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I think i finally found the problem. A month ago I was playing around with a few vim plugins for python development. One of them seemed to place the file _thread.py at /usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/_thread.py. Through this it was available to python2.7 even though it was not meant to be used with it.

After I deleted the files /usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/_thread.py and /usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/_thread.pyc roscore is able to start without any problems.

Thank you joq for all your input and help on this matter. It is really nice to finally be able to use roscore again. :-)