Geopolitics

Jailed PKK Leader Declares Ceasefire - Will It End 29-Year Kurdish-Turkey Conflict?

AL-JAZEERA, HURRIYET, TODAYS ZAMAN (Turkey)

Worldcrunch

ISTANBUL - Jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan has called upon the armed PKK forces to recognize a ceasefire and withdraw from Turkey, reports Hürriyet.

In what may turn out to be a historic announcement in the nearly three-decade-long conflict between Kurdish separatists and the Turkish government, Ocalan's written statement was read out loud to a massive crowd celebrating the Kurdish New Year in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

One day Baskan Öcalan WILL celebrate Newroz with the millions who love and support him. #twitterkurds #newrozpirozbe twitter.com/xatarkurdi/sta…

— Kamber (@xatarkurdi) March 21, 2013

Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence in an island prison off of Istanbul, had the statement read by two members of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in both Turkish and Kurdish:

"Today we are waking up to a new Middle East, a new Turkey. A new era starts today. A door has been opened from armed struggle to democratic struggle," he said. "Our fight has been against all kinds of pressure, violence, and oppression. A door is opening on democratic process after a period of armed struggle. Guns should fall silent and politics should come to the foreground.”

This is real Kurdish Spring, I mean spring spring, Newruz the beginning of Spring. #TwitterKurds twitter.com/abdullahawez/s…

— Abdulla Hawez (@abdullahawez) March 21, 2013

Al Jazeera reports that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Öcalan both appear to have staked their political futures on the renewed push to end the Kurdish 29-year armed campaign for self-rule that has left some 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, dead.

The expected cease-fire is likely to be in return for wider constitutional recognition and language rights for Turkey's 15 million Kurds. The war has drained state coffers, stunted development of the mainly Kurdish Southeast and scarred Ankara's human rights record.

Istanbul daily Todays Zaman writes that this move would be a major boost to Turkey's candidacy for European Union membership. A settlement would also bolster the NATO member's credibility as it seeks to further extend its influence across the Middle East.

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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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