February 2, 2021

Democrats are all set to move forward with their COVID-19 relief bill, leaving Republicans in the dust.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday introduced a budget resolution bill that would allow them to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus with just a simple majority in both chambers. And on Tuesday, they got the final vote they needed to solidify that majority, as holdout Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) indicated he'd support the resolution.

Schumer and Pelosi filed a joint budget resolution for the 2021 Fiscal Year on Monday, taking the first step needed to introduce a Budget Reconciliation bill and pass the stimulus with just 50 votes in the Senate. Manchin seemed to complicate their plans, indicating he wanted a more targeted distribution of stimulus checks instead of a flat $1,400 sent to all Americans. But "because of the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis," Manchin said in a Tuesday statement he'd vote for the budget. He'd like Biden to focus on "Americans who have been impacted most by this pandemic" in the future, and said he "remains hopeful that we can have bipartisan support moving forward."

Manchin's change of heart comes after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R), a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump and adversary of Manchin, indicated his support for the $1.9 trillion bill on Monday.

A group of 10 centrist Republican senators presented Biden with a $618 billion stimulus proposal on Monday that includes smaller stimulus checks, and leaves out local government funding. Pelosi and Schumer's move seems to indicate their plan is bust. Kathryn Krawczyk

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

May 14, 2021

Politicians — they're just like us.

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 Orange Gatorade to wash it all down. No "untag" button needed.

Read more at the Times. Brigid Kennedy

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