Volkswagen’s Dirty Diesel

by Breanna Racher

Protecting the environment is a high priority for most consumers in the worldwide market today, especially when it comes to purchasing vehicles that they will use daily. For auto companies, there is a constant race to produce the cleanest, most efficient, and most affordable cars in order to succeed. The German car company, Volkswagen, supposedly had succeeded in all of these requirements. However, in 2008, the company released a line of “Clean Diesel” cars; these cars claimed to run on diesel fuel (which has higher fuel efficiency), but release fewer emissions than the standard car at that time. These cars were first introduced into the US market in 2009 and the company received environmental awards for their accomplishments. All appeared to be smooth sailing for the company, until a group of five scientists from West Virginia University conducted a test on three diesel cars, two of which were Volkswagens.

When cars are officially tested for emissions, they go through “laboratory dynamometer testing,” which consists of placing the car onto a treadmill-like machine and measuring the emissions released over a period of time at varying speeds. When the Volkswagen clean diesel cars went through these testings, their emission levels were well above the safe levels. The scientists at West Virginia University also tested the two Volkswagen cars on live road tests. The results they received, however, far exceeded legal limits set by both European and US standards. The scientists tested the cars repeatedly and got the same results each time. After presenting their results to the Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental organizations, and after a year long investigation, an answer to the discrepancies in test results was finally revealed.

It was revealed that Volkswagen used a software commonly called a “defeat device” in order to pass regulation tests without actually meeting the standards. The device allowed the car to hold the emissions in until the steering wheel was turned. Since the vehicles are on a treadmill-style device during lab testing, the cars do not make any turns and Volkswagen was able to cheat their emission amounts. After the company admitted to their crime, they revealed that 11 million cars containing the “defeat devices” were produced and distributed internationally. Volkswagen claimed they would spend $18.2 billion in order to compensate for the emissions and to recall and refit the vehicles involved. In 2017, Volkswagen plead guilty to criminal charges and a US Federal judge ordered the company to also pay a $2.8 billion criminal fine.

This scandal raised awareness about other automobile companies that are thought to be guilty of the same the same fraudulent crime. Because of this scandal, the EPA and other regulators have made efforts to further investigate their tactics and the ways that the testing system was prone to different types of cheating.


Gift Guide

by Breanna Racher

Finding the right gifts for your family and friends can be one of the hardest tasks during the holiday season. Here, you will find a detailed guide to help you navigate the intricate art of gift giving!

  1. ENO Single Nest Hammock // This is perfect for the adventurist in your life who is always ready for anything. Get this from ENO online for $59.95. 

    Click here to purchase
  2. Faux fur pom pom hair ties // For your most glamorous friend. With these accessories they will be able to compete with the most extravagant of Christmas trees.  Get these cute accessories at Target for only $5.00.

    hair ties
    Click here to purchase
  3. Triad Ball Drop Earrings // These earrings are sure to be a showstopper at any holiday party.  You can find these beauties at Target for $12.99.

    drop earrings
    Click here to purchase
  4. Women’s Furry Sleep Mask // For anyone needing to catch some Zzzs this holiday season. You can get this dreamy mask at Target for only $4.00. 

    Click here to purchase
  5. Women’s Navy Stripe Pajama Set and Cream Fuzzy Robe // Anyone would be happy to receive this cozy pajama combination; it’s sure to be the gift fought over during Dirty Santa.  These can be found at Target. The pajamas are only $24.99 and the robe is just $20.00. 

  6. Jacquard-knit Sweater, Open Shoulder Blouse, and Wide-cut Satin Suit Pants // These fashionable clothes would be perfect for the trendsetters in your life. You can find all of these trendy clothes online or in-store at H&M.  The sweater is $19.99, the blouse is $24.99, and the pants are $59.99.

I hope this guide has helped you find the perfect gifts this holiday season! Happy Holidays from MSM Newspaper!



Las Vegas Shooting: an American Tragedy

By Breanna Racher

On the night of October 1, 2017, the deadliest mass shooting by one individual in all of American history took place at the Las Vegas strip. This individual was Stephen Paddock from Mesquite, Nevada. Around 10:00pm, he fired thousands of rounds from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel down to where the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival was being held. During singer Jason Aldean’s performance, Paddock broke two of the hotel room’s windows and fired into the audience. The gunfire continued for a span of ten minutes. 59 people were killed, including the gunman, who shot himself in the head, and 498 people were injured. For many, the first thing they saw the next morning was notifications about the tragedy on their phones, leaving the entire country in disbelief.  Many celebrities and everyday people offered their condolences through prayers, donations, and social media posts.

 When police invaded Paddock’s hotel room, they found 23 firearms, a large amount of ammunition, and high-capacity magazines that were capable of holding 100 rounds of ammunition a piece. He also had a bump fire gun stock, which allowed him to shoot 90 bullets in 10 seconds. This event has brought up the concern of gun laws and regulations in the United States, with many people claiming that Paddock could not have done as much damage as he did if he did not have access to these semi-automatic weapons. While there is not a solution to this debate yet, the one thing all Americans can agree on is that these acts of terror need to end.

photo by David Becker/Getty Images

A Spontaneous Connection

By Breanna Racher, senior writer

As the Michigan State University sign became visible to us, the only thing on our minds was “we are here to win.”

The Odyssey of the Mind team was finishing up it’s long and tedious journey from Little Rock, Arkansas, to East Lansing, Michigan. We checked into our dorm rooms and went down to the lobby to practice for the Spontaneous category; this category tests a team’s ability to come up with creative answers in a limited time period. The team members do not know the problem until they walk into the room. The year before, our team was named first in the world in the Spontaneous category.

While we were practicing our verbal Spontaneous problem, a coach from a different team walked up to our coach.

“Alright girls, now we’re going to try a spontaneous problem with these young ladies,” our coach, Deborah Baldwin, said to us after speaking with the other group’s coach for a moment.

A group of seven young girls sat next to us and anxiously waited for the problem. After they struggled for a few rounds, we saw their answers begin to improve. Pretty soon, the girls’ answers started to compare to ours. They were ready to compete.

After the girls went back up to their rooms, the coach thanked us for helping. Those young girls had a chance to see and work with a talented, independent, and most importantly, all-girls team that had conquered a large part of the competition. Our team didn’t immediately realize the influence we had on those little girls.  Later, however, we came to realize that by witnessing our teamwork, confidence, and creativity, those girls had a chance to see what practicing and building each other up as women can do.

Influencing the lives of young women was more valuable to our team than any trophy ever could be.