Local National Guard ‘recruiting assistants’ under investigation in nationwide scandal

Mark Brunswick of the Strib says, “Three case[s] of potential fraud involving Minnesota National Guard ‘recruiting assistants’ are being investigated as part of a wide-ranging scandal over recruiting that has rocked the National Guard hierarchy nationwide, including two two-star generals and 18 colonels. The recruiting scandal involves tens of millions of dollars and thousands of soldiers and has been described as one of the worst in Army history. National Guard soldiers are accused of taking kickbacks for signing up new recruits.”

At MPR, Catharine Richert and Elizabeth Stawicki take another look at the various MNsure screw-ups and say, “ … behind MNsure’s upbeat façade was a swamp of management failures and tech glitches that would cripple the more than $100 million website. MNsure leaders blamed tight deadlines and evolving federal requirements for the website’s malfunctions. … However, internal MNsure documents and interviews with insurance company officials, county workers and other stakeholders reveal a more complicated story. People interviewed by MPR News say MNsure’s top officials, including former executive director April Todd-Malmlov, were insular and stingy with information and that they ignored advice for improvement. They say MNsure staff was disorganized and often didn’t have answers to their questions.”

Place your bets … A Strib item says, “Canterbury Park and the Leech Lake Bank of Ojibwe announced Wednesday morning that they have reached an agreement to simulcast horse racing at the tribe’s casino in Walker, Minn. … Part of the five-year agreement will use revenue from the northern Minnesota simulcasts to increase live racing purses at Canterbury. Northern Lights Casino would be the first off-track racing venue in Minnesota if approval is granted.”

You’ve heard of one hand paying the other? How about the dead paying the abused? M.L. Johnson of the AP reports, “The Archdiocese of Milwaukee said Wednesday it would set aside $4 million for clergy sexual abuse victims in its bankruptcy reorganization plan and that half the money would be borrowed from a controversial cemetery trust fund. … The more than $50 million trust fund has been the subject of a long court fight with victims who argue the money should be used to pay them. The archdiocese maintains the money was donated for the care of cemeteries and must be used for that purpose.”

Very reassuring. Says Dave Shaffer of the Strib, “Six trains with 100 or more crude oil tank cars pass through the Twin Cities every day, and if one of them wrecks, state and local emergency responders don’t have the equipment needed to put out a catastrophic fire, state and local officials say. To fight a major oil-train fire, local fire departments would need help from railroad emergency crews, officials said.”

It’s kind of like coming out in favor of motherhood, but the Rochester Post-Bulletin says, “The American Association of University Women has been advocating gender equity for more than 130 years. … The AAUW’s efforts will receive a significant boost this spring in the form of legislation called The Women’s Economic Security Act. … The package contains nearly 20 bills aimed at reducing wage disparities between men and women, preventing workplace discrimination, providing more affordable child care and cracking down on domestic violence.”

The Glean This one has a medieval touch to it. The AP says, “A new Senate committee report suggests Minnesota parents have little legal recourse if their children are unjustly restrained or secluded in schools. The report by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was released Wednesday. It says there were 22,000 uses of seclusion and restraint on more than 2,500 special education students in Minnesota in the last year, but each year, only one or two claims go to trial.”

Tom Olsen of the Duluth News Tribune writes, “A car crashed through a guardrail, plunged about 60 feet off a cliff, bounced off a boulder and came to rest just a few feet from Lake Superior near the Lake Breeze Motel Resort. The driver then sat helpless for hours in freezing temperatures, until the wreck was spotted by a good Samaritan early Tuesday morning, according to authorities and the witness.”

The latest on the investigation into the Target data breach: Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib says, “Thieves stole the network credentials from Target’s heating and refrigeration contractor via an e-mail phishing attack sent to the contractor’s employees at least two months before they began hoovering up card data from cash registers, according to the blogger who first revealed the attack. Data security reporter Brian Krebs blogged Wednesday at KrebsonSecurity.com that Target’s breach was set up by a ‘malware-laced e-mail phishing attack’ on employees of Sharpsburg, Pa.-based Fazio Mechanical Services Inc.

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