20 February 2014

News clips

More political stupid is as stupid does as Volkswagen says that turning down a union at their Chattanooga, Tennessee factory was a stupid mistake.

[FROM REUTERS] Workers at VW's factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last Friday voted against representation by the United Auto Workers union (UAW), rejecting efforts by VW representatives to set up a German-style works council at the plant.

German workers enjoy considerable influence over company decisions under the legally enshrined "co-determination" principle which is anathema to many politicians in the U.S. who see organized labor as a threat to profits and job growth. Chattanooga is VW's only factory in the U.S. and one of the company's few in the world without a works council. "I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again," said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW's works council. "If co-determination isn't guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor" of potentially building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also on VW's supervisory board, said.

Osterloh's comments were published on Wednesday in German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. A spokesman at the Wolfsburg-based works council confirmed the remarks.

"The conservative politicians stirred up massive, anti-union sentiments," Osterloh said. "It's possible that the conclusion will be drawn that this interference amounted to unfair labor praxis."

Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker, a staunch opponent of unionization, said last Wednesday after the first day of voting that VW would award the factory another model if the UAW was rejected.

What’s Causing the Huge Spike in Earthquakes in Oklahoma? Fracking!
suggests an article in The Nation.

A dramatic uptick in earthquakes has been shaking central Oklahoma this year, continuing a recent trend of unusually high earthquake activity in the state and leading scientists to speculate about a possible link to oil and gas production there.

The map on the right side of this page is of earthquakes recorded by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in the past thirty days (each quake is marked by a dot on the map), Oklahoma is a clear hot spot.

Nicholas van der Elst, a post-doctorate research fellow at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, says the “most reasonable hypothesis” to explain Oklahoma’s spike in earthquakes is they’ve been triggered by injection wells used for oil and gas production. “The burden of proof is on well operators to prove that the earthquakes are not caused by their wells.”

In fact, there have been more than 500 earthquakes in Oklahoma this year and 150 last week.

Porsche to 911 GT3 owners: Stop driving the car!

For all my friends who shelled $130K [USD] (you know who you are) unfortunately the last laugh is on you. It seems the engine can catch fire.

The 911 GT3 can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 3.3 seconds, with a top speed of 195 miles per hour.

The problem affects 785 GT3 cars from the 2014 model year, including 408 in the U.S.

The car maker is contacting the owners of the 911 GT3s directly and offering to pick up the vehicles so that it can inspect the engines at a dealership. [FROM CNN Money]

IMAGE SOURCES: (1) Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga,Tennessee: Reuters/Christopher Aluka Berry (2) USA Earthquake map: US Geological Survey (3) Yellow Porsche - Ingo Wagner AP Image Bank

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