We're fresh-breath freaks

As the police tell it, six armed men forced their way into a warehouse near Johannesburg, South Africa, one day last week and bound, gagged, and blindfolded the security guards with masking tape. Then they helped themselves to 21 pallets of merchandise and escaped before the guards could free themselves and sound the alarm. Must have been pretty valuable stuff in there, right? That depends on one's perspective. The missing goods all appear to be ... chewing gum. Value: perhaps $14,000. The cops frankly admit they can't figure it out. Said a spokesman: "We wouldn't understand the thinking of criminals."

Devices that Americans say they despise, but need most

Cellphones top a new survey aimed at identifying the inventions that Americans can't live without but also barely tolerate. Finishing second in the poll of more than 1,000 adults and 500 teenagers by Taylor Nelson Ofres Intersearch for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: the alarm clock. The eighth annual Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, conducted by telephone last Nov. 12-19 and made public last week, is designed to gauge public perceptions of technology. The devices deemed most loathed, yet indispensable, and the percentage of respondents who specified each:

1. cellphone 30%
2. alarm clock 25%
3. television 23%
4. electric shaver 14%
5. other (computer, answering machine, microwave oven, coffeemaker, vacuum cleaner) 8% - Associated Press

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