January 8, 2021

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Thursday that after receiving a request for help from the District of Columbia on Wednesday, he immediately mobilized the state police and National Guard, but was repeatedly denied authorization to deploy.

Hogan explained that while on a video conference call with Japan's ambassador, his chief of staff interrupted to tell him "the U.S. Capitol was under attack." He organized an emergency meeting to mobilize the police and Maryland National Guard, he said, and during the meeting, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the No. 2 House Democrat, called from "an undisclosed bunker" to tell Hogan that Capitol Police were "overwhelmed" by the pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol.

Hoyer was "pleading with us" to send the National Guard, Hogan said, and he had to tell him authorization had not yet come through. About 90 minutes later, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy called Hogan to ask, "Can you come as soon as possible?" The governor responded, "Yeah, we've been waiting. We're ready."

"I can't tell you what was going on on the other end, on the decision-making process," Hogan said. "There's been lots of speculation in the media about that, but I'm not privy to what was going on inside the White House or inside the Pentagon." There are 500 Maryland National Guard members on standby outside of D.C., Hogan said, and he wants to "assure all Americans that the state of Maryland will do anything and everything we possibly can to continue to secure the core of our nation's capital and to ensure the peaceful transition of power." Catherine Garcia

8:01 a.m.

Israeli and Hamas officials signaled they may be open to a cease-fire late Friday, The New York Times reports, and Hady Amr, the United States' deputy assistant secretary of state for Israel and Palestinian affairs, is scheduled to meet with senior officials from Israel and Palestine in Jerusalem on Saturday. The talks are aimed at "achieving a sustainable calm," State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter said Friday. There's both hope and skepticism that something will get done.

Martin Indyk, who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Clinton administration, told BBC he thinks "both sides have limited objectives and they're essentially reaching the point where it doesn't make sense ... to continue this war." But Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian politician, isn't so optimistic, BBC reports. She criticized President Biden's handling of the situation. "Biden waited for a whole week before he sent ... not even a third, fourth-level civil servant and you think the Israelis are going to listen?," she said, adding that "if they really mean business they can, at the highest level, come out and say 'stop the shelling, stop the killing.'"

Violence continued early Saturday when an Israeli air raid in Gaza City killed at least 10 Palestinians, reportedly mostly children, in a refugee camp. It appears to be the deadliest individual strike since the latest phase of the conflict broke out last week, The Associated Press reports. Hamas said it was firing rockets at Tel Aviv in return. More than 130 people have been killed in Gaza, as well as eight people in Israel, since the violence began. Read more at The Associated Press, The New York Times, and BBC. Tim O'Donnell

May 14, 2021

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

May 14, 2021

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

May 14, 2021

In January, The Pokémon Company announced that it was teaming up with Universal Music Group artists to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Though nobody knew exactly what that meant at the time, the hope was obviously for either "new pocket monster-inspired tunes" or a Lavender Town theme exercise remix — but instead we got Post Malone singing about his favorite NFL team?

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.

Read more at Kotaku. Jeva Lange

May 14, 2021

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

May 14, 2021

"My girlfriend" just doesn't have the same ring to it, but comedian John Mulaney is reportedly dating actress Olivia Munn — news that broke shortly after Page Six revealed he's divorcing his wife of six years, Anna Marie Tendler.

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

May 14, 2021

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

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