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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 $2589 the week before Perdomo’s attempt. (Chicago Tribune)

Disappearing Act

Following revelations that the federal General Services Administration spent $823,000 of taxpayer money on a lavish Las Vegas conference that included $3200 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 $5000 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. (Washington Post)

What a Concept

Wal-Mart announced that shoppers now may 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 Wal-Mart 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)

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 man-made 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.” (Washington Post)

Holey Home Décor

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. (New York Times)

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Roland Sweet

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Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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