Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Fake Ball-Busting Bongs, and Other Signs The World Is Ending This Week
Howdy, America. You’ve got a new commander-in-chief! And the world hasn’t even ended yet. There are some pretty encouraging signs: The Army finally has a new service pistol that beats the hell out of an M9. New female infantry Marines seem to be embracing the suck just fine so far. Of course, there’s a lot of potential for more suck. Apocalyptic suck, even. Which is why Task & Purpose offers you this at-a-glance Friday roundup of the good, the bad, and the deeply fucked up in recent military and diplomatic news… plus a few pop-culture signs of Armageddon.
- The offensive to take Mosul back from ISIS "has been some of the hardest door-to-door fighting the world has seen in many years,” Major Gen. Joseph Martin, the head of ground forces in Iraq, tweeted Wednesday. No doubt: 1,600 Iraqi security forces have died in the fight since October. But it’s paying off. Coalition forces control the eastern half of the city and have set up a “kill zone” on the Tigris River to keep ISIS at bay while the friendlies prepare to advance west.
- Hopefully U.S. forces can wrap things up in Iraq soon, so they can deploy to run those newly planned refugee camps in Syria.
- You know what’s cool? The number of vets in Congress is climbing. You know what’s seriously uncool? When one of those vets in Congress flies overseas to do a grip-and-grin with a chemical weapons-loving, atrocity-committing, Russia-aligned Middle Eastern dictator.
- The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the hands closer to midnight on its 70-year-old Doomsday Clock, saying Thursday that humanity’s risk of “global catastrophe” had risen to its highest level since the 1980s, thanks in part to “disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons made by Trump, as well as the expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.” On the bright side, the world didn’t end in the 1980s, so your mileage may vary.
- Also Thursday: “The State Department’s entire senior management team just resigned.” Or was fired. Either way, Rex Tillerson’s gonna get to put his own fantasy team together.
- After two U.S. officials suggested the White House wouldn’t allow China to occupy some disputed islands in the South China Sea, the Chinese hit back, telling America to mind its own business. A communist government-run newspaper suggested China should expand its nuclear arsenal in response. In a completely unrelated development that has no connection to conflicts in the Pacific between China and the English-speaking world, a senior Northrop Grumman executive said Tuesday he expected the F-35 contractor would double its business in Australia in the next three years. Buy! Buy! Buy!
- In a video statement Wednesday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said that "Mexico does not believe in walls. I've said time again; Mexico will not pay for any wall." In a tweet Thursday morning, Trump threatened to cancel his scheduled meeting with Mexico’s president next week if our neighbors to the south don’t pay the $10 to $25 billion required to build it. Peña Nieto responded by immediately canceling the summit himself. It’s not like they're the largest market for U.S. exports or anything (they’re second).
- The new president tweeted Tuesday that he might “send in the Feds” to clean up Chicago’s crime problem; signed an executive order Wednesday to block federal funding to “sanctuary cities,” like Los Angeles; New York; and Portland, Maine, that don’t deport undocumented immigrants; and announced plans Wednesday for an investigation into “voter fraud,” which Press Secretary Sean Spicer said could focus on “a lot of states where we didn’t compete in,” calling out California and New York. Depending how you process your facts, this is either the start of a glorious federal purge of liberal corruption, or an authoritarian recipe for civil war. Flip a coin?
- One American tradition that will never change, no matter who controls the government: THEY WILL NEVER TELL YOU THE TRUTH ABOUT ALIEN UFOS.
- National headline on Wednesday: “Man who lost his testicles while showing off his scuba bong is fake news.” You can’t believe in anything anymore.
Vice President Mike Pence repeated President Donald Trump's claim that "ISIS has been defeated" in Syria on Wednesday just hours after several U.S. service members were killed by an ISIS suicide bomber in Manbij, Syria.
An ISIS suicide bomber killed four Americans in Manbij, Syria, on Wednesday.