Here is a Taliban video of the handover of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held as a prisoner of war for five years and is being "traded" for five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. They were reportedly released shortly after the Black Hawk helicopter in the video took off:
Reporters at the New York Times narrate and translate: "As an American Blackhawk helicopter approaches, one of the insurgents is heard telling Sergeant Bergdahl: 'Don’t come back to Afghanistan. If you do, you won’t make it out alive next time.' Other insurgents standing nearby laugh at the warning... Much of the video clip’s audio track consists of an interview with one of the Taliban fighters who is described as having taken part in the handover. He talks about the arrangements that were made with the Americans, and then narrates how the American forces arrived by helicopter, with warplanes circling in the sky above." You can almost hear the spinning wheels in the minds of literary agents, wondering how long they should wait to descend on Sgt. Bergdahl for his my five years with the Taliban memoir. If they hit too soon, they'll be brushed off as insensitive. If they're too late, they might have lost their catch.
But the story is complicated: Sgt. Bergdahl reportedly "voluntarily walked off his post" in Afghanistan in 2009, was promptly captured by the Taliban, and is blamed for the deaths of other soldiers who were looking for him. (The facts are disputed.) “We don’t leave soldiers on the battlefield under any circumstance unless they have actually joined the enemy army,” John B. Bellinger III, chief lawyer for the State Department during the George W. Bush presidency, told reporters. “He was a young 20-year-old. Young 20-year-olds make stupid decisions. I don’t think we’ll say if you make a stupid decision we’ll leave you in the hands of the Taliban.” But he also said Sgt. Bergdahl "will have to face justice, military justice."
And if you really want to know more about this strange soldier, Democracy Now! has interviews with reporters who interviewed him: "He first tried to enlist with the French Foreign Legion, but was rejected. He was deployed to Afghanistan just after President Obama ordered the first troop surge in the Spring of 2009. Bergdahl reportedly told a soldier in his unit, 'If this deployment is lame … I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan.' And on June 30, 2009, he may have done just that, leaving the base with just a knife and water, along with a digital camera and his diary. Within 24 hours, he was captured."
Mayor Murray tells city to give rival-then-endorser Peter Steinbrueck a $98,000 consulting contract: "Steinbrueck, who handed Murray a key political endorsement in last year’s mayoral race after placing third in the primary, received the no-bid contract with the city Department of Planning and Development (DPD) in March... Murray said he’d wanted to hire Steinbrueck as a full-time employee but ran into budget constraints. He said Steinbrueck will help him revamp the way the city does planning — making 'very disconnected' departments work together better."
Grumpy cops made grumpier about the SPD's semi-playful distribution of Doritos—with informative stickers about the state's new marijuana laws—at Hempfest: Dom linked to it yesterday, but you should go skim the complaint report—it's a long exercise in not understanding the community you're working with (and, technically, for).
You are the company you keep: The governments of China and Vietnam support the Thai military's coup, though protesters have adopted the three-fingered salute from The Hunger Games to show their disapproval.
The bones of 796 babies found in a former septic tank outside of an Irish-Catholic orphanage for the babies of unwed mothers: "County Galway death records showed that the children, mostly babies and toddlers, died often of sickness or disease in the orphanage during the 35 years it operated from 1926 to 1961. The building, which had previously been a workhouse for homeless adults, was torn down decades ago to make way for new houses."
The arbitrariness of where you can afford to live: After reports about a sadly tiny apartment—you can't open the kitchen counters if there's a bed in the room—that quickly went for 170 pounds ($285) in London, the Guardian looked around England to see what else a person could rent for that amount. Some nice deals, it turns out.
Alex Ross on opera's current "fat-shaming controversy": "When, on May 17th, the young Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught performed the role of Octavian in a Glyndebourne Opera production of Der Rosenkavalier, an ugly controversy erupted in the British press. A posse of London critics, all male, unleashed some remarkably harsh reviews, focussing more on her appearance than on her singing. She was described as a 'chubby bundle of puppy-fat,' as being 'stocky' and 'dumpy of stature,' as possessing an 'intractable physique.'"
The etymology of "fat" sounds like a history of plenty and rich liquids: "Old Frisian fatt, Old Norse feitr, Dutch vet, German feist), from PIE *poid- 'to abound in water, milk, fat, etc.' (source also of Greek piduein 'to gush forth'), from root *peie- 'to be fat, swell' (cognates: Sanskrit payate 'swells, exuberates,' pituh 'juice, sap, resin;' Lithuanian pienas 'milk'..."