It’s beyond comprehension why a company like Volkswagen, long vaunted as the home of “the people’s car,” would direct a “clean diesel” advertising campaign that was utterly fraudulent.
Whatever the rationale of company executives, Volkswagen paid dearly for its dishonesty: a $14.7 billion settlement with the federal government—one of the largest consumer class-action payouts in American history.
The New York Times editorial was merciless: “For years Volkswagen, one of the world’s largest automakers, installed software in 11 million diesel cars that allowed the company to cheat on laboratory tests for emissions of pollutants causing respiratory diseases.
“The vehicles belched nitrogen oxides at 40 times the levels permitted under the Clean Air Act. Most of the cars were sold in Europe but 500,000 were bought by Americans.
“American owners can sell back the cars to the company at their pre-scandal cost or have them repaired. In addition, owners will receive between $5,000 and $10,000 in compensation depending on whether cars have two-or three-liter engines.”
Volkswagen will also must pay $2.7 billion into a fund used on projects to mitigate the environmental damage caused by the deception.
SWISS DO IT RIGHT
Rather than knowledge of history as America requires for an immigrant to become a citizen, Switzerland has a better way. It insists that immigrants are well-assimilated into society and respect customs and traditions.
Swiss authorities recently rejected the naturalization application of two Muslim girls who refused to take school swimming lessons with boys. The girls from Basel, Switzerland, said their religion prevented them from taking part in swimming lessons with males. The Swiss officials replied that then they can’t become citizens.
In another case reported by USA TODAY, two Muslim brothers refused to shake hands with their woman teacher, citing religious prohibition. The Swiss authorities cited common courtesy, rejecting their citizenship application.
Bully for the Swiss.
MORE IRRELIGION IN THE NAME OF RELIGION
A Saudi Arabian was a dedicated employee of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice—the religious police.
But he made the “mistake” of questioning the rigid rules of Islam while serving in the Holy City of Mecca. He paid the price for his honesty.
The New York Times reported that he was threatened with torture for his doubts about prohibiting alcohol and the unauthorized mixing of men and women.
The man, Ahmed al-Ghamdi, violated the nation’s strict puritanism. He criticized the Koran and the stories of the Prophet Muhammad. Why, the Saudi authorities argued ridiculously, the society and nation would collapse if such conduct was tolerated.
Saudi Arabia is irreligious in the name of religion.
DISASTER AND NOSTALGIA
Few people ever heard of Ellicott City, Md., recently in the news because of devastating flooding.
The tiny town, 14 miles west of Baltimore, was pummeled by torrential rains that killed two people, featured dramatic rescues, tossed 190 vehicles onto the extensively sloped Main Street, destroyed five homes, wrecked store fronts and ripped up sidewalks.
Why do I repeat what was extensively reported by the Associated Press? Nostalgia. I covered Ellicott City in Maryland’s Howard County as a young reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun six decades ago.
The picturesque town with its colorfully painted store fronts and interesting characters produced a lot of good copy.
The weekly Reno News & Review recently came out with its annual edition of the “Best of Northern Nevada.” It features the public choices of the best bartenders, cops, artists, bookstores, banks, parks, casinos, neighborhoods and cultural sites.
It listed one of the best Food & Drink emporiums in Reno: “The Greasy Spoon,” the Gold ‘n’ Silver Inn at 790 W. Fourth St.
More nostalgia. I met my wife, Mary, there for our first date, a luncheon on Jan. 16, 2001. (My memory is not that good. I looked it up in my tell-it-all-to-myself diary.) We had been exchanging warm emails for two years but she refused to go out with me. Happily, she changed her mind.
To make a long story short, we got married in the wedding chapel at South Lake Tahoe, Nov. 24, 2001. This marriage, with all the ups and downs of two strong-willed people, turned out to be the wisest thing I ever did.
Jake Highton is an emeritus professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)