Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

German Education Minister to appeal against loss of her Doctorate

February 6, 2013
Bundesministerin Dr. Annette Schavan

Bundesministerin Dr. Annette Schavan (Photo credit: AndreasSchepers)

Update! 9th February

Annette Schavan has resigned.


Dusseldorf University has not taken long after opening formal revocation proceedings to strip Annette Schavan – the German Minister for Education and Research- of her Doctorate for plagiarism.


The University of Duesseldorf’s philosophy faculty decided on Tuesday that she had carried out “a deliberate deception through plagiarism”.

The minister has denied the claims and said she will appeal.

An earlier plagiarism row brought an end to the political career of Germany’s defence minister in 2011.

Large parts of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s 2006 legal dissertations were found by Bayreuth University to have been copied and he stood down before it issued its damning verdict in May 2011.

Using the same words as Duesseldorf’s Heinrich Heine University, it concluded that he had “deliberately deceived”.

When Ms Schavan became the second minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to be accused of copying her doctorate, in this case by an anonymous blogger, she insisted she had never “knowingly falsely cited any sources” and promised to respond to the accusations.

But the faculty committee concluded that her work, which dealt with the formation of conscience, included a “substantial number of unaccredited direct quotes from other texts”.

In a statement declaring the doctorate invalid and withdrawing it from Ms Schavan, the faculty head Bruno Bleckmann said they had “decided by secret ballot, by 12 votes to two, with one abstention”. 

The minister herself, 57, was said to be on a five-day education and science co-operation trip to South Africa.. Education minister since 2005, she is described as a close colleague of Chancellor Merkel.

Her lawyers reportedly rejected the university’s ruling and said Ms Schavan would appeal.

When the university announced its inquiry, she said she had no intention of standing down.

But the investigation into one of Chancellor Merkel’s closest allies is seen as potentially awkward months before Germans vote in federal elections.

The popular German newspaper Bild said the news was a bitter blow to the chancellor, and wondered whether she would need to find a new education minister at the start of her election campaign.


Two years of self-imposed exile for zu Guttenberg

German Education and Research Minister’s dissertation in formal revocation proceedings

January 25, 2013

Yet another German politician’s dissertation is being questioned. But it is particularly ironic when the politician accused of plagiarism is the current German Minister for Education and Research and has been since 2005. Professor Debra Weber-Wulff reports:

Düsseldorf University to open formal revocation investigation

 After an almost six-hour-long meeting behind closed doors, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Düsseldorf voted to open formal revocation proceedings on the dissertation of Annette Schavan, the current German Minister of Education and Research, as noted in a press release issued this evening. Since so many people are interested in this topic world-wide, I am translating it to English here:

In May 2012 a public allegation was raised that the doctoral thesis of Prof. Dr. Schavan contained plagiarism.  If we as a faculty find substantial evidence of  scientific misconduct, we must pursue it vigorously —  regardless of the person involved or their social position. There is no legal statute of limitations on such cases. 
The Faculty of Arts and Humanities must then determine if the doctorate was correctly granted at the time it was granted. 
As part of the process, the doctoral committee of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities conducted a preliminary investigation. They examined Schavan’s written thesis and obtained a statement from her on the situation. 
Based on the recommendation of the doctoral committee, I [the dean, Bruno Bleckmann] presented the question to the Faculty Board at today’s meeting as to whether or not we should proceed with a formal revocation investigation. 
The Faculty Board discussed all of the issues raised during the preliminary investigation in detail today. They voted by secret ballot with 14 votes in favor and one abstention to open a formal revocation investigation.  
In the coming weeks, the members of the Faculty Board will intensively deal with the documents prepared by the doctoral committee and the statement from the person in question. The next meeting of the Faculty Board is set for February 5, at which time the continuation of the revocation investigation will be on the agenda.  
I want to emphasize that the process is still open-ended at this point.


Reality Check: add renewables subtract nuclear = more coal (and more gas)

August 20, 2012

Reality of course is that coal, gas, hydro and nuclear are the cheapest sources of electricity generation and will be with us for some time to come. And there is no need – for the sake of idiotic scenarios of nuclear holocaust and nonsense theories about AGW – to move away from them.


Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government says RWE AG (RWE)s new power plant that can supply 3.4 million homes aids her plan to exit nuclear energy and switch to cleaner forms of generation. It’s fired with coal.


Wind power beginning to lose its gloss in Germany

August 18, 2012

The cost of wind power is beginning to bite in Germany. Two articles  in Der Spiegel and in Financial Times Deutschland puncturing the virtuous bubble that surrounds wind power in Germany:

Der Spiegel:

Grid Instability Has Industry Scrambling for Solutions


Renewable Energy Law has weakened the German electricity grid

May 13, 2012

The Renewable Energy Law was introduced 12 years ago in Germany. It prioritises the use of “green energy”. What was thought to be a way of helping the introduction of new technology and fulfilling a political agenda has backfired and has led to a severe weakness of the electricity grid and the second-highest electricty price in Europe.

The Law leads to large conventional coal and gas plants leaving the grid far too early  and these are the only plants which can guarantee a stable supply of power. This in turn has led to many of these plants being decommissioned prematurely since they were being forced to operate at uneconomic levels of loading. They are then no longer available to compensate when the wind does not blow or at night or on cloudy days as wind and solar power generation fluctuate wildly.

The hidden costs of renewable power are now being revealed and an entirely new market for “balancing power” has appeared. The “balancing power” – nearly always gas-fired  – is just to compensate for the inherent unreliability of wind and solar.  For every 100 MW of renewable capacity added around 70 MW of (mainly) gas-based balancing capacity has to be added to ensure a stable and steady supply of power. With subsidies and “balancing” costs added to the direct cost of building wind or solar plants, the actual costs of renewable power have been exorbitant and have contributed significantly to the increase of electricity prices to the consumer. Germany now has the second highest consumer electricity price in Europe (second only to Denmark with its profligate use of subsidised wind turbines)

The German Federal Network Agency has issued a report warning of the dangers during the coming winter. Daniel Wetzel of Die Welt writes (translation from GWPF – Philip Mueller):

Last winter, on several occasions, Germany escaped only just large-scale power outages. Next winter the risk of large blackouts is even greater. The culprit for the looming crisis is the single most important instrument of German energy policy: the “Renewable Energy Law.”


Plagiarism one-upmanship – return your doctorate before you are found out

April 29, 2012

German politicians and plagiarised dissertations are reaching new heights. You can now get political credit for returning your doctorate awarded for a plagiarised dissertation provided you do it before you are found out.

Copy Shake and Paste has this story:

Florian Graf, CDU photo:dpa

There’s a bizarre case brewing in Berlin, Germany. A local politician, Florian Graf, chief of the CDU party group in the city-state governing council, announced Friday afternoon that he was returning his doctorate to the University of Potsdam.

His announcement (here his text) was a very strange tale. It seems that he had submitted his thesis and delivered the copies to the library, but requested that they not be on loan because he was publishing an article and the journal wanted to be the first publisher. And then he got the piece of paper saying he had a doctorate and has been using it ever since, even though he does not have the thesis published.

And now he’s come to realize, as he said to the Bild-Zeitung, that he is sure that he did not follow quoting conventions and asks for everyone’s forgiveness. And his fellow party members are rushing to hug him and say: ohhhh, that’s bad, we’re so sorry, you are such a nice guy. He’s requested a vote of confidence for Thursday (Tuesday is a holiday in Germany, and most of the country will take Monday off as well).

Plagiarist zu Guttenberg invited to join the European Commission

February 11, 2012

zu Guttenberg is back and has friends in high places. Baron Cut and Paste rides again.

This might be considered ironic but being the European commission I put it down to plain stupidity. To have a plagiarist who was brought down by net activism but who then bought his way out of criminal prosecution (by paying €20,000) as a special advisor on net activism illustrates the stupidity and the corruption at the centre of the European Commission.

Stupid is as stupid does.

From TechDirt:

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes has invited Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a former Federal Minister of Defence, and of Economics and Technology, in Germany, to advise on how to provide ongoing support to Internet users, bloggers and cyber-activists living under authoritarian regimes. This appointment forms a key element of a new “No Disconnect Strategy” to uphold the EU’s commitment to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected both online and off-line, and that internet and other information and communication technology (ICT) can remain a driver of political freedom, democratic development and economic growth.

Of course, that’s rather rich coming from a region where France already allows disconnections as punishments (HADOPI), and where the UK has legislation in place that will allow it to do the same (Digital Economy Act). But it turns out that the ironies are even deeper.

 The reason that Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg — once seen as a likely successor to Germany’s current Chancellor, Angela Merkel — is no longer the Federal Minister of Defence, and of Economics and Technology, is that he resigned when it emerged that he had plagiarized significant parts of his doctorate.

After initial denials, Guttenberg was forced to admit the extent of his plagiarism thanks largely to a crowdsourced wiki called GutenPlag (original German) offering “collaborative documentation of plagiarism”, which went through his thesis searching for passages taken from elsewhere without acknowledgement. In total, it claims to have found “1218 plagiarized fragments from 135 sources, on 371 out of 393 pages (94.4%), in 10421 plagiarized lines (63.8%).” There’s even an interactive, color-coded visualization of what happened where.

A petition against this stupidity can be found here: zu Guttenberg must leave the European Commission

Guttenberg buys his way out of prosecution for €20,000

November 24, 2011

Paying your favourite charity is apparently sufficient to get German prosecutors to drop prosecution – at least when the offender is zu Guttenberg and the offense is plagiarism.

I had not expected that Germany would still be granting droits de feodalité dominante

Does appear to be “one law for the rich and famous”…

Deutsche Welle:

Bavarian aristocrat and former German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has paid 20,000 euros to avoid prosecution on charges of plagiarism. With the case dismissed, Guttenberg could stage a political comeback.

German authorities have dropped their investigation into plagiarism charges against Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg after the former defense minister agreed to make a donation to a charitable institution.

The public prosecutor’s office said that although 23 passages of Guttenberg’s doctoral thesis possibly violated copyright laws, the monetary damage to the original author was only marginal and Guttenberg had not profited financially.

According to German law, misdemeanor cases can be dismissed if the accused agrees to pay a sum of money, usually to the state or a charitable organization. The court, public prosecutor’s office and the alleged victim all have to agree to the dismissal.

Guttenberg has already wired 20,000 euros ($26,794) to German Cancer Aid, a non-profit organization that supports research into cancer prevention and treatment. The former defense minister can now avoid a criminal record, although the investigation could be resumed if new evidence comes to light.

“It’s a second-rate dismissal, but it’s a dismissal” said Norbert Geis, a legal expert and a parliamentary representative with Guttenberg’s Christian Social Union, a regional ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. ……

Zu Guttenberg starts his public comeback

November 20, 2011

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is serving his self-imposed 2 year exile on the other side of the Atlantic. But he is beginning the process of his own rehabilitation in the public eye. He seems to have subtly changed his look – probably part of a determined effort to create a new “cleaner” image.

Deutsche Welle:

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

Guttenberg's developed a new look, sans glasses and hair gel: Deutsche Welle

Germany’s disgraced former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has returned to the political stage, albeit far away in Canada. After the dodgy doctorate debacle, is this the first sign of a comeback? …

Guttenberg, sporting a new look at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, was referred to as “the honorable Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, distinguished statesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)” when introduced to the audience of some 300 people. Guttenberg moved to the US with his family in the summer, and works at CSIS, a think tank based in Washington.

….. Guttenberg’s doctoral title has since been revoked by the University of Bayreuth, and he may yet face trial on charges of violations of copyright law in writing his thesis. The former defense minister did not speak to journalists on the sidelines of the forum.

Nord Stream gas goes on-line today

November 8, 2011

The Russian gas pipeline bypassing all transit countries to Germany by being routed under the Baltic Sea goes live today.

RT: After 13 years of planning and two years of construction, the Nord Stream pipeline will deliver its first supplies of Russian gas to an estimated 26 million homes in the EU on Tuesday. 


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