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."
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."
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 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'..."