Sunday, July 05, 2015

Truest statement of the week

There has never been a dime’s worth of difference between the Clintons (Bill and Hillary) and Barack Obama, and less than ten cents separates the worldviews of these Democratic political twins from the Bush wing of the Republican Party.
Each has their individual quirks. Barack destroys international order and the rule of law while dabbling at song; Bill dismantled the U.S. manufacturing base and threw record numbers of Blacks in prison as he toyed with his trumpet; George W. played the fool who would Shock and Awe the world into obedience; and Hillary is the evil crone that curses the dead while screaming “We are Woman” like a banshee. But they are all the same in their corporate soullessness.

-- Glen Ford, "Both Major U.S. Parties are Plagues on Humanity" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

Sanders continues to receive friendly treatment from the corporate-controlled media, which is well aware that his occasional claims to be a “socialist” are purely nominal, and that he represents no threat to the profits and wealth of the US financial aristocracy.
Typical was the effusive lead in the Associated Press report on the Madison rally: “Nearly 10,000 supporters delivered a jolt of momentum to Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign Wednesday night at a supersize rally where the senator from Vermont asked his backers to help him create a political revolution.”

Despite his rhetoric, and a detailed description of social inequality and the domination of the super-rich, Sanders offers his audience a relatively modest reform program that would have been commonplace in a Democratic primary campaign a few decades ago. It is only the dramatic shift to the right by the Democrats, and by capitalist politics as a whole, that makes Sanders sound radical by comparison.

-- Patrick Martin, "Bernie Sanders holds rally of 10,000 in Madison, Wisconsin" (WSWS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Yet another Sunday.

First, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The endless joke that is Jill Stein

Oh, look, she suffers from Hillary Clinton's ever changing hair disease as well:

  • Had great chat about evils of testing with the great in the green room today.

  • She looks frightening in the photo but how telling that her 'big' issue is standardized testing.

    You do realize, don't you, that standardized testing has resulted in the deaths of thousands in Yemen and Libya and . . .

    Oh, wait, we were thinking of drones.

    So the failed and embarrassing 2012 Green Party presidential candidate is trying to get the nomination for 2016.

    She accomplished nothing in 2012, you may remember.

    In their now infamous 2012 essay "Let The Fun Begin," Ava and C.I. observed:

    Supposedly the Green Party is opposed to war.

    So when Tim Arango reported the White House was negotiating with Nouri to send more troops back into Iraq, Jill Stein should have led on that.

    But she's a politician which is just a whore without the desire to please a customer.

    So Jill ignored it.

    She ignored a lot.

    Six weeks ago, in fact, after Barack cratered in the first debate, she and her campaign began going after Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.


    You're a Green.  You're on the left.  The high profile left vote getter just imploded on national TV.  It's the perfect time for you to pick up some of his voters.

    But you refuse to try.  You rush to go after Romney and Ryan instead.

    Why is that?

    Because you are not a real party.

    Because you will forever be the little sister of the Democratic Party.

    Because every four years, you start off with promise and end up revealing just how craven and disgusting you are.

    If we are offering commentary four years from now, please note, being a Green will not save you.  Being third party will not save you.

    We will call you out in real time.

    And, in fact, all of us at Third will call you out.

    The do nothing Jill thinks she deserves the nomination.


    Apparently because she's White.

    That's why you're supposed to overlook her failures and get on board with her -- the way Medea I Need Attention Benjamin already has.

    But we read her long and ridiculous announcement speech.

    Our first question?

    Does Jill believe vaccines cause autism because she flirts with that in her remarks and if others are going to be nailed to the cross for that belief, she needs to be as well.

    In over 1400 words, Jill never mentions Iraq.

    What is about this uptight fool and her refusal -- in 2012 and now this year -- to ever mention Iraq?

    The Green Party is supposed to be for peace but Jill can't champion peace.

    Last week, Jim Webb declared his intention to seek the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. In his speech, he noted:

    Let me assure you, as President I would not have urged an invasion of Iraq, nor as a Senator would I have voted to authorize it. I warned in writing five months before that invasion that we do not belong as an occupying power in that part of the world, and that this invasion would be a strategic blunder of historic proportions, empowering Iran and in the long run China, unleashing sectarian violence inside Iraq and turning our troops into terrorist targets.
    I would not have been the President who used military force in Libya during the Arab Spring. I warned repeatedly that this use of our military did not meet the test of a grave national security interest, that it would have negative implications for the entire region, and that no such action should take place without the approval of the Congress. The leadership in the Congress at that time not only failed to give us a vote; they did not even allow a formal debate, and the President acted unilaterally. The attack in Benghazi was inevitable in some form or another, as was the continuing chaos and the dissemination of large numbers of weapons from Qaddafi’s armories to terrorist units throughout the region.

    In his announcement that he was seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Lincoln Chafee noted:

    I’d like to talk about how we found ourselves in the destructive and expensive chaos in the Middle East and North Africa and then offer my views on seeking a peaceful resolution.
    There were twenty-three Senators who voted against the Iraq war in October 2002. Eighteen of us are still alive and I’m sure everyone of us had their own reasons for voting “NO”. I’d like to share my primary three.
    The first reason is that the long painful chapter of the Viet Nam era was finally ending. This is my generation and the very last thing I wanted was any return to the horrific bungling of events into which we put our brave fighting men and women.
    In fact we had a precious moment in time where a lasting peace was in our grasp. Too many senators forgot too quickly about the tragedy of Viet Nam.
    A second reason was that I had learned in the nine months of the Bush/Cheney administration prior to September 11th, not to trust them at their word. As a candidate, Governor Bush had said many things that were for the campaign only- governing would be a lot different. For example a campaign staple was, “I am a uniter, not a divider”. He said very clearly that his foreign policy would be humble, not arrogant. And he promised to regulate carbon dioxide, a climate change pollutant. These promises were all broken in the very first days of his presidency.
    Sadly, the lies never stopped. This was an administration not to be trusted.
    My third reason for voting against the war was based on a similar revulsion to mendacity. Many of the cheerleaders for the Iraq war in the Bush administration had been writing about regime change in Iraq and American unilateralism for years.
    They wrote about it in the 1992 Defense Planning Guide, in the 1996 Report to Prime Minister Netanyahu, in the 1997 Project for a New American Century and in the 1998 letter to President Clinton.

    A little over a month before the vote on the war I read an article in the Guardian by Brian Whitaker. Listen to this:
    “In a televised speech last week, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked.
    “We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region”, he said. Mr. Mubarak is an old-fashioned kind of Arab leader and, in the brave new post-September-11 world, he doesn’t quite get the point.
    What on earth did he expect the Pentagon’s hawks to do when they heard his words of warning? Throw up their hands in dismay? – “Gee, thanks, Hosni. We never thought of that. Better call the whole thing off right away.”
    They are probably still splitting their sides with laughter in the Pentagon. But Mr. Mubarak and the hawks do agree on one thing: War with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East.
    Mr. Mubarak believes that would be bad. The hawks, though, believe it would be good.

    For the hawks, disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan.”
    It’s bad enough that the so-called neocons, most of whom had never experienced the horror of war, were so gung ho. But worse yet, was that they didn’t have the guts to argue their points straight up to the American people. They knew there were no weapons of mass destruction but wanted their war badly enough to purposely deceive us.
    After reading the Guardian article, I asked for a briefing from the CIA. I said, “I have to vote on this war resolution in a few weeks, show me everything you have on Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The answer, after an hour-long presentation out at CIA headquarters in Langley was: not much. “Flawed intelligence” is completely inaccurate. There was NO intelligence. Believe me I saw “everything they had”.

    It’s heartbreaking that more of my colleagues failed to do their homework. And incredibly, the neocon proponents of the war who sold us on the false premise of weapons of mass destruction are still key advisors to a number of presidential candidates today.

    We could go on and on.

    But instead of noting and quoting all the candidates who are talking Iraq, let's point out that Jill Stein's silence puts her side-by-side with the only other candidate avoiding Iraq: Hillary Clinton.

    The press really need to explore Dr. Jill Stein's stance on the cause of autism  since she raised it in her announcement speech.

    More to the point, everyone needs to be asking why someone wanting the presidential nomination of the Green Party can't even address the topic of Iraq?

    Jill Stein's a fake and she was ridiculous in 2012.

    She'll be ridiculous in 2016 as well, if given the chance.

    The only 'change' she has to offer is a new hair do.

    TV: The return of the TV movie

    The return of the TV movie really questions The Nation magazine's refusal to get behind war resisters throughout the Iraq War.

    In part, it was because Katrina vanden Heuvel (who bought her way into the magazine) feared support for war resisters would lead to higher postal rates, among other things.  (That the government would retaliate was her fear, that she'd become the new Charles Schenck.)

    But though she couldn't support those who stood up for peace, today the magazine's applauding someone who argued for armed revolution.


    Are you ready, Black people?
    Are you ready, Black people?
    Are you really ready?
    Are you ready to call the wrath of  Black gods?

    Black magic?
    To do your bidding?
    Are you ready to smash White things?
    To burn buildings?
    Are you ready?
    Are you ready to kill if necessary?
    Is your mind ready?
    Is your body ready?

    Are you really, really, really ready?

    That's the part of David Nelson's poem that Nina Simone is seen reading/ranting onstage at some daytime rally to incite violence in the new TV movie What Happened, Miss Simone?

    We call it a TV movie not just because it's streaming on Netflix but also because the indie film is one lie or evasion after another.

    But the above noted scene, and others in the same time frame, not only refute claims Simone made in her  autobiography, they've also stunned people who've seen the documentary and are learning of her call for violence in the United States.  She also is documented in the film explaining how she supports a Black state in the United States and believes that an armed struggle and the deaths that will result from it will turn one of the fifty states into a separatist one and we'll come back to that because that's the larger indictment of the actions of Nina Simone.

    Nina who?

    Chanel declawed the activist and singer via the 1987 utilization of her "My Baby Just Cares For Me" cover (a song she detested) for their TV ad campaign.  It gave her a new lease on life after she had faded from memory.  John Badham's 1993 action thriller Point of No Return found Bridget Fonda's character romanticizing Simone as the saint of suffering and using the lyrics of "I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl" to flirt with an assassin.  That and the occasional Sandra Bernhard club riff or essay was, more or less, the Nina Simone 'revival' for the 80s and early 90s.

    If that seems harsh, so was Nina Simone.

    Appearing at a paying gig at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as the sixties closed down (and as her bookings were harder and harder to get), she told an audience of thousands, "I know that there are only 300 Black students here in this college of 18,000 so this song is dedicated only to you."

    As a step to honor the sentiments of "Young, Gifted and Black," not a bad move at all.

    But it's actually part of a movement of division that Nina imposed upon her audiences.

    The film largely skirts this.

    Like Barbra Streisand, Nina began her career refusing to sing until the audience quieted down.

    Unlike Barbra, she did more than that.

    She called the audience out.

    Individual members.

    The film gets at this in one scene where Nina stops in the middle of playing Janis Ian's "Stars" to yell at a "girl" (we don't see the woman) to sit down.

    Let's repeat that.

    At a music festival, she is seen stopping her opening number -- which she introduces with some maudlin remarks -- in order to yell at an audience member to sit down.

    This was a typical Nina Simone concert move.

    As she grew more bitter over the years, she added additional moves.

    There was the concert in Cannes where she yelled at the audience, "Loosen up! Are you all dead or something?  The only ghosts I ever saw were White -- you asked for that!"

    There was Pamplona where she attacked the audience with, "I don't sing for bastards.  I don't like White people."

    (Mike Zwerin captured Pamplona in his 2003 New York Times obituary on Simone where he noted that it began with her pulling a knife on festival artistic director Raymond Gonzalez and she then "pulled the same knife on the taxi driver" and then, when she finally took the stage, Simone "was obviously loaded and went out of her way to insult the audience.")

    Those are only a few examples.

    When you spit on your audience, you have problems with a career.

    Nina's problems went beyond that, however.

    The film skirts some of her biggest problems.

    In the film, Nina leaves her wedding ring at the New York house, ends her marriage to her manager Andrew Stroud and ends up in Liberia.

    That's not exactly what happened.

    Nina always insisted she (a) intended her husband to continue to be her manager and (b) remain married but he misinterpreted her gesture and divorced her as a result.

    Her gesture included moving to Barbados where she became the mistress of Prime Minister Errol Barrow until he tired of her.  At some point during this, she returns to the United States where she finds that she's wanted for unpaid taxes.

    Nina, in her book and in interviews, cast this as her refusal to pay taxes because she didn't want her money going to support the war on Vietnam and kind but uninformed writers have sided with her against the IRS.

    Reality: The unpaid taxes weren't federal.  This was why the city of Mount Vernon took over her Mount Vernon home.

    The IRS becomes a problem around 1978, well after her time in Barbados and Liberia, when they announce she owes back taxes for the years 1971, 1972 and 1973.  This is at the time where she owes various hotels for stays (like Judy Garland in her final years), owes $10,000 to American Express, owes for charges at various department stores, etc. .

    The movie regularly trashes the facts of Nina's art.

    They suggest, via the use of a song, that Nina was singing at revivals (her mother was a Methodist minister).  She only played piano at the revivals.

    And that's an important part of her training and artistic development but it's ignored to instead zoom in on the classical playing.

    Her songwriting -- especially when she's doing an activist song -- owes as much to the church as it does to classical training.


    She wanted violence.  Her husband notes that in the film, how she wanted violence and would say, "'Let's get the guns.  Let's poison the reservoir' -- all sorts of violent, terrorist acts."

    It started with the Civil Rights Movement.

    But though she participated in the March on Selma, she quickly grew frustrated, as the film documents:

    Guitarist Al Schackman: I remember one time she walked up to Dr. King and said, "I'm not non-violent!" And he said, "That's okay, sister, you don't have to be."

    Nina Simone: I was never non-violent.  Never.  I thought we should get our rights by any means necessary.

    Turning on the leadership and teachings of MLK was a big change.

    She did so publicly.

    She called for armed revolution publicly.

    And was surprised that there would be fall out from this.

    Andrew Stroud declares in the film, "She was putting down the White people raw-raw-raw -- like a barking dog.  But she still wanted the good things.  Whenver she'd see like Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight and all these people on prime television shows, she, of course, was very upset because she wasn't able to get onto these shows because of her reputation."

    She was also putting down Aretha and Gladys . . . and Diana Ross and Louis Armstrong and Lena Horne and everyone including even Elton John.

    Her daughter offers in the film that anger fueled her.

    Possibly but so did resentment.

    Stroud and Simone's marriage was marked by violence.  He refers to "backhanding" her in the car.  Her journal entries -- read throughout the film -- include her need for sex to be violent and painful.

    Stroud may or may not be a monster.  He may or may not have beaten her many times.*

    But he did know how to build her career.

    She'd be nowhere without Stroud.

    She claimed she lost millions of dollars in royalties.


    She was not a songwriter on those early, pre-Stroud management recordings.

    Vocalists got very small royalties -- especially when they were on rag tag labels.

    She elected to sell those rights for $3,000.

    When Chanel used her early recording of "My Baby Just Cares For Me," Stroud was telling everyone (but Nina who no longer spoke to him) that Nina was a fool.

    She wasn't getting any royalties from the song, a popular song.

    All she had to do, he argued, was re-record the song and publicly insist/shame Chanel into using that recording for which she'd be paid.

    After Stroud, she had friends who 'rescued' her but no one who planned for her career or could think of anything other than 'get her on the road.'

    It was with Stroud that Nina found financial success, the spacial Mount Vernon home (with "a cold storage where she kept her furs and her costumes," according to her daughter), the high life, etc.

    From that foundation of success, she began to explore the artistic world and the political world.

    But her resentments and her frustrations overtook her activism.

    To be clear, Nina's actions are in reaction to the times.

    That's not just the violence that marked the period or the discrimination (or violent discrimination), it's also Nina reacting to other elements working towards something.

    And Nina's more extreme statements were in reaction to a conservative element in the Civil Rights Movement which would not call out the war on Vietnam and would not argue loudly for rights.  (This element turned on Dr. Martin Luther King.)

    But that said, when you're calling for violence, you're calling for violence.

    That's the reality.

    And while Women's International League for Peace and Freedom was hoping to work in the south to gather together civil rights activists and anti-war activists into a coalition, Nina was among some advocating for division.

    That's why, for her, an answer was a civil war in the US which would result in a Black state.

    She wanted this and yet she later whines, in the late seventies and eighties, that there is no Civil Rights Movement today.

    What she was advocating was the enshrinement of Plessy v. Ferguson.

    Did she not grasp that?

    Did she not grasp that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was about stripping the 'separate but equal' damage done by Plessy v. Ferguson?

    She certainly didn't grasp the need for a large and encompassing movement.

    A minority population can achieve some things with violence.

    Whether it could have achieved that or not, who knows?

    But Nina, in the seventies, lamented the demise of the Civil Rights Movement.

    She was angry, she was mad.

    She was everything but willing to be accountable.

    The Civil Rights Movement took off because people were outraged.


    And the film's footage captures that.  Along with African-Americans, you see Latinos and Anglo-Whites protesting.

    Nina's exclusion of non-Blacks from the Civil Rights Movement, her desire to splinter it, helped weaken the movement.

    Not Nina by herself, but the faction she was part of.

    No White person should have been speaking as he head of the Civil Rights Movement.

    The movement needed to be Black led.

    But there's a difference between making that argument and rushing to exclude non-Blacks from even being part of the movement.

    Advocating for violence also tends to run people off.

    It's interesting that The Nation is rushing to extol Nina Simone when about a decade ago it was attacking the Weather Underground for its embrace of violence during this same time period.

    Is The Nation now for armed violence within the United States?

    Or do they just give people of color a pass on violence?

    The Weather Underground wanted exactly what Nina Simone wanted.

    But they got condemned while Nina gets praised as a hero.

    To praise her as a hero, they ignore the fact that she beat her daughter (to the point that her daughter considered suicide).

    Frank Sinatra wasn't a saint.

    He didn't beat Nancy, Tina or Frank Jr., but he wasn't a saint.

    And we can draw a line between the person and the artist.

    And we should be able to draw a line between the person Nina Simone and the artist Nina Simone.

    But that's not what The Nation does.

    It offers an ahistorical rave from Syreeta McFadden (her slam on Motown means we wave the middle finger to the idiot).

    McFadden, as usual, is on a rave about a recent discovery and that's the movie which gives her the 'truth' she needs to grasp.

    But the film's not truthful.

    And if you're going to write about an activist, you need to evaluate their activism.

    Nina Simone failed as an activist.

    She was part of a movement that killed the Civil Rights Movement.

    They did so by advocating for violence and they did so by excluding supporters.

    To be sure, the movement was attacked by the government -- the FBI, the White House, the CIA, military intelligence, etc.

    But a vibrant movement could have fought back.

    One that had been divided and shattered had no chance of survival.

    She accomplished more in her political songwriting than she did in her political speeches and statements.

    The TV movie has frequently attempted to provide a glancing look at reality.

    1982's Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal made a lot of people feel proud of themselves.  It just rendered a complex story in simplistic terms and, in the end, accomplished nothing.

    That's the reality of TV movies with very few exceptions (two would be The Burning Bed and The Day After).

    And  the reality of What Happened, Miss Simone? is that it really doesn't matter.

    Liz Garbus has created a fascinating fairy tale, but she hasn't captured reality.

    In fairness to Garbus, a very talented film maker, she wasn't going to.

    Not with Simone's daughter overseeing and signing off on the film.

    The daughter is a bit off.

    She's been at war with a film -- non-documentary -- about her mother for years now (Nina)..

    Originally, she was slamming it because Mary J. Blige was being cast as Nina.  The film, she huffed, needed an actress, not a singer.

    Then she was enraged that Zoe Saldana -- an actress -- was cast.

    Zoe, she carped, did not look like her mother.

    Did Diana Ross look like Billie Holiday?

    No, and it didn't stop Diana from giving an incredible performance in Lady Sings The Blues, one that was nominated for an Academy Award.

    Did Barbra Streisand look like Fanny Brice?

    No, and it didn't stop her from winning the Academy Award for Funny Girl.

    There's a cult encouraging the daughter in this crap -- the cult includes the former president of the Nina Simone UK fan club.

    And she's felt the need to out a dead man as gay to attack the film.

    The film, which she hasn't seen, is about the love story of her mother and caregiver Clifton Henderson.

    Henderson sold the rights to his story and Simone's daughter had no input and no pay off which seems to have enraged her the most.

    She insists that Henderson was gay and therefore did not sleep with her mother.

    Does she not know how many gay men her mother slept with from 1979 forward?

    Or does she just believe that a gay man can't sleep with a woman?

    Pity she never heard Joan Crawford share how she seduced Rock Hudson, "Just close your eyes and pretend I'm Clark Gable."

    Gay men have always been able to sleep with women.  Viagra made it easier in recent years, even let one closeted gay movie star  -- far too young to be on Viagra -- marry a woman for a semi-successful marriage -- semi-successful until recently.

    Henderson may have been gay.  More likely, as rumors suggest, he was bi-sexual.

    It's amazing that the daughter resorts to homophobia to dispute the relationship.

    Amazing until you grasp that she wasn't in touch with her mother at the end.  Nina wrote her out of the will.  A sympathetic California court re-instated her.

    But Nina writing her out of the will was Nina.

    It's the same Nina who refused to see her dying father in the hospital -- despite his begging her for days to visit.

    And that's one fact among many that doesn't make the so-called documentary.

    That's left out.  Her affair with a foreign ruler (which Nina wrote about in her autobiography) is also left out.  So much is.

    And yet the daughter today attacks the film she's never seen based on her assertion that it's not truthful?

    Like her mother, she struggles with truth.

    But the artist Nina Simone?

    She was about the truth, she was about her times and the world around her.  We understand Stan's outrage expressed in "F**k The Nation magazine and f**k Syreeta McFadden" and agree The Nation needs to be called out for suddenly reversing its stance on violence.  But we long ago learned there was the art and there was the person.  For all her immense faults as a person (especially beating her child), as an artist, Nina Simone remains heroic.  Not even a tacky 'documentary' can strip her of that.


    * Note: We are not defending Stroud, nor are we attacking him.  He admits to "backhanding" Nina at one point.  Later in life, Nina will claim he beat her constantly and will offer one incident as proof.  Her guitarist will back her up.  But though her guitarist saw her beaten, he did not see who beat her.  Nina had an open marriage and was attracted to violent men.  Throughout her life, she was frequently involved with men who beat her.  She appeared to confuse these attacks with devotion and passion until they brought serious injuries.  With regard to Stroud, it is in her journal entries that she needed violent sex and that violence turned her on.  That real time, while she was married to Stroud, journal entry may or may not suggest that she expressed this turn on to Stroud.  What impact that had on their relationship outside of bed, we have no idea.  And that possible impact is why we're remaining neutral on this clouded issue which is no where near as clear cut as the film attempts to portray.  We do not condone violence.  We are noting that Stroud readily admits to one incident but not others.  We are noting that Nina slept with many men who beat her -- during her marriage to Stroud and after.  We are also saying that in the sixties, telling your husband violence turns you on and you need violent sex may lead to confusion as to where you want the violence to begin and where you want it to end.

    About the Aetna and Humana merger

    Barry Grey (WSWS) reports:

    Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc., the third and fourth largest US health insurance companies by revenue, announced Friday they had reached a deal for what would be, if approved by the government and carried through, the biggest ever merger in the industry. Industry analysts consider it likely that federal regulators will allow the takeover, slated to take effect next year, to proceed.
    Under the agreement, valued at $37 billion, Aetna will assume control over Humana, creating the nation’s second largest health insurer after industry-leading United HealthGroup Inc. Aetna Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini will become chairman and CEO of the combined company.

    It's a powerful and important article, raising many issues.

    One that's not raised is jobs.


    This is important because Humana has outsourced to a Laos call center for calls from providers.

    There are American 'clinical teams' that the Laos call center can transfer to -- if they feel the need or desire.

    But what we've heard from doctors, nurses and office managers are tales of Laos employees who do not understand the basics of Humana's plans.

    For example, a doctor in Brooklyn explained to us that Humana Gold HMO, unlike Humana Medicare PPO, requires that the doctor obtain a referral if he or she wants to send the patient to a specialist for a consultation.  If you try to pursue that online, the referral tends to pend (pointed out by many, not just the Brooklyn doctor).

    If you try to pursue it on the phone?

    You will be told, as the doctor was, "This plan doesn't require a referral."

    To which the doctor insisted, "Yes, it does, it's Humana HMO."

    No, he was told, it was Humana PPO.

    No, he replied, "I am looking at a scan of the card and it is Humana HMO.  Can I please speak to someone in America?"

    He had to ask five times before he was told he was being transferred.

    Instead of being transferred, he was hung up on.

    An African-American (we include race for a reason) office manager in San Diego shared the same story but when she asked to speak to someone in America, she was told she was "discriminating.  You are racist."

    "I didn't even dignify it with a response," she told us, "I just kept asking to speak to an American.  Seven requests later, I was transferred to Lisa in Louisiana who was able to see it was Humana HMO and get me a referral immediately."

    Aetna thus far has used US call centers.

    Will the merger change that?

    The Daily Beast doesn't do corrections

    When is a correction required?

    If you publish an article but mispell the name of the person you're writing about, that requires a correction.

    To be clear, if you correct the spelling, that's not enough.

    If you've published an article with the incorrect spelling, you need to (a) correct the spelling and (b) attach a note to the article explaining the correction has been made.

    That's pretty simple, isn't it?

    Not at The Daily Beast.

    In a snide and bitchy article, Asawin Suebsaeng attempted to ridicule Third Eye Blind's Stephan Jenkins.


    In such a rush to mock, Asawin didn't even bother to check the spelling on Stephan's first name which is how it came to be rendered "Stephen."

    One hour after the article and the spelling were called out at The Common Ills, the spelling was fixed.


    But search in vain for any note that a correction took place.

    A publication that can't correctly spell the name of the focus of their article is questionable.

    One that later corrects the spelling but refuses to include a note explaining the spelling has been corrected?

    Not much of a journalistic outlet at all.

    From The TESR Test Kitchen

    Tombstone used to be the pizza to buy if you were going frozen.

    Used to be.

    It's now the hallmark of soggy crusts and under or overcooked pizzas.


    Their latest effort is the Bratwurst pizza.

    It captures everything that has ruined the brand in one single pizza.

    Is bratwurst even a topping the country wants?

    Probably not.

    It's also not particularly complimentary with/to tomato sauce.

    The pizza features a too thick crust that never properly cooks throughout.

    On top of that is about an inch of sauce and cheese that also lacks for its ability to cook properly.

    Either it's soggy or you burn the cheese -- and the cheese is burned and dry over the . . . still soggy tomato sauce.

    Here at The Third Estate Sunday Review, we have a Test Kitchen so we're wondering why Nestle apparently does not?

    If they did, they would have avoided releasing this pizza.

    Not only does it make for a lousy eat, it also confirms and popularizes all the worst stereotypes of Tombstone pizza.

    Hint to Tombstone, it's really time to start considering a thinner crust.

    This edition's playlist


    1) Steve Grand's All American Boy.

    2)   Tori Amos's Unrepentant Geraldines.

    6) Carly Simon's Carly Simon.

    7) Diana Ross' Touch Me In The Morning.

    8) Harry Belafonte's Belafonte Sings The Blues.

    9) Husker Du's Zen Arcade.

    10) Lena Horne's Being Myself.

    Humans - synthetic servants question what makes us human

    This is a repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

    Humans - synthetic servants question what makes us human

    by Ken Olende

    Robotic “synths” manufactured as new servants in Humans
    Robotic “synths” manufactured as new servants in Humans

    Channel 4’s new eight-part drama Humans is set in a “parallel present”. It’s identical to our own, except for lifelike robot servants called synths. 

    These are upgraded like the latest smartphone. Like computers they are smart, but not self-aware.

    In the first episode an annoying, “typical” middle class family gets a female synth, Anita (Gemma Chan). Laura (Katherine Parkinson) is a lawyer who has to spend time away from home. She feels Anita is undermining her role in the family.

    Their children ask what’s the point of studying if they will be replaced by a machine.

    And an aging scientist is determined to keep an out of date synth because it remembers his dead wife better than his own failing memory. It is never clear why he could not upload the old memories into a newer version.

    Elsewhere, brothels are now full of synths who don’t resist or complain.

    Meanwhile, a group of synths who have developed consciousness are on the run from the police who are mercilessly hunting them down.

    The word robot, which means worker, was first coined in a 1921 Czech science fiction play.Ever since then the idea of people becoming machines or becoming obsolete has been central to all such stories.

    There is nothing particularly new here, with echoes of science fiction favourites from I, Robot through Blade Runner to the recent Ex Machina.

    But the integration with an otherwise unchanged 2015 Britain is clever.

    It may develop into something more original. But in the meantime it is both fast paced and entertaining.


    This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

    "Cameron and others whine about the press to avoid ..." -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

    "Angie," and ""Blackbird," "Devoted To You" and "All I Have To Do Is Dream"" -- community theme post on best music covers.

    "Axelroad explains his silence" and "THIS JUST IN! HE DIDN'T THINK ANYONE WOULD TRY TO CONTACT HER!" -- Cedric and Wally explain why Axelrod didn't think Hillary's private e-mail was that big of a deal.

     "Idiot of the week" -- Mike calls it.

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