Counter-Strike, photo: dragon2309/flickr
Ten years ago, during the summer of 1999, a piece of software was distributed over the internet to the still small but quickly growing community of online gamers. Counter-Strike, developed by a team of private individuals by ‘modding’ the game Half Life, soon became a mass phenomenon that has fascinated the gaming community and haunted family politicians and authorities ever since.
In Counter-Strike two teams go head-to-head and try to prevent each other from reaching set objectives by killing each other with an arsenal of contemporary military hardware. Back in 1999 that didn’t rise many eyebrows. Neither did the fact that the teams battling it out were terrorists and anti-terrorists and the objective of the ‘terrors’ was to either protect a bunch of hostages from being liberated or to blow up stuff like power plants with a bomb. The terrorists came in various uniforms and fictional groups that had such funky names as ‘Phoenix Connection’ or ‘Elite Crew’ ‘1337 Crew’.* One of the player models showed a man of Middle Eastern decent with Gaddafi-style sunglasses.
If you have ever asked yourself one of the following questions, August 1st will bring you answers:
- 1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?
- 2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?
- 3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
- 4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?
- 5. How can policymaking be made more sensitive to global long-term perspectives?
Futurism, photo: Adam Kang/flickr
Map of population displacement by ReliefWeb
I find it rather hard to follow the Somalia crisis in mainstream international media. I guess it has something to do with the killings of journalists in the country.
According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), six reporters have been killed there since the beginning of the year. They say it makes Somalia the most dangerous country for journalists right now.
Frustrated at my regular news providers, I set out looking for up-to-date web-based information on the crisis.
Here’s a selection of the websites I came across, with direct links to the relevant page on Somalia:
Screenshot from Electoral Geography 2.0
Ever since my first hiking holiday, I’ve been a big fan of maps! So I was thrilled to discover the website Electoral Geography 2.0. It gathers election and voting data from all over the world and illustrates most of it with maps.
For example, check out the results of last weekend’s elections in Bulgaria or Mexico. International media usually reports on overall national results. But I like comparing regional patterns, since these are often very telling about ethnic and social cleavages. Electoral Geography 2.0 also provides election results from previous years, which also make for interesting comparisons.
According to the authors of the website, electoral geography is the study of regularities and patterns of election results. They don’t provide original analysis (yet?), but they do have a page listing a few good papers and articles on the topic.
The New Appeal of Nuclear Energy and the Dangers of Proliferation
Every country has a right to the peaceful use of nuclear power. Some even argue that this ‘clean-burning’ fuel could be the CO2 emissions cure-all.
But how to keep states from using these plants to disguise weapons programs?
And how to tackle the risk of nuclear terrorism?
In a new CSS Analysis, Olivier Thränert provides an overview of current efforts and debates to address this nuclear power conundrum.
Dr Thränert is an expert on the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin.
You can download his paper here.