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.”
Joel and Victoria Osteen will hold their sixth annual America’s Night of Hope at Yankee Stadium on June 7, 2014, an evening of hope and inspiration expected to draw more than 55,000 people from across the country.
This is the second America’s Night of Hope to be hosted at Yankee Stadium. The first was on April 25, 2009—nine days after the new ballpark opened—and was the first non-baseball event held at the venue. These annual stadium-sized events have also been held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (2010), U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago (2011), Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (2012), and Marlins Park in Miami (2013).
“Victoria and I love the people of New York,” Osteen says. “We’re excited to be at Yankee Stadium again, and we believe people will be uplifted and filled with an expectation that their best days are still to come.”
As a part of the activities surrounding America’s Night of Hope, Joel Osteen Ministries will reach into New York City’s local communities with hundreds of volunteers—many from Houston—in order to bring hope through acts of kindness and compassion.
Known as the Generation Hope Project, this effort is a major part of the America’s Night of Hope event and, since 2012, has already provided thousands of volunteer hours of service through work projects at schools, parks and community centers in Washington, D.C., and Miami, Fla.
This year’s Generation Hope Project will focus on mentoring, developing one-to-one relationships in which one person fosters the personal and professional growth of someone else. Volunteers will have an opportunity to work with young people who need strong adult role models.
Embattled Gov. Chris Christie heads to Florida next week to raise money and promote GOP incumbent Gov. Rick Scott – the first test of Christie’s appeal for fellow Republicans since the eruption of a political revenge scandal involving the busiest bridge in the nation.
“It won’t affect my ability to work at the [Republican Governors Association] at all, no,” Christie vowed Thursday of the George Washington Bridge traffic controversy that’s engulfed his administration, New Jersey newspaper The Record reported.
The National Journal first reported the fundraising trip Friday, which includes appearances with Scott at a series of fundraisers next Friday in Naples, and next Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Orlando.
The Palm Beach event will benefit the RGA, and will be held at the home of sugar baron Pepe Fanjul Jr., the Palm Beach Post reported.
“I just hope he doesn’t snarl up the traffic on the Pensacola bridge,” joked state Senate President Don Gaetz, one of the highest ranking Republicans in Florida, the National Journal reported. “Obviously Gov. Christie has got some image problems right now but I think he has a lot of admirers in Florida. People like his New Jersey style, and hopefully he will be of some positive reinforcement to Gov. Scott.”
Christie, who had said neither he nor anyone in his administration knew about a plot to jam up traffic on the George Washington Bridge to exact political revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., on Thursday announced he had fired the aide who wrote an email saying: “Time for traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
The subsequent lane closures caused colossal jams on the bridge last September.
He also asked one of his top campaign advisers to end his consulting work with the RGA and to withdraw his name from consideration for chairman of the New Jersey GOP.
Christie’s traffic scandal has fanned speculation about its impact on his White House ambitions, but it’ll be his fundraising “prowess” that will gauge whether his appeal has waned, the National Journal noted.
“We always welcome Gov. Christie to Florida,” state House Speaker Will Weatherford, another top Florida Republican, told the National Journal. “An unfortunate situation has taken place and he’s caddressed it. He’s not hiding from it. I think he handled it well.”
As a top target for Democrats in the largest battleground state in the country, Scott’s reelection is viewed as one of the marquee races of 2014, the National Journal reports.
The Democratic front-runner, Charlie Crist, served as the Republican governor before Scott. He left the GOP after his 2010 Senate campaign soured and later became a Democrat.
On Nov. 20, he pleaded guilty to the charges against him and entered a voluntary rehabilitation program for treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse.
“My recovery is under way and ongoing,” he said. “I have and will continue to build a support system to rely on for the rest of my life. While in a voluntary rehabilitation program, I began a step-by-step process that will aid me in recovery one day at a time.”
He said his main struggle is with alcohol.
“To be clear, alcohol is the problem for me,” the Florida Republican said. “It was selfishly fun, but became an issue when it led to poor choices and missed opportunities.”
While he made it clear in his Facebook post that he plans to remain in office, Florida Republican leaders have said they want Radel to resign.
At least two Republican candidates have said they are ready to run in a special election if needed.
With the oversexualization of our culture and its blatant attack on our men, you maybe surprised how sexual addiction begins. Here is one example: A young boy gets a glimpse of pornography; his heart is stirred and body excited. Over the years, he secretly returns to this habit until one day the addiction leads him to a strip club. Eventually, he pays for sex with what he thinks is an 18-year-old. But she’s really 16—and not prostituting of her own free will.
She’s working because her pimp beats her and threatens to harm her family if she doesn’t. Trafficking, where people control and exploit others, generates billions of dollars each year. It’s considered one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world—and it’s driven by greed. Due to easy and private access to the Internet, escort services flourish. But what most don’t realize is that it’s often a front for thecommercial sex trade industry (trafficking).
Lysa McMillan of Calvary ChapelFort Lauderdale’s Outreach Ministry says, “Human life has been reduced to a mere commodity. There are two motivating factors: Men fuel the demand side by buying sex, and traffickers [men/women] make large sums of money selling a woman or child over and over again.”
“It’s not just touching one demographic,” McMillan says. “You might have a girl in a middle-class home, where everything on the outside would appear to be OK, but you don’t know what’s going on with her interaction on Facebook, who she’s texting and if she battles with low self-esteem.”
There are children on every level and socioeconomic category affected, especially if they have been abused.
“If you take that girl in that home who’s already enduring sexual abuse, or maybe there’s domestic violence, perhaps drugs in the home, she automatically becomes a more vulnerable candidate to target. She’s broken, she’s looking for love, attention and affirmation,” McMillan explains.
There are many angles and schemes that are used to lure girls in. Here is one scenario:
Boy (we’ll call him Mike) meets an insecure 12-year-old girl (we’ll call her Olivia) at the arcade. They exchange numbers. Mike texts, calls and pretends to like Olivia. Soon Olivia thinks she’s in love. Mike has played his part perfectly by buying her gifts and telling her how special she is to him. After weeks, maybe months, they start having sex. Then one night he coerces her into having sex with one of his friends, just once, if she really loves him.
Mike explains how they can make good money doing this (just for a little while, and then he will take care of her forever). Mike texts her appointments and picks Olivia up in the middle of the night, then drops her back home. Olivia catches on and wants out, but Mike beats her and threatens to harm her little brother. She’s trapped, embarrassed and now brainwashed to feel she is worthless.
Mike tempts Olivia with less work if she befriends another young girl at school. Olivia takes the bait and grooms a new 11-year-old prospect (we’ll call her Jill). Olivia takes Jill shopping, out for ice cream and invites her for sleepovers. After trust is built, she asks Jill to sleep over at her aunt’s house (we’ll call her Sue).
At this different location, an older woman portraying Aunt Sue builds Jill’s trust by playing the part of the fun aunt. During one visit, Aunt Sue takes them to the salon and pays for haircuts and manicures. That night, Olivia and Jill play dress up and snap pictures of each other. All the while, Aunt Sue is posting these photos on her website.
The next innocent trip for ice cream takes them to a strange location.
The threats and beatings start; Jill is trapped. She becomes lethargic; her grades drop; she’s uninterested in friends, loses weight and starts missing school. Jill has all the signs of a drug addict. Sadly, she’s too humiliated and afraid to tell anyone what’s been done to her in private.
It’s a sick, twisted game. Pimps are smart, sometimes good looking, and they are no longer just men. Women and families are in it for the money too.
An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 children a year become victims of sex trafficking in America. Many runaway children are approached by a pimp within 48 hours after leaving home or foster care. Traffickers stroll bus stops, malls, airports, parking lots and schools in search for young recruits.
If these predators can track down the destitute, then why can’t Christians intercept these girls? If we are going to protect our children, then parents, teachers and family members need to “be the eyes and ears in our community for our law enforcement,” Daniels says.
If you are a parent and you are concerned about this issue of trafficking, then now is the time to be proactive. Ask your child questions, get involved in their life, and find out who they are hanging with and where they are spending their time. Your love and caring concern can be the exact thing that can save them from being another statistic.
For more information on this issue, contact Lysa McMillan at Lysa@calvaryftl.orgfrom Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (Broward) or Bonnie Jo Daniels at firstname.lastname@example.org from Christ Fellowship (Palm Beach). If you think you have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-3737-888 to get more information or begin the process of helping the victim.
Dabney Hedegard is the author of When God Intervenes. Visit her at dabneyland.com or on Twitter@dabneyland.
A final vote in the Senate expected this week to confirm Janet Yellen as chairman of the Federal Reserve has been postponed until early January as part of a deal with Republicans to secure the confirmations of three other presidential nominees.
The decision by Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid was an attempt to break a stalemate between the parties which reached fever pitch after Democrats changed the filibuster rules to ram through appointments that had been stalled for months, according to Bloomberg. Republicans have since been digging in their heels by dragging out debate on each appointment.
“I think the solution to this is not to throw daggers at each other but to sit down and talk this through,” Indiana GOP Sen. Dan Coats said on the Senate floor shortly after the agreement was announced, according to The Washington Post.
Senators will vote to end formal debate on Yellen’s nomination Friday, take a two-week holiday break, then return Jan. 6 for the final vote, Bloomberg reports.
Under the new filibuster rules, Yellen needs the support of a simple majority of the Senate’s 100 members to become the 15th chairman and first woman to head the central bank in its 100-year history. If confirmed, she will replace Ben Bernanke whose term expires on Jan. 31.
“We need her expertise at the helm of the Fed as our nation continues to recover from the great recession, completes Wall Street reform rule-makings and continues to enhance the stability of our financial sector,” Senate Banking Chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, said in a floor speech, according to Bloomberg.
Yellen said at her Nov. 14 confirmation hearing that she will maintain current policies until “strong recovery” allows the bank to scale back monetary accommodation.
The New York City medical examiner’s office released the cause and manner of death of Zachery Tims on Thursday, more than two years after the Florida megachurch pastor died in a New York hotel room.
Julie Bolcer, director of public affairs for the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner, told Charisma News the cause of death is “acute intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine and heroin” and “the manner of death is an accident.”
Tims, 42, was found dead on the floor of a room in New York City’sW Hotel in Times Square on Aug. 12, 2011. His mother, Madeline Tims, fought the city of New York and the medical examiner’s office to keep his cause of death private.
Police ruled out foul play, but reports said he had a plastic bag filled with white powder in his pocket. By Tims’ own testimony, he was instantly delivered from drug addiction when he was saved.
Tims was senior pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Fla. He started the 7,000-member church with his then-wife, Riva Tims, in 1996.
FloridaSen. Marco Rubio, one of Obamacare’s fiercest critics, has not only enrolled in the federal healthcare program but has also opted to take the generous employer subsidy offered to congressional lawmakers and staff.
“Senator Rubio spent time looking at all the options and decided to enroll through the D.C. exchange for coverage for him and his family,” spokeswoman Brooke Sammon told The Tampa Bay Times.
The subsidy, which many Republicans wanted to scrap, will pay up to 75 percent of monthly premiums. Some lawmakers who have already enrolled in Obamacare have chosen not to take the taxpayer-funded subsidy.
Rubio’s office defended the Republican’s decision saying, “Senator Rubio is following the law, even though he opposes it.”
In September, Rubio joined tea party colleagues in a 22-hour filibuster of the budget bill in an attempt to force a vote to defund the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. The strategy created a rift in the Republican Party and a backlash after the government was forced into shutdown because of the opposition to Obamacare.
Isaac Hunter, former pastor at Summit Church in Orlando, Fla., has died, reports Northland, A Church Distributed. Hunter is the son of Northland Senior Pastor Joel Hunter. Pastor Vernon Rainwater wrote the following message in a blog entry and a post on the Northland’s Facebook page Tuesday:
“By now you may have heard that Pastor Joel and Becky’s son Isaac Hunter died today. All of us are grieving for the Hunter family, and we will deeply miss Isaac. Words cannot express the sorrow we’re feeling.
“We love this family and are so grateful for the impact they have had on each of our lives. I have loved Isaac since he was a child, and I know this … Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven (Romans 8:38-39).
“I know we all want to reach out to the Hunter family, but the way we can love them best at this time is to pray for them and respect their privacy. Right now, would you please pray for them? We will have opportunities in the future to fully express our love and sympathies. Memorial service information will be posted on Northland’s website as soon as it’s available.”
Isaac and Rhonda Hunter have three children together. He has two brothers, Joshua and Joel. It is not yet known how Hunter, 36, died or any details surrounding his death. At press time, the Orange County Medical Examiner’s office was closed and not able to comment.
Hunter founded Summit Church in 2002. It has since become one of the fastest-growing churches in Central Florida with five locations and an estimated 5,000 worshippers. The church grew out of a ministry the younger Hunter started at his father’s megachurch.
Hunter made headlines last year when he resigned after admitting to an affair with a former staffer.
According to court documents from 2012, his family also found an undated suicide note on his computer with instructions to Summit Church on what should be done “If I die,” written before his 35th birthday on April 26, 2012.
“I would very much like to be remembered as a person who loved his children, his parents, his brothers, and his best friends—well, while I could,” Hunter wrote. “I fear I will love them better in my absence. As I have become what I never wished to be, a burden on those I love the most.”
Gonzalez became a household name in the late 1990s when as a 6-year-old Cuban boy he was found floating off the coast of Florida in an inner tube after his mother and others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach the U.S.
“But, despite that, Cuba, even with all its problems has progressed over the years,” Gonzalez added. “The progress we’ve made is all thanks to Cuba’s courage, our dignity, our continued fight for a more just model.”
Gonzalez, now 20 and a cadet at a Cuban military academy, echoed the communist mantra as he spoke to the network at the World Festival of Youth and Students – a left-wing conference that attracted more than 10,000 people from all over, CNN reported.
Gonzalez is expected to speak at the conference though he couldn’t say what topic he would tasked with discussing.
“My topic could range anywhere from the lifting of the unjust blockade on Cuba to the freedom of the ‘Cuban Five.’ The main reason we’re here is because we want a revolutionary progressive movement that leads to socialism,” he said.
The Cuban Five is a reference to the five Cuban intelligence agents convicted in 2001 of spying on U.S. military installations in South Florida, exile groups and politicians. They are regarded as heroes in Cuba.
After being rescued by U.S. officials from the waters off Florida’s coast in November of 1999, Gonzalez was subsequently returned to his father in Cuba in June 2000 after U.S. immigration officials ruled the boy should return to Cuba over the objections of his Miami relatives and other Cuban exiles.
When asked by CNN en Español how his life has been in Cuba since leaving Miami, Gonzalez said, “I haven’t suffered any consequences because of what happened. It has not affected me psychologically, but it has been hard for my family,” adding, “those were tough times.”