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Public Safety head: Tracking device can’t monitor cell calls, texts, emails

Kluwe mellows on coach Priefer’s fate; sports store may need new home; U of M gets new Liberal Arts dean; Optum to aid MNsure; Macy’s cutting 2,500 jobs; Summit repackaging beer bottles; and more.

As innocent as the NSA … Stribber Abby Simons says: “Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman has assured lawmakers that a controversial device that tracks cell phone users does not have the ability to monitor specific data like voice calls, text messages or e-mails. … Instead of a search warrant, a less-stringent court order is obtained ‘in the vast majority of cases’ when the technology is used. A court order is bypassed in some cases involving the threat of imminent harm such as abductions. The devices use identification data similar to a serial number to track a ‘target telephone’ and don’t observe or follow other phones on the network.”

Yeah, maybe just a little … At ESPN, Kevin Seifert writes: “Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe said Tuesday night that he ‘may have been a little too harsh originally’ in calling for the end of his former coach’s career. In an appearance on ‘Fox Sports Live,’ Kluwe said he hopes that Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer can instead make ‘legitimate change’ in his views on gay rights and be a role model once resuming his career. … ‘After thinking about it, after reflecting on it, I don’t think an appropriate punishment is if he never coaches again,’ Kluwe said during his appearance. ‘I think it would be better if he got therapy, if he got counseling, and then a year or two from now, come back into the league as a role model, help out with LGBT groups, and show people that this is an important issue.’ ”

In other sports news … . Tyler Mason of Fox Sports writes: “Since 1986, [Ray]  Crump has housed his keepsakes in a museum within his merchandise store across the street from the Metrodome. But with the stadium soon to be torn down in place of a new Vikings stadium, Dome Souvenirs Plus — and, along with it, Crump’s museum — may need to find a new home. Business has slowed since the Twins left the Dome for Target Field in 2010.”

Not sure what this number really proves … But Adam Belz of the Strib reports: “People filed papers for 58,260 new Minnesota businesses in 2013, the third-highest annual total in history and a 4 percent decline from last year, the Secretary of State’s office reported Tuesday. … Minnesota’s 2013 business filings represent a 17.5 percent increase from 10 years ago, [Mark] Ritchie’s office said. Business filings are tricky as an economic indicator. When some 63,338 entrepreneurs started businesses in Minnesota in 2009, it was the highest total ever. It was also the bottom of the recession.” My guess is 20,000 of those are yoga studios.

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There’s a new dean at the U of M. Maura Lerner of the Strib writes: “John Coleman, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, has been named the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. Coleman, who has been chair of the political science department at Wisconsin since 2007, is slated to head the U’s largest college starting July 31, pending approval by the Board of Regents.”

Well, we know they have all the resources they need … Jackie Crosby’s Strib story says: “UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s data services subsidiary Optum, which came to the rescue of the federal health insurance exchange in November, is now stepping in to help resolve continuing problems with MNsure. About 15 Optum staffers arrived Wednesday morning at MNsure, the state’s insurance exchange, for a two-day assessment of the agency’s website and call center operations. MinnPost’s James Nord has MNsure coverage here and here.

The GleanAnd thank you for your holiday service to the team … Anne D’Innocenzio of the AP reports: “Macy’s Inc. is cutting 2,500 jobs as part of a reorganization to sustain its profitability. Shares rose 5.5 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday. The announcement comes on the heels of a strong holiday shopping season for the department store chain, which also runs the higher-end Bloomingdale’s chain. Macy’s said the moves will save it $100 million per year and forecast a 2014 profit above Wall Street’s forecasts.”

Will the beer taste better from bottles that “tell visual stories”? A Mike Hughlett Strib story says: “Summit beer will have a new look this year, its packaging art freshened with visuals depicting Minnesota landmarks and the craft brew’s ingredients. … Summit partnered with Minneapolis-based Duffy & Partners, a corporate design shop, to develop ‘visual stories’ to grace bottles of beer. For instance, Summit Red IPA’s label includes a canoe on a serene lake with a hop bud as the sun.” How about one that shows a ’93 Nissan buried nose-first in a frozen slush heap?

The always entertaining Sally Jo Sorensen lays out a CARE member in her Bluestem Prairie blog: “ ‘JR,’ most likely James Rugg, co-chair of the Central Minnesota Tea Party as of 2011, is sick and tired of pandering to the ‘politically correct,’ and lets his illness rip in There Is Such a Thing as Right and Wrong, the latest post on the Republican candidates-must stop organization’s blog. … A longtime Republican activist, James Rugg was a member of  “Citizen Awareness of the Restructuring of Education” (CARE), which aligned with EdWatch in opposing school-to-work programs, the Profiles of Learning, early childhood education and No Child Left Behind.” There’s no one better than Sally Jo at connecting subterranean characters to their various causes and organizations.