United States Congress.On August 11, US Senator and 2008 presidential republican candidate John McCain gave a speech regarding the crisis between Georgia and Russia. Following the speech, a regular Wikipedia editor noticed that his speech was very similar to an article on Wikipedia also regarding the crisis, in what could be considered plagiarism. Wikinews was able to talk to that editor about how he found out about the similarities and what he did in response. Wikinews also took a deeper look at the claim and investigated further.

McCain gave his speech in Erie, Pennsylvania and was speaking to citizens, giving a warning to Russia stating, “Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin must understand the severe, long-term negative consequences that their government’s actions will have for Russia’s relationship with the U.S. and Europe.”

McCain continued his speech saying, “Georgia is an ancient country, at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and one of the world’s first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion. After a brief period of independence following the Russian revolution, the Red Army forced Georgia to join the Soviet Union in 1922. As the Soviet Union crumbled at the end of the Cold War, Georgia regained its independence in 1991, but its early years were marked by instability, corruption, and economic crises.”

While reading the first few paragraphs, the Wikipedia editor Killing Vector, who wishes to be called by his contributor name in fear of retribution for coming forward with the claim, noticed a striking similarity to McCain’s speech and the Wikipedia article on the country of Georgia. Not only did he notice the similarities, but after reading through the article’s edit history, ‘Killing Vector’ noticed that his speech might have been lifted from Wikipedia, with some of the material in McCain’s speech dating prior to the start of the Georgian and Russian crisis.

“I began reading the text of McCain’s address on the Georgia crisis, and as I was browsing it the irregularity jumped out almost immediately. The paragraphs which discussed the history of Georgia simply didn’t fit with the rest of the speech; the rhetorical style was jarringly different. I figured, “where’s someone in a hurry going to get basic information on the Republic of Georgia?” I opened up Wikipedia, went to the article, picked a recent but not current revision more or less at random (July 24th), and hit gold on the first try; McCain’s speech and the Wikipedia article had significant strings of words in common, emphasized the same events, made largely the same word choices,” said Vector to Wikinews.

Although other media outlets reported the alleged plagiarism, the two passages below were dated at least one week prior to the Georgian and Russian crisis. The first two paragraphs of McCain’s speech appear to resemble the Wikipedia article in the history dated July 24, 2008.

“Two paragraphs, about an eighth of the full speech, contain material directly copied from Wikipedia or superficially modified from its text. Those two paragraphs constitute the entire factual background of the speech, though — the rest is reaction and proposed policy,” added Vector.

Example:

  • Wikipedia – ….one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity as an official religion.
  • McCain – ….one of the world’s first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion.
  • Wikipedia – After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia had a brief period of independence as a Democratic Republic (1918-1921), which was terminated by the Red Army invasion of Georgia. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1922 and regained its independence in 1991. Early post-Soviet years was marked by a civil unrest and economic crisis.
  • McCain – After a brief period of independence following the Russian revolution, the Red Army forced Georgia to join the Soviet Union in 1922. As the Soviet Union crumbled at the end of the Cold War, Georgia regained its independence in 1991, but its early years were marked by instability, corruption, and economic crises.
Wikinews investigates claim McCain plagiarized speech from Wikipedia
We did not copy Wikipedia in Sen. McCain’s remarks. There are only so many ways to state basic historical facts and dates and that any similarities to Wikipedia were only coincidental.
Wikinews investigates claim McCain plagiarized speech from Wikipedia

—Brian Rogers, McCain campaign spokesman

McCain’s campaign denies they plagiarized Wikipedia, but also didn’t state whether they used it as a source for his speech.

“We did not copy Wikipedia in Sen. McCain’s remarks. There are only so many ways to state basic historical facts and dates and that any similarities to Wikipedia were only coincidental,” said a spokesman for the McCain campaign, Brian Rogers to The Politico. Wikinews contacted McCain’s campaign, but has yet to receive a response.

Wikinews e-mailed Jay Walsh, the director of communications for the Wikimedia Foundation to see what they thought of the situation, and what if anything they planned to do about it.

“We aren’t particularly concerned with this,” said Walsh who also added that “I’m only aware of this situation through media coverage I’ve seen, nor do we or I have any in-depth detail about the situation.”

“I would say it’s a good practice to attribute text or content whenever possible. Obviously when it’s a matter of copyright then there are legal considerations, but the Foundation is not able to examine individual cases,” added Walsh. Wikinews attempted to contact Mike Godwin, the legal counsel for the Foundation, but has yet to receive a response.

Vector stands by his claim and also notes what he calls ‘dishonesty’ on the part of McCain’s campaign.

“What concerns me more, as a voter, is the ethical issue. Plagiarism comes from dishonesty and intellectual laziness on the part of an individual, but McCain’s campaign’s later denial adopts that individual’s dishonesty,” stated Vector.

source : wikinews

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Refugees from the conflict take shelter in Tbilisi. Tensions look likely to escalate in Georgia and Russia, with Russian-backed separatists asking Moscow to recognise their independence.

There is still no sign that Russia is withdrawing the bulk of its force from Georgia, despite western demands for an immediate pull-out.

The self-styled leaders of Abkhazia in Georgia’s north-west have issued a fresh call asking Moscow to recognise their independence.

While Russia has backed the separatists in Abkhazia and in Georgia’s other breakaway province of South Ossetia, it has previously held back from formally recognising them as independent.

In the wake of the fighting that flared in South Ossetia two weeks ago, Russia has said Georgia can forget about ever regaining control of the region.

But Russia has also agreed to an international mechanism to sort out the future status of each province.

Georgia remains adamant they must not be allowed to break away, but it has few options.

United States President George W Bush has criticised the violence in the region and has offered more support for Georgia, saying the US will help ensure its territorial integrity.

Mr Bush has again criticised Russia for what he says was a disproportionate military action in Georgia.

He says the US will continue to support Georgia’s democracy.

“South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of Georgia and the United States will work with our allies to ensure Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity,” he said.

Civilian deaths

Both countries have now issued revised death tolls from the fighting in South Ossetia that sparked their conflict.

In the first few days of fighting, both sides claimed thousands of civilians had been killed.

Russia now says it has the names of 133 civilians and 64 soldiers who died in South Ossetia.

Georgia says 215 of its people lost their lives, including around 70 civilians. It also says 300 Georgian soldiers are still missing.

The toll on both sides may rise again because officials still do not know how many people have been buried in unmarked graves.

Media show

A White House spokesman says Russian forces are not withdrawing quickly enough from Georgia and should step up the pace.

The soldiers are still dug-in in central Georgia, cutting the country in two.

ABC correspondent Scott Bevan is on a Russian Government media tour which has crossed into Georgia, where the Russian military has made a show of pulling back a unit of troops from Georgia.

Just 55 kilometres from the capital Tblisi, about 50 members from the unit from the Russian 58th Army stood to attention by the road.

Then, when the order was given and the cameras were rolling, the men ran over to nine armoured personnel carriers and drove off.

Military spokesman Colonel Igor Tikachenko has defended the time taken to pull back the troops from Georgia, saying a lot of logistics are involved.

The Colonel says the 58th unit should be back on Russian soil in a day or so.

Source : abc.net.au

There has been no substantial withdrawal of Russian troops so far. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused NATO of adopting a policy against his country by supporting Georgia, after the alliance declared there can no longer be business as usual with Russia.

While NATO countries have criticised Russian military actions in Georgia over the past 13 days, Mr Lavrov has condemned the alliance’s support of the former Soviet state.

World leaders have continued to dispute whether Russia is pulling out of Georgia, with NATO sending a sharp message that until the Russians leave, relations are on ice: not a cold war but a signal the maps of Europe are not about to be redrawn in Russia’s favour.

“This document is a very clear statement that this alliance, NATO, having come so far after the end of the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union in achieving a Europe that is whole free and at peace is not going to permit a new line to be drawn in Europe,” said US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

The Russians were quick to react.

“The way NATO assesses the fulfilment of this condition is biased. They blame us as if there were no requirements for the Georgian side,” Mr Lavrov said.

Mr Lavrov says instead of NATO telling Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili what to do to meet its standards, Mr Saakashvili has told the alliance what to do to meet his ambitions.

Georgia is hoping to join NATO and has been given indications by the alliance that is being considered.

That has infuriated Russia and Mr Lavrov says drawing Georgia into NATO is just an anti-Russian policy that supports an aggressive regime.

Russian withdrawal

Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says all but 500 of his country’s troops should be withdrawn from Georgia by Thursday or Friday.

He says those that remain will stay in a buffer zone around the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Earlier the Kremlin quoted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as saying that Russian forces would pull back by August 22 to the positions set out under a French-brokered ceasefire.

That would require most of them to withdraw to Russia or South Ossetia but parts of the force, under the terms of the deal, will remain in a buffer zone around the breakaway region.

“By 22 August… a part of the peacekeepers will be pulled back to the temporary security zone,” a Kremlin statement quoted Mr Medvedev as telling French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a telephone conversation.

There has been no substantial withdrawal of Russian troops so far, despite official statements that the pull-out is underway.

Russia’s deputy chief of the general staff, General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, says the pullout has been slow because Georgia has not returned all its troops to bases as agreed.

He says in South Ossetia there are a lot of abandoned Georgian vehicles that have to be cleared.

But the General says the pullout will accelerate on August 22 when Russian peacekeeping posts are in place in South Ossetia.

UN draft resolution

Meanwhile the United Nations Security Council has again failed to take a vote on a draft resolution demanding full compliance with the proposed ceasefire between Russia and Georgia.

After another emergency meeting in New York today, the 15-member UN Security Council has failed to reach agreement on a resolution demanding full compliance with a French-brokered ceasefire and a full withdrawal of Russian troops.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, says Russia is withdrawing troops anyway.

“[The resolution] is a waste of time. Let me tell you it’s a waste of time because the process of the withdrawal of Russian forces will continue,” he said.

Georgia’s ambassador, Irakli Alasania, does not believe that.

“There’s no signs, as I mentioned, that they are preparing for the withdrawal,” he said.

“The rampage, the looting is still going on.”

Russia has a veto power in the Security Council.

Refugees

World leaders argue, but 150,000 people displaced by the fighting have little time for politics.

Some have no homes to return to, others – like those at a camp in Tbilisi – simply do not know what is happening.

Desperate, they live in Red Cross tents near the airport, as American aid flights arrive overhead.

Everyone wants to return home but not while the Russians are there.

Liz Ochalachvili fled from a village right near the border.

She told correspondent Philip Williams that Russian troops shot at the wheels of the car she was in. She said they were all beaten, the men stripped and called pigs.

She said they were lined up along the roadside and thought they were about to be executed. Two boys approached in a car and both were shot dead. A man in the street was also killed.

She said three more boys were gunned down, but she did not know if they died.

Sharing the tents was a single mother of two, Tamara Tabutson. She fled the now occupied city of Gori and fears a return could mean kidnap, rape or murder.

“In Gori, no-one told us to leave or helped us to leave. No-one. No car would stop. Now I see that we must take care of ourselves. Even here,” she said.

There are similar stories of atrocities and fear on both sides.

Source : abc.net.au

a Russian vehicle in the Georgian village of Kvemo-Achebeti Russia’s retreat from Georgia is yet to happen despite mixed reports from Moscow that it is already underway and that peacekeeping forces are “ensuring safety” in the region.

Georgia says Russia has failed to honour its ceasefire agreement to withdraw from Georgian territory as soon as possible.

The conflict began 10 days ago when Georgian forces tried to recapture South Ossetia, which broke free from Tbilisi in a war during the 1990s. Russia launched an overwhelming counterattack to support the separatists.

The Russian attack – its biggest military deployment outside its borders since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union – included air strikes on economic targets deep inside Georgia, forcing the Georgian army into retreat.

A French-mediated ceasefire accord urged a speedy Russian withdrawal but Russian forces are obviously determined to withdraw on their own terms.

Overnight, ABC reporter Matt Brown was witness to the tense stand-off which is continuing in the town of Gori.

Russian troops still control the entrances to Gori and the centre of town.

They are still stationed at the Georgian military base they over-ran last week and they still control the main road between Gori and the capital Tblisi.

There are reports that Russia wants to cripple Georgia’s armed forces and destroy ammunition dumps and other military hardware.

Around five hours after the withdrawal was supposed to begin yesterday, a column of Russian armoured fighting vehicles drove east of Gori, smashed through a Georgian police checkpoint and headed for high ground above the road to the capital.

Georgian officials say Russia’s actions amount to a violation of last week’s peace accord.

But Russian military spokesman Lieutenant-General Nikolay Uvarov says the troops will pull back to South Ossetia after ensuring the areas they are occupying are secure.

“Unfortunately there are still some commando teams from Georgia that are walking around,” he said.

“Last day, there were several small skirmishes. Our troops were fired upon.

“It depends on looters, and so on, so it depends on the situation. But it will take days, certainly not weeks.”

Crushing response

Meanwhile, as his troops are meant to be pulling out of Georgian territory, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has used a visit near the conflict zone to continue the war of words.

While in Vladikavkaz in southern Russia to award medals to some of those involved in the conflict in south Ossetia, Mr Medvedev has been full of praise for his soldiers and condemnation for Georgia.

Mr Medvedev said his country would do its best to ensure that Georgia’s crime of killing of Russian soldiers and peacekeepers did not go unpunished.

Earlier in the day while meeting World War II veterans in the city of Kursk, Mr Medvedev warned that if anyone tried something similar again, Russia would respond with mighty force.

He says no one should doubt the resolve of the Russian Government.

“If anyone thinks that they can kill our citizens, our soldiers and officers who are peacekeepers and escape unpunished, we will never allow this,” he said.

“If anyone tries this again, we will come out with a crushing response.”

Source : abc.net.au

Mikheil Saakashvili The Georgian President has struck a conciliatory tone towards Russia as Russian troops begin preparations to leave his country.

In a television address recorded for broadcast later on Monday, President Mikheil Saakashvili demanded Russia leave Georgian territory immediately, but also made a plea to mend fences.

“I appeal to you that after your armed forces leave Georgian territory, to start serious thinking and discussions about further negotiations, a further search for ways (to conduct) relations in order not to sow discord between our countries for good,” Mr Saakashvili said in the broadcast, which his press office made available in advance.

“Let’s not sow discord for future generations. I don’t appeal to your mercy but I appeal to your pragmatism and simple common sense. I think the time to make the right decisions has come.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared on Sunday that troops who stormed in after a failed Georgian attempt to retake the pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia would begin pulling out around midday.

The 10-day confrontation has reportedly killed about 200 Georgians and dealt a blow to the Georgian military. It has damaged the country’s economy, disrupted road and rail links and drawn Western criticism of Mr Saakashvili’s handling of the crisis.

Mr Saakashvili’s softer tones towards Moscow contrast strongly with tough rhetoric both sides have used until now.

Each side has accused the other of attempted genocide.

Russia says some 1,600 people were killed in the initial Georgian shelling of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali while Georgia accuses Russian and irregular forces of levelling Georgian villages around Tskhinvali.

Russia’s withdrawal is due to go ahead under a six-point ceasefire plan brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, acting on behalf of the European Union.

The Russians have not set a deadline for its completion but say it depends on stability in Georgia.

The conflict has rattled the West, which draws oil and gas through pipelines across Georgian territory from the Caspian region, a route favoured because it bypasses Russia.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Mr Medvedev to withdraw troops quickly.

“This time I hope he means it,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“The word of the Russian president needs to be upheld by his forces or people are going to begin to wonder if Russia can be trusted.”

Regional implications

Russian military analyst Pavel Felgengauer said hardliners in Moscow wanted the conflict to achieve Mr Saakashvili’s overthrow and the destruction of the Georgian army and would be disappointed with a lesser result.

Mr Felgengauer argued that the Georgian military, though it withdrew in the face of Russian advances, had escaped without serious casualties or materiel losses.

“For them (the hardliners), the strategic aim of the invasion was not achieved, so it was a defeat … This creates problems in Moscow.”

He said powerful businessmen were also dissatisfied by big losses incurred on financial markets following the invasion and the danger of Western sanctions denying them access to technology for urgently needed modernisation.

“They may not be against subduing the Georgians, but the question is, at what price?” he said.

Mr Felgengauer said Georgia could now reckon with increased US investment and support and a consequent strengthening of American influence and commitment in an area Moscow historically sees as its ‘backyard’.

The conflict began on August 7 when Georgia launched an attempt to retake South Ossetia, which broke with Tbilisi after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia struck back, pouring troops into South Ossetia and then occupying areas beyond the region, in the Georgian heartland.

The six-point peace plan sees their withdrawal from this ‘core Georgia’. International contacts are under way to decide on a peacekeeping force for South Ossetia itself, though, whatever Georgia’s objections, it is likely to contain many Russians.

Source-abc.net.au /Reuters

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev followed the president of Georgia, Dmitry Medvedev and signed the ceasefire agreement on Saturday. The peace plan document was originally drafted by Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France. Medvedev announced having signed the document during a meeting of the Russian Security Council.

The truce was signed by Saakashvili on Friday, after a long meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Following the meeting, a press conference was held in which Saakashvili stated that he had signed the accord. But he pointed out that “this is not a done deal. We need to do our utmost to deter such behaviour in the future.”

By signing the agreement, both sides agree to pull back their forces to pre-conflict positions. Rice has demanded that Russian forces withdraw from Georgia immediately. The accord also provides protection for Georgia and a “reconstruction plan”, as well as allowing certain concessions to Russia.

Russia advanced into the Georgian break-away province of South Ossetia on August 7 to aid the rebels who had been battling Georgian troops. On August 11, Russian troops landed in Abkhazia and Ossetia advanced far beyond South Ossetia’s borders into Georgian home turf and stopped only about 30 miles from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.

Initially Medvedev said that he had ordered Russian troops to begin leaving Georgia on August 11. However, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov refused to put a timetable on the withdrawal of Russian forces from deep inside Georgia and stated that their departure depended on extra security measures being put in place. Lavrov also said Russia would strengthen its contingent in South Ossetia. In a letter to Saakashvili, Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that according to the signed peace plan, Russian forces are obliged to withdraw from all major Georgian towns regardless of the “additional security measures” mentioned in the document. According to Sarkozy, these additional measures refer to the border area only. At the same time Georgian internal affairs ministry reported that Russian forces changed the administrative borders of Abkhazia, and captured one of the Georgian power plants in the area. It is also reported that Russian forces destroyed the strategic Georgian rail bridge in Kaspi.

According to Lavrov, the document Saakashvili signed differed from the one signed by Medvedev, lacking its introductory part.

Source : wikinews

Highlights

Men’s 200-meter individual medley

Michael Phelps won his sixth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics with a world-record time of 1:54.23 in the final of the men’s 200m individual medley. The gold puts him one gold medal away from Mark Spitz‘s individual record of seven gold medals at a single Olympiad, set at the Munich Olympics in 1972. It was also his sixth world record, also one short of a single-Olympiad record set by Spitz as well.

Hungarian László Cseh won the silver medal with a time of 1:56.52, an European record. Cseh out-touched American Ryan Lochte, the bronze medal winner, by 0.01 seconds (1:56.53).

The previous world record time was 1:54.80, set by Phelps at the 2008 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebrasha.

Men’s 50m freestyle

In the first semifinal of the men’s 50m freestyle, Cesar Cielo Filho set a new Olympic record with a time of 21.34 seconds, 0.12 seconds ahead of the previous Olympic record and 0.06 seconds behind the current world record.

“It was a great race. The 50m is so fast and it was my best-ever race,” said Filho after the race. ‘I’m in lane four [in the final]. I’ll just do my best and focus on my own race and will touch the wall with my best performance.”

Women’s 200m breaststroke

American Rebecca Soni net a new world record and won the gold medal in the final of the women’s 200m breaststroke with a time of 2:20.22.

Leisel Jones, who was representing Australia, took the silver medal, while Sara Nordenstam finished in third place with a time of 2:23.02, less than one second behind Jones’ time of 2:22.05.

Women’s 75kg weightlifting

The Chinese Cao Lei set a new world record and won the gold medal women’s 75kg weightlifting. Her score of 282 beat the competitor who took the silver medal by sixteen points.

“I was excited and overjoyed because I won the seventh gold medal for Chinese weightlifting,” she said, after the event.

Men’s individual pursuit

British Bradley Wiggins set a new Olympic record in qualifying round of the men’s individual pursuit with a time of 4:15.031 and an average speed of 56.463 km/h.

Hayden Roulston, who was representing New Zealand, finished in second place, while Alexei Markov finished in third place with a time of 4:21.498.

Women’s artistic gymnastics individual all-around

American Nastia Liukin won the gold medal in the women’s individual all-around in artistic gymnastics. She is the daughter of former Soviet Union gymnast Valeri Liukin, who won a gold medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Her total score was 63.325: 15.025 in vault, 16.650 in uneven bars, 16.125 in balance beam and 15.525 in floor exercise. Her scores at balance beam and floor exercise were the top scores for the individual all-around competition.

Her American teammate, Shawn Johnson, won the silver medal with a total score of 62.725. Johnson had the top score in the vault, with a score of 15.875. Chinese gymnast Yang Yilin won the bronze medal with a total score of 61.925. Yang had the top score in the uneven bars, with a score of 16.725.

Medal Table