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Rare African black leopard photographed for the first time in over 100 years

Biologists have photographed rare footage of the sleek big cat walking majestically in Kenya, the first time the animal has been photographed in Africa since 1909.

Nick Pilfold, a San Diego Zoo global scientist, said they captured the footage after months of watching and waiting. His team of biologists had placed remote wildlife cameras to track the leopard population near Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia County last year when they heard unconfirmed reports of a possible black leopard sighting.

"We intensified our camera placement in the area the reports were being made," he said Tuesday night. "Within a few months, we were rewarded with multiple observations on our cameras."

The female leopard's coat color is pitch black as a result of melanism, a gene mutation that results in an over-production of pigment, Pilfold said. It's the opposite of albinism and although the leopard's coat appears black during the day, its rosette patterns are visible in nighttime infrared imagery.

While there have been reports of sightings of black leopards also known as black panthers the last confirmed observation was in Ethiopia more than a century ago, he said.

"Melanism occurs in about 11% of leopards globally, but most of these leopards live in South East Asia," Pilfold said. "Black leopards in Africa are extremely rare, and prior to the observations in our published paper, the last confirmed observation was 1909 in Ethiopia."

Black leopards may have been living in Kenya all along, but there's been no footage to confirm the observations until now, Pilfold said. The black leopard's sighting was published in the African Journal of Ecology.

Leopards are described as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

The total extent of the animal's population decline is still unknown, San Diego Zoo said in a statement. But several factors have sharply reduced their numbers, including hunting, habitat loss, competition for prey, and conflict with livestock and farmers.

Pilfold is part of a team from the San Diego Zoo working with local partners, including the Kenya Wildlife Service, to monitor leopard populations in the area and help preserve the species.

He marveled at the coincidence of the location of an animal that's also called the black panther the title of one of last year's biggest movies.
"Coincidentally, our observations are very close to where the fantasy Marvel comic country of Wakanda is suggested to be located," he said.

(CNN)

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Kevin Hart quits as Oscars host over homophobic tweets

Kevin Hart has stepped down as host of the Oscars next year after tweets emerged in which he used homophobic slurs.

The decision comes just three days after he was announced as host of the 91st Academy Awards ceremony.

Tweets originally posted between 2009 and 2011 resurfaced shortly after he was confirmed for the job, containing offensive language towards the LGBT community.

The actor and comedian's response to the outcry attracted a further backlash, as he wrote on Instagram that critics should "stop being negative".

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In an accompanying video, Hart said he wasn't going to "let the craziness frustrate me" and added that he "loves everybody".

In a second video, Hart said the Academy had asked him to apologise over the tweets but he "chose to pass" as he has "addressed this several times before".

He said the "same energy that went into finding those old tweets could be the same energy put into finding the response" and that he did not want to have to explain again that he is a different person now.

"I passed on the apology," he said. "The reason why I passed is because I've addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I've addressed it, I've spoken on it. I've said where the rights and wrongs were.

"I've said who I am now versus who I was then. I've done it, I've done it. I'm not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old. I've moved on, I'm in a completely different space in my life.

"The same energy that went into finding those old tweets could be the same energy put into finding the response to the questions that have been asked years after years after years.

"We feed internet trolls and reward them. I'm not going to do it, man. I'm going to be me, and I'm going to stand my ground."

However, in a tweet he did apologise "for my insensitive words from the past".

It comes after LGBTQ media watchdog group GLAAD reportedly contacted the Academy Awards broadcaster ABC, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and Hart's management to "discuss Kevin's anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record".

Hart said in a 2010 stand-up special that "if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will."

I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's....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.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018

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 & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018

He announced he was withdrawing himself from the role in the early hours of Friday morning, writing on Twitter: "I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's....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."

He added in a follow-up post: "I'm sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so."

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The awards ceremony will take place in February, with Hart describing the gig as the "opportunity of a lifetime" when he was made host.
The 39-year-old wrote: "I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars.

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

"To be able to join the legendary list of hosts that have graced that stage is unbelievable. I know my mom is smiling from ear to ear right now."

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Which is the world's most LGBT-friendly city? 

A mid a mass of colour and pounding Latin rhythms, revellers at this year’s Bogotá Pride march waved banners stating “not one step back”.

They were among tens of thousands who took to the streets to celebrate and support Colombia’s LGBT community. Many annual Pride marches that were once solemn protests against repression have become celebrations of now-existing rights or progress, reflecting the strength of LGBT communities.

In Bogotá, for example, the capital of a macho and socially conservative country, there has been surprising progress in LGBT rights.

In March, Angélica Lozano Correa, a former member of the Bogotá city council, became the first openly LGBT person to be elected to the country’s Senate. In 2016 the country’s government passed laws allowing same-sex couples to adopt and marry, and the previous year it granted transgender people the right to change their identity on official government documents – policies which have allowed more equality and openness.

But while these laws and political representation might suggest Bogotá is “friendly” and tolerant of the LGBT community, the issue is not clear-cut. This year’s Bogotá Pride march was marked by an undertone of resistance to and fear of the right-wing government of the new president, Ivan Duque.

Duque openly opposes the LGBT-inclusive peace agreement his predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, signed with leftist rebels Farc in 2016. Activists claim he is also against same-sex marriage and adoption rights.

“Although the government promised there would be no setbacks to LGBT rights, the appointment of several anti-LGBT officials, cuts in resources for public policies and the continued strengthening of radical religious movements that promote hate speech and misinformation against the LGBT population are worrying,” says Marcela Sánchez, director of Colombia Diversa, a leading LGBT rights organisation.

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A man decorates his facade with clothes of the rainbow flag in Spain during the week of Pride celebrations. Photograph: Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images 

Rough measuresIndeed, determining a city’s attitude towards the LGBT community is complex. Studies that try to do this often look at political or legal metrics such as freedom to marry, or laws protecting against discrimination.

Equaldex, a collaborative knowledge base for the global LGBT movement that maps the legality of homosexuality, identifies a number of factors including freedom to change gender and to adopt – although it hasn’t ranked countries or cities in order of best to worst.

An index from the Human Rights Campaign looks at municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality across the US.

Seventy-eight out of 506 US cities had a “perfect score” of 100, for reasons such as introducing trans-inclusive health benefits to city employees, as in Brookings, South Dakota. Birmingham, Alabama, obtained a full score for passing comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinances, along with other cities such as Cleveland in Ohio, a state that had previously prohibited same-sex marriage and civil unions.

However, the Human Rights Campaign clearly states its index does not and cannot reflect a city’s friendliness.

Other global surveys have tried to assess friendliness by covering public attitudes, access to nightlife and personal safety. A 2017 survey by the housing website Nestpick ranked the best LGBT cities by asking thousands of people how friendly they felt their city was based on safety and nightlife. Madrid, Amsterdam and Toronto came out as the top three.

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San Francisco has the biggest proportion of LGBT residents in the US. Photograph: Brigitte MERLE/Getty Images/Photononstop RF

“Modern strongholds for LGBTQI culture remain in western Europe and Canada,” says Merryn Johns, editor and chief for Curve, a lesbian-focused magazine in New York.

Arguably the size of the LGBT population in urban areas could reflect the level of friendliness, as “many LGBTI folk head to cities from rural areas because of the promise of a freer, more tolerant life there,” says André du Plessis, executive director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

A study of US metro areas found San Francisco has the biggest proportion of LGBT residents in the country at 6.2%, followed by Portland and Austin. San Francisco has often been called the “gay capital of the world” for its culture of tolerance and vibrant scene.

But even when cities seem progressive on the surface, the lived experience of members of the LGBT community can tell a dramatically different story.

“For a certain social strata [sic], Cape Town and Johannesburg are gay meccas, but at the same time black lesbians living in poor areas there are dealing with violence and targeted rape,” says Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT rights programme at Human Rights Watch.

A study in 2017 found that four in 10 LGBT South Africans know of someone who has been killed for “being or suspected of being” LGBT.

Black members of this community are twice as likely (49%) as white people (26%) to know of an LGBT person who has been murdered.

Even in London and Paris, which both have a reputation of being queer-friendly cities, hate crimes have increased in recent years. A report from Stonewall in 2017 found that 25% of London’s LGBT community had experienced harassment or assault.

Brazil’s second-largest city, Rio de Janeiro, has been branding itself as an LGBT tourist destination for years. It has made huge efforts in providing anti-bullying projects aimed at students, and has outlawed discrimination in nightclubs. However, the last year has seen record numbers of violent attacks against the queer community.
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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro once said: ‘Yes, I’m homophobic – and very proud of it.’ Photograph: Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images 

And with a newly elected far-right government, there are fears it could get worse.

“With the election of an openly homophobic president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has infamously said he would rather have a dead son than a gay son, Rio’s reputation as a destination city may falter, and violence increase,” Reid says. “Rio is seen as a liberated city, but also has high levels of [homophobic] violence.”

‘Gay Disneyland’Conversely, in some countries with backward and dangerous attitudes to the LGBT community, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, discreet but vibrant underground scenes can thrive. This is even the case in Russia, where activists say two people were killed last week and nearly 40 detained, as part of a new homophobic crackdown by police in the Chechnya region.

“You’ll find a gay scene in many places that may surprise you,” says Ed Salvato, an LGBT travel expert. “Some places like Moscow and St Petersburghave vibrant gay communities, despite the homophobic laws there.”

In Dublin, an exciting scene exploded out of a staunchly Catholic country.

“Dublin is like gay Disneyland now, and that wasn’t the case 20 or 30 years ago,” says Prof Andrew Reynolds, founder of the University of North Carolina’s LGBTQ Representation and Rights Research Initiative.

“With the last couple of referendums, Ireland and Dublin have embraced their new presentation as an inclusive, progressive and loving place.”

When Reynolds visited Ireland in 2016, many from the LGBT population told him stories of growing up in conservative coastal towns and moving away due to prejudice. The country was the first to legalise gay marriage by popular vote, in a 2015 referendum with a yes vote of 62%.

He says: “They went to Australia. They went to America. Now they’ve come home.”

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Ireland became the first country in the world to adopt same-sex marriage by popular vote in 2015. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters 

Progress in politicsThe political glass ceiling has broken for many LGBT people across the world, which inevitably has ripple effects on the community.

Minneapolis made US history last year by electing Andrea Jenkins, the first openly trans woman of colour to office in 2017. The gay stronghold of Palm Springs, California, has elected an entire city council that identifies as LGBT. And in November, Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected as a US state governor.

In Poland, one of Europe’s most Catholic and conservative countries, voters in the small city of Slupsk this year elected a gay atheist mayor, Robert Biedron. Just a few years ago, Biedron was attacked on the streets of his city because of his sexuality.

In Kathmandu, Nepal, Sunil Pant became Asia’s first openly gay federal-level elected official in 2008, resulting in a spate of public scrutiny.
“I think that the spinoff is that Kathmandu is a lot more gay-friendly than it was before,” says Reynolds. “Whilst it is not perfect by any stretch, like Bogotá, it is a place now that I feel like is much more friendly and accepting – and that’s obviously coming from a place where the Hindu religion was not helpful before.”

As the most direct representatives of citizens, city officials are uniquely positioned to understand and address the needs of their communities, says Xavier Persad of the Human Rights Campaign, pointing to “the need to provide for one’s family without the fear of being fired, to secure housing without the fear of eviction, and to participate in community life”.

“When cities enact LGBTQ-inclusive protections,” he adds, “they send a clear message that they value and welcome everyone, attracting the country’s top talent and spurring economic growth.”

Ultimately, even the most progressive laws and equal representation at political levels do not necessarily reflect the efficiency of enforcement, or indeed capture the lived experience of discrimination and fear many LGBT people face every day.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Reach Custody Agreement

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are finally on the same page.

After requesting for more time to work out their divorce and custody terms, the former couple has reached a custody agreement.

“A custody arrangement was agreed to weeks ago, and has been signed by both parties and the judge," Jolie’s attorney, Samantha Bley DeJean, tells ET in a statement. "The agreement, which is based on the recommendations of the child custody evaluator, eliminates the need for a trial. The filing and details of the agreement are confidential to protect the best interests of the children.”

A source close to the matter tells ET that Jolie is “pleased to be entering the next stage and relieved at the progress for the health of their family.”

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Earlier this week, the estranged twosome asked for an extension for the appointment of a private temporary judge, Honorable John Ouderkirk, according to court documents obtained by ET and filed on Wednesday.

A custody trial regarding the couple's six children was scheduled to begin, in private and presided over by Ouderkirk, on Dec. 4, with Ouderkirk working with the couple on reaching custody settlements until June 30, 2019.

A source told ET in early November that "both parties are working together to try and reach an out-of-court settlement and avoid an actual trial." With this new custody agreement, it eliminates the need for the pair to go to trial.

News broke in September 2016 that Jolie had filed for divorce from Pitt after two years of marriage. Jolie cited irreconcilable differences in her filing, and an attorney for the actress, Robert Offer, told the Associated Press that the decision was made "for the health of the family."

The two movie stars then engaged in a tense custody battle, after Jolie asked for physical custody of their children. Pitt responded to the petition by asking for joint legal and physical custody of the children in his filing. (ET)

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Egg beats out Kylie Jenner for most-liked Instagram photo

Kylie Jenner on Sunday lost the world record of having the most liked photo on Instagram to an egg.

The photo, posted online to the account world_record_egg by the "Egg Gang" on Jan. 4, received more than 18 million likes as of Sunday evening — breaking Jenner's record.

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"Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram," the post read. "Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this."

The now-outranked photo Jenner posted to receive millions of like was of her daughter, Stormi Webster. Posted Feb. 6, 2018, the picture shows her daughter's tiny hand wrapped around her thumb.

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As of Sunday, the picture had nearly 18.2 million likes from Jenner's more than 123 million Instagram followers.

After she learned she was bumped from the top, Jenner posted a video of herself cracking an egg on the ground alongside the caption: "Take that little egg."

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Indian film star to open eatery in Colombo

Pulkit Samrat is known for his two passions — fitness and food. And now, the actor plans to unite both in his new venture — an eatery of healthy nosh in Sri Lanka. “It was simple maths to combine both my passions. People think nutritious fare isn’t tasty and that’s what we are going to focus on —delectable food that’s wholesome to the core!” he says.

The Fukrey Returns actor plans to open the café some time mid-year in 2019 in collaboration with a friend who owns a prime property in Sri Lanka. A local chef is working on the dishes that include seafood, which is low in sodium and rich in minerals. Pulkit calls the experience delightful.

“We are tasting and applying a healthy twist to various platters from our day-to-day lives. We are experimenting with healthy starchless risottos as well as Rajma Chawal, Butterless Butter Chicken and the likes,” he said. 

A self-confessed animal lover, Pulkit also plans to donate a portion of the profits to elephant conservation.

“I’ve been shooting with this gentle beast of an elephant for my film Haathi Mere Saathi. During the shoot, I got to know of the various problems they face. We got in touch with a few volunteers who are helping conserve the tusker’s habitats and water reservoirs,” he added.

(DNAINDIA)

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Jaguar Land Rover and Cinnamon Life present Mamma Mia in Sri Lanka 

A world renowned musical extravaganza Mamma Mia is now being staged at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre for an eight day run as part of their international tour till December 30.
 
SML Frontier, sole agents of Jaguar Land Rover in Sri Lanka was the official transport provider  in Colombo in partnership with Cinnamon Life   for their first ever performance in South Asia.
 
Mamma Mia! originally promoted as Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus' Mamma Mia! is a musical performance , based on music from Swedish pop group ABBA.
 
 The idea for the play stems as far back as 1982 when British playwright Judy Craymer approached Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus about a story involving several songs by ABBA.
 
The storytelling prowess of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise is now being displayed in Colombo for the first time. 
 
It has been seen by more than 60 million people in 50 productions in 16 different languages up to now.
 
Jaguar Land Rover aims to drive leadership in sustainable business practices by achieving carbon neutral manufacturing and zero waste across operations by 2020, SML Frontier disclosed in a media release highlighting ‘Mamma Mia’ in Sri Lanka.

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A Sri Lankan is music director in Mozart’s town 

Leslie Suganandarajah has been named music director in Salzburg Landestheater, succeeding Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

Leslie, 35, is presently Kappellmeister with the Bruckner Orchester Linz.

Born in Sri Lanka, his parents settled in Germany when he was two years old.

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Beyonce! Hillary! India Revels in a Very Big Wedding

In a season of big Indian weddings, the Wednesday marriage of the scions of two billionaire families might be the biggest of them all.

The bride, Isha Ambani, is the Ivy League-educated daughter of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, thought to be India's richest man. Forbes estimates his net worth at over $43 billion.

The groom, Anand Piramal, is the relative pauper. His father, industrialist Ajay Piramal, is thought to be worth $10 billion.

The wedding is being held in Mumbai on Wednesday but festivities began weeks ago, starting in September with an engagement party at a lakeside Italian palace. Over the weekend, thousands attended pre-wedding parties at a 16th century palace in the Indian desert city of Udaipur, where videos shot by partiers showed Hillary Clinton dancing with Shah Rukh Khan, one of India's biggest movie stars, as former Secretary of State John Kerry danced just a few feet away.

A highlight was a performance by Beyonce, who sang "Crazy In Love," among other hits, with a band backing her up and a series of costume changes that included at least one India-inspired outfit.

wedding 2Beyonce with her her India-inspired costume for her performance.

"Beyonce Lights Up Udaipur," the Times of India shouted in a Tuesday headline.

Indian weddings are famously elaborate, driving many families into debt with expectations that they invite hundreds or thousands of people, and arranging professional song-and-dance shows.

Among India's rich, weddings are displays of almost unimaginable wealth, with guests flown in on chartered jets from around the world and celebrities paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for brief appearances. In 2004, a daughter of Indian steel baron Lakshmi Mittal held her engagement party at Versailles.

The Indian media noted that the actual Ambani wedding, in Mumbai, was expected to be a relatively small affair, with just 600 or so people in attendance. More parties will follow the marriage ceremony.

Antilla, the Ambanis' 27-story Mumbai home, has been strung with lights for the wedding, looking like a small skyscraper at night. The family is said to have reserved hundreds of hotel rooms for their guests.

wedding 1Shah Rukh Khan,Gauri Khan,Isha Ambani

Indian grooms traditionally ride to their weddings on horses, but Piramal arrived at the Ambani home in a classic Rolls Royce, with marching bands playing alongside.

The Ambani fortune stretches across a range of industries, from petroleum to chemicals to mobile phones. They control the conglomerate Reliance Industries. The Piramal family businesses include pharmaceuticals and real estate.

The competitiveness of India's wintertime wedding season is growing more extreme, according to Archana Dalmia, a social activist in New Delhi.

"A farmer might commit suicide because he can't save enough money to get his daughter married," she said.

The extravagant wedding of Indian actress Priyanka Chopra and American singer Nick Jonas earlier this month — attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — was straight out of a Bollywood film.

So-called dowry deaths — brides killed when their families fail to meet in-laws' dowry demands — constitute a substantial share of all female homicides in India, a 2018 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report found.

While opulence has always been a feature of Indian weddings, families used to hand down bridal saris as heirlooms. No more, Dalmia said.

"This generation is very different. Priyanka Chopra will never be able to wear it again and she won't be able to pass it down," Dalmia said.

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Peter Dinklage reveals how ‘Game Of Thrones’ cast said goodbye on set 

"Game of Thrones" cast members meant the sun and stars to one another, making it difficult for them to say goodbye after filming the eighth and final season of the HBO hit. 

At least that’s how Peter Dinklage described it in an interview with Vulture published Monday.

Dinklage, 49, who has won three Emmy awards for portraying Tyrion Lannister on the series, inadvertently revealed how he and other cast and crew members honored a character’s last day on set.

After initially describing his last day of shooting as “anticlimactic,” Dinklage acknowledged it was “also beautifully bittersweet” because of deep feelings shared with people he’s worked with for so many years.

“A lot of people whom I love were on set that day. Even if they weren’t working, they came to set, which was beautiful,” Dinklage explained. “I tried to do the same thing when other actors were wrapping out. If it was their day, you would go to set to say goodbye. It was really hard.”

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Cast and crew of “Game of Thrones” pose with their Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmy Awards on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Steve Granitz via Getty Images 

One sendoff was particularly emotional, he said.

“I won’t say their name or their character’s name, but one of the young people on the show wrapped this past season and everybody was a wreck,” he said. “This person had grown up on the show, you know? They were a child and now they were an adult. And then they’re done. It’s like we were witnessing this person saying goodbye to their childhood. I know ‘Game of Thrones’ is just a TV show ― la-di-da ― but it was our life.”

As for his character, Dinklage said he’s happy about the way Tyrion ends the series.

“I think he was given a very good conclusion. No matter what that is — death can be a great way out,” he said.

He also seemed pleased with Tyrion’s character arc, starting as the black sheep of the Lannister family who was “pretty irresponsible” and “used his position as the outcast of his family like an adolescent would” by pushing his differences “in their faces.”

“The beauty of Tyrion is that he grew out of that mode in a couple of seasons and developed a strong sense of responsibility,” Dinklage said.

“Not morality, because he always had that, but what to do with his intelligence.”

The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” will premiere in the first half of 2019.

(Huffington Post)

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Black Panther’ Is First Superhero Movie To Score Golden Globes Best Picture Drama Nod

The history-making “Black Panther” just made history again. The Ryan Coogler-directed film has become the first superhero movie to be nominated for best picture in the drama category at the Golden Globes. 

A slew of stars, including the film’s own Danai Gurira, announced on Thursday the nominations for the 76th annual ceremony to be held in January in Beverly Hills, California. The film, which became the highest-grossing solo superhero film to date earning $1.3 billion worldwide, was also nominated for best original song for Kendrick Lamar’s “All The Stars” featuring SZA and best original score for Ludwig Göransson’s work on the film. “Deadpool” is the only other superhero to break into the best picture categories at the Golden Globes and was nominated for best motion picture, musical or comedy in 2016 with its star Ryan Reynolds also getting a nod.

Marvel has made a heroic push for the film in recent months by hiring Oscar strategist Cynthia Swartz to lead the campaign for awards season with the support of Marvel President Kevin Feige and a “significant awards season budget.”

“I would like to see the hard work and the effort and the vision and the belief of the talented filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who sat across the table from us a few years ago and said, ‘I have been wrestling with questions about my past and my heritage and I think I really want to tell a story within this movie,’” Feige told The Los Angeles Times in an interview. “And that he did it so unbelievably well and with so much impact … seeing that potentially being recognized is what excites me the most.”

The cast of the Marvel movie recently awarded the first recipient of The Black Panther Scholarship, which funds a full grant to Loyola Marymount University worth $250,000.

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How this couple's drunken decision to buy a hotel in Sri Lanka paid off

For most of us, our drunken decisions tend to extend to a dodgy takeaway or regrettable text. But for one British couple, it was life-changing as they decided to buy an entire hotel in Sri Lanka.

Gina Lyons and Mark Lee got married last year and decided to backpack around Sri Lanka for three weeks for their honeymoon in December 2017. While in the little beach town of Tangalle, they stayed in a cheap, slightly rundown hotel. On the first night while drinking several bottles of rum with Isuru, the hotel’s bartender, they discovered the lease was coming up for sale. 

gina and mark 1Gina and Mark made one of the biggest decisions of their lives over a copious amount of rum. 

The couple drunkenly started to work out the calculations and went so far as to get Isuru to contact the landowners with their offer of £30,000. Surprisingly, they accepted and when they woke with a hangover the next morning, the realities of what they had agreed to set in.

They brokered the deal wearing their beachwear and promptly hired Isuru as the front-of-house manager and another local, Milinda, as their general manager. Then a fresh set of challenges presented themselves. 

gina and mark 2They refurbished the beach-side hotel with the help of some locals. 

Gina told Lonely Planet about the most difficult part of the sale. “Being based in England was the hardest challenge, the lack of Sinhalese, the unknown laws.” They were also given plenty of conflicting advice but ultimately had to make their own choices. “Everyone had told us to be careful trusting people but the truth is, we trusted Milinda and Isuru – and I am glad, because they are friends for life. I would trust them with my life.”

Gina remembers the refurbishment as being their favourite part of the process. “It was physically exhausting but so rewarding. We hired all locals, we played music loud, ate takeout, and all painted and made furniture all together. It was a really special time.”
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The result is Lucky Beach Tangalle. Describing itself as a place for ‘flashpackers’, it opened in July this year with just seven sea view rooms and an on-site restaurant and it’s already been getting rave reviews from guests.

With the refurbishment complete, the guests leaving satisfied and the couple continuing to successfully juggle their Sri Lankan business and their British careers, their drunken decision appears to have paid off. With a new baby in the home too though, they’ve declared that all their future big decisions will be made sober.

(The Lonely Planet)

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