Money Matters - Simplified

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Dell asks employees to swap their BlackBerrys with Venue Pro

Dell is looking to put its new smartphone in place of the long-established BlackBerry, and is starting with its own employees. The computer maker is going to replace 25,000 BlackBerry devices used by its employees with Windows 7-running Dell smartphones, it confirmed on Friday.

EPA denies petition on lead fishing gear

Washington -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has denied a petition calling for a ban on the manufacture, use and processing of lead in fishing gear, officials said.

The petitioners had not demonstrated the requested rule was needed to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act, an EPA release said Thursday.

The American Bird Conservancy and a number of other groups petitioned the EPA in August under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act to "prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of lead for shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers."

Wynn dealers approve 10-year contract

Las Vegas -- Transportation Workers Union Local 721 said Wynn Las Vegas dealers voted overwhelmingly to approve their first labor contract with the company.

Dealers voted 358 to 65 to approve the contract that was identical to an offer made almost a year ago. That offer was set to expire Nov. 17, The Las Vegas Sun reported Tuesday.

The 10-year contract leaves a provision on sharing tips with immediate supervisors intact, even though some union members have filed an appeal in Clark County District Court to reverse a Nevada Labor Commission ruling that the policy was legal.

It was the tip policy, initiated in 2006, that sparked the employees effort to unionize, the newspaper said.

A few states report harvests done

Washington-- The U.S. Department of Agriculture said three states have their corn harvest completed for the year.

Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee report 100 percent of their corn harvest done. On the other side of the spectrum, among the 18 largest corn-producing states, North Dakota reports just 67 percent of its harvest complete.

In Pennsylvania, 70 percent of the crop is harvested. In Wisconsin, 76 percent is done.

The other top corn-producing states report harvests at least 80 percent complete. The average completion among all 18 states is 91 percent, the USDA said Monday.

Fed weighs an option with high risks

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Reserve is facing a sluggish economy, limited options and potentially high risks, monetary policy analysts said.

With its overnight lending rate set at zero to 0.25 percent Fed decision makers are contemplating a new round of bond purchases, a step known as quantitative easing or printing money, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The aim is to pump more money into a lackluster economy in which the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high.

The strategy is intended to make money cheap, which gives the inflation rate a chance to rise. With prices rising, consumers and corporations can be baited into spending, as bargains can be had by making a purchase quickly, rather than waiting.

Foot powder causes flight delay

Birmingham -- A Southwest Airlines spokesman said an Alabama flight was temporarily delayed due to a suspicious white substance that turned out to be foot powder.

Paul Flaningan said the 77 passengers of Flight 602 from Birmingham to Jacksonville, Fla., which had been scheduled to depart at 6:20 p.m. Sunday, were taken off the plane and investigators were called in after a flight attendant noticed white powder leaking from a box, The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union reported Monday.

Flaningan said a passenger indicated the substance may have been foot powder he packed for the trip and testing confirmed the identity of the foot powder.

"It was a false alarm, but it was to be on the safe side," Flaningan said.

Construction spending rises slightly

Washingnton -- U.S. construction outlays rose 0.5 percent in September with gains in spending on residential projects, the U.S. Commerce Department said Monday.

As highway construction began winding down, money spent on private residential projects rose 1.8 percent from a month ago to $231.7 billion. Spending on private non-residential construction dropped 1.6 percent to $250.3 billion, Commerce said.
In total, construction rose to $801.7 billion compared to a revised August estimate of $797.5 billion.

Total spending for private and public projects was 10.4 percent below September 2009 when outlays reached $894.8 billion for buildings and highways.

Non-stop Europe-Iraq air service revived

Baghdad -- Non-stop air service between Iraq and Europe, virtually non-existent the past 20 years, resumed Sunday when a French passenger jet landed in Baghdad.

Aigle Azur's Airbus A319 soared into the heavily guarded Baghdad airport shortly before dawn, delivering 111 passengers. The Daily Telegraph said most of them were traveling on business.

One of the passengers was French Trade Minister Anne-Marie Idrac, who said France wants to see French businesses cash in on Iraq's efforts to rebuild after years of war.

"It's unthinkable for French business not to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq," the Telegraph quoted Idrac as saying.

Advocates decry missing mammal data

San Diego-- The U.S. government's Marine Mammal Inventory Report is missing data and lacks appropriate analysis, animal advocates said.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Saturday its review of the document found the well-publicized 1989 death of Kandu the orca was missing and that no statistical analysis has been performed to learn lessons from the data.

National Marine Fisheries Service spokeswoman Connie Barclay could not account for the missing information, telling the newspaper Friday, "If we get the information, we add it to our list."

Santa letters arriving in Sweden

Stockholm-- The Swedish postal service Posten has received an early rush of letters to Santa Claus, officials said.

The post office said it has already received 1,400 of an expected 100,000 Santa letters, the Swedish news agency TT reported.

Most of the letters come from children living in Sweden, but many come from youngsters around the globe who believe Santa lives in the Swedish part of Lapland, the report said.

The most popular items requested from children last year were computer games, Lego sets and pets.

Copyright 2010 United Press International