Money Matters - Simplified


Illinois tops worst retirement states list

Washington -- Some traditional U.S. retirement destinations didn't fare too well in a Web site's rankings of the 10 worst golden-years states. ranked sunny California second on the list behind No. 1 Illinois, while Arizona and Florida received honorable mention.

California earned points for climate, but the cost of living and the state's dicey financial situation trumped the warm weather. Florida and Arizona were also dinged for their sputtering economies.

Fastest-rising Google search: Chatroulette

Menlo Park, Calif. -- California-based search engine giant Google said the fastest-rising search term for 2010 was "Chatroulette," a webcam site famous for exposed private parts.

Google's "Zeitgeist 2010: How the World Searched" report, released Thursday, said other rapidly rising search terms this year included Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, iPad, Twitter and Facebook.

Rounding out the Top 10 were cellphone ringtone site Myxer and gaming sites Gamester and Friv.

Meanwhile, the report said search terms falling in prominence from last year include swine flu, "Twilight" series book and film title "New Moon" and singer Susan Boyle.

Google said the list-topper for its "strangest searches" of the year was the question: "Can a horse have OCD?"

McDowell bests Woods on playoff hole

Thousand Oaks, Calif. -- Graeme McDowell forged a tie with an 18th-hole birdie and then bested Tiger Woods on a playoff hole Sunday to win the Chevron World Challenge.

The clutch performance on the final regulation hole allowed McDowell to close with a 3-under-par 69 and catch Woods atop the leaderboard. Woods, who led by four entering the final round, struggled to a 1-over 73 and finished the 18 holes tied for first at 16-under 272.

McDowell sank a 20-footer for birdie on the final hole and forced Woods to respond with his own 3-foot birdie putt to extend the match.

McDowell then won it thanks to a birdie putt and a miss by Woods on the extra hole at Sherwood Country Club in California.

Secret mini-shuttle lands in California

Vandenberg Afb, Calif. -- An unmanned U.S. military mini-shuttle launched from Cape Canaveral in April glided to an automated landing in California Friday, Air Force officials said.

After a 220-day classified mission, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle touched down at 4:16 a.m. EST at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Florida Today reported.

The OTV-1 is the first U.S. unmanned vehicle to return from orbit and land on its own.

"We are very pleased that the program completed all the on-orbit objectives for the first mission," Lt. Col. Troy Giese, X-37B program manager, said in a statement.

"This marks a new era in space exploration," said Paul Rusnock, X-37B program director for The Boeing Co., the spacecraft's prime contractor.

FAA issues private spacecraft permit

Washington -- The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued the first-ever license for a commercial spacecraft to re-enter Earth's atmosphere from orbit, officials say.

The license will allow the California-based company SpaceX to complete the first operational flight of the Dragon spacecraft during a NASA demonstration mission set for a Dec. 7 launch, Florida Today reported.

After its launch from Cape Canaveral atop a Falcon 9 rocket, the Dragon will orbit the planet twice before re-entering and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off Southern California.

"The flight of Dragon will be an important step toward commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station," NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said in a statement.

More than 1,000 rats need new homes

San Jose, Calif. -- Animal groups in California said they are seeking homes for more than 1,000 rats discovered in a man's home during the filming of a reality TV show.

Rescuers said the rats, currently housed at Andy's Pet Shop in San Jose, were seized from a man's home during filming for an episode of A&E's "Hoarders," and will be spayed or neutered and adopted in pairs, KTVU-TV, Oakland, Calif., reported Tuesday.

"We had three litters born last night, two the night before," said Andy's Pet Shop manager Zoe Thoel. "So it's been nuts. Our estimate is about 1,000 to 1,200 without the new babies being born."

The rats were removed from a Los Angeles home and trucked to San Jose in a "climate controlled" vehicle, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Justin Bieber wins big at American Music Awards

Justin Bieber dominated this year's American Music Awards, taking home four big music prizes last night. The Canadian singing sensation was the biggest winner at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California, where he beat out such veteran artists like Eminem, Lady Gaga and Usher.

Cabbage Patch-like hysteria over new doll

Staten Island, N.Y. -- A California-based company has a new blue-haired doll that is creating Cabbage Patch-like hysteria reminiscent of the 1980s, shoppers said.

"Adorable Mittens Fluff 'N' Stuff" is one of eight dolls in the "Sew magical -- Sew cute" Lalaloopsy line, and sells for about $25, if you can find one, the New York Post reported.

The doll was already sold out at many toy stores, and entrepreneurs were selling them on the Internet for as much as $89. It is being sold by MGA Entertainment, a $2 billion a year toy manufacturer best known for its 'Bratz' dolls.

One million of the dolls were produced, but finding one is a challenge, shoppers said.

TV, film producer William Self dies

Los Angeles -- William Self, the producer and television executive who produced John Wayne's last movie, has died in California, his daughter said.

Self, 89, died Monday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center as a result of a heart attack Nov. 11, his daughter Barbara Malone said in a Los Angeles Times report.
Self was in charge of television production at 20th Century-Fox in the 1960s and early '70s when its roster of shows included "Mash," "Batman," and "Peyton Place."

Turkey not invited to Disneyland

Anaheim, Calif. -- Officials with the Disneyland theme park in California said the Thanksgiving turkey pardoned by the president will not appear at the park this year.

The theme park said the turkey, which in previous years served as a grand marshal of the Thanksgiving parade, will not appear at Disneyland this year following its pardon by President Barack Obama, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

"This year, Disney officials decided that the turkeys don't fit with the parks' new promotional theme, called Let the Memories Begin, which is based on visitors' memories," Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).