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close calls
April 18, 2019

The New York Police Department said Wednesday night that a 37-year-old man from New Jersey had been detained after a security guard at St. Patrick's Cathedral stopped him inside the historic Catholic church's doors with two cans of gasoline, lighter fluid, and two lighters.

The security guard called the police, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said at a press conference outside St. Patrick's, and police officiers found and confronted him a few blocks away. The man had parked his minivan on Fifth Avenue and walked around a bit before returning to the vehicle to get the flammable paraphernalia and head into the cathedral, Miller said. When confronted by police, "his basic story was that he was cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue, that his car had run out of gas. We took a look at the vehicle. It was not out of gas."

The man is known to the police and may be mentally unstable, the New York Daily News reports. Miller would not speculate on whether the man was inspired by the fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris just two nights earlier. "It's hard exactly to say what his intentions were," Miller said. "But I think the totality of circumstances, of an individual walking into an iconic location like St. Patrick's Cathedral, carrying over four gallons of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid, and lighters, is something that we would have great concern over." Peter Weber

December 14, 2017

American fighter jets on Thursday intercepted Russian planes in disputed Syrian airspace, MSNBC reported, the latest escalation of tensions between American and Russian forces in the region. MSNBC's Hans Nichols reported that the U.S. planes fired warning flares at two Russian fighter jets as they approached airspace the U.S Air Force claims to control.

American and Russian warplanes have had several tense encounters in Syria this year. Nichols speculated that this latest action shows that the U.S. "is no longer willing to abide" the Russian incursions into its claimed airspace, which have been "testing American resolve." Russian officials claim they are simply trying to launch airstrikes on the Islamic State.

While Nichols claims the incident occurred Thursday, Fox News reported the encounter happened Wednesday. Additionally, the details of Nichols' report are very similar to an incident reported by RT on Dec. 9 in which Russian officials claimed that the U.S. intercepted and shot warning flares at Russian fighter jets who were trying to bomb an ISIS base.

In June, Russia warned the U.S. that it would treat American aircraft as "targets" after American jets shot down a Syrian warplane. Last week, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial withdrawal of Russian troops in Syria, but the U.S. — which has about 2,000 troops of its own in the country — has remained skeptical that the Russian troop withdrawal will be significant. Kelly O'Meara Morales

May 26, 2016

An afternoon thunderstorm caused flash flooding in Horse Cave, Kentucky, on Thursday, trapping 19 people inside a cave.

On Thursday morning, students from a Clemson University geology course embarked on a guided tour of the Hidden River Cave, which only has one way in and one way out. They had no cellphone service, and after heavy rains caused water to rush into the cave, two police officers entered to help get the group out; they also became stranded.

The group was caught in an area known as The Attic, which has a higher ceiling, Kentucky State Trooper B.J. Eaton said in a statement. As the water continued to rise, they decided it was time to attempt an escape. "When they came out of the cave, they were neck-deep in water," Hart County Emergency Management Director Kerry McDaniel tells The Associated Press. "The waters were continuing to rise under the flash flood. They saw an opportunity to exit the cave, so they took the chance." The students, four tour guides, and two police officers were all checked for hypothermia, and all declined additional medical attention. "We looked at this from the beginning and hoped it was a search rather than a recovery operation," McDaniel said. Catherine Garcia

June 17, 2015

A federal investigation has been opened up after Delta Air Lines flight 1328 rolled onto the runway at the same time that Southwest Airlines flight 3828 had been cleared for takeoff. Both planes were operating at full takeoff power, which, according to the Chicago Tribune, is standard procedure at Midway due to the short runways.

"Stop, stop, stop, stop!" the air traffic controller can be heard yelling followed by the pilots reporting, "aborting" and "SWA stopping." The planes had made it around a third of the way down their runways, stopping a little over 2,000 feet from where they intersect.

Due to the similarity in their flight numbers, both pilots had been warned to pay careful attention to their radio calls. Only the Southwest flight had been cleared to takeoff.

The air traffic controller is then heard on the tapes explaining to the Delta pilot that “somebody kept stepping on you,” or interrupting the call (during a dual transmission, a pilot can only hear some of what is being said).

Delta is "fully cooperating" with the FAA's investigation. Jeva Lange

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