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Bergdahl
June 9, 2014
CC by: US Army Alaska

By now we have a pretty good sense of what Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's critics, including in his former unit, think of him. Eventually — if the media pays attention long enough — we'll get Bergdahl's side. Until then, we're starting to hear Bergdahl's story filtered through his doctors and mental health specialists as well as unidentified U.S. military and civilian officials.

One revelation is that Bergdahl says he was tortured, beaten, and held in a cage after trying to escape at least once. (The Daily Beast previously reported that he tried to escape twice, and was consequently moved around quite a bit.) "He's said that they kept him in a shark cage in total darkness for weeks, possibly months," one U.S. official tells The New York Times. It's a near certainty he was "held in hard conditions," a senior Pentagon official added. "These are Taliban, not wet nurses."

The second bit of information about Bergdahl is that he has started to wear his Army uniform again but hates it when hospital staff call him "sergeant," a rank he attained while captured. "He says, 'Don't call me that,'" one U.S. official tells The Times. "'I didn't go before the boards. I didn't earn it.'" Peter Weber

Presidential polling
2:37 p.m. ET
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Ben Carson is tied with Donald Trump in Iowa in the latest Monmouth University Poll released Monday, marking the first time that a GOP contender has closed the gap in Trump's lead in the primary. Both Carson and Trump got 23 percent support from Iowa's Republican voters, while former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina came in third with 10 percent of the vote. None of the other candidates in the Republican field eked out double-digit support.

Aside from marking the big moment in which Trump no longer leads the rest of the GOP field by a wide margin, the poll also provides an illuminating look at what Iowa voters value in a Republican presidential candidate. None of the poll's top three contenders (Trump, Carson, and Fiorina) comes from a political background; all are considered outsider candidates.

The poll, which was conducted between August 27-30, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. Becca Stanek

baby steps
2:35 p.m. ET

Reopening the U.S. embassy in Tehran is still a long, long way away from happening, but that doesn't mean Iranians aren't rethinking their relationship with Uncle Sam. Iranian state media said this weekend that a number of people painted over "Death to America" graffiti on the wall of the former U.S. embassy, the Jerusalem Post reported. Similar anti-American slogans have been wiped from other streets in Tehran.

Formal diplomatic ties have been severed between the United States and Iran since 1979, when student protesters overran the embassy; the hostage crisis that followed lasted 444 days. Britain, meanwhile, is restoring diplomatic relations with Iran, four years after its own embassy was ransacked. Iranians weren't as willing to clean the graffiti there, however; "Death to England" is still scrawled on a wall above a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, according to The Washington Post.

As we await a vote in Congress on the Iranian nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif remains convinced that opening the U.S. embassy isn't a healthy next step, calling Washington's "illogical attitude" toward Iran a situation that needs to be resolved first.

Jeva Lange

are you ready kids?
2:32 p.m. ET
Facebook.com/Spongebob Squarepants

Better drop on the deck and flop like a fish, landlubbers: SpongeBob SquarePants is set for a Broadway debut in 2016, Playbill reports. The SpongeBob Musical, which Nickelodeon first confirmed was in the works in February, will first head to Chicago on June 7 for a month-long tryout at the Oriental Theatre.

"One of our challenges has been to take an episodic art form, remain true to its spirit of non-sequiturs and outrageousness and then create a really strong storyline that will not only get people involved by pay off emotionally," director Tina Landau told the Chicago Tribune. "So we have a story and a subplot, but it's all spiced with the particular flavorings of the SpongeBob universe."

The plot Landau touts is described as follows: "Only one sponge can save the day. But he's going to need help from some of the greatest songwriters in rock and pop music history."

A star-studded score should help the longest-running Nicktoon make a smooth transition from screen to stage. David Bowie, John Legend, Aerosmith, Cyndi Lauper, and They Might Be Giants are among the artists signed onto the project.

Diehard fans of the sea sponge's earlier work will recall his first cinematic appearance, in 2004, was also pretty rockin'. Julie Kliegman

Second chances
1:14 p.m. ET

While the NFL and Tom Brady failed to reach a settlement on Monday, that still meant that Jane Rosenberg — the courtroom sketch artist who became infamous after her unconventional sketch of the usually handsome Patriots quarterback went viral — had to show up for work and get a drawing done.

However, while today's sketch captures less of the surreal qualities of the original, it still expresses Rosenberg's signature style.

Rosenberg told CBS that in the days leading up to Monday's anticipated second-chance sketch, she "had sleepless nights" with Tom Brady on her mind. "It was a nightmare," she said.

Before Monday's appearance in court, Rosenberg also showed CBS her practice sketch of Brady, in which he looks decidedly less like he's melting:

"I don't like knowing people are really watching what I'm doing," Rosenberg told CBS. She added to the New York Daily News that even doing her practice sketch was hard. "I still found him very hard to draw — from a photo as well. Something subtle goes on with his eyes."

Sweet dreams, Rosenberg. It's all over — for now. Jeva Lange

scandal
1:00 p.m. ET

Disgraced wrestling star Hulk Hogan sat down with Good Morning America on Monday for his first interview since WWE terminated his contract in July over a racist rant. He was caught calling his daughter's then-boyfriend the n-word in an old tape brought to light by Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media.

"I'm not a racist, but I never should have said what I said," Hogan said, reiterating an earlier apology. "It was wrong. I'm embarrassed by it."

He connected his use of the slur to the area he was raised in.

"People need to realize that you inherit things from your environment," he said. "And where I grew up was south Tampa, Port Tampa, and it was a really rough neighborhood, very low income. And all my friends, we greeted each other saying that word."

Hogan also divulged that he was suicidal in 2007, when the secret tape was believed to be filmed. Watch his full interview below. Julie Kliegman

balls
12:08 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The NFL and Tom Brady failed to reach a settlement Monday in the ongoing Deflategate controversy. After just minutes of talks in court, Judge Richard Berman sent everyone home, saying he will make a ruling in the case by Friday, but potentially as early as Tuesday, CBS reports.

In May, the New England Patriots quarterback received a four-game suspension after an independent report suggested he was likely involved in the team's deliberate tampering with footballs during the 2015 playoffs. Brady appealed his suspension and maintained he was unaware of any foul play on his team.

Lest you assume this national nightmare will finally end once Berman announces a decision, rest assured both sides have appeal options that will likely keep the scandal afloat for the foreseeable future. Julie Kliegman

groupies
11:28 a.m. ET
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Whenever hordes of giddy fans camp out in a parking lot, there's a solid chance One Direction is somewhere nearby. But Harry Styles wasn't anywhere to be found at the Georgia church where crowds gathered in their cars and RVs Saturday night and into Sunday morning — it was former President Jimmy Carter the masses wanted to see.

When Carter, 90, announced in August that the cancer in his liver had spread to his brain, he stayed firm on his commitment to teaching Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church. The first Sunday afterward, more than 800 people waited in line to see the former president.

The crowds have only grown bigger since. People are driving hours and hours — and some are even flying — to make it to the church parking lot before 12:01 a.m. Sunday, when seat assignments in the pews are awarded. The line this Saturday was already a half-mile long by 9 p.m., The Washington Post reports.

"We're gung-ho people!" Pat Schroeder, a 93-year-old who roadtripped the 14 hours from Illinois with her kids, told the Post. Julie Kliegman

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