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Lots of targets: Target stores and big-screen TVs

PLUS: The Great “Flying Imams” Case, “replica” watches and reluctant shoppers.

Target is taking a shot from something called The Cornucopia Institute, based in Wausau, Wis., for advertising soy milk as “organic” when it really isn’t. Not exactly dioxin in baby food, you say. But our favorite gargantuan retailer couldn’t have been pleased with headlines in places like progressive Huffington Post shrieking, “Target Accused of Organic Food Fraud.” Ouch! The AP had the first story, with verbiage like this: “Supporters of organic products say the Target incident is part of a growing problem of corporate agribusiness and major retailers blurring the line between natural food products and those grown organically and properly certified as such.” The Cornocopia crowd has gone after Wal-Mart in the past for getting cute with “organic” labeling in its’ stores. Which reminds me, have you heard about Dodge’s new organic mini-vans?

We’ll have to wait until Sunday for Katherine Kersten’s reaction
to a settlement in the Great “Flying Imams” case. After months of flogging the story of those Muslim clerics getting bounced off a U.S. Airways flight here in Minnesota for “suspicious” behavior, Kersten sadly is no longer on regular duty at the Strib. That leaves it to Paul Walsh and James Walsh to report that “One of the imams, Marwan Sadeddin of Phoenix, told the Associated Press that the settlement does not include an apology but he considers it an acknowledgment that a mistake was made. He said he couldn’t divulge the terms because both sides had agreed not to discuss them publicly. ‘It’s fine for all parties. It’s been solved. … There is no need for a trial.’ ” Considering the role one of their columnists played in keeping air under the imams’ wings, we note that the Strib story says only that, “The case sparked ongoing debate about the power of law enforcement to override personal rights in the name of security.”

Well, it’s official, almost. Alcohol was involved in the seven-hour stand-off/shooting in Hudson Saturday. Andy Rathbun of the PiPress emails a neighbor, who says of the gunman, currently recuperating from multiple gunshot wounds: “I really believe that this tragedy would have never happened if alcohol weren’t involved. I think he was making an honest attempt to get sober.” Just speculation here, but we’re thinking the guns and boxes of ammo didn’t help matters much either.

Sioux City Journal political reporter Bret Hayworth blogs about chatting up Michele Bachmann who was in his town for an event with Iowa Congressman Steve King. “I asked Bachmann if she is being prodded to seek the 2012 presidency, given her growing national profile. She said she has no doubts the GOP will produce a good crop of  presidential candidates, and threw out King as a name of interest. ‘Steve King [in the news last month for declaring that same-sex marriage is “a purely socialist concept”] is mentioned as a potential nominee. I have a very high opinion of Steve King and his ability, so I would encourage him to consider any position for higher office,’ Bachmann said. As for herself, Bachmann said, ‘Goodness, I’ve only been in the House for three years, so, no, I’m not considering anything like that.’ ” Goodness, indeed.

The Wall Street Journal’s “Bankruptcy Beat” blog credits WCCO-TV with blowing the whistle on the latest Denny Hecker auction … for peddling fake wristwatches. You know, like those guys in Times Square used to sell … A local collector tipped ‘CCO that some of Denny’s oft-mentioned collection of high-end time pieces looked a bit less lustrous than one would expect. “After calling the watch manufacturers with the serial numbers, [the collector] found out that some were phonies. Hecker’s lawyer acknowledged that some are replicas.” (Emphasis mine.) The Hecker saga has gone so far past the point of “you can’t make this stuff up” that I wouldn’t be shocked if the next thing someone tells me is that you don’t really need the extra rust-proofing and that the floor mats come with the car.

Congressman Keith Ellison has pulled in more money from California than he has from Minnesota, according to a piece up at Smart Politics. “Ellison has raised money from the largest number of out-of-state big money donors (290) and 84.2 percent of his itemized individual campaign funds have come from outside the Gopher State, second only to Oberstar at 90.0 percent.” The story adds: “But what is most striking about the yearly campaign finance numbers is that Ellison continues to raise money from Californians at nearly twice the pace from those in his home state. In 2009, Ellison has raised $57,290 in individual itemized contributions from California, or 29.2 percent of his total large donor contributions. That is $26,000+ more than he has raised this year from Minnesotans ($31,000 or 15.8 percent).”

One of the more amusing sights in public affairs is that of officials rushing to the cameras in a slam-dunk win-win situation. The major scandal of those big, pricey TVs installed at the new sex offender facility up in Moose Lake had everyone capable of a quote expressing — cue Foghorn Leghorn — outrage! indignation! and righteous dismay! As lead dismayer, Gov. Pawlenty got in his two bits, telling the waiting press gaggle, “We don’t micromanage our agencies at the level of every little item that they purchase or use, but in this case we are going to micromanage it. I think it was a boneheaded decision.” Dang, but you gotta admire people with the courage to make the tough call. Here’s Jason Hoppin’s story from the PiPress.

The possibility that consumer shopping habits have changed permanently has enormous consequences for everyone, not just advertiser-supported media. Local powerhouse SuperValu, staring at a 42 percent drop in profit in the second quarter of this year — and they sell food, not Prada hand bags — has its CEO making plans for major changes. Sarah Skidmore in Finance and Commerce writes: “After reporting another brutal blow to its bottom line, the company said it plans to double the number of Save-A-Lot discount stores it operates, cut prices in all its stores and reorganize its operations.” The boss, Craig Herkert, is quoted saying, “My sense is the American consumer’s shopping habits have changed probably forever, certainly for a long time, and I don’t think we are going to wake up in a few months and everybody will be back to 2006.” Do you think?

MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner blogs that there’s a “71% chance of a warmer than average winter”. This is based on numbers crunched by NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] predicting a “moderate El Nino” … not someone counting the stripes on caterpillars. Says Huttner, “Five of seven moderate El Nino winter have featured mild temperatures. That’s 71.4% of the time. The sum total is winter temps 3.1 degrees warmer than average in moderate El Nino years.” Fine, just as long as there’s snow when and where I want it.

Although his years in the front office and on the bench with the Timberwolves were, shall we say, less than successful, Hall of Famer Kevin McHale has picked up a new gig, analyzing NBA games from the main desk for TNT. So says Judd Zulgad in the Strib. “McHale will make his debut on opening night, at 4 p.m. Tuesday, when NBA TV will carry a two-hour studio show, leading into TNT’s coverage.” Wait a minute, “opening frickin’ night”? Didn’t last season end a week ago?