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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Michaels reports 23 Minnesota stores were hacked

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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Arts and crafts retailer Michaels says 23 of its stores in Minnesota including locations in Minneapolis, Bloomington and Eden Prairie, were part of a nationwide data breach last year and the early part of this year.  The Texas-based company estimates the credit and debit card information of two-point-six million customers was compromised.  Hackers stole the card numbers and expiration dates by gaining access to its computer system using highly sophisticated malware that hadn't been encountered previously by the company.  The breach has been stopped, and a year of free identity theft protection and credit monitoring services are being offered to customers through AllClear ID.

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A new report finds that a minimum wager earner would have to work 69 hours a week at 9-50 an hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in the state.  Leigh Rosenberg with the Minnesota Housing Partnership says the most expensive rent is in the Twin Cities area followed by Rochester.  However, she says that when you look at what people actually earn in any given county, often rents are less affordable in Greater Minnesota because people earn less.  

Rosenberg says at 7-25 an hour they would have to work 91 hours a week to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.  The "Out of Reach 2014" report with county-by-county statistics can be found on the Minnesota Housing Partnership's website (mhponline.org) 

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"It's not on a must-do list, but there's a lot of interest in it." That's how D-F-L Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk describes possible legislation on medical marijuana.  Bakk says he thinks it could help many families but the challenge is finding what he calls the "sweet spot" that would mitigate the opposition from law enforcement.  Bakk says if any bills move out of committee, he expects they will come up for a full vote  Lawmakers return to St. Paul early next week.

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A man wanted for kidnapping two people, taking them to a St. Paul house and demanding 30 pounds of meth as ransom is in custody in Los Angeles.  KABC-TV reports Jesus Ramirez was arrested in North Hollywood Thursday evening.  The 31-year-old is facing four kidnapping charges and one robbery county in Ramsey County.  The two victims were beaten earlier this week, and one nearly had a finger cut off.

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Federal agents have over 65 people in custody in a statewide heroin bust.  U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger says the raids were performed by federal and state authorities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Duluth and Rochester and also siezed 250-thousand dollars in cash.  The arrests were the culmination of the first coordinated federal and state busts targeting Mexican drug cartels since traffickers set up shop in the state roughly four years ago  DEA special agent Jack Riley called it a "great day for the good guys in Minnesota" and added they "punched organized crime in the face."

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One of the top opponents of the merger of Comcast and Time-Warner Cable has called on one of the most prominent companies that would be affected by such a deal to weigh in.  Senator Al Franken sent a letter to Netflix, asking company officials to explain if and how Comcast's proposal to buy Time Warner Cable would hurt Internet consumers and other Internet content providers.  Earlier this year, Comcast consumers experienced difficulty streaming Netflix videos, and Comcast required Netflix to pay a charge to alleviate the slowdown. Sen. Franken fears that would become the norm if the merger is approved.  Franken says that would essentially give Comcast control over who gets access to its network of Internet subscribers, which could stifle innovation and prevent the next Netflix or YouTube from coming to market and reaching consumers. 

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A Sauk Rapids man says he'll have mixed emotions when he runs in the Boston Marathon on Monday.  Tim Wright had just finished the race last year, and was about two-and-a-half blocks away from the finish line when the first bomb went off.  His wife Brenda was across the street, and kitty corner, from the second bomb.  He says they plan to go down to Boylston Street prior to the race Monday.  He says he wants to remember what happened, but then focus on the race and have a good time on Monday.  Wright says the Boston Athletic Association has sent out information to the runners on the emotional impact they may encounter.  He says they've also tightened security throughout the course.

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