22 Feb

Events of Interest and Analyses

Nato raid ‘kills Afghan civilians’

Up to 33 feared dead in Urzugan air attack, prompting General McChrystal to apologise.
‘Marjah just the beginning’
Civilians flee Marjah fighting
Pakistan’s motives questioned
Healing touch in Helmand
The battle for Afghanistan
Blog: Police key to stability


West Bank village under threat

 An Israeli court will soon decide on the demolition order of Khan al-Ahmar – a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank – so that Israeli homes can be built in its place.Regavim, a rightist settler group, is lobbying for the move, which would make about about 100 families homeless.Israeli authorities have already given orders to knock down a school and many shacks in the village.Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland reports from Khan al-Ahmar, one of the many Palestinian communities under threat.


Toyota Cited $100 Million Savings After Limiting Recall

By MICHELINE MAYNARD, NYT, February 22, 2010

Toyota estimated that it saved $100 million by negotiating with regulators for a limited recall of 2007 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES models for sudden acceleration, the same problem that has since prompted it to recall millions of cars, documents turned over to a Congressional committee showed Sunday.

The estimate was in a confidential presentation from July 2009 listing legislative and regulatory “wins” for the company. The presentation was among thousands of pages of documents provided as a result of subpoenas by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, one of three panels holding hearings in the next two weeks on Toyota’s safety problems.

The carmaker’s chief executive, Akio Toyoda, is set to testify before the oversight panel on Wednesday. The House Energy and Commerce Committee opens the round of hearings on Tuesday, while a Senate committee will meet on Toyota next week.

Since last fall, Toyota has recalled more than eight million vehicles worldwide in two separate actions related to complaints about accelerator pedals becoming stuck. It temporarily stopped selling and building vehicles in the United States and Canada that were involved in the recalls, and dealers have begun repairing models that could be affected by the defect.

The company, which has announced other recalls, including one involving the brakes on its popular Prius hybrid, estimates the recalls could cost it $2 billion, including repairs and a decline in sales.

The Toyota presentation was prepared last summer when Yoshimi Inaba, the president of Toyota’s North American operations, was in Washington for meetings with its staff. Mr. Inaba is among the officials set to testify at the hearings this week. The document was first reported Sunday by The Detroit News.

In the document, Toyota officials said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which investigates safety complaints, had become “more sensitive to public/Congressional criticism, resulting in more investigations and more forced recalls.”

But the company said it had achieved “favorable safety outcomes” and “secured safety rulemaking favorable to Toyota.”

Among those rulings was a 2007 recall of the Camry and Lexus ES 350 sedans for complaints that their accelerator pedals could become stuck.

In the document, Toyota said it had “negotiated an equipment recall” without a finding of a defect, saving the company $100 million. Rather than be required to fix the cars, Toyota recalled 55,000 all-weather floor mats, sold as optional equipment, which it said could become lodged under the accelerator pedal.

It also said it had avoided an investigation into the Tacoma, a pickup whose undercarriage could be affected by rust. Toyota offered to repair or, in some cases, replace damaged Tacomas built from 1995 to 2004. Toyota also said it had saved millions of dollars by delaying federal safety rules affecting other models.

In a statement Sunday night, Toyota did not specifically address the savings mentioned in the document. “Our first priority is the safety of our customers, and to conclude otherwise on the basis of one internal presentation is wrong,” the company said.

But Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Representative Darrell Issa of California, the oversight committee’s senior Republican member, said the document raised questions. “Did regulators do their due diligence once problems were brought to their attention? Did Toyota raise potential safety problems with regulators as soon as they knew a problem existed?” Mr. Bardella asked.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been critical of the handling of the recalls.

“Unfortunately, this document is very telling,” Olivia Alair, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, said in a statement. “We’re going to hold Toyota’s feet to the fire and make sure they do what’s necessary.”

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Henery Schaffer

Hello. I was reading someone elses blog and saw you on their blogroll. Would you be interested in exchanging blog roll links? If so, feel free to email me.


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