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Did Duluth Fighter Jets Take out Extraterrestrial Spies?

Plus an LRT conduct code, the start of the water wars, and Minnesota's newest city in today's Flyover.

Stephen Leonardi via Unsplash|

Did the (possible) E.T. shot down by Duluth jets look this this? Who can say?

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Duluth Jets Help Fight the Balloon Wars of 2023

There's a lot going on up in the air these days. On February 4, the U.S. Air Force shot down what is believed to be a Chinese spy balloon just off the coast of South Carolina. Since then, three more UFOs have been brought down, including one mysterious object that President Joe Biden gave the OK for a fighter jet to shoot down over Lake Huron last Sunday. If you're like us, you may have found out about the incident via a Tweet from our governor: 

But before you become a China balloon truther, just know that it has not been established where the object is from. “I haven’t ruled out anything at this point,” Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, told press when asked if this could be a sign of extraterrestrials. The flying object, which was first caught on radar over Montana, was reported to be octagonal in shape, with strings hanging off the side. It's also much smaller than the typical Chinese spy craft, and was flying at an unusually low altitude for spy tech.

A Transit Culture Change

Riding on the light rail these days... it's not the best experience. There's a lot of smoking in the cars, a good amount of drug use, and more fighting and general misbehavior than you want to deal with on your commute. But despite complaints about deteriorating conditions on the Blue and Green Lines, we've heard very little in the way of practical solutions. Enter the Transit Service Intervention Project, a proposal from Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee), vice chair of the House Transportation Committee, and fellow lawmakers including Senate Transportation Committee Chair Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis).

MinnPost reports that the proposal is meant to be a “reset in the culture of what it is to be a transit rider.” It would require the Met Council to develop a transit rider code of conduct and a two-step enforcement plan to enforce it. In phase one of the plan, social service workers and advocates for addicts, the homeless, and the mentally ill would direct people to services and shelter. In phase two, the cops are brought in alongside the social workers. Sleeping on the train will remain legal, as long as the snoozing riders aren't violating other rules of conduct.

Southwestern Mooches Are Coming for Our Water, Minnesota!

“Why should Midwest water be diverted to a bone-bleached desert region that's profited from government-supported overpopulation and large-scale farming, all of which experts warned was not sustainable half a century ago?” That’s what former Strib reporter Ron Way asks today in an opinion piece for his old paper. Way is talking about the southwestern U.S., which, faced with dwindling water supplies, and unable to agree on ways of cutting back usage, is eyeing the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. As he tells it, diverting resources cross country would require 85-foot diameter pipes and ridiculous amounts of energy, and would cost more than $100 billion. Anyway, that’s probably a non-starter: Minnesota, other Midwestern states, and Canada signed the Great Lakes Compact in 2008, which prohibits such a diversion. So yeah, the floods, plagues, and fascism have been bad, but as any student of dystopian lore knows, the shit really starts to go down once people fight over water. You just try and take Lake Superior from us, Colorado.

Meet Minnesota's Newest City

Empire Township has been around for over 160 years, tucked between Farmington and Coates in central Dakota County. Its population (3,300) would make it about 200th largest of Minnesota's 853 incorporated cities. But it's not a city—at least not until later this month. On Tuesday, a special election will be held in Empire to determine its first-ever mayor and city council, the culmination of a six-year journey for the community to level up, municipally speaking. Later this month, after the results are finalized and the politicians are sworn in, it'll become official, Hometown Source reports. Why is this glow up happening? For stronger borders and greater agency, the Star Tribune reports. "Do we want to just become Lakeville, Rosemount, or Farmington or do we want to maintain autonomy?" resident Christine Sachs tells the Strib. (Don't worry about impending suburb-on-suburb violence: Those friendly cities supported Empire's petition.) The township provides this helpful explainer about its exciting new future, which'll reportedly feel a lot like its present. Congrats, Empire! Welcome to city life.

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