Who’s to blame? As the town of Prescott, Ariz., gathered Monday night to mourn the deaths of 19 firefighters in a vicious, out-of-control wildfire, the remaining crews looked to a break in the weather today to give them some relief from the flames. The fire, near Yarnell, has already consumed more than 200 homes. As of Monday night, it was completely uncontained. Some are blaming the fire, and the tragic deaths, on federal budget cuts. The U.S. Forest Service’s Fire and Aviation Management Budget was cut by 5 percent this year, reducing the number of firefighters to 10,000 from 10,500. And the budget for eliminating dry brush and other types of fuel has been reduced for three years in a row, from $350 million in 2010 to $301 million in 2013. But fire officials on the ground say there was nothing additional resources could have done to save the men who died.
Run Edward, Run! From the continuing saga of the leaker on the run … hacktivist website WikiLeaks announced today that Edward Snowden has asked for asylum from 21 countries. But he no longer wants to stay in Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday the former U.S. intelligence analyst would only be welcome if he stopped revealing American secrets. Does that mean he has more classified documents to turn over? Brazil and India already turned down Snowden’s asylum requests, and other countries are likely to follow. But even if one offers him refuge, he might have trouble getting there. U.S. officials revoked his passport, effectively trapping him in the transit zone at Moscow’s international airport.
Sad statistics. A new report by the Pew Research Center shows an increase in the number of households headed by single fathers. According to the study, fathers headed only 1 percent of single-parent households in 1960. By 2011, that number had risen to 8 percent. Now, fathers make up nearly 1 in four single parents. Secular analysts see the trend as a good sign—fewer fathers are shirking their parental duty. Maybe so, but the children in their households are still missing the benefits of growing up in the stable environment provided by married parents, even if they’re not lacking a mother figure. Nearly half of single dads—41 percent—are living with an unmarried partner. But that hasn’t protected their economic status: Single fathers tend to be younger, poorer and less educated than married ones, just like single mothers.
Wise decision? Medical ethicists are debating the wisdom of a Pennsylvania girl’s second lung transplant after the first one failed. Sarah Murnaghan’s parents sued to get their daughter on the adult transplant list last month. Just a few days later, she received a pair of lungs, but they failed within three days. Her second set of lungs appears to be working properly, but that doesn’t mean Sarah is out of the woods yet. And even if she does survive the immediate aftermath of the transplant, she isn’t likely to live into adulthood. Most lung transplant patients only live for six years with their new organs.