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Wells Fargo, Best Buy set job cuts

Reaction to presidential visit; two outdoor music fests off for this year; civil-liberties videotape trial proceeds; Target stock bounces up; Bachmann defends Arizona gay bill; and more.

REUTERS/Mike Segar

And just as they’re planning new office space … Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib says: “Wells Fargo & Co. said Wednesday that it is cutting 700 employees, including 203 in the Twin Cities, as demand for mortgages continues to shrink. The San Francisco-based bank said it notified the employees Wednesday, and that almost all of employees work at the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage campus in south Minneapolis.”

Similarly … Adam Belz of the Strib reports: “Best Buy is laying off about 2,000 employees [Wednesday], a cut of about one percent of its global workforce that comes just a day before it reports quarterly results, according to multiple media reports. The layoff is the latest sign of a change in momentum at Best Buy. After a strong rebound in 2013 from a difficult 2012, Best Buy in January announced that holiday sales came in below expectations and said it would cut jobs in its Canadian stores.”

A couple of local takes on the Prez in St. Paul yesterday … Frederick Melo of the PiPress: “Several hours before Obama spoke, Congressman John Kline, R-Minn., issued a statement saying the president’s ‘fatally-flawed health care scheme … runaway federal spending and deficits are barriers to our economic recovery.’ The president also took some ribbing on Twitter when, less than two hours after his speech, a light rail train car derailed during a test run off Cedar and 12th Street near the Minnesota State Capitol. … ‘President Obama comes to Minnesota, touts how great light rail is, and train goes off the tracks hours later,’ wrote a self-described Minneapolis conservative who goes by the Twitter handle Eye on Politics.”

For MPR, Mark Zdechlik writes: “Obama argued before a friendly, often cheering crowd, that by failing to keep current with transportation projects, the U.S. risks being left behind by other countries that are investing heavily in roads, bridges, rail lines and ports. … But Republicans panned Obama’s visit by slamming the notion that economic stimulus spending does anything to spur job growth and economic development.” The only thing that’ll do that is … tax relief on capital gains.

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Also at MPR, a bit of fact-checking on the President by Catharine Richert: “ ‘As a percentage of GDP, countries like China … are spending about twice what we’re spending in order to build infrastructure.’ There are a few sources to back up this claim. The United States spends roughly 2 percent of its GDP on transportation infrastructure. That’s far less than China, which reportedly spends upwards of 9 percent of its GDP on infrastructure.”    

In outdoor music news … Chris Riemenschneider of the Strib says: “The search for the perfect Twin Cities rock festival goes on, with word that Live Nation’s ambitious River’s Edge and First Avenue’s inaugural outdoor fest both are off the table again this summer. … Eyed by many fans as the likely event to host the long-awaited hometown reunion gig by the Replacements this summer, First Ave’s outdoor bash is still a possibility for future years.”

Your tax money at work … Says Richard Chin in the PiPress: “Andrew Henderson, a Little Canada man criminally charged after he videotaped activities of a sheriff’s deputy and ambulance crew, said he could have settled the case by pleading guilty to a petty misdemeanor and paying a $50 fine. But Henderson, 29, rejected a prosecution offer and insisted on a jury trial, which began Wednesday morning in Ramsey County District Court. Four lawyers were in attendance plus a handful of spectators interested in civil liberties issues.”

That 46 percent drop in net income by Target? Catnip for Wall Street. Renee Dudley of Bloomberg writes: “Target Corp. (TGT) shares jumped the most in more than four years after fourth-quarter profit topped estimates and the retail chain said it was beginning to recover from a data breach that struck during the holiday season. … The results helped allay the concerns of investors and analysts, who didn’t have high hopes for the company after the hacker intrusion tarnished its reputation, said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis.”

Will no one take Our Favorite Congresswoman’s advice? Lucy McCalmont at Politico writes: “Rep. Michele Bachmann says Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer should not veto the controversial bill that is being criticized as being discriminatory against gays and lesbians. … [On CNN] Bachmann argued that the bill would not open the door for more tolerance for the gay community, but in fact it’s people with strong religious beliefs that are being treated ‘differently than other Americans.’ ‘This isn’t one side or another. What we’re talking is tolerance on both sides and it is not tolerant to force people to violate their religious beliefs,’ Bachmann said.” (Brewer vetoed the bill, BTW).