- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2007

Noble: Rolling Thunder, the Memorial Day motorcycle rally with a mission to support veterans.

Twenty years ago, Cpl. Ray Manzo and a handful of fellow Vietnam veterans started a group to honor abandoned prisoners of war. Over the years it has evolved into two non-profit organizations that not only host the annual motorcycle rally, but lobby Congress for legislation on POW/MIA issues and provide support to veterans and their families via financial assistance and even health care.

Every year during Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of thousands of bikers travel to Washington to visit memorials, hold vigils and pay their respects to fallen soldiers. This year brought out a record-breaking 300,000 men and women, veterans and civilians, all clad in leather, bandannas and the stars and the stripes to show their support for all who serve and protect our nation. It is also a chance for several Rolling Thunder leaders to meet with President Bush to urge him to step up efforts for finding and rescuing missing soldiers.

Many of the participants are, like the founders, veterans of the Vietnam War who still remember feeling scorned by the nation upon their return from battle. This event is largely about showing those who fight that there are plenty of people back home who appreciate them and won’t let their sacrifices be for naught.

For championing the cause for veterans, Rolling Thunder is the Noble of the Week.

Knave: The puppy scammers, who pretend to sell puppies, but really just steal money.

The American Kennel Club and the Better Business Bureau issued a warning on Tuesday about a scam circulating the Internet. The details vary, but the gist is the same: The scammers advertise pictures of cute puppies who need safe homes. Usually, the story goes that the owner has had to move to Nigeria with the Peace Corps, or some other organization or noble cause, and can no longer take care of the dog. The victim is told the puppy will be free, so long as they pay the shipping costs. After the initial payment, the victim is contacted with some problem: unexpected vaccination costs or trouble clearing customs, and additional fees must be sent. The scammers only communicate via e-mail and once enough money is fleeced out of the victim, they disappear. The victim is out often thousands of dollars and still puppyless.

As with many other scam e-mails that are so prevalent, this scam appeals to people who want to help poor, desperate, homeless puppies. The trick is brilliant, really, and it is working: Over the past several months, complaints have been pouring into the Kennel Club from dozens of victims. Hopefully the puppy scammers will soon be identified and brought to justice.

For taking advantage of good-hearted people, the puppy scammers are the Knaves of the week.

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