The Week The News Went Mad

Thanks to this weird and wonderful contraption of ours called the internet, we're never far away from a strange news story if you want to find one. But when multiple oddities start cropping up in the mainstream media it's time to sit up and take notice. Here are some items that have appeared on BBC News this week. We might be just a month into 2016 but it really is shaping up to be a curious beast.

1. Man hit by meteorite

On Tuesday it was reported that in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu a man was killed after a meteorite fell on a college campus in southern Vellore city. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram made the announcement, while Indian scientists were called on to verify that the cause of death was indeed a rock from outer space. The victim was a bus driver called Kamraj, who was working inside the campus of Bharathidasan Engineering College in Vellore. His precise co-ordinates are now marked by a crater, while surrounding windows were blown out by the blast. His family will take no solace from the fact that it's the first such death in nearly 200 years, the last such incident in India happening in 1825 (according to the "interesting meteor strikes" list of the International Comet Quarterly). But wait, there is some consolation: the government has paid Kamraj's family £1000 ($1441). That's a kind but strange decision: is this what we're all worth if we're hit by a meteorite? It's quite an arbitrary sum, calculated mysteriously quickly. Speaking of figures, we're often told that the odds of winning the lottery are roughly equivalent to being hit by a meteorite, despite the fact we often hear about lottery winners but (almost) never about people who were minding their own business being obliterated by space rocks. Mathematically it looks like the balance is starting to be redressed. (Note to self: buy hard hat.)

2. Man Throws Alligator Into Restaurant

On Tuesday news reached desktop computers that a Florida man faces charges of aggravated assault after allegedly throwing an alligator into a branch of Wendy's. Joshua James, 23, reportedly found the alligator on the side of a road, lured it into the back of his truck and then drove to the Royal Palm Beach drive-thru branch, before ordering his meal and throwing the 3ft beast through the window. According to Joshua's mother, the alleged reptile-hurler was attempting a practical joke on his friend who worked there. The incident happened in October but the suspect has only just been taken into custody, explaining why the story has broken now. Two joyous facts about the case: one, Joshua faces charges of "unlawful possession and transportation of an alligator"; and two, the voracious carnivore - who is possibly the first of his species ever let loose in a burger joint - elected not to eat any of the meat on the premises.

3. Police To Train Eagles to Attack Drones

Yes, that's right. On Monday the UK Metropolitan Police announced it is considering employing eagles to intercept drones amid concerns that the robotic aircraft are increasingly being used for criminal purposes, while there have been four reported incidents of them flying too close to planes. Apparently the Dutch police has already embarked on similar ornithological policing trials. But funnily enough, bird experts aren't convinced that this is a good idea. The BBC spoke to Tom Graham at Thorp Herrow Arboretum, who had this alarming prediction about the policy: 

Tom's chuckle says it all: be afraid, be very afraid. Still, if anyone tells you they find the news boring, this is definitely one week to put them right. And it's only Wednesday. Come on 2016, what have you got for us next? Keep watching the skies...


Jon HarveyComment