The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, July 7 2012 9:18 a.m. MDT

Helicopters are staged at the helibase during rain and bad visibility while trying to fight the Quail Fire in Alpine on Thursday, July 5, 2012.

,Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Winner: It's amazing how efficient nature can be. After days of fighting fires that seemed to pop up all over the state like some sort of strange whack-a-mole game, exhausted firefighters were glad to see a day-long rain storm move into Utah on Thursday. It was a light, soaking rain, not thunderstorms with lightning that could have sparked even more fires. As a result, some of the state's evacuated residents were able to return home. But the danger is certainly not over, nor are all the fires contained. A few more days of rain would be great.

Loser: Serial arson is a difficult crime to understand. At a time when authorities are warning Utahns to be extra careful not to accidentally start fires, Wilbert Fike Jr., turned himself in to police and allegedly admitted starting a fire in Memory Grove. Police said they believe his tale. Fike has a history of such things, having been released from prison June 8 after an arson conviction for starting a similar fire last year, and having served time for a 2010 conviction under similar charges. The good news is that firefighters were able to douse the Memory Grove fire quickly.

Loser: The Associated Press obtained a report this week showing how former Countrywide Financial Corp., which was responsible for many subprime loans that helped drag the nation's economy down at the start of the recession, used a special VIP plan to gain favor with members of Congress. Among the favored named in the report was the communications director to former Utah Sen. Robert Bennett, who at the time was a member of the Senate Banking Committee. The report, drafted by the House, said Countrywide may have skirted bribery laws by keeping conversations about special treatment internal.

Winner: If you're going to learn the art of riding a unicycle, you may as well try to become the best in the world at it. That's been Kevin Kartchner's attitude. Now the teen from Cache County is close to reaching that pinnacle in a competition we're guessing most people don't know exists. Kartchner is going to Italy for the Unicon16 Unicycling World Championship, where he enters ranked second in the United States. He started riding the one-wheeled devices six years ago. Now he rides them down stair railings, jumps them down stairs and spins them around in the air. Kartchner also is preparing to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where, we presume, he'll have to content himself with two wheels.

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