When customers at the Florida restaurant chain Gator’s Dockside get their tab they might find an unexpected deduction—a 1% Obamacare surcharge.
Signs outside the restaurants warn:
The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors. 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 company implemented the fee in preparation for Obamacare’s 2016 employer mandate (which has already been delayed twice). Under the mandate employers with more than 50 full-time workers must provide Obamacare for their employees. Ignoring the mandate results in a penalty of $2,000 for each uninsured employee.
Obamacare also cut the hours an individual can work as a part-time employee. Prior to the legislation, up to 34 hours a week was considered part-time. Now, anyone with at least 30 hours will be considered a full-time employee.
Gator’s Group is simply trying to keep the employees that they have worked hard to train, Director of Operations Sandra Clark explained. It will cost the company an estimated $500,000 a year to comply. The surcharge could pick up around $160,000, Clark surmised.
This is surcharge is merely one more example of the burden Obamacare has placed on thousands of individuals across the United States.
Earlier this month, Illinois Representative Robyn Gabel (D-18th District) and Senator Mattie Hunter (D-3rd District introduced a bill (HB 5690 and SB 3524) that would add a ‘penny-per-ounce’ excise tax to sugary beverages in hopes to battle obesity across the state. Similar legislation was proposed in 2011 but was shot down by legislators...
While it is clear that the intentions of the bill are good, evidence shows that a soda tax would impact a large swath of people and target the poor without even achieving its stated goals.
The stated goals of sin taxes like these are twofold: to increase public health and to raise revenue. These goals are in opposition: if sin taxes work at reducing unhealthy behavior, much less money is raised than intended. And if sin taxes don't work, then all they are is revenue-raising tax.
Soda taxes, as Schmidt points out, manage to fail on both accounts. Generally they reduce consumption of soda, lowering the amount of revenue raised, but soda consumption is often fully offset with consumption of other high-calorie drinks. Soda taxes don't measurably improve health outcomes, they don't raise as much money, and the tax money they do raise tends to come disproportionately from low-income households.
Our initial results indicate that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages has no significant impact on fluid ounces purchased of full calorie soft drinks. We do find evidence, however, that the tax triggers sales of sugar-sweetened fruit juice and water among frequent buyers of full calorie soft drinks in order to compensate for the decrease in purchases of full calorie soft drinks as purchase frequency increases. In a rather startling set of results, we also find that the tax drives frequent buyers of beer to purchase more beer than they would have without the tax. Even though there are other substitutes available, frequent beer buyers apparently prefer the beersugar-sweetened soft drink trade-off over other beverages.
And a 2009 study from Jason Fletcher, David Frisvold, and Nathan Tefft found that whatever small decreases in full-calorie soda consumption is fully offset by increases in other high-calorie beverages:
Our results suggest that soft drink taxation, as currently practiced in the United States, leads to a moderate decrease in the quantity of soft drinks consumed by children and adolescents. As a result, soft drink taxation may yield lower revenues for states than expected if behavioral responses to the tax are not accounted for. Additionally, soft drink taxes do not appear to have countered the rise in obesity prevalence because any reduction in soft drink consumption has been offset by the consumption of other calories. Cast in this light, the revenue generation and health benefits of soft drink taxes appear to be weaker than expected.
Is it rare that public policy fails by every proposed rationale? Perhaps, but sin taxes on soda absolutely qualify. They don't improve health, they don't raise very much revenue, and they're fully offset by calorie consumption in other areas - sometimes areas that are inarguably more harmful, like alcohol. The progressive response might be to levy harsh taxes on all non-water beverages. We've heard of the dangers of soda, diet soda, mass-market fruit juice, energy drinks...
Unfortunately, paternalists have a tendency to respond to the inefficacy of a policy with more extreme policy, rather than an admission that government is incapable of achieving some goals. Soda taxes don't work, but that's not going to stop paternalists.
Remind me who it is again that is all chummy with the big banks…
The latest tax proposal from Rep. Dave Camp hikes taxes on banks and threatens the bottom line of some major private equity groups in New York. Wall Street is not too happy about this, and is threatening to limit donations to Washington Republicans.
Lobbyists for the biggest banks are now meeting with lawmakers to figure out what the bank tax would cost them and how it functions. Big banks are looking to turn Republicans against this bank tax. This is putting the party at risk for losing a reliable source of campaign funding in the middle of a very important campaign year.
The NRCC brought in roughly $3.5 million from the investment industry so far this cycle. In 2012 this sector accounted for $9.9 million.
Although this may be a good opportunity for Republicans to show Americans that they are not in cahoots with the big banks, it is also a very serious strategy to consider because of the backlash it could have.
Eric Cantor already met with some lobbyists this week to try and calm their nerves. He made sure to express that Camp’s bill is still merely in draft format and that there are still changes to be made. Other Republicans plan on using this bill as a talking point to make a statement, but it won’t be voted on for a while.
This is a very sticky situation for the Republicans. They can either choose to make serious moves in tax reform, while risking their political funding or they can maintain their relationship with the big banks in order to assure their successes in the midterm elections.
Feminist hero Gloria Steinem joined Joy Reid on her new MSNBC show The Reid Report Wednesday to do what she does best: shame men and insist we are fighting a “war on women.” This time, however, she came with “proof.”
The Women’s Media Center, founded by Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan, recently released a report to determine just how bad it is for women in America. Entitled, "The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2014," the feminist findings concluded that females have made essentially no progress thanks to the male-dominated business.
The report begins by listing all the unacceptable statistics that can explain why women have "barely budged" and even "regressed" in the professional media world. For instance, two-thirds of newsroom staffers are men. One particular section discusses the makeup of sports journalism: “90 percent male, 90 percent white; sports editor ranks have far to go.”
Um, it’s sports. Can we not all agree this is kind of men’s forte? Is it really that surprising that more men would be pursuing careers in sports journalism than women?
A three month snapshot in 2013 of articles appearing on the New York Times’ front page showed that men were quoted 3.4 times more often than women, though the rate was not as high when women wrote the story.
Now I know they're just looking for any excuse to cry “war on women!”
Ironically, the report that is trying so hard to expose sexism is sexist in its very nature. Just look at the key for this graph depicting the ratio of white male to female and minority guests on Sunday shows.
“White men, everyone else.” Classy huh? Can you imagine if this report used any other demographic paired with “everyone else?” They could probably expect lots of nasty phone calls. But, as culture would have it, it seems as though it's become acceptable to alienate men this way.
One thing Steinem’s report leaves out, is the progress women have made in the media.
For instance, another page of the report presents the lack of women who have made it onto the “Heavy Hundred” news talk radio show list. No, no women made the top ten this year. But, why not praise bold ladies like Dana Loesch or Laura Ingraham (who just happen to be conservatives) for having their voices heard by a growing radio audience instead of harping about the women who didn’t make the list?
Maybe if Steinem and her fellow feminists focused on female achievements instead of shortcomings, the world wouldn’t seem so glum for our sex.
The way to make women visible isn’t to make men invisible. I hope one day Steinem and her cohorts will realize men are people too.
President Obama has made liberal use of "executive action" throughout his presidency, and pledged to make even more use of executive action in this year's State of the Union speech. He seems to think that because Republicans don't want to implement his agenda, he can go around Congress.
The Heritage Foundation is out with a new report on President Obama's executive actions, titled "An Executive Unbound," finding that "abusive, unlawful, even potentially unconstitutional unilateral action has been a hallmark of the Obama Administration." They've also compiled a list of the top ten abusive executive actions taken by the President.
1. Amending Obamacare’s employer mandate, providing an unauthorized subsidy to congressional staff, and encouraging state insurance commissioners not to enforce certain requirements.
2 Inventing labor law “exemptions” in violation of the WARN Act so that workers would not receive notice of impending layoffs days before the 2012 election.
3. Waiving the mandatory work requirement under the 1996 comprehensive welfare reform law, which required able-bodied adults to work, prepare for work, or look for work in order to receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
4. Ignoring a statutory deadline and refusing to consider an application related to nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain, which activists sought to block for years.
5. Circumventing the Senate’s duty to provide advice and consent on appointments and instead making “recess” appointments in violation of Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution when the Senate was actually in session.
6. Deciding not to defend the constitutionality of the federal definition of marriage in court.
7. Implementing Common Core national standards through strings-attached waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act.
8. Intimidating Florida to stop its voter roll cleanup, which included removing ineligible voters such as noncitizens, before the 2012 election.
9. Imposing the DREAM Act by executive fiat under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion.”
10. Refusing to enforce federal drug laws in states that have legalized marijuana.
Heritage's entire report is an excellent read - and these are ten of the most egregious actions of the Obama Administration.
In October 2008, then-Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin warned that Putin, having been motivated by Obama's lack of response to the Russian invasion of Georgia, would proceed to invade Ukraine if then-Senator Obama was elected to the presidency.
After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next.
Foreign Policy dismissed this warning as "strange" and "far-fetched."
As we've said before, this is an extremely far-fetched scenario. And given how Russia has been able to unsettle Ukraine's pro-Western government without firing a shot, I don't see why violence would be necessary to bring Kiev to heel.
Yesterday, Russia invaded the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine and seized control of two airports.
Seems as though Palin's prediction wasn't too far-fetched after all.
The federal government broke America's higher education system. In the March edition of Townhall Magazine Joel Gehrke explains how we can fix it.
The United States is suffering from a crisis in higher education. Our economy desperately needs highly skilled workers to stay competitive in today’s global economy. But while our existing system of four-year higher education institutions is working well for some highly talented and wealthy students, millions more are graduating without the skills employers want and saddled with tens of thousands in debt.
Collectively, Americans owe more than $1 trillion in student loan debt. That is far more than they owe in credit card or car loan debt. And the youngest Americans owe the most since tuitions have skyrocketed as the amount of federal financial aid for higher education has increased.
Higher debt at an early age means kids moving back in with their parents, cars not bought, marriages not joined, and new homes not built. It is a huge drag on the entire economy.
Something must change.
SUCCESSFUL INNOVATION CUT SHORT
There are people trying to change higher education. Some of them are even backed by millions in venture capital funding. But, with help from the federal government, the current cartel of higher education providers are shutting them out.
Take Ivy Bridge College, for example, an institution created through a partnership between Tiffin University in Ohio and Altius Education, Inc. Founded in 2008, Ivy Bridge College expanded access to four-year higher ed institutions by first offering traditionally underserved students a shot at an associate’s degree. By offering extensive support services, including not just tutoring but life-coaching as well, Ivy Bridge established a strong associate’s degree graduation track record, and then, depending on their grades, guaranteed them a transfer to a partnered traditional four-year institution, including household brand names like Arizona State.
Because of its relationship with Tiffin, Ivy Bridge students could pay their tuition with federal loans, which would generate revenue for the university and Altius Education, which financed the company.
Altius and Tiffin worked well together. The Higher Learning Commission, which accredits Tiffin, praised Ivy Bridge in 2010 for “deliver[ing] education to a relatively underserved population,” according to documents obtained by Townhall. By August of 2012, Ivy Bridge had almost 2,200 students. That same year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the for-profit/non-profit college a Next Generation Learning grant. A year later, HLC told Tiffin that the university must cut ties with Ivy Bridge or risk the loss of its accreditation. Tiffin complied, which has effectively killed Ivy Bridge by cutting it off from federal funding.
“The thing that changed was the political environment that the accreditors were in,” Altius CEO Paul Freedman told Townhall. And that political environment changed when Higher Learning Commission President Sylvia Manning was hauled before the Senate Education Committee by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) to explain the rise of for-profit colleges such as Kaplan University and the University of Phoenix.
Harkin and his colleagues based their criticism of Manning and HLC on the case of Ashford University, a for-profit institution in Iowa once known as the Franciscan University of the Prairies. With the college on its last legs in 2005, HLC, under the leadership of its previous president, allowed a company called Bridgepoint Education, Inc., to purchase the accredited religious school without putting the new for-profit model through an accreditation review.
Six years later, Ashford enrolled 78,000 students receiving more than $600 million in federal subsidies annually. Sixty- three percent of the people seeking four-year bachelor’s degrees dropped out in the first year, according to Harkin, which looks good compared to the 84 percent dropout rate among students pursuing a two-year associate’s degree.
“I think this is a scam, an absolute scam,” Harkin said.
Manning left that hearing having promised that HLC would cut off the shortcut to accreditation (and thus federal dollars) that Bridgepoint had taken. “What happened in 2005 could not happen today,” she said.
When Ivy Bridge College’s for-profit parent company, Altius, tried to operate independently from Tiffin two years later as part of a joint venture, HLC blocked the change and reversed its earlier approval of Tiffin’s relationship with the for-profit institution.
“They’ve boxed the innovators out of higher education,” Freedman told Buzzfeed in an August report on the demise of Ivy Bridge.
THE ACCREDITING COUNTRY CLUB
Accrediting agencies have long played an important role in higher education, most graduate schools won’t accept students who don’t have a degree from an accredited institution, but they acquired the power of life-and-death over colleges and universities with the advent of federal student aid funding in the middle of the 20th century. In 1944, Congress passed the GI Bill, which gave financial aid to veterans returning from the Second World War. The Higher Education Act of 1965 authorized even more college subsidies, known as Title IV funding.
Con artists loved the new programs. They took advantage of the subsidies by setting up “degree mills,” fake colleges preying on students who paid for worthless diplomas with taxpayer dollars. Congress knew of the problem, but the lawmakers didn’t know how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Enter the accrediting agencies, the private associations of colleges that had collaborated together for decades without the help of the federal government. The first accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was founded in 1895 and provided a national template for how institutions of higher education would improve themselves.
“[SACS] started with the purpose of collegially sharing best practices among the universities,” Freedman said. “They had membership criteria, [but they] had no authority. You imagine country clubs without the golf.”
Those “social clubs” have grown strong with age, as Freedman learned when an accrediting body shut down a college that his company had founded in partnership with Tiffin. When Congress updated the GI Bill to cover veterans of the Korean War, it stipulated that students could only use federal funds at schools that had the approval of regional accrediting agencies.
“Accreditors have become pseudo deputized government organizations,” according to Freedman. And colleges welcomed the government management because of their desire for the taxpayer dollars.
“That $157 billion a year is the oxygen that keeps higher ed alive,” Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc told Townhall.
IT PAYS TO BE PART OF THE CLUB
Recent developments at Southern New Hampshire University show that skepticism about for-profit institutions hasn’t entirely stifled online innovations, though. Under LeBlanc’s leadership, SNHU has developed into “the Amazon.com of higher education,” as University of Southern California’s Gabriel Kahn wrote in Slate. The private school had a small student body and big financial problems in 2003. Now, it has 34,000 enrollees in 180 different online degree programs. “Our very large scale online programs look a lot like traditional programs except that they’re online,” LeBlanc said, insofar as students receive instruction to achieve credit hours and eventually earn a degree.
Despite the volume, SNHU doesn’t follow the pedagogical method associated with another recent development in education known as MOOCs, or massive open online courses.
MOOCs tend to imitate the “sage on the stage” teaching method found at many campuses around the country: students listen to a lecture from a professor, but have no personal contact with the instructor. Online classes at SNHU, by contrast, have put an average of 22 students in touch with a designated faculty member via email and discussion boards as they do coursework developed by “subject matter experts working with instructional designers,” LeBlanc explained.
Not only does SNHU have a large-scale online degree program, they have an online competency-based associate’s degree program. That is, students don’t earn credits toward a degree by taking classes from instructors; instead, they demonstrate competency in an array of skills by completing projects.
“At its heart, competency-based education is simply the direct assessment of a what a student knows,” Steve Phillips of Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey, which also operates a competency-based program, explained to Townhall. SNHU’s College for America recently became the first competency-based program in the country to receive the imprimatur of a regional accreditor.
To receive that accreditation, SNHU had to overcome a strong bias against competency-based programs held by the accrediting agencies. “There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over accreditors, but we’ve really had a very positive experience,” LeBlanc told said.
It probably also didn’t hurt that LeBlanc used to be the vice president of his school’s accreditor, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
COMPETING MODELS FOR SUCCESS
Bureaucratic hurdles remain, though. “The problem with many of the newer competency-based programs is that federal regulations make it difficult for students to change between a competency-based program and a traditional program or vice versa,” Phillips explained. “So if a student is interested in trying a competency-based program, but then it turns out they don’t like it, they can find themselves in a difficult situation.”
Altius’ Paul Freedman can only look at SNHU with a combination of envy and respect. “If they were a for-profit doing the same thing, they would have had accreditors breathing down their neck,” he said. “Southern New Hampshire is looked at as a phenomenal example of innovation in higher education, which it should be, it’s just ... I wish there weren’t such restrictions on that in education, because there need to be more examples of that rather than fewer.”
Some corporations have sidestepped the accreditation process by communicating, or helping prospective workers to communicate, with employers who typically rely on a college degree to identify desirable employees.
One such company, Degreed, helps users by creating an online profile detailing their base of knowledge for employers.
“All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost ...” Degreed says on its website. The line comes from a poem in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Rings” and suggests, in this context, that employers should consider hiring people who lack typical degrees in the relevant field and that nerds should feel comfortable working with Degreed. Udacity, another for-profit educational firm, has an even more ambitious goal of using MOOCs, “to do away with the idea of spending one big chunk of time learning.” In the words of founder and scientist Sebastian Thrun, Udacity will allow people “to hit the workforce relatively early and engage in
But so far Udacity hasn’t lived up to Thrun’s vision. “We
have a lousy product,” Thrun had to admit in an interview with Fast Company’s Max Chafkin. Thrun is confronting the problem by partnering with Georgia Tech University to deliver an accredited master’s degree in computer science. AT&T will pay for the program “in the hope of getting access to a new pool of well-trained engineers,” Chafkin explained.
A $4,000 DEGREE
Unlike SNHU or Udacity, Thomas Edison State College runs its competency-based program within a credit-hour model. “If you know everything you would learn in English Composition, then come, take our test and prove it,” Edison’s Phillips explained. “If you pass, we’ll give you the credits, no questions asked.”
With that process in place, the college launched an “open course option” in January 2014 for students interested in an Associates of Science in Business Administration. Through a partnership with the Saylor Foundation, a non-profit trying to use the internet to provide free education, students can take Saylor courses and then receive credits by demonstrating competency to Thomas Edison State College faculty.
The program isn’t quite free, but it’s affordable. “The entire degree only costs $4,000 for in-state and $5,500 for out of state (assuming they finish in one calendar year),” Phillips said. Similarly, SNHU’s competency-based program offers “a five thousand dollar degree” over a two-year period.
The proliferation of online-based innovations in education contains an indictment of the modern academy, as LeBlanc demonstrated when making the case for hybrid program.
“Forty years ago, having a college degree was a signal to the labor market that you knew things. That you were a critical thinker, that you could do analysis, that you could write reasonably well, that you could be in front of a room of people and present, and that you had some basic math skills,” he told Townhall. “The market doesn’t believe that any longer.”
THE OBAMACARE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Unfortunately, bottom up market based innovation is not what the current occupant of the White House has in mind. “I think we should rate colleges based on opportunity,” Obama said at the University of Buffalo on August 22, 2013. “How much debt does the average student leave with? How easy it is to pay off? How many students graduate on time? How well do those graduates do in the workforce? Because the answers will help parents and students figure out how much value a college truly offers.”
These standards all may sound nice, but to anyone who actually works in higher education all they hear is thousands of hours of more worthless paperwork and more Washington control.
“A fundamental shift of responsibility and authority for academic judgments is taking place, away from the accreditation and academic communities to government,” a 2012 Council for Higher Education report said of Obama’s higher education plan.
An administrator at a small private school who asked for anonymity to avoid retribution from the Department of Education was even more blunt: “It is a federal ‘take-over’ akin to the health care industry and yet almost no one pays attention.”
Worse, by tying federal funding to graduation rates, Obama’s plan will only lead to more grade inflation, thus making college degrees even more worthless.
SAVING HIGHER ED INNOVATION FROM WASHINGTON
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has a different vision for higher education reform. His bill would allow state governments to join regional accreditors as gatekeepers who can accredit institutions to receive Title IV funding (New York is the only state in the union that currently has this power).
“What we want to do is give states the option to create a separate accreditation system that would operate in tandem with, or parallel to, the existing system,” Lee told the Washington Examiner in January. “It adds both to the number of higher education options available to students and also to the diversity of options.”
Lee’s bill doesn’t mandate how states accredit schools, which raises questions about the implementation of the bill, such as whether states would enter into reciprocity agreements to ensure that students who studied at one school could transfer to an institution at another state, if they so desired.
While Lee’s bill might pose a challenge to the existing accreditors, it would, unlike most reform proposals circulating in D.C., keep the federal government from gaining more power over the education system.
And if you want to see more competency-based learning, $4,000 degrees, and partnerships with private employers, then stopping a Washington takeover is essential.
Joel Gehrke is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.
Sen. Ted Cruz warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not take the cautious words of President Obama very seriously - and look into suspending Russia from the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Security Council:
"As the President and his national security team are apparently the last to learn, Putin has scant regard for international norms when they run counter to his goal of re-establishing Soviet-style regional hegemony over unfortunate states like Georgia and Ukraine who have the temerity to want a more free, prosperous future for their people. And Putin is under no illusions that the President’s vague threats mean any more than his infamous ‘red line’ in the Syrian desert.
“If we were serious about standing up to Putin’s power grab, we would immediately suspend Russian membership in the Group of Eight (G8), which should consist of nations that can contribute to a civilized order. And if the Russians persist in this aggressive action, we should look into additional measures such as suspension from the World Trade Organization and even the United Nations Security Council.
“The United States should stand with Ukraine.”
This continues a string of tough talk from Sen. Cruz on Russia and warnings that President Obama is taking the threat of the Russian Bear a little lightly. In January, Cruz said that Putin was "playing chess, and the United States is playing checkers."
Sen. Marco Rubio was more concise and direct, calling Vladimir Putin a tyrant. "The U.S. cannot accept Russian aggression against a neighbor and United Nations member in blatant violation of international law," Rubio said in a statement. "Tyrants like Vladimir Putin may threaten and intimidate, but the clear arc of history favors people's universal desire to be free."
It was only yesterday that American intelligence reportedly assessed that Russia wouldn't invade Ukraine, as The Daily Beast's Eli Lake reported that a U.S. intelligence official concluded that Russian military maneuvers were concerning but "we don't have any reason to think it's more than military exercises."
And, of course, CNN brings us the picture on the ground in Ukraine today:
CNN airing new image of Russian tanks in Ukraine pic.twitter.com/vZKSpJg9Jc— Jon Passantino (@passantino) February 28, 2014
According to reports coming from the Pentagon, a dozen planes carrying 2000 [Russian] troops have landed in Crimea, Ukraine. President Obama made a statement about the troop movement late Friday afternoon, the first time he's made a statement on the tensions in Ukraine since February 19.
"The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to pursue their own country," Obama said. "We are deeply concerned about military movements by Russia inside Ukraine...Any violation of Ukrainian sovereignty would be deeply destabilizing to the region."
Obama stressed there will be consequences should Russia and President Putin choose to intervene militarily in the country and issued the support of the United States to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
"The United States will stand with the international community in confirming their will be consequences for military intervention in Ukraine," Obama said. "In this difficult moment, the United States stands in support of his [Yatsenyuk's] efforts."
"Human beings have a universal right to determine their own future," Obama said. "I commend the Ukraine for its restraint."
Fox News' Jennifer Griffith has reported eye witnesses on the ground in Crimea describe the atmosphere as "increasingly militarized." The troop movement comes a week after former Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. Half of of the country wants to join the European Union and the other half is sympathetic to the former Soviet Union, as is Putin.
UPDATE: Apparently the Obama administration isn't calling thousands of troops landing on the ground in Crimea and "invasion," but rather an "uncontested arrival."
Admin officials tell CNN's Barbara Starr this is an "uncontested arrival" not necessarily "an invasion" and that this distinction is "key."— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) February 28, 2014
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