Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander in Persian Gulf War, Dies at 78

H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the Army general who commanded coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, died Thursday in Tampa, Fla., at age 78.

The cause of death was not immediately known. His death was confirmed to the Associated Press by a source.

Known as "Stormin' Norman" for his volcanic temper, the decorated Vietnam War combat soldier became a familiar face from his many press conferences during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Under his leadership during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, coalition forces drove Hussein's troops out of Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded, with relatively few coalition casualties, but the Iraqi leader remained in power.

Hussein would ultimately be left for Bush's presidential son, George W. Bush, to contend with.

After the Gulf War, Schwarzkopf became a television military analyst and went into a quiet retirement in Florida to write his memoirs.

The elder Bush, now hospitalized in intensive care, said in a statement that Schwarzkopf was a "true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."

"More than that, he was a good and decent man – and a dear friend," says Bush. "Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife Brenda and his wonderful family."


3 Ways to Get Free Insurance Leads

Are you on the lookout for insurance sales leads? Here's the deal: sales leads need not cost you a fortune, since there are free ones out there today that can help your grow your company through converting sales leads into customers. By tapping new and stagnant lead sources - and spotting the best ones through lead validation - you will be able to take your business to greater heights.

Here are three simple, almost-cost-free steps to start bringing in more insurance leads to your database:
  1. Use free classified ads. This generation tool is a rich vat of free insurance sales leads. When writing up your ad, be sure to include your email address, phone contact, and website that links back to your insurance site. Establish that people can get more free and detailed information when they reply with their contact information. An easy and fuss-free way to automatically generate leads, right?

  2. Use insurance message boards to your advantage. Don't hesitate to visit these message boards that are relevant to the kind of sales leads you want to find and take hold of. Post ads with a link to your site. Capture users' interest by discussing a specific promo or discount that your business is having for a limited time only, and noting that they will need to email you their contact information in order to learn more about the said promo or discount. A chance to get a good discount on an insurance product is an attractive way for these individuals to contact you.

  3. Join sales leads companies. Once you sign up to these companies, you are typically given free leads as a trial. These may not be an aggressive lot, but you will get a few to start with. If they happen to convert and make money for you, you may want to consider purchasing leads from the said company. If they don't, though, check out other potential ways to obtain good, revenue-generating leads.
Your insurance leads, however, are only as good as their quality. The integration of a lead validation tool provides you the tools to automatically and immediately verify lead accuracy with point-of-entry validation. A lead verification service allows you to do "lead scrubbing" before establishing contact, therefore saving you time and money by filtering out bad leads, preventing fraudulent transaction, and improving customer conversion rates.
Lead verification also maximizes lead currency by streamlining validation, improves marketing statistics by incorporating lead quality, and converts more leads with correct and enhanced data.

Automatically and instantly validate the accuracy of your leads with the help of lead validation real-time Web services.

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Jersey Shore: 21 Things We've Learned from Our Favorite Guidos and Guidettes

Please, try not to cry.

Although tonight will be the last time we see Snooki, Mike, Pauly D, Sammi, Ronnie, Deena, Vinny and JWoww being the dysfunctional family that they are on the small-screen, know that the guys from Jersey Shore are not leaving us empty-handed.

The stars from the hit MTV reality show have taught us a lot of things these past six seasons, and it's not just that a group of young adults can get paid bank to party and hook up with randoms.

Here are 21 things we've learned, thanks to the Jersey Shore.

1. Way of Life: Your necessary daily routine can be summed up in three letters. Yep, GTL. If you're not going to the gym, tanning and doing laundry every day, you're slackin' off.

2. New Lingo: Jersey Shore pretty much introduced us to a new language.

Kooka: an alternate term for lady parts
Meatball: a young woman. usually small in size, that enjoys getting wasted, dancing and partying 24/7
Twinning: scoring with twins
Grenades and Landmines: both refer to unfortunate looking women, however a grenade is larger in size than a landmine. A whistle may also be used to warn friends of an incoming
Juiceheads and Gorillas: very buff men that may or may not be on steroids
DTF: stands for "down to f--k." Common use includes, "Hey girl, are you DTF?" and "That chick was definitely DTF."
Smush: another word for intercourse
Swacked: getting your swagger jacked
FPC: fist-pump, push-up, chapstick
Pulling a Robbery: when one swoops in and steal someone's girl/guy
The Shirt Before the Shirt: the plain T-shirt worn while waiting for others to finish getting ready in an effort to keep your going-out shirt fresh

3. Dance Moves: It's necessary to always "beat the beat up," so one must start low on the ground, and moving with the beat, gradually stand up while punching the air with their fist, or fist-pumping. An additional move for the ladies is a Jersey Turnpike, which requires you to bend over, touch your toes and wiggle what you're workin' with.
4. Hairstyles: Ladies and gents have been introduced to a new 'do. With careful blow-drying and globs upon globs of gel, a guy can achieve the perfect blowout like Pauly D. On the other hand, girls (with or without a teasing comb) can rock a poof, like Snooki.
5. Matters of the Heart: No matter how many times you say, "Don't fall in love at the Shore," you probably will, anyways (Hi, Ron and Sam!). But there is one type of romance that will outlast whatever comes your way—a bromance like Vinny and Pauly's.
6. Italian Tips: Thanks to Sitch sacrificing his well-being, we learn that walls in Italy are not made of dry wall, but cement, and it can really mess you up if you, for whatever reason, want to bang your head against it. It's also probably a better idea not to drive yourself on international roads and just stick to cabs (which you can announce have arrived by yelling "Cabine sono qui!")

7. Never Too Cheesy: When asking a girl to be your girlfriend, don't be hesitant to get a little mushy. Asking her out through a T-shirt can actually work in your favor.

8. Footwear Is No Joke: You can never have too many sneakers. Never. And you must take care of them like they're your children.

9. Prank Champions: Prank wars are serious, and if you've ever needed ideas on what to do, the past six season have given us multiple examples of what works and what doesn't. For example: Putting all the interior furniture outside and vice versa while everyone's away—epic. Attempting to ambush a bunch of guys with weenie water balloons—not so good.

10. Duck Phones: Life is just better with them in it.

11. Survival in the Shore: Believe it or not, an unborn baby can survive in Seaside, as witnessed by Snooki's little man, Lorenzo.

12. The Art of Arguing: Talking at each other in increasing volume is not the only way to a memorable argument. Grab something that's near you and chuck it. If nothing good enough is at reach, then it might get physical. (P.S.: Probably best to file this under "What Not to Do.")

13. Rules of a One Night Stand: Unless they are extra special, your sexual partner for the night should not have the luxury of sleeping over and getting to see the sunlight the next day. Once the deed is done, a cab is called and out they go.

14. Beware of Sneaky Girls: Don't let some stranger put on your expensive diamond chain. She'll leave with it. And then come back the next morning with an, "OMG, I didn't even know I had this, but here you go," just so she can see you again.

15. Killer Moves Not Necessary: Thanks to Mike, we now know that you don't need to have awesome dance moves to make it as a stripper.

16. Got Electrocuted? You're OK: Deena getting electrocuted from her blow dryer allowed Sammi to reassure us that it's not a big deal. "I think you'll be OK. Police zap criminals with their electric gun all the time and they're all right."

17. It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere: It's called Happy Hour for a reason. The cast made it clear that day drinking is not only acceptable, but encouraged. And if you're pregaming, the best mix you can make is Ron-Ron Juice (watermelon juice, cherries, cranberry juice and vodka).

18. Sexual Orientation Is Not a Defining Factor: Two chicks seem interested in hooking up with you, and then they share they're lesbians. Don't throw up your white flag just yet. Vinny showed us that it's still possible for a guy to score a three-way even if the girls aren't into you.

19. Fighting Words: Is a brawl about to commence? In order to look tough, your opening line must be, "Come at me, bro."

20. Medical Advancement: Jersey Shore taught us that you can—yes, can—get pink eye from having a person's ass in your face. Proceed with caution.

21. Resourceful Alternatives: Don't have any luggage? Don't worry. Trash bags are a great replacement.


Promoter: Marquez-Pacquiao V not possible by April 20

LAS VEGAS -- Given the intensity of Juan Manuel Marquez’s  knockout of Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night, promoter Bob Arum told The Times on Monday that he doesn’t believe it’s feasible to stage a fifth fight between the pair as early as Pacquiao’s previous target date of April 20.

Arum said he is also considering the worldwide attention given to Saturday’s stunning outcome, and the massive interest he expects before the next meeting.

“No. 5 is now the biggest fight in boxing, bigger than Pacquiao-Mayweather,” Arum said. “The idea we’d be ready to fight April 20 is ludicrous.”

He declined to give an exact date, noting that he doesn’t intend  even to discuss future plans with both men until the new year.

The promoter said he expects to keep the bout in the U.S., with bidding expected to come from Las Vegas properties and perhaps Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas.

Marquez, after two bitterly contested lost decisions and a draw versus Pacquiao, likely became fighter of the year and created the fight of the year by rallying from a fifth-round knockdown and badly swollen nose to knock Pacquiao unconscious late in the sixth with a right-handed counterpunch Saturday before more than 16,000 fans at MGM Grand.

In Arum’s Top Rank offices in Las Vegas on Monday, employees were reviewing replays on a big-screen television that showed Pacquiao breathing heavily if not convulsing as he lay face down on the canvas after the knockout punch.

Reports that began to reach Arum during lunch Monday brought elation to him,  company President Todd DuBoef and Marquez’s promoter in Mexico, Fernando Beltran.

Dish Network reported positive pay-per-view sales beyond the November 2011 Pacquiao-Marquez bout that generated 1.25 million buys, and an ESPN executive expressed happiness about the network's increased involvement in boxing.

“This fight shows the health of the sport,” Arum said. “Great fight, shown all over it. The knockout happening right in front of the guy who was almost president of the United States,” Mitt Romney. “It puts the sport back in the mainstream.”

Arum said part of the fallout from the result will be to slot Oxnard’s Brandon Rios, Pacquiao’s likely next opponent if Marquez had lost, into a March rematch against Mike Alvarado. Rios and Alvarado staged a fight-of-the-year candidate in October at Home Depot Center in Carson.

Marquez is scheduled to depart Las Vegas on Monday afternoon for an airport outside of Mexico City, arriving around 9:30 p.m. local time,  Beltran said.

Marquez is scheduled to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday, and to present him with the gloves he used in defeating Pacquiao.

Arum assured Marquez will earn a greater percentage of the guaranteed purse than Saturday’s fight –- when he collected $6 million to Pacquiao’s $23 million -- “and the pie will be bigger too,” Arum said.

“We’ve known we can count on Marquez to produce numbers that will not disappoint," he added.

Though Marquez declined to answer about his future plans on Saturday, Arum and Beltran made it clear he’s interested in another Pacquiao clash.

“He said he’d go to to the Philippines to fight Manny,” Beltran cracked.

“I feel so happy for this kid. The way it was going, after those tough losses, if he had lost again, I don’t think he would be a happy guy in his life after this. Now, after thinking he couldn’t knock out Pacquiao with a baseball bat, he says, ‘I can’t believe this, it doesn’t seem real, I’m thrilled.’

“In the fifth fight, he will try to win for sure, but whatever happens, happens. He has nothing to prove about being considered one of the greatest Mexican fighters ever.”

Arum said he hadn’t heard reports from the Philippines that Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, doesn’t want him to fight again after rushing to his aid in panic after the knockout.

“Jinkee can make any comment she wants,” Arum said. “Manny’s comment is he wants to fight.”


The Pros and Cons of Insuring your Children

You (probably) love your children and want the best for them. Does being a good parent mean insuring them too? We’ll look primarily at life insurance and critical illness insurance from the perspective of an actuary. There’s also a nifty solution below that gets overlooked.

Life Insurance

Insurance provides cash (generally tax-free) when a significant, unpredictable financial loss occurs. What financial loss does a family suffer if a child dies? Not much — unless the child is a major source of income (e.g., child star). The real loss — the devastating loss — is emotional. Money cannot compensate for the loss of someone you love.

As a parent, would you want to profit or breakeven? “Yeah, my kid died but the insurance covered the funeral and we upgraded our home theatre. Just wish we bought more.”

Having children is definitely worthwhile but expensive — easily hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are actual costs like daycare and saving for their education. There are also big opportunity costs because you have less time to do other things like sleep and upgrade your skills. My wife stayed home 9 years in total.

A child’s death is heartbreaking but eliminates future expenses. While grieving, the parents may earn less or need to borrow but that’s temporary.

We don’t like to contemplate our own deaths. Try getting a parent to think about the death of a child. That takes sales skills.

Critical Illness Insurance

Like you, your child can suffer a devastating disease at any time. You pay, in time, when you take your child to the doctor or visit them in the hospital. You pay in money if you take time off or hire someone to look after them. The biggest cost is the immeasurable mental anguish.

Canada has lengthy waiting times for treatment, even in hospital emergency wings. What if your child could get treated tomorrow in the US? All you need is money. Critical illness insurance provides a lump sum for you to use anyway you want. You reduce the need to deplete your savings or add non deductible debt.

Critical illness insurance for children is relatively rare but available from several insurers. Plans often cover child-specific diseases like cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. There may be add-ons that let you get your premiums back if there’s no claim. For example, there’s Sun Critical Illness Insurance (no endorsement implied). If you’re interested, talk to an independent advisor with access to other companies rather than anyone listed on their site.

Common Pitches

Advisors use compelling techniques to convince you to buy. We’ll look at two.

1. Future Insurability

What if your child doesn’t qualify for insurance as an adult? Getting coverage now is a way to set them up for life. Perhaps, but how much insurance are you buying? Says it’s $100,000. What will that be worth after inflation? If the amount is small — say $10,000 — what is that worth even today?

If your young adult works for a company with employee benefits, they may automatically get group life insurance for 1-2x their annual salary without underwriting. If they leave, they likely have an option to convert that amount to personal coverage without underwriting. If they’re self-employed, they may be able to get insurance through the local Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce. If they belong to an association (e.g., university alumni), they might get coverage there.

2. “Pennies a Day”

Coverage on a child may only cost pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters a day. Anyone can afford that. By extension, buy a daily coffee. Eat out. Buy, buy, buy. Each purchase is small but the total adds up unless you’re vigilant with each expense.

An Overlooked Option

If you do want insurance on your child, consider a student accident plan with 24/7/365 coverage. That’s what my parents bought when I was in primary school. Maybe yours did too. The InsureMyKids Platinum Plan costs $31/year. Industrial Alliance offers the Kids Plus Active Plan for $32/year. Both include a $20,000 death benefit among the protection.

But First

If you really want to protect your children, make sure that you and your spouse are properly insured for disability (income replacement insurance), morbidity (medical expense reimbursement, critical illness insurance) and mortality (life insurance).

As for your children, how about investing in an RESP?

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Will Insurers Soon Pay us Not to Speed?

Would you speed if you were paid not to?

That's the thrust of a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing that motorists followed speed limits when offered financial perks.

The study, conducted by researchers from Old Dominion University in Virginia and Western Michigan University, focused on 50 people who drove cars equipped with GPS trackers designed to monitor speed. Drivers who didn't go over the limit received $25 each week.

But motorists who drove 5 to 8 mph too fast were penalized three cents each time. If they went 9 mph or more above the limit, the penalty doubled to six cents. (See: "Ticket? Uh-oh: auto insurance rate increases for common violations.")

"This had a robust effect in getting drivers to reduce their speeding," says Ian Reagan, the study's lead researcher and now a senior researcher for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). "Egregious speeding, driving 9 or more mph over the limit, was just about eliminated for those that had the incentive" not to speed.

Another new driver safety technology being tested

The study sheds more light on intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) systems that determine if someone is speeding by using GPS to link a vehicle's position to digital maps that include local speed limits. In addition to GPS, some newer systems use cameras to read speed signs.

The ISAs, according to a recent report from the IIHS and the Highway Loss Data Institute, then could warn drivers that they're going too fast or even automatically slow the car.

Typically, ISAs notify drivers of speeding by one of the following:

    an audible or visual alert telling the driver to slow down
    a haptic alert via the accelerator that makes it increasingly more difficult for the driver to depress the pedal
    reducing engine throttle to automatically decelerate a vehicle

Right now ISA technology is being tested, but is not yet in use in the U.S.

Auto insurers advised to provide incentives

Insurers should consider rewarding policyholders if they obey speed limits, which would reduce traffic accidents, deaths and injuries, and the resulting auto claims and health coverage costs, says James Bliss, an Old Dominion University professor and one of the NHTSA study's key researchers.

It's too soon to tell if insurers would adopt such a plan, and if they did, how it would work. One option could be predetermined bonuses to drivers who don't speed , similar to Allstate's "Safe Driving Bonus Check" of up to 5% of premiums for every six months of accident-free driving.

Another option could be a discount on premiums, similar to how pay-as-you-go, or usage-based insurance, policies work. While pay-as-you-go (PAYG)depends on drivers plugging a device into their cars to monitor performance, ISA technology in the future would likely be installed in new model cars as a standard crash-avoidance featureDrivers would likely use either ISA technology or a usage-based system, but not both, because both monitor speed.

The pay-as-you-go roadmap

The study's results do seem to mirror the pay-as-you-go model - a hot trend in the auto insurance industry. Under PAYG, insurers give qualifying motorists premium discounts -- as much as 30 to 40% in some cases -- by installing devices in their cars that track driving habits and mileage. The safer and less you drive, the bigger the discount, according to insurers. (See: "As economy sinks, pay-as-you-go insurance soars.")

PAYG is clearly gaining traction, but it does have critics. Privacy advocates question how the gathered information will be used and some participants have complained that brake monitoring is too sensitive and reduced the amount of their promised discount.

Here's what three of the major insurers offer:

    Progressive's Snapshot: The way it works is typical:You plug in the device, which then tracks time of day and vehicle speed, miles driven and how often you brake hard. Richard Hutchinson, the company's general manager of usage-based insurance, says savings could reach 30% for the most conscientious motorists. The device must be installed for at least 30 days to create a driving profile.
    State Farm's Drive Safe & Save and In-Drive: Drive Safe & Save requires an OnStar subscription. State Farm receives odometer readings from OnStar every 30 days and, after six months, adjusts your premium to reflect the mileage. The company says discounts usually range from 10 to 50%. The insurer also offers In-Drive, which requires a plug-in to track time of day and vehicle speed, miles driven and how often you brake hard. Discounts can reach 30%, according to State Farm.
    Allstate's Drive Wise: A plug-in device records the usual motoring statistics, which are used to determine if customers qualify for a 10% discount for the first policy term. If drivers maintain safe motoring habits and low mileage during subsequent terms, savings can go as high as 30%, the company says.

Other insurers with some version of PAYG include The Hartford, Travelers, Esurance, Safeco and GMAC Insurance.


How to Manage Workaholics

Given the state of the economy, it’s tempting to advise people to work harder and really focus on keeping their jobs. But too much effort at the office can be counterproductive.

We are now in a work smart economy where the focus is on doing more with less. Those seemingly stand-out individuals putting-in long hours may be viewed as less efficient than their more balance-conscience colleagues.

The challenge in managing workaholics is that they are often blind to the negative aspects of their behavior. Workaholics often lose sight of why they are even working and can pull their team members into their world if you aren’t careful.

To prevent the long hours are always better attitude to overtaking the office, managers need to take action:

Don’t be peer-pressured into becoming a workaholic. Avoid allowing yourself and your team to get baited into the workaholic’s schedule. It’s important not to punish your more productive and balanced team members with added timelines and burdens purely created by a wayward workaholic. Ultimately, when you let the team workaholic set the pace you lose control of your own schedule and any hope of keeping your family obligations this holiday season.

Help prioritize their activities. When managing a workaholic, managers must set clear priorities for the tasks at hand. Workaholics are driven to overdo it, so keep the employee focused on a limited set of priorities with defined tasks.    

Set clear boundaries. Workaholics tend to have few boundaries, which can be problematic when working on a team. They are the ones who will e-mail you at 2a.m. looking for feedback on something. Once you have agreed on a set of priorities, set clear boundaries around appropriate communication times and be sure to enforce them.

Encourage extracurricular activities. Talk about the fun you had over the weekend, but also point out how non-office experiences enhanced your creativity on the job. The best way to subtly nudge a workaholic into expanding his or her activities is to tie outside activities to work in some way. If workaholics can see how being healthy or spending some time traveling may help them at work, they may take a stab at it.

Don’t enable. Workaholism can be an addiction, and the last thing you want to do is enable a workaholic by legitimizing the belief that he or she is overloaded. Workaholics often overload themselves.  Avoid offering to pick-up extra work or chip-in on a weekend, because it won’t matter--the workaholic will find something else to fill the void. The best thing you can do is show them what they are missing in the world around them. 
Remember, effort doesn’t always equal results. Workers need to find that sweet spot that allows them to maximize productivity while also maximizing personal time. Be sure to find some balance this holiday season and don’t fall prey to the workholics in your office. 


Calculating Your Net Worth

Your own personal net worth is something that can serve as a truly useful tool in measuring the financial progress that you have made from one year to the next. What your net worth is, is essentially just a grand total of all of your assets, with liabilities subtracted. There is no magical number when it comes to net worth because everyone is different. Just make sure that you are using your own personal net worth in order to track your financial progress from one year to the next, and hopefully you will see some improvements in the process.

Calculating your own personal net worth is not difficult at all, and it only really requires a little bit of financial information regarding what you own, how much money you have and how much debt you owe.

Step #1 - You should begin this process by listing out all of your largest assets, such as your home and any vehicles that you may owe. Make sure that you are using accurate estimates in the current amount of dollars.

Step #2 - Next what you are going to want to do is to gather all of your latest financial statements for the assets that you have that are more liquid in nature. This is going to include your checking accounts, savings accounts, cash, investments, CDs and retirement accounts for example.

Step #3 - Third, what you are going to want to do is to consider listing any personal items that you have, that have some kind of value to them, such as jewelry, collections, musical instruments and so on and so forth. You do not have to itemize absolutely everything that you own, but you should definitely be listing any items worth more than $500.00.

Step #4 - Now what you are going to want to do is add all of your assets together from the first three steps, creating your "total assets".

Step #5 - Now you want to look at your liabilities. Again, you should be beginning with the major outstanding liabilities, including the balance on your loans or your mortgage.

Step #6 - Now, you should list other personal liabilities such as student loans, credit cards and any debt that you have to pay off.

Step #7 - Add up all of your liabilities, coming to a "total liabilities" number.

Step #8 - Now what you should do is to subtract the total liabilities from your total assets in order to come up with your net worth number. It does not matter what your net worth is, it just matters that you work on improving it from this point on. Repeat this process every year, comparing the new number with last year's number to find out if you are moving in the right direction or not financially.