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Hannah Foskett

Five Books About Climate Change You Need to Read Now

Five Books About Climate Change You Need to Read Now

Whether you’re an eco-activist or not, it’s impossible to ignore the debate that has followed the most recent international climate report and a devastating slew of natural disasters.

Global warming should be a reality, not a controversy. If average global temperatures exceed just half a degree, the risk for major natural disasters will significantly increase.

If you want to understand the real facts behind the figures, put your energy into reading these five powerful books that promote awareness about climate change.

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, Elizabeth Rush

This poetic report about how rising sea levels are affecting American shorelines is compelling, relevant and accessible. The reality is that coastlines are disappearing and salt is causing devastation to essential habitats and those who live alongside them. Rush doesn’t just share her own personal discovery of the urgency of climate change, but interviews the experts and gives voices to the survivors of ravaged coastal communities all over the country. 

The Whale and the Supercomputer: On the Northern Front of Climate Change, Charles Wohlforth

This fascinating text about climate change as it is seen in Northern Alaska is packed full of science that, while not oversimplified, is accessible and stimulating. In the far North, these issues and fears are no longer an abstract idea, but a reality that has drastically altered daily life. Wohlforth follows both a traditional Eskimo whale-hunting party as they race to shore near Barrow and a team of scientists on a quest to understand the snow. These different but intertwined groups must work out how best to survive while navigating the issue that is now bearing down upon us all.

The City Where We Once Lived, Eric Barnes

If you’re working up the courage to embrace hard-hitting non-fiction texts, Barnes’ dystopian novel will still pack a pretty loaded punch when it comes to the issue of climate change. In a near (and foreseeable) future, climate change has caused the crumbling North End of an unknown city to be abandoned by all but the scavengers, who are attempting to bury their memories of what was lost. Like the topic it discusses, this haunting story is purposefully an exhausting and depressing read, but it is also a rewarding one; one that forces you to look sharply at yourself and at humanity. 

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Amitav Ghosh

In his first major work of non-fiction, acclaimed Indian novelist Ghosh asks: “Are we deranged?” Certainly, we seem unable to grasp the sheer threat of climate change, and even more incapable of preventing it thus far. This literary text moves the conversation away from science and towards culture, politics and ethics, begging the reader to recognize the problem in being so unwilling to protect the future of life on Earth. The eerie relevance of this narrative realises the critical need to think about the unthinkable.

Below Freezing: Elegy for the Melting Planet, Donald Anderson

This ‘collage’ of ‘scientific fact, newspaper reports and excerpts from novels, short stories, nonfiction, history, creative nonfiction and poetry’, is both absorbing and informative. Anderson tackles the beauty and dangers of the cold, as well as the alarming rate at which our planet is warming in a meditated way that feels as serene as the conditions it explores.

Further reading: 12 Years to Halt Climate Change Catastrophe, Warns UN

Alicia Keys to Host 2019 Grammy Awards

Alicia Keys to Host 2019 Grammy Awards

Having won 15 herself, Alicia Keys is no stranger at the Grammys. This year however, the singer will claim a new role, ending James Corden’s two-year stint as host of the awards show.

The announcement came via the Grammys official Twitter page on January 15, with a post that read: “IT’S OFFICIAL! 15-time GRAMMY winner @AliciaKeys will host the 61st GRAMMYs, marking her first time as master of ceremonies for Music’s Biggest Night.”

“I’m going to host the Grammys, you heard it. I know what it feels like to be on that stage,” Keys said in a video post.

“I just feel grateful that I’m able to bring that light, that energy. I’m feeling excited, I feel really good about it.

“I feel that it’s the perfect opportunity to give that light back, especially to all the young women nominated. To me it feels like sister vibes,” she added.

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Unfortunately, not all of the musician’s fans have shared her excitement.

In a video the star shared on social media, Keys can be seen revealing the big news to her two young boys, Egypt and Genesis.

Following a long silence, a confused Egypt, 8, says: “What’s the Grammys?”

Keys captioned the video: “Egy and Gen want to know what the #GRAMMYS are ???”

Last April, Keys was honored at Variety’s Power of Women event in New York, after co-launching Keep a Child Alive—a nonprofit aimed at combating HIV. Using her acceptance speech, the singer spoke out about the inequality that women face in the workplace and in the world, reiterating this message at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

“Look at all the action that’s around us: women running for office in record numbers, women banding together in the entertainment industry, women demanding an end to disparity in the music industry like equal representation on the Grammy stage,” she said.

“We were told we need to step up. Well, you feel that step up now?”

Keys will indeed be stepping up as the first female host of the show since Queen Latifah took on the role in 2005. She will be at the forefront of a year that includes a considerably larger number of female nominees.

“I’m especially excited for all the incredible women nominated this year! It’s going “UP” on February 10!”

The 2019 Grammy Awards will take place at the Staples Centre on February 10 in Los Angeles.

Further reading: Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

President Donald Trump delivered his first Oval Office TV address to the nation on Tuesday night.

While previous presidential speeches from the Oval Office have been rallying moments in times of tragedy, the eight-minute address did little but reiterate ambiguous immigration claims and introduce more questions during a standoff with Congress.

It is now day 19 of the partial government shutdown—the second longest in history—with no new solutions having been offered.

Here’s what you need to know.

The wall

The US-Mexico border is 1,954miles long and already has 650miles of fencing in place through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The Republican President wants $5.7billion to build a steel barrier, which would deliver on his signature campaign promise—although his campaign promise included the caveat that “absolutely, Mexico is paying for the wall.”

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that more border security is needed, but Democrats—who recently took control of the House of Representatives—are opposed to giving Trump funds for the new structure. 

Fact or fear?

Trump’s dark vision of the country continued as he told primetime viewers that “vicious coyotes…ruthless gangs” and “vast quantities of illegal drugs” crossing the border are responsible for “thousands of deaths.”

“How much more American blood will be shed before Congress does its job?” he questioned.

The number of illegal border crossings has decreased—down from 1.6million in 2000 to fewer than 400,000 last year. Research actually suggests that undocumented immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crime than native-born American citizens.

Figures also make clear that only a small percentage of heroin sold in the US is smuggled through legal entry points.

“The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500bn a year, vastly more than the $5.7bn we have requested from Congress,” Trump added.

“The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.”

Fact-checkers have disputed the claim that the trade deal—a successor to Nafta—means that Mexico will pay for the wall, as the Mexican government has always refused to do so.

The Democrats 

Addressing the nation, Trump said that the federal government has remained shut “due to one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”

The president insisted that he had already compromised by moving from a concrete wall to a barrier made of steel slats and offered no fresh solution to the situation.

In a rare turn of events, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, were allotted time after the president’s speech to deliver a rebuttal.

The California congresswoman said: “The fact is the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge.

“And the fact is President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government.”

Shumer concluded: “The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.”

The Republicans 

While most of Trump’s party is supporting him, moderate Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska sided with Democrats in calling for an end to the government shutdown before the resolution of the border wall issue.

Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado have also issued similar appeals.

The public 

According to an opinion poll, just over half of Americans (51 percent) blame President Trump for the current government shutdown.

What next? 

With no new outcomes pending from the Oval Office address, it is unclear what’s next for the immigration and border security “crisis.”

The president chose not to threaten or declare a national emergency on Tuesday night—an option that could allow him to access military spending to fund his barrier.

However, speculations have suggested that Trump may still resort to such a declaration before the impasse comes to an end.

Congressional leaders are set to return to the White House on Wednesday for negotiations and the president will head to the southern border on Thursday to continue his work.

“Thank you for soooo many nice comments regarding my Oval Office speech. A very interesting experience!” Trump said on Twitter. 

Further reading: The Midterm Results Are In and This is What They Mean 

Highlights from the 2019 Golden Globe Awards

Highlights from the 2019 Golden Globe Awards

The 76th annual Golden Globe Awards honored the best films and television of 2018 on Sunday, January 6.

This year, your hosts were actors Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, with Oh joining the small group of actors to win awards in the same ceremony that they hosted.

The show may have run 20 minutes over its allotted three-hour running time, but it was full of impassioned speeches, diversification and unexpected surprises.

Here are the night’s most talked-about highlights.

“I’m Sorry!”

Jokes often fall flat during opening monologues. This year however, Sandra Oh managed to stir up some responses from the audience. We’re looking at you Emma Stone.

Introducing the history-making Crazy Rich Asians, Oh called out films that whitewashed Asian roles. “[Crazy Rich Asians] is the first studio film with an Asian-American lead since Ghost in the Shell and Aloha,” she joked.

The latter saw Emma Stone play a part-Asian character and explains why she shouted, “I’m sorry!” from the audience.

Shortly after, Oh redirected her efforts to Lady Gaga, referencing the actress’ go-to-interview anecdote about there being 100 people in a room “and you just need one to believe in you and that was Bradley Cooper.”

In good spirits, Gaga responded: “It’s true!”

A Swift surprise

While many were upset that Glen Close bested A Star Is Born firm favorite Lady Gaga for best actress (film drama), The Wife star earned a standing ovation for her emotional speech.

Close paid tribute to other nominees in the category, including Gaga, Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Rosamund Pike, before thanking her own mother as she discussed the film’s themes of gender inequality.

The actress said: “Women, we’re nurturers, we have our children, and our partners if we’re lucky enough, but we have to find personal fulfilment, we have to follow our dreams, we have to say ‘I can do that’ and I think we should be allowed to do that.”

The only Globe A Star Is Born picked up was for best original song. In an unannounced appearance, Taylor Swift presented Gaga with the award for Shallow, the No.1 duet between Gaga and Cooper.

Host-turned-winner

The first person of Asian descent to host the Golden Globes—Sandra Oh is now also the first woman of Asian descent to win best actress (TV drama) in more than three decades, for BBC America’s spy thriller Killing Eve.

Oh’s tearful speech at the top of the show earned her even more adoration on Twitter, as she touched on the diversity of this year’s nominee pool.

“I said yes to the fear of being on this stage tonight because I wanted to be here to look out into this audience and witness this moment of change,” she said.

“Trust me, it is real. Because I see you. And I see you. All these faces of change. And now, so will everyone else.”

Thank you, Satan

This year, the Globes seemed light on politics. That was, until Christian Bale accepted his award for best actor in a comedy or musical, for political satire Vice.

“Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration for playing this role,” he said about his character Dick Cheney.

While some found the joke tasteless, the comment earned recognition from the Church of Satan itself, which wrote on Twitter: “To us, Satan is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism, and it serves as an external metaphorical projection of our highest personal potential. As Mr. Bale’s own talent and skill won him the award, this is fitting. Hail Christian! Hail Satan!”

50 percent women

In a popular win, Regina King accepted best supporting actress for If Beale Street Could Talk.

After expressing her admiration for fellow nominee Amy Adams, King took a bold stance on gender equality.

“I’m going to use my platform right now to say that in the next two years, everything I produce … is 50 percent women.

“And I challenge anyone that’s out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry, all industries, I challenge you to challenge yourselves and stand with us in solidarity and do the same,” she said.

Worthy winners 

While the Globes proved to be devastating for A Star is Born, the night was a big success for Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The film won best film (drama) and also saw Rami Malek win best actor for his role as Freddie Mercury.

Richard Madden won best performance by an actor in a television drama for his role in the Bodyguard and Patricia Arquette took home best performance as an actress in a limited series or motion picture made for television for her work on Escape at Dannemora.

The night also gave way to mixed opinions as Mahershala Ali won best performance by an actor in a supporting role motion picture for Green Book.

For a full list of winners, click here.

Further reading: “We Solved it!” Diversity at the Emmys

d-Sheeran-to-Face-Court-over-Marvin-Gaye-Plagiarism-Claim

Ed Sheeran to Face Court over Marvin Gaye Plagiarism Claim

A jury is set to decide if British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran copied Marvin Gaye’s song Let’s Get It On when he created his smash single Thinking Out Loud.

The 27 year-old’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected on Thursday, January 3 when district Judge Louis Stanton said a jury should decide Sheeran’s liability.

Judge Stanton found “substantial similarities between several of the two works’ musical elements.”

He further ruled that it was disputed whether the harmonic rhythm of Let’s Get It On was too common to deserve copyright protection.

The action was brought against Sheeran, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records by the estate and heirs of late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Gaye.

The classic track hit number one in 1973 while Thinking Out Loud topped the UK single charts in 2014.

The defense has argued that the newer track was characterized by “sombre, melancholic tones, addressing long-lasting romantic love,” while Let’s Get It On was a “sexual anthem.”

However, the Judge said there were similarities in the bass lines and percussion of the two songs and stated that listeners might consider both hits as having the same “aesthetic appeal.”

Sheeran denies copying Gaye.

Not the first time 

The accusation is not the first time that Sheeran has been accused of copying other artists.

In 2017, the star settled a $20 million copyright infringement claim over his song Photograph. He was sued in 2016 by songwriters Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington, who claimed that his hit ballad had a similar structure to their song Amazing.

Another instance in 2017 also saw the team behind TLC’s 1999 single No Scrubs given writing credits on Sheeran’s Shape of You, after comparisons were made between elements of the songs.

Judge Stanton is presiding over another lawsuit alleging Sheeran copied Let’s Get It On. Structured Asset Sales (SAS)—which owns a third of Townsend’s estate—are suing for $100 million.

They claim he copied the “melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping” of the song.

History repeats itself

Recently, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay nearly $5million to the family of Marvin Gaye.

In 2013, the Motown legend’s family claimed that Thicke and Williams’ chart-topping single Blurred Lines plagiarized Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.

The Gaye family are also entitled to 50 percent of all future song royalties.

Further reading: Space Jam 2 Is Officially Starring LeBron James

Kim-Kardashian-and-Kanye-West-Expecting-Baby-No.-4

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Expecting Baby No. 4

According to US Weekly, Kardashian, 38, and West, 41, are expecting a fourth child via surrogate.

The baby is reportedly due in “very early May,” although the couple are yet to comment on the circulating news.

Kardashian is said to have only one fertilized embryo remaining and will be using the same surrogate who carried her daughter Chicago—born 12 months ago, on January 15.

The couple currently have three children. The new baby, reportedly a boy, will also join sister North, 5, and brother Saint, 3.

Suffering from health issues in her previous pregnancies, Kardashian turned to a surrogate for her youngest daughter after doctors advised her not to get pregnant again naturally.

She has previously opened up about her complications and battle with placenta accreta, a condition where the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall.

“There were a couple of little operations to fix all that, so that created a little hole in my uterus, which I think made it really tough to get pregnant again,” she told C Magazine.

The identity of the surrogate who carried Chicago remains unknown, but she did make an anonymous cameo on Keeping Up with the Kardashians last year and her first name was revealed to be Lorena.

“My surrogate is such a nice person, my family absolutely loves her and I’m so grateful,” the reality star said in the episode.

Following Chicago’s birth, she said: “I enjoyed the surrogacy process. When it came time to breastfeed, I realized it was the best decision I have made—it’s a game changer.

“I can spend so much more time with the older kids, getting them used to the new baby.”

In more recent episodes of the show, Kardashian spilled that “Kanye wants to have more children.”

“He’s been harassing me. He wants like seven. He’s like stuck on seven,” she said.

Speaking to E! News in August 2018, Kardashian shot down rumors that the couple were planning for baby number four. However, she was clearly not opposed to the idea.

“None of that was true…but I’ve been really open about it and talked about it on our show, so…I don’t know.”

Meanwhile, a source stated that some of her sisters are also thinking about getting pregnant again.

Born within a few months of each other, cousins Chicago West, Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott’s 11-month-old daughter Stormi Webster, and Khloé Karashian and Tristan Thompson’s eight-month-old daughter True Thompson, have become known as the “triplets”.

Another Kardashian-Jenner baby boom may well be on the horizon.

Further reading: Kanye West to Run for President

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to Pay $5m to Marvin Gaye

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to Pay $5m to Marvin Gaye

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have been ordered to pay nearly $5million to the family of Marvin Gaye, as a long-running legal battle comes to a close.

In 2013, the Motown legend’s family alleged that Thicke and Williams’ chart-topping single Blurred Lines plagiarized Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.

The family initially won the case in 2015, attesting that Blurred Lines had the same “feel and sound” of the 1977 hit, but the pair appealed.

In March this year, a Californian federal judge upheld the original ruling, resulting in an amended judgment and settlement to Gaye’s family.

Thicke and Williams, along with Williams’ publishing company More Water From Nazareth, owe joint damages of $2.8million. Meanwhile, Thicke has been ordered to pay an additional $1.8million and Williams, another $357,631.

The Gaye family are also entitled to 50 percent of all future song royalties. The song was said to have generated a total of £16.6million in revenue during the original trial.

The decision has sparked controversy among judges and music experts alike. Having instigated a number of similar copyright cases in recent years, the grueling battle has set a strict precedent for the music industry.

Many feel that the original verdict was mistaken, as the “feel” of a song cannot be concretely copied. Indeed, Williams testified that he only evoked the mood of Gaye’s song and did not directly plagiarize a sequence of musical phrases or lyrics.

“I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then [Williams] started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half-hour and recorded it,” Thicke admitted in an interview with GQ.

Circuit judge Jacqueline Nguyen, also disagreed with the appeal decision.

She argued that the song “differed in melody, harmony and rhythm” and said the verdict “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere”.

Two of Gaye’s children, however, called the resolution “a victory for the rights of all musicians” and their mother Jan added that it was a “wonderful recognition of Marvin’s creativity and the lasting value of one of his greatest songs”.

As a result of the case, instances have seen Taylor Swift gift Right Said Fred a writing credit on her single Look What You Made Me Do; and Ed Sheeran add the writers of TLC’s No Scrubs to his single Shape Of You. Sheeran is also accused of “copying” Marvin Gaye’s classic song Let’s Get it On with his 2014 ballad, Thinking Out Loud.

Further reading: From Cornfields to Concerts: Carlie Hanson’s Rise to Fame

Need Motivation? Meet Astronaut Abby

Need Motivation? Meet Astronaut Abby

Abigail Harrison—known online as Astronaut Abby—is a 20-year-old aspiring astronaut, college student, influencer and creator of the non-profit, The Mars Generation.

The Mars Generation has more than 1,800 students worldwide participating in an innovative Student Space Ambassador Leadership program and has sent over 36 youths to space camp.

We spoke with Abby about her inspiring plans to be the first astronaut to walk on Mars, as well as how she is exciting others about pursuing a career in STEM and how she manages to balance college, work and her personal life.

College News: How did you know you wanted to be an astronaut? 

Abigail Harrison: I’ve wanted to be an astronaut for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of looking up at the night sky and knowing that I wanted to explore the unknown.

 CN: Who were your role models growing up?

AH: Growing up I looked up to many astronauts—especially the women! Especially prominent to me was Astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger. Not only was she an astronaut, but also an educator. It was her great passion for sharing space exploration that made me look up to her. Three years ago this came full circle when she agreed to join The Mars Generation board of advisors.

 CN: What’s so special about Mars?

 AH: Landing humans on Mars is the next stepping stone for humanity in space exploration. It’s just hard enough to make it nearly impossible, but still doable. It will push our boundaries, challenge the very things we believed to be true about our universe, and allow us to make life here on Earth better. It’s also a great opportunity to search for extra-terrestrial life.

CN: What does your future look like in regards to reaching Mars? 

AH: After graduating from Wellesley this upcoming spring with a BS/BA in Biology and Russian Area Studies, I’m planning to go to grad school for a PhD in astrobiology or planetary sciences/geophysics. Following that, I will work for a few years doing scientific research to gain experience and then I will start applying to the NASA astronaut corp. Throughout this time span, I’ll also be pursuing other skills and qualifications which will hopefully aid in becoming an astronaut and eventually getting to Mars. These skills include obtaining my pilots license (this winter break), continuing to obtain advanced certifications in SCUBA diving, studying Russian and Mandarin Chinese, skydiving licenses and anything else that can strengthen by application to the NASA astronaut corps.

CN: Can you tell us a bit about your non-profit?

AH: The Mars Generation is a 501(c)(3) focusing on educating the public about the importance of space exploration and science literacy, inspiring young people about STEM, and supporting them to pursue careers in STEM fields. We run several core programs including our Future of Space Outreach Program, Student Space Ambassador Leadership Program and our Space Camp Scholarship program that provides full paid (transportation included) scholarships to students experiencing poverty.

CN: What inspired you to start The Mars Generation?

AH: When I was 15 years old I worked with Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano as his Earth Liaison, sharing his experiences living and working in space with my social media audience. After working with Luca during his six months in space, I realized how important it is to provide inspiration and educational resources for today’s youth. If we want to see humans walk on Mars—to truly become The Mars Generation—we need to be creating a culture today that will result in a highly skilled and passionate work force in the future. Other than space exploration, educational advocacy is my greatest passion in life. 

CN: Why do you think girls are still underrepresented in STEM occupations?

AH: There’s a long standing stereotype that girls aren’t good at STEM—a stereotype which causes bias in the way girls view themselves and their performance and in the way that everyone else see’s and treats them. We often consider this kind of bias to be a thing of the past, but it’s really not. Whether consciously or subconsciously, it still exists and is hugely problematic.

CN: How can we combat this? 

AH: An incredibly important way to combat the underrepresentation of girls in STEM is to showcase women who are already doing great things in STEM fields. By having highly visible female role models we can teach today’s girls to be able to see themselves pursuing STEM fields, and today’s boys to not be surprised when they see girls excelling in STEM careers. It’s especially important that these role models are visible in pop culture and media—where they’ll have the greatest impact. 

CN: What advice would you give to young girls who are apprehensive about pursuing a career in STEM?

AH: I would tell them that it’s okay to mess up! It’s okay to try something and then decide to go a different path! I think that as girls and women we feel that we need to be better—perfect, even—at things we’re told by society that we can’t do. This is exactly the opposite attitude needed for a career in STEM! A huge part of STEM is messing up—it’s failing 99 times and then succeeding on the 100th. That’s because it’s hard, and it’s not something natural—you have to learn it. It can be really easy to be discouraged early from STEM after failing a few times if you don’t realize how normal and vital to the learning process this is. 

CN: How do you balance college, work and life obligations? 

AH: It’s hard. Balancing my personal life, my work with The Mars Generation, college, and everything else is a constant struggle. I’m constantly double tasking and trying to squeeze every last second out of my days. For example, when traveling to speak at conferences or represent The Mars Generation as an influencer at events, I frequently find myself doing homework in cars, trains, buses, airports, planes—really wherever I can. Sometimes this means getting creative with how I study or what materials I have available. Even so, there are plenty of times where I really have to ask myself: “What’s important to me? What do I want to put my time and energy into?” And that means sometimes having to sacrifice something in order to do something else well.

CN: What would be your number one piece of advice for anyone starting out at college?

AH: Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. College is such an incredible opportunity to learn—both from your classes and from your classmates. But in order to do so you have to recognize that everyone has different talents. So not being the best at something isn’t a reason to not do it, it’s a reason to ask “how can I learn?” and “who can I learn from?”

CN: What is it really like to be an influencer?

AH: Honestly it oscillates between being incredibly tiring and out of this world rewarding. Being able to share my journey towards the red planet with millions of people here on Earth has been an incredible honor.

Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

Kevin Hart has announced that he will no longer be hosting the 2019 Oscars ceremony.

On Thursday night, the comedian-actor took to Twitter to issue an apology to the LGBTQ community for past “insensitive words” and to confirm he will not be a “distraction” at the Oscars.

The apology and step-down follow an outcry after homophobic comments and tweets from the Ride Along and Jumanji star resurfaced.

What happened?

On Tuesday December 4, Hart—who is currently performing in New Zealand—revealed that he would host Hollywood’s prestigious Oscars ceremony in February 2019.

“I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars,” he wrote.

“I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time.”

The backlash

A significant number of Hart’s tweets from between 2009 to 2011 promptly flooded the internet, in which he had used homophobic slurs and derogatory language.

In a tweet from 2011, among some that have been deleted, Hart said: “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’.”

A video from a 2010 standup special also resurfaced; where Hart delivers an entire standup routine based on the fear his three-year-old son would be gay.

This led people to criticize the Academy’s decision to make him host.

The apology

On Thursday, Hart addressed the situation by posting a video of himself to Instagram that did not feature an apology.

Instead, he said: “Our world is becoming beyond crazy, and I’m not going to let the craziness frustrate me.” The post’s caption read: “I am truly happy people … there is nothing that you can do to change that … NOTHING.”

Hours later, he posted yet another Instagram video, detailing that he had received a call from the Academy telling him to apologize or be removed as host.

“I chose to pass, I passed on the apology. The reason I chose to pass is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up, I’ve addressed this. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”

By Thursday night however, Hart had posted an apology.

“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars,” he wrote.

“This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.

“I’m sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love and appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”

Among those to question the backlash is Nick Cannon, who reposted old tweets from female comics Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, and Chelsea Handler, which all feature similar slurs.

So, who will host the Oscars now?

George HW Bush, 41st President, Dies Aged 94

George HW Bush, 41st President, Dies Aged 94

George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States and the father of the 43rd, died over the weekend at his home in Houston, Texas. He was 94.

His body will lie in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC from Monday evening to Wednesday morning—a rare honor.

Hailed by many around the world as the country’s greatest one-term president, Bush saw the US through a turbulent period in global relations, including the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

An announcement from his office said: “George Herbert Walker Bush, World War Two naval aviator, Texas oil pioneer, and 41st president of the United States of America, died on 30 November 2018.

“He was 94 and is survived by his five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two siblings. He was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Barbara; his second child Pauline Robinson ‘Robin’ Bush; and his brothers Prescott and William or ‘Bucky’ Bush.”

His death comes less than eight months after that of his wife, Barbara Bush. The day after her funeral, he was treated for an infection that had spread to his blood.

Bush also suffered from vascular Parkinson’s disease that had forced him to use a wheelchair in recent years. In and out of hospitals since 2012, the Republican remained active well into old age despite his deteriorating health.

In 2013, while suffering from bronchitis, he told well-wishers to “put the harps back in the closet.”

Former president Barack Obama remembered Bush as “a humble servant”, and Bill Clinton described him as “honorable, gracious and decent”.

A statement by Donald Trump also praised Bush, highlighting his “sound judgment, common sense and unflappable leadership”.

Trump and his wife Melania are expected to attend a state funeral that comes after the president cancelled a planned press conference in Argentina for the G20 summit “out of respect for the Bush family.”

America’s last war hero president, Bush served one term between 1989 and 1993. Since his death, many tributes have included a curious code word—CAVU.

CNN reporter Jamie Gangel revealed that the word was used to tell Bush’s family and friends that he had died on Friday night.

“For anyone who has been a pilot, it is familiar. For those who aren’t, it stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited,” Gangel said.

“He had a plaque in his office that said that. He always said that he felt it represented his life. The sky was the limit, he had had everything.

“I think it was a great and fitting tribute to him.”

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