Fanning the flames. The lightning-sparked fire that killed 19 near Yarnell, Ariz., Sunday has exploded into a 13-square-mile monster today. The blaze consumed 200 homes in less than 24 hours. All those killed belonged to an elite “hotshot” firefighting team sent in to battle the conflagration. As of this afternoon, it is 0 percent contained. Record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures are fanning the flames. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the Yarnell wildfire is the deadliest for firefighters since a 1933 blaze in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, killed 29. Sunday’s fire is responsible for the highest firefighter death toll since 9/11. Although it is early in the season, deadly and destructive wildfires have already consumed thousands of acres in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and California.
Leak saga continues. Russian President Vladimir Putin may be wavering just a bit in his support for Edward Snowden. During a news conference this morning, Putin said Snowden could remain in Russia only if he stops leaking American secrets: “There is one condition if he wants to remain here: He must stop his work aimed at damaging our American partners. As odd as it may sound from me.” Maybe he wants Snowden to save whatever classified documents he has left for Russian intelligence officials. Snowden, a former national intelligence analyst working for contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, is wanted in the United States on charges of espionage. He is believed to be holed up in a Russian airport, in limbo because Russian officials won’t let him enter the country officially and U.S. officials have cancelled his passport. Despite his calls for Snowden to stop leaking classified documents, Putin reiterated his pledge not to deport the American. But he also claims Snowden isn’t working with Russian spies, so you never know.
Green light. A gay couple living in Florida became the first to receive a green card after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act last week. Traian Popov, 41, a Bulgarian immigrant, married Julian Marsh, 55, in New York. Even though they don’t live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, the federal government approved Popov’s green card petition. It is one of almost 100 filed by the DOMA Project, a team of attorneys pushing for immigration support for same-sex couples. Attorney Lavi Soloway lauded the decision: “This historic first green card approval confirms that for immigration purposes the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA will extend equal recognition to same-sex couples in all 50 states. As long as they have a valid marriage.”
Elder abuse? A new law requiring children to visit their elderly parents takes effect in China today. According to the law, “family members who live apart from their parents should often visit or send regards to their parents.” Although vague, the law is meant to clamp down on elder abuse or neglect. In response to a recent survey done by China’s state-run television network, 33 percent of children said they saw their parents only once a year.