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

US Congress.

United States (U.S.) Senator Joe Lieberman is scheduled to speak at the Republican party convention, according to a member of the McCain campaign who wishes to remain anonymous. Lieberman, who was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in the 2000 presidential election, has been one of Republican party candidate, John McCain‘s, staunchest supporters.

The official who informed the press of this announcement stated that Lieberman is slated to speak on the second day, a Monday, of the convention. There has been a lot of speculation in the past months that Lieberman would speak at the convention. In a interview with David Brody of CBN, Lieberman stated in response to the question about the possibility of him being at the convention that, “well, it’s not clear yet but you might just see me there.”

Lieberman is currently in Georgia, with Senator Lindsey Graham, responded when asked if he would be speaking at the convention that “it’s quite possible, but I’ll let them announce it.” Lieberman’s office has not commented on this announcement.

Lieberman has been recently considered a possible candidate for the Republican vice presidential seat. The convention will be held in St. Paul, Minnesota from September 1 through the 4th. He is currently a Independent Senator in Connecticut, who caucuses with the Democratic party. Lieberman was the Democratic vice presidential candidate back in 2000, when he ran with Al Gore.

Source : wikinews

United States Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has been indicted by federal grand jury on seven criminal counts for making false statements in his Senate financial disclosure forms. The longest-serving Republican in the Senate, Stevens is the highest-profile politician ensnared in the corruption scandal surrounding VECO Corporation and its executives’ attempts to influence politics.

United States Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska

United States Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska

VECO, a subsidiary of CH2M Hill as of September 2007, is an oil pipeline and services company. It is alleged to have funded renovations to the Stevens home in Girdwood, Alaska in 2000. The renovations include a new garage and first floor, a two story wrap-around deck, as well as new wiring and plumbing. In 2007, VECO chief executive Bill Allen pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, bribery, and conspiracy.

The 28-page indictment alleges that Stevens “knowingly and willfully engaged in a scheme to conceal” gifts from VECO, which totaled “hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things of value.”

A press release was issued by Stevens’ office in response to the allegations: “I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.” And Stevens himself commented, “I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. senator.” Senator Daniel Inouye, a close friend of Stevens, commented: “As far as he’s concerned, he’s not guilty. And I believe him.”

Stevens was reportedly caught unawares on Tuesday when the indictment charge was filed. “Apparently, the media knew about it before he did,” Inouye stated, adding that he had just talked to Stevens. Ted Stevens was in a meeting with other Republicans when he found out about the charge.

Stevens is the longest-serving Republican senator in history and is up for reelection this November. Calls to his office in Washington for comment were redirected to a voicemail indicating that his “office is closed.”

The United States Department of Justice says it has already obtained seven convictions in the case: Peter Kott, a former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives; Thomas T. Anderson, a former state representative; Victor H. Kohring, another representative; James A. Clark, chief of staff to the former governor of Alaska; William Bobrick, a lobbyist; Bill Allen, VECO chief executive; and Richard L. Smith, VECO vice president of government relations.

Source : wikinews