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Iran asks West to leave Persian Gulf as tensions heightened

Iran asks West to leave Persian Gulf as tensions heightenedIran's president called Sunday on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran, criticizing a new U.S.-led coalition patrolling the region's waterways as nationwide parades showcased the Islamic Republic's military arsenal. Hassan Rouhani separately promised to unveil a regional peace plan at this week's upcoming high-level meetings at the United Nations, which comes amid heightened Mideast tensions following a series of attacks, including a missile-and-drone assault on Saudi Arabia's oil industry. The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the Sept. 14 attack on the world's largest oil processor in the kingdom and an oil field, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 12:09 PM

Mike Pence takes eight-vehicle motorcade across island where cars have been banned for a century

Mike Pence takes eight-vehicle motorcade across island where cars have been banned for a centuryFor more than a century, motorised vehicles have been banned from Mackinac Island in Michigan - giving the former Revolutionary War battle site a unique charm and turning it into a tourist haven.The ban is so strictly enforced that when President Gerald Ford visited in 1975, he and first lady Betty Ford travelled by horse-drawn carriage.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 11:00 AM

The Amex Business Platinum perks are so good it makes me want to start my own company

The Amex Business Platinum perks are so good it makes me want to start my own companyBGR has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. BGR and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.Please note: the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.One of our favorite rewards credit cards for ordinary consumers is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which combines a big up-front welcome offer of 60,000 points (after using the card to spend $5,000 in your first three months) with a ton of luxe perks. The benefits range from an airline fee credit of up to $200 to American Express Concierge travel service, and much more. Business owners, meanwhile, fear not. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express is a companion version of the charge card tailored to the needs of business people, and it not only has a similarly impressive lineup of benefits.You've also got until December 4, 2019, to take advantage of a limited-time, increased welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points.Who needs this card: If you rack up frequent travel expenses over the course of your business operations, or even if you simply charge thousands of dollars a month in business expenses to a charge card, it's hard to argue the Amex Business Platinum doesn't deserve a spot in your wallet.Why you should sign up for one right now: The current welcome points offer means if you can put $25,000 in charges on this card in your first three months of card ownership (and before December 4), the 100,000 Membership Rewards points bonus can be yours. Yes, that's a big outlay in order to get the welcome reward, but since this is a business card we're talking about that's not an unreasonable amount of expense to put on a charge card.Moreover, based on the most recent monthly valuations from The Points Guy, 100,000 Membership Rewards points are worth $2,000 in travel, which makes this card's bonus an extremely lucrative one and potentially worth the high spending levels. We should also add -- you'll earn the welcome points in two tiers.Spent $10,000 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months of card membership, and you'll earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points. Once you put another $15,000 on this card (for qualifying purchases) after that initial $10,000 -- and, again, still before the first three months are up -- then you'll earn an additional 50,000 points.If you read our previous post outlining the slew of lucrative benefits available to Amex Platinum cardmembers, you're already familiar with many of the benefits of the Amex Business Platinum. Both cards share perks like: * Up to $200 airline fee credit each year * Access to Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta) * Access to other lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection * Gold elite status with Hilton Honors and Gold elite status with Marriott Bonvoy * Upgrade with Points to request an airline ticket upgrade on select airlines * 5 points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels (both must be booked through Amex Travel on the Business Platinum)However, here are some of the benefits you get that are exclusive to the business version of the Platinum card: * 10 free Gogo inflight Wi-Fi passes each year * 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year) * A complimentary year of Platinum Global Access with WeWork (enrollment must be done by December 31, 2019) * Up to $200 in annual statement credits for Dell technology purchases, split into a $100 credit for January through June and another $100 credit for July through December The final wordWhile this card does come with a $595 annual fee that can seem hefty at the outset, if you take advantage of the $200 airline fee credit and the annual up to $200 Dell credit, you'll effectively pay a net of only $195 a year for the card. This card proves its worth and then some for any businessperson engaged in regular travel. From lounge access at almost any airport in the world to elite status at Hilton and Marriott hotels, plus helping you get onto the internet while in the air during flights, this card has tons of benefits (not to mention that welcome bonus that's higher than ever) just waiting for you to take advantage of.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 2:17 PM

Florida school resource officer who arrested two kids, ages 6 and 8, is under investigation

Florida school resource officer who arrested two kids, ages 6 and 8, is under investigationAn Orlando school resource officer is facing an investigation after he arrested a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old on misdemeanor charges.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 2:26 PM

Israel Could Not Survive Hamas' Missiles Without The Iron Dome

Israel Could Not Survive Hamas' Missiles Without The Iron DomeIsrael lives in a dangerous neighborhood.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 4:30 AM

How Trump could lose the popular vote again – and hold the White House

How Trump could lose the popular vote again – and hold the White HouseHillary Clinton won a majority but lost the presidency in the electoral college. A close election could bring a repeatDonald Trump waves to supporters as he arrives for a campaign rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty ImagesSome defeats never lose their sting. In Washington this week, Hillary Clinton summed up her bid for the White House in 2016.“You can run the best campaign. You can have the best plans. You can get the nomination. You can win the popular vote. And you can lose the electoral college and therefore the election.”Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots yet lost the electoral college – the body of people who represent states and actually get to choose the president – by 304 votes to 227. A black swan event never to be repeated? No. In 2020, it could easily happen again.A study from the University of Texas at Austin found that the electoral college is much more likely than previously thought to elect the candidate who loses the popular vote. In close elections, researchers argues, such “inversions” are normal, not exceptional.In a race decided by less than 2% (2.6m votes), the study found, the probability of an inversion is 32%. In a race decided by less than 1% (1.3m votes), the probability is 45%.“It’s almost a coin flip,” said Michael Geruso, an assistant economics professor.Some critics of Trump have never quite accepted him as the legitimate president, pointing out that he does not represent the will of the majority. After his uniquely divisive first term, a repeat could trigger a furious backlash.> The Republicans do a really determined job of winning power with fewer voters> > Senator Sheldon WhitehouseIn 48 presidential elections since 1824 there have been four inversions: in 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016. All four favoured Republicans, although the researchers argue there have been periods when it was more likely a Democrat would win by inversion.“We wanted to understand, were these statistically likely events or were they flukes?” Geruso said. “And in some sense it was just shocking to us that no one had asked and answered that question yet.”Geruso and his colleagues found that all the most common election models used by political scientists led to a very similar result for the probability of inversion.“There’s lots of questions where different models would give different answers but, on the question of how likely is an electoral inversion in a close race, we don’t need to agree or decide on what the perfect model of elections is. They all give the same answer.”Clinton ran up huge margins in states such as California, Illinois and New York. Agonisingly, her loss of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by a combined 77,000 votes cost her the electoral college.Some analysts doubt Trump could get so lucky again. But Geruso said he has a decent chance of catching lightning in a bottle once more.“It’s really easy to look at the 2016 election and for people to feel like that was an extraordinary election, an extraordinary political moment, it was unusual in a lot of ways. And that may all be true but it turns out that’s not why the 2016 election ended in a mismatch between the electoral college and national popular vote. It ended in an inversion because that election was close and close elections, we show, just have a relatively high probability of ending in an inversion.”It is less about Trump’s appeal to certain constituencies than simple geography and maths.“Don’t be tempted into thinking that the reason that 2020 might be an inversion is because Donald Trump is running in that race. Inversions are going to keep happening in close races for as long as we have the electoral college because they have been happening.”According to Geruso, two major reasons are often cited for inversions. When Clinton won New York and California she did so by big margins, but when she lost states such as Florida or Ohio she did so narrowly. Thus there was an imbalance in the aggregate vote tallies.Secondly, since a state’s number of electoral college votes is determined by how many senators and representatives it has, and every state has two senators, small states have greater representation in the college relative to population size. Each senator in California represents nearly 20 million people. Each senator in Wyoming represents 290,000. The current alignment favours Republicans, although there are exceptions such as the District of Columbia.The researchers found a 77% probability that, if an inversion occurs, it will be a Democratic popular vote majority and a Republican electoral college win. ‘Second-grade soccer’Several Democratic candidates for president, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have called for the college to be abolished. The party, however, is wrestling with how to exploit it as ruthlessly as Republicans do.Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher, said: “The Republicans do a really determined job of winning power with fewer voters and we don’t take on that infrastructure and we don’t take on that strategy. We’re too happy fighting the fight of the minute. It’s second-grade soccer, chasing the ball, and they are planning ahead.”> The electoral college actually undermines democracy> > LaTosha BrownSome observers fear the electoral college encourages voter suppression. Republican efforts to use voter ID laws to limit registration in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will be closely scrutinised.Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster and strategist and author of new book RIP GOP, said: “If there is a close national election, Republicans will resort to things they have done demonstrably well over the last decade of trying to suppress the vote.“There’s no doubt that the Wisconsin case in 2016 was produced not by low turnout among African Americans but pushing them off the voter rolls with new voter ID laws, and so there was a sharp drop in eligible voters and people were prevented legally from voting. So obviously the most important thing is to make sure we did not have a close election.”While southern states such as Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia have the highest proportions of African Americans in the country, those who vote for the Democrat are effectively ignored by the electoral college.Hillary Clinton delivers her concession speech, in the New Yorker hotel. Photograph: REX/ShutterstockLaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said: “They never have any influence on picking the president because of winner takes all. It gives the impression everyone in the south is conservative.“In these states it’s based on a systemic history of racism. What I’m seeing is people of colour don’t fundamentally believe they’re living in a democracy. Why don’t you have proportional representation? What possible justification is there for winner takes all? The electoral college actually undermines democracy.”Few expect Trump to win the popular vote. But in a chilling warning for Democrats, the New York Times suggested he could win the electoral college again, because mostly white working class rust belt states remain at the centre of the electoral map.“A strategy rooted in racial polarization could at once energize parts of the president’s base and rebuild support among wavering white working-class voters,” Nate Cohn wrote. “Many of these voters backed Mr Trump in the first place in part because of his views on hot-button issues, including on immigration and race.”Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution think tank at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, noted that George W Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 but won it in 2004 after improving in Texas and post-9/11 New York.For Trump, he said, “it’s a tight squeeze. There’s not much margin for error. But he could do it again, like he did in 2016, without the popular vote.“So expect Trump derangement syndrome to get even worse.”




POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 1:00 AM

Stacks of cash shown at trial of Sudan's toppled leader Bashir

Stacks of cash shown at trial of Sudan's toppled leader BashirStacks of cash piled high were shown as evidence on Saturday against ousted Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir at his trial on charges of possessing illicit foreign currency and corruption. Millions of euros and Sudanese pounds were found at Bashir's residence in April after he was overthrown and detained by the military following months of demonstrations against his rule. The court heard four defense witnesses on Saturday, including Abubakr Awad, who was minister of state for the presidency until Bashir's fall, before it was adjourned until next Saturday.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 3:28 PM

Swiss to hold high-altitude wake for lost glacier

Swiss to hold high-altitude wake for lost glacierDozens of people will undertake a "funeral march" up a steep Swiss mountainside on Sunday to mark the disappearance of an Alpine glacier amid growing global alarm over climate change. The Pizol "has lost so much substance that from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier," Alessandra Degiacomi, of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, told AFP. Dressed in black, they will make the solemn two-hour "funeral march" up the side of Pizol mountain in northeastern Switzerland to the foot of the steep and rapidly melting ice formation, situated at an altitude of around 2,700 metres (8,850 feet) near the Liechtenstein and Austrian borders.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 10:10 PM

History buff finds ships that sank in 1878 in Lake Michigan

History buff finds ships that sank in 1878 in Lake MichiganA diver and maritime history buff has found two schooners that collided and sank into the cold depths of northern Lake Michigan more than 140 years ago. Bernie Hellstrom, of Boyne City, Michigan, said he was looking for shipwrecks about 10 years ago when a depth sounder on his boat noted a large obstruction about 200 feet (60 meters) down on the lake bottom near Beaver Island. "I've made hundreds of trips to Beaver Island and every trip I go out the sounder is on," he told The Associated Press on Friday.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 20, 2019 9:41 PM

105 people injured as a pair of strong earthquakes rattle Albania

105 people injured as a pair of strong earthquakes rattle AlbaniaCars were crushed by bricks falling from buildings in Albania's capital Tirana, as the country was struck by a pair of strong earthquakes on Saturday.According to the Ministry of Health, at least 68 people were injured, but some reports say there are as many as 105 people injured. The majority of injuries occurred in Durres and Tirana. There have been no reported deaths.The Saturday afternoon earthquake was followed by more than 100 aftershocks, authorities report. It also damaged about 600 homes and temporarily cut power and water facilities in Tirana and Durres.According to the United State Geological Survey (USGS), the first earthquake struck at 4:04 p.m., on Saturday near Durres, about 18 miles (29 km) to the west of Tirana.A second earthquake struck just 11 minutes later a short distance away. Shake Map of the larger 5.6 earthquake in Albania on Saturday, September 21, courtesy of the USGS. The first and larger earthquake was reported as a magnitude 5.6 on the Richter Scale, which is Albania's strongest earthquake in 30 years. The second was measured to be slightly weaker at 5.1.Buildings were damaged in the town of Durres which is close to the epicenter.> A university building in Tirana pic.twitter.com/J5UVYyrJOh> > -- Fatjona Mejdini (@FatjonaMejdini) September 21, 2019> Durres albania earthquake pic.twitter.com/BWPIWvErk1> > -- Alice Taylor (@The_Balkanista) September 21, 2019




POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 1:13 PM

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