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Highlights from the 2019 Oscars

On Sunday February 24, everyone who is anyone in Hollywood attended the entertainment industry’s biggest and most dazzling night of the year: The Oscars.

For some, the dream of winning an iconic golden Academy Awards statuette came true. For everyone else, the 2019 Oscars would surely be remembered as a night of powerful speeches, captivating performances, overdue breakthroughs and multiple backlashes (we’re looking at you Kevin Hart).

Here are the night’s highlights.

The talk of the town

If you’re not familiar with Hollywood’s latest imaginary love triangle, it involves the undeniably compatible stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

Are the pair just friendship goals? Did Gaga leave fiancé Christian Carino because she’s secretly in love with Cooper? Why did Cooper’s girlfriend, model Irina Shayk, sit in-between the two at the awards ceremony? And, most importantly, did you see that steamy performance of Shallow?

Whatever fan-fic A Star Is Born enthusiasts are living, we’ve been team Gaga since her Just Dance days and we’re thrilled that she won Best Original Song on Sunday. 

Tweeted about by the President

 Spike Lee leapt into the arms of Samuel L Jackson as he was finally presented with his Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. But it wasn’t the endearing bromance or the fact that Lee’s outfit paid tribute to his friend Prince that got viewers, and the President, talking.

“Do not turn the motherfucking clock on,” Lee said about the organizer’s 90-second time limit before using his acceptance speech to talk about how it is 400 years since “our ancestors were stolen from Mother Africa and bought to Jamestown, Virginia, enslaved”.

“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there,” he urged.

On Monday, President Trump struck back at the film director, accusing him of delivering a “racist hit” on Twitter.

“Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts, etc.) than almost any other Pres!” Trump wrote.

Defying fashion norms

While there were certainly some magical outfits at this year’s Oscars, none were as unapologetically magnificent as Billy Porter’s. The Pose star worked the red carpet in a custom creation by designer Christian Siriano, which included a tailored tuxedo jacket overtop a velvet gown.

“This industry masquerades itself as inclusive, but actors are afraid to play, because if they show up as something outside of the status quo, they might be received as feminine, and, as a result, they won’t get that masculine job, that superhero job,” the star told Vogue about his outfit-choice.

Captioning a snap of the ensemble for Instagram, Porter added: “When you come to the Oscars, you must dress up.”

Making history

This year’s Oscars saw African Americans who work behind the scenes picking up awards for the first time in decades.

“Wow, this has been a long time coming,” said Ruth E Carter when she became the first African American woman to win for costume design for Black Panther.

Marvel may have made the first black superhero, but through costume design we turned him into an African king.”

Her colleague, Hannah Beachler also made history as the first African American woman to win for production design.

A film about periods

Period. End of Sentence covers the deep-rooted stigma attached to menstruation in a rural village in India, and it won the award for Best Short Documentary despite an anonymous male member of the Academy recently feeling the need to share his thoughts about the film.

“[I’m not going to vote for] Period. End of Sentence—it’s well done, but it’s about women getting their period, and I don’t think any man is voting for this film because it’s just icky for men,” he wrote in his ballot outlining his selections for the year’s awards ceremony. Boy bye.

The film’s director, Rayka Zehtabchi’s summed up our feelings pretty accurately in her acceptance speech.

“I’m not crying because I’m on my period, or anything. I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” She said.

Olivia Colman keeps it real

While she may not have been the favorite to take home the 2019 Best Actress award, British actress Olivia Colman reminded us all why she deserved the win with her down-to-earth acceptance speech.

“It’s genuinely quite stressful,” The Favourite star began, before adding: “This is hilarious. An Oscar. OK. I’d like to thank a lot of people, but if I forget people I’m going to find you later and give you a massive snog.”

The star told her children watching at home that “this is never going to happen again” before apologizing to fellow nominee Glenn Close.

“You’ve been my idol for so long and this is not how I wanted it to be,” she admitted.

Colman, who made her name in TV comedy prior to landing her award-winning role, had begun talking about how she had been a cleaner when she was told to wrap up her speech, leading her to promptly blow a raspberry at The Academy.

Lacking a host 

Without a single host (we’re still looking at you Kevin Hart), plenty of people who had something important to say were allotted time on stage during this year’s ceremony.

Immigration was a recurring theme, with Best Actor winner Rami Malek stating that he was a first-generation American. Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón thanked the academy for “recognizing a film centered around an indigenous woman, one of the 70 million domestic workers in the world without work rights. A character who has historically been relegated to the background in cinema.

“As artists, our job is to look where others don’t. This responsibility becomes much more important in times where we are being encouraged to look away,” he said.

There was also many a Trump reference on Sunday night, with Keegan-Michael Key descending from the ceiling with a Mary Poppins-style umbrella only to discard it in apparent mockery of the President.

Barbra Streisand praised BlacKkKlansman “because it was based on the truth, and truth is especially precious these days” and 79-year-old congressman John Lewis spoke of his experiences in the civil rights movement before introducing the nomination of Green Book for best picture.

Speaking of Streisand, we’ll just leave Richard E Grant’s precious reaction to the legend gracing the stage at the ceremony, here. The actor recently shared his “lifelong fandom” for the star, along with the sweet letter that he had penned for her at the age of 14.

Further reading: Why Beyoncé’s Shout Out to Meghan Matters

 

 

Sylvia Plath’s “Newly Discovered” College Story

January 22 marked the first American publication of Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom: a story written by Sylvia Plath in 1952, while she was studying at Smith College.

For those of us who have found a worthy school companion in the esteemed poet, novelist and short-story writer, and have devoured everything from Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams (1977) to Plath’s profound journals, this news is revolutionary.

For those who have yet to be informed that reading The Bell Jar (1963) is a rite-of-passage for all college students everywhere, this “newly discovered” text has since sparked an intriguing debate concerning the story’s mischaracterization.

First thing’s first…

Plath was born in 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts. A gifted and ambitious writer, she attended Smith College and Newnham College at the University of Cambridge. In 1956, she entered into a troubled marriage with fellow poet Ted Hughes—the pair had two children before separating in 1962. Following a long history of clinical depression, Plath took her own life in 1963 at the age of 30. Many of her works have been published posthumously.

The story behind the story

Written when Plath was 20-years old, Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom was penned as an assignment for her English 220 class, “Practice in Various Forms of Writing.” The story borrows the name of her high school friend.

Plath, who would later become one of the most revered poets of the 1900s, arranged for the prose to be sent to Mademoiselle magazine, where she had secured a coveted and infamous internship (seriously, read The Bell Jar), for potential publication. The story was rejected.

Plath edited the story, changing the title and ending among other significant parts of the work, but never submitted the draft for publication again. The newly published version is that of the original, rejected draft, which most believe to be the story’s best form.

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Never before published, this newly discovered story by literary legend Sylvia Plath stands on its own and is remarkable for its symbolic, allegorical approach to a young woman’s rebellion against convention and forceful taking control of her own life. . Written while Plath was a student at Smith College in 1952, Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom tells the story of a young woman’s fateful train journey. . Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom goes on sale 1/22! Enter now for your chance to win 1 of 10 copies. See the link in our bio, or go here: https://ig.pgtb.me/ZqDkgP This sweepstakes ends 1/23/19 at 11:59pm EST. U.S. only. . . #sylviaplath #maryventuraandtheninthkingdom #comingsoon #bookstagram #bookish #igbooks #igreads #instabook #classicliterature #literature #shortstory #thebelljar #womenwriters

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What’s it about?

Mary Ventura follows a young woman—roughly the age Plath was when writing the story—as she reluctantly boards a train at her parent’s insistence.

Destination unknown, Mary finds herself reassured when she is seated next to a kind, older woman who is knitting a beautiful dress of green wool. Having made the journey before, the woman shows her around the luxurious train and invites her for a beverage. The bright garment she is knitting initiates a deliberate emphasis on colours and provides a visual, foreboding contrast to the darkening train and ominous red, grey and black scenery.

“Outside the picture window the orange sun was sinking in the gray west. It seemed smaller than when Mary had last looked at it, and the orange color was deepening into red.”

Indeed, halfway through the story Mary discovers that the train is actually “hurtling” towards the Ninth Kingdom, or “kingdom of frozen will”, and that no one else seems disturbed by this obvious but unspoken doom. Her companion eventually offers her an escape and Mary flees the train through a dark, snake-filled stairwell, up into a bright, summer city where she is received with love.

With Plath merely having referred to the story as a “vague symbolic tale”, the piece has been interpreted as an allegory for the ending of life, a nod to Dante’s Divine Comedy, and a discovery of female autonomy.

With full knowledge of Plath’s biography and the fact that she would attempt suicide for the first time the following summer, the story’s open-ended but urgent message seems undoubtedly significant.

“One can see why Mademoiselle magazine would have declined to publish such a nihilistic allegory, while also appreciating its rediscovery today”, wrote Claire Armitstead when The Guardian released an extract of the text.

Perfect timing

The US publication of Mary Ventura followed UK publisher Faber and Faber’s announcement that the story would be part of their 90th anniversary series of standalone short fiction titles. The media has since described the text as “newly discovered”, “recently discovered”, “lost”, “found”, “largely unseen”, and more to imply that Plath’s work has been freshly unearthed in some kind of treasure hunt. In the press release issued by HarperCollins, the story was promoted as a new find, unknown even to Plath’s estate.

As pointed out by Vulture, it’s “odd to imagine that any of her known work would not have been mined for publication. We can already read her senior thesis, her diaries, and her letters, and yet here’s a polished work we’ve never seen.”

In standard practice, this suspicion of the story’s lostness became the subject of a Twitter debate, until the truth was in fact confirmed.

“This story wasn’t ‘lost,’” Rebecca Baumann, Head of Public Services at IU Lilly Library wrote in a series of tweets.

“It is at @IULillyLibrary, where it is described in a detailed finding aid. It wasn’t ‘stumbled upon.’ It was given to the researcher by librarians.”

“Literally thousands of researchers have accessed this material, in our collections since the late 70s.”

“’Discovered’ in this story actually means the estate lifting their restrictions and allowing this to be published at a culturally opportunistic moment,” she added.

Following its rejection from Mademoiselle magazine, the story made its way to into Plath’s archives as an “open secret”—where it had been available for at least four decades.

It was there that the work was “stumbled upon” by the critic, academic and former classmate of Plath, Judith Glazer-Raymo. Raymo revealed that the text had appeared in auction in 2014, failed to sell, and that she had arranged to purchase the manuscript directly two years later.

Raymo included the work, along with the Mademoiselle rejection letter, in the Grolier Club’s 2017 exhibition: “This Is the Light of the Mind: Selections from the Sylvia Plath Collection of Judith G. Raymo.” She also approached Faber with scans of the piece.

With such a compelling history, any Plath devotee who’s college workload is perhaps slightly too heavy to allow time for a one hundredth re-reading of The Bell Jar, will be sure to relish a short story that offers a glimpse into the young writer’s enormous future.

However, Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom is a student’s story, and it has its flaws. If you’re not committed to analysing Plath’s entire oeuvre, just read The Bell Jar. I beg you.

Further reading: Five Books About Climate Change You Need to Read Now

The-Biggest-Highlights-from-the-2019-Grammy-Awards

The Biggest Highlights from the 2019 Grammy Awards

The biggest night in the music industry came and went with minimal controversy. This year’s Grammy Awards were packed with touching speeches, well-deserved wins and stellar performances. We’re talking musical legends like Diana Ross and Dolly Parton, and a surprise appearance by the former First Lady herself.

Like any awards show however, Sunday’s 61st annual ceremony didn’t go off without a hitch. In case you missed any of the four-hour long action, we’ve rounded up the highlights, the gossip and a healthy amount of social media drama.

When they cut Drake’s speech off 

Perhaps in the biggest plot-twist of the night, Drake—who has notoriously boycotted previous Grammy ceremonies—actually showed up to collect his trophy for best rap song.

Celebrating the hit single God’s Plan from his 2018 album Scorpion, the rapper took the opportunity to remind his fellow artists that the Grammy’s do not a winner make.

“The point is you’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown,” he said.

“Look, if there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and snow, spending money to buy tickets to your shows, you don’t need this right here. You already won. But—”

Drake was then cut off as the telecast went to a commercial, leaving viewers furious at the interruption.

Cardi B makes history

Cardi B won the best rap album award for her debut Invasion of Privacy, beating out Nipsey Hussle, Pusha T, Travis Scott, and the late Mac Miller, and becoming the first solo woman to take home the trophy.

The rapper gave an emotional speech that touched on her pregnancy and daughter, who was born in July.

“I want to thank my daughter,” she said. “I’m not just saying thank you because she’s my daughter. It’s because, you know, when I found out I was pregnant, my album was not complete, like three songs that I was for sure having. And then you know, you know how it was, we was like, we have to get this album done so I could still do videos while I’m still not showing. And it was very long nights.”

Ariana Grande tweeted and then deleted a series of insults as Cardi B took the stage, beating Grande’s late ex-boyfriend Mac Miller to the trophy. The singer called Miller’s snub “trash” and “literal bullshit,” before writing “sry” and deleting the posts.

Grande clarified afterwards that her tweets had “nothing to do w [Cardi]. Good for her. I promise. I’m sorry,” and called someone out for calling Cardi “trash”: “she’s not at all and that’s not what I meant and u know that,” she wrote in another, now-deleted tweet.

In a video recorded backstage at the ceremony and posted to Instagram, Cardi B dedicated her win to Miller, promising that she was “sharing this Grammy” with the late rapper.

Ariana drama 

The night also saw Grande win her first Grammy award for best pop vocal album with her record Sweetener. After a public spat with the show’s producer however, the star took to Instagram to confirm that she would not be attending the ceremony.

“I know I’m not there tonight (trust, I tried and still truly wished it had worked out tbh) and I know I said I try not to put too much weight into these things…this is wild and beautiful. Thank you so much. I love u,” she wrote on Sunday. 

Last week, the singer accused the organizer of the Grammys of lying about her reasons for withdrawing from a performance at the ceremony.

Grande still managed to steal the spotlight during the show however, dropping a series of photos that revealed her wearing her custom Zac Posen gown, which had been made for the event, around her house.

Women take center stage

This year, 15-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys led the show, stepping up as the first female host since Queen Latifah took on the role in 2005. Keeping the focus of the show on her love for music, she also enforced its female inclusivity. Last year’s ceremony was criticized for side-lining women, something that Keys was keen to address.

The star’s “sisters,” Lady Gaga, Jada Pinket-Smith and Jennifer Lopez, were invited onto the stage to each tell a personal story of how music changed their life and were joined by a certain former First Lady.

In a surprise appearance, Michelle Obama was forced to restart her speech, after her initial attempts were drowned out by applause.

“From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side, to the Who Run The World songs that fueled me through the last decade, music helps me tell my story,” she said.

“Music helps us share ourselves, our dignities and our sorrows. Music shows us all of it matters, every story with every voice, every note in every song.”

Captioning a photo of the group that she posted to Twitter, the former First Lady said she showed up for her close friend Alicia Keys—“one of the most genuine and thoughtful people [she knows].” 

Powerful performances

Our favorite performances of the night included Alicia Keys’ piano medley on two pianos (at the same time), Dua Lipa and St. Vincent’s seriously cool collaboration with Masseduction/One Kiss, Lady Gaga’s theatrical performance of Shallow and Kacey Musgraves serene version of Rainbow.

In answer to the question: “Was Jennifer Lopez the right person to choose to do a Motown tribute?” We think not.

Big winners 

Childish Gambino took three of the night’s biggest awards—record of the year, song of the year and video of the year—for his track This Is America. The song became the first hip-hop track to win song of the year, with Alicia Keys and John Mayer accepting the award when the rapper and actor didn’t turn up to the ceremony.

Lady Gaga also won big, accepting two awards for the soundtrack for the movie A Star Is Born. Gaga used her speech to discuss the importance of opening up about mental health, revealing that she was “so proud to be a part of a movie that addresses mental health issues” and adding: “We gotta take care of each other. So if you see somebody that’s hurting, don’t look away.”

While her co-star Bradley Cooper represented the film at the BAFTAs, Gaga bagged a further trophy for best vocal performance for Joanne.

Kacey Musgraves triumphed by winning album of the year and Dua Lipa was the only British artist to take home a trophy in a major category. Accepting her two trophies, Lipa made a small dig at the Recording Academy, thanking “all the incredible female artists” and saying “I guess we’ve really stepped up.” 

You can find a complete list of winners here.

Further reading: Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

Everything-you-want-to-know-about-Jennifer-Lawrence's-Engagement

Everything You Want to Know about Jennifer Lawrence’s Engagement

Jennifer Lawrence isn’t the kind of gal to rush onto Instagram and show off her flashy new diamond ring—one of the many reasons why we love her. However, this makes an in-depth Internet search for every single detail of her engagement an absolute necessity.

For those at the back: J. Law has a fiancé.

If you’re late to the search party, here’s what you need to know.

Who, why, how, when?

Following speculation on Tuesday night, after Lawrence was reportedly spotted out at Raoul’s in New York “rocking a massive ring on her finger”; her reps confirmed that she and Cooke Maroney are officially engaged.

In classic whirlwind romance fashion, the low-key couple started dating last summer and moved in together after just two months. Eight months in and it’s apparently official. Don’t worry, you can find snaps of the Oscar-winning actress’ mystery engagement ring here.

Spoiler: it’s stunningly modest, not “massive”.

Commit this name to memory

If you’re struggling to recall where you’ve heard the name Cooke Maroney before, that may be because you haven’t. Unlike Lawrence’s previous boyfriends—Chris Martin, Nicholas Hoult and Darren Aronofsky spring to mind—her latest and very much official beau isn’t famous.

Maroney, 34, studied art history at New York University and is now a director at Gladstone 64—the Gladstone Gallery’s Upper East Side Location. The gallery represents a number of high-profile artists, including Lena Dunham’s dad, Carroll Dunham.

Apparently, Maroney is a respected player in the industry, and a source told The Cut that he’s pretty chill but “goes to a lot of art-world parties.” Basically, you have permission to re-watch every episode of Gossip Girl in celebration.

Asking for a friend

Yes, he’s on Instagram, and yes, his account is private.

How did they meet? 

According to several reports, Lawrence’s non-celebrity best friend Laura Simpson introduced them last spring.

While we’re happy for the happy couple, we’re betting that their low-key relationship is indicative of a quiet wedding to come.

Further reading: Priyanka Chopra & Nick Jonas Are Married

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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BIG news…. 🔥🔥🔥 (check my story)

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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 

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

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