How creepy is our own Big G? The day’s talker is the New York Times scoop that our own General Mills “has quietly added language to its website to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, ‘join’ it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways. … after The New York Times contacted it about the changes, General Mills seemed to go even further, suggesting that buying its products would bind consumers to those terms.” One lawyer doubts the most absurd reaches would stand up in court, but the story notes the U.S. Supreme Court has made the prospect less far-fetched.
Meanwhile, St. Louis-based Post is buying Minntonka-based Michael’s Foods, for $2.45 billion, MPR reports. Michael’s is huge into egg-based products; Post is big into Raisin Bran. Michael’s, which was owned by private equity types always looking to cash out, will continue to operate independently
As sure a sign of The Apocalypse as we’ll ever see … . Tom Murphy of the AP reports, “UnitedHealth Group’s first-quarter net income slid 8 percent as fees and funding cuts from the health care overhaul helped dent the performance of the nation’s largest health insurer. UnitedHealth said Thursday it earned $1.1 billion, or $1.10 per share, in the three months that ended March 31. That’s down from $1.19 billion, or $1.16 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose nearly 5 percent to $31.71 billion.” Expect a bake sale soon.
There are more than 3 million job-holders in Minnesota. The AP says, “Minnesota’s labor force now tops 3 million. The Department of Employment and Economic Development showcased the figure Thursday as they released jobs figures for March. Their report says 2,600 jobs were added last month. It left the unemployment rate unchanged from February at 4.8 percent.” Feb’s job numbers were revised downward 1,100.
Dan Linehan of the Mankato Free Press reports on talk about a serious upgrade to St. Peter’s Minnesota Security Hospital. “Lucinda Jesson, the state’s human services commissioner, visited the Regional Treatment Center in St. Peter Wednesday to talk with staff and reporters about the importance of securing state money for a $56 million expansion. ‘A new building won’t solve all of our problems, but it solves some of them,’ she said. The politics of whether the hospital will get its entire request — the recent state House proposal was $15 million short — are difficult to predict.”
On the hunt for Victor Barnard of River Road Fellowship “maidens” infamy: In the Spokane Spokesman-Times, Kip Hill says, “Local law enforcement helped Minnesota investigators tail other suspected members of the group after they refused to answer questions about Barnard. [Barnard’s “right hand man” Craig] Elmblad reportedly told investigators that it was ‘rude to follow people around,’ according to court documents. The parents of a purported victim living in Spokane refused to allow the sergeant entry into their home, according to court documents.”
Dylan Wohlenhaus of KHQ-TV in Washington says, “Pine County Chief Deputy Steven Blackwell tells KHQ’s Dylan Wohlenhaus that they believe Barnard is now living in the Spokane area and ‘gathering’ similar types of followers again. Blackwell says last year the Pine County Sheriff’s Department sent a detective to Spokane to interview some of Barnard’s ‘followers,’ but none would give up his location.” Because … you know … he’s “a man of God.”
The soon-to-be-Super Bowl champion Minnesota Vikings (™ Dan Cole) will probably not get much national TV attention for the next two years. Says Kevin Cusick at the PiPress, “We don’t know yet who will be filling up the slate of NBC’s premium Sunday night package, ESPN’s less-premium Monday night offerings or CBS’ new Thursday night schedule. But you can probably count on one, undeniable fact: You won’t see much of the Vikings in prime time. The dome-less home team is outward bound for two years at TCF Bank Stadium. And scheduling restrictions placed by the University of Minnesota make it virtually certain that the Vikings will not host any night games until they move into their new stadium in 2016.”
Talk about a menace … . Tad Vezner of the PiPress writes, “New charges have been filed against an Edina man, alleging he harassed Minnesota court and law enforcement officials — including several judges — involved in his 1999 rape conviction and had unwanted contact with the victim’s family. Thomas Wayne Evenstad, 48, also stalked or threatened neighbors, a psychologist, the executive director of Minnesota’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a pharmaceutical company CEO who shared his name, Ramsey County prosecutors claim. In almost every case, Evenstad created unwanted websites in his alleged victims’ names — 400 websites in all — often linking to his own blog, where he would berate them … .”
Why do the Weather Gods mock us? Joe Lindberg in the PiPress: “In Isanti, 19 inches of snow had accumulated by 1 a.m. Thursday and 14 inches had fallen in Litchfield. The winter storm dropped its heaviest snow along a line between those two cities and into northwestern Wisconsin, where 14 inches was observed in Drummond, the weather service said. … Between 3 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday, troopers had been called to nearly 137 crashes statewide — 20 involving injuries — in addition to nearly 160 instances of vehicles running off the road.”