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Minnesota joins in suit against Discover card practices

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Dicey shotgun season in Iowa, bioethicists want outside U review, Comcast techno-babble, and a U view to a Kill.
Monday Morning Edition

Minnesota is adding its name to states going after Discover card for what critics call sleazy telemarketing practices. The New York Times blog, “Bucks,” reports: “The lawsuit alleges that Discover Bank and its affiliated processing company made aggressive and misleading telemarketing calls to sign people up for these products, tricking people to sign up for the add-on products and, in some cases, charging consumers for enrollment without agreement from the consumer. This, the state alleges, would have been easier for Discover to do than your standard issue telemarketer since Discover already had access to their credit card numbers.”

The Strib story, by Paul Walsh, says, “Specifically, the suit contends that Discover and an affiliated processing company duped consumers into signing up for:

  • Payment protection, which allows customers to defer payment of their credit card bill in the event of certain hardships. This plan costs $0.89 for every $100 of outstanding balance each month, or $534 per year on a $5,000 balance.
  • Identity theft protection, marketed as assistance in monitoring the customers’ accounts for fraud and unauthorized charges. This costs $12.99 per month.
  • Wallet protection, marketed as helping the consumer report lost or stolen wallets.
  • Credit ScoreTracker, marketed as assistance in monitoring a person’s credit score.”

The practice is reported to have grossed Discover $300 million a year. A Discover spokes-tron is widely quoted arguing that the company’s practices offer its customers “peace of mind.” Because, you know, there are so many SOB sharks out there, its good to know someone is on your side.

If you think thousands of folks slogging the woods with high-powered rifles is scary, you really have to check out shotgun deer season in Iowa. A Minnesota man is among the wounded after the opening weekend. An AP story, by Melanie Welte, says; “[F]ive hunters were hit by shotgun blasts. None of the injuries was life-threatening, officials said. ‘One of the things that’s different about shotgun season, it’s a group or a party of hunters driving deer toward other shooters. There’s a potential for crossfire in those circumstances,’ agency spokesman Kevin Baskins said. Baskins estimated there were 100,000 deer hunters in Iowa on Saturday and Sunday … One hunter was shot in the hip Saturday near Barnes City in Mahaska County in southern Iowa. Gerald Bader, 71, of Federal Dam, Minn., was hunting with a party of 11 when another hunter took a shot at a running deer. Four other deer hunters were injured Sunday. Three were shot by others in their hunting party. The fourth was injured when his shotgun discharged into his foot.” No word if Dick Cheney was in Iowa this past week.

Bioethicists at the U of M want an outside review of a suicide by a young man under the school’s care with anti-psychotic drugs. Evelina Smirnitskaya writes in the Daily: “The case involves the death of Dan Markingson, a man who was committed to the psychiatric wing of Fairview Medical Center in 2003, entered into a clinical trial for an anti-psychotic drug and committed suicide a year later. The incident was largely exposed by the St. Paul Pioneer Press and, some believe, implicates University of Minnesota researchers in ethical lapses. The incident was investigated and cleared by an internal review board and the FDA. The Hennepin County District Court dismissed a lawsuit against the University over the incident. But bioethics professor Carl Elliot, who wrote an article on the incident in Mother Jones magazine [not yet posted] and signed the letter to the regents, believes that University’s original response was insufficient, and would like to see further investigation of the incident.” Susan Perry of MinnPost wrote about the case in August and again today.

Need some techno-babble for dealing with the next Comcast breakdown? Here’s a couple of graphs from the CNET tech website: “The DNS-related glitch that apparently took down service in the Midwest was also responsible for clobbering internet service to customers on the East Coast on November 28. In both cases, Comcast’s DNS servers, which handle the translation between IP addresses and their respective domain names, weren’t working. The fix for … subscribers was to point their computers’ DNS servers to non-Comcast machines, such as those from Google or OpenDNS. For example, Comcast customers who redirected their settings to Google’s public DNS IP addresses of and” So there. Now stop calling customer service.

New Gophers football coach Jerry Kill was introduced this afternoon. Strib beat writer Phil Miller added some good data on his “gridiron GOLD” blog: “Kill is off to a rocky start, though not of his own doing. He’s just not the coach Gopher fans believe they were promised when Tim Brewster was fired, a football equivalent of Tubby Smith. Instead, Joel Maturi’s hire seems to strike fans as Brewster Redux, another take-it-on-faith coach that they’ve never heard of. The venom, most of it directed at the athletic director rather than the coach, is striking. Comments on stories and Gopher websites are overwhelmingly angry, and my inbox was full this morning. (One funny emailer: ‘Ironic that Maturi’s hire exactly describes what I’d like to do to him.’ Yes, the era of Kill puns has begun.) More than 15,000 readers have taken part in the Star Tribune’s online poll, one of the 10 busiest ever (and top five non-Favre-related), and more than two-thirds have selected either ‘Northern Illinois?’ ‘You’re killing me’ or ‘I wanted Mike Leach.’ “

Here’s a link to WCCO’s video of the introduction.

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