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Toothbrush beats PC as best invention

In a nation obsessed with sparkling teeth and minty-fresh breath, the lowly toothbrush is the king of inventions.

So say the findings of a new survey released Wednesday by the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which asked which of five inventions Americans could not live without. The toothbrush emerged the undisputed champ, beating out the car, the personal computer, the cell phone and the microwave - in that order - as the most prized innovation.

"It makes a lot of sense," said American Dental Association spokesman Dr. Richard Price. "Your teeth are always with you. ... You can always update your car or a computer, but you just can't update teeth." The toothbrush finding has received the most attention, researchers said, because it shows that the public recognizes that great inventions don't have to be complicated.

The nose knows

A Pennsylvania company that makes a garlic-based repellant to keep critters out of flower beds and vegetable gardens is having the same effect on a neighboring business.

Charles Otto, owner of warehousing and shipping company PenNY Fulfillment, is raising a stink because of odors he says are emanating from Liquid Fence. The companies are separated by a wall in a building Carbon County opened in Green Acres Industrial Park in 1999.

Otto said soon after he moved merchandise into the 40,000-square-foot, multimillion dollar building, "the stink hit."

He said the odors damaged $100,000 in merchandise, and his insurance policy does not cover damages caused by gas, vapor or fumes from industrial operations.

Officials from Liquid Fence, whose product is sold in more than 8,000 stores nationwide, would not comment.

Easy come, easy go

A lottery winner may have just learned a big lesson: Easy come, easy go.

Jose Luis Betancourt, of Brownsville, Texas, had a huge stroke of luck just before Christmas when his Lotto Texas ticket matched all six numbers, netting him a $7.5 million prize.

But his luck ran out less than a month later when US Customs agents found 1.63 kilograms of cocaine hidden in the dishwasher and pantry of his apartment, according to officials. Betancourt appeared before US Magistrate Judge Feliz Recio on Tuesday and was ordered held without bond on charges of cocaine possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

US Customs Service spokesman Rick Pauza confirmed Betancourt was arrested Friday, but would not say whether the government was planning to seize his winnings.

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