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The winners and the losers: Orem dessert store thwarts scam artist

Published: Thursday, Aug. 27 2015 6:28 p.m. MDT

In this June 28, 2013 photo, Slim the Lineman, left, and Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Jeff Hymas enter The Chocolate in Orem, Utah. When Craig Christiansen, owner of The Chocolate, was contacted by a scammer pretending to be from Rocky Mountain Power, he played along but said he normally pays in Snickerdoodle cookies. On Friday, representatives from Rocky Mountain Power decided to purchase 120 snickerdoodles from Christiansen to thank him for helping to spread the word of how to avoid scammers.  ((AP Photo/Daily Herald, Spenser Heaps) (Spenser Heaps, AP)) In this June 28, 2013 photo, Slim the Lineman, left, and Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Jeff Hymas enter The Chocolate in Orem, Utah. When Craig Christiansen, owner of The Chocolate, was contacted by a scammer pretending to be from Rocky Mountain Power, he played along but said he normally pays in Snickerdoodle cookies. On Friday, representatives from Rocky Mountain Power decided to purchase 120 snickerdoodles from Christiansen to thank him for helping to spread the word of how to avoid scammers. ((AP Photo/Daily Herald, Spenser Heaps) (Spenser Heaps, AP))

Winner: It's nice to hear about potential victims having fun at the expense of a scam artist. The Chocolate in Orem received notice this week that its power was about to be turned off unless immediate payment was rendered. After calling Rocky Mountain Power and being assured he was not delinquent, the owner of the dessert cafe was ready when the con artist made a followup call. After leading the caller along for awhile with silly answers, the owner told the caller he always pays his power bill in snickerdoodles. We much prefer an ending that has the con artist being led away in handcuffs, but this one will do for now.

Winner: Kameron Batchelor may be only 8 years old, but he has a level of awareness and responsibility far beyond his years. While playing at a friend's house this week, he had a feeling he should go to his great-grandmother's house, something he doesn't do very often. When he and his friend knocked on the door, they could hear the woman yelling for help. They were able to summon help for the woman, who had fallen. She suffered a broken hip and was bleeding. Doctors also discovered she has a heart condition. Batchelor said he believes God prompted him to go to the house. Without his quick action, the woman's condition may not have been discovered for a long time.

Winner? The idea of trying to find evidence of intelligent life somewhere other than on earth is an interesting one. Efforts toward that end have been underway in the United States for years, funded privately. Now the British want to get involved, with academics from 11 institutions setting up a network to coordinate their efforts, according to the BBC. The only problem is the group is looking for public funding, proposing the equivalent of about $2 million a year. Given what must be enormous odds against success — in the vast reaches of outer space, locating life forms through radio waves seems a remote possibility — it's an endeavor best left to the private sector.

Loser: What's with all the official coyness at the State Department over whether John Kerry was on his boat last Wednesday? A CBS News producer spotted the secretary of state boarding his boat near Nantucket at about the time protesters in Egypt were ousting President Mohamed Morsi. The State Department immediately denied Kerry was on the boat, saying he was working all day on the Egyptian crisis and labeling the report as "completely inaccurate." Later, the State Department admitted Kerry was on his boat after all, but said it was a brief visit. A spokeswoman then proceeded to list all the things Kerry did during the day, an accounting that sounded a bit defensive. Perhaps it is understandable, in this age of constant criticism, to want to deflect talk of boating excursions in the midst of crises. But government agencies would fare better with the public if they decided to just tell the truth from the start.

Loser: France spent a good deal of this week fulminating in anger over news the United States had been spying on its allies — fallout from the leaks by Edward Snowden. But now the newspaper Le Monde has learned that France has been doing much the same, collecting telephone calls, e-mails, Tweets and Facebook posts coming in and out of France. There is one difference between the French and the United States, however. France, the paper said, collects its information without any pretense of legal authority.

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