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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.

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Latest update : 2013-02-10

German education minister accused of plagiarism

Germany’s education Minister accused of plagiarism. Speculation over the smartphone used by North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un. And an online sound library with recordings from over 9 000 animal species.

German education minister accused of plagiarism

With the general election due to take place in September, this affair could prove to be somewhat embarrassing for Angela Merkel. Her education Minister Annette Schavan has been stripped of her doctorate by the University of Düsseldorf. A personal friend of the chancellor of Germany, she has been accused of plagiarizing parts of her 1980’s thesis in philosophy.

Initial suspicions of plagiarism were raised on the Internet. Over the past few months, the blog « Schavanplag » has been sifting through the 350 pages of the Minister’s thesis. 97 of these pages were deemed dubious with sections copied from other works without citing any sources. The accusations were relayed by local media, prompting the University of Düsseldorf to open an enquiry.

And this is not the first time web users have caught out a German Minister for plagiarizing university work. In 2011, Karl Theodor Zu Guttenberg quit as Defense Minister after a website exposed him for copying large parts of his legal dissertations.

And the irony of it all is that Annette Schavan was one of the first to criticize her colleague who was also removed of his PhD title, a title which is something of a social status symbol in Germany. And although she has denied all the allegations, she will no doubt lose a lot of credibility as Education Minister. [Update: Annette Schavan resigned on Saturday.]

 

Kim Jong-Un’s smartphone mystery

This photo recently released by Pyongyang may seem pretty insignificant, yet it’s nothing of the sort. Part of the picture, which features Kim Jong-Un, lit cigarette in hand, presiding over a meeting with his top advisers, has really got web users wondering: the smart phone to his right. It has triggered worldwide speculation over the North Korean leader’s preferred make of phone.

A number of new technology websites soon analyzed the picture to try and identify the phone. The author of this article on Gizmodo.com believes the mysterious device is without a doubt a smartphone manufactured by Taiwanese firm HTC. He says it’s highly unlikely the North Korean leader would have an iPhone or a Samsung, which are made in the US or South Korea, as North Korea considers both of these countries to be enemies of state.

Blogger and journalist Dan Lyons is also certain Kim Jong-Un would not be using an Apple or a Samsung smartphone. But instead of an HTC appliance he think it could be Google’s new Nexus phone. Lyons reminds readers that the Mountain View Firm’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, recently visited North Korea, and in his opinion, it is plausible to assume the smartphone was given to the North Korean leader as a gift.

And speculation is rife on social networks, with web users trying to get to the bottom of the Kim Jong-Un phone mystery. Others are amused by the excitement surrounding the photo, saying, as we see here, that there is another detail which also deserves online attention: the North Korean dictator’s preferred cigarette brand.

 

Now trending on social networks

« We received a message on ongoing domestic violence and women screaming. When we arrived we realized that it was nurse’s party ». This Twitter post won the Oslo Police Department the title of “tweet of the year” awarded at Norway’s annual “Social Media Days” conference. The Oslo Police District’s Twitter account is indeed very popular among Norwegians, with around 80 000 followers enjoying the practical information and also light hearted commentary shared by Norway’s police force.

 

World’s largest natural sound library now available online

A walrus underwater, a grasshopper rubbing its hind legs against its wings, a duck quacking… The Macaulay Library archive at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, has gone digital with audio and video recordings of over 9 000 species from all over the planet now available on its website. Nature lovers can add to this already impressive database by submitting their own recordings.


Video of the day

Filmmaker Neels Castillon is fascinated by the dense flocks of starlings and their magnificent comings and goings across the sky. And so he immortalized them in flight in this aptly named and totally mesmerizing “Bird Ballet”. The video is available to view in its entirety on Vimeo, and will transport you to a place somewhere between dream and reality.

By Electron Libre

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