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Letter from the editor | 114

Reflections far from the turbulence

In the midst of violent turbulences that, followed the Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry installed in Brasilia, have been shaking the Republic in the last few weeks, it may even sound like a provocation to say that the country does not have, at this moment, any urgent need for an ample political reform – quite contrary to the judgment of common sense. This is not, however, a provocation, but rather a thought-out conclusion, the fruit of longly matured research, far away and safe from the reiterated images in the media that, day after day, put forth, that a systemic and unbeatable corruption has invaded the country and, today, is corroding its entire body and soul. Reiteration in the media, we know, is usually more fit for spreading feelings than to produce good reflections.

Averse to this, the researchers that dedicated themselves to examining the national political structures and ambience in the project Political institutions, patterns of Executive-Legislative interaction and capability to govern, certain that it is not the institutions that create the corrupt, warn that Brazil does indeed need some change in the political area, but nothing radical, under penalty of cutting important channels of access by the population to the political system. Having done this, the four recurring points in the current discussion on political reform – party loyalty, a closed list of candidates to elections, the cancellation of the registration of a party that does not succeed in electing at least one representative to the National Congress, and public funding for election campaigns – are given an accurate analysis by the researchers that ends up concluding that there is something naive and fallacious in the yearning of some for reforming everything to boost government efficiency. And it is this analysis, extremely timely these days, that is reported, amongst other points, in the cover story of this issue, by the editor for humanities, Carlos Haag.

Besides being hardened to the scandals that only democracy uncovers, the Brazilian population has become older, with the continuous increase in the expectation of life in the country. Unfortunately, this is accompanied by the increasing incidence amongst us of diseases typical of the elderly, as is the case of the myelodysplasias, which the clinics that usually attend to older people so far know very little about. Actually, even the hematologists, specialists in diseases that affect the blood, began only recently to get more precise information about genetic defects, produced autonomously by the body itself or resulting from environmental aggressions, which prompt the myelodysplasias. Accordingly, the article by the assistant editor for science, Ricardo Zorzetto, beginning on page 38, is an important contribution from Pesquisa FAPESP to disseminate a bit more what is now known about myelodysplasias. After all, faced by an intriguing anemia in an elderly person, accompanied by a drop in the number of the blood’s white cells and platelets, the clinician will increasingly need to think of myelodysplasias for forward the patient to the correct treatment – which, it is true, will not always have good results.

In the domains of technology, it is worth highlighting in this issue the article by editor Marcos de Oliveira about a new instrument that puts invisible laser beams to work with optical tweezers that catch live cells and micro-organisms and, coupled to a system of spectroscopy, makes it possible to examine them in full and normal functioning, analyzing proteins, lipids, amino acids and other components. It is clear that this technological novelty will have an important application in medicine, possibly in the food industry and in other areas where an examination of the living cell proves relevant.