Toyota faces massive legal liability
Legal expenses and damages could add billions to Toyota’s recall costs, with dozens of suits pending over injuries and deaths and at least 30 seeking class-action status over lost use of vehicles.
By Jerry Hirsch and Stuart Pfeifer
February 12, 2010
Toyota Motor Corp.’s massive recalls for acceleration and braking problems are creating a huge legal liability for the company — and Toyota owners may share in the pain.
The Japanese automaker faces dozens of lawsuits over injuries and deaths attributed to safety problems, with many more suits expected. Lawyers and legal experts said the lawsuits could be particularly expensive for the automaker if plaintiffs prove that Toyota was aware of problems but failed to correct them.
On top of that, there are at least 30 lawsuits seeking class-action status to recover damages for the reduced value of the cars and the lost use of vehicles during repairs.
Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus Into Rolling Study Hall
By SAM DILLON
Published: February 11, 2010
VAIL, Ariz. – Students endure hundreds of hours on yellow buses each year getting to and from school in this desert exurb of Tucson, and stir-crazy teenagers break the monotony by teasing, texting, flirting, shouting, climbing (over seats) and sometimes punching (seats or seatmates).But on this chilly morning, as bus No. 92 rolls down a mountain highway just before dawn, high school students are quiet, typing on laptops.
Morning routines have been like this since the fall, when school officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-tech experiment has had an old-fashioned – and unexpected – result.
Single Mother Is Spared Court-Martial
By JAMES DAO
Published: February 11, 2010
Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old Army cook and single parent, was days from deploying to Afghanistan last fall when her mother backed out of an agreement to take care of her 10-month-old son for the duration of her one-year tour.
Specialist Hutchinson’s mother, Angelique Hughes, had a child of her own at home and was also caring for a sick sister while running a day care center from her home in Oakland, Calif. Feeling overwhelmed, Ms. Hughes took the boy back to Savannah, Ga., where Specialist Hutchinson was based, and begged her to find someone else.
5% back letting gays serve openly
By Ed O’Keefe and Jennifer Agiesta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 12, 2010
Three-quarters of Americans say that they support openly gay people serving in the U.S. military, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a finding that could lend momentum to the Obama administration’s effort to dismantle the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”The level of public support for allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly far outpaces that in the spring of 1993, when Congress and the Clinton administration established the policy.
Civilian and military officials held their first meetings this week to begin a year-long review of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which forbids commanders to ask about service members’ sexuality and requires the discharge of openly gay men and women.
Spain’s economic blind spots
Spain is not facing up to the severity or singularity of its financial crisis, largely caused by its property bubble
guardian.co.uk, Friday 12 February 2010 08.00 GMT
Spain is facing a credibility crisis. Property prices are crashing, wiping out a large part of many families’ wealth and leaving banks with billions of euros in loans, which look increasingly risky in a country where up to 1.5 million houses appear unsaleable.
Unemployment is more than 4 million and rising sharply. It’s clear that what once appeared to be solid public finances were nothing of the sort but were in fact an illusion based on bloated and unsustainable revenues from a property boom.
But Spain’s credibility problem isn’t just economic – it’s political. For if it is to win back the trust of the markets it needs to show that it can diagnose the extent of its financial problems, take the necessary measures to correct them and find the national willpower to carry them out.
Cracks appear in Europe’s response to Greek crisis
Words of support for stricken eurozone economy – but no cash
By Sean O’Grady and Vanessa Mock in Brussels Friday, 12 February 2010
A divided European Union retreated from launching a multi-billion euro rescue package for Greece yesterday, its leaders attempting instead to talk their way out of the worst financial crisis in the bloc’s half century history. The Greek budget deficit is destabilising the entire continent but the EU’s heads of government opted to issue a statement of “solidarity” with Athens. They promised that member states of the Euro will take “determined coordinated action, if needed, to safeguard financial stability in the euro area as a whole. The Greek government has not requested any financial support”.
Iran touts nuclear gains and quashes protests
Huge numbers of pro-government marchers join annual rally President taunts West with boasts about uranium enrichment
y Katherine Butler, Foreign Editor Friday, 12 February 2010
Iran’s embattled regime mobilised hundreds of thousands of supporters to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution yesterday as its hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad taunted Western powers with the defiant boast that Iran was now “a nuclear state”. He said Iran would not be bullied by international pressure into curbing its nuclear ambitions and had already produced the first batch of uranium enriched to a level that could equip it with a nuclear weapons capability.
Anti-government protesters had hoped to use revolution day celebrations for a big display of defiance, but a massive security clampdown choked off the threat of major disruption.
Simon Weisenthal Centre to build ‘tolerance museum’ on Arab graveyard
From The Times
February 12, 2010
Sheera Frenkel in Jerusalem
The tombs are crumbling and overturned in the ancient Muslim cemetery of Mamilla but they do not mean any less to those whose relatives are buried here.
Dyala Husseini-Dajani and her husband, who belong to two of the oldest Arab families in Jerusalem, point to the areas where their ancestors are buried. Soon, she fears, there will be nothing left of the burial plot – established in the centre of Jerusalem more than 400 years ago – as the entire area is earmarked for demolition to make way for a new “Museum of Tolerance”, a £160 million complex sponsored by the US-based Simon Weisenthal Centre. “How can they not see the irony of this so-called Museum of Tolerance?” Mrs Husseini-Dajani asked.
Chinese activist flies home after three months at Tokyo airport
Feng Zhenghu arrives in China after protest against refusal to let him enter the country
Associated Press, Shanghai
guardian.co.uk, Friday 12 February 2010 07.51 GMT
A Chinese activist who spent more than three months camped inside Tokyo’s international airport as part of a protest flew home to China on Friday and was allowed into the country.
Feng Zhenghu arrived on a flight from Narita International Airport, where he camped from early November until last week to protest against China’s refusal to let him enter the country.
His entrance into China comes after eight previous attempts since June where Chinese authorities refused to allow him in. Feng has angered the local government by supporting student protests and accusing local authorities of wrongdoing.
Japanese whalers splashed with acid during clash with protesters
Three crew members of a Japanese whaling vessel have suffered face and eye injuries from acid fired by anti-whaling protesters during their latest clash in the Antarctic Ocean, their Japanese employers said.
Published: 7:00AM GMT 12 Feb 2010
The Sea Shepherd protesters said they lobbed butyric acid, produced from stinking rancid butter, which they often aim at the whalers to try to disrupt the annual Japanese hunt. The activists maintain that butyric acid is nontoxic.
The injuries were the first sustained by Japanese whalers this year during confrontations with Sea Shepherd.
Glenn Inwood, spokesman for Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research, said the injuries were not serious, but he cautioned that butyric acid can cause temporary blindness.
The injuries occurred during a confrontation of several hours between two Sea Shepherd boats – the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker – and four Japanese vessels.
Locky Maclean, first mate on the Steve Irwin, said that the acidic substance thrown was rancid butter.
Rainbow Nation puts troubles aside to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela
From The Times
February 12, 2010
Jonathan Clayton in Cape Town
Nelson Mandela made a rare public appearance to attend the state opening of South Africa’s parliament, in a move deliberately timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of his historic release from prison.
Mr Mandela, now a frail 91-year-old, was driven in a black limousine direct to a basement entrance of the country’s historic parliament building in Cape Town, avoiding the obligatory red carpet walk of President Jacob Zuma and his entourage.
Delighted members of parliament, from opposition parties and the ruling African National Congress (ANC), cheered and sang: “Nelson Mandela, there is none like you” as a cheerful former president, accompanied by his wife Graca Machel, was slowly ushered to his seat in the chamber.
Helping Africa Grow
By Jerry Guo | NEWSWEEK From the magazine issue dated Feb 15, 2010
Since the financial crisis hit, the World Bank has provided a record $89 billion to support development initiatives around the world. Much of this funding has gone to Africa, a special focus of president Robert B. Zoellick, a U.S. trade representative under George W. Bush. Zoellick recently sat down with NEWSWEEK’s Jerry Guo in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to talk about the continent’s prospects for growth. Excerpts:
Which model-China’s, India’s, or its own-is Africa following in terms of development?
I think it is going to follow its own model, but it can learn lessons from others. China has been extremely successful, first at creating added value through the agriculture sector and then export-led growth. In India, you’ve seen a fantastic development of the service sector. A third [model] is the European Union. One of the challenges for sub-Saharan Africa is that markets are of modest size. This makes regional integration important.