Report: Houston’s supply of homes for sale dips as upper end gains strength

By Katherine Feser Published 12:00 pm, Wednesday, March 14, 2018 Photo: Melissa Phillip Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 A for sale sign is displayed outside a home in Houston in 2017. A for sale sign is displayed outside a home in Houston in 2017. Photo: Melissa Phillip Report: Houston's supply of homes for sale dips as upper end gains strength 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Strong sales at the upper end of the market pushed the median home price in the Houston area to an all-time high for the month of February,  a new report showed. Meanwhile the supply of homes on the market tightened heading into the spring home-buying season. The median single-family home price gained 1.4 percent to $226,200 in February, according to a Houston Association of Realtors monthly report released Wednesday. The number of sales rose 5.3 percent year-over-year to 5,260 in February. Inventory, which represents the time it would take to sell all the listings on the market based on the previous 12 months of activity, slipped to 3.2 month from 3.4 months a year earlier. That compares with a 3.4 month supply nationally. Recommended Video: Now Playing: Another Fixer Upper hit the market. This time, it’s a historic three-bedroom, two-bath property featured on Season 1. Media: SLivingTime "February was a positive month overall for Houston real estate, but we really need growth in inventory to ensure that there is a plentiful supply of homes as we enter the spring buying season," HAR chairwoman Kenya Burrell-VanWormer with JP Morgan Chase said in a news release. The average price single-family home price rose 0.4 percent year-over-year to a February record of $281,945. Homes priced between $500,000 and $750,000 experienced the biggest uptick in sales, rising 18.8 percent over February Continue Reading

Warnings blanket Nevada as winter storm gains strength

Scott Sonner, Associated Press Updated 8:42 pm, Thursday, March 1, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-9', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 9', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Randy Pench, AP Image 1of/9 CaptionClose Image 1 of 9 Heavy winds blow snow as Ryan Foster, 25, scrapes snow from his car in the parking lot where he lives at the Donner Summit Lodge in Norden on Thursday, March 1, 2018, near Donner Summit, Calif. A major winter storm swept south through California on Thursday, bringing heavy snow and strong winds to mountains and steady rain elsewhere, while prompting mandatory evacuations for coastal areas to the south that were devastated by deadly mudslides in January. The California Department of Transportation said 90-miles stretch of Interstate 80 was closed between Colfax, California, and the Nevada state line due to whiteout conditions. (Randy Pench/The Sacramento Bee via AP) less Heavy winds blow snow as Ryan Foster, 25, scrapes snow from his car in the parking lot where he lives at the Donner Summit Lodge in Norden on Thursday, March 1, 2018, near Donner Summit, Calif. A major winter ... more Photo: Randy Pench, AP Image 2 of 9 A truck heads west through the snow on Interstate 80, Thursday, March 1, 2018, near Donner Summit, Calif. A major winter storm swept south through California on Thursday, bringing heavy snow and strong winds to mountains and steady rain elsewhere, while prompting mandatory evacuations for Continue Reading

Bunny ends congressional race against Collins as McMurray gains strength

The Democratic field of potential challengers to Rep. Chris Collins continues to shrink with attorney Sean B. Bunny’s Wednesday decision to exit the contest. The Army veteran’s withdrawal now leaves only Nicholas R. Stankevich rivaling Grand Island Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray among Democrats for the right to face the GOP incumbent in November. Stankevich, a Mumford businessman, is not addressing inquiries about his status in the race as McMurray gains strength following his endorsement last week by Democratic leaders in the eight-county 27th Congressional District. Earlier this week two other Democratic hopefuls ‑ engineer Thomas P. Casey of Orchard Park and Williamsville businesswoman Joan Elizabeth Seamans ‑ also ended their candidacies. The possibility of a June congressional primary continues, however, if Stankevich gathers enough signatures on designating petitions to qualify for the ballot. Bunny, meanwhile, was considered the early favorite to run against Collins when he declared his candidacy several months ago. The former Erie County assistant district attorney and Army officer quit his job and had noted significant, six-figure success in his early fund-raising efforts. On Wednesday, however, he said he was not interested in a “bruising primary” for the Democratic nomination as a preliminary to a general election contest viewed as very much uphill. “I ran for Congress because I felt I had an obligation to give back to the community that has given me everything,” Bunny said. “I wanted to add the perspective of a combat veteran and prosecutor to the political debate, a perspective we desperately need in Washington. “While I am proud of the campaign I ran, I did not become a candidate to hurt the Democratic Party or hurt our chances in November,” he added. “The most important objective is defeating Chris Collins and his anti-Western New York agenda this fall.” Bunny Continue Reading

Sen. Jeff Flake visits Sen. John McCain, tweets ‘he’s working hard and gaining strength’

Sen. Jeff Flake on Saturday visited his ailing colleague Sen. John McCain at the McCain family cabin near Sedona and tweeted that "he's working hard and gaining strength."Flake, R-Ariz., posted the brief message, saying he "had a nice visit" with McCain, R-Ariz., on Twitter at 4:40 p.m.McCain, 81, in July was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer, and has been getting chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Late last year, he was hospitalized in Bethesda, Md., for a viral infection and for side effects to his treatment.There has been no official update on McCain's health status since Dec. 17, when he returned to Arizona for ongoing physical therapy. At that time, he indicated that he looked forward to returning to the Senate in January, but he still has not done so. MORE: John McCain's son: He sounds better every day McCain has been staying at the family's secluded getaway in Cornville while he gets his physical rehabilitation. His daughter, television commentator Meghan McCain, recently echoed concerns about McCain traveling to Washington, D.C., during "this deadly, crazy flu season" while his immune system is not up to full strength."Mentally, he's 100 percent there," Meghan McCain, a host of "The View" on ABC, said during Politico's "Women Rule" podcast interview. "Just physically, he had torn both of his Achilles' tendons and, you know, it's taken some time to get back to physical fighting form."But she added that there's "a very high likelihood that he will come back to D.C. at some point." RELATED: John McCain to miss State of the Union addressMcCain has stayed tuned in to congressional proceedings, and continues to comment via social media and formal written statements. He also recently helped sponsor a bipartisan immigration bill. On Wednesday, he posted a video on Twitter wishing his mother, Roberta, a happy 106th birthday.Last month, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., another Continue Reading

Sanctuary movement gains strength on LI

The Rev. Lawrence Provenzano, right, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, and the Rev. Marie A. Tatro, vicar for the diocese's Community Justice Ministry, inside the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City on Jan. 22, 2018. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang A sanctuary movement focused on shielding from deportation immigrants who are in the United States illegally is gaining strength on Long Island, with clergy and lay people pledging to resist federal officials trying to send such immigrants back to their homelands. The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island has declared itself a “sanctuary diocese” — prepared to give shelter in its 129 churches, for weeks or months, to immigrants facing arrest and deportation. The Setauket Presbyterian Church, a congregation established in 1660, has become the first house of worship on Long Island to individually designate itself a sanctuary, saying it will open its doors to immigrants in jeopardy. Nearly a dozen self-described “rapid response teams,” with 300 members, have formed throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. The teams are prepared to rush to the scene of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions, accompany immigrants to court and carry out education campaigns informing immigrants of their rights. The advocates say they are compelled to act by their faith and the Judeo-Christian teaching to help the powerless. They are part of what is called the “New Sanctuary Movement,” which now includes at least 800 houses of worship, according to Manhattan-based Church World Service, an international humanitarian nonprofit. The informal network of safe havens is expanding as the administration of President Donald Trump intensifies efforts to deport immigrants here illegally and the future remains uncertain for Dreamers — young people brought illegally to the United States as children years ago. The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island’s move is “a clear Continue Reading

Ex-President George H.W. Bush remains in Houston hospital, ‘continues to gain strength’ while recovering from pneumonia

HOUSTON — A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush says the nation's 41st president remains under observation at a Houston hospital after recovering from "a mild case of pneumonia." Family spokesman Jim McGrath said Wednesday that the 92-year-old Bush "continues to gain strength ... had a good night's rest, and his spirits are high." McGrath disclosed Tuesday that Bush was brought to Houston Methodist Hospital last Friday for treatment of a persistent cough. He said doctors diagnosed that as pneumonia but that the illness has been treated and resolved. McGrath says Bush won't be discharged Wednesday, but that he is looking forward to going home. Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, spent 16 days in the hospital for treatment of pneumonia in January. Continue Reading

Terrorists in Iraq, Syria ‘gaining strength,’ Obama admits as administration considers increasing airport security

The Obama administration is seriously considering a ramp-up of airport security measures over fears Islamic militants are developing a new generation of hard-to-detect bombs in war-torn Syria. The United States may also ask its foreign partners to enhance security at airports overseas, and the issue was discussed at the White House last week during a meeting of top intelligence officials, ABC News reported Sunday. The Department of Homeland Security, FBI and other agencies have for months been weighing action, including a potential public announcement, according to the ABC News report. The concern stems from intelligence about militants in Syria teaming up with Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen to produce “creative” new bomb designs intended for smuggling aboard commercial planes. No specific target or time line has been identified, but intelligence has pointed to radical terrorists looking to down a U.S.- or Europe-bound plane — possibly with help from foreign fighters in Syria who carry American and European passports, ABC News reported. President Obama didn’t address the bomb threat Sunday, but he did express concern that “battle-hardened” militants returning to Europe after fighting with jihadist forces in Syria and Iraq may wind up putting the U.S. in grave danger. Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate built the “underwear bomb” that failed to destroy an airliner when an operative tried to detonate it over Detroit on Christmas 2009. Earlier this year, American airlines were warned to look out for explosives-laden toothpaste, cosmetics and shoes. It was unclear Sunday exactly what new airport measures might be introduced, although a source told ABC News that changes could involve more random screenings. The U.S. must improve its surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence gathering to neutralize the risk of the militants becoming terrorists, Obama argued. Continue Reading

California wildfire raging in Yosemite National Park gains strength

FRESNO, Calif. — A wildfire raging along the northwest edge of Yosemite National Park gained strength Saturday as firefighters scrambled to protect nearby mountain communities. The fire held steady overnight at nearly 200 square miles, but a spokesman for the California Forestry and Fire Protection Department said firefighters didn’t get their usual reprieve from cooler early-morning temperatures. The rim fire started in a remote canyon of the Stanislaus National Forest a week ago and is just 5% contained. More than 5,500 homes are threatened, four have been destroyed and voluntary and mandatory evacuations are under way. The fire has grown so large and is burning dry timber and brush with such ferocity that it has created its own weather pattern, making it difficult to predict in which direction it will move. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Links between Aaron Hernandez and 2012 double murder gaining strength as grand jury hearing prosecutor’s case

ATTLEBORO, Mass. - The case against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez regarding his possible role in a 2012 double homicide is gaining strength as a grand jury has begun listening to prosecutors lay out the links between Hernandez and the murders behind closed doors. Hernandez, who is already being held in prison without bail for allegedly killing 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, is the focus of the separate grand jury probe, according to the Boston Globe. Boston police made a possible connection between Hernandez and the double slaying after he became a suspect in the Lloyd murder. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in the Lloyd case. He is due in Attleboro District Court for a probable cause hearing on Wednesday. The victims of the double murder - Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu - were shot in the early hours of July 16, 2012. The killings occurred in the South End district of Boston when an unknown person in a sport utility vehicle with Rhode Island license plates pulled up next to their car and began firing. Hernandez, 23, was awarded a five-year contract extension worth up to $40 million by the Patriots a month after the double murder. He was released by the team within two hours of being arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lloyd. Hernandez’s former teammates commence training camp later this week. While Hernandez's appears in court Wednesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick is scheduled to address reporters for the first time since Hernandez's arrest. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

A new front in the fight against terrorists? Al Qaeda gaining strength in North Africa

WASHINGTON —  Al Qaeda's terror network in North Africa is growing more active and attracting new recruits, threatening to further destabilize the continent's already vulnerable Sahara region, according to U.S. defense and counterterrorism officials. The North African faction, which calls itself Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), is still small and largely isolated, numbering a couple hundred militants based mostly in the vast desert of northern Mali. But signs of stepped-up activity and the group's advancing potential for growth worry analysts familiar with the region. The rapid recent rise of the Al Qaeda group in Yemen — which spawned the Christmas airliner attack — is seen by U.S. officials and counterterrorism analysts as evidence that the North African militants could just as quickly take on a broader jihadi mission and become a serious threat to the U.S. and European allies. The Mali-based militants have yet to show a capability to launch such foreign attacks, but are widening their involvement in kidnapping and the narcotics trade, reaping profits that could be used to expand terror operations, officials and analysts said. Several senior U.S. defense and counterterrorism officials spoke about AQIM on condition of anonymity to discuss internal analysis. Those advances have set off alarms within the counterterrorism community, which watched as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula quickly transformed over the past year from militants preoccupied with internal Yemeni strife to a potent group recruiting and training insurgents for terror missions inside the U.S. That threat was underscored by the failed Christmas airliner attack, which officials say was planned and directed by Yemeni insurgent leaders. A key fear is that as AQIM expands, its criminal and insurgent operations will continue to destabilize the fragile governments of heavily Islamic North Africa, much as it has in Mali. The Maghreb includes the North African Continue Reading