Facts Matter: Trump claim that U.S. 'never collected 10 cents' in China tariffs is false

At the Aug. 26 conclusion of the of the Group of Seven summit in France, President Donald Trump discussed tariffs, trade and the relationship between the United States and China.

At a news conference after the meeting, he told reporters that the U.S. has "never collected 10 cents" from China before his presidency.

But that is incorrect, according to The Washington Post. The U.S. began collecting tariffs on Chinese imports shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War.

During his first year in office, President George Washington signed the Tariff Act of 1789, although trade between the United States and China had already been established, the Post said.

Tariffs on Chinese goods have brought the U.S. at least $8 billion each year since 2009, according to the Post.

False info spreads along with Amazon fires

As firefighters struggle to contain fires raging in the Amazon, false information continues to spread across the internet.

Social media users are sharing incredible photos of the blaze across Facebook and Twitter, but some misrepresent when or where the photos were taken, <URL destination="">according to The Associated Press.

</URL>A nighttime photo showing flames under trees with the ground glowing was taken in 2008 by Greenpeace photographer Daniel Beltra, the AP said. The image was published in the 2009 book "Rainforests: Lifebelt for an Endangered Planet."

A photo of trees burning in a cloud of black smoke, by photographer Mario Tama, was shot in 2014 and published by the Getty photo agency.

An image of a diagonal line of fire between a burned area and untouched grass was taken in 2017 in the municipality of Apui, in Amazonas state, by Reuters photographer Bruno Kellyin.

A video making the rounds on social media shows a woman in a feather headdress from the Pataxo indigenous tribe crying as she points to a fire burning behind her, purported to be the Amazon rainforest. But the video is from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, southwest of the Amazon, and not related to the recent fires, according to the AP.

Facebook users are also sharing a video with the false claim that a helicopter is setting fires in the Amazon, the AP said. The footage is actually an effort to contain a 2018 wildfire in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Tom Arduini, the helicopter pilot in the video, told the AP he was participating in a tactic called back burning, in which fire is sprayed from the helicopter to intentionally burn dry areas to keep the wildfire from spreading.

"The area set on fire is known as the fire guard," Arduini said. "If you don't do it, the fire will continue to burn."

Another miscaptioned photo shows a jaguar and claims the animal is being rescued from the water during the recent Amazon fires. However, the image was taken in 2016 by Brazilian photographer None Mangueira during an effort to save jaguars in the Amazon, the AP said. Mangueira told the AP that the jaguar, Jiquitaia, was adopted by the Brazilian army after hunters killed his mother. In the photo, Jiquitaia is swimming with a soldier in the Rio Negro in Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas.

And National Geographic is not participating in a fundraising campaign on Instagram to raise money for the Amazon, the AP said. Several accounts have shared information, showing an Amazon rainforest fire in 1989, stating National Geographic will give $1 for every "like" on posts to benefit the area following the recent fires. Facebook spokeswoman Stephanie Otway told the AP, "we are investigating this scam and will remove accounts and content that promote it."

There have been a record number of forest fires in Brazil this year, the AP said.

Confederate commander owned slaves

The debate over removing statues and monuments honoring the Confederacy has fueled false information online, such as a recent claim about Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to

A Facebook post claims Lee was against slavery and compares that to Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Although Muhammad taught that slaves were to be regarded as humans with dignity and rights, he owned slaves, PolitiFact said.

Lee, who lived more than 1,000 years later, also owned slaves. In 1857, Lee took control of 189 slaves in two states after the death of his father-in-law, PolitiFact said. This was in addition to slaves he inherited from his mother in 1829.

Lee, who commanded the army fighting to uphold slavery, imposed harsh punishments when his slaves attempted to run away, PolitiFact said, citing historical records.

In an often-quoted 1856 letter, Lee wrote, "In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country."

But Lee went on to say that slavery was "a greater evil to the white man than to the black race," that the slaves were "immeasurably better off" in America than in Africa, and that the "painful discipline" they were subjected to benefited slaves by introducing them to civilization and Christianity, according to PolitiFact.

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

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