French Hostage Sentenced To Death By Somali Islamists



MOGADISHU - Somali Islamist militants announced on Wednesday that they had decided to execute a French hostage they have been holding since 2009, reports the AFP.

French DGSE secret-service commandos launched a raid last Saturday in an bid to rescue French intelligence agent Denis Allex, but the attempt failed, resulting in the death of two French soldiers. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that 17 militants were killed in the raid.

The Islamist militant group Al-Shabab has ties to Al-Qaeda.

“With the rescue attempt, France has voluntarily signed Denis Allex’s death warrant,” the Islamist militants announced on Twitter, according to Euronews.

PRESS RELEASE:Dennis Allex: an Agent Betrayed.Bulo-Marer (16/01/2013).In the Name of Allah, the Most (cont)

— HSM Press Office (@HSMPress) January 16, 2013

A senior Al-Shabab official told the AFP on Wednesday that Allex "has been sentenced and this judgment will not be changed. As far as we are concerned this man should die."

French authorities believe their agent was most likely killed during the raid. The Al-Shabab did not release any proof that Allex was still alive after the raid.

France’s military chief of staff, Admiral Edouard Guillaud, qualified the Shebab's statement on Twitter as a “a manipulation of the media,” reports Le Monde.

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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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