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Michelle Malkin - Bloody Chicago

President Obama's hometown of Chicago still goes by the old nickname "Windy City." But after three miserable decades of strict gun control and permanent Democratic rule, Chicago has cemented its reputation as America's Bloody City.
No amount of statistical whitewashing can cover up the stains of the left's ideological failures there. But as Obama continues to wage war on law-abiding gun owners, his home team is trying its hardest to spread smiley-face lies upon damned lies to downplay Chicago homicide statistics.
On Monday, April Fools' Day, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy held a press conference to tout a "dramatic" drop in the city's homicide rate. The headlines read: "March homicides drop dramatically in Chicago" (USA Today); "Murders fall 42 percent in America's deadliest city: Chicago" (NBC News); and "March homicides drop 69 percent in Chicago" (Las Vegas Sun)."
Emanuel trumpeted the drop as a "good sign." He hyped statistics to the Associated Press showing that first-quarter 2013 murders in Chicago tied the same time period in 2009. Murders decreased 69 percent compared to the same month last year; first-quarter homicides fell by 42 percent compared to the same time frame last year. Emanuel insisted: "We are clearly having an impact on the homicides."
But it's all in how you slice, dice and spin it, of course.
Let's face it. Gun-grabbers in Democratic-dominated cities have an institutional incentive to fudge the numbers. In New York City, which rivals Chicago when it comes to out-of-control gun-control regulations, a New York Police Department whistleblower recently exposed systemic manipulation of crime data.
As anti-Second Amendment crusader Michael Bloomberg made the rounds last spring touting the Big Apple as "the safest big city in America," an internal NYPD report confirmed that more than a dozen crime reports had been manipulated — including felonies downgraded and incident reports deep-sixed — to lower the crime rate. As punishment for exposing the tampering and corruption, the whistle-blowing officer, Adrian Schoolcraft, who secretly taped the manipulation, was suspended and forced into a psych ward. He's still fighting for justice and has never received an apology.
So, call me crazy, but I wouldn't put it past Team Obama's Chicago theater directors to goose their numbers to improve the optics for Dear Leader. Speaking of the lobbyist in chief, he parachuted into Colorado this week and surrounded himself with Denver police officer human props during a gun-control campaign event. The rank-and-filers were none too happy with being exploited for political purposes. "To protect and serve" is supposed to be a public safety imperative, not a campaign imperative.
But back to the Bloody City. In 2012, Chicago racked up the nation's deadliest death toll, with 506 of its residents murdered. The murder rate has simply returned to its bloody business as usual over the past five years. Here's the first-quarter death toll breakdown: 2013: 70; 2012: 120; 2011: 75; 2010: 75; 2009: 70.
The Second City Cop crime blog adds that Emanuel's claim regarding the homicide rate dropping to levels not seen since the 1950s "is based solely on the population decrease in the city of Chicago. This is an amazing abuse of numbers, but as Mark Twain said, 'There are lies, damned lies and statistics.' Welcome to 'statistics.'"
Local Chicago CBS 2 reporter Jay Levine didn't buy the whitewashing bunk, either. He challenged City Hall with a piece entitled: "City Touts Lower Homicide Stats, But Context Reveals Return To Normal." Put simply, "2013's 70 first-quarter homicides was a major improvement over 2012's 120 — but not over 2011 or 2010 or 2009."
While Emanuel sang "Don't Worry, Be Happy" for the press, the Bloody City was still reeling after a 6-month-old baby was shot and killed in gang crossfire. On Easter weekend, a mob of violent teens terrorized shoppers in the Magnificent Mile district. Similar outbreaks of racially driven attacks have escalated in Chicago under the reign of Daley-Emanuel-Obama. By some police estimates, gang violence accounts for up to 80 percent of the city's homicides.
Plagued by juvenile delinquency, organized crime, ruinous government dependency, corruption and out-of-control spending, these liberal-dominated hellholes have proved impervious to progressive "social justice" engineering. It's the insane demagogues blaming guns who need their heads examined.
(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)


Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Roy Sanborn - 3 Real Estate Myths

As of April 1, 2013 there were 936 residential homes on the market in the twelve communities covered by this report. The average asking price was $513,337 and the median price point was $249,900. Our inventory is down a bit from last April when there were 994 homes available which is great news, but the average price and median price point is also a bit lower as well. Our current inventory represents just a little over a 12 month supply of homes on the market. Not too bad...
A recent article on the Fox Business News website by Brendon DeSimone cautioned readers not to be fooled by three real estate myths. Hey, what do you know, Real Estate Mythology! The first myth was that spring is the best time to sell a home. It has long been the conventional wisdom that spring was the time when buyers with families are out looking so they can find a new home to be into by the time the new school year started. No one wants the kiddos traumatized by starting mid-year at a new school. We've got video games for that! In the Lakes Region spring has always been a big selling period. Buyers finally have been able to dig themselves out from under the snow banks and are excited that they can actually see the properties they might want to buy.
But the article says that the best time to sell is actually the holiday season and right after. I can certainly agree that the buyers out looking for property on the second day of Christmas or when the weather is a balmy twenty four degrees are definitely serious! And, many buyers feel that a new year brings bright, new possibilities in home ownership leading them to embark on the search for a castle to call their own.
The following chart shows how many homes were sold each month in the twelve towns in this report. Our biggest sales months come during the summer and the fall. But homes sell all year round. I really think the best time to sell your home is when you have it ready to sell. Make sure it is in the best possible condition with all repairs taken care of, a fresh coat of paint where necessary, and above all make sure it is clean, clean, clean. And, I can also guarantee that no one is going to buy your home unless it is on the market.

RESIDENTIAL SALES CHART 2012 GOES HERE

The second myth is for buyers and that is always to start with your lowest offer on a property. The truth is you don't necessarily want to start with your highest and best, but you almost certainly won't get anywhere with a low ball offer on a well priced home. You will most likely anger the seller to the point where you won't get as good a deal as if you had come in with a more appropriately thought out offer. Now, it is true that some homes are overpriced and probably will sell well off the asking price, but those sellers are generally not very receptive to low ball offers. You may be better off pursuing a more reasonably priced home. That's why you should have the advice of a REALTOR® to help you determine property values and seller motivation before you make an offer. Most of the time, low ball offers will get you nowhere.
The third myth is that a cash offer will trump all others given the risk involved in getting financed today. Buyers always tend to believe that a cash offer is something that seller's can't resist. The article asks you to consider that you received two offers on your home that is listed at $399,000. One was cash for $375,000 and the other was at full price but financed with 25 percent down, a pre-approval letter, and quick contingency periods. The article recommends that the agent for the buyer with financing provide the seller with everything possible to prove that his client can meet the terms of the financing contingency and make the case that his deal is better. He might even arrange that the seller or seller's agent talk with the buyer's lender. It also helps a lot if the lender is someone local and that has a reputation of being able to provide superior customer service and be able to work through the glitches that always seem to pop up.
Other things to consider in the deal would be how much of a deposit that the cash buyer is putting down, the condition of the property, and how well it will fair in a home inspection. Is the cash buyer likely going to try to negotiate more on defects found in the home inspection? Is the value of the home questionable at all and does the cash offer request an appraisal to be done? There's a lot to consider in either offer! Getting financing on any home today can be a little daunting to say the least. But, any deal that can eliminate financing altogether certainly carries a lot of weight by eliminating the appraisal and underwriting process. And that's another reason why you need a REALTOR® to help you evaluate and give you assistance in the decision making process. Maybe next week we'll get into legends...
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled as of 4/1/13 using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Roche Realty Group and can be reached at 603-677-8420

Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 10:18

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Jim Hightower - Wall Street hogs still running wild

Wall Street is a beast. And proud of it! In fact, a pair of animals are the stock market's longtime symbols: One is a snorting bull, representing surging stock prices; the other is a bear, representing a down market devouring stock value.
But I recently received a letter from a creative fellow named Charles saying that we need a third animal to depict the true nature of the Wall Street beast: a hog. Not just a little piggy, writes Charles — but a HOG, a really big one.
Yes! And we could name it "Jamie." Jamie Dimon — I mean the multimillionaire, silver-haired, golden-tongued CEO of JPMorgan Chase, America's biggest bank.
For years, Dimon has wallowed in the warm glow of America's financial, political and media limelight, hailed as a paragon of sound management and banker ethics. He's been publicly lauded by President Obama, celebrated by The New York Times and courted by leaders of both parties.
But, suddenly last summer, a big "oink" erupted from Chase, and Jamie's inner hoggishness was revealed. It started when one of Chase's investment arms went awry and lost $2 billion. At first, Dimon haughtily dismissed this as "a tempest in a teapot." But the loss of investors' money soon grew to a staggering $6 billion dollars. Criminal probes began, investors squirmed, media coverage grew testy, and then came the revelation that took all the glitter off of Dimon.
On March 14, a U.S. Senate committee issued a scathing 300-page report documenting that the loss was not a mere "trade blunder" by Chase underlings, but the product of a systemic corporate culture of recklessness, greed and deception. An internal e-mail from Jamie himself, with the words "I approve," traced the stench all the way to the top. Not only did Dimon know what was going on, he enabled it.
JPMorgan's mess stems from the same dangerous combo that rocked America's financial system in 2007 and crashed our economy: ethical rot in executive suites, sycophantic politicians and reporters and willfully blind regulators. Meanwhile, Jamie is still Boss Hog at the giant bank and still drawing millions of dollars in annual pay and perks.
Also, only one week after the Senate report came out, he was even given a media award for best 2012 performance by a CEO facing a corporate crisis. E-I-E-I-O!
For a better performance on containing banker narcissism, our lawmakers might look to Europe. I know that it's considered un-American to like anything those "namby-pamby" European nations do, but still: Let's hear it for the Swiss!
In a March 3 referendum, the mild-mannered, pacifist-minded Swiss people rose up and hammered their corporate executives who've been grabbing rip-off pay packages, despite having made massive financial messes. Two-thirds of voters emphatically shouted "yes" to a maverick ballot proposal requiring that shareholders be given the binding say on executive pay. Violators of the new rules would sacrifice up to six years of salary and face three years in jail. That's hardly namby-pamby.
Indeed, America's lawmakers and regulators are the ones who've been squishy-soft on banksterism. Jamie is not the only one being coddled — none of the Wall Street titans whose greed wrecked our economy have even been pursued by the law, much less put in jail.
It's no surprise, then, that those bankers have gone right back to scamming — and gleefully enriching themselves. Hardly a week goes by without another revelation of big-bank fraud, yet the banks simply pay an inconsequential fine and the culprits skate free.
Forget about too-big-to-fail, banks have become "too big to jail." Our nation's top prosecutor, Attorney General Eric Holder, recently conceded that finagling financial giants are being given a pass: "It does become difficult for us to prosecute them," he told a Senate subcommittee, "when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy."
Meanwhile, just four giants — Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo — put nearly $20 million into last year's elections, mostly to back Republicans promising to weaken the few feeble restraints we now have on banker thievery. With such Keystone Kops overseeing them, why would any Wall Streeter even think of going straight? Nothing will change until officials gut it up, go after lawless bankers and bust up the banks that are too big to exist.
(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 10:17

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Pat Buchanan - Cypress: is this such a bad thing?

"Government is theft." The old libertarian battle cry came to mind when the news hit, two weeks ago, that Cyprus was about to confiscate 7 percent of all the insured deposits in the island's two biggest banks. Nicosia also planned to siphon off 10 percent of uninsured deposits, those above 100,000 euros ($130,000), and use that cash as well to finance Cyprus' share of a eurozone bailout.
The reaction was so scalding that the regime had to back off raiding insured deposits. The little people of Cyprus were spared. Not so the big depositors, among whom are Cypriot entrepreneurs and thousands of Russians. Their 10 percent "haircut" has now become an amputation.
Large depositors in the Bank of Cyprus, the island's largest, face confiscation of 60 percent of their capital. In Laika, the No. 2 bank, which is to be euthanized, the large depositors face losses of up to 80 percent. All of Laika's bondholders will be wiped out, and all employees let go.
When the Cypriot banks opened again on March 28, capital controls had been imposed. Only 300 euros may be withdrawn daily from a bank. Folks leaving Cyprus may take only 1,000 euros.
What has this crisis to do with us? More than we might imagine.
Last week, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone's finance ministers, let the cat out of the bag. The bail-in of big depositors and bondholders, who are being forced to eat a huge slice of the Cypriot bailout, may serve as a model for future bailouts. The hot money that came into Cyprus, said Dijsselbloem, either to be laundered or hidden from taxes, or to seek a higher rate of return, was wagered money. And when bets go bad, government is not obligated to made the gamblers whole again. The former eurozone policy of protecting senior bondholders and uninsured depositors, said the Dutch conservative, is history. If money comes from Northern Europe to bail out the Club Med, Club Med bank bondholders and big depositors will be "bailed in."
Translation: Uninsured savings in Spain, Italy and Slovenia may be raided and bondholders liquidated to bail out their troubled banks. To Malta, Luxembourg, Latvia and other banking centers, the handwriting is on the wall: What happened in Cyprus could happen here.
So great was the shock from Dijsselbloem's remarks, by day's end he was backtracking, declaring Cyprus was not a template but a "specific case" with unique circumstances. None too soon. For as Barclay's bank noted, "The decision to bail in senior bank debt and large depositors will likely have a price impact on equity and credit instruments of those euro area banks that are perceived as the weakest."
Barclay's was saying that bondholders and big depositors in banks of other troubled eurozone countries may take a second look at where they have stashed their cash and whether their assets may be subject to sudden confiscation. And the monied class may decide, in the wake of the Cyprus slaughter, that security of principal is preferable to a higher rate of return in a risky institution. When capital controls are lifted in Cyprus, why would any depositor, who had been scorched in the inferno, risk leaving any major deposit in a Cypriot bank? Nicosia's days as a banking center, where total bank deposits exceeded seven times its gross domestic product, are over.
And facing a dramatic contraction in their economy, what do Cypriots do now?
The effect across Europe is likely to be a gradual selloff of bonds in Italian and Spanish banks and transfers of cash out of these banks into U.S. and European banks where the interest rate offered may be lower but the principal is more secure. Nor is this an unhealthy development. If taxpayers in Northern Europe have to rescue mismanaged Club Med banks, why should not bank bondholders be wiped out, just as they were at Lehman Brothers? And ought not uninsured depositors who stuffed cash into these banks to get higher rates of return or evade taxes or launder dirty money get burned as well?
From Asia to Europe, people concerned about the safety of their money are looking at Cyprus, with many surely saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I!" And they likely hear in the anguished cries of Russian, British and Cypriot depositors, who got no warning and failed to get out in time, a fire bell in the night for themselves.
If this persuades depositors to seek security first for their income, pensions and savings, and to transfer funds out of risky banks into more solid institutions, is that such a bad thing?
If Kipling's Gods of the Copybook Headings, who arrived on Cyprus in March with their terrible swift sword, are back in charge, is this not better than having Western taxpayers forever securing the deposits and investments of the rich and feckless?
Those Russian depositors wiped out in the Cyprus slaughter may not have died in vain.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Susan Estrich - Even with Obamacare, no such thing as a free lunch

Those of us who live in California woke up to some pretty scary headlines on morning last week. According to a new report, Obamacare could result in increases of 30 percent in health care premiums. Thirty percent!
Of course, even without Obamacare, premiums have been going through the roof. But 30 percent for the same health care you've been getting? It's enough to send chills down the backs of even the staunchest Obama supporters.
Except that it isn't quite right. It isn't just the devil that's in the details.
First of all, the numbers only apply to the 2 million folks who buy health care as individuals or will when the law goes into effect, not the 19 million people covered by their employers. Everyone agrees that the impact on plans covering large groups of employees will be much less.
Second, those who make less than 400 percent of the federal poverty line ($46,000 for individuals, $94,000 for a family of four) will actually pay about 47 percent less for coverage because of federal subsidies.
Third, 30 percent is the headline, not the real number. The new plans will offer people more and better benefits with lower deductibles, which means that families will actually save more and get more for their coverage. Those who are paying 30 percent more in premiums will be saving one-third of that because of better coverage and lower deductibles.
As many of us know, there's health insurance, and there's health insurance. I have many friends who could only find (not to mention afford) the skimpiest of policies, which exclude everything from prescription drugs to mental health. In order to comply with new federal requirements, everyone is entitled to "essential health benefits," which even many who are insured don't get today.
Fourth, a big factor in the increase is that people who, for all intents and purposes, can't even buy insurance today, let alone good insurance, will be able to do so.
That brings sicker people into the system, rather than leaving them in line at the emergency room — which, by the way, is not only the most expensive place to get care, but also one the rest of us pay for in other ways.
When I asked a friend to explain what looked to me like an outrageous hospital bill, including charges for everyday items I could have bought for half as much at the drug store, the answer was simple: The cost of "my" supplies effectively included the cost of services and supplies for those who could never pay for them.
Fifth, the cost of care is going up anyway. Without Obamacare, healthier folks who can buy insurance (as opposed to those with pre-existing conditions who are turned away) would be paying about 10 percent more in premiums anyway. And that's with no guarantee of prescription drug coverage or mental health services and the like.
Sixth, and most important, the issue here is not just money; it's also values.
I have told this story before and have heard similar ones countless times from friends, acquaintances and folks in line at the market. Some years ago, I went out to buy health insurance for the woman who has, for the past 25 years, taken care of my children, my dogs and me. I insisted that she be covered. All I can say is thank God for Kaiser. No one else would take my money. Why? Because she had gastritis. Seriously. Because they aren't looking to add 50-somethings to their books — because they might get sick. Of course. And she did, years later, get sick, and frankly, without insurance, good insurance, doctors who gave her world-class treatment, she would not be here.
Of course we should be cost-conscious. Of course changes will have to be made. There will be problems — as there are with any new program — and we should be ready for them.
But the bottom line, for me anyway, is this: There is no such thing as a free lunch. Providing good health care for every American is not something we can do for free. But it is something we should do. And we will. And once we do, as was true of Medicare, it will be difficult to imagine that it ever could have been otherwise.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 11:04

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