Oswald: NASA didn’t discover new constellation, change zodiac signs

An “old hoax” made the rounds on social media in July, claiming the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has discovered a new constellation and all the zodiac signs have been realigned, according to The Associated Press.

NASA is the federal agency that studies astronomy, not astrology, the AP said.


“We see your comments about a zodiac story that re-emerges every few years,” NASA said in a July 16 Twitter post. “No, we did not change the zodiac.”

In a statement posted online, NASA explained how the Babylonians created the 12 zodiac signs 3,000 years ago to match up with the 12 months on the calendar, the AP said. Although there were 13 constellations identified, they left one, Ophiuchus, represented by a serpent, off in order to align with the calendar.

Biden wrong about noncompete agreement

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden recently told a group of workers that the fast-food chain McDonald’s requires employees to sign an agreement not to work for a competitor.

“McDonald’s (is) making billions of dollars, but here’s the deal, they’ve made you all sign noncompete contracts that you cannot go across town to try to get a job at Burger King,” the former vice president said during a July 22 roundtable with the Service Employees International Union.


McDonald’s employees are not forced to sign any such contract, according to FactCheck.org.

Biden appeared to be referring to a since-deleted clause many fast-food employers used to keep workers from moving to another franchise within the same chain, according to PolitiFact.com.

McDonald’s eliminated the no-poaching clause in 2017 after the restaurant was sued by an Illinois worker who was barred from getting a job at a different McDonald’s. By 2019, 155 restaurant chains with 160,000 locations had discontinued the clause, PolitiFact said.

A campaign spokesperson told PolitiFact Biden was making the point that low-wage workers run into barriers while looking for higher-paying jobs.

Hurricane Hanna didn’t damage border wall

Hurricane Hanna crashed into Texas last week, bringing 90 mph winds, rain and flooding. Video posted on social media purported to show the storm taking down part of the border wall at the U.S.-Mexico line.


A July 26 Twitter post by Mexican journalist Yadith Valdez included the video, along with the comment, translated from Spanish, “And so, ‘Hanna’ knocked down part of the border wall that is being built between the United States and Mexico. For the fury of nature, there are no borders.”

While the fury of nature is real, the claim is not, <URL destination=” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/07/28/fact-check-hurricane-hanna-did-not-collapse-u-s-border-wall-texas/5517738002/ “>according to USA Today.

</URL>”The video circulating on social media appears to be from June 2020 when high winds caused several border-wall panels that were pending additional anchoring to fall over at a construction site near Deming, New Mexico,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Roderick Kise <URL destination=”https://apnews.com/afs:Content:9156162109″>told The Associated Press.

</URL>Raini Brunson, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the incident happened on June 5, USA Today said.

“The contractor revised its barrier panel-bracing procedures and work has continued on the project without further incident,” Brunson told the AP.

Post office says ballots don’t require 2 weeks

Following negative comments and tweets by President Donald Trump about mail-in ballots, recent social media posts have said the U.S. Postal System is telling people they must send in their ballots 14 days before the election.

One post said, “Election Day is not Nov. 3. Election Day is Tuesday, Oct. 20.”

The postal service isn’t behind that directive, according to Snopes.com. The agency did recommend voters request absentee ballots 15 days before Election Day.

“We do ask election officials and voters to be mindful of the time that it takes for us to transport, process and deliver ballots,” the USPS told Snopes.

The agency said people planning to vote by mail “must understand their local jurisdiction’s requirements for timely submission of absentee ballots, including postmarking requirements.”

In Illinois, a request for an absentee ballot can be done in-person one day before an election and five days prior to Election Day if applying through the mail or online, according to vote.org. All mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received within 14 days after the election.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.