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Syrian Civilians, Pursuing Khodorkovsky And Kim Dotcom

Syrian Civilians, Pursuing Khodorkovsky And Kim Dotcom

RUSSIA ACCUSED OF KILLING 200 SYRIAN CIVILIANS

The human rights organization Amnesty International released a 28-page report Wednesday accusing the Russian military of launching air attacks with munitions and unguided bombs on civilian areas in Syria in the past three months, killing at least 200 people in what could constitute war crimes. The report, quoting witnesses, focuses on six attacks in Homs, Idlib and Aleppo provinces between September and November. Amnesty officials are also looking into accusations against U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in the war-torn country. Last week, a Human Rights Watch report said cluster munitions were used on at least 20 occasions in Syria by Russian forces. Moscow has rejected such accusations.


RUSSIA SEEKS TO ARREST KREMLIN CRITIC KHODORKOVSKY

A Russian court on Wednesday issued an international arrest warrant against the former oil tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, accused of ordering the contract killing of Vladimir Petukhov, the former mayor of the Siberian town of Nefteyugansk, in 1998, Euronews reports. This comes a day after armed police raided the Moscow offices of Khodorkovsky’s pro-democracy movement Open Russia. The 52-year-old had been in prison between 2003 and 2013, after what he described as a politically-motivated trial as he fell out with Vladimir Putin. Khodorkovsky has denied the murder charges and Maria Logan, a spokeswoman quoted by ABC News, said he is currently based in London and is unlikely to turn himself in. See how The Moscow Times featured the showdown on it front page Wednesday.


VERBATIM

“In the coming days the good news will be announced of the complete liberation of Ramadi,” the Iraqi army chief of staff Lt. General Othman al-Ghanemi was quoted as saying Wednesday by state television. Iraq’s military forces are attempting to move further into the center of the capital of the Al Anbar province on the second day of an assault aiming at driving out ISIS militants out of the city.


REINFORCEMENTS REACH TALIBAN-SURROUNDED SANGIN

Afghan military reinforcements and supplies have reached government positions in the Taliban-besieged city of Sangin, the BBC reports. The Helmand deputy governor Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar was also quoted as saying that the Afghan army was "now taking the fight to the Taliban". This comes a day after Taliban forces laid siege to the southern town in an attempt to cut if off from the rest of the province. The UK also announced Tuesday evening it would send troops to Helmand province for the first time in 14 months. The Taliban claims they are close to taking control of Sangin and that “the government will soon announce their defeat.”


SNAPSHOT


Photo: Liao Zhibin/Xinhua/ZUMA

A 19-year-old survivor was pulled out from the ruble early Wednesday morning, more than 60 hours after a landslide hit an industrial park Sunday in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province. More than 70 people are missing in China's latest industrial disaster.


KIM DOTCOM TO BE EXTRADITED TO U.S.

The founder of Megaupload Kim Dotcom and three of his colleagues can be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering, a New Zealand court ruled Wednesday, according to The New Zealand Herald. “This is not the last word on the matter,” Dotcom told reporters as he left the court. His lawyers added they will appeal the decision. According to U.S. authorities, the file storage website Megaupload cost cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million while generating more than $175 million in profits. Kim Dotcom and his colleagues could face decades in jail if convicted in the U.S.


ON THIS DAY


Gangsters have been able to dream about robbing the Federal Reserve for 102 years today. This and more in today’s shot of history.


1 MILLION

Violent attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring countries Chad, Niger and Cameroon have forced at least 1 million children out of school, a UNICEF report published Tuesday finds. More than 2,000 schools in the region are still closed because of the conflict. These figures are added to the 11 million children who were already out of school before the crisis.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Man could set foot on Mars within the next decade. But rushing headlong into the Martian adventure without having a long-term vision for the next 50 to 100 years would be unreasonable, Jacques Villain writes for Le Monde: “Considering the considerable initial investment required, deciding whether to go to Mars depends on the existence of a clearly defined goal, and one that would be profitable to us, if possible. And we have to admit that space agencies around the world, and especially NASA, have so far failed to deliver on that point. In the past, triumphant promises by a few U.S. presidents (all of them Republicans) haven't translated into action.

As exploration history shows, the prospect of viable economic and industrial activity is an essential motivating factor. It won't be any different for Mars. The goal would be to exploit the planet's resources, provided there are any and that the prospect is realistic. But as things stand, we just don't know if that's a possibility.”

Read the full article, We Shouldn’t Go To Mars Just Because We Can (If We Can).


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



SPACE RUBBISH

Stuart Grey, a university lecturer from the Royal Institution in London, created expand=1] a visualization showing the amount of man-made debris that has been orbiting the Earth since 1957. Spoiler: There’s lots.

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Ideas

Saving The Planet Is Really A Question Of Dopamine

Our carelessness toward the environment could be due, in part, to the functioning of a very primitive area of our brain: the striatum.

Ad scuba-diver and brain coral

Stefano Lupieri

PARIS — Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.


This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Addictions to sex and social media

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the 'pleasure hormone.'

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

Transverse section of striatum from a structural MRI image

Lindsay Hanford and Geoff B Hall via Wikipedia

Tweaking genetics 

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Les Echos
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