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May 20, 2014
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Pope Francis recently received an unusual letter signed by 26 women, La Stampa's Vatican Insider reports. "Dear Pope Francis," the letter begins, "we are a group of women from all over Italy (and beyond) who are writing you to break the wall of silence and indifference we encounter every day." Why? "Each one of us is living, has lived, or wants to live in a loving relationship with a priest she is in love with."

As Pope Francis noted in a dialogue with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, published in 2010 as the book On Heaven and Earth, priestly celibacy was optional until 1100, and is still optional in the Eastern Orthodox churches. The women, who say they are just "a small sample" of women in love or in relationships with Catholic clerics, are asking for the pope to allow them to openly live with their priest-lovers (or prospective lovers), and even "bless these our loves, giving us the biggest joy that a father could want for his children: to see them happy."

But, perhaps more realistically, they are also trying to put a human face on the priest celibacy debate, expressing the "devastating suffering" of women like themselves who "experience with a priest the powerful experience of falling in love." The signatories put their first name, last initial or town where they live (which could be uncomfortable for that town's priests), and phone numbers. You never know — Pope Francis may call. (The Daily Beast's Barbie Latza Nadeau has a more extensive English-language recap of the letter.) Peter Weber

11:55 a.m. ET
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Former President George H.W. Bush could be discharged from the hospital as soon as the end of this week, after he was admitted to the intensive care unit at Houston Methodist hospital last Wednesday. "If everything continues at the pace of improvement we're currently enjoying, I would imagine … a Friday discharge might be a little bit optimistic, but Friday or over the weekend," said Dr. Clint Doerr, one of the doctors treating Bush, per The Washington Examiner.

Bush, who was hospitalized last week for "shortness of breath," will be transferred Monday from the intensive care unit of Houston Methodist Hospital to another wing of the hospital, Bush's doctor said. The former president was being treated for pneumonia.

Meanwhile, former first lady Barbara Bush has been discharged and is reportedly "back to her normal self." She was also hospitalized last week after coming down with bronchitis.

"Today is a great day," said Amy Myderse, another doctor at the Houston hospital. "They're both doing really well." Becca Stanek

11:20 a.m. ET
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President Trump admitted Monday at a White House meeting with business leaders that he was "surprised" by his administration's plans to cut regulations. "A bigger thing, and that surprised me, is the fact that we are going to be cutting regulation massively. Now we are going to have regulation and it will be just as strong and just as good and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now," Trump told executives from companies including Dell, Lockheed Martin, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, and SpaceX, among others. "The problem with the regulation you have right now is that you can't do anything."

Trump indicated his administration plans to slash regulations "by 75 percent" or "maybe more." Trump also noted his plans to cut taxes "massively for both the middle class and for companies" by an estimated 15 or 20 percent, and reiterated that any company that moves abroad will face "a very major border tax." Becca Stanek

11:13 a.m. ET
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The end is nigh! At least, according to some of the richest Americans. For wealthy Silicon Valley tycoons, one form of insurance could be staking out a place in the Survival Condo Project, a luxury bunker built in a former missile silo outside of Wichita, Kansas, The New Yorker reports.

In addition to an "adult time-out room" and a dentist chair, the silo also contains some comforts of home:

Some levels are dedicated to private apartments and others offer shared amenities: a seventy-five-foot-long pool, a rock-climbing wall, an Astro-Turf "pet park," a classroom with a line of Mac desktops, a gym, a movie theater, and a library. It felt compact but not claustrophobic. [...] One floor up, we visited the food-storage area, still unfinished. [Survival Condo Project CEO Larry Hall] hopes that, once it's fully stocked, it will feel like a "miniature Whole Foods," but for now it holds mostly cans of food. [The New Yorker]

Read more about wealthy doomsday preppers at The New Yorker. Jeva Lange

10:50 a.m. ET

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced Monday that he will support the nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, just ahead of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's scheduled vote on the former ExxonMobil executive. Rubio had waffled on supporting President Donald Trump's pick to lead the State Department because of his concerns about Tillerson's ties to Russia as well as his remarks on human rights during his confirmation hearing earlier this month; during questioning, Rubio grilled Tillerson about whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was a "war criminal," a statement Tillerson declined to support.

"In making my decision on his nomination, I must balance these concerns with his extensive experience and success in international commerce, and my belief that the president is entitled to significant deference when it comes to his choices for the Cabinet," Rubio wrote Monday in a Facebook post. Ultimately, Rubio said he decided "it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy."

If Rubio had voted against Tillerson's nomination in committee, it would have sent Tillerson to the Senate floor without a positive recommendation — a development Time said would have been an "embarrassing rebuke to Trump just as his presidency gets underway."

Read Rubio's post in full below. Becca Stanek

10:38 a.m. ET

Even Hillary Clinton's daughter thinks everyone should cut President Trump's son, Barron Trump, some slack. In a tweet Sunday, former first child Chelsea Clinton defended Barron's "chance" to "be a kid" — and then took a shot at the new president's policies:

Since Inauguration Day, 10-year-old Barron has been the butt of many a Twitter joke, with Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich posting in a since-deleted tweet that Trump's youngest son "will be this country's first homeschool shooter."

Clinton wasn't much older than Barron when her father, former President Bill Clinton, first took office in January 1993. Becca Stanek

10:36 a.m. ET

The U.S. Department of Defense shared a special message Monday and it is definitely, absolutely not a subtweet:

The Department of the Interior's Twitter account briefly went dark Friday after its retweet about the size of President Donald Trump's inauguration crowd irked the Trump administration.

But that, of course, is neither here nor there. Jeva Lange

9:15 a.m. ET

China's communist government is pointing to President Donald Trump's inauguration as an example of how democracy is a failed political system, Bloomberg Politics reports:

Democracy has reached its limits, and deterioration is the inevitable future of capitalism, according to the People's Daily, the flagship paper of China's Communist Party. It devoted an entire page on Sunday to critiquing Western democracies, quoting former Chairman Mao Zedong's 1949 poem asking people to "range far your eyes over long vistas" and saying the ultimate defeat of capitalism would enable Communism to emerge victorious.

The unusual series of commentaries in the People's Daily mirrors Soviet efforts to promote an alternative political and economic system during the Cold War. The rise of anti-establishment, protectionist politicians like Trump, amid populist winds on several continents, has sent political parties scurrying to shore up their support, helping China to portray itself as relatively steady. [Bloomberg Politics]

One article, for example, declared "Western-style democracy used to be a recognized power in history to drive social development. But now it has reached its limits. Democracy is already kidnapped by the capitals and has become the weapon for capitalists to chase profits."

"China's rising wealth has brought greater global presence, but that's not enough," explained political science professor Zhang Ming to Bloomberg Politics. "The Communist leaders want that someday China will matter globally for the nature of its political system and create its own universal values." Jeva Lange

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