Monthly Archives: October 2018

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Growing party sets city seeking headache cure

Revellers came out in far greater numbers than expected to celebrate New Year, with early estimates of about 2 million people crowding around the central city area. This was nearly half a million more than predicted.
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The huge crowd made for a great party but also foreshadowed future problems about managing the burgeoning event.

Ten years ago, the crowd was half that number.

”The event has just become more and more popular, and that is something that we will have to take into consideration,” lord mayor Clover Moore, said.

As the celebrations grow larger so does the challenge of managing that number of people.

More than 170 people were arrested in the Sydney and northern area – another 13 were were sent to the sobering-up centre – in what the police viewed as a successful New Year’s Eve operation.

“Generally the crowds were well behaved, when you have that number of people,” NSW Police acting deputy commissioner David Hudson said.

”But as predicted a couple of days ago, we did have certain individuals who saw fit to ruin the evening for a number of people – exacerbated by excessive consumption of alcohol.”

The alcohol exclusion zones were very important, he said. The increase in those areas meant people with children could visit the city to enjoy the fireworks ”confident that they were not going to be standing next to some drunk or someone who’s going to be violent towards them”.

But by the early hours of New Year’s Day thousands of revellers had flocked to Beare Park in Elizabeth Bay – a venue with no alcohol ban – where residents reported that the party had become unruly.

”They started coming onto our property and climbing on cars and using our garden as a toilet,” said Jana Masarova, who lives adjacent to the park. There were only three toilets in the park, which was already full of drunk people, she said.

”We had planned to go down there to have a look at the fireworks but it was too dangerous,” Ms Masarova said.

The City of Sydney promised that the park would be better managed next year. ”[We] will consult with residents and police to minimise any behaviour that could mar this wonderful event,” a spokesman said.

Cr Moore, said the site had been overrun by an unexpected influx of backpackers and tourists and that the city’s cleaners had recovered several passports from the site.

Cr Moore on Wednesday morning visited the park, where a peak of 50 cleaners worked from daybreak until after lunch gathering four tonnes of rubbish and cleaning up broken glass on their hands and knees. This was just part of an extensive clean-up operation involving more than 350 workers and 60 trucks collecting 58 tonnes of rubbish, and which cost the city $300,000.

The lord mayor said she would consult with the state government about how better to manage crowds next year.

But she said she was against levying additional fees on revellers as a means of controlling numbers.

Despite a bashing in Kings Cross which left a teenager in a critical condition, emergency services said the celebrations were broadly in line with their expectations.

”The crowd swelled early in the evening making it difficult for our paramedics to move in and around,” NSW Ambulance deputy commissioner Mike Willis said.

Police said their crowd control efforts were successful, notwithstanding the arrests. ”You have to be realistic about the number of people [and] the amount of alcohol that is consumed,” Mr Hudson said.

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Spike Jonze taps into love in a virtual world in Her

More on HerMovie session timesFull movies coverage
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Years before the invention of Siri made people comfortable talking directly to their digital devices, Spike Jonze got the seed of an idea for a story about a romance between a man and his computer.

”About a decade ago, I saw an article online that said you could interact with an artificial intelligence program (called A.L.I.C.E.),” Jonze said during a recent interview about Her, his fourth feature film.

”So I IM’d (instant messaged) this address and got a little banter going back and forth, and for a moment I had this buzz of, ‘Wow, this thing is talking to me’. It didn’t take long to reveal it was just parroting back what it had already heard before, but for that 20 seconds I got the idea of a man having a relationship with an operating system.”

Jonze filed the idea away and says he ”didn’t really think about it until a few years later, when I realised just how intriguing this was, that the concept could be used to explore relationships, and it started to become much more”.

Did it ever. Her is being hailed by critics as a remarkably touching, deeply thoughtful achievement by Jonze, best known for his earlier mind-bending movies Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, as well as his award-winning commercials and music videos. Her was named best film of 2013 by the US National Board of Review.

Set in a near-future Los Angeles, it stars Joaquin Phoenix as the not-quite-divorced loner Theodore, who pens love notes to strangers as an employee at the website BeautfulHandwrittenLetters南京夜网. Still hurting from the separation from his wife (played by Rooney Mara, seen mainly in dreamy flashbacks), Theodore is walking through his life in a fog of heartbreak until he is enticed by an ad for ”OS1: a new operating system, an intuitive entity that listens to you, knows you, understands you.” ”Samantha” becomes the virtual assistant of his dreams. Voiced by Scarlett Johansson, Samantha brings order to Theodore’s digital life, organising his hard drive and emails. But before long, she becomes his inseparable, albeit disembodied, companion.

Despite its boy-meets-computer set-up, Her evolves into an earnest and subtly profound inquiry into what is both fulfilling and confounding about modern love.

”The biggest challenge, for sure, was creating a real, believable love story that people would engage with both characters, even though one half of the relationship is never seen,” Jonze says. Much of the film relies on close-ups of Phoenix’s face as he registers his character’s emotions and, by proxy, the emotions of his love interest.

”Joaquin is just so completely, naturally alive onscreen,” Jonze, who cast Phoenix as soon as he finished his first draft, says. ”Then I spent a year tinkering with the script, and every time I had a new version, I’d show it to him and we’d talk about it.”

Johansson has already received critical praise for the believability of her performance as the seductive operating system that tries to understand the human world and feel the weight of real emotions.

”I really tried to empathise with Samantha, to understand what her experience would be,” Jonze says. ”I cared about her as a real entity even though she’s without physical form, so I hoped others would, too.

”When Scarlett came in to audition, we ended up having this meeting that was seven or eight hours long. We talked about the movie, about relationships, about the character, then we’d read a scene and talk some more. At one point I was able to articulate the idea that when Samantha is created she doesn’t have any fears, just like we don’t when we’re born. She learns these self-doubts and insecurities. That’s when Scarlett said something like, ‘Oh, this is going to be a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,”’ Jonze says with a laugh.

Unlike many filmmakers who have brought to the screen a dystopian future of robots and rubble, Jonze has imagined in Her a comforting day-after-tomorrow of natural fabrics, rounded edges and muted colours.

”We weren’t trying to make a predictive movie that says this is what the future is going to look like,” Jonze says. ”Early on, K.K. [Barrett, the production designer] and I realised we could let that pressure go and make a future that is a feeling, and as it developed it became more utopic-feeling.

”It’s an LA love story, and I think LA is a hyper version of what modern life is. It’s easier in a lot of ways. The weather is great, there’s the beach, you can find great food everywhere, the coffee is great, even inexpensive clothes are really nice. And we’re never lost, we are never not in communication, because of this thing,” Jonze says, touching his smartphone. ”Yet, in this world where everything is easy and comfortable, there is still loneliness and isolation. Maybe even more so.”

San Francisco Chronicle

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Ashes 2014: Scott Borthwick gets dream call-up for England

Talent: Scott Borthwick at a recent Northern District training session. Photo: SuppliedScott Borthwick is a born-and-bred Englishman but that has not stopped one Sydney family from claiming the budding leg-spinner as an ”honorary Australian”.
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It might be a stretch for Australia to lay any dibs on the 23-year-old with the thick Geordie accent but the local system can at least claim some credit for Borthwick’s rise.

As recently as the weekend before Christmas, Borthwick was plying his trade with the Northern District club in Sydney’s grade competition but Graeme Swann’s shock retirement has left the spinner on the verge of making his Test debut on Friday.

Borthwick is no stranger to Australia, having played a season in Adelaide’s grade scene and also spent time at the city’s Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy, where he received tutelage from two of the best – Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill.

Add that to the six first-grade games he has played with Northern District and that is enough for the club’s president to label him one of ours.

”I’d call him an honorary Australian – and a decent Pom, too,” Mike Langford said.

No matter how thorough Australia’s dossier is on Borthwick, few on these shores would know him better than Langford, whose family has played host to the Englishman during his stint in Sydney.

It is not uncommon for the club’s visiting players to stay with the Langfords for a week until they find their feet in Sydney but an exception was made for Borthwick, who happily performed household chores.

”I’ve had other cricketers come out to stay with me and it’s ‘What can you do for me?’, hence my wife’s hesitation, but this kid just went out of his way to help,” Langford said.

”He came in and it was ‘how can I help you?’ which is a nice change from a lot of touring cricketers. He stayed the whole time he was with us and we got to know him very well,” added Langford, a father of three.

”My wife wants to adopt him as a fourth son. That’s the sort of bloke he is.”

Borthwick was at the club’s Christmas party and due to fly home the following day to prepare for the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka when he received a phone call from England coach Andy Flower informing him to scrap those plans.

Swann had retired and he was needed with the senior squad rather than England’s development team.

Although Borthwick has not played internationally against Australia, he should not be a complete stranger to the side having lined up alongside Brad Haddin in a game in November.

Langford recalls seeing the pair ”chatting seriously” that day but does not expect any charity from Haddin at the SCG should Borthwick make his debut.

Asked if Australia would attack him in the manner that ended Swann’s career, Haddin said: ”No doubt.”

Borthwick’s numbers with Northern District – 11 wickets at 35, and 219 runs (including a century) at 31 with the bat – are respectable, though the Test arena is a big leap from the grade scene.

”The standard in Sydney is very good, it’s very competitive,” Borthwick said.

”You come across some good players, especially when the state players are playing. I got what I needed to get out of it. I got through some overs and got to spend some time in the middle.”

Borthwick considers himself more a spinner than a batsman but with a first-class average of 31 in both disciplines he is clearly no slouch in either.

As a leggie on debut, he expects the Australian batsmen to attack him but is backing himself to spin the ball past them.

”When batters do come at you it gives you the chance to get some wickets,” he said. ”Being around the squad … really excites me and I’m thrilled to be here.”

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Run-shy England skip batting practice before Ashes finale at SCG

Their batting has been streets behind Australia and they’ve been terrorised by Mitchell Johnson this summer but England have snubbed an opportunity to try to iron out their problems before Friday’s fifth Test.
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While Australian captain Michael Clarke and most of his top six had a hit-out in the SCG training nets on Wednesday, their opponents’ pre-match practice was restricted to a fielding session on the ground. Down 4-0 in the Ashes series, and having been blown away by Australia again in Melbourne thanks to another poor batting performance, they have not picked up a bat since.

”I don’t think they’re in a great place, to be perfectly honest,” Australian vice-captain Brad Haddin said. ”I think you can probably tell a bit of that in their fielding the other day. I think that’s the first thing to go when you’re struggling a bit. All the team stuff, all the 1 per centers, they’re the first things to go. The batting and bowling, it’s an individual thing, but I think the team stuff looked like it was breaking a bit the other day.”

England’s fielding reached a new low with captain Alastair Cook as guilty as anyone thanks to a sitter he dropped at first slip on the fourth and final day of the Boxing Day Test at the weekend. It followed another chance that Cook dropped after wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow failed to move.

Yet it is their failures with the bat that have been most damaging, clearing the way for Australia to dramatically turn a 10-month period in which they had not won a Test. Only twice in eight innings have England managed to pass 300, and Australia boast the top five scorers in the series, with Kevin Pietersen scraping into sixth place with 285 runs at an average of 35.62.

Australia’s eight hundreds for the Ashes campaign are matched by only one from England – an admirable maiden century by all-rounder Ben Stokes in Perth. And the tourists’ shortcomings have not only been in the ranks of their specialist batsmen. While Australia’s lower order have got them out

of trouble on several occasions with important partnerships, there has been little or no resistance to the onslaught led by Johnson on the England tail.

They lost 5-6 to be rolled for 179 in their second innings at the MCG, squandering their best chance of a win in this series.

Haddin, however, was reluctant to criticise Cook and the England leadership on Wednesday. ”It’s not my place to judge how Alastair runs his team. We have to make sure our own backyard is in order,” he said. ”I’m not concerned about moves he makes … it’s hard enough making sure we’re up for every game.”

Asked why England had declined to bat, their emerging leg-spinner Scott Borthwick said: ”No reason whatsoever. We just had a nice runaround, a bit of catching and worked on our skills.”

The 23-year-old from Durham was a mid-tour addition to the squad after the shock retirement of Graeme Swann before the fourth Test, and is tipped to make his debut in Sydney. He disputed the perception that England are in disarray.

”The lads are sticking together,” Borthwick said. ”We had a great fielding session, and our energy was fantastic. We were running around taking great catches and everyone was patting each other on the back. The spirit is brilliant. We’re trying our best to get a good win in Sydney.”

As for Australia, Ryan Harris (knee) and Shane Watson (groin) did not train on Wednesday – Harris and fellow fast bowlers Johnson and Peter Siddle had a pool session instead – but there remained optimistic that they would be fit for Friday. If they are cleared the other possible change to the XI is a recall for all-rounder James Faulkner in place of George Bailey.

”We would love to have the same group go out that we did at the start of the tour, and if they are right to go they deserve that right to come out in this fifth Test,” Haddin said.

Twitter – @ChrisBarrett_

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Jackson Strong, motocross star, in hospital after backyard fireworks mishap

Jackson Strong, who made a name for himself in the motocross arena, was hurt in a fireworks mishap on New Year’s Eve.Motocross star Jackson Strong was among several people injured in backyard fireworks incidents in NSW on New Year’s Eve.
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An ambulance spokeswoman said paramedics responded to reports of a fireworks explosion on Milbrulong Road, Lockhart, in south-western NSW’s Riverina region, about 12.10am on Wednesday.

She said two patients were taken to Wagga Wagga Base Hospital but Strong was reported to be the more badly hurt. He suffered a serious leg injury as well as chest and facial injuries.

He was flown to hospital by helicopter and then by plane to Sydney, where he was admitted to the burns unit of St George Hospital.

“His left leg around his thigh is the worst part,” his father Lyndon said.

“He will pull through, no worries at all.”

Strong, 22, made a name for himself in the motocross arena, rising from performing as a youth at the Lockhart Show to bagging a swag of medals on the world stage. The reigning X Games Best Trick gold medallist has ridden for the action sports show Nitro Circus.

A 24-year-old man suffered burns to his face and large cuts above both eyes after a fireworks accident at a property at Waukivory, north of Newcastle, at 10.37pm on Tuesday, a NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said.

The victim was taken to Gloucester Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, then flown to John Hunter Hospital in a serious condition.

He underwent emergency surgery on Wednesday amid fears that he could lose the sight in both eyes.

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