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The nation's poverty rate rose last year to 15.1 percent, the highest level in 17 years, according to new data from the Census Bureau. The agency's latest poverty report, released Tuesday, shows that 46 million people were poor and that the median income dropped last year by more than two percent to about $49,445.

Not unexpectedly, the continued lack of jobs was the main cause.

Ted Weschler of Charlottesville, Va., paid $2.6 million dollars at a charity auction in both 2010 and 2011 to have lunch with Warren Buffett.

In a press release, yesterday, Berkshire Hathaway announced that Weschler was joining Buffett and another partner to manage some of Berkshire's equity holdings. But the interesting part comes later in the release, when the company says:

Warren Buffett, Berkshire's Chairman, will continue, however, to manage most of the funds until his retirement.

Now the nation's pediatricians have waded deep and early into the race for the presidency. In an unusual instance of political fact-checking of a candidate's statements by physicians themselves, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a tough prescription for Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann: Get your facts straight on the HPV vaccine.

Tuesday's hearing in the supercommittee was supposed to be about the history of the current debt crisis. Almost nothing causes more partisan bickering than that. Each party is fervent in its belief about who drove the government into the ditch — namely, the other guys.

On Tuesday, however, Doug Elmendorf, the man who runs the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), immediately dispensed with the question of blame and laid out the options for the supercommittee.

Businesses In Joplin, Mo., Find Economic Opportunity

Sep 13, 2011

It's been nearly four months since a tornado slammed into Joplin, Mo., destroying about one-third of the city. More than 525 businesses were in the direct path of the storm.

Now as they rebuild, business owners are seeing some opportunities in the wake of their tremendous losses.

'Can Do' Attitude

After the tornado hit, the building that housed the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Joplin was destroyed. A safe used to store narcotics was one of the only things to survive and even it got knocked over by the powerful winds.

The Obama administration is scrambling to head off what it fears will be a diplomatic train wreck at the United Nations next week.

After years of gridlock in Mideast negotiations, the Palestinians plan to seek U.N. membership as a state on territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war. That territory includes the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and the plan would go through the Security Council, where the U.S. has already promised to use its veto.

Partisans on both sides continue to argue over whether to put more money into the coffers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is running short of cash because there have been so many tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters this year.

The political bickering is nothing new, of course.

They're calling it Million Hearts – a newly launched campaign to put a half-dozen simple and proven public health strategies into wider practice. Federal health officials say it can prevent a million heart attacks and strokes between now and 2016.

Federal officials call it "the next big step" in cardiovascular prevention. There's lots of evidence it's an achievable goal.

James Murdoch Recalled By British Parliament

Sep 13, 2011

James Murdoch, News Corp.'s deputy chief operating officer and the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, will face a second round of grilling from the British Parliament.

If you remember, News Corp. has been under fire in Britain over revelations that the now-closed News of the World tabloid had hacked the phones of public and private figures.

The AP reports:

Parents of young children, we have some good news courtesy of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: In the coming months, most children younger than 12 will no longer be required to take off their shoes when going through airport security.

The AP reported that during testimony before the Senate, Napolitano also said children will less frequently be subject to pat-downs from Transportation Security Administration officials.

At first glance, today's report from the U.S. Census Bureau on the number of Americans without health insurance in 2010 looks, well, a little dull. About 16.3 percent of people in the country were without health insurance, which "was not statistically different from the rate in 2009," the report points out.

But dig a little deeper and there's plenty of action.

Painting Of A Burning Bank Fetches $25,000 At Auction

Sep 13, 2011

One California artist has made some serious money with a series of paintings that have struck a chord internationally. In an auction on Ebay, Alex Schaefer sold a 22-by-28 inch oil painting of a burning Chase Bank branch in Los Angeles for $25,200.

One question at last night's Republican presidential debate has the Internet abuzz. Not really for what Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said but for the reaction of a few people in the Tea Party crowd.

This was the question from CNN's Wolf Blitzer:

"A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I'm not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I'm healthy, I don't need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it.

"The CIA assesses that, 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, the United States continues to face a serious threat from al-Qaida and its worldwide network of affiliates and sympathizers," even though the terrorist organization "has been weakened," CIA Director David Petraeus told Congress today in his first testimony since taking over the top job at the intelligence agency.

The international tribunals at The Hague have dealt with horrific war crimes and brought Balkan war criminals and African warlords to trial.

Now, the tribunal is being asked to investigate top Vatican officials over the global clerical sex abuse scandal, and victims say these offenses meet the legal definition of crimes against humanity.

Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly apologized for crimes committed by priests.

USDA To Ban 6 More Strains Of E. Coli In Ground Beef

Sep 13, 2011

E. coli 0157:H7 isn't a lonely foodborne villain any more.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said today that six uncommon strains of E. coli will be banned from ground beef due to risks of illness. Consumer groups are hailing the move as the biggest advance in meat safety in years.

But meat processors warn it will cost consumers more money, and say the scientific evidence doesn't justify the new expense.

It turns out daddies are losing more than just sleep after a child arrives. New fathers also experience a sharp decline in levels of the male sex hormone testosterone.

At least that's what scientists have concluded from a long-term study of more than 600 men in the Philippines.

The scientists found that single men who started out with relatively high testosterone levels were more likely than other men to become fathers. But once a baby arrived, testosterone levels plummeted.

Parts of the U.S. are seeing a drop-off in vaccination rates among young children. The falling rates don't necessarily track with poverty or other poor public health trends; in fact, a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report flagged the poorest rates of kindergarten vaccination in relatively prosperous states, like Washington and Oregon.

Federal watchdogs say the U.S. Marshals Service needs to do a better job of valuing and selling assets tied to fraudsters and organized crime figures.

The Justice Department's inspector general has found poor oversight and problems with record keeping that could be costing taxpayers money.

The Marshals Service has managed investments, homes and jewelry tied to many prominent criminals over the past five years. The prominent felons include Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff and organized crime figure James Galante.

When I was a kid, I assumed that in the future things would get better and better until we were all driving flying cars and playing badminton with space aliens on top of 500-story buildings. Frankly, I kind of counted on this happening. But now I don't assume that we'll just keep going up anymore.