Ehrenwort

Word of honor.

In the inquiry into the C.D.U. party’s underreporting and/or underpayment of taxes on large donations e.g. from the arms dealer and lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber, former chancellor Helmut Kohl was asked where the money came from and said he couldn’t say because he’d given his “Ehrenwort” to some donors. And the matter of his criminal culpability was dropped. Some evidence went missing too.

Karlheinz Schreiber went to Canada where he got in trouble for making underreported donations to politicians.

(AIR en VORT.)

Verschwiemelt

Bloated, swollen, such as one’s face after a long riotous night, or this post.

After investigating for five months, the anonymous blogger who posted instances of Schludrigkeit that he found (on 92 of 326 pages) in Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan’s doctoral thesis has now been confirmed by a report published the next day by the University of Düsseldorf’s expert evaluator. The university report’s author found 60 questionable citations (on 351 pages?) and “recognizes ‘the characteristic pattern of a plagiaristic approach,’” reported Spiegel-Online, which also noted that the anonymous blogger’s report is a “triumph of the plagiarism hunters.” Some political folks said Schavan’s doctorate shouldn’t be taken away because e.g. “there are clearer cases that haven’t been revoked.” Others say if the University of Düsseldorf decides to rescind the 32-year-old degree, then Annette Schavan must step down as federal Education Minister. The media can’t help reprinting statements in support of academic rigor that Schavan made when the doctoral thesis of young charismatic aristocratic Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (FDP) was discovered to contain plagiarism. A Spiegel-Online comparison of the two cases certainly generates some sympathy for Annette Schavan. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s family is worth ca. 400 million euros and he grew up in a castle. He took a long time to finish his doctoral thesis (in law) and said later he didn’t have enough time for footnotes. Grade: summa cum laude. Annette Schavan was the first in her family to go to university and finished her doctorate quite early, magna cum laude. Guttenberg was working during the cut-and-paste Internet era with search engines; Schavan had to find her texts in underfunded German university libraries and wrote her thesis on a typewriter. On the other hand, the Guttenberg situation is indicative that a deeper institutional problem exists.

The anonymous blogger who published first faxed reporters that “The facts are the facts. Even verschwiemelt Schavanesque excuses won’t change that.”

On 16 Oct. 2012 the responsible University of Düsseldorf committee met for three hours, but Annette Schavan unleashed lawyers and the university has been forbidden to make any information about this public without her permission. The university’s rector announced this and apologized. He also said they only advanced as far as the preliminary investigation (Vorprüfung). The university announced that it will take extra time to check Schavan’s thesis because it was interdisciplinary, its age means more of the sources will only be available on paper (and will have to be ordered from Germany’s amazingly cash-strapped university libraries and their interestingly historic systems), and evaluators are going to have to make sure they can be fair in “thinking themselves back” into the state of knowledge that prevailed thirty years ago.

I think German universities are state-funded? Surely though they must be susceptible in some ways to financial pressure from federal ministers, particularly the Minister of Education and Research. Crowdsourcing evaluation of politicians’ plagiarism seems like a very good idea in Germany right now.

(Fer SHVEE melt.)

Helmut Kohl, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin walk into a bar at Camp David

It’s a poolside bar. Bill Clinton says, “Here at Camp David we have a magic swimming pool. You run to the end of the diving board, leap high into the air, and call out the name of your favorite drink.” Bill Clinton demonstrates, calling “Whiskey!” as he catapults into the air. The entire pool turns into whiskey. Much fun ensues. Boris Yeltsin climbs unsteadily but determinedly up the diving board ladder, leaps, and yells, “Vodka!” The entire pool turns into vodka. Then it’s Helmut Kohl’s turn. He puffs even more slowly up the ladder, thinks, carefully jumps, and says, “Pilsner!” All the water disappears from the pool, and there’s a nasty incident. Bill Clinton turns to Boris Yeltsin and says, “Doesn’t everyone know it takes ten minutes to draw a good pilsner?”

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