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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”.

Kevin Hart said hosting the Oscars was the 'opportunity of a lifetime'
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Kevin Hart has stepped down just days after he was announced as host

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.



Kevin Hart has let the Academy Awards presentation role go as he wants to put the entire controversy behind him








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Video:
Hart: I’ve ‘moved on’ from homophobic tweets

“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.”

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.”

Kevin Hart tweet
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Hart says he has addressed “old tweets” previously

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.”

A representative for the Oscars did not immediately respond to messages after Hart stepped down.

Now, speculation is growing as to who will take over as host.

Actress Busy Philipps has thrown her hat into the ring, and made a case for the host being female.

The controversy comes after several years of upset for the Oscars, following recognition of a diversity problem with the #OscarsSoWhite movement, and La La Land being mistakenly announced as the winner of best picture last year.

Next year’s ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday 24 February.



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IS ‘decimated’ and down to last mile of territory, says US vice president Mike Pence | World News

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The Islamic State caliphate has been “decimated” and the last of mile of IS-controlled territory in Syria is being captured by American-backed forces, says US vice president Mike Pence.

He said the US would keep a strong presence in the Middle East and vowed the remnants of IS would be “hunted down wherever and whenever they rear their ugly head”.

Mr Pence said the troops have liberated five million Iraqis, Syrians, Arabs and Kurds from IS control.

It comes as the US military begins the process of withdrawing its troops from Syria following a decision by Donald Trump last year.

But the president’s move has sparked widespread fears that it could lead to a resurgence of IS in the future.

More follows…

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Nigeria postpones presidential election at last minute | World News

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Nigeria’s presidential election has been postponed just hours before polls were due to open.

The country’s election commission said it was delaying the vote to 23 February due to unspecified “challenges”, amid reports that voting materials had not been delivered to some areas.

The delay is expected to spark anger in Africa’s most populous nation and largest democracy after many people had relocated for the chance to vote.

A police officer oversees the distribution of election materials in Yola
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The presidential election is now due to take place on 23 February

Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said: “This was a difficult decision to take but necessary for successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.”

A review of logistics led the commission to conclude that going ahead with the election as planned was “no longer feasible,” he said.

A group of women sit at the entrance of a polling station in Gombi
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Nigerians sit at the entrance of a polling station in the town of Gombi

Nigeria also postponed its presidential election in 2015 because of deadly insecurity in the northeast of the country, which remains under threat from Islamic extremists.

More than 84 million voters had been expected to head to the polls on Saturday, in what is seen as a close and heated race between President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, a billionaire former vice president.

:: ‘Four’ killed in stampede at election rally for Nigeria president

igeria's main opposition party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar
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Atiku Abubakar has campaigned on the theme of ‘Let’s Make Nigeria Work Again’

Both men have pledged to work for a peaceful election even as their supporters, including high-level officials, have caused alarm with warnings against foreign interference and allegations of rigging.

Mr Buhari made history when he came to power in 2015 with the first defeat of an incumbent Nigerian president.

That election was hailed as one of the most transparent and untroubled ever in Nigeria, which has seen deadly post-vote violence in the past.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari
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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is bidding for a second term

Mr Buhari’s term has been marked by a crash in global oil prices that spun Nigeria’s economy into a rare recession, from which it only emerged in 2017.

Unemployment shot up and the country passed India as the nation with the most people living in extreme poverty. More than 13 million children are said to be out of school.

Many Nigerians also worry about Mr Buhari himself after he spent more than 150 days outside the country for an unspecified medical treatment.

In December, he bizarrely denied rumours he had died following a period of ill health and had been replaced by a Sudanese clone.



Muhammadu Buhari







Nigerian leader: ‘I am not a clone!’

Meanwhile, Mr Abubakar has followed in the footsteps of US President Donald Trump by campaigning on the theme of “Let’s Make Nigeria Work Again”.

He has vowed to apply his business acumen to privatise Nigeria’s state oil company and lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2025, but has faced years of corruption allegations.

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Emiliano Sala’s funeral to be held in Argentina | World News

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The funeral of Emiliano Sala is set to take place in Argentina following his death in a plane crash over the English Channel.

The footballer’s relatives wept after his body arrived in Buenos Aires on Friday before being taken to his home province of Santa Fe.

The 28-year-old striker died last month, just two days after completing a £15m move from French club Nantes to Cardiff City.

Preparations at San Martin Club gymnasium ahead of Emiliano Sala's funeral
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Preparations are under way ahead of Sala’s funeral in Progresso

His funeral is taking place in his hometown of Progreso from 10am UK time (7am local time), with Cardiff manager Neil Warnock and chief executive Ken Choo expected to attend.

Martha Kelner, Sky News’ sports correspondent, who is in Progreso, said Sala’s body will be cremated in Santa Fe in line with his family’s wishes.

Sala's aunt Mirta Taffarel is left in tears after his body arrives in Argentina
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Sala’s aunt Mirta Taffarel is left in tears after his body arrives in Argentina

The Argentinian striker was travelling to Cardiff in a private plane with pilot David Ibbotson when it crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on 21 January.

Sala’s body was recovered from the wreckage on 7 February but Mr Ibbotson remains missing, with funds being raised to continue the search for the 59-year-old from Lincolnshire.

Tributes to Sala outside La Beaujoire stadium in Nantes
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Hundreds of tributes were left outside La Beaujoire stadium in Nantes

A post-mortem examination confirmed Sala had died from “head and trunk injuries”, Dorset Coroner’s Court heard.

Nantes, for whom Sala scored 42 goals in 120 league appearances, will be represented at his funeral by defender Nicolas Pallois and general secretary Loic Morin.



Neil Warnock gives a press conference after the body of Emiliano Sala is discovered.







Warnock: Sala ‘a really good lad’

Sala’s boyhood club, San Martin de Progreso, posted an emotional tribute on Facebook earlier this week, saying: “We are waiting for you… like the first day you left but this time to stay with us forever.

“You went and you are an example for everyone. Eternally in our hearts.”

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