Nearly half a million acres of New South Wales farmland were scorched last week in one of the worst starts to Australia’s bush-fire season in decades. More than 40 homes burned down, and dozens of farmers lost their entire crops. State officials said arsonists and careless cigarette smokers were to blame. “If you see an arsonist, pounce on him,” the governor of New South Wales, Bob Carr, told firefighters. “Do whatever you like, and we’ll pass a law to retrospectively fix it up.”
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