In case you were worried:
That appeared in the Lexington Dispatch, in Lexington, North Carolina. Wish they had that paper at my newsstand.
“Papa says, ‘If you see it in the Sun, it’s so.'”
Do we, you and I in 2014, stand as witnesses to the end of newspapers in America? In recent months we’ve seen body blows to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the San Diego Union, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and others.
It’s been a grand history. Newspapering gave us great leaders like Benjamin Franklin. Newspapering gave us wars, like the Spanish-American War. Newspapering gave us Charlie Brown, Ann Landers, the Yellow Kid, Jim Murray, Red Smith, Thomas Nast (and Santa Claus), the Federalist Papers, Watergate, Herblock, news of Vietnam and Pearl Harbor, Neil Armstrong on the Moon, the Pentagon Papers, and coupons to save money on laundry soap.
It’s been a curious history, too. An 1897 editorial vouching for Santa Claus rates as the most popular editorial of all time, according to the Newseum in Washington, D.C. That’s 115 years ago, and that’s quite some staying power.
In autumn, 1897, 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon of 115 West 95th Street in New York, wrote to the New York Sun with this simple question:
“Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?”
In the age of Yellow Journalism, the fiercely competitive Sun‘s editors turned the letter to Francis Pharcellus. He responded to little Virginia on September 21, 1897:
Church’s brother, William Conant Church, owned and published the newspaper. Both had followed their father into the news business. They co-founded The Army-Navy Journal in 1863, and went on to a series of journalistic collaborations. Francis was 58 years old when he answered Virginia’s letter. (He died at age 67, in 1906.)
The New York Sun held down the conservative corner in New York journalism at the time, versus the New York Times and the New York Herald-Tribune. But it also had an interesting history, to a blogger intrigued by hoaxes. In 1835 the paper published a series of six newspaper stories falsely attributed to Sir John Herschel, a well-known astronomer, claiming to describe a civilization on the Moon — the Great Moon Hoax. The discovery was credited to a new, very powerful telescope.
In 1844 the paper published a hoax written by Edgar Allen Poe, the Balloon Hoax. Under a pseudonym, Poe wrote that a gas balloon had crossed the Atlantic in three days.
The Sun also featured outstanding reporting. A 1947 and 1948 series about crime on the docks of New York City won a Pulitzer Prize for writer Malcolm Johnson. That series inspired Elia Kazan’s 1954 movie On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden and Lee J. Cobb.
The New York Sun ceased publication in 1950.
For all of its history, the Sun and the Churches are most remembered for that defense of belief in Santa Claus.
Virginia O’Hanlon grew up, graduated from Hunter College, got a masters at Columbia, and earned a Ph.D. from Fordham Univeresity. She taught in the New York City Public School system, from which she retired in 1959. She died in 1971.
Birth of tradition
Columbia University was Church’s alma mater, as well as O’Hanlon’s. Her letter and his response get a reading each year at the Yule Log Ceremony at Columbia College, along with the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Animated, live-acting, and other television productions have been mounted in 1974, 1991, and 2009.
Is there a Santa Claus? Did Church write a credible defense? The text of the letter and answer, below the fold.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not start a “worldwide ban” on using DDT to fight malaria. EPA instead lifted a court imposed ban on use of the pesticide to fight disease.
At least a couple of times a week I run into someone who claims that environmentalists are evil people, led by Rachel Carson (who, they say, may be as evil as Stalin, Hitler and Mao put together), and that their hysteria-and-n0t-fact-based “worldwide ban” on DDT use led to tens of millions of people dying from malaria.
Each point of the rant is false.
But lack of truth to claims doesn’t stop them from being made.
Serious students of history know better, of course. Federal agencies, like EPA, cannot issue orders on science-based topics, without enough hard science behind the order to justify it. That’s the rule given by courts, inscribed in law for all agencies in the Administrative Procedure Act (5 USC Chapter 5), and required of EPA specifically in the various laws delegating authority to EPA for clean air, clean water, toxics clean up, pesticides, etc. Were an agency to issue a rule based on whim, the courts overturn it on the basis that it is “arbitrary and capricious.” EPA’s 1972 ban on DDT use on certain crops was challenged in court, in fact — and the courts said the science behind the ban is sufficient. None of that science has been found faulty, or the DDT manufacturers and users would have been back in court to get the EPA order overturned.
Reading the actual documents, you may discover something else, too: Not only did the EPA order apply only to certain crop uses, not only was the order restricted to the jurisdiction of the EPA (which is to say, the U.S., and not Africa, Asia, nor any area outside U.S. jurisdiction), but the order in fact specifically overturned a previously-imposed court ruling that stopped DDT use to fight malaria.
That’s right: Bill Ruckelshaus ordered that use of DDT fight malaria is okay, in the U.S., or anywhere else in the world.
Quite the opposite of the claimed “worldwide ban on DDT to fight malaria,” it was, and is, an order to allow DDT to be used in any disease vector tussle.
How did the ranters miss that?
Here are the relevant clauses from the 1972 order, from a short order following a few pages of explanation and justification:
Administrator’s Order Regarding DDT
Order. Before the Environmental Protection Agency. In regard: Stevens Industries, Inc., et al. (Consolidated DDT Hearings). I.F.&R. Docket No. 83 et al.
In accordance with the foregoing opinion, findings and conclusions of law, use of DDT on cotton, beans (snap, lima and dry), peanuts, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, fresh market corn, garlic, pimentos, in commercial greenhouses, for moth-proofing and control of bats and rodents are hereby canceled as of December 31, 1972.
Use of DDT for control of weevils on stored sweet potatoes, green peppers in the Del Marva Peninsula and cutworms on onions are canceled unless without 30 days users or registrants move to supplement the record in accordance with Part V of my opinion of today. In such event the order shall be stayed, pending the completion of the record, on terms and conditions set by the Hearing Examiner: Provided, That this stay may be dissolved if interested users or registrants do not present the required evidence in an expeditious fashion. At the conclusion of such proceedings, the issue of cancellation shall be resolved in accordance with my opinion today.
Cancellation for uses of DDT by public health officials in disease control programs and by USDA and the military for health quarantine and use in prescription drugs is lifted. [emphasis added]
In order to implement this decision no DDT shall be shipped in interstate commerce or within the District of Columbia or any American territory after December 31, 1972, unless its label bears in a prominent fashion in bold type and capital letters, in a manner satisfactory to the Pesticides Regulation Division, the following language:
- For use by and distribution to only U.S. Public Health Service Officials or for distribution by or on approval by the U.S. Public Health Service to other Health Service Officials for control of vector diseases;
- For use by and distribution to the USDA or Military for Health Quarantine Use;
- For use in the formulation for prescription drugs for controlling body lice;
- Or in drug; for use in controlling body lice – to be dispensed only by physicians. [emphasis added]
Use by or distribution to unauthorized users or use for a purpose not specified hereon or not in accordance with directions is disapproved by the Federal Government; This substance is harmful to the environment.
The Pesticides Regulation Division may require such other language as it considers appropriate.
This label may be adjusted to reflect the terms and conditions for shipment for use on green peppers in Del Marva, cutworms on onions, and weevils on sweet potatoes if a stay is in effect.
Dated: June 2, 1972
William D. Ruckelshaus
[FR Doc.72-10340 Filed 7-6-72; 8:50 am]
Federal Register, Vol. 37, No. 131 – Friday, July 7, 1972 pp. 13375-13376
Among creationists, in the past decade or so it has become popular to claim that much of evolution is less than sound science. In order to support that claim, specific points of evolution theory are often distorted, and specific evidence that strongly supports the theory are questioned and denied.
In a famous hoax, Jonathan Wells wrote a book, Icons of Evolution, in which he claimed ten popular stories about evolution were false.
Wells spent a chapter denying the work of H. B. Kettlewell — the famous peppered moth research, in which Kettlewell discovered a classic case of natural selection at work over a 150-year period in England. When air pollution darkened the bark of trees, peppered moths in industrialized areas with the darkened trunks, also darkened. Kettlewell ran several experiments to see whether predation by birds might be a driver of this selection event, and concluded that the lighter moths stood out on darkened tree bark, and that it was likely that predation by birds or other moth predators pushed the rise of the darker moths.
Kettlewell’s conclusions were spectacularly borne out when cleaner air lightened the trunks of the trees, and lighter moths reappeared. The selective pressure ran back toward lighter moths.
Kettlewell’s research was groundbreaking in its pioneering of new ways to study evolution in the wild. But because he was at the cutting edge, questions arose about the exact nature of his conclusions. Kettlewell tried several different methods to count moth predation, finally settling on a system of release and recapture, and counting the moths that were not recaptured as casualties to the predator. Kettlewell released moths in the presence of English titmice, who promptly found moths colored wrongly to hide, and ate them. Tits are not the chief predators of these moths, some argue, and critics wondered whether Kettlewell could accurately conclude what the predator was. Ultimately, it has become clear that Kettlewell’s conclusions are accurate regardless the predator. Scientists like Majerus and Jerry Coyne — fierce rivals now, showing the unanimity of science support for Kettlewell’s conclusions across the spectrum of science views — urge more research to refine what we know about the moths.
Critics claimed some of the steps in some of the experiments as faulty, and extrapolated that the entire conclusions are faulty. In reality, because Kettlewell got similar results with different methods, his conclusions are more robust.
When I took Wells’ chapter on moths and tracked down the citations, I discovered that each person he cited disputed Wells’ conclusions — some quite violently. The hoax, it turns out, is Wells’s claim that the story is false.
Over the past decade, while Wells and the Discovery Institute have continued their assault on science, some of the refutations of his work have fallen by the wayside.
In this page, I hope to preserve the arguments showing Wells’ work’s problems, and preserve some of the publications that have become difficult to find.
In 1999 the school board in Pratt, Kansas, considered biology curriculum and book changes. In what now appears to be practice for future fights, the Discovery Institute of Seattle, Washington, descended on Pratt with Jonathan Wells and others , urging the school board to dilute evolution in the curriculum or eliminate it, and using a variety of unusual arguments on the science to buttress their claims that the science of evolution was somehow in question.
Specifically, Wells introduced his claims on Kettlewell’s work. When they heard of the incident, some researchers scrambled to present the view of science. Bruce Grant of William and Mary College, and Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, wrote letters to the local newspaper, The Pratt Tribune, defending Kettlewell’s work and questioning Wells’ tactics and conclusions. Evolution is solid science, they said, and should be taught undiluted to students.
These letters were available on the internet at the time, but have recently become difficult to find. I reproduce them here:
The Pratt Tribune, December 06, 2000
http://www.pratttribune.com/archives/index.inn?loc=detail&doc=/2000/December/06-663-news91.txt Accessed in 2003
Jerry A. Coyne: Criticism of moth study no challenge to evolution
I have learned that the Pratt school board, apparently responding to creationist pressure, has recently revised its tenth-grade biology curriculum to include material that encourages students to question the theory of evolution. In reading the standards, I see that one of my articles – an article constantly misrepresented by creationists – is included as a supplementary reading used to cast doubt on evolution.
Except for a few creationist dissenters, the community of professional biologists has long accepted evolution as an essential theory supported by innumerable pieces of evidence. To make students think otherwise is as harmful as urging them to question the value of antibiotics because there are a few people who believe in spiritual healing.
My article appended to the Pratt standards is a re-evaluation of a classic evolutionary story in which rapid changes in the proportions of color forms of peppered moths occurred in only about 100 years. This evolutionary change is thought to be a response to air pollution, changes in the colors of trees, and increased bird predation. My only problem with the peppered-moth story is that I am not certain whether scientists have identified the precise agent causing the natural selection and evolutionary change. It may well be bird predators, but the experiments leave room for doubt.
Creationists such as Jonathan Wells claim that my criticism of these experiments casts strong doubt on Darwinism. But this characterization is false. All of us in the peppered moth debate agree that the moth story is a sound example of evolution produced by natural selection. My call for additional research on the moths has been wrongly characterized by creationists as revealing some fatal flaw in the theory of evolution.
In reality, the debate over what causes natural selection on moths is absolutely normal in our field. It is not uncommon for scientists to reexamine previous work and find it incomplete, or even wrong. This is the normal self-correcting mechanism of science. Textbook examples may be altered as additional data are found. Creationists, on the other hand, neither air their disagreements in public or admit that they were wrong. This is because their goal is not to achieve scientific truth, but to expel evolution from the public schools.
It is a classic creationist tactic (as exemplified in Wells’ book, “Icons of Evolution”) to assert that healthy scientific debate is really a sign that evolutionists are either committing fraud or buttressing a crumbling theory. In reality, evolution and natural selection are alive and well, with new supporting evidence arriving daily.
I strongly object to the use of my article by the Pratt school board to cast doubt on Darwinism. And I feel sorry for the students who are being misled by creationists into doubting one of the most vigorous and well-supported theories in biology.
Jerry A. Coyne
Professor of Ecology & Evolution
The University of Chicago
The Pratt Tribune, December 13, 2000
Bruce Grant: Charges of fraud misleading
In recent weeks your newspaper has printed letters debating revisions in high school biology curricula. Some of the correspondents have leveled charges of fraud directed at evolutionists for attributing changes in the colors of peppered moths to natural selection. As I am one of the evolutionary biologists who study peppered moths, I feel obliged to comment. Charges of fraud cannot be left unchallenged.
Some background about peppered moths is necessary. The common form of this moth species is pale gray. About 150 years ago, a black specimen was discovered near an industrial city in England. Over the years, the black (melanic) form became ever more common as the pale form became rare. By 1900 the black form exceeded 90 percent in peppered moth populations throughout the industrialized regions of England. The phenomenon was dubbed industrial melanism.
Because people knew that birds eat insects, scientists as early as 1896 suspected that birds were eating the different color forms of peppered moths selectively based on their degree of conspicuousness in habitats variously blackened by industrial soot. Extensive experimental work supports this view, although questions remain. Other scientists proposed that moths responded to the presence of pollutants by developing darker body colors. We now know from genetic analysis that the colors of adult peppered moths are determined by genes; thus, the changes in the percentages of pale to black moths over generations reflect changes in the genetic makeup of moth populations.
As industrial practices have changed in many regions, we have observed black moths plummet from 90 percent to 10 percent in the just the past few decades. Once again, we have observed significant genetic changes occur in moth populations. Evolution is defined at the operational level as genetic change over time, so this is evolution. Of the several factors known to produce evolutionary change, only natural selection is consistent with the patterns of the changes we see occurring in moth populations. Evolution examined at this level is as well established as any fact in science.
We still have work to do. We do not all agree about the relative roles of contributing factors, such as the flow of genes between moth populations in different regions, the importance of lichens on trees, where on trees moths might hide from predators, how important is differential predation, and so on. As in any branch of science, participants endlessly debate interpretations. Such wrangling is the norm, and it stimulates additional research. That is how we make progress.
Our debates have never been secret. For recent overviews of the controversies, please see http://www.wm.edu/biology/melanism.pdf [now at http://bsgran.people.wm.edu/melanism.pdf] or www.els.net/elsonline/html/A0001788.html [ now http://mrw.interscience.wiley.com/emrw/9780470015902/els/article/a0001788/current/abstract, subscription required]. Yet, unwarranted charges of fraud, fakery and cover-ups repeatedly appear in letters printed in newspapers. In your paper, Ms. Katrina Rider “asserts” the peppered moth story is a hoax. She conveys the impression that dead moths were glued to trees as part of a conspiracy of deception. She seems unaware that moths were glued to trees in an experiment to assess the effect of the density (numbers) of moths on the foraging practices of birds. Taken out of the context of the purpose of the experiment, the procedure does sound ludicrous.
But, should we blame Ms. Rider for her outrage upon learning that moths were glued to trees? No. Instead, I blame Dr. Jonathan Wells, who wrote the article she cites as her source of information. While he has done no work on industrial melanism, he has written opinion about the work. To one outside the field, he passes as a scholar, complete with Ph.D. Unfortunately, Dr. Wells is intellectually dishonest. When I first encountered his attempts at journalism, I thought he might be a woefully deficient scholar because his critiques about peppered moth research were full of errors, but soon it became clear that he was intentionally distorting the literature in my field. He lavishly dresses his essays in quotations from experts (including some from me) which are generally taken out of context, and he systematically omits relevant details to make our conclusions seem ill founded, flawed, or fraudulent. Why does he do this? Is his goal to correct science through constructive criticism, or does he a have a different agenda? He never mentions creationism in any form. To be sure, he sticks to the scientific literature, but he misrepresents it. Perhaps it might be kinder to suggest that Wells is simply incompetent, but I think his errors are by intelligent design.
Professor of Biology
College of William and Mary
Update, September 2012: Creationists appear never to learn. The hoaxed “controversy” on peppered moths continued well after these exchanges back in 2000, which I collected when creationists tried to block science in textbooks in the great Texas State Board of Education Wars of 2003. Even after losing that fight, creationists continued to carp.
Publication of Of Moths and Men, nominally a history of Kettlewell and his experiments, revived the creationist claims of error — without evidence, as the author of the book noted, but since when have creationists ever changed course because of evidence?
In the midst of the flap, Michael Majerus went back to basics. He re-ran Kettlewell’s experiments, essentially. Of course, he discovered Kettlewell was right. I blogged about it earlier, but I failed to update this post. See these other posts at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:
Also, WordPress has improved since 2007; it finds relevant links, and related stories through Zemanta. I’ve added links above, and related articles below.
More, and Further Reading:
It almost turned Dada-esque over the weekend, when a Syrian television editor mistook a “history-as-it-happened” Twitter feed for actual events.
One reason to learn history, I tell students, is so that you cannot be jived by politicians and others who wish to persuade you falsely. Add to that: So you won’t be suckered by false news reports when you’re at the editor’s desk.
I wonder how many hoaxes get started this way?
You could write it off to pareidolia, once. Like faces in clouds, some people claimed to see a link. The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, coincided with Lenin’s birthday. There was no link — Earth Day was scheduled for a spring Wednesday. Now, years later, with almost-annual repeats of the claim from the braying right wing, it’s just a cruel hoax.
No, there’s no link between Earth Day and the birthday of V. I. Lenin:
One surefire way to tell an Earth Day post is done by an Earth Day denialist: They’ll note that the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, was an anniversary of the birth of Lenin.
Coincidentally, yes, Lenin was born on April 22 (new style calendar; it was April 10 on the calendar when he was born — one might accurately note that Lenin’s mother always said he was born on April 10).
It’s a hoax. There is no meaning to the first Earth Day’s falling on Lenin’s birthday — Lenin was not prescient enough to plan his birthday to fall in the middle of Earth Week, a hundred years before Earth Week was even planned.
Does Earth Day Promote Communism?
Earth Day 1970 was initially conceived as a teach-in, modeled on the teach-ins used successfully by Vietnam War protesters to spread their message and generate support on U.S. college campuses. It is generally believed that April 22 was chosen for Earth Day because it was a Wednesday that fell between spring break and final exams—a day when a majority of college students would be able to participate.
U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the guy who dreamed up the nationwide teach-in that became Earth Day, once tried to put the whole “Earth Day as communist plot” idea into perspective.
“On any given day, a lot of both good and bad people were born,” Nelson said. “A person many consider the world’s first environmentalist, Saint Francis of Assisi, was born on April 22. So was Queen Isabella. More importantly, so was my Aunt Tillie.”
April 22 is also the birthday of J. Sterling Morton, the Nebraska newspaper editor who founded Arbor Day (a national holiday devoted to planting trees) on April 22, 1872, when Lenin was still in diapers. Maybe April 22 was chosen to honor Morton and nobody knew. Maybe environmentalists were trying to send a subliminal message to the national subconscious that would transform people into tree-planting zombies. One birthday “plot” seems just about as likely as the other. What’s the chance that one person in a thousand could tell you when either of these guys were born.
My guess is that only a few really wacko conservatives know that April 22 is Lenin’s birthday (was it ever celebrated in the Soviet Union?). No one else bothers to think about it, or say anything about it, nor especially, to celebrate it.
Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, usually recognized as the founder and father of Earth Day, told how and why the organizers came to pick April 22:
Senator Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an “environmental teach-in.” He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best bet; it did not fall during exams or spring breaks, did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events—so he chose Wednesday, April 22.
In his own words, Nelson spoke of what he was trying to do:
After President Kennedy’s [conservation] tour, I still hoped for some idea that would thrust the environment into the political mainstream. Six years would pass before the idea that became Earth Day occurred to me while on a conservation speaking tour out West in the summer of 1969. At the time, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, called “teach-ins,” had spread to college campuses all across the nation. Suddenly, the idea occurred to me – why not organize a huge grassroots protest over what was happening to our environment?
I was satisfied that if we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force this issue onto the political agenda. It was a big gamble, but worth a try.
At a conference in Seattle in September 1969, I announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. The wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air – and they did so with spectacular exuberance. For the next four months, two members of my Senate staff, Linda Billings and John Heritage, managed Earth Day affairs out of my Senate office.
Five months before Earth Day, on Sunday, November 30, 1969, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the astonishing proliferation of environmental events:
“Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation’s campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam…a national day of observance of environmental problems…is being planned for next spring…when a nationwide environmental ‘teach-in’…coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned….”
Nelson, a veteran of the U.S. armed services (Okinawa campaign), flag-waving ex-governor of Wisconsin (Sen. Joe McCarthy’s home state, but also the home of Aldo Leopold and birthplace of John Muir), was working to raise America’s consciousness and conscience about environmental issues.
Lenin on the environment? Think of the Aral Sea disaster, the horrible pollution from Soviet mines and mills, and the dreadful record of the Soviet Union on protecting any resource. Lenin believed in exploiting resources, not conservation.
So, why are all these conservative denialists claiming, against history and politics, that Lenin’s birthday has anything to do with Earth Day?
Can you say “propaganda?” Can you say “political smear?”
2014 Resources and Good News:
2013 Resources and Good News:
Good information for 2012:
Good information from 2011:
Good information from 2010:
2014’s Wall of Shame:
2013 Wall of Shame:
Wall of Lenin’s Birthday Propaganda Shame from 2012:
Wall of Lenin’s Birthday Propaganda Shame from 2011:
Wall of Lenin’s Birthday Propaganda Shame from 2010:
Spread the word. Have you found someone spreading the hoax, claiming Earth Day honors Lenin instead? Give us the link in comments.
No, Volkswagen did not announce that it will pull out of Tennessee and close its billion-dollar automaking plant in Chattanooga. Those reports are based on a hoax.
National Report put up a parody post, quoting real statements from real people, but with a lead claiming Volkswagen decided to close down the Chattanooga plant. Within a week or so, it had 63,000 shares on Facebook.
I started seeing the reports on Twitter last week, but they’ve been buzzing around for a few a while, since the union vote at the Chattanooga VW plant. Here’s the earliest I found:
Union leaders in Europe, accustomed to good relationships with management and looking out for workers, announced they might oppose further expansion of VW in the American south without unionization — but that’s the closest real news comes to what “National Report” claims.
“Unfair labor praxis?” What sorts of clues must a parody site drop before people start seeing through the hoax? Check out the author’s bio-line, while you’re at it.
Could we hope for a little bit of skepticism? After the contentious, national headline-making union vote at the Chattanooga plant, wouldn’t it make sense that an announcement the plant would close, would also make headlines? But check the Chattanooga News-Free Press. Stories there are about moving on, in Chattanooga, after the VW vote.
Nothing about closing the plant, from the newspaper that would surely be all over such a story. Or, check Volkswagen’s corporate website in the U.S. — closing their only U.S. plant would merit some mention there, don’t you think? What do we see:
- Volkswagen Group today resolved to make a voluntary tender offer of SEK 200 (approx. €22.26) per share to the shareholders of Scania Aktiebolag (“Scania”) for all Scania A and Scania B shares
- At its meeting today, the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen Group appointed Andreas Renschler (55) as member of the Board of Management with responsibility for Commercial Vehicles effective February…
Feb 21, 2014 VOLKSWAGEN REPORTS SUCCESSFUL FISCAL YEAR 2013
- With sales revenue of EUR 197.0 billion (previous year: EUR 192.7 billion), the Group’s operating profit of EUR 11.7 billion (EUR 11.5 billion) exceeded the record prior-year figure.
- Volkswagen Chattanooga employees have voted in a secret ballot election against United Auto Workers (UAW) representation.
Nothing there. Google it, Bing! it, Yahoo! it, search on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll find repeats of the hoax story, but zero confirmation from any authoritative or official source, and no mentions on mainstream media who don’t deal in hoaxes. So, can we knock off the harmful hoax recirculation?
VW is in Chattanooga to stay. VW built a $1 billion dollar, energy-efficient, state-of-the-car-making-art plant to use U.S. parts to make Volkswagens for sale in the Americas. VW is proud of it: “First and only LEED Platinum certified Auto Plant worldwide. LEED Platinum certified Volkswagen Academy.” That’s not the sort of investment a company walks away from unless in extremis — and VW is doing okay.
VW may be troubled. Their kanben manufacturing methods require active participation of the workers, and generally such a system works better when the workers are organized. The Washington Post noted shortly before the vote:
If a majority of Volkswagen’s 1,570 hourly workers vote yes, it would mark the first time in nearly three decades of trying that the UAW has successfully organized a plant for a foreign brand in the United States. This time, the union has a powerful ally: Volkswagen itself, which is hoping the union will collaborate in a German-style “works council” and help manage plant operations.
Voting against a union, then, was a bit of a poke in the eye of management of Volkswagen in Chattanooga. But it was also a poke in the eye the United Auto Workers and unions in the U.S., and conservatives are not disinclined to take a shot at friends, or work against the interests of the U.S., if they can take a shot at unions. Tennessee conservatives like Sen. Bob Corker have sworn allegiance away from the U.S. already, promising never to increase taxes regardless how badly the nation might need it (consider how such a pledge would have crippled the U.S. in fighting either of the two world wars). So Republican elected officials let their hatred of unions overcome their love of economic development, Tennessee and the U.S. — and they interfered in the election trying to tilt it against the union, Volkswagen be damned.
But close the plant? No.
Where does such a wild, and inflammatory story come from?
We’ve discussed “National Report” hoaxes here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub before.
This is just one more complete falsehood, designed to get people worked up unnecessarily and snare the unwary. National Report created the hoax almost whole cloth, duping many by offering real quotes from real people, which do not say what the headline claims.
Do false reports cause any damage? Sometimes. Consider this: Tennessee U.S. Sen. Bob Corker promised VW would announce plant expansion in Tennessee almost immediately, if the workers rejected the union. Oops. Hasn’t happened.
What else did Corker fib about? Why are so many people giving credence to National Report, an admitted fib site?