Target training manual draws snickers

Arguably, no company’s training manual should ever see the light of day … or the eyes of anyone with a sense of humor. The Daily Mail in Britain has its fun ridiculing the official Target manual: “Target has a plan to take on the growing competition of online giant Amazon — and it all rests on making their employees ‘amazing.’  The staff guide to becoming an ideal Target employee [has] been leaked online, packed full of corporate buzzwords and cringe-worthy customer service tips. The training manual — entitled ‘Welcome To Amazing’ — provides workers with a script to follow, making sure that customer service is top notch. … Store executives have then helpfully outlined what exactly classifies as an ‘amazing moment’ for staff. A moment is when we look up from what we are doing to say hi to the guest that just came down the aisle … Amazing is how the whole family feels when we sincerely offer help,‘ it reads.”  Has any sour, crusty, cynical ex-newspaper wretch ever gone to work for Target?

Minnesota’s Mosaic, the world’s largest fertilizer operation — insert joke — had a disappointing quarter. Bloomberg’s Christopher Donville says: Mosaic “reported fiscal first-quarter profit and revenue that missed analysts’ estimates amid ‘soft’ potash demand in China and India while adverse weather curbed phosphate shipments. Net income fell 18 percent to $429.4 million, or $1.01 a share, in the three months to Aug. 31, from $526 million, or $1.17, a year earlier, Plymouth, Minnesota-based Mosaic said today in a statement. That trailed the $1.15 average of nine estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales slid 19 percent to $2.51 billion, less than the $2.69 billion average of 14 estimates. … ‘We saw soft demand in India and China, and in response, we slowed production’ of potash, Chief Executive Officer Jim Prokopanko said in the statement. Phosphate production ‘was impacted by longer annual maintenance shutdowns and challenges posed by hurricanes.’ ” I hope this doesn’t impact the guano futures I bought.

Like “naked,” add the word “terrorist” to any headline and a news story travels far and wide. Amy Forliti’s AP story on opening arguments in the local al-Shabab trial can be found in papers coast to coast. She says, “Mahamud Said Omar, 46, faces five terror-related counts. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Kovats said during his opening statements that the case is about a pipeline of men and money between Minnesota and al-Shabab, a U.S.-designated terrorist group linked to al-Qaida that is blamed for much of the violence in Somalia. Omar’s defense attorney, Andrew Birrell, told the jury that the mosque janitor never conspired against the United States, and the evidence will show he is not guilty. ‘He has never organized anything,’ Birrell said.”

The AP also reports:Gov. Mark Dayton has directed a team of Minnesota National Guard members to northwestern Minnesota to help with firefighting efforts. A crew of 13 soldiers and two Blackhawk helicopters arrive at the Thief River Falls Airport Tuesday to help suppress a fire that’s consumed about 700 acres near Fourtown. The Army Aviation Support Facilities from St. Paul is providing aircraft and a fuel truck. Army Capt. Jed Gadient says the soldiers train for proficiency in water bucket operations approximately twice a month from spring to late fall in order to be ready for missions such as this.”

The GleanTony Kennedy of the Strib offers up names and some background on the group proposing the country’s largest frac-sand mining operation … in Minnesota: “Of all the frac sand proposals floating around in southeastern Minnesota right now, there’s one that could become a catalyst for large-scale mining activity. The Star Tribune traveled to St. Charles, Minn., to report on the plan by Minnesota Proppant LLC, a self-described group of ‘hunting buddies’’ who would build a $55 [million] – $70 million frac sand processing complex as big as any in the country.”

This “rogue nurse” isn’t funny in the least. Maura Lerner at the Strib writes: “State investigators have linked the death of a patient to the case of a former nurse who allegedly spread a bacterial infection while stealing narcotics from a surgical ward at St. Cloud Hospital almost two years ago. In a report released Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that one patient died within two days of contracting the unusual infection, which apparently was spread by contaminated IV bags. In addition, at least five other patients required intensive care after they were exposed to the same bacteria, the report said.”

Have you seen this video of Channel 8 TV anchor Jennifer Livingston in LaCrosse responding to a viewer e-mail chastising her for being obese? She’s received a lot of well-deserved “atta girl” reaction.

Many farmers in the region — despite the drought — are going to have a really good year. On the website Harvest, Frank Morris writes: “In some parts of the lower Midwest, water-starved crops have collapsed, but the farmers have not. Farmers across the country are surviving, and many are even thriving. This year, despite the dismal season, farmers stand to make exceptionally good money, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ‘Here in 2012, USDA expects net farm incomes to reach their second-highest level on record,’ said Jason Henderson of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. There are a few reasons for these incredible gains after the brutal drought. For one, with fewer crops being produced, the prices of those crops skyrocketed. ‘Crop prices, grain prices, oilseed prices, wheat prices — prices are very, very high,’ said Dave Swenson, who teaches economics at Iowa State University.”

Finally, a sad note: A genuinely decent guy, John Finnegan, has passed away. At the PiPress, Bob Shaw writes: “A First Amendment hero has died. John R. “Jack” Finnegan, a former editor of the Pioneer Press and champion of open government, was 87. He died about 2:40 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, after a long struggle with cancer, said his son John Finnegan Jr. Finnegan was nationally known as an advocate for open meetings and open-records laws. He not only won a string of awards for his efforts, but he also had one named after him, the Finnegan Freedom of Information Award, given by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information. He was a celebrated newsman. When he became editor, he set out to win the newspaper’s first Pulitzer Prize — and the paper won two of them before he retired. ‘He was a guy that everyone ought to know,’ said Don Gemberling, an attorney who worked with Finnegan on various open-meeting laws. ‘He was really engaging, thoughtful, bright and in many ways modest.’ ” The business could use a couple of hundred more like John.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Jim Camery on 10/02/2012 - 03:18 pm.

    Blackhawks to Karlstad

    Considering that the Blackhawks come off the line at $5.9 million for the Army version and $10.2 million for the Air Force, that’s some very expensive firefighting equipment (and expensive PR for the Guard). If we don’t need equipment and forces for what they were designed for, we shouldn’t be buying them. Its crazy inefficient to be using the Guard for fighting floods and fires.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/02/2012 - 04:27 pm.

      What are the Guards for?

      I don’t know whether the Blackhawks were necessary to fight the recent fire, but if the Guard shouldn’t be used for fighting floods and fires, what should the Guards be used for? I, personally, see fighting floods and fires to be a perfectly suitable use of the National Guard. In fact, this is a major component to the duties of the National Guard. http://www.nationalguard.com/guard-basics/what-is-the-national-guard-s-mission

      (On the other hand, I don’t believe that the National Guard should be sent over seas, particularly to war. Despite my opinion, though, the National Guard is technically a reserve for the full-duty military and can be used for such duties.)

      If certain equipment is necessary for the safety of the guardsmen and women performing their duties, then such equipment should be used. As I said, I can’t speak to this example, but I can certain believe that Blackhawk helicopters being used to combat a wildfire is definitely appropriate in some circumstances.

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 10/02/2012 - 05:51 pm.

      It’s Normal

      From the document cited by Rachel, discussing the mission of the Guard:

      “…This may include community efforts, responding to wildfires or floods.

      …So, what does the National Guard do? Whatever is needed, wherever it is needed.”

      There is a long tradition of Governors mobilizing the Guard to respond to natural disasters. This is entirely normal and appropriate – as it should be, since it’s part of their mission.

      As for the Blackhawks, since they’re not being used to repel invading Canadians, they may as well be put to constructive use, eh?

      I really don’t know why anyone runs for public office. No matter what you do, you’ll be the object of mud throwing from the cheap seats. If Dayton did nothing about this fire, and it grew out of control, the complaint would be, “why didn’t the Governor *do* something?”

      *sigh*

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/02/2012 - 06:03 pm.

      How Soon We Forget

      That part of the difficulty of dealing with Hurricane Katrina was that the high water vehicles normally stationed at National Guard facilities across the Gulf Coast were all in Iraq (useful for patrolling and crossing rivers and canals in Baghdad and elsewhere).

      I have relatives in Northwestern Minnesota and am grateful that the MN national guard has equipment and troops available for such emergency aid at this time. There was a time, when the Red Bulls were all in Iraq for the longest National Guard deployment since WWII that such might not have been the case.

      The purpose of the National Guard (together with the military reserve forces), other than dealing with natural disasters at home, is as a backstop for our troops on foreign soil when local skirmishes fire up into regional conflicts (or worse).

      They can be called up on short notice, when necessary, and deployed far more rapidly than new recruits. To fulfill such duty, they need reasonably recent technology.

      If you’d like to criticize the purchase of military hardware at exorbitant expense, the Nation Guard is not the place start. Rather, contact the senators and congresspersons of states and congressional districts where manufacturers of military hardware are based, especially those senators and congresspersons who keep trying to force the military to buy new technology at outrageous prices just to benefit their defense contractor friends, especially when the leaders of the various service branches claim they don’t even need, nor do they want that technology.

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