Odds & Ends
Dateline: China—China’s government is embarrassed after it was caught demonstrating its latest military hardware through old clips of the Tom Cruise film Top Gun. Footage supposedly showing the new J-10 fighter knocking another jet out of the sky with an air-to-air missile was broadcast by state-sponsored China Central Television on Jan. 23. Internet observers quickly noticed similarities between the training exercise footage and the ’80s action flick. The Wall Street Journal published a side-by-side comparison between the two videos online. Sure enough, the images are identical. The footage has since been removed from the CCTV website and network officials are refusing to comment.
Dateline: Russia—Russian security sources have revealed that a so-called “Black Widow” suicide bomber—who planned a terrorist attack on central Moscow on New Year’s Eve—died when an unexpected text message set off her bomb too early. The unidentified woman, who is believed to be part of the same radical Islamist terrorist group that struck Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in January, allegedly intended to detonate an explosive belt near Moscow’s Red Square on New Year’s Eve. London’s Daily Telegraph quoted security sources in Russia as saying that, several hours before the planned attack, a friendly text message from the woman’s cell phone carrier wishing her a happy new year likely triggered the suicide belt, killing her at a safe house in Moscow.
Dateline: Russia—An elderly woman’s attempt to reanimate her long-dead sister caused a fire that burned down an apartment and nearly killed the still-living sibling. Prosecutors told the Noviy Region news agency that the 69-year-old arsonist’s 73-year-old sister passed away a year ago from natural causes in the town of Ekaterinburg in the Ural mountains. Instead of reporting the death, the woman—who has an extensive mental heath record—took the Dr. Frankenstein option. She preserved her dead sister’s body in gasoline and has allegedly been trying to bring it back to life ever since. Her last experiment happened on Jan. 25 and involved “jump starting” the preserved corpse with two wires running from the body’s hand and neck to the apartment’s main electrical line. Not surprisingly, instead of coming back to life, the gas-soaked body burst into flames. The surviving sister is now in the hospital, recovering from burns and smoke inhalation. The elder sister’s body was destroyed.
Dateline: England—Investigators are blaming the death of a teenage girl in a two-car accident on a snail. According to the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper, 19-year-old Katie Dagley was driving home from work in the town of Alvecote in the West Midlands when she approached a single-lane bridge controlled by signal lights. Some 20 minutes earlier, the lights had malfunctioned. Senior police investigator Andy Stevens told an inquest into Dagley’s death that he had carried out a detailed examination of the scene and confirmed that the traffic signal malfunction was due to the trail of slime left behind by a snail or a slug. “There was a trail across the circuit board and it had short-circuited it. It was one of those things. It’s a tragedy,” Stevens said. The short circuit caused green lights to appear on both ends of the bridge. As a result, Dagley drove her Ford Ka head-on into a Fiat Punto driven by 18-year-old James Cope. Warwickshire Coroner Sean McGovern returned a verdict of accidental death at the late January inquest in Coventry. “The fact is that a snail has led to a short circuit in the traffic lights that led to the death of the girl,” McGovern said in his ruling.
Dateline: Maryland—Police in Silver Spring have arrested a suspected serial burglar after he left his cell phone charging in a home he was burglarizing. Some 42 homes have been broken into in eastern Montgomery County since the beginning of the year. So it wasn’t too shocking when a young man returned to parents’ house to find a stranger stealing jewelry. Startled, the burglar jumped out a window and fled the scene. The homeowners’ son called police, who searched the premises. Surprisingly, they found a cell phone that did not belong to the homeowners plugged into an electrical socket. Police traced the phone back to Cody Wilkins, 25, who is now charged with 10 burglaries in the area.