Money Matters - Simplified

United States

German unmasked in 'Operation Spiderman'

Los Angeles -- Inspectors in Los Angeles say "Operation Spiderman" ended with the arrest of a German man who allegedly mailed hundreds of live tarantulas to the United States.

Sven Koppler, 37, Watchberg, Germany, was picked up shortly after arriving in Los Angeles to meet with an association, the U.S. attorney's office announced Friday.

Koppler was charged with violating animal-smuggling laws and ordered to appear in federal court Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors said in a written statement that Koppler allegedly twice shipped boxes packed with between 250 and 300 live spiders from Germany to Los Angeles. The discovery of one of the shipments during a routine inspection of international mail sparked the undercover operation dubbed "Operation Spiderman."

Many in ranks of long-term jobless

Washington -- Economists say the United States is at risk of having a large group of the permanently unemployed if the trend of long-term joblessness continues.

U.S. Labor Department data show those who have been laid off less than five weeks have a monthly re-employment rate of 30.7 percent, while only 8.7 percent of those out of work for a year can expect to find new jobs, The New York Times reported Thursday.

At the moment, 6.2 million people have been out of work for at least six months, the cutoff for unemployment to be considered long-term.

Experts say there could be a number of reasons. Those who tend to stay jobless may be poorer employees, and skills and contacts can erode, especially in fast-moving high-tech fields.

Qatar to host 2022 World Cup

Zurich, Switzerland -- Qatar beat out Australia, South Korea, Japan and the United States to host the 2022 World Cup, FIFA announced Thursday.

It will be the first time a World Cup will be hosted by a Middle Eastern nation. The United States, South Korea and Japan all previously have hosted the tournament.

"The World Cup is going to new lands and I am a happy president as we speak of the development of football," FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter said in congratulating Qatar.

"Thank you for believing in change and believing in expanding the game and thank you for giving Qatar a chance," said Sheik Mohammed bin Hamad al-Thani, who chaired Qatar's bid. "We will not let you down. We will make you proud."

China ranks fourth in R&D spending

Beijing -- China's scientific research and development spending in 2009 put it fourth in the world after the United States, Japan and Germany, officials said.

The country spent $87 billion on R&D, officials at the National Bureau of Statistics of China told the country's state-run news agency Xinhua Wednesday.

China's R&D activities in 2009 involved about 3.18 people, the largest number in the world, Cha Zhimin, deputy-director of the society and science department of the NBS, said.

Of the total spending, the government invested $20 billion on R&D in 2009, about 4.5 times that in 2000, indicating the government's willingness to boost innovation, Cha said.

Damage to U.S. birds by cats: $17 billion

Lincoln, Neb. -- Feral cats are a threat to birds across the United States, whether or not they are fed by kindhearted humans, a study released Wednesday concluded.

The report from the University of Nebraska concluded that bird loss due to homeless cats totals $17 billion damage based expenditures from hunters and bird watchers.

The study concluded that there are an estimated 60 million feral cats in the United States that are opportunistic hunters. The creatures don't lose their instincts for the hunt even if they are fed regularly by good Samaritans, and they tend to be a greater threat to wild native species of birds and rodents than they are to pests such as pigeons and house mice.

U.S. markets regain Tuesday's losses

New York -- U.S. markets turned higher Wednesday, regaining Tuesday's losses despite a drop in factory orders in Europe and the United States.

Eurostat said industrial orders fell 3.8 percent in the euro zone in September compared to August and dropped 2.5 percent in the 27-member European Union. In Washington, the Commerce Department said new orders for durable goods fell 3.3 percent in October after a 5 percent increase in September.

In an early release to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday, the Department of Labor said weekly first-time unemployment benefit claims fell by 34,000 in the week ending Nov. 20.

'Toy Story' remains atop U.S. sales chart

Los Angeles -- The animated adventure "Toy Story 3" is the top-selling DVD in the United States for a second week, Rentrak reported Thursday.

Coming in at No. 2 on the DVD sales roster for the week ending Nov. 14 is "Grown Ups," followed by

"How to Train Your Dragon" at No. 3, "The Pacific" at No. 4 and "Ramona and Beezus" at No. 5.

Rounding out the top tier are "Charlie St. Cloud" at No. 6, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" at No. 7, "Cars Toon: Mater's Tall Tales" at No. 8, "The Karate Kid" at No. 9 and "Sex and the City 2" at No. 10.

The No. 1 DVD rental for the week ending Nov. 13 is "Grown Ups."

"Toy Story 3" is No. 2, "Charlie St. Cloud" is No. 3, "Ramona and Beezus" is No. 4, "Predators" is No. 5,

EPA issues lead pollution list

Washington -- Sixteen areas across the United States are not meeting the Environmental Protection Agency's national air quality standards for lead, the agency says.

The areas -- located in Pennsylvania, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Missouri and California -- were designated as "non-attainment" because their 2007 to 2009 air quality monitoring data showed they did not meet the agency's health-based standards, an EPA release said.

Areas designated as not meeting the standard must develop and implement plans to reduce pollution to meet the lead standards by Dec. 31, 2015, the EPA said.

'Toy Story' tops DVD sales, rental charts

Los Angeles -- The animated adventure "Toy Story 3" is the top-selling and renting DVD in the United States, Rentrak reported Thursday.

Coming in at No. 2 on the DVD sales list for the week ending Nov. 7 is "How to Train Your Dragon," followed by "The Pacific" at No. 3, "Sex and the City 2" at No. 4 and "Cars Toon: Mater's Tall Tales" at No. 5.

Rounding out the top tier are "The Karate Kid" at No. 6, "Predators" at No. 7, "Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue" at No. 8, "Toy Story 2" at No. 9 and "Toy Story" at No. 10.

The No. 2 rental for the week ending Nov. 6 is "Predators."

Geithner denies currency manipulation

Washington -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday the United States has not tried to undermine the dollar for a trade advantage -- and never would.

In a CNBC interview, Geithner said, "The United States would never do that. We will never seek to weaken our currency as a tool to gain competitive advantage or grow the economy. It's not an effective
strategy for any country and it's not for the United States."