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While I rarely recommend plugins, the CKEditor plugin will do highlighting of selected text. That sounds like exactly what you want. And it is a greatly enhanced editor relative to the default one. Short of creating your own editor buttons and supporting functions, that would be a pretty good choice.
It's a PHP issue. The character ' is being escaped so that it can be safely in various places, not least of which is the database. That's why your ' look like \'. You can use PHP's stripslashes() function to clean it up, or (if it's an array you need to clean up) WordPress's stripslashes_deep() function.
There is a difference between the home page and the front page. Since the code uses is_front_page I assume that is what you want, but check the Codex for the difference. I don't know how your theme works, but it looks like the theme rolls several things into the "info bar". The code you posted just checks to see if there is any reason to display that bar. ...
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