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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Feds offering details to retailers how Target data breach took place

WASHINGTON D.C. - The federal government is arming retailers with tech specifics on how a major data breach like the recent one at Minneapoili-based Target could happen. 

Cyber security experts involved in preparing the confidential report released Thursday believe its contents could help merchants detect and shut down cyber attacks that may already be in progress.  They say the Target hackers likely used point-of-sale malware to attack store cash register terminals.  The hackers also made use of memory-parsing software to grab encrypted data as it travels through a computer's live memory in the form of plain text.  The software cannot be detected by anti-virus software on Windows-based cash registers.  Target has disclosed cyber thieves stole 40-million customer credit and debit card numbers and the personal data of 70-million additional customers during the holiday shopping season.


Two women from Fargo are lead plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Minneapolis-based Target for a data-security breach that affected over a hundred-million Americans.  Documents filed in federal court state Alissa Farol and Frances Lundblad used credit or debit cards at the Fargo Target store between November 27th and December 15th.  Attorney Todd Miller says the class-action suit, seeking five million dollars in damages, could potentially include every Target shopper in North Dakota.  Target has apologized for the data breach, which the company says affected 110 million customers.


The man found lying injured on a Babbitt street on Monday may have been killed by his girlfriend's adult son.  24-year-old Shawn Doherty is charged with second degree murder in the strangulation death of John Bulen.  According to charging paperwork, Doherty's mother told investigators that her son told her the night before John Bulen was coming between them and that he planned to kill him.  The 55-year-old was found unconscious in the street, wearing only underwear and a T-shirt.  Bulen was pronounced dead at the hospital.


The weekly update from the Minnesota Health Department shows influenza activity in the state remains widespread.  There were 186 reported flu related hospitalizations last week, about the same as the previous week.  There was only one report of a probable flu outbreak in a school, but there were five reports of confirmed flu outbreaks in nursing homes and other longterm care facilities.  The percentage of people seeking medical care at clinics for flu like symptoms declined, thuogh, for a second straight week.


A Pennsylvania man who was visiting Rochester told police that he lost a considerable amount of money to a prostitute who came to his downtown motel room.  The 54-year-old man says he paid the woman after their "transaction" was complete and she left, but she left her own motel key behind.  The victim says he took the key to the lobby and gave it to the woman but when he returned to his room he discovered his tablet and laptop were missing - along with $10,000 in cash. The man told police he had the large amount of cash because he is an avid poker player."


A Rochester man has been sentenced to three-years in prison for a botched armed robbery last July. 27-year-old Cordale Clark pled guilty to a simple robbery charge, admitting that he confronted a Rochester homeowner in his garage and tried to rob him at gunpoint.  Prosecutors say Clark took off running after the victim knocked the gun out of his hand.  Police were able to ID him as the robber because he left behind a broken necklace with his name and date of birth engraved on it. 


Most of Minnesota is under a windchill advisory until 11 a.m., with cold and blustery winds dropping the feels-like reading to 20-to-30 below zero, and the wind will stick around and create more problems tomorrow.  A winter weather advisory begins tonight (Fri) at midnight, with another burst of snow expected.  It will only add another inch or two in most spots but forecasters with the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen says the 30-to-45 mile per hour winds will create areas of blowing and drifting, making for tough travel tonight and into Saturday.  Southeast Minnesota is expected to be hardest hit, with 3-to-4 inches of snow expected to fall along and just west of the Mississippi.


One of the victims in a deadly shooting rampage inside an Indiana supermarket Wednesday night has ties to Minnesota.  Indiana State Police Sergeant Trent Smith says 44-year-old Rachelle Godfread was shot multiple times and killed when a gunman opened fire inside the Elkhart, Indiana grocery store where she was shopping.  She was married to Dan Godfread, who played basketball in the NBA - in the 1990-'91 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Police responded to the scene within minutes of the initial call, and found 22-year old Shawn Bair holding the store manager at gunpoint.  He had already killed a 20-year-old female employee and Godfread.  Police were forced to shoot Bair when he approached them with a gun and a knife.  So far no clear motive has been identified.


Authorities arrested an 18-year-old male Thursday after a written bomb threat was found at the Esko School Tuesday afternoon.  Officials won't say whether he's a student at the school.  Students were evacuated after the threat was discovered and police brought in bomb-detection dogs, but no bomb was found.  Felony terroristic threats charges are pending against the teen. 


Plans for the state's first copper-nickel mine in Hoyt Lakes were the focus as supporters and opponents turned out in force last night in Duluth for a hearing on the recently-released environmental impact statement.  Dave Lislegard with the group Jobs for Minnesotans says it's a thorough review addressing environmental concerns, and the state should proceed with a project that will bring hundreds of good-paying jobs to northeastern Minnesota.  But Aaron Klemz with Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness responds the state is still determining what environmental regulations for the Polymet project would look like.  He says anyone who claims the regulations are sufficient to protect Minnesota's resources is misinterpreting the process.


A campaign trip in October 2012 by Governor Dayton broke the law, according to the state's legislative auditor.  In a report released yesterday, the auditor noted using the state plane for a trip to Bemidji and International Falls with a campaign staffer was a violation of both state law and Minnesota Department of Transportation policy.  It is against the law for a campaign worker to be on the state airplane if that person is not traveling with the governor on official state business.


Wall Street is not pleased with the latest financial report from a Minnesota based electronics retailer, showing revenue fell during the holiday period.  Best Buy shares tumbled sharply on the news that holiday period sales fell nine-tenths of a percent, losing over 28-percent of their value and closing at 26-dollars-83-cents a share.  Best Buy stock lost ten-dollars-74-cents a share yesterday.


U.S. Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) is urging the FCC to adopt new rules on so-called "Internet neutrality" after a federal appeals court struck down the agency's rules which Franken helped strengthen in 2010.  Franken argues the Internet is an open marketplace and the website of a small business in Minnesota should load as quickly as that of a large corporation.  He says "net neutrality" also prevents internet service providers likle Verizon, Time Warner and Comcast from charging more to access certain Internet content at higher speeds.


One person is dead and another hospitalized after an early morning house fire Wednesday in the northeastern Minnesota town of Meadowlands.  The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office says 75-year-old John Stossel called 911 saying his home was filled with smoke and he and his wife, 72-year-old Karen Gosch, were unable to escape.  Meadowlands firefighters were able to rescue the couple before their home was destroyed.  They were taken to a Duluth hospital where Gosch was later pronounced dead.  Stossel is reportedly in stable condition.  Fire officials believe the blaze started in the kitchen area.  It remains under investigation.


A Redwood Falls man convicted of starting a fatal apartment fire last January has been to sentenced to more than 32 years in prison.  Forty-nine-year-old Peter Warren was found guilty on 12 counts in November including arson and second-degree murder.  The blaze at the Lakeside Manor Apartment complex in Redwood Falls caused the death of 72-year-old Gene Gilland and displaced 56 residents.  Warren was reportedly seen on surveillance video entering a storage closet where the fire was set. 


The JC Penney store in Worthington is among 33 nationwide that will be closed.  The struggling retailer will also shut the doors at five stores in neighboring Wisconsin.  The company hopes to save about $65 million a year with the closings, which will result in the loss of around two-thousand jobs.  Business analysts predict JC Penney will be among a number of retailers announcing staff cuts and location closures in the coming weeks.  After the holiday season, stores typically re-evaluate and make necessary changes. 


Conservatives angry with health insurance companies over the Affordable Care Act are getting behind legislation to stop what they call the "bailout" of the industry.  The proposed legislation would repeal parts of the ACA that would help cover insurance companies' losses if they determined people buying through health insurance exchanges are more expensive to insure than expected.  Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) told Fox News' Neil Cavuto under Obamacare

"it's heads, insurance companies win, tails insurance companies win."  Opponents of the legislation say insurance companies would have to increase premiums if those provisions were altered. 


(Barkhad (BAR'-hahd) Abdi (AB'-dee) has been nominated for an Academy Award by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Abdi plays the head Somali pirate in "Captain Phillips" and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The film was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.  The first-time Minneapolis actor has also been nominated for his supporting actor work by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the Golden Globes and the Critics's Choice Movie Awards.


The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has ruled that a Lakeville woman found dead on January 7th outside her home was killed by hypothermia.  The report, though, lists that the accidental death of Andrea Marker was complicated by acute alcohol intoxication.  Her body was discovered during last week's polar vortex, which brought temperatures down to as low as 25-below-zero and wind chills nearly 60-below.


A 54-year-old woman was found dead outside of a home in Embarrass.  St. Louis County Sheriff's officials say Julie Janiel was pronounced dead at the scene.  The county medical examiner is working to determine a cause of death.


A Minneapolis man led officers with the United States Marshals Service and Minneapolis Police Department on a short chase, and shots were fired as he tried to get away.   Officials had been looking for 48-year-old Buck White of New Ulm, after he ran off from a court-ordered Twin Town Treatment Center in St. Paul in July.  Officers from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Minneapolis Police Department tried to pull him over in a traffic stop Wednesday, and he led them on a chase through northeast Minneapolis.  Officials say he sideswiped cars and a Metro Transit bus in the attempt to get away.  At one point during the chase shots were fired, but authorities won't say who fired them -- only that Minneapolis officers weren't involved.  White eventually crashed the car and tried to run off but was quickly caught.  Officials say he is a career criminal with mutlitple burglary and assault convictions.  He was charged in federal court last year with being an armed career criminal in possession of a gun.


Police divers say they've found the body of a missing Minnesota college student two days after she fell in the Chicago River.  Twenty-one-year-old Lauren Li slipped into the icy river while trying to help her friend -- who fell in trying to retrieve his cell phone.  Twenty-six-year-old Ken Hoang died in the river and his body was recovered Monday morning.  A third friend also jumped in the river but was rescued.  Li was a University of Minnesota student visiting friends in town, and police say alcohol likely played a role in the incident.


A judge in Saint Paul has sentenced a man to nearly 16 years in prison for a hit-and-run of two Army recruiters outside a suburban shopping mall last September.  Prosecutors say 53-year-old Enrico Taylor dragged one of the victims almost a mile before he was able to free himself.  Staff Sergeant Travis Torgerson suffered a broken leg, tailbone and ribs plus severe abrasions that required skin grafts.  Staff Sergeant Michael Stroud rolled over Taylor's vehicle and received cuts and bruises.  The Star Tribune reports in asking the judge for the maximum sentence, Torgerson said he's seen atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq, but has to go through this in his back yard.  Taylor begged forgiveness and told the judge the accident was caused by his one blind eye and poor vision in the other.  He says he panicked and kept driving.


It didn't take long for Republicans and Democrats to start taking shots at each other after Governor Dayton rolled out his billion-dollar bonding proposal Wednesday.  Dayton opened the exchange by blaming Republicans for not passing key parts of his previous bonding proposals, saying the decision was "driven by the extreme right wing." State Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) said Dayton's comments set a tone for the upcoming session.  Hann says he doesn't think it will put the bonding bill in jeopardy, but adds "we will not be passing anywhere near a billion dollars of bonding this year."  Even though Democrats control the legislature, Dayton needs Republican votes to pass a bonding bill because a supermajority is required. 


The attempt to extend unemployment insurance became contentious yet again in the U.S. Senate, and two separate votes failed to gather enough support for passage.  Minnesota U.S. Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) says long-term unemployment is still as high as its been since World War II, and the economy could suffer if benefits are not extended.  Franken quotes the Congressional Budget Office as saying that the extension would sustain about 200,000 jobs in the next year alone and adds that he's not done fighting for an unemployment insurance extension.


The 2013 Great Lakes shipping season ended Wednesday following the closing of the the locks at Sault Sainte Marie.  Officials estimate shipping numbers on Lake Superior are up one to two percent.  Jim Sharrow of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority is predicting increased activity in the coming year.  Sharrow says there's indication at least that iron ore, one of the basic cargoes of the harbor, will be busier next year.  The shipping season on Lake Superior closes January 15th and the next one begins when the Soo Locks re-open March 25th.  Sharrow says crews in the Twin Ports will be working on at least ten freighters over the next two months. 


Minneapolis and St. Paul each have one of the best bars in the country.  Republic in Minneapolis and The Happy Gnome in St. Paul both made "Draft Magazine's" list of America's best places to throw-back a cold one. They are the only two Minnesota watering holes to make the list.  The criteria was based on, quote, "thoughtfully-selected beer with an eye on variety, trends and traditions."


The last surviving Munchkin actress, Ruth Robinson Duccini, has died after a brief illness.  She was 95.  Duccini, who stood four feet tall, was one of 124 actors cast as Munchkins in the 1939 classic "The Wizard Of Oz"  She played a Munchkin townswoman.  Duccini was born in Rush City, Minnesota.