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Australian beaches locked down as virus cases pass 1,000

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Sunbathers, surfers and tourists were banned from Bondi Beach on Saturday in efforts to contain the coronavirus, which has now infected more than 1,000 people in Australia.

Lifeguards emptied the sands of daytrippers and police taped off entrances to the beach in Sydney, before closing several more of the city’s popular swimming spots.

The temporary measure comes after photos were shared online showing mostly young beachgoers packed together — drawing howls of protest in the media and from officials who have forbidden non-essential outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people.

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“This is not something we are doing because we are the ‘fun police’… this is about saving lives,” New South Wales state Police Minister David Elliott told reporters.

Meanwhile a whole region — the vast Northern Territory — said it would close its borders next week, forcing arrivals from elsewhere in Australia to quarantine for two weeks.

The measures announced by the territory’s chief minister, which begin on Tuesday, were aimed at addressing fears over the safety of remote indigenous communities who may be more vulnerable to an outbreak.

Australia’s confirmed cases climbed to 1,068 on Saturday. Among them are 10 US tourists quarantined in South Australia.

The nation has taken a series of drastic steps to contain the spread of the contagion, including closing its borders to foreigners and non-residents.

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At Bondi, people looked on at the desolate sands from the promenade after being told to leave the beach.

“I think it’s about time we take our responsibility even though it’s taking away something we value so much,” Bondi local Leila Alem told AFP.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has so far stopped short of ordering people to stay home or the shutdown of non-essential businesses, as introduced in some parts of the world.

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Photo: Bondi Beach AFP / PETER PARKS


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Controversial Contractors for Trump’s highly-criticized $3 billion food aid program hire lobbyist to tout their work

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Companies receiving taxpayer dollars as part of President Donald Trump’s signature food aid program hired a longtime lobbyist to push back on criticism that the government is relying on unqualified contractors, such as an event planner.

“We’re working to take the stories of the impact this is having on farmers, processors, distributors and end users and making sure some positive aspects of the program, from both the economic and social standpoints, are out there too,” said the lobbyist and industry consultant, Dale Apley, who reached out to ProPublica on behalf of the contractors. “It’s not all just certain stories about certain companies that maybe shouldn’t have been awarded contracts.”

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Ivanka Trump ‘urged’ Trump’s Bible photo-op — which could become a ‘defining moment’ of his presidency: NYT

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First daughter and senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump "urged" her father to take part in a controversial photo-op with a Bible according to a new report from The New York Times.

"After a weekend of protests that led all the way to his own front yard and forced him to briefly retreat to a bunker beneath the White House, President Trump arrived in the Oval Office on Monday agitated over the television images, annoyed that anyone would think he was hiding and eager for action," the newspaper reported.

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The psychology of protesters — and the psychology of people who hate them

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It is hard to imagine that anyone who watched the horrific video of George Floyd being asphyxiated by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin would come away feeling empathy for the police force that stood by and let it happen. And yet, amid the biggest coordinated civil rights protests in the United States since 1968, there are many voices out there who find excuses to defend cops like Derek Chauvin, who is now facing charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
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