Alter Elbtunnel | Foto: Jens Cramer | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Knife Attack in Hamburg: Lone Actor Violence and Mental Illness

On the 28th of July, a 26 year old man, Ahmad A. launched a knife attack in a supermarket in the Barmbek area of Hamburg, wounding four people and killing one. He fled the scene of the attack before being forcefully apprehended by some bystanders. The attacker, a rejected asylum seeker, was understood by the police to have been recently religiously radicalised. Hamburg’s Interior Minister Andy Grote explained that he was known to the police as an “Islamist but not a jihadist” and was suspected of having psychological problems. Prosecutors have asserted that he had no known connections with any organized radical network or group and that he had planned on dying as a martyr.

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Conference room at the Schlangenbad Talks 2017
Conference room at the Schlangenbad Talks 2017 | Photo: PRIF

Talking Past Each Other? Twenty Years of German-Russian Schlangenbad Talks

The 1990s were marked by high expectations concerning the future of German-Russian or – more generally – Western-Russian relations. With the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act in 1997, the Cold War seemed to be definitively over. These developments constituted a positive context for the first meeting of the German-Russian Schlangenbad Talks that took place in 1998. Yet the next twenty years witnessed multiple crises and growing alienation between the two countries. A closer look at the Schlangenbad debates provides a differentiated picture of past discussions, thus allowing for a critical evaluation of the persistent inconsistencies and divergences as a lesson for the future.

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Attac Banner at a Demonstration in June 2015 in Berlin, Germany
Attac Banner at a Demonstration in June 2015 in Berlin, Germany | Photo: Attac

Germany Sets a Poor Example: The Case of ATTAC in Light of Globally Closing Civic Spaces

A non-governmental organization (NGO) that is critical of the government’s actions in the country at hand receives a letter from the local tax office, indicating that its public-benefit status has been revoked on the grounds of its involvement in political activities. The decision involves 90 percent of the organization’s revenues, which, as a result, threatens its very existence. After a court has reviewed and closed the case in favor of the NGO, the central government intervenes, insisting that the judgment should be reviewed. For the time being, the organization’s public-benefit status has been revoked.

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Subi Reef, Spratly Islands in the South China Sea
Subi Reef, Spratly Islands in the South China Sea | Photo: United States Navy via Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain Mark 1.0

One Year after the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s Decision on the South China Sea

On July 12, 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague handed down its verdict on the case against China brought to the Court by the Philippines in 2013. The award nullified most of the Chinese claims in the South China Sea. Following China’s rejection of both the Court’s jurisdiction and its adverse decision, confrontation seemed looming. Yet, a year later the storm clouds have dispersed. The rather surprising absence of any crisis in the region rests on two coinciding factors: the legal standards for “islands” developed in the verdict and the change in government in the Philippines.

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Rodrigo Duterte showing a diagram of suspected members of a drug trade network | Photo: Prachatai | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Philippines after One Year under Duterte: Still Majority Support for Killing Suspected Criminals

June 30, 2016 saw the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte as President of the Philippines. The next day Ronald Dela Rosa became the new Director General of the Philippine National Police. With the two came their longstanding strategy for dealing with crime from Davao City to the Philippine nation: tolerate or actively endorse the killing of suspects. One year later, several thousand people have died at the hands of on-duty policemen and vigilantes in a ferocious campaign that aims at eradicating a problem through “social cleansing”. Although public support for Duterte continues, the Philippines staggers towards an increasingly authoritarian state.

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Additive Manufacturing lab at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility | Foto: Oak Ridge National Laboratory | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Increasing Salience of 3D Printing for Nuclear Non-Proliferation

A growing number of defense-industrial 3D printing fairs, print-a-thons and the amount of defense dollars, particularly in the US, going into the technology of 3D printing speak to the fact that the defense industry and some countries’ armed forces recognize the great potential of the technology. 3D printing indeed allows the quicker, cheaper, and easier development of weapons, and even entirely new weapon designs. This applies to the full range of weapons categories: Small arms and light weapons (e.g., guns, guns, guns and grenade launchers), conventional weapon systems (drones, tanks, missiles, hypersonic scramjets) – and possibly even weapons of mass destruction.

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