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Disappearing Act



Curses, Foiled Again
A woman entered a Chicago bank one Thursday and, according to a criminal complaint, handed a teller a note demanding “all of your money, no cops, no dye pack.” The teller told the woman “the bank was closed and that she should come back tomorrow.” She didn’t return on Friday, but on Monday a bank employee who had seen surveillance video of the incident recognized the suspect outside the bank and called police, who arrested Olga L. Perdomo. She was accompanied by Willie Weathersby, whom police identified as having robbed the same bank of $2,589 the week before Perdomo’s attempt. (Chicago Tribune)

A police officer who saw three men walking a dog in the street in Twin Falls, Idaho, told them to move to the sidewalk and then asked one for his identification. The man identified himself as Emiliano Velesco, whose name wasn’t in the police database. Noticing the name “Contreras” tattooed on the man’s forearm, the officer asked the dispatcher to run a check on that name with the date of birth the man had provided. It turned up three outstanding warrants, including one for providing false information, so the officer arrested Dylan Edward Contreras, 19. (Twin Falls’s The Times-News)

Disappearing Act
Following revelations that the federal General Services Administration spent $823,000 of taxpayer money on a lavish Las Vegas conference that included $3,200 for a motivational mind reader, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration canceled its ad seeking a magician to appear at a training conference for agency workers. The solicitation offered $5,000 for a speaker to create a “unique model of translating magic and principals (sic) of the psychology of magic, magic tools, techniques and experiences into a method of teaching leadership.” NOAA officials pulled the notice after media outlets pointed it out. (The Washington Post)

What a Concept
Walmart announced that shoppers may now use cash to pay for online purchases. Shoppers order items online and select the “Pay with Cash” option. They’re given an order number, which they take to any Walmart store within 48 hours and pay for with cash. The ordered item is shipped to the store or the shopper’s preferred address. “Many of our customers shop paycheck to paycheck and are looking for more ways to purchase items online but don’t have the means to a credit, debit or prepaid card,” Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com, explained. (USA Today)

Eternal Gratitude Lasts a Month
When Debbie Stevens, 47, learned that her boss needed a kidney, she offered one of hers. The Long Island resident wasn’t a match for Jackie Brucia, 61, but by donating one of her kidneys to someone in St. Louis, she allowed Brucia to move up on the donor list and receive one from a San Francisco donor. “I felt I was giving her life back,” Stevens said. Less than a month after undergoing surgery, still in considerable pain, according to papers filed with the state Human Rights commission, Stevens said Brucia, who just recovered from her own surgery, began calling to berate her for not coming to work. When she did return, she was transferred to an office in a high-crime neighborhood 50 miles from her home. Stevens said she complained and was promptly fired. “I decided to become a kidney donor to my boss,” Stevens said, “and she took my heart.” (New York Post)

Mixed Signals
Jenna Talackova, 23, was one of 65 finalists in this year’s Miss Universe Canada contest, but organizers disqualified her after learning she was born a man. Competition rules specify that each contestant must be a “naturally born female.” Talackova changed gender when she was 19. Five days later, pageant officials reversed themselves and declared that Talackova could compete provided “she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada,” although the statement didn’t elaborate on what those requirements are. “I have never asked for any special consideration,” Talackova said. “I only wanted to compete.”(CNN)

Reiterating it “is focusing on its core mandate” of providing high-quality medical care, Canada’s defense department acknowledged it is considering eliminating free Viagra and taxpayer-funded transgender surgery for troops. The government began issuing Viagra in 2000 to ensure all soldiers are mentally fit and ready for the battlefield, but officials recently began expressing concern over the rising cost of the drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. Covering some of the cost of transgender surgery stems from the military’s decision to allow gay and lesbian soldiers to serve without fear of reprisal. (The Canadian Press)

Problem Solved
To prepare for the annual meeting of Asian Development Bank Board of Governors, where finance ministers and senior officials from 67 member states seek ways to combat poverty in the Asia-Pacific region, Philippines officials erected a makeshift wall between the airport and downtown Manila so delegates traveling along the route wouldn’t see a sprawling slum along a garbage-strewn creek. “Any country will do a little fixing up before a guest comes,” presidential explainer Ricky Carandang said. (Associated Press)

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
The Heartland Institute, a Libertarian think tank that crusades against believers in climate change, launched a billboard campaign showing Ted Kaczynski and the words, in big orange letters next to the Unabomber’s familiar face, “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” Within hours of the message appearing on an electronic billboard along the Eisenhower Expressway outside Chicago, objections from Heartland’s opponents and supporters alike prompted the institute’s president, Joe Bast, to pull the plug on the campaign, which Heartland’s website said also intended using images of “rogues and villains” Charles Manson, Fidel Castro and Osama bin Laden, who “were chosen because they made public statements about how manmade global warming is a crisis and how mankind must take immediate and drastic action to stop it.” Bast explained the billboard “was a necessary attempt to make an emotional appeal to people who otherwise aren’t following the climate-change debate.” (The Washington Post)

Holey Home Decor
Consolidated Edison reported that thieves posing as utility workers in New York City stole more than 30 manhole covers, some weighing as much as 300 pounds, in March and April, presumably to sell to scrap-metal dealers. “I can’t imagine people are decorating their living rooms with them,” Con Ed official Michael Clendenin said. The power company has more than 200,000 manholes. At current prices for iron, a stolen manhole cover might fetch $30 but costs Con Ed $200 to replace, not counting labor. (The New York Times)

Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.

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