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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

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.”

Further reading: Neil deGrasse Tyson Accused of Sexual Misconduct

How to Practice Gratitude This Thanksgiving

How to Practice Gratitude This Thanksgiving

It’s time to dig out that gratitude journal from under the bed—you know, the one with the shiny gold foiling that you swore was an investment?

We’ve all been enamored with the idea of being mindful, changing our lives for the better and becoming optimistic members of society. The truth is, this concept is considerably overwhelming—jotting down things you’re grateful for can feel insincere, awkward and like the last thing you’d want to do after a hard day.

If you stick with it though, practicing gratitude can help you to experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, be more compassionate and can strengthen the immune system.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, here’s how to be truly thankful for delicious turkey and much more.

Get real

 It takes 30 days to build a habit—so don’t worry if journaling feels alien at first. Set an initial goal to list five things that you’re grateful for every night, for one week. By acknowledging this target, you’re telling yourself that this is something you’re going to commit to.

At the same time, realizing that building a habit requires dedication will allow you to recognize that sometimes life gets in the way. For example, if you know you’ll be too exhausted to open your journal at night, allocate a few minutes during the day to practice being grateful. If you accidentally skip a day, be grateful that you’ll have even more to be thankful for the day after. 

Practice mindfulness

The physical act of journaling can be powerful, but it is the practice of reflecting on your day and sitting with a feeling of gratitude that will train your brain to feel happier. Being mindful simply means being conscious and aware of yourself and your environment, not that you have to sit in a lotus position with your eyes closed.

Notice when you feel joy during the day, or take a few breaths at your desk to reflect on your emotions. Tracking moments that make you feel grateful as they happen, so that you can write them down later, is a fun way to stay aware and feel better throughout the day. Make it a game to find new things to be thankful for each day, so that your brain is always occupied with finding the positives around you.

Pick up a pen

Did you know that writing things down has psychological benefits such as enabling you to think on a larger scale, learn more, and drastically improve your memory? Luckily, this doesn’t mean that you have to write an essay every night.

The physical act of journaling forces you to consciously think about the words that you’re writing, which helps your brain to recreate feelings of gratitude and happiness. It’s also rewarding to look back and see all the things you’ve had to be grateful for over a period of time.

Don’t try so hard 

Journaling is an indulgent hobby—it’s about communicating with yourself, and this is a good thing. Self-compassion often translates into treating others with kindness.

The actual things you write about aren’t actually too important. You’re the only person experiencing this gratitude (and likely the only person reading your journal, too). Of course, you’re probably extremely grateful for your family and for having a roof over your head, but you don’t have to write those words down every night. Instead, focus on specific incidents that may have provoked small feelings.

If you were grateful for a home-cooked meal, make a note of it. If you were thrilled that it didn’t rain all day, write it down. If your roommate made you a cup of tea because they could tell you were feeling low, try and scribble more than: “I’m grateful for my friends”. When you start searching for small things to be appreciative for in a particularly hard day, it enables you to see each day as a unique, positive experience.

Find gratitude in your mistakes

Difficult situations are often when we need gratitude the most. For example, being grateful that you learned from a situation can help you to forgive yourself. On the other hand, being aware of the power of gratitude can help you to make a conscious effort to resolve a conflict with a friend or to seek out more happiness in your life.

Further reading: Six of the Best Books to Read This Fall

Highlights from the 2018 People’s Choice Awards

Highlights from the 2018 People’s Choice Awards

And that concludes Sunday’s 44th annual People’s Choice Awards. The show— featuring performances from Rita Ora, Nicki Minaj and Tyga, and John Legend—returned to TV for the first time on E! and broadcasted live from nine to 11pm from Santa Monica. Hollywood A-listers gathered at the viewer-voted ceremony to witness an interesting and memorable group of winners grace the stage. Here are the highlights.

Best movie goes to…

Avengers: Infinity Wars was named best movie of the year. The mega-blockbuster superhero movie also received the Action Movie of 2018 award and saw Scarlett Johansson take home best female movie star for her performance as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.

You go, Danai

Black Panther’s Danai Gurira accepted the award for Action Movie Star of 2018, besting four of the world’s biggest male movie stars (Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Reynolds, Chadwich Boseman and Chris Pratt). Gurira referred to her fellow nominees as “very beautiful men”, a statement that both inverts the patriarchy and elicits no argument from us.

Queen Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj was crowned female artist of the year and her LP, Queen, was also professed album of the year. It was Minaj’s acceptance speeches that made her an even bigger winner in our eyes.

“I wanna dedicate this award to Kim Kardashian’s ass in that dress,” she said, while receiving the Album of 2018 reward.

The 35-year-old later thanked the designer, Donatella Versace for her outfit, as well as Black Panther star, Michael B. Jordan, “because he’s going to be taking it off me tonight.”

Shadowhunters Sweep

It’s clear that fans of Shadowhunters are devastated that the series, which is based on The Mortal Instruments book series, may be ending prematurely. With the show awarded TV show of 2018 and Bingeworthy Show of 2018, and Katherine McNamara and Harry Shum Jr. also claiming big wins, the People’s Choice Awards has surely given the cast a memorable send off.

Melissa McCarthy, A.K.A People’s Icon 

Comedy actress, Melissa McCarthy, was honored with the first-ever People’s Icon award, acknowledged for her television and film work, which includes roles in Mike and Molly (2010), Bridesmaids (2011) and Spy (2015).

“Thank you for making it possible for me to do something I love more than anything else,” she said during her acceptance speech.

Spice up your life

Victoria Beckham referenced the Spice Girls hit song Wannabe during her acceptance speech for the Fashion Icon Award. Coming after her band-mates announced a reunion tour that would not include Beckham, fans can be sure that Posh Spice’s dedication to fashion and “girl power” will still give them what they really, really want.

“I wanted to show that if I can do it then really anyone can do it, and what you achieve really can be limitless,” Beckham said. “If you really, really—I can’t help it—if you really, really want it.”

Touching tributes

The People’s Choice Awards fell on Veterans Day and many stars took time to honour the veterans in their speeches. Scarlett Johansson dedicated her award to “the men and women of the armed forces who put their lives on the line every day so we don’t have to”.

Blake Shelton donned a red, white and blue ribbon on his lapel in honor of his veteran father, and Bryan Stevenson spoke out about recent mass shootings, the #MeToo movement and racial inequality during his speech for the People’s Champion Award.

“It’s Veterans Day, it’s important that we honor all our veterans, but it’s important to remember that black veterans after World War I and World War II were menaced and targeted and lynched because of this narrative of racial difference, and today we’re still burdened by that history,” he said.

Attendees also frequently touched on the devastating Woolsey Fire, raging less than 40 miles away from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. Mila Kunis, Melissa McCarthy, and Kim Kardashian West were among many who thanked firefighters for their tireless work.

Accepting a best reality TV show prize for Keeping Up with The Kardashians, West dedicated the award to “all the firefighters, the law enforcement and the first responders, we really truly appreciate what you have done for all of us.”

Winners

With 46 awards lined up and only 22 given out during the red carpet and live telecast, the winner’s list is deliciously long.

The show witnessed Korean boy band, BTS secure multiple awards for their song and video Idol. Shawn Mendes was named male artist of the year, Jim Parsons announced Comedy TV Star of 2018, Chadwick Boseman crowned male movie star of the year, and Taylor Swift and Shane Dawson also claimed wins. When receiving his award for Nighttime Talk Show of 2018, Jimmy Fallon was met with laughs for thanking “my better half, my rock, my soulmate…Justin Timberlake”.

Popular high school drama, Riverdale won best drama show, Fifty Shades Freed: best drama movie, and Incredibles 2: best family movie.

A full list of winners can be found, here.

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

The Midterm Results Are In and This is What They Mean

The Midterm Results Are In and This is What They Mean

Democrats have regained control of the House of Representatives after an eight-year one-party rule in Congress. However, in a “blue wave” that was more of a “ripple”, Republicans have tightened their grip on the Senate.

Despite losses in the lower chamber of Congress, president Donald Trump declared the midterm election a “tremendous success” as Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate, paving the way for a divided Congress.

Promoting himself on Twitter, he focused on the Senate, quoting the following from a commentator:

“There’s only been five times in the last 105 years that an incumbent president has won seats in the Senate in the off year election. Mr. Trump has magic about him. This guy has magic coming out of his ears. He is an astonishing vote getter & campaigner.”

The primary role of Congress—consisting of the House (its lower chamber) and the Senate (its upper chamber)—is to make and pass laws. A legislative proposal only becomes law once the House, the Senate and then the President, have approved it.

Consequently, that the Republicans lost the House to the Democrats could actually mean that Trump’s final two years of term have just become severely limited. Although his name was not on the ballot as a higher-than-usual number of voters elected Congress members on Tuesday November 6, the election was considered a referendum on Trump’s America.

Democrats needed to pick up 23 House seats in tallies early Wednesday, results that could enable the party to block much of Trump’s legislative agenda as well as issue investigations into his administration and business affairs. The Democrats now control the Intelligence Committee—responsible for considering potential Russian collusion in the last presidential election.

It will also be more difficult for Republicans to make changes to health legislation, including Barack Obama’s healthcare law, and could cause problems for Trump’s plans to build a border wall with Mexico. By passing laws out of the House, it will also force Republican senators to consider subjects like minimum wage.

The increased Republican majority in the Senate however, will make it easier for Trump to appoint judges and remake the judicial branch—a branch of government that interprets laws in the name of the state—into a more conservative system.

Democrats also flipped six governorships in the election, including Kansas, where Laura Kelly beat Trump ally, Kris Kobach. Two victorious Muslim Democrats—Ihan Omar (Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan)—made minority firsts, along with elected Democrat governor, Jared Polis (Colorado), the first openly gay man to be voted into the position.

A record year for women, at least 90 female candidates won their elections, the majority of whom were Democrats and at least 28 of whom were sent to Congress by voters for the first time. Sharice Davids (Kansas) and Deb Haaland (New Mexicao) became the first Native American women to be elected. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) became the first woman in her 20s to win a seat, and was later joined by 29-year old Abby Finkenauer (Iowa).

House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, spoke in Washington. “Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” she told supporters.

Trump allegedly called Pelosi “to extend his congratulations on winning a Democratic House Majority,” her deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted.

“He acknowledged the Leader’s call for bipartisanship in her victory remarks.”

According to an exit poll survey conducted by the Associated Press, healthcare and immigration were at the top of issues expressed by voters, and 64 percent of those surveyed revealed that Trump factored into their choice when casting their ballots.

Further reading: The Midterms Explained: Everything You Need to Know