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QAnon Leader Dies in Rural MN Dirt Biking Accident

Plus controversial North Shore land owner set to leave, a non-bad tax surprise, and the regulatory battles around burials in today's Flyover news roundup.

Echinaceapallida via Wikipedia Commons|

QAnon followers awaiting the return of John F. Kennedy Jr. at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, in late 2021. He didn’t show up.

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If you don't know Michael Protzman's name, you're likely familiar with his most infamous contribution to the sprawling, nutty QAnon conspiracy theory: that famously dead President John F. Kennedy and his (also famously dead) son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., are in fact alive and will soon reemerge to champion the MAGA revolution. (It's even suggested living ex-President Donald Trump is JFK in disguise, and that his son will run for office alongside him in 2024.) Protzman, a prominent QAnon leader known as "Negative 48," won't get to see if his prediction pans out; the 60-year-old Washington State resident died last Friday of “multiple blunt force injuries” after losing "control of his dirt bike" at the Meadow Valley Motocross track in Millville, Minnesota, according to state documents obtained by Vice News.

As Protzman spent a week at Rochester's nearby Mayo Clinic receiving treatment for his fatal wounds, Vice reports that updates on his condition were "tightly controlled by his inner circle." Now that the news is out there, his co-conspirators and acolytes are reportedly saying the death is either fake news, a hit job, and/or all part of the plan. Follower Shelly Mullinax tells Vice that the Michael Protzman who died in southeast Minnesota is “the evil version," and that the "good version" (JFK Jr. in a mask, she claims) is doing great. Protzman's repeatedly failed JFK-related prophecies caused his wing of QAnon to lose considerable steam in recent years. “Protzman impacted the lives of so many families in such a negative way, families were torn apart, many members lost their assets due to following him,” a researcher identified as "Karma" tells Vice. "Some of these families will never be the same."

A Good Tax Surprise?

The 2023 legislative session’s humongous tax bill, which made headlines for trimming state income tax on social security payments and cutting rebate checks for Minnesotans, has some other surprises tucked away inside as well. Don’t freak out: They’re good ones. As WCCO reports (briefly taking a break from its breathless MAYHEM IN MINNEAPOLIS! coverage), certain sexual harassment and sexual abuse settlements are now exempt from state income tax, so victims may no longer be disappointed at the end of a long court battle to find out just how little they've been compensated. And such settlements are no longer considered wages or severance, so victims can receive unemployment. These changes bring such payments in line with settlements for on the job injuries.

Gorgeous, (Allegedly) Cult-Linked North Shore Land For Sale

Residents of Grand Marais were reportedly "dismayed" when Seth Jeffs, the brother of polygamous sex criminal/fundamentalist Mormon leader Warren Jeffs, scooped up 40 acres just 20 minutes outside of town. “If past behavior is indicative of future behavior, they would bring people to start a religious colony,” Utah lawyer Alan Mortensen told KARE 11 in 2019. Now it seems that Jeffs won't be a North Shore problem anymore: His property, which remains structureless and woodsy, just hit the market last month for $189,000, the Star Tribune reports. (The newspaper couldn't connect with Jeffs, who appears to live in Menomonie, Wisconsin, these days.)

Going by just her first name due to fears of FLDS church retaliation, Cook County resident Becca tells the Strib, "I know people who are extremely relieved that we don't have to worry about them anymore." The land itself? Apparently quite spectacular! "Your mind goes every direction when you drive in and come around the corner and see this beautiful property full of life and secluded living space surrounded by nature at its finest," raves the listing from Red Pine Realty, while smartly making no mention of alleged cult activity. "It is hard to visit this property without getting carried away by all the possibilities." Space for those (non-weird!) possibilities comes at a discount, as the lot's asking price was recently slashed by $36,000.

MN Puts a Moratorium on Green Burials… for Now

When business partners Matt Connell and Ed Bixby purchased land last year to create Loving Earth Memorial Gardens, a green cemetery in Carlton County, people in the area had a lot of questions. Neighbors worried that un-embalmed, casket-free, decomposing bodies could impact the quality of their well water. The DNR wondered if it would affect nature in the area. The county was uneasy about the lack of regulations: Could bodies be stacked? How deep would plots go? Would the slope of the cemetery cause a problem?

Eric Braun, a leading opponent of the cemetery, didn’t even know green burial was a thing. “This green burial concept to me was totally foreign in the sense that we would dig a hole and place a body in the ground without necessarily any coverings whatsoever,” he said at a state Senate meeting last March, describing every burial in America pre-1800s. So, erring on the side of caution, the state has placed a two-year moratorium on green burials while organizations do studies on the potential environmental impact. But the pause doesn’t just affect Loving Earth; many Jewish and Muslim cemeteries don't embalm their interred or use caskets, either. This thoughtful MinnPost piece from Walker Orenstein examines the politics, high emotions, and bureaucracy that comes when people want to bury their dead via less modern conventions.

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