Prisoner exchange. The Afghan Taliban has offered to free a U.S. soldier held prisoner since 2009 in exchange for five senior operatives imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. The offer comes as American officials iron out details for a round of talks with the group aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan. Although not named in the offer, the only known American soldier in captivity from the Afghan war is U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho. He disappeared from his base in southeastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, and is believed held in Pakistan. Bergdahl’s parents earlier this month received a letter from their son, who turned 27 on March 28, through the International Committee of the Red Cross. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban just opened an office, tomorrow. No official schedule for discussions has been agreed to, a State Department official said.
In the interest of justice. A district attorney in upstate New York said today he will not pursue child endangerment charges against a man who discovered four boys vandalizing his father-in-law’s house. As WORLD reported Monday, Jesse Daniels locked the boys, who were between 8 and 10 years old, in a closet until police arrived. The father of one of the boys claimed Daniels handled the children “roughly” in interrupting their activity, which is estimated to have caused $40,000 in damage. Wayne County District Attorney Richard Healy said in a letter to the local court he declined to prosecute Daniels “in the interest of justice.” Although the boys were charged with burglary and criminal mischief, Daniels is not likely to get more than $8,000 in restitution.
On fire. More fires are burning in Colorado, where officials evacuated more than 100 people from their homes today. One new 500-acre fire is in the Rocky Mountain foothills about 30 miles southwest of Denver. Another blaze, the Lime Gulch fire, is licking up trees in Pike National Forest but has not threatened any homes. A third fire, in the southern part of the state, covers 300 acres and forced 175 people to stay in a Red Cross shelter overnight. Hot, windy weather is fueling other fires in Arizona, New Mexico, and California.
Good news? The stock market took another dive this morning after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced plans to slow and eventually stop the stimulus efforts that have buoyed markets for months. The United States economy is strong enough now for the Federal Reserve to slow the pace of bond buying later this year, Bernanke said. Analysts described today’s selloff, and yesterday’s, as an “overreaction,” as economic news has continued to trend upward. “The data-dependent part (of Bernanke’s remarks) should be seen as a positive,” said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets in New York.