* The president-elect hasn’t been shy about his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Joan McCarter asks an important question, “Does Trump’s idolization of Putin extend to how he’ll treat the free press as president?”
Since 2000 when Putin gained power, 34 journalists have been murdered in Russia, using combined data from the CPJ and the Glasnost Defense Foundation. These are deaths confirmed or likely to be work-related homicides committed in Russia.
Most of the suspected perpetrators are military officials, government officials, or political groups. How many Putin is responsible for directing is unknown. But he doesn’t have to be directly involved, says Nina Ognianova, the coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Europe and Central Asia program. They are “slain with impunity in Putin’s Russia. […] Their killers are emboldened to act by an administration that marginalizes them, isolates them, and downplays their role in society.”
* This is disgraceful:
Israel’s ambassador the United States says his country will share evidence with President-elect Donald Trump that the Obama administration was behind a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territory, though the ambassador did not offer the evidence when pressed in a CNN interview…
When pressed by CNN host Don Lemon on what evidence Israel has, Dermer said, “We have clear evidence of it.” He added that Israel would give that evidence to the incoming Trump administration.
When pressed further on why it won’t release the evidence publicly now, Dermer reiterated that Israel would give the evidence to the next administration and said it’s up to those officials whether to make it public.
Of course, Dermer didn’t have any problem making the innuendo public.
* It has often been noted that the Obamacare repeal and delay plan embraced by Republicans would likely destabilize the exchanges that are a vital part of reform. If premiums skyrocket as a result, Congressional Republicans have a ready-made response: they will claim that the individual insurance market was already in the midst of a death spiral. That is why this analysis by S&P is important to note before any of that gets underway.
We view 2017 as a one-time pricing correction. So although we would expect insurers, on average, to put in another round of premium increases for 2018, the average level of increase requested will be well below the 2017 hike of 25%.
For 2017, we believe the continued pricing correction and network design changes, along with regulatory fine-tuning of ACA rules, will result in closer to break-even results, in aggregate, for the individual market, and more insurers reporting profits in this segment. But most will remain below their target profitability levels (low single-digit margins for the Blues) in 2017. It will take another year or two of continued improvements to get to that target.
* Alana Semuels went to Elkhart, Indiana (Republican territory) to understand why the economic boom they experienced during the Obama years didn’t change their politics.
Elkhart is a case study in how Democrats lost the 2016 elections despite the economic resurgence the country experienced under Obama. It shows how, in an increasingly polarized country, an improving economy is not enough to get Republicans to vote for Democrats, in part because they don’t give Democrats any credit for fixing the economy…
Indeed, as the economy began improving, Elkhart voters grew less likely to support Democratic candidates for president. Obama won 44 percent of the vote in Elkhart County in 2008, 36 percent in 2012, and Clinton received just 31 percent in 2016…
Andi Ermes, 39, offered a number of reasons for disliking Obama. She said Obama didn’t attend the Army-Navy football game, even though other presidents had. Obama has actually attended more Army-Navy games than George H.W. Bush. She said that he had taken too many vacations. He has taken fewer vacation days that George W. Bush. She also said that he refused to wear a flag pin on his lapel. While it is true that Obama did not wear a flag on his lapel at points during the 2007 campaign, it was back on his suit by 2008. Ermes told me the news sources she consumes most are Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and a local conservative radio show hosted by Casey Hendrickson.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ermes sees the biggest signs for hope in the economy in Carrier deal struck by Donald Trump, which will keep 1,000 jobs in the U.S. “He’s not even president yet and already he’s helping the economy,” she said.
* Finally, Carrie Fisher died today. Since I watched her one-woman show on HBO titled, “Wishful Drinking,” she ceased to merely be that person who played Princess Leia and became the funny, troubled and wise woman of her later years. Here’s an excerpt. If you have access to HBO, I highly recommend the whole show.