President Morsi's Reshuffle Leaves Egypt's Future Uncertain



On Tuesday, Egyptian President Morsi appointed Mohamed Mekki as his new Vice-President. Mekki is a former senior judge and the first civilian to assume the role. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi was also named as the new chief Field Marshal whilst General Sidqi Sobhi became Chief of Staff. Both are young, religious military men.

Mekki's brother Ahmed was appointed Minister of Justice. The brothers, Daily News Egypt reports, were leaders in the independent judiciary campaign in 2005, which challenged former President Mubarak's power over the judiciary.

President Morsi's overhaul of government has left many still confused over what Egypt's future will bring.

Morsi's forced retirement of Hussein Tantawi, head of armed forces, and Chief of Staff Sami Anan on Sunday has been commented as a move destined to revoke the powers of the military.

Morsi made clear Monday that the move was not personal but for "a better future with a new generation and long-awaited new blood."

The Associated Press wrote that Morsi's shake-up of the balance of power had transformed the President "from a weak leader to a savvy politician" overnight.

Egyptian Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has praised Morsi's military reshuffle as a "step on the right track," yet still envisages problems.

With military stripped of legislative authority & in absence of parliament, president holds imperial powers. Transitional mess continues.

— Mohamed ElBaradei (@ElBaradei) August 13, 2012

Unsurprisingly, the Jerusalem Post is skeptical of the prominent religious leaders and their possible threat to Israel. The newspaper reports that General Sidqi Sobhi, the newly appointed Chief of Staff was quoted earlier in the year of accusing the country of engaging in a "Zionist plot" to weaken national identity in Egypt.

The military has been integral to Egypt's government for the past 60 years, yet many now worry power has been reserved for Islamists. Yet, with the military shake-up, the power is residing in Morsi's hands.

Today, Morsi has power that far exceeds what Mubarak ever had.

— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) August 12, 2012

In #Egypt, revolutionaries are snookered. If they protest against #Morsi Power grab, he will offer reinstating the Brotherhood parliament.

— Nervana Mahmoud (@Nervana_1) August 14, 2012

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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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