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political folks said Schavan’s doctorate shouldn’t be taken away because e.g. “there are clearer cases that haven’t been revoked.”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.)

Ein erfolgreicher Rechtsanwalt

“A successful attorney.” Interesting recent story about the North Rhine-Westphalian Pirate Party, summarized from Spiegel-Online’s article. Two neighboring Pirate Party groups in the region were having a bitter dispute. The Gelsenkirchen group finally wrote to the state Pirate Party complaining that their foe group had neonazi propaganda materials in its possession. (The German Pirate Party voted at its last national meeting to be against right-wing stuff, despite their core interest in freedom of opinion.) The state party confronted the foe party, which “credibly” refuted the accusations. And hired a lawyer. The lawyer asked the state PP for the original correspondence, including all names. The NRW Pirates voted not to share this information. Spiegel says that, according to the German Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz), the Pirates also should not have shared this information because no government offices are investigating the matter and because they don’t have permission to share it.

Klaus Hammer was the political director (Politischer Geschäftsführer) of the North Rhine-Westphalian Pirate Party. He is a 45-year-old IT worker who’s been involved with the PP for several years and has run for office. Last weekend he told the NRW state PP board of directors that despite their decision not to share the information, he had felt “pressured” by the lawyer. He then panicked, he said, and reached an agreement according to which he placed printouts of the emails in a trash bin outside his building. The next day, the printouts were gone.

Klaus Hammer has now been relieved of his political directorship.

(Eye n err FOAL g rye Cher    WRECKED s on vault.)

hohes Tier

“High animal.” Someone with an important job. Helmut Roewer, for example, the now-retired president of Thuringian Verfassungsschutz from 1994 to 2000. Spiegel-Online says his interests were “Wine, Women and Verfassungsschutz.” Apparently Roewer was difficult to work with or manage. According to the “Wine, Women” article, none of the responsible people can now remember appointing him to his post, and Roewer says he doesn’t recall who handed him the written appointment because he was drunk at the time.

Update on 04 Oct. 2012: Helmut Roewer has written a memoir, and Der Spiegel had to read it. “Roewer, who is considered vain and erratic, sees himself as a mover and a shaker.” Originally, Roewer was a West German lawyer. Spiegel calls his book “280 pages of justifications and assigning blame.”

(HO ess TEER.)

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