Monthly Archives: January 2019

Martin Place tragedy: Sydney continues to mourn

Florist Tony Scaltriti has had the busiest week all year selling flowers. Photo: Michelle Mossop Cyclists who rode from Lakemba Mosque to Martin Place. Photo: supplied

They came in their thousands. Lining up in the summer sun for up to half an hour for the chance to leave their tributes to Sydney’s siege victims.

The heavy scent of the growing floral shrine filled Martin Place on Sunday, as the extraordinary outpouring of public grief continued unabated.

People left flowers, notes, flags, soft toys, Lindt chocolates, and coffee cups, many posing for photos as they did so.

One woman, still in her wedding gown, brought in her bouquet to leave at the site.

A framed photograph of victims Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson sits in front of the Lindt cafe, a tribute from “the Islamic Family of Australia”.

It reads: “To: Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson. You both are Australians of the Century.”

“Al Quran [quote from the Koran]: Whoever saves one (Life) – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.”

As the visitors filed past, they stopped to bow their heads at the photo, and many made a sign of the cross before moving on.

People came from across Sydney, from Cremorne to Hinchinbrook and Engadine, to lay flowers, and be a part of the community response to the siege.

Martin Place florist Tony Scaltrito said it had been like five Valentines Days in a row, and he had sold at least three thousand bunches of flowers since the siege – about three times more than usual in the week leading up to Christmas.

“Valentines Day is our busiest day but it’s been like that every day,” he said.

His sons, wife and daughters-law had worked around the clock to source extra flowers from markets and growers throughout Sydney. But he had completely run out of flowers twice a day since Tuesday.

Cheryl and Mark, who travelled from Milperra to lay a large bunch of pink lilies, embraced afterwards, with tears in their eyes.

“It just makes you appreciate what you have got,” Mark said. “I just feel so much for the families. It’s very humbling”.

Premier Mike Baird confirmed on Sunday that the government would keep the flowers and tributes in place “as long as we possibly can”.

“Clearly, it is a symbol of hope for the city at the moment, it is something that people are still being moved by, it is a very special spirit we are seeing down there,” Mr Baird said.

The site was eerily silent for much of the morning, as visitors walked wordlessly through the tributes.

Early in the morning, almost 100 cyclists from Sydney Muslim Cyclists and Bicycle NSW visited the site. Sophie Bartho, of Bicycle NSW, said the group had started off with about 50 people at Lakemba Mosque, but had been joined by 25 to 50 more as they cycled to the siege site.

“I’m not a Muslim but I just rocked up to Lakemba … and it was extraordinarily powerful, it felt like family,” she said. “I came here the other day with my children and all I could feel was grief, but today there was this sense of hope from coming together with people.”

with staff reporters

BitTorrent, used by pirates, offers to distribute pulled Sony film The Interview

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Hollywood movie studios have long been at war with file-sharing platform BitTorrent because it provides an avenue for consumers to download films and other copyrighted content without paying.

But in an unusual twist, BitTorrent Inc has offered to distribute – legally – the controversial US film at the centre of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hacking scandal.

Sony cancelled the scheduled Christmas Day US release of The Interview, a comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after hackers threatened cinema-goers with acts of terror, and movie theatres refused to screen it.

While mainstream video-on-demand services such as Netflix are reportedly refusing to go near the film, BitTorrent Inc told various US media outlets that its peer-to-peer network was “the very best way for Sony to take back control of their film”.

BitTorrent is a protocol that allows people to download large files directly from each other, also known as “torrenting”.

While the technology itself is legal – torrent files contain only metadata – online pirates have long exploited it as a convenient way to share copyrighted content.

Sites such as The Pirate Bay, which was raided and shut down earlier this month, act as search engines for torrent files. People find the torrent file for the content they want and then download it using a third-party app.

In recent years BitTorrent Inc, the company that maintains the protocol, has sought to improve its profile by introducing a commercial torrenting option so rights holders can make their content accessible via the platform for a fee.

BitTorrent Inc denounced calls for The Interview to be pirated in the wake of its cancelled release.

On Friday, Sony clarified it still had plans to release the film and was “actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform”.

It has yet to respond to BitTorrent’s offer.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, who has openly criticised Sony’s decision to pull the film, made an offer on Twitter to buy the rights to The Interview, saying he would then make it available free.I offer @SonyPictures 100k for the rights of “The Interview” I will post it free on my blog. Pls get in touch with me via @SonyPicturesBr — Paulo Coelho (@paulocoelho) December 18, 2014

Interior decorating tips: seven common living room mistakes

Your home is your happy place but from visual point of view, how appealing is your living room?

Similar to the kitchen, there are mistakes you probably didn’t know you were making.

While the days of acquiring your furniture from the side of the road are over, knowing how to design a room can be tough.

Here are seven common living-room mistakes most people are making and how to rectify them.

Not enough colour

A monochrome palette can make a room appear larger, but staying safe with white or grey can come across as boring and sterile.

The good news is a plain interior palette is the perfect canvas to add pops of colour. Add colour using cushions, throws or lamps but remember the 80/20 rule: 80 per cent neutrals to 20 per cent colour.

Apartment Therapy said: “When adding colour, you want to think of “pops” of colour and realise that even neutrals (browns, whites, greys, taupes) have colour in them that will “wake up” when placed next to stronger colours.”

Matching furniture

Double denim might have made a comeback but resist the urge when it comes to furniture.

While buying a whole lounge room set is easier, it can wind up looking generic.

Take the time to buy furniture that represents your style – just keep an eye on the proportions and colour to tie it all together.


Lighting in the living room is often overlooked.

Using a ceiling lamp, table lamps and floor lamps, create a balance of light throughout the room.

Make sure there is plenty of light available for reading and, if possible, make a focus point to isolate the main activity area of the room.

Placing all of your furniture against the wall

There are a couple of problems with placing your furniture against the walls.

It might feel like you’re creating space in the middle of the room but Angelo Surmelis told Woman’s Day, “Placing a couch even a few inches away from the wall will create a little breathing room and make a space seem larger.”

Also, if your furniture is pushed up against the wall, guests might find themselves shouting across the room to speak to each other. Bring the furniture in for a huddle to add an intimate feel to your design.

End tables

End tables provide convenience and minimise spillages. Without one, where will your guests rest their drinks?

As a rule of thumb, your end tables should be roughly the same height as the arm on your couch, allowing visitors to sip their drinks with ease as opposed leaving them on the floor.

Hanging art too high

Hanging art too high is a very common mistake, but one that is easily fixed.

Art should be hung at high level. But as an overall rule, the centre of the picture should be measured roughly 150 centimetres from the floor.

For something different, try hanging your pictures salon style.

Buying a small rug

The rug is the glue to your living-room setting.

The rule of the rug is this: be generous with your rug and scale it according to the room, using it as a focus point.

That said, product manager for DecoRug Joanne Crocker told Homes there are two methods to remember when choosing a rug size.

“For a living room you may choose the contemporary oversized method where you place all of your furniture on top of the rug – in most cases a 2.5 metres x 3.5 metres size is best – or the traditional method whereby you place your sofas around the rug and only your coffee table on top.”

Canberra United wins W-League championship with 3-1 victory against Perth Glory in grand final

Canberra’s Grace Maher challenges Perth Glory’s Alanna Kennedy. Canberra United celebrates its W-League championship after beating Perth Glory 3-1 in the grand final on Sunday.

As it happened

Grand final hero Ashleigh Sykes has labelled Canberra United’s second W-League championship the most satisfying after overcoming a mid-season slump to lift the title.

Sykes was an overwhelming choice as the best on the park, scoring two goals in the space of three minutes as Canberra came from the clouds to upset minor premiers Perth Glory 3-1 in Sunday’s gripping decider at nib Stadium.

Canberra were absolutely terrific, giving retiring US star Lori Lindsey the perfect send-off and 15-year-old sensation Grace Maher rising to the occasion after she was a shock choice to start the game.

It capped off a roller-coaster season for the girls in green, who faced the pressure of needing at least a point in their final regular season game against the Glory just to make the top four.

After clawing out a 2-1 win to finish third on the table, United needed 120 minutes and a penalty shoot-out to get past Melbourne Victory last weekend to qualify for their third grand final and first since winning the title in 2011-12.

But unlike that success when United went undefeated and was completely dominant throughout, this time the side have had to battle back through adversity.

“Two years ago we had an awesome season all up, but this season’s been a bit up and down, which makes it more satisfying when you come out the other end,” Sykes said.

“It’s really a testament to the coaches and the squad and all our support staff that we could come through some interesting times in the middle of the year to win the title.

“To score two goals in a final is amazing, it’s just an awesome feeling to win the title.”

Canberra led 1-0 at half-time before a stunning free kick from Collette McCallum from just outside the penalty area brought the Glory back on level terms.

The visitors responded in splendid fashion, Lindsey delivering a lovely ball over the top for Sykes, who had just enough on her strike for the ball to trickle over the line.

After Glory striker Kate Gill had her penalty saved by goalkeeper Chantel Jones, Sykes then sunk the decisive blow three minutes later, heading the ball into the net after Michelle Heyman contested a dangerous cross from Stephanie Ochs.

“Lori’s so good at popping those balls in behind, she’s an awesome playmaker,” Sykes said.

“I’ve been able to benefit from playing off Steph and Michelle.

“It’s really great to have a striking group where everyone contributes, where it’s assists or scoring themselves.”

Canberra’s player of the year, Sykes should have her name read out when the Matildas announce their squad for a training camp on Monday in preparation for next year’s World Cup.

“I’m looking forward to hearing who’s in the squad tomorrow,” Sykes said.

“Hopefully my name’s on the list, being the player of the match doesn’t do you any harm in trying to get in there.”

Maher was a surprise choice to start in the place of American Kendall Fletcher, but the under-16 Australian representative showed plenty of poise in setting up Ochs for the game’s opening goal.

Ochs produced a stunning left-foot strike into the bottom corner of the net in the 20th minute.

United were stiff not to receive a penalty after Sykes was brought down in the box midway through the first half.

The Glory were the standout team of the regular season, claiming the minor premiership with a 10-point buffer and losing just two games. It was without Matildas star Sam Kerr, who suffered a knee injury in the 2-1 loss to Canberra in round 12.

W-League grand final: Canberra United 3 (Stephanie Ochs 20′, Ashleigh Sykes 75′ 78′) bt Perth Glory 1 (Collette McCallum 63′) at nib Stadium in Perth on Sunday.

Joe Burns the proactive choice, now back him in for the Ashes

From the shopping list of players who could have replaced Mitchell Marsh for the Boxing Day Test, none screamed, “Pick me!”, but Joe Burns now has a chance to fill the void in Australian batting towards next year’s Ashes and beyond.

Jostling to replace the injured Marsh were a handful of veterans (Ed Cowan, Adam Voges and Callum Ferguson), some all-rounders (James Faulkner, Moises Henriques and Dan Christian) and a young, dependable batsman who has been on the verge of something for a few seasons (Burns).

The decision to go with the 25-year-old Queenslander says the selectors are thinking about the future, that Cowan’s window for a Test recall has probably closed, and that they believe they can get by with Shane Watson’s bowling to support the frontline quicks.

Two things, beyond his 439 runs at 54 in the Sheffield Shield so far this season, set Burns apart from the rest. He can slot into the Test team anywhere in the top six, and he’s young.

This, combined with a solid first-class average of 42 from 45 matches, make him a rare commodity in an Australian batting landscape that is much poorer for the loss of Phillip Hughes, not to mention the season-ending knee injury to Usman Khawaja.

While Cowan and Voges are the form batsmen in the country and would have been perfectly sound choices for one or two Tests, Cowan is a born and bred opener and Voges a middle-order specialist.

With the Test team likely to require further regeneration in the next 18 months, Marsh’s injury presented the selectors with an ideal chance to find out about a possible future star.

“You’re always trying to look ahead when you can, but you’re still living in the moment,” coach Darren Lehmann said. “He gives us a little bit more flexibility compared to the other two [Cowan and Voges], they’re more middle-order or opening basically. Very unlucky for those two, they’ve had great years. It does give us a bit of flexibility and a chance to play a guy who is young.”

Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh and his predecessor have both lamented the slow emergence of young batting talent in recent years, so the panel had to be proactive.

“There’s some really good players out there,” Lehmann said. “Obviously Phillip leaves a big hole in that line-up, as does Usman Khawaja, who’s out for 12 months. So we’ve lost a couple of players there that we rate really highly. But the other players we’ve selected and are on the fringe are very good players. It’s just they’ve got to get international cricket experience and play well. We hope Joe does that for us.”

Selectors Trevor Hohns and Mark Waugh watched Burns make a career-high 183 against a NSW attack spearheaded by Doug Bollinger at the Gabba last month, and believe he has the technique to succeed against quality fast bowling. He also showed in that innings he is capable of brutal hitting, attacking Test spinner Nathan Lyon. Now the selectors have to pick and stick with Burns, and give him a chance to establish himself before the Ashes.

His elevation, along with Chris Rogers’ timely half-centuries in Brisbane where Lehmann quipped that he batted like Brian Lara, could spell the end of Cowan’s quest to break back into the Test team despite his 590 runs at 65 so far this season.

The selection of a specialist batsman also has implications for Watson. Burns could bat as high as three, which could see Watson slide to six to resume his traditional all-rounder’s role. He sent down 27.4 overs at the Gabba, building pressure and gaining edges, but hasn’t shouldered that kind of load since the 2012 Hobart Test against Sri Lanka. He broke down with a calf strain in the next match, the Boxing Day Test, and will be hoping history doesn’t repeat.