European Parliament Hands ACTA Anti-Piracy Accord Stunning Defeat



In a bitter defeat for large media and pharmaceutical companies, the European Parliament on Wednesday roundly rejected the global ACTA anti-counterfeiting accord. The Guardian reports that the US and Japan are likely to proceed with approval of the international accord, and it remains to be seen whether European supporters try to revive it.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was negotiated among officials in large Western nations for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. It was chiefly aimed at strengthening the battle against counterfeit medicines, and to coordinate repression against illegal Internet downloading.

The text of the agreement became a bête noire for digital liberty activists and patients using unapproved drugs, including anti-AIDS medicines. A movement spread across Europe to oppose ACTA, convincing some governments of EU member states not to ratify the agreement. The European Parliament voted 478 to 39 (with 165 abstentions) to reject the provisions.

The European Parliament's decision was welcomed by activists and politicians across Europe:

The French Pirate Party, the organisation supporting the liberalization of copyright and patent law tweeted:

Citizens' victory against the ACTA treaty in the European Parliament.

PartiPirate ‏@PartiPirate

Victoire des citoyens contre le traité #ACTA au Parlement européen

Former French Presidential candidate:

Good news for the democratic system: the European Parliament has just rejected ACTA.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon ! ‏@melenchon2012

Bonne nouvelle pour la démocratie : le parlement européen vient de rejeter #ACTA.

Spanish website Cultura Ahora tweeted :

The European Parliament rejects the antipiracy treaty.

Cultura Ahora ‏@Cultura_Ahora

La Eurocámara tumba el acuerdo antipiratería #Cultura #Eurocámara#Acuerdo #ANTIPIRATERÍA #ACTA #Questionity

It is game over according to Pablo Romero, Madrid-based journalist who tweeted:

The "antipiracy" treaty has been definitively rejected by the EU Parlement.

pabloromero ‏@pabloromero

Game over: El Parlamento Europeo tumba de forma definitiva elacuerdo "antipiratería" #ACTA

On the Romanian version of the EU Parlement's account :

Final vote on ACTA: the European MPs rejected the treaty by 478 votes against, 39 in favour and 165 abstentions.

Parlamentul European ‏@Europarl_RO

Vot final asupra #ACTA la #PE: eurodeputații resping acordul cu 478 voturi împotrivă, 39 pentru și 165 de abțineri

There was also some winks of satisfaction from the United States, which was celebrating the July 4 Independence Day. Noting the reports on the same day about the Swiss-British discovery of the Higgs boson "God Particle," Global Voices founder Ethan Zuckerman had this much to say:

Ethan Zuckerman‏@EthanZ

ACTA defeated, Higgs Boson found (maybe) - perhaps US should take a day off more often?

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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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