Target was only a facet of a larger scam? Matt Sepic at MPR says: “The security breach that hit Target Corp. during the holiday season appears to have been part of a broader and highly sophisticated scam that potentially affected a large number of retailers, according to a report published by a global cyber intelligence firm that works with the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security. … Russian words were found in one of the variants of the virus, and parts of the malware were developed by a Russian criminal, said Tiffany Jones, a senior vice president at iSight Partners. ‘That does not in any shape or form indicate or show attribution that the attack or the operation was Russian in origin,’ said Jones.” Nor does it indicate that it wasn’t, right?
Traffic deaths continue to decline in Minnesota. The AP says: “Preliminary reports from the Department of Public Safety show the number of traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads decreased slightly in 2013. DPS’s Office of Traffic Safety says preliminary data shows there were 375 traffic fatalities in Minnesota last year. Once all the data is in, that number is projected to rise to about 385. That’s compared with 395 traffic fatalities for 2012. Officials say the number of traffic-related deaths have declined 34 percent since 2004, when there were 567 deaths on Minnesota roads.”
It’s never good to be poor. In the Strib, Chris Serres writes: “Brittannea Stevenson felt like she had ‘won the lottery’ on the day she qualified for federal rental assistance after a two-year wait. A cashier at a Mankato Wal-Mart, Stevenson imagined finally buying her first car and a new pair of work shoes. She spent 60 grueling days scouring the North Mankato area, by public transit and taxi, for an affordable apartment and a landlord willing to accept her rental voucher, which would cover two-thirds of her rent. But her search ended quite unexpectedly two weeks before Christmas, when her unused voucher was revoked because of budget cuts enacted by Congress last year.”
In the Orchestra settlement aftermath, Russell Platt of the New Yorker writes: “Perhaps the possibility that the city of Minneapolis would take back the free lease on Orchestra Hall that it gives to the Minnesota Orchestral Association might have sped things up a bit. (The vigilant Doug Grow, of MinnPost, saw a few green shoots sprout up in recent days.) … Classical music is a key part of the Western civilization that conservatives so ardently claim to believe in; in its thousand-year history, it has never paid its own way. The amount of funding that the good and the great — the church, the aristocracy, government, corporations, and private donors — have given to the art form’s economy has fluctuated over the centuries, and in different societies, and it will continue to do so in modern, capitalist America.”
In the Supreme Court face-off over the Vikings stadium, Patrick Condon of the AP says: “Plaintiff Doug Mann ‘appears to be a serial litigant, determined to keep asserting meritless claims until this Court, the final arbiter of Minnesota law, definitely disposes of those claims,’ stated a legal memorandum from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. ‘Allowing Petitioners to continue to disrupt, delay and thread the Stadium Project … by endless litigation does not further justice.’. … David Tilsen, a former Minneapolis school board candidate and co-plaintiff, filed a brief arguing that state officials should not have started spending state money on the project before financing questions were settled.”
Fighting over the really big stuff … WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler reports: “Minnesota’s independent state auditor said Thursday that Gov. Mark Dayton broke a law when he took a political trip with a campaign staffer on the state-owned plane. … The problem, according the audit report, is that he improperly brought along his campaign manager — a use of state resources for political purposes.”
Meanwhile … Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib says: “When Gov. Mark Dayton contracted with prominent attorney David Lillehaug in 2011 to handle the legal issues arising out of the state government shutdown, the governor’s office said Lillehaug’s work would be pro bono. The news release announcing the contract defined pro bono as ‘without cost to the state.’ But after that July shutdown ended, the governor agreed to change the contract with Lillehaug. ‘In August 2011, the Governor signed an amendment that changed the engagement from pro bono to billable services,’ a report from the state’s Legislative Auditor said on Thursday. ‘The office paid the firm about $77,000 for those services’.”
A gilded reputation that was more like gold spray paint … . Dave Shaffer of the Strib reports: “One of Minnesota’s legendary business success stories underwent a major revision Thursday at the criminal trial of businessman Robert Walker. Walker, the founder of Select Comfort Corp. in the late 1980s, is accused of cheating investors in an energy company he ran from 2001 to 2011. Along the way, Walker touted to potential investors in the now-defunct Bixby Energy Systems his executive credentials at the Minnesota-based bed company. But a retired investment banker testified in U.S. District Court in St. Paul that Walker brought Select Comfort close to bankruptcy by 1991, and was forced to step down as CEO as a condition for new investment.”
Thanks to Sally Jo Sorensen for tipping me to this one … Julie Buntjer of the Worthington Daily Globe says: “A pair of Worthington High School seniors will be able to attend prom this spring with their same-sex partners, WHS Principal Paul Karelis said Tuesday. … Stephanie Romero and Randy Junker collected more than 100 signatures in just a few hours, and said students, for the most part, were supportive. Some wouldn’t sign the petition due to religious beliefs, and the teens said that was OK. … School officials say there’s never been a written rule to discourage same-sex couples from attending prom.” Some things are getting better faster than others.