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International Falls: Smokey the Bear Deserves Shirtless Dignity

Plus a local hacker aims high (and fails), a truly great voting guide, and a warning for cops regarding journalists in today's Flyover.

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

Smokey the Bear is an Ambassador, Not a Fashion Icon 

International Falls’ City Council has decided that it’s time to end the area’s longstanding tradition of dressing up its beloved bear statue. The reason? Smokey is the face of fire safety, and deserves our respect, not affection. After all, Smokey should be portrayed as “a dignified, firm and friendly symbol of wildfire prevention,” according to the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. Before coming down on the side of dignity, the City Council checked in with a few other cities and towns that host iconic statues, including Bemidji (Paul Bunyan), Blue Earth (the Jolly Green Giant), and Alexandria (Big Ole the Viking). “They thought it was kind of crazy that we did decorate our stuff,” International Falls’ Mayor Harley Droba explained to the Star Tribune. So Smokey will no longer don things like community-made giant flannels, ear muffs, or fishing vests. Instead, he will wear his official, permanent clothes: pants, belt, and hat.

Judge to Cops: Leave Journalists Alone

A federal judge has ordered an “indefinite ban” on police and other law enforcement agencies using force against journalists in the field, the latest update regarding the class-action ACLU suit filed after the murder of George Floyd. You may remember that during the riots, police fired “non-lethal rounds” at journalists and arrested several of them, even after they presented press credentials. U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright writes: “Many of the alleged incidents of misconduct in this case involved law enforcement officers actively disregarding clearly displayed press credentials, distinctive clothing, and other [indicators] that individuals were members of the press.” Will this do anything to change police behavior in the field? Who can say!

I’m Totally Clueless: How Does One Vote? 

Sound like someone you know? Someone you are? MinnPost’s Greta Kaul is here to help with this helpful, non-judgmental guide for the electorally ignorant. Find your polling place, better understand ranked-choice voting, get clarity on the amendments, discover resulting-tracking resources—it’s all there! You might be asking yourself: That’s all well and good, detached Racket editorial voice, but who and what should I vote for? Unlike the ethics-flouting Minneapolis Chief of Police, we’re not gonna tell ya. For some insight into how Minneapolis politics got so fractious, however, we do recommend this recent deep-dive on the warring ideological adversaries vying for power. 

A St. Louis Park Hacker Tried to Extort a Humble $150K from the MLB

In things that obviously weren’t going to end well, a Minnesota man has been charged with hacking into computer systems, illegally streaming content, and trying to extort $150,000 from Major League Baseball. In addition to MLB, the hacker dude from St. Louis Park was also streaming hot content from the NBA, NFL, and NHL. Then he tried to get money from the MLB. Way too ambitious, buddy! “Instead of quitting while he was ahead, he allegedly decided to continue the game by extorting one of the leagues, threatening to expose the very vulnerability he used to hack them,” states FBI assistant director Michael J. Driscoll. The charges explain that Mr. Minnesota Hacker gained access to these sites through legitimate logins he illegally obtained, and then caused these organizations to lose over $3 million in revenue (poor billion-dollar companies!) due to the diverted streaming. He could face up to 20 years in prison.