Pakistan's Bloodiest Election Campaign Comes To An End



ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s bloodiest election campaign ever came to an end overnight, marred by terror threats and attacks that killed at least 117 people including candidates, reports Dawn.

On Friday, a motorbike bomb near party political offices killed three people and wounded 13 in the northwestern town of Miranshah, while five people were injured in an explosion near the office of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in Quetta, according to The News.

On Thursday, Ali Haider Gilani, one of the candidates who is also the son of former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, was kidnapped during a corner meeting in the central city of Multan. His secretary and guard were shot dead reports The News. Former Prime Minister Gilani told the media: “I urge all of my party supporters to remain peaceful and to participate in the vote.” It is not known who abducted Gilani or why.

Saturday’s vote is considered a democratic milestone in a country that has been ruled by the military for half of its history, writes Dawn. The election will mark the country’s first transition from one civilian government to another.

Nawaz Sharif, who leads the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), is tipped to be the next prime minister. Cricket legend Imran Khan, leader of the Movement for Justice party (PTI), is another strong contender. Polls show both parties neck and neck, according to Dawn.

A contingent of 124,000 security personnel, including 20,000 army troops will be deployed at polling stations on Saturday after the Taliban threatened to carry out suicide attacks, reports the Nation.

“There is a clear feeling that the election that will take place tomorrow is a watershed,” wrote columnist M A Niazi in the Nation.

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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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