The central dilemma of the fight against the Islamic State is probably that it can't be won from the air alone, but sending in Western ground forces is almost certainly a losing proposition. One reason is that a ground war against the mighty U.S. military would be a recruitment bonanza for ISIS, at a moment when its volunteer numbers appear to be waning. Another, explains Rukmini Callimachi at The New York Times, is that ISIS "bases its ideology on prophetic texts stating that Islam will be victorious after an apocalyptic battle to be set off once Western armies come to the region."
The stage will be set for the end times, according to ISIS propaganda, when the "Romans" — the U.S. and its allies — enter Dabiq and al-Amaq, two towns that still exist in northern Syria, Callimachi explains, noting that ISIS isn't very subtle on this point: Its monthly magazine is called Dabiq, its new semiofficial news agency is named Amaq, and the group executed American hostage Peter Kassig in Dabiq, saying ISIS is "eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive."
“I have said it repeatedly: Because of these prophecies, going in on the ground would be the worst trap to fall into," Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor of Middle East Studies at France's Sciences Po, tells The New York Times. "They want troops on the ground. Because they have already envisioned it.... It's a very powerful and emotional narrative. It gives the potential recruit and the actual fighters the feeling that not only are they part of the elite, they are also part of the final battle." Read more about ISIS's apocalyptic death wish at The New York Times. Peter Weber
Nicki Minaj is opening up about the "devastating" loss of her father.
The rapper emotionally addressed her father's death in a letter on her website Friday three months after he was killed in a hit-and-run on Long Island, reports Entertainment Weekly. These were her first public comments on his death, according to Yahoo News.
"It has been the most devastating loss of my life," Minaj wrote. "I find myself wanting to call him all the time. More so now that he's gone. Life is funny that way."
In February, Charles Polevich was charged in connection with the hit-and-run death of Robert Maraj. Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said Polevich "made the conscious decision to leave" the scene "instead of dialing 911" after hitting Maraj with his car in Mineola, New York, The Associated Press reported. Minaj's mother filed a $150 million lawsuit against Polevich in March; her lawyer said at the time Polevich's "behavior was criminal, cowardly, and immoral."
In her post on Friday, Minaj wrote that she can't yet "bring myself to discuss" her father's death further, but she paid tribute to him by writing, "May his soul rest in paradise. He was very loved & will be very missed." Brendan Morrow
It's the meme that just won't go away (but will go "to the moon," apparently).
A Rhode Island man sold a vacant lot in Providence for 150,000 Dogecoin (or about $50,000 at the time), in what is believed to be the first real estate deal brokered using the meme-inspired cryptocurrency, local TV station WJAR reported Thursday.
"He said, 'I think it would be really cool if we could only sell my lot using Dogecoin,'" realtor Kyle Seyboth said of the unnamed seller. Now, the sale has Seyboth's "phone ringing from people who want to do the same thing," even if fluctuating prices make it impossible to know whether the buyer or the seller will come out on top.
Dogecoin first began as a joke, in the wake of 2013's popular Doge meme. But after recent endorsements from Elon Musk and a subreddit of online investors, the digital currency has seen quite the meteoric rise in value. Prices dropped after Musk's May 8 appearance on Saturday Night Live, and again when the SpaceX CEO announced Tesla would stop accepting "Bitcoin as payment," but still it remains the "fourth-largest crypto by market value on CoinMarketCap," per CNBC.
As of Friday morning, Dogecoin was up 39.4 percent after crypto exchange platform Coinbase announced it would officially list the coin, reports CNBC. Brigid Kennedy
On Friday, Katy Perry shared her own contribution to the anniversary celebrations: a video for her new single "Electric," in which she travels back in time with her Pikachu to make her younger self enter a talent show. Though the song sounds like it belongs on a TJ Maxx playlist ("there's no reason that this life can't be electric!"), it's at least more on-brand for Pokémon than Hootie and the Blowfish.
Nicolas Cage put on an ill-advised fake Jamaican accent in order to audition for 2011's The Green Hornet, according to Seth Rogen, who went on The Howard Stern Show earlier this week.
Rogen recalled how Cage said he wanted his character to be a "white Bahamian man," which "set off a lot of alarms." Rogen explained, "I remember going there with Evan [Goldberg] my partner and just being like, 'I just don’t want him to do it in front of us. I'll just be so uncomfortable.' And I remember Evan being like, 'He's not going to do it. He'll talk about it. He won't launch into it. That would be too much.'"
But then Cage showed up "and literally within 60 seconds … he stands in front of us reciting a monologue, talking in a Jamaican accent," Rogen said. "And we were just like, 'It's happening.'" Read the whole cringey story at The Hollywood Reporter, or watch below. Jeva Lange
Munn and Mulaney supposedly met at church, though Munn has admitted she's had her eye on Mulaney for years. In a 2015 HuffPost Live interview resurfaced by Page Six on Friday, she revealed "we were at a wedding together and I was like 'Oh my gosh, do you and your fiancé want to go have dinner or something and go hang out?'" She added that "I was just so obsessed with hanging out with and talking with him," but afterwards, when Munn emailed Mulaney, he never wrote her back.
"I might've got the wrong email — probably. That's what I tell myself," she joked. Jeva Lange
Joel Greenberg, Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R-Fla.) former confidant, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and admitted to sex trafficking a minor, The New York Times reports.
Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and associate of Gaetz, reached a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to six federal charges against him, including sex trafficking of a child, according to CNN. He admitted that he and others paid a 17-year-old girl for sex, saying that he "introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts" with her, the Times reports.
Prosecutors reportedly say they have evidence corroborating Greenberg's admissions, per the Times, and Greenberg also reportedly admitted to other crimes including stealing money from taxpayers.
Gaetz has been facing an investigation into whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and violated sex trafficking laws. Though Greenberg reportedly didn't implicate Gaetz by name in the new filings, according to the Times, he "has told investigators that Mr. Gaetz had sex with the girl and knew that she was being paid."
Reports emerged last month that Greenberg was likely cooperating with prosecutors, at which point his attorney said, "I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today." Meanwhile, investigators in the probe have also reportedly been seeking cooperation from Gaetz's ex-girlfriend, who according to CNN is "believed to have knowledge of drug use and arrangements with women." Brendan Morrow
President Biden's staff during his time as vice president did not serve leafy greens at events because Biden "did not want to be photographed with any leaves in his teeth," said Christopher Freeman, a caterer for the then-vice president, in an interview with The New York Times.
Instead, Biden stocked his vice presidential residence with items like vanilla chocolate chip Haagen-Dazs, Special K cereal, grapes, cheese, and some OrangeGatorade to wash it all down. No "untag" button needed.