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Federal Reserve policymakers are meeting in Washington, trying to decide whether — and exactly how — to boost the sluggish economy. Many analysts are expecting the Fed to take action, but they're also beginning to question whether another stimulus program will have any effect.

It's become conventional wisdom that President Obama's new lead in the polls is a bounce, coming out of the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.

But an analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project suggests that the bounce might be due to TV ads as much as grand speeches. The Obama campaign and its allies laid out $21.1 million for TV during the two weeks of the party conventions. Over that same stretch, Republican Mitt Romney and his backers spent significantly less, $12.9 million.

I kind of think of Philz Coffee in Palo Alto, Calif., as the epicenter of Apple fanatics. It's so hip, only hand-poured specialty blends are sold here.

Every day dozens of techie types come to Philz for coffee and then lounge around on the leather sofa sipping away, often with Apple products scattered in front of them.

Yeliz Ustabas has an Apple laptop perched next to her and an iPhone balanced on her knee.

Americans donate billions of dollars to charity each year, and a portion of that money is raised by telemarketing solicitations.

Some of those charitable contributions are solicited by InfoCision Management Corp., an Ohio-based telemarketing company that, on its website, claims to raise more money for nonprofit organizations over the phone than any other company n the world.

For months, the tax-exempt Crossroads GPS has argued that its anti-Obama ads were merely issue ads and not political ads. No more. Today the group went up with ads explicitly telling viewers to vote against President Obama.

Co-founded by Republican operative Karl Rove, the group began running a 30-second spot Wednesday morning in Nevada that blames a weak economy and poor housing market on Obama and ends with the wording: "This election ... don't blow another vote on Obama."

Poverty Rate Remains Flat, Says Census Bureau

Sep 12, 2012

In 2011, the poverty rate in the United States remained steady and the number of uninsured Americans decreased, the Census Bureau said today. That means that more than 46 million Americans lived below the poverty line last year.

NPR's Pam Fessler filed this report for our Newscast unit:

The numbers for West Nile virus cases continue to rise, up 35 percent in the last week. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is confident the nation has turned the corner on its worst-ever epidemic of West Nile virus disease.

Over jeers and cheers from the audience, commissioners on the Portland, Ore., City Council voted Wednesday to add fluoride to the city's drinking water starting in 2014.

Portland is the largest American city that doesn't add fluoride to its drinking water. But some groups have raised questions about the possible risks from fluoridation and oppose its use.

The U.S. poverty rate last year was unchanged from the year before, according to new figures Wednesday from the Census Bureau. But that still means almost 1 in 6 Americans was poor.

The new data show that 46.2 million people in the U.S. lived below the poverty line — about $23,000 for a family of four. The number of poor was almost exactly the same as it was the year before, but still historically high.

A Syrian documentary film producer whose disappearance two weeks ago prompted concerns for his safety and a letter of support from the Toronto International Film Festival is now free, according to reports.

This summer in Maine, I ate more lobster than at any other time I've been there – twice in one day on a couple of occasions. We lobster lovers had the glut of soft-shells, which started in June as the lobsters began to shed earlier and faster than usual, to thank for the more affordable market price of around $4 or less a pound.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the three jailed members of the politically radical punk rock band Pussy Riot should have their sentences commuted to time served.

"In my view, a suspended sentence would be sufficient, taking into account the time they have already spent in custody," The Associated Press quoted Medvedev as saying during a televised meeting with members of his United Russia Party.

The nation's official measure of health insurance coverage turned positive for the first time in quite a while.

The Census Bureau reported a decline in the number of Americans without coverage in 2011. But the ranks of the uninsured remain pretty high.

All told, 48.6 million people, or 15.7 percent of the population, had no health insurance last year, down 1.4 million from 50 million in 2010.

The order to tighten security at all U.S. diplomatic posts around the globe following attacks in the Middle East may be necessary, but it will come at a cost.

There has been an enormous increase in security precautions at American embassies and consulates over the past 30 years, and the bubble that many diplomats now operate under makes it more difficult for them to interact with people in other countries, limiting their ability to gather information and promote the American "brand."

Spanish-language network Univision announced Wednesday that, along with Facebook, it will host discussions with the presidential candidates next week, calling them "the first-ever events of their kind targeting Hispanic Americans."

The "Meet the Candidate" events — featuring Republican nominee Mitt Romney on Sept. 19 and President Obama on Sept. 20 — will be held at the University of Miami and will be broadcast on Univision and streamed online in English.

Moments ago in San Francisco, Apple's Phil Schiller unveiled the latest incarnation of the company's massively popular smartphone.

The iPhone 5, said Schiller, is "the most beautiful product we've ever made."

Of course, you want to know what's different about this model: Essentially it's thinner, lighter, faster and also has a bigger screen than the iPhone 4s.

The device also comes equipped to work with faster wireless networks like LTE, which AT&T, Sprint and Verizon carry.

The AP adds:

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Updated and revised at 4:26 pm ET:

The death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans at the hands of extremists there became the latest fodder in the 2012 presidential race early Wednesday.

Republican Mitt Romney used the incident to continue his campaign's attacks on President Obama's approach to foreign policy.

Is The Black Middle Class Disappearing?

Sep 12, 2012



This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We've been talking a lot about the economy in the past couple of weeks. The issue was at the forefront of the two political conventions that just ended and put a further exclamation point on the debate over whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would be the best person to address the issue.



I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, he is the biographer of Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois and Jackie Robinson, and now Arnold Rampersad is the winner of a prestigious lifetime achievement award for his body of work. We'll speak with this legendary writer in just a few minutes.

Most Americans knew nothing about Innocence of Muslims. That's the film that has set the Muslim world on fire, causing protests in Egypt and Libya that led to the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

This year's presidential debates have no Latino moderators on the slate. So one network is taking matters into its own hands. Univision's Jorge Ramos is set to moderate discussions with each of the major party presidential candidates. He tells host Michel Martin it's time for the Commission on Presidential Debates to move into the 21st century.

If you didn't know that a Big Mac has 550 calories, or the Southwest Chicken Salad has 290, those numbers will be hard to miss the next time you visit McDonald's.

That's because the fast-food giant announced today that it will begin posting calories on its menu boards right above customers heads in the restaurant, and at the drive-thru starting next week.

How Cheap Can Lipitor Get? Try Free

Sep 12, 2012

Since cholesterol-fighter Lipitor went generic late last year, the price has plunged.

You can pick up atorvastatin, the generic version of Lipitor, starting at about 50 cents a pill, if you buy a month's supply at Costco. A year ago, the brand-name version went for $3.50 and up per dose. And the brand-name pills still cost around $4.28 at Costco.

Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a very special diplomat. He made a career of going to difficult places and insisting that he witness tumultuous events firsthand.

Some well-funded pro-Mitt Romney superPACs and other advocacy groups are pulling their TV ad dollars in Pennsylvania and Michigan and are doubling down on efforts in what they consider to be more crucial swing states — such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Colorado.

Those are states where President Obama has also been spending considerable time campaigning lately, but where he's facing a barrage of attack ads from his Republican rival and the conservative superPACs, such as American Crossroads, and nonprofit advocacy groups, like Americans for Prosperity.

President Obama has joked that he should appoint former President Bill Clinton to a new post: "Secretary of Explaining Stuff."

That's basically the role Clinton played at the Democratic National Convention in telling Americans why — in his view — they should give Obama another four years in office.

Now Clinton is on the campaign trail in the key battleground state of Florida. He's in Orlando today after stumping for Obama in Miami on Tuesday.

As a strike by Chicago's schoolteachers enters a third day, the president of their union says negotiators are still "miles apart" from an agreement to get 350,000 students back in the classroom, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The talks were set to resume Wednesday morning, but Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said there had been only "centimeters" of progress and that the union and city were still "kilometers apart."





United States ambassadors do not always have a close connection to the countries where they serve. Sometimes, the ambassadors are friends of an American president. Sometimes, they're career diplomats who have posted to many countries over the years.