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Curses, foiled again

Police said Albert Murray, 48, took a taxi to a hospital in Arlington, Va., one afternoon and asked the driver to wait. Murray, who worked in the hospital cafeteria, went inside, pulled a knife on the cafeteria manager and demanded the combination to a safe. She denied knowing it, so he tied her up, put the safe on a desk chair and, according to hospital vice president Adrien Stanton, rolled it, apparently unchallenged, from the "dead center of the building" down "a lot of corridors" to the sidewalk. Murray then put the safe in the waiting taxi's trunk, but when the driver balked, he jumped behind the wheel and tried to flee. The cabbie reached in and shut off the car, forcing the robber to escape on foot. Officers nabbed him after a short chase. (The Washington Post)

Five crooks, equipped with top-of-the-line industrial power tools, attacked seven ATMs across England but "despite their extensive efforts," prosecutor Dominic Connolly said, "no money was actually obtained." Instead, they managed to set fire to bundles of cash several times while using a blowtorch to melt through wires and once missed 140,000 pounds ($196,000) inside an open machine when they fled after triggering an alarm. (Britain's Daily Mail).

No gun needed

Police charged Gregory Derrell Lea, 42, with assaulting a 27-year-old woman in Charles County, Md. They said he "threw a couch on top of her." (The Washington Post)

No boobs for you

The new 3-D version of the 1997 movie Titanic is being shown in China, but the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio sketches Kate Winslet topless has been edited to show Winslet only from the neck up. "We've decided to cut off the nudity scenes," the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television announced, explaining, "Considering the vivid 3-D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people's viewing." (United Press International)

Tax dollars at work

The animal-rights group In Defense of Animals ridiculed a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that revealed rats on cocaine dig the music of Miles Davis, whereas sober rats prefer Beethoven. Among other taxpayer-funded animal studies on the group's list of "Real Ridiculous Research": the effect of lemon scent on monkey erections, contagious yawning in chimpanzees, the role of single mothers in the prairie vole community and whether putting hamsters on a diet affects their sex drive. (Associated Press)

Litigation nation

Dean Cochrun, 28, filed a federal lawsuit against the hospital that circumcised him after he was born, declaring that the procedure robbed him of his sexual prowess. The suit charges that the procedure was unnecessary, unethical and without medical benefit. "I was recently made aware of the fact that I had been (circumcised) and that ... I was robbed of sensitivity during sexual intercourse as well as the sense of security and well-being I am entitled to in my person," he declared, adding that neither he nor his partners would "have that sensitivity during sexual intercourse and have a normal sex life." Cochrun, who's currently imprisoned in Sioux Falls, S.D., for kidnapping, wants $1,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, and his foreskin restored "in the hopes I could feel whole again." (Associated Press)

Gun goofs

Michael L. Deel, 54, and his wife, Michelle Deel, 49, were attending a firearms safety course in Roanoke, Va., when, according to the Bedford County Sheriff's Office, Michael Deel shot himself in the hand with a .45-caliber handgun. The bullet went through his hand and hit Michelle Deel, seated next to him, in the leg. (Roanoke Times)

A 56-year-old man told police he was lifting dumbbells in Modesto, Calif., when he accidentally dropped one on a rimfire .22-caliber bullet. He said the weight of the dumbbell caused the bullet to fire, wounding him in the shoulder. Officer Chris Adams said the man's story sounded suspicious but wasn't impossible. (The Modesto Bee)

After a verbal exchange between two drivers vying to be first at a toll booth in Hooksett, N.H., Nicholas Richer, 18, pointed a flare gun out the window at the other driver and fired. "The flare gun discharged inside the suspect's vehicle, ignited, caught the right passenger's front seat on fire," just missing another youth riding with Richer, state police Sgt. Charles Johnson reported after the other driver called 911 and a trooper caught up with Richer in Bow. "The windshield was smashed, and the front seat where the juvenile was seated was burned." (Manchester's WMUR-TV)

Stalling crime

Britain's surveillance-addicted government began installing cameras at gas stations to stop uninsured or untaxed vehicles from refueling. The cameras feature automatic number plate recognition, which is designed to identify motorists who drive off without paying for gas. Under the new system, the same cameras will automatically cross-reference all license plates against a government database before drivers may pump gas. The pumps won't operate for vehicles the database shows lack insurance. The government estimates 1.4 million motorists drive without insurance. (Britain's Daily Mirror)

Beating the system

When an undercover investigative reporter found people charging $30 for the answers to Florida's written driving test outside three driver's license offices, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said selling the information isn't against current rules because the Florida Driver's Handbook contains sample questions and answers. A spokesperson noted, however, that printed versions of the 62-page handbook aren't available at all DMV offices because of pending legal action against the vendor. (Miami's WPLG-TV)

Double whammy

When a car got stuck on railroad tracks in Riverdale Park, Md., police called a tow truck to remove it. It was in the process when a CSX freight train plowed into both vehicles, which were unoccupied at the time. (Associated Press)

Instant gratification

The California-based bakery Sprinkles introduced a high-tech vending machine that dispenses cupcakes around the clock. Owner Candace Nelson said she got the idea when she was pregnant and realized she couldn't satisfy her late-night cupcake cravings, even though she owns a bakery. The ATM-like machine features a touch screen and a robotic arm that pulls the desired flavor cupcake from a wall of single-serving boxes inside the store. After installing the first cupcake dispenser at her Beverly Hills store, Nelson said Sprinkles plans to operate machines at three New York City locations. (Associated Press)

  • All the weird news that's fit to print.

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