s a lot not to like about the president’s tweets. He should not be tweeting murder accusations against Joe Scarborough, for one thing. It’s not fair to the family of Scarborough’s deceased former intern, Lori Klausutis.

But if he wants to behave in a shamefully cruel way to a grieving family, he will pay the political price.

It’s not up to Twitter to censor the record.

‘Karen’ has paid enough of a price

Nobody likes a “Karen.” The generic term for a bossy, entitled, middle-aged woman who throws tantrums when she doesn’t get her own way is an insult that has become a form of social control.

But it’s gone too far with “Central Park Karen.”

Calling the cops to report “an African-American man threatening my life” after he simply asked her to leash her dog was reprehensible.

Amy Cooper deserves condemnation, but she’s paid a heavy price already. She’s lost her dog. She’s been fired from her job. She’s getting death threats. The Central Park Civic Association wants her banned from the park for life. The city Commission on Human Rights has launched an investigation. Legislators want new hate-crime legislation inspired by her actions.

Mayor de Blasio felt obliged to opine: “The video out of Central Park is racism, plain and simple.” No kidding, Sherlock.

This is overkill. It’s inhumane. Even Christian Cooper, the man she tried to get arrested, says it has gone too far.

The irrational thirst for blood on social media should not spill over into real life. Enough. Leave her alone.

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Lifestyle

Twitter can’t get over this video showing the inside of a kangaroo pouch

The internet is home to a lot of strange videos – but a recent clip, in particular, has left Twitter thoroughly shaken.

A TikTok video from animal vlogger Alexandra Kalin has revealed what the inside of a real-life kangaroo pouch looks like – and it’s not the cosy compartment that everybody expected.

In the TikTok – which has now been liked over 907,000 times with more than 3,000 comments – someone can be seen going up to a kangaroo and opening its pouch.

But rather than a simple furry pocket which holds a baby marsupial, the video shows the kangaroo to have a hairless hole in its flesh, lined with sweat glands.

The clip was also shared on Twitter, where it’s now received more than 423,000 likes and over 119,000 retweets – with many users sharing their shock over the discovery.

One Twitter caption reads: ‘I THOUGHT KANGEROOS [sic] HAD A POUCH NOT A GAPING HOLE IN THEIR FLESH???????’

Someone else tweeted: ‘Just saw what a kangaroo’s pouch looks like and I’m permanently scarred.’

Another added: ‘This will change your perspective on kangaroos if you didn’t know this already.’

While another user wrote: ‘I could’ve gone my whole life without knowing this, and I would’ve been fine.’

Another simply said: ‘Kinda feel sick after seeing the insides ngl.’

But it seems kangaroos are not the animals to have caught the attention of people in lockdown.

An adorable dog from Leeds has stolen hearts with its tongue that’s permanently stuck out, along with a cat who sticks his tongue out for photos.

Likewise, a clever stray cat took a woman into a grocery store to point out the food he wanted to eat – resulting in the kind customer adopting him.

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Lifestyle

DAN HODGES: We can't go on like this much longer

DAN HODGES: We can’t go on like this much longer – cheating death by also cheating life in coronavirus lockdown

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It was when I bought a gun that I knew Corona Madness had finally claimed me. I’d been speaking to a Government official who presented an increasingly apocalyptic vision of how the Covid-19 crisis could spiral out of control.

Panic-buying was just the start, they feared. Soon there would be looting, the police would be overwhelmed and the Army would have to be drafted in.

So I ordered a pistol on the internet. Not a real one, obviously. A replica. But I figured the average looter wouldn’t notice the difference.

Then I decided to try to turn back time.

A soldier is pictured being trained by a paramedic. This morning, Whitehall is locked in a fierce debate over how to plot a way out

I’d seen the reports of increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients in their 50s being admitted to hospital, and started to contemplate the brutal triage system that would be introduced by a desperate NHS. 

So at night, as I went to sleep, I began to try to teach myself a new birth date – one that would place me in my 40s and give me a fighting chance of ICU admission when the virus struck.

But the thing that tipped me closest to the edge was a packet of toilet paper.

A neighbour rang to ask if I knew of any local shops that might still have some in stock. As I spoke to her, I could literally see six new rolls glinting in their shiny packet.

Basic decency said I should offer to give her some. But I was transfixed, like Gollum eying his precious ring.

What if the panic-buying intensified? Why hadn’t she had the foresight to purchase her own rolls? This was my sacred toilet paper.

Panic-buying was just the start, they feared. Soon there would be looting, the police would be overwhelmed and the Army would have to be drafted in. The 2011 London Riots are pictured above

That was me at the start of this crisis. The Blackheath Rambo – a fake fortysomething with a pistol, ready and willing to take down anyone who dared make a move against his prized hoard of Andrex.

Of course, the madness subsided. It proved impossible to maintain such a sense of jeopardy over a month of lockdown.

The gun never actually arrived – too many people had the same idea as me, and they sold out. The NHS ICU crisis didn’t materialise.

In the end I relented, and offered to help my neighbour.

But my own brief skirmish with coronavirus’s mental demons revealed a simple truth. We can’t carry on living like this.

This morning, Whitehall is locked in a fierce debate over how to plot a way out.

On one side are scientists and epidemiologists, warning of the awful death toll that could result from a premature lifting of restrictions.

What if the panic-buying intensified? Why hadn’t she had the foresight to purchase her own rolls? This was my sacred toilet paper. That was me at the start of this crisis [File photo]

On the other are economists and accountants, pointing to the catastrophic impact on the economy if those restrictions persist.

But there is a vital voice missing from the discussions. The voice that sets aside the clinical and economic imperatives for a moment, and calmly points out a basic fact. We are surviving. And existing. But we are no longer living.

Each of us is incarcerated like a prisoner. Allowed out for one hour of exercise a day, before being reinterred for the other 23.

When we do go out, we are not people, but glorified computer guidance systems, constantly calculating the speed and trajectory of nearby pedestrians, cyclists or joggers who could deploy the lethal germ and seal our fate.

We are lucky. The elderly and infirm are granted no release from their cell at all.

Families have been ripped asunder. Grandparents banned by Government edict from hugging their grandchildren. To encroach within 6ft of a lifelong friend is to risk a fine or arrest.

That is on an individual level. But what we are witnessing goes far wider. To the slow leeching of the life-blood of a nation.

Our great works of art have been rendered invisible. Shakespeare has been banished from the stage by executive order. Our sporting arenas lie silent. Within our cathedrals, churches and mosques the simple act of prayer has been rendered a sin.

Yes, these measures have all been justified. And, despite the naysayers, have proved effective.

Britain did its duty and observed the Easter lockdown. And as predicted by the Government’s health experts, the spread of the virus may have finally peaked.

But we need a serious discussion now – as a country – about where we go from here.

And it cannot be a discussion confined to graphs, or spreadsheets, or infection rate algebra.

The argument up to now – correctly – has been that the priority must be saving lives.

And many have been. But at what price? Not in economics, but to a nation’s soul.

We have heard the cry ‘scandal’ a lot over the past month. The ‘scandal’ of our care homes. The ‘scandal’ of lack of PPE. The ‘scandal’ over testing.

But the biggest single scandal of this crisis occurred on March 30, when 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, from London, succumbed to Covid-19.

Because of restrictions we all demanded be put in place to keep us safe, he died alone. And because of those same restrictions, he was buried alone.

Yes, we should be proud of our collective national effort over the past month. But when we allow our children to die in that way, we have set aside our humanity and taken a step towards barbarity.

So now we need to be honest with ourselves. We need to make a choice. In terms of who we are, who we want to be and just how high a price we want to pay to keep ourselves safe from coronavirus.

The NHS ICU crisis didn’t materialise. In the end I relented, and offered to help my neighbour. Ambulance staff in North London are pictured above wearing personal protective equipment

And it’s a choice that will have to be made quickly.

Speaking to Ministers last week, it is clear that there will be no Hollywood-style ending to our Covid-19 crisis.

As one explained: ‘People need to realise this thing is just not going to go away. Smallpox is basically the only virus that’s ever been eradicated. Every season we get four separate strains of flu circulating in the UK. And coronavirus is set to become one of them. Theoretically for decades.’

I’m also told the production and distribution of a vaccine is, realistically, years away. As is a foolproof testing and tracing regime.

So over the next three weeks of lockdown, we are going to have to take a long look around, and then take an even harder look at ourselves.

How much longer do we wish to carry this on? Another three weeks? Six? Nine? Three months? Three years? For how much longer do we as a nation intend to cheat death by also cheating life?

Ministers are today facing demands they set out their ‘exit plan’. But we cannot subcontract our own humanity to them.

We have to decide ourselves what risks we’re prepared to take in order to go back to the lives we had before the coronavirus laid its hand upon us.

Because we are going to have to go back. This is not sustainable. We cannot all continue to exist 6ft apart. We are going to have to learn to shake hands again. And hug again. And kiss again.

If there are new dangers that come with that, so be it. But however well-meaning Boris Johnson and his Ministers and their experts are, we cannot continue to live – and die – like this.

 

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Lifestyle

MLB can’t be remembered for reckless coronavirus risk

At many of our most tumultuous times, Major League Baseball has helped guide us to a better place by the simple act of taking the field.

But what if the best way to lead now, with the world battling the coronavirus pandemic, starts with the even simpler act of not taking the field?

No harm results from discussions, and the proposal to hold the entire 2020 MLB season in Arizona, with no fans in the stands — a baseball biosphere of sorts — is only a discussion at this juncture. Yet as long as we’re discussing this topic, it’s time for Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, the owners and the players, to shift their message.

Forget about variations of “We’ll try to get in as many games as we can” or promotions of the game as chicken soup for our collectively bruised soul. Given the massive uncertainty defining this crisis, pivot to something like “We just don’t know what’s going to be possible. For now, we’re here to help.”

Actually, MLB took a strong step in that direction on Tuesday, releasing a statement which downplayed the Arizona plan and closed with this sentiment: “The health and safety of our employees, players, fans and the public at large are paramount, and we are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus.”

My Post colleague Joel Sherman, in his column on the Arizona idea, offered the plethora of logistical hurdles that would need to be leapt in order to turn this into a reality. It would represent a herculean task at a moment of weakness.

And to what end? When you conduct the cost-benefit analysis, you mark down “Some revenues, as opposed to no revenues” in the benefits column. Far be it from anyone, with so many businesses dying, to pooh-pooh that. And sure, sports, and especially baseball’s daily routine, can bring joy to our world.

Then you shift to costs, and we need to list only one to tilt the scale the other way: People’s health.

When you sign up for baseball, you accept the possibility of getting drilled in the head by a pitch or a comebacker, or even a foul ball if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. To participate in baseball this year, must you also concede the chance that you’ll catch an infectious disease because you slid into home plate? Or that you’ll pass it to an unsuspecting teammate, umpire, bus driver or hotel employee?

Does baseball, historically mindful and proud of its legacy, want to be remembered as behaving recklessly during a time when our leaders (or at least some of them) called for great caution?

So far, the commissioner’s office and the Players Association and their respective constituencies have behaved in exemplary fashion, donating considerable monies to take care of folks like hourly stadium workers and preaching the importance of staying at home and social distancing. Let’s hope they can keep that going through what might be a very long grind to come.

For this is not World War II, with no inherent risk to those who played and attended those contests while fighting occurred abroad, nor 9/11, when grieving, rather than surviving, served as our primary mission. This is an ongoing shared nightmare. If ballplayers and team employees get access to better medical care than most, they sure as heck can’t buy COVID-19 immunity.

The most effective way to ease the most people’s pain right now is literally with resources, not figuratively with the hope of baseball games. Those fortunate enough with the good health and time to seek out diversions must keep settling for classic replays.

Manfred’s predecessor Bud Selig regularly called baseball “a social institution,” a nod to the sport’s impactful role in racial integration as well as its soothing and uniting effect amidst external turmoil. Maybe in a few months, the institution of baseball can resume its normal role. For where we stand now, though, baseball must adapt just as dramatically as the rest of us. To do otherwise would reject and insult its own legacy.

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Lifestyle

Can't get a supermarket slot? Try these alternative food delivery services

Supermarket slots are few and far between at the moment, with many companies struggling to cope with increased demand as people opt for online deliveries instead of heading to the shops.

Some businesses, like Ocado and Gousto are prioritising existing customers, so if you’re signing up for the first time you might be waiting a while to place your order.

Whether you just want to order some dishes for the coming week or are looking for particular items that are low in stock in stores – like vegetables, fresh bread or vegan dishes – there are alternative food delivery services that you can use.

We’ve rounded up a list of five companies to try if you’re struggling to get a supermarket slot.

Allplants

If you’re vegan and struggling to find your usual ingredients in stores, you’re in luck.

Allplants is a small vegan company that delivers frozen ready meals that are completely made with, well, plants.

Choose from 22 dishes like Tempeh Rendang Curry, Three Mushroom Risotto, Mac & Greens, BBQ Burrito Bowl and more.

But this isn’t your average frozen meal – each one is made by a chef to preserve the freshness of the ingredients .

We have tried the dishes for ourselves, and they are delicious, but they are on the pricier side.

You can get six dishes for £46.02 or, if you’re ordering for two people, 12 dishes for £68.04. If you want to place regular orders, it might be worth subscribing to the service as you get a 12% discount.

On the plus side, weekday delivery is free.

Hobbs House Bakery

If you’re around the Cotswolds and crave fresh bread on a regular basis, we’ve got good news.

While most bakeries are shut, Hobbs House has adapted with a home delivery service.

And it’s not just bread (although we love bread), but you can also order cakes and other sweet treats like hot cross buns.

They even have a brownie subscription; you get four different flavours for £53.00 (they’re pretty big, not your average size).

The company also sells tools so you can bake for yourself, including sourdough starters.

Meat Home Delivery

The name is pretty self-explanatory.

Those looking for extra fancy steaks to enjoy in self-isolation or who don’t want to go hunting for protein in the supermarket, can order meat online from this family business.

Meat Home Delivery packs your goods in chilled boxes and they should arrive at your door within three to five days.

But the minimum order is £60 – which isn’t bad if you’re a family or in a house share, but if you live alone, make sure you’ve got space in the freezer so your delectable dishes don’t go off.

You can get everything from Sunday roasts to meat bundles, bacon, sausages and chicken.

Pale Green Dot

Can’t find any fresh veg in your local store?

If you’re based in London or the south east, you can order yourself a box of fresh greens from Pale Green Dot.

The best part? You don’t have to wait ages, as the company aims to deliver all boxes by the next working day.

Choose from The Essential Fresh Produce Box for £12.50, which includes root veg such as onions, swede, beetroot, carrots and potatoes as well as leaves and green veg, coloured veg (peppers, tomatoes, that kind of thing) and local fruit.

Or go bigger with The Veg and Staples Box, which features milk, bread and eggs, too, for £20.

Make it a one-off drop or a weekly delivery, it’s up to you.

Paxton & Whitfield

Just because you’re stuck in self-isolation, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bit of luxury – and what says luxury more than cheese?

Paxton & Whitfield is currently accepting new customer orders, and you can get all the cheesy goodness including cheese board selections, cheese hampers, cheese biscuits or just random cheeses.

The company also has crackers, savoury chutneys and preserves, hams and sweet treats. Order £60 worth and you’ll get the delivery for free (that’s a lot of cheese) or pay £6.95 for delivery.

Crack open a bottle of red – or non-alcoholic grape juice – and you’re gouda to go (sorry).

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Lifestyle

‘You can’t stop people from living’: Beachgoers defiant as NSW government shuts down Bondi Beach

On a warm autumn day, as waves gently wash over the sand, there are few better places in the world than Bondi Beach.

But the large crowds of sunbathers, swimmers and surfers flocking to the popular beach in the past few days have been criticised for ignoring health advice about social distancing and restrictions on public gatherings implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Beachgoers are seen at Bondi Beach on Friday despite the threat of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Sydney.Credit:AAP

In response, the NSW government announced on Saturday it would shut down the beach.

Earlier, Waverley mayor Paula Masselos had urged beachgoers to follow the guidelines about social distancing.

"I am frustrated that people continue to ignore health advice about social distancing as observed yesterday at Bondi Beach," she said.

There were less beachgoers on Saturday morning as Keith McNaughton prepared to swim in the ocean with his friend Mary.

There were less beachgoers on Saturday morning st Bondi Beach before the government announced plans to shut the area down.Credit:Steven Siewert

Mr McNaughton said he was visiting the beach to maintain his physical and mental health.

"I’m trying to apply some reasonable risk management," he said. "But for me it’s important for my mental health to keep doing exercise."

However, Mr McNaughton said he had adjusted his regular routine to avoid crowds: "It’s pretty busy down here but we’re going to have a swim out the back."

"So am I worried about it? I’m trying to keep away from people and isolate per the government guidelines."

Keith McNaughton after his Saturday morning swim.Credit:Steven Siewert

Mr McNaughton said he had taken his children to Clovelly on Friday, but had left when it became too busy.

But he said: "It’s important they allow the community to still go out and get exercise appropriately."

Sam Sirianni, who regularly runs and swims at Bondi Beach, said he was "not really" worried about visiting the beach.

"I keep my distance from people," he said. "As you can see, I’m laying by myself."

Mr Sirianni, from Double Bay, said the crowds at the beach were a problem but added: "You can’t stop people from living. That’s the way I look at it. If it’s a nice day and I want to have a run and a swim, well I’m gonna go do it."

However, Mr Sirianni said he would accept a lockdown if it was imposed: "But at the moment, if they’re telling us to keep 1.5 [metres] away from people, well, let’s go by that."

Other beachgoers interviewed by The Sun-Herald expressed similar sentiments, although they declined to give their surnames.



Diego, from Chile, said he had come to the beach for "just a quick walk" after avoiding it last week.

"We’ve been trying to keep ourselves in our houses for a while but I think that getting some fresh air during the morning is a good thing," he said.

Belinda, from North Bondi, said she had arrived at the beach early when there were few people around.

"I went for a swim where there was no one near me and then I lay on the beach where there was no one near me," she said.

A regular beachgoer, Belinda said she was concerned by the large numbers of people at the beach who did not appear to take the pandemic seriously.

"Did you see yesterday?" she said. "It was outrageous."

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Lifestyle

Opinion: Why Can't America Make Its Own Medicine Anymore?

In 2018, a commonly used drug to treat irregular heartbeats was suddenly in short supply. “All of a sudden it gets taken away and I’m like, what is happening?” one New Hampshire cardiologist recalled to me recently. “I’m in the United States and I don’t have cardizem right now?”

As the coronavirus sweeps across the globe, that experience is a preview of what’s to come: another round of what one trade publication calls the “pharmaceutical version of The Hunger Games.”

China’s Hubei Province is the epicenter of the global coronavirus outbreak. It’s also home to at least 12 drug plants supplying the US with everything from painkillers to antibiotics. And beyond Hubei, an estimated 80% of pharmaceutical ingredients are sourced from China and India (which, in turn, sources nearly 80% of its drug ingredients from China.)

Our ability to make and distribute medicine here in America is falling apart, and it’s a direct result of the consolidation of the supply chains and factories that make it.

The cardizem shortage of 2018 began when Hurricane Maria knocked out power to a handful of factories in Puerto Rico that produce saline bags used around the world for administering intravenous medications. Those few days of lost production in Puerto Rico caused cardizem supplies to be backlogged for months. Pharmaceutical producers put most of their eggs in one basket, and the hurricane upset the basket.

The coronavirus could disturb a much bigger basket — the majority of pharmaceutical drugs globally.

Since at least 2005, hospital administrators and patients have experienced the fragility of the drug supply chain. Policymakers have failed to address the root cause. Why did we consolidate and thin out supply chains so aggressively?

The answer is found in the behavior of “power buyers,” corporations in the drug supply chain that buy a lot of product and subsequently, have the power to set prices. Power buyers like CVS or the group purchasing organizations (GPOs) that hospitals use to buy everything from surgical gowns to generic drugs have consolidated the drug supply chain, squeezing manufacturers to get rid of all their redundant sources of supply, or even riskier, ship off their production to China.

Indeed, it’s consolidation all the way down: Many of these GPOs outsource even further, purchasing their generic drugs through separate power buyer entities. For example, Cardinal Health, the fifth largest GPO in the country, runs a joint venture called Red Oak Sourcing with CVS Health, the largest pharmacy chain, to handle purchasing for Cardinal, CVS, Target, Omnicare (which sources for approximately 50% of all nursing homes), and OptumRx (the drug division of UnitedHealth Group). Other power buyers cover purchasing for Walmart, Walgreens, and Express Scripts. The market is so consolidated that just four of these power buyers control over 90% of generic drug purchasing for the entire country.

This consolidation might not seem like a bad thing. After all, generic drugs are cheap; a course of generic antibiotics may cost no more than $5 to the consumer. But power buyers have driven prices below a sustainable level for the producer. Their consolidated buying power — also called monopsony power — has lowered margins on generic drugs such that many manufacturers have consolidated to match their bargaining power, or offshored their production lines to eke out whatever margin they can.

Drug shortages aren’t the only consequence of this. Power buyers act similarly to the way Walmart handles purchasing for its more than 5,000 stores, demanding extremely low prices from suppliers and forcing them to either fold or move production to cheaper labor markets overseas. American factories close, production moves offshore, and the result is a loss of diversity and resiliency for the entire supply chain, in return for slightly lower prices. Common goods, including garden hoses, TVs, air conditioner parts and car parts are now all in shortage.

In coming weeks and months, the coronavirus pandemic is likely to reveal the hidden risk embedded in the low consumer prices for medical supplies, just like the financial crisis forced hidden risks back on the balance sheet of major banks. Reports indicate the FDA is now carefully monitoring 150 drugs for anticipated shortages due to the outbreak.

As lawmakers and experts consider solutions to fix the fragile medical supply chain, many are focused on having the FDA gain visibility into our supply chain and relocating supply chains away from China. These approaches are a good start, but they also fail to address the root of the problem.

Rather than solely focusing on the country of origin of the supply chains, lawmakers and regulators should be focused on the market power issues that caused the problem. Regulatory solutions like breaking apart the power buyers of drugs and legislative solutions like banning contracts that guarantee massive purchasers the lowest possible price would allow the supply chain to re-diversify. And diverse supply chains are better able to respond to catastrophe.

We’re far beyond just manageable shortages. The coronavirus is forcing lawmakers to confront the weakness of US supply chains; the solutions should go beyond the short-term crisis and address the concentrated corporate power that’s at fault.

Olivia Webb is a Policy Analyst with the American Economic Liberties Project

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I can’t get a mortgage with my wife after running up credit card debts in my twenties – The Sun

DEAR DEIDRE: WHEN I was in the Army in my twenties, and a bit wild, I ran up credit card debts.

In the end I paid them all off, though it took a few years.

I am 43 and married with two children now but can’t get a mortgage due to my poor credit rating.

It is so frustrating for my wife and I.

We pay £750 rent a month for our house and have never been late in ten years, but we are effectively throwing this money away with nothing to show for it.

If we got a mortgage we would be well on the way to owning a place of our own but I feel condemned by a few escapades as a lad.

Get in touch with Deidre today

Got a problem?

Send an email to [email protected] Every problem gets a personal reply, usually within 24 hours weekdays.

You can also send a private message on the DearDeidreOfficial Facebook page.

Follow me on Twitter @deardeidre.

DEIDRE SAYS: Have you checked this out afresh recently?

You may well be able to improve your credit rating and the bad record from ten years ago may be improved now, as things like missed payments and bankruptcy are wiped after six years.

For detailed help on getting your credit rating into better shape – plus guidance on finding a mortgage – you should head over to moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

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