Steve Carell as you’ve never seen him before – angry, activist and very gay

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Stacie Andree (Ellen Page) and Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) in a scene from Freeheld Photo: eOne Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell) in a scene from Freeheld. Photo: eOne
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This is Steve Carell as you’ve never seen him before – angry, activist and very gay.

In this clip from the drama Freeheld, based on a true story, Carell plays Steven Goldstein, a lawyer and gay rights activist in New Jersey who acted in a landmark case for police lieutenant Laurel Hester (played here by Julianne Moore) and her partner Stacie Andree (Ellen Page).

Hester had been diagnosed with cancer, and wanted to leave her estate, including her police pension, to Andree, but the elected officials of Ocean County – known as freeholders – refused to allow her pension to pass to a same-sex partner.

“What these freeholders are doing is unconscionable,” he tells Andree, Hester and fellow cop Dane Wells (Michael Shannon).

Goldstein floats the idea of a gay pride parade, to “show them we’re a force to be reckoned with”.

When Wells tells him he doesn’t understand the conservative nature of this community, calling him “Steve”, Goldstein responds: “It’s Steven, with a V – as in very gay – and when people disrespect my gay brothers and sisters, I rain terror on them. Shock and awe. Shock and awe.”

Zach Galifianakis – like Carell, an alumnus of Saturday Night Live (though Galifianakis joined as a writer and lasted only two weeks) – was originally slated for the role of Goldstein but dropped out last August due to a scheduling conflict.

The real Goldstein told New Jersey’s The Auditor he was delighted with the casting decision.

“I’m so glad Steve Carell is playing me in Freeheld, rather than The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” he said.

Though this is the most out-and-proud role Carell – who is married (to a woman) and the father of two children – has played, technically speaking it isn’t his first gay role.

In 1996, he and Stephen Colbert provided the voices of Gary and Ace in an animated superhero comedy series called The Ambiguously Gay Duo.

In 2006 he played a gay Proust scholar recovering from a suicide attempt who is forced to go on a family road trip to a juvenile beauty pageant in the downbeat comedy Little Miss Sunshine.

And in 2014, he starred in Foxcatcher as John E. du Pont, the mega-wealthy wrestling enthusiast who shot and killed Dave Schultz in 1996, and whose relationship with his protégé Mark Schultz (played by Channing Tatum) in the film is tinged with a repressed homosexuality.

Freeheld, which is based on an Oscar-winning short documentary of the same name from 2007, opens in Thursday November 5.

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The two Chinan girls and their mother living in ‘jail’ at Villawood detention centre

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Villawood detention centre in Sydney. Photo: Jessica Hromas’Dad, why are we here?’ No life and a baby on the way on Nauru
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Salwa Abas stands out in the busy school drop off: she is the only child escorted by a guard. Classmates tease the five-year-old for living in a “jail” and when she returns home, each pocket of her bag is searched.

Salwa and her sister Yasmin, 3, are n citizens. But they have been living with their mother behind locked gates at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre for almost a year, after the federal government cancelled their mother’s visa.

In doing so, the government acknowledged the decision was not in the children’s best interests. Their mother Zahra, who is pregnant with her third child, has begged Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to intervene.

“They were happy n kids, why [did the government] do this to them, they don’t deserve to be here,” she told Fairfax Media from inside the detention centre.

“[My children] are really upset inside and they are asking me ‘What are we doing for Christmas, are we getting out? Why are we here?'”.

Ms Abas, originally from Iraq, arrived on a boat from Indonesia in 2009 with other family members. They were taken to Christmas Island then granted protection in .

Her father, known as Captain Emad, arrived in in 2010. He fled two years later, after ABC’s Four Corners program alleged he was running a people-smuggling racket from Canberra.

The case cast a spotlight on his family, and the Department of Immigration determined Ms Abas, who was 19 when arriving in , had falsified information on her visa application, including the reason why she needed protection.

Ms Abas said this week her father was “abusive, controlling and angry” and told the family to lie to immigration officials about their names and background.

“In Indonesia he wanted to break my legs because I wanted to run away from him, and he took a hammer and hit my leg and I got stitches from it,” she said.

“He told us to tell un-genuine information and I did, but my intention wasn’t anything bad, I just wanted to live [in] freedom without him abusing me any more.”

Under the former Labor government, the department said while Ms Abas had breached her obligations under migration law, her visa would not be cancelled.

But in December last year when the Coalition was in office, then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison personally intervened to cancel Ms Abas’ visa. She was informed on Christmas Eve.

In a letter to Ms Abas, the veracity of which the department did not dispute, Mr Morrison wrote that she had been living in Malaysia for many years, rather than in Iraq where she claimed to have suffered persecution, and should not have been granted a protection visa.

He said there was no evidence she was under duress from her father when applying for a visa.

“Notwithstanding that the best interests of the dependent children would be served by a decision not to cancel the mother’s visa, this is outweighed by the seriousness of the non-compliance,” Mr Morrison wrote.

Ms Abas was taken into detention in January, and lives in residential-style housing. Her n citizen husband suffers medical problems and depression after an accident and cannot care for the children, forcing them to live with their mother at Villawood indefinitely.

Ms Abas’ husband visits the family in detention and she is 21 weeks pregnant. She is also severely depressed and fears for the future of her unborn baby and young daughters.

Salwa, once a bubbly child with many friends who loved the film Frozen, is now lonely and suffers nightmares. Yasmin has become unhappy and clingy.

“Every day [Salwa] says ‘I had a really bad day, I hate this school, I hate you, I hate this place’, and then she goes in her room and cries. She doesn’t want to go out, she doesn’t want to eat,” Ms Abas said.

“It’s like a jail – you have no freedom, no control over your life or your children’s life.”

Mr Dutton and the Department of Immigration refused to answer questions regarding Ms Abas, or explain why she was the only family member being detained. A spokeswoman for Mr Dutton said his department was “managing” the case.

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Mafia history of Gino and Mark Stocco’s alleged victim Rosario Cimone revealed

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Mark and Gino Stocco, who were captured on a property where Rosario Cimone’s body was also located. Photo: NSW Police Gino Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters
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Mark Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Mark Stocco at Dubbo police station on Wednesday. Photo: Nine News

Body of Rosario Cimone found on remote property​How the Stoccos evaded police​The tip-off that led to the final hide-outWill o’ the wisps in Kelly Gang country

The long-awaited capture of father and son fugitives Gino and Mark Stocco has taken another bizarre twist as links have emerged between their alleged victim and the Italian Mafia, long-term cannabis cultivation and a fatal electrocution last year.

The pair, who had been on the run for eight years, were charged on Thursday morning with the murder of Italian-born farm caretaker Rosario Cimone, 68, on October 7.

They did not appear in Dubbo Local Court on Thursday and magistrate Andrew Eckhold ordered they remain behind bars until their case returns on January 20.

Mr Cimone’s decomposed body was discovered in a shallow grave at Pinevale, a remote property near Dunedoo, in central western NSW, just hours after police captured the Stoccos in a dramatic, covert operation on Wednesday morning.

The elusive pair had worked on the extremely isolated property with Mr Cimone, who was reported missing to Green Valley police by his daughters, Maria and Vicenza, on October 8.

When a white ute, similar to the one allegedly stolen by the Stoccos, was spotted in bushland behind the property on Tuesday, police had their “final pieces of the jigsaw” and descended on the 385-hectare spot.

Fairfax Media can reveal Mr Cimone, from Green Valley, was a cannabis cultivator with a string of past convictions and a long history with the Calabrian Mafia in .

His son, Phillip, 35, was also convicted in 2013 of cultivating more than 1000 cannabis plants on a remote property near Bundarra, in the northern tablelands,

Rosario, known as Ross to his friends, was charged with cultivating substantial cannabis crops in the early 1980s, charged with the sale of cannabis in the mid-1980s and convicted in 2003 of a $30-million cannabis operation at a property in Nimmitabel, in far southern NSW.

He was sentenced to four years in prison for growing 14,000 cannabis plants and possessing unauthorised firearms.

He was one of a group of prisoners to be given early release, in exchange for bribes, under the corrupt 1980s prison boss, Rex Jackson.

One of his seven co-accused in the Nimmitabel drug gang, Mario Cataldo, 58, was killed in October last year when he was electrocuted by an illegal hydroponic set-up in Bringelly, on the western outskirts of Sydney.

He lay dead in a shed for two days, and his body was eventually found when his family called an ambulance because they had not heard from him.

Former friend, Giuseppe Mammone, said Mr Cimone was “a nice man” who used to own a butcher’s shop in Edensor Park in the 80s and loved going to the Marconi Club when he was in Green Valley. 

Former assistant police commissioner Clive Small, who is writing a book on the Calabrian Mafia in , said Mr Cimone played a “mid-level” role.

He had been working in the Dunedoo area in recent months but it is not known whether drugs were being grown on the rugged, isolated property, described by locals as a “perfect hideout”.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, told Fairfax Media that she had made calls to CrimeStoppers in recent years to report suspicious people working on the property, that had no farms.

It’s not known whether the Stoccos had direct involvement but Mr Small said they would most likely have been considered too unreliable by the Mafia.

They were erratic, conspiratorial characters who were known to move frequently, barely staying on farms for more than a few weeks.

“When [the Mafia] are recruiting people to be pickers or cultivators … or crop sitters, that is, people who might go there to plant the crops under supervision with others and just sit there and make sure no one steals it, they tend, generally, to deal with people they have had experience with in the past or whose families they know.”

He said the Mafia was well and truly alive in and had a violent but little-known history.

“There are probably a number of reasons why they’ve been able to get away with it,” he said. “If you deny it’s existence, then you don’t have to do anything about it.”

In addition to murder, Gino, 57, and Mark, 36, are each charged with 17 NSW offences, including shooting with intent to murder, dishonestly obtaining property by deception, police pursuit and discharging a firearm with intent to resist arrest.

Wanted for a string of property and violent offences in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, the men became the focus of a large-scale manhunt after police were shot at during a high speed pursuit near Wagga Wagga on October 16.

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Luck turns for Canberra Capitals with WNBA guard Renee Montgomery to debut

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The Canberra Capitals’ wretched run of luck has finally taken a positive turn with Minnesota Lynx point guard Renee Montgomery cleared to make her WNBL debut after resolving her visa issues. 
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Montgomery will suit up for the Capitals in Saturday’s home game against Melbourne in a major boost to a roster crippled by injuries.

The 28-year-old’s arrival will help appease the loss to perimeter player Hanna Zavecz, who retired from basketball this week after aggravating a rib injury. 

Canberra’s season is already in danger of slipping away after losing their first five matches and the Boomers match is virtually must-win.

Capitals coach Carrie Graf confirmed on Thursday that Montgomery will debut at AIS Arena, but doesn’t expect her to play a huge role given her travel after helping Lynx win the WNBA title.

“She’s on a plane as we speak. She’ll have medicals tomorrow [Friday] and we’ll suit her up and give her some game time,” Graf said.

“Straight off the plane you’re not ready to play 35 to 40 minutes; jet lag takes a couple of days to get over.

“It’s a confidence boost for our team. Our roster is undermanned due to circumstances out of our control and adding a player of her ilk is a plus for us.

“She’s a quality player, can hit the three-point shot and get deep in the lane to score.

“She’s going to create opportunities for the rest of the group, but she’s not going to be the magic formula in a day,” she said.

Montgomery’s inclusion will allow the Capitals to cover for Zavecz by playing regular point guards Alice Coddington and Abbey Wehrung with Montgomery at the same time.

Graf insisted they’re focussed on playing “with what we have” after eight players suited up in the last-start loss in Bendigo, but will keep their ear to the ground for possible replacements.

The Capitals showed plenty of grit before Bendigo’s clear size advantage ground them down in the 77-66 defeat.

“Two days isn’t enough time to get a starting perimeter player into your group,” she said.

“Right now we’ll sit tight and we’ll look at potential options out there in coming weeks.

“We’ve been without players for a while and been on numerous searches, but there’s not a lot out there.”

The injury dramas mean young n Opal Stephanie Talbot has taken on a much bigger role offensively for Canberra, averaging 20 points per game.

She said she was relishing the extra responsibility but said a greater focus on intensity led to a more competitive showing against Bendigo.

“Throughout the game our grit and team defence took it up a lot, we were so much better at that, and that put the pressure on them,” she said.

“Down the stretch their size and our point guard [Wehrung] getting fouled out [hurt], they overtook us, which was disappointing, but the effort we put in was much better.”

SATURDAY

WNBL round four: Canberra Capitals v Melbourne Boomers at AIS Arena, 7pm

Tickets available from Ticketek

NBN one street, web drop-outs the next

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Watson resident Petra Bright has experienced poor internet connectivity at her home. Photo: Graham TidyNBN Co buys 1800 kilometres of copperNBN’s first satellite launches successfully
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Watson resident Petra Bright knows too well the frustrations of unreliable internet.

Yet less than two kilometres away residents in the central suburb’s most northern streets enjoy the reliably fast speeds of the National Broadband Network.

“I’m probably about one or two kilometres from where the NBN is but I’m about five kilometres away from the exchange for ADSL and ADSL2 so, I’m a fair distance from the actual exchange which has caused a few issues with my internet – it tends to drop out,” Ms Bright said.

“It went down for about two weeks a few weeks ago and there was next to no answer for it.

“My ISP tends to blame the distance from the exchange for everything. Five kilometres is a fair distance but at the same time I can’t fix my location.”

Ms Bright’s ordeal, like that of many Canberrans, reflects a digital divide not only across the capital’s regions but within old and new suburbs.

A pocket of streets in Casey were among the only ones in the entire Gungahlin region to miss out on the capital region’s initial NBN rollout, aside from the next stage underway in Nicholls.

Although about 81,000 Canberra and Queanbeyan homes are a step closer to having NBN access, with a raft of suburbs announced earlier this month to have construction on the broadband network begin by next September, many others remain in limbo.

Tuggeranong has emerged the biggest loser with only Wanniassa and Kambah earmarked for the NBN in the next three years.

While Ms Bright does not categorise herself among the unluckiest internet surfers in Canberra, she has had to accept limited connectivity throughout her house, including rooms where she can’t jump online at all.

“Basically, I’m on the furthest limit of what [my internet provider] can provide for ADSL2,” she said.

“I can get Netflix and all those types of things [but] I can’t get Wi-Fi in my bedroom, for example, because it’s already become so slow [after] hitting the router. By the time it gets to my bedroom or other parts of the house, it’s dropped out by then.”

Dr David Tuffley from Griffith University’s School of Information and Communication Technology said the country’s digital divide stemmed from a “hybrid set-up” of ADSL copper wire and glass fibre.

It’s the result of a switch from the former Labor government’s fibre-to-the-premises NBN plan to the Liberal government’s fibre and copper mix, he said.

“They’ve run as much speed out of these copper wires as they absolutely, possibly can – they really can’t manage anymore,” Dr Tuffley said.

“Some areas are fairly well connected with fibre and they’re enjoying fast speeds. The ones that are really slow are ones that are largely copper and there’s a lot of people connected to the one node. The more people that connect, the slower it all becomes.

“So as more people subscribe to Netflix and Stan and other streaming services and of course, those naughty people who torrent stuff, there’s more and more load.”

Dr Tuffley said ‘s internet, ranked 44th in the world earlier this year, was “deplorable” and “embarrassing”.

He said there seemed to be a mentality of leaving problem streets alone in lieu of the NBN’s eventual rollout.

“It is false economy to skimp on providing the right infrastructure for now and the future,” he said.

“What the government is providing is barely adequate for now and it doesn’t really provide terribly well for the future.”

Dr Tuffley said there weren’t many options for people stuck without ADSL2.

Consistent 4G or 5G coverage could be one way around physical shortcomings in urban areas in the future, however this would be a long way off.

Ms Bright said she looked forward to eventually accessing the NBN but was a little jealous of her friends up the road already delighting in speedy internet access.

“You sort of feel like you’re living on dial-up speed sometimes,” she said.

“It’s more just a jealousy thing at the end of the day, that they have much faster internet than you do.”

Residents removed from Tomaree Lodge to group homes under NDIS

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THE removal of 38 residents from Tomaree Lodge, the Port’s lone state-run disability care hospital for the past 28 years, has started.
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The residents, predominantly aged from 65 and suffering from intellectual and physical disabilities, will be rehoused into group homes accommodating up to six people as houses become available.

A Family and Community Services (FACS) spokesperson has confirmed that the NSW government was committed to the redevelopment of Tomaree Lodge by June 30, 2018.

“These large centres will be replaced with contemporary accommodation in the community designed to provide a home-like environment, with more privacy, flexibility in daily living and opportunities for increased participation in the community,” the spokesperson said.

“FACS is committed to consulting with staff, their industrial representatives through an industrial relations working party, and local consultative meetings.”

Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka last week announced that the government was seeking expressions of interest from non-government organisations to build and operate disability housing to replace Hunter lodges including Tomaree at a cost of $58 million.

Mr Ajaka said closing the institutions would help ensure people with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence, choose the people they live with, be closer to their families and integrate more with the community.

However, according to the sole surviving relative of one Tomaree Lodge resident, many of those living at the Shoal Bay facility are unable to communicate their wishes and do not have anyone speaking for them.

“It’s a sad reality that many of these residents do not have a voice,” said Judy Bourke, the sister-in-law of Angelman syndrome sufferer Marea Bourke.

“While the National Disability Insurance Scheme has many health benefits, there are a minority who will fall between the cracks, including my sister-in-law who has resided at Tomaree since 1988.

“She needs 24-hour specialist nursing care, and would not cope in a smaller property.”

State MP Kate Washington has labelled the government’s decision to release the plan to the business sector before being shared or discussed with residents’ families or advocates as “disgraceful”.

“The residents of these services are the most vulnerable people in our community, and we must ensure that what’s being proposed is consistent with the NDIS principles of choice and control, not a ‘one size fits all’ accommodation with no safeguards,” Ms Washington said.

“And there are still no answers as to how the health needs of these residents will be managed once they are rehoused.”

The FACS spokesperson said there were 54 staff at Tomaree Lodge and FACS was finalising its approach for the workforce.

“Future plans for the site following relocation of residents are yet to be developed and FACS is unable to provide an estimated value of this property.”

In 2012, Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie caused a huge outcry when he suggested the land be turned into a tourist development complete with casino.

Rodney Lawrence in court charged with cold case murder of Elizabeth Dixon

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Elizabeth Dixon was found slumped across the front seat of her own car in the bush. Photo: Police Media Police at the scene where Elizabeth Dixon was murdered in 1982. Photo: Allan Jolly
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Detective Sergeant Frank Tracey investigated the death of Elizabeth Dixon in 1982. Photo: Chris Cole

A man charged with the murder of Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon in Newcastle 33 years ago has appeared in Maitland Local Court.

Ms Dixon’s body was found slumped across the front seat of her car in bush near Ashtonfield in Newcastle’s north-west in 1982. An autopsy found she had suffered 27 stab wounds.

Rodney Lawrence, 64, from Stockton, made no application for bail as he was led into court in handcuffs on Thursday.

Duty solicitor Peter Cleaves told magistrate John Chicken: “I cannot be in a position today to make a substantial bail application.

“This warrants a bail application and my suggestion is that next week in Newcastle I can be in a position to make that application.”

The magistrate formally refused bail and Lawrence was remanded in custody, to appear by way of audio visual link in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday next week.

Bearded, with a moustache, Lawrence was dressed in jeans and a dark jacket.

According to police papers tendered to the court, Lawrence murdered Ms Dixon at Ashtonfield between April 3 and 4, 1982.

Ms Dixon flew from Northern Ireland in 1979 for a year in and decided to stay.

The Saturday before Easter in 1982, Ms Dixon, 31, left the Greenhills Hit-N-Dip Sports Centre, where she was a regular squash player, and vanished.

She was known to have made a quick visit to some nearby shops and possibly went back to her flat in Metford.

The following Monday, a jogger found her body.

A murder investigation continued sporadically until Lawrence was arrested on Wednesday.

The suspect, who was a well-known Maitland sportsman in 1982, was arrested at his home at Stockton and taken to Maitland police station for questioning.

The Maitland Mercury, Newcastle Herald

End of an era with Rozelle Markets takeover by Blue Sky Markets Pty Ltd

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Jeanne Albrecht (right) with her daughter Ilana Albrecht at Rozelle Public School. Photo: Kate GeraghtyAfter 25 years, Jeannie Albrecht’s project is over. The P&C mum who started the Rozelle Markets out of her own car is being edged out by the pros.
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It was announced earlier this week that the department of education will turf out Mrs Albrecht in favour of Blue Sky Markets, a company which has about 10 market businesses in Queensland and NSW.

“It’s very important not to squash someone who’s worked very, very hard, and not just for themselves, and discard them” said Mrs Albrecht. “Take away a piece of community here and a piece there and soon you have something soulless”.

Mrs Albrecht began the weekend market in 1991, after the success of a P&C car-boot sale. She shook hands with the principal on a deal to use school land on weekends in exchange for rent.

She threw in her life savings, took out a loan and hung tough through lean days with her daughter Larna who sold grassy heads made out of old stockings.

The site has since grown into Sydney’s major second-hand market and Mrs Albrecht says one-third of her stalls are set aside for casual community stalls.

But last year a Department of Education decree stated that all schools’ commercial arrangements be reviewed and opened to tender.

“It’s a hobby and my passion,” said Blue Sky owner Ross Alexander.

Rozelle will make for Blue Sky’s 10th market property, including in Bondi, Manly and (after similar tender takeovers) in Chinatown and Brisbane.

His critics argue Mr Alexander’s approach gives markets a samey feel and they fear stallholders will be squeezed.

Mr Alexander says he has not raised stallholder fees in the past and is ruling out any at Rozelle. He wants to maintain the market’s bric-a-brac feel and says he profits only by making markets better in the long-term and offering landowners a better deal.

“We got a very well known designer to come up with a brand for what Chinatown is,” he said.

Mr Alexander says that his operation will give the school a fairer share of revenue. “If it’s a commercial operation in a school then I think that’s important”.

But some stallholders are not happy.

Lesley Fairbairn, who has sold second-hand books, bric-a-brac and miscellany at Rozelle since its beginning says she will not work for new management.

A signal example of the difference in management styles, stallholders say, is Mrs Albrecht collects her rent on the morning of the markets. That means they don’t pay for rainy days, which can be the bane of a stallholder’s life.

Blue Sky collects in advance.

“The idea that someone comes round collecting cash these days…,” Mr Alexander said. “There’s a major security issue, I don’t think it’s appropriate to put staff in that position”.

Sydney man Zane Alchin likely to plead guilty to harassing slut-shame protesters

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Zane Alchin is expected to plead guilty. Photo: Nick MoirMan charged over slut shaming, harassment of Sydney woman for her Tinder profile
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A Sydney man will likely plead guilty to harassing women who defended their friend from online slut-shaming, a court has heard.

Zane Alchin​, 25, appeared before Newtown Local Court on Thursday, charged with using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend.

His lawyer indicated Mr Alchin was expected to plead guilty to the crime, which carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.

Mr Alchin allegedly committed the offence on a Facebook thread about the online abuse of Sydney woman Olivia Melville.

A photo of Ms Melville’s profile on the dating app Tinder had been uploaded to Facebook. Her profile caption quoted a lyric by the hip-hop artist Drake: “Type of girl who will suck you dry and then eat some lunch with you.”

Ms Melville was derided online by strangers. Her friends responded by reposting the original post and criticising the commenters for their attitudes toward women.

Mr Alchin is accused of harassing these friends in ranting, obscene comments, writing at one point “[sic] your all f—ing basic sluts”.

He also allegedly referred to “the best thing about raping feminists”. Fairfax Media has chosen not to publish other, more explicit messages in the series.

The alleged targets of the abuse told media they had reported the messages to police, who initially “offered little support to our case”.

They then began a Facebook group called “Sexual Violence Won’t Be Silenced”, which gained more than 8000 followers. Their petition to the governments of NSW and  for tighter laws and more resources to tackle online harassment gathered more than 15,000 signatures.

Mr Alchin was charged on Monday. “We would like to thank the Newtown Local Police for their hard work on this case,” the group wrote on Facebook.

“Not every person who experiences online violence has the time, resources or support network to start a campaign after being harassed. That’s why, regardless of the outcome of this legal case, SVWBS will continue to fight for better laws, training and education surrounding online harassment.”

Mr Alchin’s matter will return to court on December 8.

MOVIE REVIEW: The Dressmaker

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THE DRESSMAKER (M)
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Stars: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Kerry Fox, Shane Bourne, Hugo Weaving

Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Screening: general release

Rating: ★★★★

JOCELYN Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker is about the return of a prodigal daughter, and you might say it was made by one. While Moorhouse still has a high reputation as an n filmmaker, she has not shot a feature in her homeland since her debut Proof in the early ’90s. But this hectic, clattering Gothic farce, based on a novel by Rosalie Ham, finds her back with a vengeance.

In dead of night, the glamorous Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) arrives in the remote wheatbelt town of Dungatar, her Singer sewing machine by her side. As we soon discover, this is the home she was sent away from as a child, under ambiguous circumstances, which saw her implicated in the death of a schoolmate.

Even now, in 1951, the rumours haven’t subsided: Tilly herself fears she may be cursed, and Mad Molly (Judy Davis), her cranky old bag of a mother, initially refuses to recognise her. But Tilly is determined to set things right, or at least find out what really happened on that fateful day. She moves into Molly’s hilltop shack and, having learned her trade in the great fashion houses of Europe, she sets about introducing the local matrons to the joys of haute couture.

Teddy McSwiney’s (Liam Hemsworth) role as Tilly Dunnage’s (Kate Winslet) love interest isn’t conventional.

Whatever may be suggested by this synopsis, The Dressmaker is not one of those sentimental fables in which a free-spirited stranger brings new life to a repressed community. Like many outback towns in n cinema, Dungatar is something of a hellhole, its very name suggesting a smelly place where the hapless get stuck.

Its citizens also tend to be given blunt allegorical names, from the vicious schoolteacher Beulah Harridiene (Kerry Fox) to the slimy civic leader Evan Pettyman (Shane Bourne).

Those few characters worthy of sympathy tend to be outsiders of one kind or another – such as Sergeant Horatio Farrat, a friendly policeman and closet transvestite played by Hugo Weaving.

Another partial outsider is Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth), a rugged hunk from a family of rubbish collectors who serves as Tilly’s love interest, though his role isn’t quite what it would be in a conventional feelgood entertainment.

The great scene-stealer is Davis, who’s able to make Molly into an outlandish comic figure without eliminating all nuance, since the shamelessness belongs as much to the character as to the performer. Molly may be a recluse, but she relishes having an audience to play to.

Truth be told, Moorhouse has so many characters and subplots to juggle that her storytelling can feel disjointed: some weighty developments are skated over so rapidly we might wonder if they really happened at all. On the other hand, the lurches from broad comedy to grim melodrama and back are evidently intentional – part of a strategy for throwing the viewer off-balance, along with the dramatic colour contrasts and spatial distortions of Don McAlpine’s cinematography.

This cartoonish yet confrontational approach recalls the work of Moorhouse’s husband P.J. Hogan, who collaborated with her on The Dressmaker’s script. Absent, however, is Hogan’s softness of heart. By the end, it’s clear that Moorhouse wasn’t joking when she publicly compared the plot of The Dressmaker to Clint Eastwood’s great revisionist Western Unforgiven – though the film could also be seen as the long-delayed feminist answer to Wake In Fright.

Either way, it’s not for nothing that Tilly’s favourite colour, bright red, evokes both fire and blood.

All questions of taste and plausibility aside, The Dressmaker is a hoot and a healthy shock to the system. n cinema may never be quite the same again.

MOVIE REVIEW: Burnt

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BURNT (M)
Shanghai night field

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl, Alicia Vikander, Uma Thurman

Director: John Wells

Screening: general release

Rating: ★★★

BRADLEY Cooper’s chef, Adam Jones, comes out of the Gordon Ramsay school of kitchen tantrum. At least he starts that way. Burnt is the story of his long and noisy journey towards the embrace of teamwork and a civilised demeanour.

How much you enjoy it is likely to depend on your taste for the cult of the celebrity chef. I’m resistant, so I spent much of the action wincing over the size of the seafood bill as he hurls successive plates of seared scallops and poached turbot fillets at the wall because they don’t meet his exacting standards.

Bradley Cooper’s intense, blue-eyed stare does a lot of the heavy lifting in Burnt.

The film is directed by John Wells, best known as showrunner for ER and The West Wing and, more recently, as the director of August: Osage County.

When we first meet Adam, he’s just arrived in London, having undergone a long rehabilitation after years of abusing drugs, alcohol and best friends, few of whom have any desire to see him again. Nonetheless, he perseveres – or rather, bullies them into giving him another chance. In particular, he persuades his long-suffering friend Tony (Daniel Bruhl), who happens to own the Langham Hotel, to let him take over the hotel’s restaurant.

Cooper’s intense, blue-eyed stare does a lot of the heavy lifting in these scenes. He also employs quite a bit of the fighting spirit that he sported in his last film, American Sniper. In that, his co-star was Sienna Miller, cast again here as a talented young chef.

There are many loving shots of colour co-ordinated helpings cunningly arranged on white plates. And they’re usually served up as part of a montage, a device that tends to be the first refuge of a director lumbered with a script lacking enough lines worth saying.

There is some banter, much of it wisely assigned to Emma Thompson as Adam’s therapist, and to Matthew Rhys, who does a great job as his former friend. But Adam himself is so pickled in his own ego that he wouldn’t know a witticism from a witlof.

TOPICS: Mumford & Sons give it up for Dungog heroes

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Although hardly a classic situation, recent events at Newcastle City Council remind us of a certain novel.
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Mumford & Sons have a soft spot for flood-hit Dungog, having played there in 2012. Local heroes of the town’s April floods have the opportunity to attend the band’s concert at The Domain on November 14 for free. Picture: Peter Stoop

BRITISH band Mumford & Sons have a special connection with Dungog.

The folk-rockers played there before a crowd of 10,000 people in 2012.

They didn’t forget the connection they made with the town that day.

The band has joined with Telstra to offer 400 free double passes to members of the Dungog community to attend a gig in The Domain on November 14.

The giveaway includes bus transfers from Dungog.

It’s all about recognising people who helped rebuild Dungog, following the April flood which devastated the town and took the lives of three people.

So get in there and nominate a local hero.

All you have to do is explain in 50 words or less why your nominee has shown ‘‘great community spirit’’.

Telstra area general manager Chris Cusack encouraged locals to get involved.

“We are honoured to be able to work with the band to reward some of the heroes who helped others in their time of need,’’ Mr Cusack said.

Entries can be made at telstra上海龙凤论坛m/music.

A disgusting tale spawned from McDonald’s has been recalled.

TOPICS brought you the story yesterday about maggots found inside a bagged roast chicken bought from Waratah Coles.

This brought back a few memories for Derek Dowding, of Wallsend.

‘‘I had a similar encounter with a McOz burger from a local McDonald’s outlet in 1999,’’ Derek told Topics.

‘‘When the store manager failed to apologise for the wriggling maggot in my meal, I pursued it with head office and the health inspector.’’

Macky Dees sent him a letter, saying it did a ‘‘thorough investigation of your complaint’’.

The letter said Maccas referred the case to the University of NSW Department of Entomology for investigation.

The department ‘‘spent considerable time analysing the burger’’, the letter said.

‘‘They have been unable to identify anything that resembles insect origin.’’ Feeling a tad sceptical, Derek went back to the restaurant and confronted the manager.

‘‘He confessed the maggot was squashed and the burger was thrown in the bin,’’ Derek said.

‘‘The health inspector reported back saying he found a box of rotting tomatoes in the store and that was probably the source of my complaint.’’

Maccas said it was an isolated incident and posted Derek two vouchers for replacement McOz burgers. He didn’t take up the offer.

However, he did write a song called ‘‘The McMaggot’’, which included the line ‘‘would you like flies with that’’.

THIS brings us to Newcastle City Council. We were thinking about the Labor-Green axing of general manager Ken Gouldthorp.

We were also thinking about flies (there’s been a lot around lately, hence the maggots).

Then it hit us. This whole council business is a bit like Lord of the Flies.

You know the story – a group of children marooned on an island try to govern themselves with terrible results.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Lord of the Flies 1963​

Lord of the Flies 2013​Email [email protected]上海龙凤论坛m.au, tweet him @Lakemacjourno, or call on 4973-7709.

Taylor Swift files counterclaim against radio DJ who allegedly groped her

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Taylor Swift has filed a counterclaim against a radio DJ she alleges groped her at a promotional event.
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Former radio DJ David Mueller filed a lawsuit against the singer last month, claiming he was fired from his job and banned from Swift’s concerts following her allegations that he groped her at a meet and greet in Denver, Colorado.

But now Swift has responded, filing a counterclaim which, according to People, alleges Mueller “lifted her skirt and groped her” during the fan event before her concert at the Pepsi Centre in June 2013.

People reports the countersuit details that Mueller admitted an assault occurred at the event, but he blamed his “superior” David Haskell, the program director at Denver’s country radio station, KYGO FM.

“Ms Swift knows exactly who committed the assault – it was Mueller – and she is not confused in the slightest about whether her long-term business acquaintance, Mr Haskell, was the culprit,” the countersuit states.

The countersuit goes on to detail that Swift, 25, was “surprised, upset, offended, and alarmed” following the incident.

“Resolution of this counterclaim will demonstrate that Mueller alone was the perpetrator of the humiliating and wrongful conduct targeted against Ms Swift, and will serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”

Swift is seeking damages and costs, and has requested a jury trial.

The countersuit specifies any surplus damages or costs awarded to Swift following the suit will be donated to “charitable organisations dedicated to protecting women from similar acts of sexual assault and personal disregard”.

David Mueller filed a lawsuit against the Wildest Dreams singer in the US District Court in Denver on September 11.

The Denver Postreports Mueller was attending a meet and greet with his girlfriend as an employee of KYGO FM.

According to Mueller’s suit, Swift was talking to the pair before she “suddenly announced it was picture time” and “quickly put her right arm” around his girlfriend.

Mueller joined the pair for the photo “at the last second”, after which he says Swift thanked the couple and left.

Mueller alleges he later spoke to an unnamed co-worker who “described and demonstrated how he had put his arms around [Swift], hands on her bottom” when it was his turn to meet the singer.

Based on Swift’s countersuit, it seems likely this unnamed co-worker is Haskell.

Mueller lost his job at the station as a result of the incident.

According to People, he had previously been dismissed twice from radio host jobs at other stations and hadn’t been employed as an on-air personality since 2006.

After news of Mueller’s legal action broke, Swift’s representatives said they had provided “evidence” to the radio station of the assault when it occurred, although the decision to fire Mueller came from his employer.

“The radio station was given evidence immediately after the incident,” her representatives told People in a statement. “They made their independent decision.”

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