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Bergdahl Backlash
June 6, 2014
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Say you're a conservative columnist who needs to produce a lot of content. And let's also say you've managed to keep your powder mostly dry thus far on the Bowe Bergdahl story. You now have basically two choices. You can repeat the criticism that almost every other conservative columnist in America (save for maybe Charles Krauthammer) has offered. Or you can make a more contrarian argument.

Enter New York Times columnist David Brooks:

The president and vice president, the only government officials elected directly by the entire nation, have a special responsibility to nurture this national solidarity. So, of course, President Obama had to take all measures necessary to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Of course, he had to do all he could do to not forsake an American citizen.

It doesn't matter if Bergdahl had deserted his post or not. It doesn't matter if he is a confused young man who said insulting and shameful things about his country and his Army. The debt we owe to fellow Americans is not based on individual merit. It is based on citizenship, and loyalty to the national community we all share. [New York Times]

Now, nobody I know of didn't want Sgt. Bergdahl to come home. The question has always been whether it was prudent to trade five Taliban members held at Gitmo for Bergdahl. There is also a legitimate question over whether Bergdahl should have been hailed as a hero who "served with honor and distinction" and was deserving of a Rose Garden announcement.

In fairness to Brooks, though, this is somewhat consistent with his brand of communitarian conservatism. It's also an example of opportunistic column trolling. It's always terrific when one's political philosophy and business interests can merge. Matt K. Lewis

travels with the pope
3:20 a.m. ET
Luis Rebayo/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, Pope Francis arrived in Ecuador, the first stop on his tour of South America that will include visits to Bolivia and Paraguay.

The pontiff, born in Argentina, is visiting three of the poorest and smallest countries on the continent just weeks after releasing his encyclical calling on leaders to hear "the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor" due to climate change. "From the peak of Chimborazo to the Pacific coast, from the Amazon rainforest to the Galapagos Islands, may you never lose the ability to thank God for what he has done and is doing for you," he said upon his arrival. "May you never lose the ability to protect what is small and simple, to care for your children and your elderly, to have confidence in the young, and to be constantly struck by the nobility of your people and the singular beauty of your country."

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets as Pope Francis made his way to Quito, Reuters reports, with many waving flags featuring his picture and others throwing gifts. On Monday, he will deliver a mass in the coastal city of Guayaquil, and on Wednesday, he will fly to Bolivia to visit the Palmasola prison and is expected to speak up for the rights of indigenous people. While in Paraguay, the pope will meet with several social activists. Catherine Garcia

love and marriage
2:36 a.m. ET
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis tied the knot this weekend, a source tells People.

Kutcher, 37, and Kunis, 31, met while filming That '70s Show, which ran from 1998 to 2006. In August, Kunis told W magazine, "My first real kiss ever was with him on the show. We all get movie star crushes. I'm marrying mine." The pair began dating in 2012, and became parents to daughter Wyatt Isabelle in October. It's the first marriage for Kunis, and the second for Kutcher, who divorced Demi Moore in 2013. Catherine Garcia

This just in
2:20 a.m. ET
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

The finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, announced on his website that he has resigned from his post, one day after 61 percent of voters backed his "no" campaign, rejecting the bailout terms set by creditors.

"Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached," he wrote in a blog entry posted early Monday. "It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution — to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms." 

Varoufakis said that the reason why he was leaving his position was due to a "certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted 'partners,' for my ... 'absence' from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement." He added, "I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum. And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride." Catherine Garcia

Boko Haram
1:49 a.m. ET

A suicide bomber killed at least five people at a church in Nigeria Sunday, the latest in a string of attacks carried out over the past week by Boko Haram.

The worshippers were killed as they entered the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Potiskum, the BBC reports. More than 200 people have been killed since Tuesday, including more than 97 people gunned down in the village of Kukawa on Wednesday and 48 men shot after prayers in two villages near the town of Monguno. On Thursday, two female suicide bombers killed several people as they attacked a village in Borno state.

Since Boko Haram first started launching attacks in 2009, at least 17,000 people, primarily civilians, have been killed. Catherine Garcia

John Oliver dives shallow
1:15 a.m. ET

Due to the 4th of July holiday, there wasn't a new Last Week Tonight Sunday, but host John Oliver was nice enough to give his fans a little something to tide them over until July 12. In a web only clip, Oliver did the opposite of what he normally does — instead of covering one topic over 15 minutes in a deep dive, he looked at 15 topics in one minute for a series of shallow dives. He touched on everything from banjos ("they're just guitars whose parents are cousins") to bagels ("donuts that gave up on their dreams"), and hinted that next week, it's very likely he'll be back to business, taking on the TPP. Watch the clip below (warning: there's a bit of strong language and some risqué images). Catherine Garcia

recalls
12:28 a.m. ET
Facebook.com/StellaAndChewys

After Listeria was found in a sample of chicken freeze-dried patties, pet food maker Stella & Chewy's voluntarily recalled several products for dogs and cats.

The company has a full list of recalled dinners and treats on its website. "The health and safety of our customers and their pets is always of the utmost importance to us," Stella & Chewy's said on Facebook. "We are accountable for everything we make and highly committed to the quality and integrity of our products. We are working with the FDA to further investigate and quickly address the situation."

Listeria causes flu-like symptoms in healthy people, including headache and nausea, and can be deadly for children and the elderly. Stella & Chewy's says that there have been no reports of illnesses in people or animals. Consumers who have pet food that is part of the recall should throw it away or return the item to where they purchased it for a full refund. Catherine Garcia

This is terrible
July 5, 2015

At least 13 people were killed and more than 30 injured Saturday when a shoe factory collapsed in eastern China, state media reports.

The building was in the Zhejiang province city of Wenling, The Associated Press reports. Nine people were able to escape, and one person is still missing. The Wenling city government said that rescuers pulled 42 people out of the rubble, with nine later dying at the hospital. Four bodies were removed from the debris on Sunday. Catherine Garcia

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