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Nederlog

Aug 31, 2016

Crisis+ME/CFS: Hacked Elections, Unions, Brazil, ME/CFS Unriddled
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Introduction

1. Could the Presidential Election Be Hacked? FBI "Flash"
     Alert Urges States to Bolster Security

2. Decline in Union Membership Is Hurting All of Us
3. In Impeachment Trial, Dilma Rousseff Makes Defiant
     Final Plea to Salvage Brazil’s Democracy (Video)

4.
Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, August 31, 2016.

This 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:

MICHAEL 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

The
second 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 American workers.”

“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 the 1950ies.

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:

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.”

Precisely - and note what not unionizing costs you: Over $200 a month.

3. In Impeachment Trial, Dilma Rousseff Makes Defiant Final Plea to Salvage Brazil’s Democracy (Video)

The third
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 Zapata's article:

“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.

This sounds like a good performance. Whether this will help her remains to be seen.

4. Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome

The fourth
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. [1]), 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 been unriddled.

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. [2])

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 medical paper.

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 [3] 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?

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.
I 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.

Of course I would be pleased with a replication, but because this is real biochemistry by qualified people, I guess this will happen fairly soon.
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":
In 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 clinical trials.
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?

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.

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.
---------------
Notes
[1] 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).

[2] 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).

[3] 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.

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