This page sets out the English summaries of the research papers published by the Research Services. A link from the end of the summary will take you to the complete research paper in German.
Child neglect is the most common type of threat to children’s welfare encountered by child and youth services in Germany. With the aim of identifying risks to children as early as possible and improving parenting skills, the Federal Government launched an action programme in December 2006, which offers support in particular to families with special problems.
Genetic diagnostics: applications, developments and need for regulation
Genetic testing is growing in importance. The number of tests carried out increased constantly between 1996 and 2004, reaching a total of over 300,000 tests in 2004. Genetic testing also has some special factors compared to other medical tests. There have therefore been several political initiatives in the past to introduce a law on genetic testing or genetic diagnostics, most recently in the form of a bill tabled by the Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary group in the Bundestag (Bundestag printed paper 16/3233). The coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU and SPD also raises the prospect of legal regulation. On 7 November, a hearing on genetic diagnostics is to be held by the German Bundestag’s Committee on Health. Legislation on this subject already exists in Switzerland, Norway and Austria.
Missile defense – technical aspects and scientific background
U.S. plans for deploying components of a system for defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles in eastern Europe have lead to intensive debate about the benefits and side effects of missile defense in general. In order to provide orientation in this complex debate, the present document summarizes the technical functionality, the scientific background and some of the practical limitations of the missile defense systems currently under discussion.
The House of World Cultures
The House of World Cultures in Berlin is Germany's centre for non-European art. Its programme focuses on the contemporary arts and current developments in the cultures of Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as on the artistic and cultural consequences of globalisation. The Institution is located in one of Berlin's architectural landmarks: The former Congress Hall in the centre of Berlin. In 2007 the House is celebrating the 50-year anniversary with an interdisciplinary project on the transatlantic relationship between Germany and the USA, with a special focus on New York.
Time limits in the legislative process
The Basic Law, Germany’s constitution, contains no provisions about the duration of the legislative process. However, provisions relating to time are contained in the Basic Law and, in particular, the Rules of Procedure of the Bundestag – in the form of specific time limits, but also terms such as "appropriate" or "reasonable" and "without delay". This "Topical Term" provides an overview of the most important regulations.
The challenges of the switch to digital TV
The study sets out the challenges connected with the switch to digital TV. It examines data on the current extent of digital TV in Germany, as well as the associated regulatory challenges. It focuses in particular on the issue of equal opportunities and non-discriminatory access, as well as guaranteeing a diversity of opinions.
State treaties between the Länder
The text defines the concept of a state treaty between Germany’s Länder (federal states), and describes the procedure for the conclusion of such a treaty and the various ways in which it can be terminated. The difference between validity between states and validity within a state is explained and details are provided about the functions of ratification by the Land Parliaments.
The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany strengthens the independence and the participation of public service broadcasting in new technologies.
The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany strengthens the independence and the participation of public service broadcasting in new technologies. The constitutional complaints of the german public service broadcasters ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio about the reduction of the licence fee-proposal of the independent commission of experts (KEF) by the Länder were successful.
The right of secession, the process of becoming a state and the recognition of states
Against the background of the still unresolved future status of Kosovo, the question arises once again as to the existence under international law of a right to secession and the requirements which would apply. Furthermore, examination is needed of the criteria which have to be fulfilled by a certain unit of rule in order for it to be regarded as a state under international law and of the effect which recognition of a state by third countries has.
Quantum cryptography is a novel encryption scheme for the transfer of sensitive data. Based on fundamental laws of physics governing the behaviour of quantum particles, it promises to provide "absolute" security, rather than the relative security presently achieved by conventional mathematical encryption.
Online-Library – The Google Book Search
Google’s latest project the Google Book Search program is a controversial issue for a fairly long time. For his Online-Service Google scans the inventory of popular (university-) libraries such as Harvard or Oxford and publishes them in the Internet to make those (rare) acts universally accessible. Through the "fair-use"-clause, which means that copyrighted acts can be reproduced in case of social benefit, the copyright is partly unconsidered by the company. However there are advantages as well as disadvantages in the scanning of books. Google himself calls his (business-) venture promotional and effective in advertising. European efforts to compete with Google’s project like the "European Digital Library" are slowly developing because of missing funds.
Weblogs in politics
A weblog (usually shortened to blog) is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles (normally in reverse chronological order). A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as economic and cultural problems, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. Media and political party response to the new technology are reflections of its emerging influence.
A podcast is a collection of files (usually audio and video) residing at a unique web feed address. The author of a podcast is often called a podcaster. People can "subscribe" to this feed by submitting the feed address to an aggregator (like iTunes). When new "episodes" become available in the podcast they will be automatically downloaded to that users. Podcasting is becoming increasingly popular in politics, education and corporate communication.
Education funding in the federal state: new proposals
The system of University funding in Germany is under pressure in many respects. One issue is the federal burden sharing: So far, universities in Germany are funded almost exclusively by the federal state in which they are located. Various alternative models have been presented in recent times, several of which assign financial responsibility for university education to each student’s home state (Bundesland). This text reviews two models: Vorteilsausgleich – mainly following the example of Switzerland – and Studienfonds.
Modern methods of plant breeding (part II): cisgenics and terminator technology
New techniques in genetic modification of plants came up during the last years. Cisgenics was introduced with a new report on gene technology in 2007. Additionally, discussions about terminator technology are still ongoing.
Modern methods of plant breeding (Part I): From classical breeding to "smart breeding"
Recently, new methods for plant breeding have been developped. Several companies and research groups use "smart breeding", which makes use of molecular markers and other selection tests to speed up the development of new varieties. Even the mutation breeding has been linked to methods of molecular biology.
"Lecturer" and "Teaching Professor": New personnel models for academia
Universities in Germany are facing special challenges in the coming years. Various models have been proposed to expand capacities and strengthen academic teaching. Two proposals for new personnel categories at Universities are "Lecturers" and "Teaching Professors".
"Open Access" to scientific information
The term "Open Access" refers to an emerging new pricing and publishing scheme of scientific journals, aiming at a simplification and democratization of access to scientific information. The present document provides an overview of the scientific and political debate around "Open Access", summarizes some recent developments in Germany and on the international scene, and discusses the Pros and Cons of "Open Access".
The term "culture industries" encompasses all of those business operations and activities that combine the creation, production and commercialisation of contents which are cultural in nature. Several studies on the economy of culture provide evidence that cultural creativity and the economic sectors built around it make a significant contribution to economic development. But it has to be noted that there remains a lack of solid comparable evidence at national and EU level which would enable the contribution of the cultural and creative sectors to economic growth and employment to be properly assessed. For these problems to be remedied, more work needs to be done to adopt appropriate standards and definitions.
Language change and language policy
With half of the world’s 6,000 languages facing the risk of dying out, worldwide linguistic diversity is threatened. German language is also affected by this language change (grammati-cal simplification, increasing influence of English and other languages such as Turkish). Germany does not practise a stringent language policy. The German language is not men-tioned in the constitution, there is no integrative regulation of language teaching in German schools and because of the federalist structures a central national and governmental lan-guage authority does not exist. Within the European Union, language policy is also an important issue. But despite of the declared intention to promote linguistic diversity, there is a trend to a linguistic standardisation with the supremacy of English language.
EU Culture Programme 2007 - 1013
The new Culture Programme is a Community programme established for seven years (2007-2013). The general objective of the programme shall be to enhance the cultural area common to Europeans through the development of cultural cooperation between the creators, cultural players and cultural institutions of the countries taking part in the programme. The specific objectives of the programme are to promote the transnational mobility of people working in the cultural sector, to encourage the transnational circulation of works and cultural and artistic products and to encourage intercultural dialogue.
ePassports have been issued in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1 November 2005. These passports contain a chip on which personal information and a photo of the passport holder are stored. The storage of additional biometric data on the chip, e.g. fingerprints, is currently being tested. This issue of the Topical Term describes how the ePassport functions, how the information is read, and how it could be checked against records held in existing or future databases. Advocates of the system expect the introduction of ePassports – and later identity cards with chips too – to bring about a substantial increase in public security and to constitute a crucial step in combating crime and terrorism. Critics object that security gaps could open up the possibility of identity theft and the creation of a European reference database could lead to data-protection risks.
The European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)
Second Life is an Internet-based-virtual world with 4 million registered accounts. It enables its users to interact trough virtual characters called Avatars; the residents of Second Life can explore and build their world, they can meet or deal with other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities. After coming to international attention via media, Second Life becomes more important concerning other sectors such as economy, politics and art. But Second Life has also encountered a number of challenges that range from technical problems to moral issues.
The Federal President’s power to grant pardons
Pardons are traditionally understood as an act of state which "tempers justice with mercy", and which is thus based not on law but on mercy, in the sense of goodwill, as a matter of discretion not regulated by law. The power to grant pardons is intended to balance out hardships and inequities caused by rulings under the Criminal Code. Under Article 60 of the Basic Law (Germany’s constitution), the Federal President has the power to grant pardons; in the Länder, or federal states, this power is held by the institutions specified in the Land constitutions. The power to grant pardons extends to rulings relating to criminal law or which are similar in nature.
Gene doping is a new type of doping which is achieved by gene therapy to improve athletic performance. Until now, gene doping was not found during major competitions. However, testing strategies are developed throughout the whole world to prevent gene doping.