Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Movie Review – It’s Well Worth Taking A Swing On

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Movie Review - It's Well Worth Taking A Swing On

Shameik Moore in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (Image Credit: Sony Pictures Animation)

Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 4)

Miles Morales makes the most of his Hollywood moment.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, the multidimensional mind-trip from Sony Pictures Animation, feels less like the seventh Spider-Man movie to hit the big screen (we’re not counting Venom) and more like a one-of-a-kind, wall-crawling experience. It deserves top ranking among Spider-Man’s greatest cinematic achievements, live-action or otherwise.

This movie, and particularly this universe, is the start of something special for Sony, which needed Marvel Studios and an Avengers membership card to save its franchise. But it may now be on the cusp of a new kind of sequel-spawning, connected superhero universe where Marvel Studios’ help isn’t needed. Imagine that.

Spider-Verse combines two of the most recent and popular story lines from the comics: one, the idea that there are multiple dimensions featuring all different types of Spider-Mans, and two, the debut of the half Puerto Rican, half African-American webslinger, Miles Morales. The movie also includes classic foes, many with a new twist – including the Kingpin, who is the literal big bad in this film.

Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore) is the star of the movie, but many other spider-people make an appearance because of a dimensional breach. They include an older, unshaven and slightly out of shape Peter Parker (Jake Johnson); one of Marvel Comics’ coolest new characters, Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld); Spider-Man Noir (who should be called Spider-Batman and is voiced by Nicolas Cage); and the might-as-well-be Porky Pig in a Spider-Man suit, Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). They are all there to guide Miles on his journey of realization that he, too, can be Spider-Man.

And while that’s a lot of super folks swinging around New York City, Miles gets his own time to shine and proves himself worthy of his superhero name (and still rocks one of the coolest superhero suits in comics).

We also get quick but heartfelt glimpses of Miles’ life without a mask. It’s moments like these that mean a lot to the legion of diverse fans that writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli had in mind when they created the character – a biracial kid taking up a legendary superhero mantle.

It’s touching to see Miles roll his eyes at his African-American father, Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry), who isn’t afraid to get on a bullhorn and profess the love he has for his baby boy. Miles also tries to dodge besos from his Puerto Rican mother, Rio (Luna Lauren Velez), who lectures him in English and Spanish. We see Miles’s personal life parallel Peter Parker’s when he comes into his powers at the same time he discovers his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) is a supervillain working for the Kingpin. You can’t be Spider-Man without uncle drama, after all.

Brooklyn is definitely in the house in this movie, and Miles’ biracial existence plays a big part in its authenticity. A little of the Notorious B.I.G. in the soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.

These subtle nods to the cultures in Miles’ life are genuinely heartwarming and the kind of thing you don’t see in your standard superhero film. It’s part of what makes Spider-Verse such a unique experience.

But this is still a superhero movie at the end of the day. Miles Morales may be a comic book cultural icon now, but there’s only so much time Spider-Verse can spend showing how woke it is. So, if you think Miles is going to be scowling at unseasoned potato salad and screaming “yo soy Boricua pa’que tu lo sepas” anytime someone asks if he’s Dominican (that happens a lot when you’re half African-American/half Puerto Rican), well, there’s no time for that. There’s a new universe to establish.

Sony is on a roll right now and has not one but two franchises that could reignite its ability to print bucks at the box office sans Marvel Studios.

Venom has used its buzz factor to rake in almost $850 million in ticket sales worldwide. Spider-Verse is more of the same, but it’s a different kind of movie experience for this franchise – one that feels bold, fresh and bravely experimental.

The most compelling thing about this movie is the loud message that anyone, no matter who you are or where you come from, can be Spider-Man. Can be a hero. Can be an inspiration.


Dimensions of Sexual Violence and Patriarchy in a Militarised State

Enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and sexual violence have characterised Indian military operations in Kashmir. Of these, sexual violence has been used widely to “break” individuals and communities, and as a tool for punishing resistance against violence by the Indian state. The discourse around sexual violence, however, has always revolved around women with very little focus on men and transgender persons, given the patriarchal understanding of sexual violence and power relations. A critical part of this discussion is also looking at how the patriarchal structure of the society acts as a facilitator for the effective use of sexual violence as a tool against the people. The sexual violence that is propagated and implemented by a masculine patriarchal state can be resisted well with a deeper understanding of gender dynamics.

Kashmir’s armed struggle has been a matter of serious concern for the Indian state that has been claiming Kashmir as its own “integral part” contrary to the political aspiration of many Kashmiris. The embarrassment caused to the world’s “largest democracy” by the movement for self-determination and the resistance to military occupation by the people of Kashmir has been retaliated with extreme violence and gross human rights violations. In different cycles of both armed and civilian resistance, hundreds have been injured, killed and maimed as a result of direct physical violence perpetrated by the Indian state and there has been absolute impunity for these crimes (Human Rights Watch Report 1993a). People across divides of age, religion and gender have protested against the away occupation in Kashmir. While researching and writing about the human rights violations in this region that are widely believed to be the result of military occupation and army operations against armed rebellion, the wide use of sexual violence by the armed forces—that remain protected by the guarantee of legal immunity under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958—cannot be overlooked.

Sexual violence has effectively been used as a weapon to crush resistance and break the morale of people across the world in conflict zones. In Kashmir also sexual violence has been used as an important part of strategy for crushing support to the popular armed rebellion in Kashmir. The families of militants, mostly women, have been attacked but the families of non-combatants and civilians have been victims and survivors of this violence too. It is usually incorrectly assumed that sexual violence is used against only women. Men have equally been victims of a sexualised form of violence. However, the motive behind perpetrating sexual violence against men is distinct from sexual violence against women (Kazi 2008).

Gendered Shades

Sexual violence against women by men is not about a male desire for sexual gratification, but is a proven assertion of sexual power to subjugate, given the unequal power dynamics between genders in the society. Many cases of sexual violence committed by civilian men against women end in the woman being killed or mutilated, proving that aggression and a display of masculinity forms the basis of motivation for such crimes. Coupled with the social structure where the blame and shame is directed towards the victim, sexual violence against women becomes an instant tool to break a woman’s sense of self, forcing her into victimisation (Bhugra and Kalra 2013: 244–49).

Sexual violence against women that manifests in the context of militarisation is immediately a fatal combination of unquestionable power and absolute impunity, as is the case in Kashmir. The institution of military has used sexual violence against women as a tool to punish them and the communities. It is an attack on “collective honour” and not just of individuals and their immediate families but on a collective identity (Human Rights Watch 1993b). In a state of militarisation, the idea of the “other” or the “enemy” is strongly, actively nurtured and thus sexual violence by this “other” is seen as an aggression against the entire community. Kashmir’s history is replete with examples of how the Indian state through its armed forces attacked the entire Kashmiri community. In 1991, a unit of the 4th Rajputana Rifles of the Indian armed forces raped women inside their homes in the twin villages of Kunan Poshpora, while the men were being tortured during a cordon and search operation. This was meant as an attack not just on the “honour” of the people of these villages, but on the entire Kashmiri community, that has been supporting the armed struggle against the Indian state, as a representative action that could break a whole community (Batool et al 2016).

There are other manifestations of this state-sponsored sexual violence too, ranging from everyday harassment on streetsto trying to embarrass women during search operations by displaying their undergarments to outright rapes of individual women and collective mass rape (Qadri and Haziq 2016). Merely limiting the violence to rapes or penetration would result in negating the everyday experiences of thousands of women by institutionalised violence that has the support of impunity. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexual violence as

any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work. (Krug et al 2002: 149)

Of Impunity and Denial

Sexual violence follows the impunity that the Indian armed forces have in Kashmir under the protection of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). The AFSPA was passed in some states of India on 11 September 1958, but it was extended to Kashmir in July 1990. Under this act, army personnel can enter and search to make arrests without a warrant and fire to injure and even kill any individual “suspected” to be acting against law. Fake encounters, custodial killings, civilian killings, detentions and disappearances are a result of the impunity that this act provides to the Indian armed forces (Wani et al 2013: 62). In addition to the impunity that AFSPA grants, there is an extended cover of legal impunity as proven recently when the Supreme Court of India stayed investigations against Major Aditya Kumar, accused of firing on and killing three civilians in Shopian in January 2018 (Soni 2018).

There are only denials against accusations of rape and sexual violence. Till date no accused from the army has been tried in a civilian court, even when there are provisions for them to be tried in such courts for crimes such as rapes, murder and culpable homicide. Even in cases where there have been trials in military court, the accused has merely been suspended from service, as in the case of Major Rahman, who raped a mother and daughter in Bader Payeen in Handwara in 2004 (Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society report 2015). He was only suspended from service after a court martial and later reinstated (Jaleel 2018). It is abundantly clear that punishment for sexual violence is only an eyewash, intended to deceive people. The Indian armed forces have used sexual violence against women to create a sense of fear among the people, and to establish a norm of punishing people who might support resistance against the state. As in the case of the mass rape in Kunan Poshpora in 1991, the incident was a collective punishment against the villagers for “sheltering militants.” Through violating the bodies of women a message was sent, and not just once, that the community would be broken in any way possible for any act of defiance. These offences have not been limited to just the Indian armed forces, but were used as a tactic by the government-sponsored militia known as ikhwans to consolidate their power and instil fear within Kashmiris. Their crimes went unchallenged and unquestioned (Human Rights Watch 1996).

While sexual violence against women in Kashmir has received attention, countless men in Kashmir are also victims of sexual assaults perpetrated by the various apparatuses of the Indian state. Sexual violence works on similar lines of power and subjugation among both men and women, especially in conflict zones, where it is a more explicit weapon against a certain population. Within the patriarchal structure, however, sexual violence against men tends to break an individual, keeping in mind the expectations of hegemonic masculinity. Sexual violence against men, mostly boys, is also a reality in both conflict and non-conflict zones, but is mostly neglected as it is erroneously perceived to be a rarity (Kapur and Mudell 2016: 11–14). This fact further complicates the gender equations underlying the idea of why sexual violence is prevalent and perpetrated. Gender relations in sexual violence are seen mostly as men perpetrating violence against women, but the vulnerability of men to sexual assault in conflicts results in both men and women being victims. Sexual violence against men in conflict areas like Kashmir has been used mostly as a torture technique; being sexually violated has been reported as a routine by those who have been detained by the Indian armed forces. Common techniques include mutilation of genitals, forced sodomy or insertion of object into the anal canal (Qadri 2016). When used against men, sexual violence is a tool to break the man, to induce a sense of shame and to dent the “masculinity” of the man, so that he breaks into giving what is required of him, or as punishment for defying the state. The sexual abuse, torture, and mutilation of male detainees or prisoners are often carried out to attack and destroy their sense of masculinity or manhood (United Nations report 2002).

A step ahead in this discourse around sexual violence against men and women would be discussing the much ignored sexual violence faced by transgender persons in Kashmir, which is not considered even a remote possibility, given the focus on the gender binary. The transgender from Maisuma, Javed Ahmad, also called Jave Maam is famous for his style of protest. Jave Maam adopted the term ragda which became the hallmark of protest sloganeering in the 2008 protests. Jave, like other Kashmiris, faced sexual violence when he was stripped naked, as a punitive action for protesting(Rashid 2017).

Patriarchy as an Ally

An understanding and critical research of how sexual violence has been used by states against people in armed conflicts worldwide clearly reflects that sexual violence is an effective tool to break people. Militarisation in Kashmir has led to a climate of impunity and lack of accountability, where people are unable to report or engage with institutions that would otherwise provide respite to them. The low percentage of reporting of cases against the Indian state can be attributed to the fact that a fear of reprisal against the people is common, and there are no precedents of punitive action against the perpetrators. There is no denying the fact that militarisation provides a cover of impunity to its apparatuses, however, a critical ally to the effectiveness of a weapon like sexual violence is the patriarchal structure of the society. The state and the military in itself is a patriarchal institution that covers up morally for its crimes of war by citing patriarchal excuses, especially when it comes to sexual violence. Apologists for the Indian armed forces have used the notion of armed men being jawans, young men who are bound to commit sexual misdemeanour that has nothing to do with the state, but is a commonly accepted aberration of male behaviour. It is an exoneration of perpetrators using what is a universal system of oppression and justifying male dominance and excesses.

The deeper problem is that men seem to use sexual violence when deployed not only in times of war as the “enemy,” but also when their role is perceived to be that of protectors. An example of the widespread unchecked sexual abuse by UN peacekeeping forces in Haiti, Cambodia, Congo, etc, against women and minors, proves that combined with a military/armed forces background, sexual violence is bound to be used to terrorise and abuse those who are vulnerable (Anderlini 2017). The state understands the patriarchal nature of Kashmiri society which makes sexual violence effective. An example of this is considering the bodies of women as repositories of “honour,” “chastity” and “chivalry” of men, which, when violated by the enemy, psychologically breaks the men of the community in their failure to “protect their women,” a role that patriarchy assigns them (Coomaraswamy 2002).

Similarly, when sexual violence against men is used to break their “masculinity,” and to “feminise” them, it is in accordance with the patriarchal notion that a man will not be fit to be a protector and is now “feminised,” as in a helpless individual overpowered through infliction of sexual violence. The refusal of men to report or document cases of sexual violence against them for the fear of loss of reputation in the society and a stigma of being mocked as “effeminate” is strong evidence of patriarchy helping the larger occupation. “Men also may be loath to talk about being victimised, considering this incompatible with their masculinity, particularly in societies in which men are discouraged from talking about their emotions” (Sivakumaram 2007: 255). This is similar to the women who are victims of sexual violence, and who would rather not report sexual violence against them from fear of reprisal, given the social stigma attached to rapes and sexual violence. A glaring example of this has been the Kunan Poshpora mass rape in which a lot of unmarried survivors preferred not to be named in legal documents out of fear for their future. The whole scenario of the experiences of transgender persons missing from the broader narrative of occupation is also an example of how as a society we are yet to open up beyond patriarchal gender binary.

The idea is not to exonerate militarisation and occupation as a reason and as a system to perpetrate sexual violence against Kashmiris, but to understand that patriarchy has been effectively used against Kashmiris to break and silence them. Questioning the structures of patriarchy in Kashmiri resistance is important, especially as women and transgender persons have been together in this movement both as contributors to resistance and victims of violence. The recent image of young college girls on the streets, with stones in their hands, should lead the way; they did not merely scare the occupation but broke gender norms to foil a plot and narrative of the Indian state, that of portraying women as victims whose actions are directed and dictated by men.


Anushka Sharma On 10 Years Of Bollywood: ‘Made A Career With Unconventional Choices’

Anushka Sharma On 10 Years Of Bollywood: 'Made A Career With Unconventional Choices'

nushka Sharma has completed 10 years in the movie business and the actor believes the reason for her successful run are the “unconventional” choices she has made as a performer, producer and an entrepreneur. Anushka, who carved a niche with films like Band Baaja Baaraat, PK, Sultan, NH10, made her debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan in 2008 blockbuster Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.

“I have always made unconventional choices because it comes from my instincts. I have been successful with those unconventional choices. I have made a career with unconventional choices and that’s why I have created a different standing for myself in the film industry,” Anushka told PTI.

“I believe luck favours the brave. I wasn’t doing it thinking it is risky. I was doing it because that made sense for me. For me following my instincts is an easier thing,” she added. The producer of critically acclaimed films like NH 10, Phillauri and Pari said the focus on content has helped her company Clean Slate Films flourish.

“Whether content is in a big or a small film, it will always work. Audience looks for entertainment. If anyone thinks they are above content then they are making a big mistake. Content is over stars, directors or everything else,” she added.

After doing back-to-back films, Anushka has decided to take time in choosing a new project as she now feels a bit secure about her place in the industry. “I felt I was working round the clock and my life is in the hands of everybody and whoever I had to give time to. I want to take time and pick films that I want to choose. I am in talks with few people.

“I have reached a level of security and position where I can take the time to do a film that I want to do. I am not a newcomer who has to do films for the heck of it. Even when I was a newcomer I was not doing it. I am ok with that. I have gained that position,” she said.

The actor, however, has no plans to go slow when it comes to production.

“The show that we are doing for Amazon Prime Video and for Netflix does require time. If I am producing a film in which I am acting, I have taken out time from my schedule to do it. Here I have to take out time.

“It is a behind-the-scene job so one might not see it but that requires time. I am an actor who produces films also. And that is not slowing down,” she said.

Anushka, who is currently busy promoting her upcoming film Zero with Shah Rukh and Katrina Kaif, is yet to sign any new project.

There were also reports of her soon starting the work on her next production Kaneda to be directed by NH 10 helmer Navdeep Singh, but Anushka said right now her banner is only focusing on ties with Prime Video and Netflix.

“I have that script (Kaneda). We are not in the process of doing it currently. We have our hands full with a series that we are doing with Amazon Prime Video and the movie that we are producing for Netflix,” she said.


How one man’s 34,000 km walk is inspiring budding journalists across the world

 Out of eden walk, Paul salopek, nat geo, national geographic, journalists, workshops, journalism workshop, journalism tips

wo-time Pulitzer winner and National Geographic explorer Paul Salopek is on a 10-year walk from Ethiopia in Africa to the tip of South America to gather the untold stories from refugees, farmers, and nomads that journalists tend to ignore.

His 33,780 km Out of Eden walk which began in 2013 is inspiring budding journalists all over the world to open their eyes to the stories unfolding all around them in their own neighbourhoods and become storytellers themselves.

The Pulitzer-winner tracing the path that ancient humans took while migrating out of Africa to the rest of the continents way back in the Stone Age.

The incredible stories he has collected read like a modern fairytale, each chapter connected to the next as he moves from village to village guided by the characters he meets on the way.

Salopek conducted a free workshop for young journalists in New Delhi earlier this year. Interested journalists needed to submit an application and a portfolio of work to an online registration form.

The 4-day Chennai workshop was held on September 4-7 while the 4-day Kolkata workshop is planned for November 13-16.

Journalism learning projects in partnership with Out of Eden

Salopek has been walking for five years now and since the time he started the project, he knew there would be a learning element in this. He figured that taking kids on a long walk was a great way to get children interested and aware of current events, and also become better global citizens.

“So you grab them by the hand and take them on a digital storytelling walk like their uncle would take them for a walk around the neighbourhood. But now, we can take them across the world,” says the explorer in a conversation with India Today Education.

“They write essays, they take walks around their neighbourhood, they often work on themes like immigration, migration of the environment, and they share them saying things like ‘Hi, I am from Delhi, from a secondary school. I am walking around my neighbourhood and this is what I saw’,” Salopek explains.

Paul Salopek spends time with a student during Photo Camp at the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission in Banbasa, India. Join the journey at outofedenwalk.org.(Photograph by Clifton Shipway/National Geographic Photo Camp)

How young storytellers can do away with tainted, second-hand news

Paul Salopek’s project encourages young children and journalism students to walk around their neighbourhood and be storytellers themselves instead of just having conversations on various topics on the internet.

They can then share their story with someone doing something similar in Mexico or Australia, and the reverse happens as well.

This enables people to get unbiased news straight from the source and free from any news contamination that often happens when it is running through various red tapes and middlemen.

Moreover, it teaches children to record the environment and not just speak to people of their own age, but also younger and older generations — not just from their own community but around the world. The platform of Out of Eden Learn provides them with the tools to use Salopek’s work as a launching pad and become storytellers themselves.

“It is not the usual interface where the communication is binary — either yes or no, like or unlike, thumbs up or thumbs down — there is much more analysis which gets them to do critical thinking, gets them to develop narrative skills,” says Salopek.

Out of Eden stories are part of North American schools

Salopek’s project has yet another partner — the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting — which takes the work he is doing and shares it in a much more formal way through curriculums in North American schools.

“This is also an immense learning tool for children as they can tap into the source information I am collecting from Ethiopia or Rajasthan and add it to their global history, English, Geography or Sociology lessons. I am like their correspondent,” says the journalist.

How Salopek’s reporting is used in university-level journalism departments

Out of Eden has a fourth partner Don Belt who is doing University Outreach. He takes the work of Out Of Eden and plugs it into journalism departments at the university level, so that kids become interested in foreign corresponding, or community-based journalism.

“They use the Walk methodology to tell stories of their own communities using their own campuses, or the communities around the campuses as laboratories,” he says.

“I am tapping into an existing branch of journalism, using my own work to say that ‘here — this is a different channel, like a tributary of the giant media river – it’s global, integrated, cross-cultural, human-oriented, and literary,” Salopek adds.

How the Out of Eden walk is inspiring kindergartners

There are around 50,000 kids following the ‘Out of Eden Walk’ who are kindergarteners. And Salopek says they are “switched on” as they ask fantastic questions even at this young age.

“The younger we get to people with our stories, the more impact it creates. I think it is too late by high school, or secondary school. I say start at kindergarten,” says the explorer.

What does Salopek teach at the Out of Eden journalism workshops?

Pulitzer winner Paul Salopek notes that there is a vast and bottomless ocean of content on the internet and “most of it is pure junk”.

“So we’re encouraging journalists at our workshops to slow down — to spend days instead of minutes on a story — and craft something unique and of value to readers, something that their competitors who merely rewrite press releases cannot hope to match: stories with meaning as well as just information,” he says.

This is a tough thing to do in 24×7 news environments and most media houses complain they cannot afford such a luxury. However, Salopek’s co-teacher Prem Panicker states something very important — posting a million nano-headlines a day will make your news package exactly resemble everyone else’s.

Panicker also notes that robots are quickly replacing human reporters, and news stories which do not offer some value-added information — including thoughtful longer-form narrative reporting and photojournalism — are simply not going to work anymore in the recent future of journalism.

Thus, the long-form ‘luxury’ news articles may not be able to get a million views, but these kinds of details reporting makes the publication stand out and can even influence public discourse at a policy level.

“In my own career, I’ve written literally thousands of news stories. But it was the ‘slow journalism’ pieces that often had the most impact — whether by shining a light on arms trafficking in Africa to getting the official to install water-purifying technology on arsenic-laden wells in Bangladesh,” says Salopek.

At the Out of Eden workshops, journalists are trained on how to write in the narrative style — how to use all of our senses, how to listen, how to think before writing (not vice-versa) and most importantly, how to dig under the superficial surfaces of news stories.

“The workshop teaches them how to get at the deeper, often complex reasons and motivations driving current events, whether they are gender issues, economics, Bollywood, or mass migration,” says the Nat Geo explorer.

What happened at Salopek’s free journalism workshop in Delhi?

The Delhi-based workshop was open to only about 20 attendees, mostly young and mid-career journalists-both reporters and photographers-and were hosted at the offices of Caravan Magazine.

With one-on-one mentoring by veteran journalists Don Belt, Prem Panicker, Arati Kumar Rao and Paul Salopek, the attendees were assigned to find a nationally significant story within walking distance of a central geo-located coordinate in Old Delhi.


Vegas Heads to Hollywood to Take on the Kings

In a Pacific Divison matineé, the Vegas Golden Knights travel to Los Angeles to play the Kings at the Staples Center, with a 1pm start time.

Vegas has been hot lately, fresh off a home wins on Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals and Thursday night over the Chicago Blackhawks. Beating the Capitals was huge for the Golden Knights as they look to continue their climb in the Pacific Division standings. They are on the verge of erasing the stink of a less-than-stellar first 20 games of the season, without star defensman Nate Schmidt.

Tuesday night’s game against the Capitals was a memorable one. The hit heard around the world is still having ramifications for the Golden Knights and Ryan Reaves. Reaves’ late hit on notorious dirty player, Tom Wilson, has garnered tons of negative attention, punctuated by Reaves autographing photos of Wilson on the ice, concussed. In a key win against Washington, the story should have been Schmidt’s game-winner, yet the Knights are left with a PR nightmare in the aftermath of their 5-3 win.

Thursday’s game against the Blackhawks was much more competitive than their 8-3 domination in Chicago in their previous match up. The Golden Knights tied the game at three and got the lead thanks to Jonathan Marchessault and Alex Tuch goals, separated by 12 seconds in the third period. Tuch’s goal went down as the game winner with no additional scoring in the last 12 minutes of the game.

Their afternoon hosts, the Los Angeles Kings, have lost four out of their last five games, including losses in their last two against the New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes. Los Angeles is led in scoring by former captain Dustin Brown (8 goals), points by Anze Kopitar (18), and anchored on the blue line by Drew Doughty. Returning way earlier than originally anticipated, all-star goalie Jonathan Quick holds down the work between the pipes. Quick shut out Carolina in his second game back from injury, but has had mixed results in his other three games of action.

Vegas will see a familiar face in this one, with newly acquired Brendan Leipsic suiting up for the Kings. An original Golden Knights, Leipsic was placed on waivers by the Vancouver Canucks and claimed by LA last week. Leipsic tallied his first goal as a King and third of the season on Thursday against the Devils. As many of you will remember, he has blazing speed. Vegas will need to account for his wheels.

LA has racked up a decent amount of injuries thus far and remain without UFA signing Ilya Kovalchuk, trade acquisition Carl Hagelin, center Trevor Lewis, and backup goaltender Jack Campbell. Vegas is still missing centers Erik Haula and Paul Stastny, the latter taking the practice ice this week with a no-contact jersey. It would seem that Stastny is getting closer to a return, while Haula’s injury is being kept close to the chest by the VGK brass.

Today’s game is a division battle between two playoff teams from 2017-18 that aren’t having the seasons they expected. While Vegas is surging, LA is floundering. Vegas’ sweeping of LA in last year’s playoffs should provide motivation for the Kings, but Vegas’ skill, speed, and depth will be too much to handle, not to mention Marc-Andre Fleury, who will be in net for the Golden Knights. With a game tomorrow night in Vegas against the stars, we may finally see backup Malcolm Subban get his first work since a seven-goal game against the Calgary Flames.

Today’s game will be broadcast on AT&T Sportsnet and Fox Sports Radio 98.9 FM.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, by clicking the button below, for in-game discussion, observations, and analysis from the official VGK watch party at Top Golf at the MGM Grand!


Kevin Hart Steps Down as Oscars Host After Refusing Academy Demand

Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images
Kevin Hart

The abrupt move comes after a mounting controversy over the star’s past anti-gay tweets.

Kevin Hart is stepping down as Oscars host just two days after the Academy announced he would take on the high-profile gig. The move came amid a mounting controversy after old tweets surfaced in which Hart expressed anti-gay sentiments and used homophobic terminology and slurs.

In a tweet late Thursday, Hart officially withdrew from hosting the Oscars, a role he had long wanted to step into. “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,” Hart wrote.

He added seconds later, “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.”

Earlier in the evening, Hart had posted an Instagram video from Sydney, Australia, where he is touring, saying that he had refused a demand from the Academy to apologize. He said the Academy gave him an ultimatum: Apologize for his old tweets or step down as Oscars host.

“I passed. The reason I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up,” he said. “Regardless, to the Academy, I’m thankful for the opportunity, if it goes away, no harm, no foul,” Hart added.

Ironically, in giving up the hosting spot, Hart actually offered the apology that earlier he had refused to provide.

The Academy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But for the Academy, the situation smacks of déjà vu. In late 2011, Brett Ratner resigned as producer of the 84th Academy Awards after saying “rehearsal is for fags” in a public Q&A for his film Tower Heist. Ratner’s exit led to the departure of Eddie Murphy, that year’s announced host, who stepped down in solidarity. (Billy Crystal filled in.)

Losing Hart as host will put even more pressure on Donna Gigliotti, who is producing the 91st Oscars, set to be broadcast by ABC on Feb. 24. This week’s announcement that Hart would host came relatively late in the process. Now, finding a new host to take on emcee duties could be even more difficult.

Earlier in the day, Hart issued an Instagram video in which he said, “I swear, man, our world is becoming beyond crazy. I’m not going to let the craziness frustrate me or anger me, especially when I worked hard to get to the mental space that I am at now.”

He continued, “My team calls me, ‘Oh, my God, Kevin, this world is upset about tweets you did years ago.’Guys. I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify or explain their past, then do you. I’m the wrong guy, man,” Hart says. “I’m in a great place, a great mature place, where all I do is spread positivity.”

The tweets in question included a 2011 tweet in which the comedian and movie star had written, “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.'” In another from 2010, Hart says someone’s profile pic looks “like a gay bill board for AIDS.” In another written in 2009, he called someone a “fat faced fag.”

Those tweets and many more like them could be found as recently as Tuesday, the day Hart was announced as host. But as word of them began to spread in the days following, they began to disappear.

The tweets drew condemnation from the likes of actor-comedian Billy Eichner, who tweeted, “You can tell its not just a joke — there’s real truth, anger & fear behind these. I hope Kevin’s thinking has evolved since 2011.”

Journalist Mark Harris went even further, tweeting the choice of Hart as host was “out-of-sync for a year in which Rami Malek, Melissa McCarthy, Olivia Colman, Mahershala Ali, Richard E. Grant, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Lucas Hedges could all get nominated for playing LBGTQ characters.”

GLAAD reached out to ABC, the Academy and Hart’s management to “discuss his rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion on the Oscars stage,” said Rich Ferraro, chief communications officer for GLAAD. He said they did not immediately respond.

It was not the first time Hart’s thoughts on LGBT people have caused controversy. A 2011 standup routine about his then 3-year-old son having a “gay moment” — “You’ve got to nip it in the bud!” he warned the audience — was criticized as promoting homophobic and dangerous parenting, according to The Guardian.

Pose star Indya Moore — whose groundbreaking trans series drew Golden Globe nominations for best drama and best actor (for Billy Porter) — penned a lengthy Twitter thread that laid into Hart for “sexualizing” his son in his 2011 routine, adding, “‘Your choice to prevent’ your child from being ‘gay’ is fear driver. You ARE homophobic Kevin.”

“You @KevinHart4real are NOT FIT a model, or representative to Host for the @TheAcademy which CELEBRATES & WELCOMES talent of all genders, sexualities, & ethnicities,” Moore continued. Pose executive producer Ryan Murphy retweeted several of the tweets.

Hart told Rolling Stone in 2015 that he wouldn’t tell the joke again, “because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now.”


Jim Kelly chosen as legends captain for Pro Bowl

Jim Kelly greeted fans on the sidelines during warmups at New Era Field on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly was selected as one of four 2019 Pro Bowl Legends Captains for the NFL’s annual all-star game.

Kelly will be the captain of the AFC offense with DeMarcus Ware serving as the captain of the defense. Emmitt Smith will captain the NFC offense with Brian Urlacher captaining the defense.

The four have a combined 30 Pro Bowl appearances. According to a news release, the legends “will serve as mentors for the Pro Bowl players and be present on the sidelines on gameday.” They also will attend various events during Pro Bowl Week in Orlando. The Pro Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 27.

Kelly is coming off another procedure last week in New York related to his cancer. According to his wife, Jill, doctors have told the Kellys that they expect this will be his last surgery to address the reoccurrence of cancer diagnosed last spring.


Jio nahi chal raha: Photographer quips when clicking Mukesh Ambani. Video goes viral

Mukesh Ambani was not prepared for 'Jio nahi chal raha hai' at Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh's Mumbai wedding reception

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh’s Mumbai wedding reception on December 1 saw the who’s who of Bollywood and business industries in attendance. India’s richest man, Reliance chairperson Mukesh Ambani was also among the invitees at Deepika and Ranveer’s Mumbai reception party. He attended the event with wife Nita Ambani, daughter Isha, sons Akash and Anant, Akash’s fiancee Shloka Mehta and Anant’s just friend Radhika Merchant. The entire Ambani family posed for photos at the reception party. And then…

As the Ambanis took their places in front of the lenses, a photographer cracked a joke. The paparazzo can be heard shouting, “Sir, Jio nahi chal raha!”


Could social media emerge as a new critical infrastructure sector?

Social media has become an important conduit for official and emergency government communications with the public. With such communications having the power to critically affect national security, social networks have become a hacker’s paradise and need to be taken more seriously.

US President Donald Trump’s official Twitter account is one example of how social media is now a popular channel for engaging with the public in realtime. At the more extreme end of the scale, recent events in Hawaii and Japan saw false missile alerts sent due to human error, causing populations to spiral into turmoil. These incidents highlight how social media accounts are becoming part of the critical infrastructure that governs our day-to-day lives.

It’s clear that communications, or mis-communications, of this kind have the potential to wreak havoc. But the question is: should the use of these social media accounts — like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and more — for official and emergency purposes, be regulated by legislation?

“Until these platforms are officially treated as critical infrastructure, we should consider applying the same cybersecurity practices followed by the energy, water, gas and ports industries.”

In Australia, telecommunications carriers are subject to the Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms (TSSR), while other critical infrastructure falls under the recently introduced Security of Critical Infrastructure Act (2018). This act is primarily focused on major infrastructure assets like power and water, that supply essential services to more than 100,000 people.

In both the TSSR and the act, scope is given for the relevant minister to direct a provider or intermediary “to do, or not do, a specified thing that is reasonably necessary to protect networks and facilities from national security risks.”

Under the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act, the relevant minister can also nominate additional industry centres for inclusion, provided the minister is satisfied there is a risk that the assets or services could have a prejudicial effect on national security.

Top of the priority list currently are airports and data centres. It’s possible the minister will declare social media communications as subject to the act, but, at this stage, it’s unlikely.

Top-grade cybersecurity practices essential

So, what should governments be doing when it comes to securing social media accounts used for timely or sensitive communications? Until these platforms are officially treated as critical infrastructure, we should consider applying the same cybersecurity practices followed by the energy, water, gas and ports industries.

Government personnel operating social media for official or emergency purposes should undertake a review of how their accounts are managed. Hardening communication platforms should include stepping up password management practices. This will help eliminate the chance of delays to the delivery of critical information or the exploitation of accounts for nefarious purposes, such as issuing false or misleading information.

“To strengthen these platforms against both external and internal attacks by unauthorised personnel, government departments should treat their social media accounts as privileged.”

Hackers know the value and vulnerability of social media today, and are already hijacking official accounts. In 2017, a rogue Twitter employee shut down Donald Trump’s Twitter account for 11 minutes in an act of protest.

Disgruntled employees aren’t the only risk – hackers could use any one of several social engineering techniques, such as phishing, to gain access to passwords for social media. If they did so, they’d be able to issue false statements on a public social media account, potentially causing fear and panic.

Government personnel within specific departments or offices commonly share access to social media accounts. This means that potentially dozens of people throughout an agency have access, admin or editing rights on these platforms. Not least, passwords for these accounts are usually shared between team members, rarely changed, and often re-used across a number of accounts.

Any account with a shared or re-used password can be an easy target for a hacker or corrupt insider. There is also rarely a record of which team member published each post — increasing the possibility of a false alert being deliberate and untraceable.

Just two minutes after the missile alert was issued on Twitter in Hawaii, the governor was told it was a false alarm. While other government officials rushed to assure the public there was nothing to worry about, the governor did not tweet for more than 17 minutes. The cause of his silence? He forgot his username and password.

To strengthen these platforms against both external and internal attacks by unauthorised personnel, government departments should treat their social media accounts as privileged. That way, simple acts of forgetting, sharing or re-using passwords won’t cause delays, such as what happened in Hawaii.

Privileged account security tips

As best practice to properly secure and protect social media accounts, government departments should employ privileged account security, including:

  • Arrange transparent access: To make it harder for hackers to find and exploit credentials, authorised users must be able to seamlessly authenticate access to an account without having to remember passwords. This allows for immediate access in emergency situations, such as the incident in Hawaii.
  • Remove shared credentials: Use a digital vault to store passwords and remove the accountability challenges of shared logins. Users will then need to login individually for access to shared social media platforms.
  • Automate password rotations: Continuously changing privileged credentials safeguards against attackers using retired passwords. Regularly automating password changes can also update access privileges, reducing the possibility of an outsider getting their hands on valid credentials.
  • Review account activity: For visibility of individual users’ activity across social media accounts, a record of events can be created. This way, posts can be linked to authorised users, and rogue employees can be more easily identified.

Governments the world over are reviewing their critical infrastructure safeguards and national security precautions. As we continue to see in situations such as those in the US, Hawaii, and Japan, the public has developed a huge level of trust in communications distributed by government organisations.

Social media has become a credible and dependable medium for official communications, and it’s clear these platforms are neither inherently secure nor infallible. It’s critical to re-think how any medium used for official and emergency communications is treated and secured.


Cannes Director Thierry Fremaux Touts “Improvements” to Screening Schedule

Foc Kan/Getty Images
Thierry Fremaux

The festival’s artistic director also defended against criticism that American films are fleeing for Venice and Toronto to build awards buzz.

Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux is saying the festival will make some adjustments to the press and premiere screening schedule after some negative feedback earlier this year.

“We had some complaints and we are going to improve on that,” he said at the Marrakech Film Festival on Saturday, without specifying what those changes might be. Last May, the festival changed the screening schedule so that media was not able to see films before their world premieres. It was an effort to protect directors from possible bad press published early, but led to some stressed-out critics.

Once a prolific tweeter, Fremaux has taken himself off of social media, joking that Twitter thoughts “are what you would write on a public bathroom wall.”

Speaking in an on stage interview, Fremaux emphasized Cannes’ international pedigree and deflected criticism that the festival has failed to get blockbusters in recent years as filmmakers have flocked to the Venice and Toronto film festivals.

“America is not always the barometer of Cannes, the competition selection is diversified. Venice didn’t have the film of [Hirokazu] Kore-eda, didn’t have the film of Nadine Labaki. It is absolutely the mission of Cannes to have films from all over the world,” he said, citing the festival’s charter. “We have to undo this Europe and United States obsession.” Kore-eda’s Shoplifters went on to win the Palme d’Or, while Labaki’s Capernaum captured the second place Jury Prize.

“We have other criteria” outside of the awards season race, Fremaux added. The May festival has now been judged too early by many studios to build that all-important buzz, he argued. “We don’t care about the Oscars. The Oscars are great. I go every year. But Cannes is a different thing,” he said.

If the studios are bypassing Cannes, it’s because of, and not in spite of, the global media glare, he added. “Why? Because it generates buzz and media coverage. That’s the issue with the studios. They don’t send the big studio films because they will be judged within the media circus and it’s not objective,” he said.

But “popular” films still have a place on the Cannes red carpet – which is why Solo: A Star Wars Story was invited this year. Red carpet glamour and star power is an important aspect of Cannes, and he still loves the big tentpole films and that they should feel “comfortable” in Cannes.

Fremaux admitted that he doesn’t like it when a great film chooses to bypass Cannes in favor of one of the later festivals, but ultimately his goal is to support cinema. “The festivals are all friends – Cannes, Berlin, Venice. What matters is that all the films find their spot,” he said.

Fremaux also said he is working on a sequel to his Lumiere!documentary, but that any premiere is at least two years away.