Nearly 1 in 3 Americans Fear They Can't Afford Rent or Mortgage

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A new report released on Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors found that last month sales of previously owned homes fell to their lowest pace in 20 months. 

The report also shows a widening rift between the performance of high end properties and cheaper homes. Over the last year, sales of homes under $100,000 have plunged 18%, while sales of homes costing over $1 million have jumped 8%.

“There really should be stronger levels of home sales given our population growth,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “In contrast, price growth is rising faster than historical norms because of inventory shortages.” 

The Associated Press reports that the median price of a new home last month rose 12.6% to $290,000 from last March.

Concerns over America’s weak economy and grim jobs picture continue to weigh heavy on homeowners and renters. A new Gallup poll released on Tuesday finds that nearly one in three Americans (31%) say they are “very worried” or “moderately worried” that they will be unable to pay their mortgage, rent, or other housing costs.



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2014 GOP Governor Candidates Ahead of Democrats in Courting Latino Vote

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As the 2014 gubernatorial races heat up, Republican candidates across the country are beginning to launch Spanish language ads touting their business experience and courting the Latino community with stories that emphasize the hard work that brought them to their candidacies.

Fox News Latino reports that Republicans in increasingly Latino-populated states have begun their television offensives on Univisión, Telemundo, and other Spanish channels at an unprecedented early time. Particularly ahead of the curve are Republican gubernatorial candidates in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Illinois–Rick Scott, Greg Abbott, Susana Martinez, and Bruce Rauner, respectively.

Abbott, Fox News notes, was the first in line to release a Spanish language ad in March, eight months before the general election and well before winning the primary. The rest have launched their campaigns this week. According to The Wall Street Journal, these candidates are emphasizing “American Dream-like themes of support for entrepreneurship and small business.” The campaigns hope that Latino voters will connect with messages of hard work and humble backgrounds at the polls.

Governor Scott’s ad, for example, focuses on his modest background and the work he did to get to the top of the Florida Republican ladder–and how his experiences help him relate to Latinos struggling to make ends meet. While Scott is not fluent in Spanish, he does deliver some lines in the language:

Republican Governors Association spokesman Jon Thompson told the WSJ that Republican emphasis on Spanish language voters and outreach to multi-ethnic communities will become a priority for the Republican Party in this race: “You can expect to see many of our governors build their coalitions for re-election with multi-language ads and outreach.” Currently, six Republican governors preside over states with significant Latino populations: Arizona, New Jersey, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas.

Republicans are not just beating Democrats to courting the Latino vote; they are doing so with a more universal message for Latino voters. While Democrats have traditionally emphasized their support for immigration reform, Republicans are targeting Latino business owners and parents who hope to provide a better future for their children. In states like Florida, where the Latino population is 85% non-Mexican and composed in large part of Cuban and Venezuelan exiles and Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, immigration is not a significant issue to Latinos. 

The emphasis on Latino voters is new for Republican campaigns. In 2012, Democrats spent about twice as much as Republicans on Latino outreach, though both parties dedicated only single-digit percentages of their budgets to courting that vote. Democratic Senate candidates, for example, spent 3% of their money on Spanish language ads, while Republicans only spent 1%. With an ever-increasing Latin American population, this paradigm is set to crumble, and if 2014 is any indication, the Republican Party is on the forefront of that change.



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Rand Paul: Feds Caught David Petraeus Affair by Spying on His Email

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said former CIA Director David Petraeus, whose affair was revealed by an investigation into his mistress, was a victim of the government’s intelligence overreach.

“They currently say that your emails after six months has no protection at all,” Paul said. “That’s how they got Petraeus having an affair – they looked at his emails after six months but they didn’t even need a warrant to look at his emails.”

Paul made the remarks to former White House senior advisor David Axelrod ina discussion at the University of Chicago about surveillance and Americans’ right to privacy.

Paul said that it was time for reform the surveillance process, suggesting that federal law authorities had too much power to investigate private communications separate from the judiciary.

“We’ve got too far, we’ve gone way to far in allowing a breach of privacy,” Paul said.



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Colorado Democrats Abandon Bill to Ban State Regulation of Abortion

Last Wednesday, Colorado Democrats abandoned a NARAL-supported bill that would have banned any state regulation of abortion. The proposed legislation was dropped after the Democrat state senator who is the deciding vote publicly expressed his concerns about the proposal, making it evident Democrats might not have the votes to pass it in a chamber in which they hold only a single-seat majority.

As the Associated Press reported, state Sen. John Kefalas said he, the deciding vote on the state’s Reproductive Health Freedom Act, had misgivings about voting along with the other members of his party because of “concerns about the outpouring that I heard from folks.”

Kefalas said he questioned whether the measure was the “right tool” to protect abortion rights.

“I totally support a woman’s right to make decisions,” he said, but he indicated a significant public outcry caused him to question the measure.

Some reports indicate Kefalas is a Catholic who, in 2004, exited his job as a lobbyist for Catholic Charities North because on a questionnaire he indicated he supported Roe v. Wade. However, another report states Kefalas is a Mennonite and claims he was wrongfully terminated from his job and forced to resign due to his views on abortion.

A rally of more than 1,000 pro-life activists protested the bill at the state capitol last week, led by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who said the measure was so vague it could easily have been interpreted to ban any health regulations at women’s clinics.

In an open letter to the people of Colorado, Aquila wrote:

This over-reaching piece of legislation would essentially shut down any attempt to pass life-affirming legislation in Colorado ever again. More than that, it enshrines the “right to abortion” into Colorado law. It’s being praised by anti-life organizations such as NARAL and ThinkProgress as “the first of its kind” in the country and “ambitious.” It enshrines the culture of death into law and ignores science.

ThinkProgress said the bill would have strengthened “the precedent that was established under Roe v. Wade” and would have also prevented “state lawmakers from enacting restrictions in this area that aren’t based on scientific evidence.”

Referencing the fact that many states have enacted laws that require abortion clinics to adhere to the same health and safety regulations as other medical facilities, ThinkProgress continued:

Although Roe is technically still the law of the land, state lawmakers have successfully undermined women’s reproductive rights by enacting medically unnecessary barriers to abortion services. These restrictions are intended to attack abortion access from all angles, typically cloaked in the language of “women’s health and safety.” States across the country have imposed forced ultrasound requirements, mandatory waiting periods, restrictions on the administration of the abortion pill, and burdensome clinic regulations.

Susan Sutherland, vice president of Colorado Right to Life, told CNS News that while the goal of the measure was “horrific,” its broad language rendered it “probably the worst bill we’ve ever seen.”

State Sen. Andy Kerr (D), who sponsored the legislation, said Democrats abandoned the bill to avoid gridlock by Republicans.

“We weren’t ready to let this session be overshadowed” by the abortion measure, Kerr said.

Republicans in the Colorado Senate, however, said that while they all planned to vote against the abortion bill, they had not planned to use the measure to block other legislation.

“That’s ridiculous,” said state Senate GOP Leader Bill Cadman. “What they ran into was a firestorm of public dissent.”



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'Chiraq': Chicago Becoming More Dangerous Than Terror-Torn Iraq

During the first two weeks of nice temperatures in Chicago this year–which included Easter weekend–the city was beset with some 100 shootings with nearly a dozen dead. This intense violence has earned the Windy City a brand new nickname bestowed by its own citizens: “Chiraq.”

Over Easter weekend, there were 45 separate shooting victims in Chicago, four of which died. The previous weekend saw 35 shootings in only 36 hours that resulted in several more deaths. There were even more shootings and deaths during the intervening days between the weekends, as well. All this violence has turned Chicago into a war zone.

Many of those killed were teens and preteens. In one incident, four girls between 11 and 15 years of age and one teen boy were shot by gang members at a city playground.

On top of the ingrained gang violence, a “rapper” war of sorts is also raging. One rapper, Mario “Big Glo” Hess was gunned down a week ago, hit by ten bullets. Big Glo joined two other rappers who were killed by rivals on the streets of the city.

But the “rapper war” is only a minor part of “Chiraq,” as gangs continue their warfare as they attempt to take over each other’s drug territories.

Meanwhile, not a single American solider died in either Iraq or Afghanistan in March, and only 13 died in the previous two months. On the other hand, 76 Chicagoans have been murdered thus far in 2014.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.



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Despite Rollout Failures, Federal Obamacare Employees Awarded Big Raises

Last year employees at the federal office in charge of implementing Obamacare were given raises despite the massive failures of the rollout of the president’s takeover of our healthcare system.

A recent Freedom of Information Act request made by the Washington Examiner discovered that employees of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) were paid substantially more in 2013 compared to their 2012 salaries.

The CMS is Obama’s “ground zero in launching and managing Obamacare.”

The Examiner found that the payroll total for 2013 was $76 million, up from $69 million the previous year.

“Of the nearly 400 people in the data who worked with CMS in 2012 and who remained with the agency last year, nearly half got raises,” the paper reported, “with the average raise being worth $4,706, the data shows. Of those who got raises, their average pay rose from $147,279 to $149,289, a raise of about 1.4 percent.”

One executive, data center chief Corey B. Stevenson, received a hefty $13,036 per year raise, giving him a new annual salary of $157,421.

Of those supervisors and executives the office deigned to report on–many employees were left out of the report–none make less than $113,000 a year, and many make over $200,000 a year.

Henry Chao, listed as the deputy director of the office of information, made $163,052. As the Examiner reported, Chao was one of those who was behind the “troubled launch” of Medicare expansion.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.



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Colonoscopy Patient Sues Doctors for Making Fun of Him While He Was Unconscious

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va., April 22 (UPI) – A Virginia colonoscopy patient has filed a lawsuit in Fairfax County Court alleging that doctors defamed him and inflicted emotional distress by mocking him while he was unconscious.

In the suit, plaintiff D.B. alleges that Drs. Tiffany Ingham and Soloman Shah of Safe Sedation and Safe Sedation Management began making fun of him as soon as the anesthesia put him under.

The plaintiff allegedly captured the doctors joking about shooting a gun up his rectum on a cellphone recording. “On April 18, 2013, during a colonoscopy, plaintiff was verbally brutalized and defamed by the very doctors to whom he entrusted his life while under anesthesia,” the complaint states.

D.B. had his phone recording so he wouldn’t forget the doctors’ instructions for post-operation care.

“Referring to plaintiff, Soloman Shah, M.D. commented that a teaching physician known to both him and Tiffany Ingham, M.D. ‘would eat him for lunch,’” the complaint says. “Tiffany Ingham, M.D. agreed that plaintiff would be ‘eaten alive’ and also jokingly discussed a hypothetical of firing a gun up a rectum.”

The doctors also allegedly discussed whether the plaintiff was gay. He is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages for defamation.



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Florida Man Catches 805-Pound Mako Shark

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FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla., April 22 (UPI) – A Florida fisherman caught an 805-pound mako shark, making it the largest mako shark catch in the world.

When Joey Polk, a lifetime fisherman, reeled in the 11-foot-long shark, he did not want anyone to see his catch. He put the shark in the bed of his truck and while he stopped to get gas, someone snapped a picture that quickly went viral on the Internet.

The catch is the largest mako shark catch on record, knocking Polk’s cousin, Earnest Polk, to the second spot. The Polk won’t reveal the spot where they catch sharks because they want to “save our sport.”

Polk did note that he and his family catch and release the sharks 95 percent of the time, but this record-setting mako became dinner for family and friends.



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Alabama Rep. Using Float with Gun-Shaped Grill to Campaign

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TALLADEGA, Ala., April 22 (UPI) — Alabama Rep. Steve Hurst is hoping that using firearms and grills on a campaign float will let his constituents know that he is serious about gun rights.

Hurst, who is seeking reelection in District 35, has a unique-looking parade float that is actually a gigantic barbecue shaped like a gun.

Rep. Steve Hurst is pulling out the big gun in his campaign. #alpolitics pic.twitter.com/JlHKftOpi0

— greg varner (@varnergreg) April 21, 2014

Al.com reported that Hurst, who runs a gun shop with his business partner, was instrumental in getting the “castle doctrine” adopted in Alabama. Under the updated law, Alabama homeowners can legally shoot intruders instead of attempting to flee.

His main challenger in the GOP primary on June 3 is Steve Dean. Hurst has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since 1998.

According to the lawmaker, the fully-loaded grill “has received no negative feedback, and many people want to pose next to the large fake gun.”



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8-Year-Old Disabled Boy Charged with Two Felonies

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ALLEGAN , Mich., April 22 (UPI) – An 8-year-old Michigan boy with disabilities has been charged with two felonies following an incident where he allegedly assaulted an officer and damaged a police vehicle.

Police were called after Edward Hart ran away from the Hillside Learning and Behavior Center in Allegan and school officials were unable to bring him back.

“He’s ran away from the school before,” Hart’s stepfather, Robert Bluhm, told Fox 17. “And he’s made it to M- 40 before. But he’s never made it as far as he did this time.”

When Hart was apprehended, he “cursed at and assaulted the officer” and then “broke the police camera in the back of the car.”

“I don’t even think he did anything wrong in this case,” Bluhm said. “He’s special need[s]. He has anger issues. They know this. And they’re going to throw him in the back of a cop car all by himself.”

Hart has been charged with malicious destruction of police property and resisting and obstructing.

“If they had him under control, why didn’t they ride with him in the back of this cop car so this incident would have never took place?” Bluhm said. “When I called the school to ask questions — why nobody rode with the minor child to the school instead of just throwing him in the back of a cop car — they had no answers for me. They couldn’t answer that question.”

The Allegan City police chief said the department wants $50 to fix the broken camera. After he undergoes counseling, the court will decide if the charges against Hart will proceed.



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