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Independence Day Reminds Us That We Need To Protect Our Freedoms

As we celebrate our July 4th Independence Day Holiday, let’s remember some of the reasons we declared our independence and the hard fought freedoms we ultimately won in our protracted struggle to form a new nation. Among these are freedom of religion, free speech, freedom of the press, the right to freely assemble and petition the Government, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, free and open courts, and the right which Thomas Jefferson considered to be most important, the right to jury trials.

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Preparing for the 2012 Hurricane Season: Tips for Texas Homeowners

The 2012 Hurricane season officially begins today. Forecasters are predicting 11 Named Storms, 6 Hurricanes and 2 Major Hurricanes for 2012. As the season begins, Texans along the Gulf Coast must prepare for the possibility of this year’s storms. But whether you live in the hurricane zone or not, you should take time to review your homeowners insurance policy now to make sure you have the coverage you need in the event of a disaster. Even if you don’t face the threat of a hurricane, a wildfire, tornado, or hail storm could severely damage your property.

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Largest Deed Scam in Harris County History defrauds hundreds of homeowners

The largest deed scam in Harris County history has defrauded hundreds of Harris County property owners, mostly in poorer neighborhoods, over the past six years.  For at least six years, players in a massive swindle boldly entered the Harris County Civil Courthouse with fake deeds bearing the freshly minted signatures of long dead men, faked notaries’ seals and other blatantly false claims to seize and sell others’ property.

The consequences of the widespread deed fraud — carried out between 2002 and 2008 — continue to affect hundreds of people in some of the city’s humblest neighborhoods. Much of the mess remains unresolved.

Yet, for executing what authorities call the largest deed scam in Harris County history, just one man has been criminally convicted for his small role in the fraud, records reviewed by the Houston Chronicle show.

About $6 million in court-ordered penalties against other major players have gone unpaid, despite three years of civil litigation by the Texas Attorney General’s office.

One Houston woman, Katherine Williams, whose complaint about the fraud prompted the lawsuit, did get her house back in a related ruling just two weeks ago.

Others have not.

Trying to find out who’s responsible — who’s real and who’s fictitious — is a challenge. The supposed buyers have bad titles and the heirs, often a distant or absent relative, are either unaware or unable to resolve the problems.

Valerie Turner, a chief prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s Consumer Protection office, has been flooded with complaints about this scam and similar property theft rings whose members tend to hide crimes behind facades of fake names, fraudulent documents and fictitious companies.

‘Devastating to families’

“All they care about is creating some chain of title, and it’s very rare that they only steal one house. They will take multiple houses,” Turner said. The results “can be devastating to families.”

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Answers to the most frequently asked questions about flood insurance

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about flood insurance:

(1) Doesn’t My Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover Flooding?

No. Flood damage is usually not covered by a homeowners insurance policy. Until recently, flood insurance was only available as a http://www.theessaymag.com/canada/ separate policy from the federal government via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

(2) Am I Required To Carry Flood Insurance?

Not necessarily. However, if you have a federally insured mortgage and live in a high-risk flood zone, the mortgage company will require flood insurance to secure your loan. Or, if you live in a high-risk flood zone and have received federal disaster assistance after a flood, you will be required to purchase and maintain flood insurance until your loan is paid off. In this case, if you don’t buy flood insurance and another flood damages your property, a request for federal disaster assistance could be denied.

(3) I Live In A Low-Risk Flood Zone. Do I Really Need Flood Insurance?

It’s a good idea to buy flood insurance even if you live in a low or moderate-risk area. Over 30 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas with minimal flood risk. (Source: www.floodsmart.gov)

(4) What Is The Risk of Flooding For My Home? What Do The Flood Zone Designations Mean?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the United States is divided into zones related to low, moderate or high levels of risk for flooding. You can obtain information about the http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/wp-content/wptouch-data/debug/ flood zones from FEMA. To assess your home’s level of flood risk, contact your independent insurance agent or broker.

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One dead, three hurt in blast at Port Arthur Chemical Plant

One person is dead and three others are hurt after an explosion and flash fire at a Southeast Texas chemical plant.

The incident happened about 2 p.m. Thursday at the KMTEX plant near Port Arthur. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Rod Carroll tells KFDM-TV of Beaumont says the explosion reported involved gasoline that was being processed. Jefferson County Emergency Management Coordinator Greg Fountain tells KBMT-TV of Beaumont that a 500-barrel

fuel tank exploded.

Carroll said two of the injured workers were airlifted, one to Memorial Hermann Hospital and one to John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. Another was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Elizabeth hospital in Beaumont.

Authorities will continue to investigate on Friday how a highly flammable solvent remained in a pipeline workers were welding Thursday at a Port Arthur chemical plant when it erupted in a deadly flash fire and blast.

Line was thought to be clear

Witnesses said one of the workers was welding a pipeline that contained coal tar naptha solvent when the fire occurred about 2 p.m.

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100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  Triangle was the largest blouse manufacturer in New York City. It was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York. The blaze was the deadliest U.S. workplace fire until Sept. 11, 2001, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who either died from the fire or jumped to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent immigrant Jewish and Italian women aged sixteen to twenty-three. Many of the workers could not escape the burning building because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits. People jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.

As the workday was ending on the afternoon of Saturday, March 25, 1911, a fire flared up at approximately 4:45 PM in a scrap bin under one of the cutter’s tables at the northeast corner of the eighth floor. A bookkeeper on the eighth floor was able to warn employees on the tenth floor via telephone, but there was no audible alarm and no way to contact staff on the ninth floor. According to survivor Yetta Lubitz, the first warning of the fire

on the ninth floor arrived at the same time as the fire itself. Although the floor had a number of exits – two freight elevators, a fire escape, and stairways down to Greene Street and Washington Place – flames prevented workers from descending the Greene Street stairway, and the door to the Washington Place stairway was locked by factory managers, allegedly to prevent theft. The foreman who held the stairway door key had already escaped by another route–he failed to open the door. Dozens of employees escaped the fire by going up the Greene Street stairway to the roof. Other survivors were able to jam themselves into the elevators while they continued to operate.

The remainder waited until smoke and fire overcame them. The fire department arrived quickly but was unable to stop the flames, as there were no ladders available that could reach beyond the sixth floor. The fallen bodies and falling victims also made it difficult for the fire department to approach the building.

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