Chinese spy within Cargill pleads guilty to stealing secrets

AFTERNOON EDITION

I’m willing to bet this sort of thing goes on a lot more often than we ever hear. Tom Webb of the PiPress reports: “Cargill thought it was hiring a biotech specialist in 2008 for one of its Twin Cities research labs. Instead, it unknowingly hired a Chinese spy. The U.S. Justice Department revealed Tuesday that Kexue Huang, a Chinese national, has pleaded guilty of stealing secret information from Cargill and from a second U.S. agribusiness, Dow AgroSciences. In both cases, Huang then passed those secrets back to China. To the Justice Department, the case illustrates ‘the continuing threat’ from corporate espionage, particularly involving China. And as that threat grows, federal prosecutors are vowing greater emphasis on uncovering and prosecuting it. But the Cargill case also shows that corporate spying takes many forms. … Kexue “John” Huang, 46, came to work at Wayzata-based Cargill after five years as a research scientist at Dow. What agribusiness giant Cargill didn’t know was that Huang had a history of stealing Dow’s secrets — including five instances of taking property and a dozen thefts of trade secrets, according to his indictment. He sent those secrets to potential competitors in China, sometimes through Germany. According to his plea agreement, Huang was working in Minnesota in 2008 when he learned of a secret Cargill project ‘to create a new food product.’ “

A jury today convicted the two Somali women of aiding terrorists. Amy Forliti of the AP reports: “The jury deliberated about 20 hours after getting the case at the end of the day Monday. Amina Farah Ali, 35, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 64, were each charged in federal court with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Ali also faced 12 counts of providing such support, for allegedly sending more than $8,600 to the group from September 2008 through July 2009, while Hassan faced two counts of lying to the FBI. Both were found guilty on all counts. The terrorism-related counts each carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, while each count of lying to the FBI carries up to eight years. No sentencing date was set. … Ali stood before the judge after the verdict and spoke defiantly. ‘I am very happy,’ she said through an interpreter, saying she knew she was going to heaven. She condemned people in authority who accused her of wrongdoing and anyone who is against Muslims, saying, ‘you will go to hell.’ “

As our Brad Allen is reporting here, Minnesota’s unemployment rate dropped even as mostly private sector employers were cutting 7,400 jobs. Over at MPR, Paul Tosto collects several recent MPR stories on employment trends and a few interesting graphs. He writes: “3.) Minnesota’s wealth relative to other states is waning. MPR News reporter Annie Baxter recently put the state’s economic situation into broad view. ‘No matter how you look at the data, we are declining very rapidly or we’re in stagnation,’ said Kyle Uphoff, an analyst at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. ‘Neither situation is one we like to be seeing.’ “

As though anyone here ever forgets … Emma Brady at Yahoo! has a story titled “The 5 Worst Moments of All Time for Minnesota Vikings’ Fans.” See if any of this is familiar: “1998 Playoffs Missed Field Goal: Two words mean more to any die hard Vikings fan than any others — wide left. They could mean just about anything to fans of other NFL teams, but to a true Vikings fan they can only refer to the missed field goal in the 1998-1999 playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons. The team had been nearly perfect with a record of 15-1. Nobody was more perfect that year than the team kicker, Gary Anderson, who had made every single extra point and field goal attempt all year. The game came down to Anderson’s golden foot. His first miss of the year went barely wide left ending the Vikings Super Bowl hopes for the season. Love Boat Scandal: The Minnesota Vikings have long prided themselves for the positive impact they have on the local community. The players dealt a slap in the face to that reputation in 2005 with the famed “Love Boat Scandal.” A group of players and team personnel allegedly took part in a wild night of partying on Lake Minnetonka which included call girls, strippers, and acts of public debauchery. The night ended with a police investigation and a public relations nightmare for the team.”  Personally, I think the “Sexting While Wearing Crocs” episode deserves some kind of “Worst.”

Well, there are 54 less moose out there to lumber out in front of your Chevy Aveo. Sam Cook at the Duluth News Tribune writes: “Minnesota moose hunters killed 54 moose in the state’s annual hunt, which ended Sunday. A total of 94 parties took part in the two-week hunt in Northeastern Minnesota, yielding a success rate of 58 percent, the highest in several years, said Tom Rusch, Department of Natural Resources area wildlife manager at Tower.The state’s moose population has been declining steadily, and Rusch was encouraged that hunters had success in the bulls-only hunt.” Of course, I’m thinking there are also 54 wives saying, “You are NOT mounting that thing in my living room.”

If the Pentagon can do it with Blackwater/Xe, why can’t little Foley, Minn.? A St. Cloud Times story by Kari Petrie says: “On Tuesday, Foley City Council members unanimously approved hiring a private security company to provide 24-hour service to the city. The city will enter a six-month contract with General Security Services Corp. for $98,500. Mayor Gary Gruba said Foley is the first city he’s heard of that has used a private security company. But he said he has heard other cities are looking at the option to save costs. Since 2003, the city has paid Benton County to have three deputies patrol the city for 17.1 hours a day. The council voted earlier this month to reject a new contract from the county to provide police services for 2012. The county had proposed a contract for 2012 that would cost $23,426 a month for three deputies. This year the city is paying $24,694 a month. Cuts in Local Government Aid mean the city has to look at all areas to make cuts, council member Dean Weber said.”

My apologies for not linking to this this morning. The state Legislature’s least publicity-shy member, Steve “The Draz” Drazkowski, is described as a “GOP leader” above his Strib commentary on taxpayer funding of a Vikings stadium. These parts are good: “With state government having just solved a $5.1 billion budget deficit, and with another budget shortfall likely upcoming … Does taking money from the wallets of Minnesota’s taxpayers and giving it to billionaire owners and millionaire players truly qualify as extraordinary? Nowhere in the state Constitution does it say that Minnesotans should be forced to spend money to improve the economic well-being of a private business owner. … These kinds of behaviors in the past have led to the state’s current financial bind. … Dayton thinks we’re facing a fourth-and-long situation, and may be ready to go for it — with a special session that would address this stadium debate in the coming weeks. If so, we hope he’s watching the scoreboard. He needs 68 out of 134 votes in the Minnesota House for a stadium bill to be approved. If the legislation contains funding arrived at through additional taxes, we guarantee the governor is already trailing 16-0.” The Draz co-wrote the piece with Kathy Lohmer of Lake Elmo, and the names of 14 other GOPers are attached.

TCF Bank was off 14 percent from a year ago. Jackie Crosby’s Strib report says: “The company on Thursday reported third-quarter profits of $36.9 million, or 20 cents per share, missing analysts’ expectations by 1 cent. Net interest income rose 1.3 percent to $2.3 million, driven by reductions in deposit rates, reduced interest expense on long-term borrowings and interest on loans. CEO William Cooper highlighted a decrease in operating expenses and improvements in credit metrics as reasons for the bank’s 66th consecutive quarter of profitability. Like other financial institutions, TCF is bracing for a hit from new debit card rules, which cap fees banks can collect. The regulations are expected to reduce revenue by about $15 million in the fourth quarter, the company said. TCF does say it does not plan to charge consumers an added fee for using their debit card, joining U.S. Bancorp.”

The wrong color of concrete, really? Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes, “The jackhammering going on at Fourth and Robert streets in downtown St. Paul isn’t business as usual for work crews on the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line. It’s a do-over. Walsh Construction and its subcontractors have been embedding track in black concrete down 4th Street, as per the city’s request, to delineate it from the roadway. The city, however, asked that the embedded track through intersections be white to match the roadway there. That way, drivers understand they can drive across the track at intersections. Walsh and its subcontractors put down the wrong color in the westernmost portion of 4th and Robert, said Laura Baenen, a spokeswoman for the Central Corridor project.” But, you know, on second thought maybe it’d look better in puce.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/20/2011 - 06:33 pm.

    I suspect Gov. Dayton is just trying to call the bluff of the Republicans and create a deeper rift between the Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Republican Party,…

    and the general population and the Minnesota Republican Party.

    In other words, he’s going to do everything a governor can reasonably do to enable a stadium deal knowing that, in the end, it is the Republicans who control the legislature who either take the hit,…

    for letting the Vikings leave town (if they even do),…

    or take the hit for spending state taxpayer money on a new stadium for rich people while, at the same time, cutting and demanding more cuts in programs on which the poor and middle class increasingly depend for their survival in this lousy economy.

    This is clearly a no-win situation for the Republicans. By refusing to try to facilitate a stadium deal, the governor would only be taking away some of the rope the Republicans are going to use to hang themselves (figuratively) in preparation for the fall, 2012 elections.

    I can’t imagine why he’d want to do that.

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