Some restaurants have made the decision to charge customers for Obamacare: Gator’s Dockside restaurants in Florida have added a 1% Affordable Care Act surcharge on their diners’ tabs, while at least one popular restaurant in Los Angeles has added a 3% charge to bills. -
In Florida, The Gator Group told CNN Money that the company had to implement “the surcharge now because of the compliance costs it’s facing ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate kicking in in 2015.” So even though their employees won’t get health insurance coverage until December, customers are feeling the pinch now.
The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors,” the sign [in the restaurant] reads. “Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.
The Gator Group employs 500 people, half of whom work part-time. Right now, they only offer health benefits to management. Instead of cutting their full-time employees to part-time to avoid the mandate as so many restaurants have chosen, the Gator Group decided to simply charge customers the added costs.
“I’m just trying to keep the employees I have that I’ve worked hard to train,” Sandra Clark, the group’s director of operations told CNN Money:
In addition to the costs of providing health care, the company hired one additional staffer and a consulting firm to make sure it is complying with the law and to assist in the additional tracking of workers’ hours and wages required by Obamacare.
In Los Angeles at the upscale restaurant Republique, customers have not always reacted positively to the ACA surcharge appearing on their bills.
One customer wrote: “1 star for the 3% healthcare surcharge. An employer who really cares about their employees’ health pays for this themselves. But because you and I both know that I’m finically [sic] well off your [sic] going to mandate me to pay for what YOU think if a great idea? You might fool other customers into believing that you truly care about your employees health but your [sic] not fooling this customer.”
Havana (AFP) – A Russian warship was docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Communist Cuba or its state media. The boat, measuring 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and 14.5 meters wide, was docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
The Vishnya, or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media sources said.
Neither Cuban authorities nor state media have mentioned the ship’s visit, unlike on previous tours by Russian warships.
The former Soviet Union was Cuba’s sponsor state through three decades of Cold War. After a period of some distancing under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the countries renewed their political, economic and military cooperation.
The ship is reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.
Its visit comes as isolated Havana’s current economic and political patron, Venezuela, is facing unprecedented violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
Cuban President Raul Castro’s Communist government is the Americas’ only one-party regime. source – Yahoo News
President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service today quietly released a series of Obamacare “Health Care Tax Tips” warning Americans that they must obtain “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by the federal government – or face a “shared responsibility payment” when filing their tax returns in 2015. The term “shared responsibility payment” refers to the Obamacare individual mandate tax, one of at least seven tax hikes in the healthcare law that directly hit families making less than $250,000 per year.
In “Four Tax Facts about the Health Care Law for Individuals” the agency writes:
Your 2014 tax return will ask if you had insurance coverage or qualified for an exemption. If not, you may owe a shared responsibility payment when you file in 2015.
In “The Individual Shared Responsibility Payment- An Overview” the agency warns Americans they must prove they were covered each and every month of the year:
For any month in 2014 that you or any of your dependents don’t maintain coverage and don’t qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your 2014 tax return filed in 2015.
In “IRS Reminds Individuals of Health Care Choices for 2014”the agency details the calculations Americans can look forward to if they are liable for the tax:
If you (or any of your dependents) do not maintain coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your return. In general, the payment amount is either a percentage of your household income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. You will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month you (or your dependents) do not have coverage and are not exempt.
The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:
- 1 percent of your household income that is above the tax return filing threshold for your filing status, such as Married Filing Jointly or single, or
- Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.
As confirmed by previous IRS testimony to the tax-writing House Committee on Ways and Means, “taxpayers will file their tax returns reporting their health insurance coverage, and/or making a payment”.
Once fully phased in, the Obamacare individual mandate tax will rise steeply, to a maximum of 2.5 percent of Adjusted Gross Income or $2,085 – whichever is higher – source – ATR
President Obama’s national security adviser warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that it “would be a grave mistake” to send troops into Ukraine. Well, it seems that Vladimir Putin could care less as he orders massive military readiness tests in preparation to enter Ukraine.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a test of the “battle readiness” of military forces deployed in the western and central areas of the country, a likely show of Kremlin muscle to reassure ethnic Russians in Ukraine that their rights and interests will be defended.
The announcement of the “immediate and thorough” readiness exercises was made by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and reported by the Interfax news agency.
“Putin ordered confirmation of troop capabilities for action in the event of a crisis situation that presents a threat to the military security of the country,” as well as anti-terrorism and emergency response readiness, Shoigu was quoted as saying by Interfax.
The readiness test was ordered amid growing tensions in Ukraine between the Russian-allied eastern areas of the restive country and pro-Western political forces now in control of the capital, Kiev, following a rebellion that drove President Viktor Yanukovich to flee his office.
Acting Ukrainian President Olexandr Turchynov was to address a public rally in Kiev’s Independence Square late Wednesday to announce proposed appointments to an interim Cabinet to govern Ukraine until a presidential election to replace Yanukovich on May 25 and parliamentary elections expected over the summer.
The current parliament, now largely devoid of lawmakers from Yanukovich’s Party of Regions, who either defected to the opposition or retreated to their home bases, was to vote on the nominations Thursday.
Russia had been backing Yanukovich with a promised $15-billion package of loans and energy subsidies after he angered liberal and nationalist politicians in late November by scrapping an association agreement with the European Union. That pact would have enhanced Ukrainian economic ties with the West and opened a path to eventual membership in the EU.
Yanukovich’s rejection of the EU deal in favor of strengthening ties with Russia, for centuries the dominant political force in Ukraine, set off three months of demonstrations that escalated into rioting last week and a bloody crackdown by security forces. At least 82 people died in the confrontations before an EU-brokered peace accord and agreement on early elections.
Pro-Western opposition politicians who led the rebellion have filled the power vacuum in Kiev, which triggered demonstrations in Russian-speaking areas of eastern and southern Ukraine, where industry remains elaborately entwined with Russia’s economy and Moscow keeps its Black Sea fleet based in Sevastopol.
Several dozen Russians worried about their status in a potentially opposition-ruled Ukraine have been demonstrating for the last three days outside public buildings in Sevastopol, Simferopol, Odessa and other southern cities, some demanding that Russia protect them or that the region secede and annex to Russia.
On Wednesday, rival demonstrations involving thousands of Crimean Tatars, who were exiled from Russia to Crimea by dictator Josef Stalin during World War II, pledged allegiance to Kiev and their place within Ukraine.
Shouts of “Ukraine is not Russia” and “Allahu Akbar” could be heard from the crowd of historically Muslim Tatars as they waved the yellow and blue Ukrainian and Tatar flags in defiance of the considerably smaller pro-Russian turnout, according to news agencies and Ukrainian television.
The Kremlin has taken a cautious approach to the evolving crisis in Ukraine, a country of 46 million and arguably Russia’s most important ally as most of Moscow’s exports of natural gas pass through pipelines on Ukrainian territory.
In Moscow, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament dismissed warnings by Russian nationalist politicians that the Kremlin would take military action against Ukraine if it senses any threat to the Russian-speaking population, which numbers about 7.5 million.
“This scenario is impossible,” said Valentina Matvienko, speaker of the Federation Council. “Russia has been stating and reiterating its stance that we have no right and cannot interfere in domestic affairs of a sovereign state. We are for Ukraine as a united state, and there should be no basis for separatist sentiments.” source – LA Times
In his new book, Ralph Nader calls for the end of “unconstitutional wars and unchecked militarism” — and lays blame on President Barack Obama for going beyond even George W. Bush.
Nader writes in “Unstoppable” that Obama “has extended the Bush doctrine by declaring his unilateral right, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, to destroy anybody, anywhere in the world, including American citizens, suspected to be engaged in alleged terrorist activities, all this vaguely and loosely defined as anti-U.S. security.”
He continues, “Inspired by the military actions of the Clinton administration, the Obama and Bush teams made a seamless transition into a militarized foreign policy, extending even further the illegal reach of wars of choice, invasions, incursions, and drone attacks, carried out irrespective of national sovereignties.”
The consumer crusader’s new book also makes the case for a bipartisan effort to “dismantle the corporate state.” Nader, best known recently for his unsuccessful presidential runs, writes in “Unstoppable” (out in April), that “positive spirited persons of the Right and of the Left” can, in fact, come together.
“This book is addressed first to those people who are not knee-jerk rejectionists,” Nader writes. “It’s meant for those who want to explore another beckoning pathway — one that can rescue our country from being driven further into the ground and turn into a nation where many more of its inhabitants can fulfill their potential.”
“A major area of potential for building alliances comes from the deep aversion many people have to the wars of empire and corporate control over their lives, particularly the ever-tightening influence of Big Business on the mainstream media, elections, and our local, state, and federal governments.”
Much of the book focuses on Nader’s 25 proposed reforms, including linking the minimum wage with inflation and rethinking the war on drugs.
“The classification and prosecution of drug use as a crime has activated and corrupted law enforcement, encouraged a truly self-defeating form of big government, endangered urban neighborhoods and many thousands of lives, and drained tens of billions of dollars a year from taxpayers.”
Nader says that “almost all the politicians are for sale — with few enough successful exceptions to point to as the preferable, contrasting alternative of politicians actually concerned with the good of the people.” source – Politico
China and Russia are spending billions to augment their defenses, Iran has gone fully nuclear. What is Obama’s reaction to safeguard America’s safety? If you guessed “reduce the world’s greatest Army to Pre-WW II levels”, then YOU are the winner!
NY Times WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal that officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001.
The proposal, described by several Pentagon officials on the condition of anonymity in advance of its release on Monday, takes into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. A result, the officials argue, will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations.
The officials acknowledge that budget cuts will impose greater risk on the armed forces if they are again ordered to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time: Success would take longer, they say, and there would be a larger number of casualties. Officials also say that a smaller military could invite adventurism by adversaries.
Mr. Hagel’s plan would most significantly reshape America’s land forces — active-duty soldiers as well as those in the National Guard and Reserve.
The Army, which took on the brunt of the fighting and the casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, already was scheduled to drop to 490,000 troops from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000. Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the Army would drop over the coming years to between 440,000 and 450,000.
Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft would be eliminated.
That would be the smallest United States Army since 1940. For years, and especially during the Cold War, the Pentagon argued that it needed a military large enough to fight two wars simultaneously — say, in Europe and Asia. In more recent budget and strategy documents, the military has been ordered to be prepared to decisively win one conflict while holding off an adversary’s aspirations in a second until sufficient forces could be mobilized and redeployed to win there. source – NY Times
Breitbart: On Jimmy Kimmel’s ABC show earlier this week, “The O’Reilly Factor” anchor Bill O’Reilly called President Barack Obama a “patriot.” On his show on Thursday night, O’Reilly reiterated that sentiment, calling “almost every president” in the country’s history “a patriot.”
“I said on Kimmel that both President Bush the younger and Barack Obama are patriots because they served their country,” O’Reilly said. “You may not agree with them, alright? But I don’t think you say they’re not patriots unless you have, you know, evidence that is just through the roof. I think almost every president that’s ever served this nation has been a patriot, including Richard Nixon.”