1. Could the Presidential Election Be Hacked?
Alert Urges States to Bolster
2. Decline in Union Membership Is Hurting All
3. In Impeachment Trial, Dilma Rousseff Makes Defiant
Final Plea to Salvage Brazil’s
4. Metabolic features of
chronic fatigue syndrome
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, August 31, 2016.
is a crisis log with an additional item on ME (a disease I am having
for 37 years now, and that at long last seems partially unriddled): Item 1 is about the possibility that the US elections may be hacked; item 2 is about how the strong decline in union membership harmed everybody who is not rich (in the USA); item 3 is about Rousseff's testimony against her impeachment due to a coup in Brazil; and item 4 is about the physical disease I have for 37 years now (ME/CFS) that may at loooong last have been - partially - unriddled.
Of course, for me the fourth item is the most important, but I
will go on with the crisis series. (There may be some more health news,
but I will try to keep that apart from the crisis series. It will be
part of Nederlog.)
1. Could the Presidential
Election Be Hacked? FBI "Flash" Alert Urges States to Bolster Security
The first item today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
Hackers based outside the United
States have reportedly infiltrated two state election databases,
raising fresh concerns about cybersecurity in the lead-up to the
presidential elections. According to a new investigation by Yahoo News,
FBI’s Cyber Division released a "flash" alert earlier this month and
warned election officials across the nation to take new measures to
bolster the security of their computer systems. Sources familiar with
the document told Yahoo News that Arizona and Illinois were the two
states compromised by the hacks. The Illinois hack reportedly caused
more damage, forcing officials to shut down the voter registration
system for 10 days in July after the hackers managed to download
personal data on up to 200,000 state voters. We speak to Michael
Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News.
I say. If you have been reading Nederlog for
a while, you may remember that I have several times published reviews
of articles that warned that the elections might be stolen by
manipulating the election results.
This is another such item, and it also gives some details that make it
probable this may be important, but only in some states. Here
is the one bit I will quote from it:
ISIKOFF: (..) Well,
look, this whole issue of potential hacking of the election has gotten
a lot of attention because of the hack of the Democratic National
Committee and other political organizations in Washington that U.S.
officials believe was committed by Russian intelligence. That raised
the concern that the Russians, if indeed they did what U.S. officials
believe they did, won’t stop there, and they might seek to tamper with
the election itself.
Now, that would not be an easy thing to
do. In 40 states, we have optical scan voting, in which there are
backup of paper ballots, so there’s a safety net there. But there are
points of vulnerability. In six states and parts of four others,
including Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state, there are electronic
voting machines, that are vulnerable, that could be tampered with.
There’s internet voting for overseas ballots and military ballots in 33
states, so that’s another point of vulnerability.
In the case of Illinois, hackers, believed to be foreign, penetrated
the election voter database and exfiltrated, stole data on about
200,000 voters. So, we don’t know at this point whether that is linked
to the Democratic National Committee hacking. It’s something the FBI is investigating, although this just as easily
could have been common cybercriminals doing this for fraud purposes.
But it has raised the concerns to new levels that this is something
that state election officials have to take a lot more seriously, and
federal officials, as well.
First, I feel a bit better given the news
- that is news for me - that "[i]n 40
states, we have optical scan voting, in which there are
backup of paper ballots, so there’s a safety net there."
But second, one may win the
elections by tampering with the results in some important swing
states. I still don't know enough about it to be reasonably certain
this will quite probably not happen in the coming presidential
elections, but I suppose it is a bit less serious than I thought it might be.
Then again, I also do not know that it is probable it will not
happen at all.
2. Decline in Union Membership Is Hurting All of Us
item is by Deirdre Fulton on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
The decline of organized labor in the
United States has contributed significantly to wage stagnation and
rising inequality, according to a new report released Tuesday by the
Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
The analysis finds that as the share of
private-sector workers in a union has fallen precipitously—from one in
three in the 1950s to about one in 20 today—wage inequality has risen
as a result. In particular, EPI states that the labor movement’s
decline has contributed to wage losses among workers who don’t even
belong to a union, which “translates into millions of lost dollars to
“Union decline has exacerbated wage
inequality in the United States by dampening the pay of non-union
workers as well as by eroding the share of workers directly benefiting
from unionization,” reads the EPI report. “Rebuilding our system of
collective bargaining is an important tool available for fueling wage
growth for both low- and middle-wage workers and ending the era of
persistent wage stagnation.”
I must say this all sounds very
true to me, but then I should add that my father not only survived over
3 years and 9 months of German concentration camps, and was not only a
member of the Dutch Communist Party for 45 years, and not only was
knighted for designing an exhibition about the resistance and the
enduring dangers of fascism, but he also was a prominent trade unionist in
And my father would have completely
agreed that "Union decline has exacerbated wage
inequality in the United States", and indeed I
do as well (and see the last bit, which supports this).
But first something about what working
people lost in consequence of the considerably lessened degree of union
membership, namely from 1 in 3 in the 1950s to 1 in 20 at present:
In fact, the think tank found that if
union membership rates were as
high today as they were in 1979, men who aren’t in a union would make
five percent, or about $2,700 more, per year. For less educated men,
the decline is even more impactful; non-union men without a bachelor’s
degree would have made $3,016 more in 2013, an 8 percent increase under
1979 levels of union membership.
Note that in any case that is well over
$200 a month. And to end this review, here is the last bit, that my
father might have said as well:
Precisely - and note what not
unionizing costs you: Over $200 a month.
Indeed, as Hamilton Nolan wrote in his analysis of the EPI report at Deadspin:
“Don’t get mad at foreigners. Unionize. It’s the only battle in the
class war that lies entirely within your power to win.”
3. In Impeachment Trial, Dilma Rousseff Makes Defiant Final
Plea to Salvage Brazil’s Democracy (Video)
item is by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Brazil’s president is about to be
impeached by a corrupt Senate, and
while the country’s media attempt to make the move seem democratic,
journalist Glenn Greenwald explains why Dilma Rousseff is right in
saying that the entire proceedings are a threat to democracy.
I have written about this in Nederlog (see
yesterday), and will not repeat that but I did not report on Rousseff's
speech, and do so here based on an account from the Los Angeles Times that is in
This sounds like a good performance. Whether
this will help her remains to be seen.
“Like everyone, I have defects, and I
make errors,” said Rousseff. “But my defects do not include treachery
or cowardice.” She reminded those listening of the torture she suffered
under Brazil’s military dictatorship, denied she had committed any
crime, and said politicians and powerful business interests were using
an empty impeachment process to overturn her election.
“What is at stake here is not just my
presidency,” Rousseff said. “What is at stake is the principle of
respect for the ballot box, the sovereign will of the Brazilian people,
and the constitution.”
During hours of questioning, the
suspended president defended her economic decisions. Lawmaker Ana
Amelia questioned Rousseff’s use of the word “coup.”
“If there is no proof of any crime,
senator,” Rousseff replied, “then this is indeed a coup.” ... “The
truth is that the result of the 2014 election was a difficult blow for
parts of Brazil’s conservative elite,” Rousseff said, “and with the
wide-open support of parts of the media, they created the political
climate that was necessary to overturn my election.”
“Today, Brazil, the world, and history
are watching us,” she said.
4. Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome
item is by Robert K. Naviaux plus nine other medical people, mostly
from the University of California, at the San Diego School of Medicine:
First, what you get when you click the last
dotted link: I think this is the complete paper in html. (I was sent -
privately, by my very well informed correspondent - a pdf of the same.)
Second, I will explain why this is quite important for me (and
other people with M.E. ), though very probably not for you if
you are healthy and don't know anyone with M.E.: I am ill now for 37
years with a disease that was best diagnosed by the best GP I've
had: "M.E./F.M." (i.e. Myalgic Encephalo- myelitis [1a] and/or
Fibromyalgia), and that was first - quite well - described in the
medical literature over 50 years ago, but that so far has not
That it has not been unriddled is part of the reasons psychiatrists
have thrown themselves on it, falsely claiming "it's all in the mind", and
falsely prescribing their usual baloney plus physical exercises for people with M.E.,
which is utter medical, moral, and psychological bullshit - but try
explaining that to a state's bureaucrat with 40 or 50 IQ points less
than you have, who believes anything a psychiatrist says, especially
if this means he or she can give you even less financial
support, or he or she can force you to work. (I never in my
whole life reached as high as the legal minimum income. )
I have been ill with M.E./F.M. since I was 28 (as has been my ex, who
is 4 years younger than I am, and we both got ill after 4 months of
studying in the university in the first year, living on student loans),
and I am now 66 and have a minimal pension (which is a bit better than
the dole, but just a bit) so for me this is quite important,
but it will very probably not be for you, if you don't have
M.E. and don't know anyone who has it (both of which are quite
probable: it is a fairly rare disease, even though many
millions have it).
Third, as I mentioned, I have a very
well informed correspondent about M.E. who
sent me yesterday quite a lot of material related to the above linked
I will quote from one of these, which is from a Q and A with Dr Naviaux expanding
some key aspects of the study, that was made by Linda Tannenbaum from the Open Medicine Foundation.
First, there is a question about whether ME/CFS  is a real illness
(and the "Some people" are nearly all psychiatrists who love to get
rich by medically abusing ill people - and I am a psychologist who was
severely abused by their bullshit propaganda for their own huge financial benefits):
Q1. Some people still argue that CFS
is not a real illness but all in the mind. Does your
discovery of a chemical signature help shatter this myth?
am fairly satisfied with this answer, and my reason is that the basis of this is good biochemistry by qualified people, who base their results on
investigating 82 people diagnosed with ME/CFS, and who did a considerable
amount of work.
Yes. The chemical signature that we discovered is evidence that CFS is
an objective metabolic disorder that affects mitochondrial energy
metabolism, immune function, GI function, the microbiome, the autonomic
nervous system, neuroendocrine, and other brain functions. These 7
systems are all connected in a network that is in constant
communication. While it is true that you cannot change one of these 7
systems without producing compensatory changes in the others, it is the
language of chemistry and metabolism that interconnects them all.
Of course I would be pleased with a replication, but because this is
real biochemistry by qualified people, I guess this will happen fairly
Next, here is a part from Naviaux's answer to Question 2. I select this because my ex and I started wit Epstein-Barr
in January 1979, which never left either of us, and which seemed to us
to have stopped healing somewhere half-way between being quite ill with
it and being completely over it - and the "CDR" Naviaux is referring to
expands as "Cell Danger Response":
most cases, this strategy is effective and normal metabolism is
restored after a few days or weeks of illness, and recovery is complete
after a few weeks or months. For example, only a small percent of
people who are acutely infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or human
herpes virus 6 (HHV6), or Lyme disease go on to develop chronic
symptoms. If the CDR remains chronically active, many kinds of chronic
complex disease can occur. In the case of CFS, when the CDR gets stuck,
or is unable to overcome a danger, a second step kicks in that involves
a kind of siege metabolism that further diverts resources away from
mitochondria and sequesters or jettisons key metabolites
and cofactors to make them unavailable to an invading
pathogen, or acts to sequester toxins to limit systemic exposure. This
has the effect of further consolidating the hypometabolic state. When
the hypometabolic response to threat persists for more than 6 months,
it can cause CFS and lead to chronic pain and disability. Metabolomics
now gives us a way to characterize this response objectively, and a way
to follow the chemical response to new treatments in systematic
This sketches what happened to my ex and myself in 1979 (since when we both have been physically ill - except that psychiatrists have insisted from 1980 onwards, on no real evidence whatsoever, that we, and millions like
us with the same physical disease, were not physically ill, but were mad (although we showed no signs of madness, and indeed both of us succeeded
in getting excellent M.A.'s in psychology, because we were both quite intelligent).
Here is the last question I will quote:
Q6. How might your results help with
treatment of CFS?
First, I hope he is right. And second, I also hope that - at loooooong last, also - there will be made more money available to research ME/CFS, now that there has been found decent evidence that it is a real physical disease.
This first paper was not focused on treatment.
However, metabolomics reveals a new window into the underlying biology
of CFS that makes us very hopeful that effective treatments will be
developed soon and tested in well-controlled clinical trials.
In fact, I have been diagnosed (in writing, by several medical persons,
including the - excellent - GP who knew me by far the best) as having M.E., which is short for "Myalgic Encephalomyelitis", or else F.M., which is short for Fibromyalgia. In fact the best diagnosis was written like so: "M.E./F.M."
Also M.E. was the name that was by far the most popular for 30
years, at least, although the psychiatrists tried to push their
pooh-pooh name for it, CFS, which abbreviates Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,
which is a misnomer, firstly because I have no fatigue: I have a serious lack of energy, and secondly because this sort of false
diagnostic term allows medical doctors to reply "I am chronically
fatigued myself as a hardworking medical doctor: Get out! Do some
sport!" - which is an answer I have had twice, at least.
Incidentally, I agree "M.E." also may not be a proper name, but at least it doesn't trivialize the complaints I and millions of other patients have; it
does mention myalgia (muscle aches), which were quite serious in my case, for tens of years, and it does mention the brain and its functions, which also are implicated in the present study.
In any case, I try to avoid "CFS", because it is psychiatric bullshit; I deny I have it even if this is the currently accepted medical name; and I deny I have that because I am not psychologically "ill" (and I am a psychologist), I am physically ill since 37 years, and I don't want to use a false name that trivializes and falsifies my complaints because that pleases psychiatrists.
[1a] One reason to avoid it: Wikipedia redirects this to "Chronic fatigue syndrome" (and - just one criticism from many - my ex and I have insisted since 1979 that what ails us is not properly described as "fatigue" but as "lack of energy", which is different and also feels different: I always have a lack of energy, but I do get fatigued also, and indeed easily, but which is something else than the lack of energy on which it is founded).
 I did not
because I was too young (17) when I started working to earn a full
income (and this was in 1967); I soon worked half days because I could
then study the rest of the day; when I got into university I got a
study loan which, even though it was maximal, was 10 to 15% less than the maximal dole; when I stopped that and entered the dole, I still did get 10% less than the minimal income, and that is all I ever earned - and not because of my free will, but because I was ill: If I were not
ill I could and very probably would have found very well paid academic
work, because I have an absolutely brilliant M.A. in psychology and a
brilliant B.A. in philosophy (both straight As, in American terms).
 I know dr. Naviaux calls it "chronic fatigue syndrome" and I don't blame him for it, but I explained in note 1 why I try to avoid the name. Indeed the closest I will come to using it is in abbreviations like ME/CFS.