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News of the Weird

Thursday April 04, 2002

A pizza reward for fire safety 


HUDSON, N.H. — If your smoke detector works, your next pizza in this town could be free. 

As part of program intended to boost fire safety, firefighters will accompany pizza deliverers to people’s homes. If residents have functioning smoke detectors, the pizza is free courtesy of the pizza shop and the fire department. 

If the detector doesn’t work, the department will offer batteries or free detectors. 

The department hopes to be the first in New Hampshire to kick off a “Did You Check?” program geared at public education about the importance of detectors and their proper maintenance. 

A malfunctioning detector will mean the pizza must be paid for, but the department will leave a coupon for a future pizza. 

Firefighters also will give residents information about fire safety as part of the program, which the department hopes to start by mid-April. 

Fire Marshal Charles Chalk said the department got the idea after learning about a similar program in Watertown, N.Y. The Hudson program will be funded through donations, Chalk said. 


University professors hold a bake sale 


IOWA CITY, Iowa — Professors at the University of Iowa have a secret weapon in their fight to help the school rebound after losing millions of dollars in state budget cuts. 

They want to hold a bake sale. 

“Obviously, it is unlikely that a bake sale will raise the approximately $40 million in lost funding,” said engineering professor Wilfrid Nixon. But “there’s clearly a public relations aspect to this.” 

The Iowa Faculty Senate approved a resolution by a 15-10 vote Tuesday to hold the sale. 

“It is better to bake a brownie than curse the cuts,” said Nixon, who proposed the resolution. The plan now goes to the faculty council. 

All money will go to help students, such as through scholarships. 

Not all senators found the idea palatable. Some said it would send the wrong message: that faculty members had enough time to bake. 

“I think this could backfire on us,” said Charles Lynch, a professor in the College of Public Health. 

Sheldon Kurtz, a law professor, joked that critics could turn around and say to the faculty, “Let them eat cake.” 


JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — Alexander Brueggeman is a junior at the University of Memphis who hopes one day to get a doctorate in plant molecular genetics from Harvard or MIT. 

But first he has to enter his teens. Alexander is only 12. 

On Monday, he got word that he was the youngest ever recipient of the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater scholarship. At first, he thought it was a joke. 

“I was thinking, ’Cool,”’ he said. “But it was April 1, so I thought maybe it was an April Fools’ joke.” 

Brueggeman’s parents quickly realized there was something different about their child when they began to educate him at home. 

“When he was 6 years old, we started with first grade, but Alex needed more,” said Gay McCarter, Brueggeman’s mother. “He did four years of work — tests and homework — in less than seven months.” 

Brueggeman was at the high school level by age 8 and was attending classes at Jackson State Community College and Lambuth University a year later. 


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A man suspected of bungling a bank robbery in Richmond should have stopped when he was behind. 

Police said Robert Mustafa Farook Muhammad, 43, is facing a handful of charges after following a botched attempt at knocking off a bank here with another failed attempt in Hanover. 

In Richmond, police said a suspect demanded and received a bag of money from a teller shortly after 9:15 a.m. Monday, but dropped it in his haste to flee the building. 

Empty-handed, he knocked a woman down as she was trying to get in her car in the parking lot, stole the vehicle and drove off, unable to get the alarm to stop blaring. 

About 15 minutes later, Hanover police said a man walked into another bank and gave a teller a note demanding money. She complied, but the robber again fouled his departure. While rushing out the bank’s back door, he knocked over a male patron, who then began chasing him, joined by an off-duty correctional officer and another man. 

The three caught the suspect and held him until a deputy sheriff arrived.