Thomas Lee of the Strib notes that beleaguered Best Buy is getting no iPhone 5 mojo this weekend: “Analysts expect iPhone 5 to be a big blockbuster, even though the device offers only relatively modest upgrades like an improved camera, 4G capability, and a longer screen. Unfortunately for Best Buy, Apple’s decision to debut products like iPhone 5 at its own retail chain kind of steals most of the initial sales thunder from BBY stores. Oh sure, Best Buy will sell plenty of iPhone 5s. But one would think they would sell a whole more if Apple chose to debut the phones at a Best Buy. Microsoft is also stretching its retail muscles. The company will reportedly debut its Surface tablets this fall at the roughly two dozen Microsoft stores. And borrowing a page from Target Corp., Microsoft will also open 32 ‘pop-up’ stores at malls and shopping centers this holiday shopping season. (Even Amazon, Best Buy’s online nemesis, plans to open physical stores.) All of this should worry Best Buy.” Doesn’t everything worry Best Buy?
Colleague Katie Humphrey looks at the fan boys and girls camped out for first shot at the gizmo: “Rashard Keen, who estimates he’d wait no more than 20 minutes for lunch, waited all night for the Apple store in Uptown Minneapolis to open Friday morning. He watched a movie on his iPad with those nearby and ordered dinner — delivery, of course, so he could stay in line — from a nearby restaurant. ‘It’s the hype. You fall in love with an item and get addicted to it,’ said Keen, 29. ‘It’s a game, too, to come out here and beat the crowds.’ … ‘They pat each other on the back and say, ‘Aren’t we cool? We’re in this line,’ said Richard Larson, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies queues. ‘Instead of a negative temporary imprisonment forced by somebody else, you and your friends decide to join this and make a social event of it.’ ” The idea of standing in line for anything gives me hives.
The AP reports on another Twin Cities Somali youth returning to fight for al-Shabab: “A Minnesota man recently traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabab, a spokesman for his family said, renewing fears that the terror group is continuing to recruit Somalis living in the U.S. to return to their homeland to fight. The investigation into al-Shabab’s recruitment of young men has been going on for years, and authorities have never ruled out that more men could be traveling from Minnesota — home to the largest Somali population in the U.S. — to join the terror group. Still, there have been no public reports of travelers from Minnesota since 2009, and the investigation has been largely out of public view for more than a year.”
Jennifer Brooks’ Strib story on Our Favorite Congresswoman and the new feel of the 6th District has a few good quotes: “ ‘Privately, many Republican leaders who viewed Bachmann as a bit of a nuisance, but off on her own island, are now starting to see her as a potential threat [who could] rub off on the party’s brand,’ said David Wasserman, who tracks congressional races for the Cook Political Report. Jay Mews, a St. Cloud resident who says he usually gravitates toward independent candidates, went to listen to Graves. ‘Michele Bachmann is the gift that keeps on giving to the press,’ he said. ‘All these crazy conspiracy theories are distracting from the real issues. I’m looking for the real deal,’ said Mews, who is unemployed and who says he’s looking for the candidate with the strongest message on jobs and the economy. After a recent internal Graves campaign poll that showed Bachmann just 2 percentage points ahead, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee bumped the Sixth District into its ‘emerging races’ category and committee chairman Rep. Steve Israel mentioned the race as one that could be a ‘tipping point’ to return the U.S. House to Democratic control.”
Fire restrictions have spread to a quarter of Minnesota’s counties. The AP says: “The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has imposed new fire restrictions in 22 counties as the number of wildfires continues to climb. The DNR says 138 wildfires broke out statewide during the first two weeks of September. That’s more than double the average of 63 for September. The DNR says the severe drought is causing fires that start easily from a spark or windblown ember and then spread rapidly.”
Related … the feds are offering disaster loans in the wake of the drought. From USNewsWire: “The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that federal economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes located in Houston and Winona counties in Minnesota as a result of the drought … ‘These counties are eligible because they are contiguous to one or more primary counties in Wisconsin. The Small Business Administration recognizes that disasters do not usually stop at county or state lines. For that reason, counties adjacent to primary counties named in the declaration are included,’ said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.”
Don’t eat the funky chicken … At the PiPress, Joseph Lindberg writes: “Lunds and Byerly’s grocery stores issued a voluntary recall of specific chicken kabobs, marinated chicken breasts and chicken meal kits, asking consumers to return or destroy those products bought since Sept. 14, according to a release.”
Can you put a price on bullying? Yes, you can. Matthew Stolle of the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports: “The Rochester School Board ratified a settlement this week in a lawsuit brought by Rochester parents who claimed that the district was negligent when it failed to protect their son from the repeated bullying of a classmate. In a three-way settlement, the district agreed to pay $87,500 to the family of Judd and Deanna Grafe, the parents of the middle-school boy who was bullied. That amount was paid by the district’s insurer, Hanover Insurance, on behalf of the district. The Grafes also were paid $32,000 by Spring Valley Mutual Insurance on behalf of the parents, Brian and Delon Bunnell, whose son was accused of doing the bullying. … the Grafes’ son was assaulted by the … student, resulting in a concussion and damage to a cochlear implant that had to be surgically replaced. The boy’s ability to hear in his left ear was also eliminated. At the time of the incident, there was no paraprofessional supervising the boy’s locker room.”
On the one hand, they achieved “everything we set out to do and more,” but on the other, they came up $50 million short. Christopher Magan of the PiPress says: “The Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley is concluding a six-year fundraising campaign and revising its goals for future improvements. The ‘Heart of the Zoo’ campaign raised $76 million, zoo officials said Thursday, Sept. 20, roughly what leaders aimed for when the effort was launched in 2006. ‘We have accomplished everything we set out to do and more,’ said Lee Ehmke, zoo director. Yet Ehmke acknowledged the $76 million raised falls $50 million short of plans that were revised in 2009 to an ambitious three phases with a total goal of $126 million.”