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HERE, LET US PICK UP THE TAB

So, you order out for pizza, and along with the delivery van the fire department shows up. Flaming mozzarella? Well, no. As part of a planned "Did You Check?" safety campaign, firefighters in Hudson, N.H., soon will begin accompanying deliverers and asking to inspect smoke detectors in the hungry households. If they're in working order, the pizza is free, compliments of the hook-and-ladder folks. If not, homeowners will be offered a free detector or batteries ... and a coupon for a future pizza.

NOT HERE, YOU AREN'T

Murder trials are not, as a rule, occasions for levity. But a judge in Norwalk, Conn., elicited guffaws last week when he asked a prospective juror whether he could spare the time, should the proceedings become lengthy – or be needed at his job. Replied Louis Rukeyser, who recently was fired after 32 years as host of the PBS-TV series "Wall $treet Week": "I'm irreplaceable." Rukeyser was excused anyway. Oh, the trial? It's for Michael Skakel, whose father is the brother of former US Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's widow and who is charged with the death a Greenwich, Conn., neighbor in 1975.

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Biggest US companies aren't necessarily tops in profits

A place in the Fortune 500, the annual ranking by revenue of the US's largest companies, is a mark of prestige in the business world. But the magazine also rates companies by profit, for a quite different list that some market analysts prefer as a measure of success. Fortune's 10 top-performing firm's last year, with their profits in billions of dollars (rankings on the 500 list in parentheses):

1. Exxon Mobil (2) $15.32

2. Citigroup (7) 14.12

3. General Electric (6) 13.68

4. Philip Morris (10) 8.56

5. Pfizer (49) 7.78

6. IBM (9) 7.72

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7. AT&T (15) 7.71

8. Microsoft (72) 7.30

9. Merck (24) 7.28

10. SBC Communications (27) 7.24


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