Toyota may redesign push-button ignition
The troubled automaker says it is moving closer to adopting changes to its keyless starter system, a potential factor in sudden acceleration.
By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian
Amid its widening recall crisis, Toyota Motor Corp. said it had moved closer to adopting changes to its push-button ignition system to give drivers an added margin of safety if their vehicles accelerate out of control.
Executives at the company’s headquarters in Japan are considering redesigning the keyless ignition system, known as Smart Key, to allow drivers to shut off the engine by tapping the button three times in a row, company spokesman Brian Lyons said.
Currently, Toyota and Lexus vehicles with a push-button starter can be shut off when in motion only by depressing and holding the button for 3 full seconds, a procedure that safety experts have suggested is counterintuitive and can prolong runaway acceleration incidents.
In eastern Congo, handmade chukudu scooters rule the road
letter from congo
By Stephanie McCrummen
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, February 11, 2010
African cities often have forms of transport that reflect some facet of their character. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, tiny, blue, Soviet-made Ladas buzz along the wide avenues, mementos of the country’s Cold War alliance. In the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, a corrupt syndicate runs a fleet of banged-up minibuses with names such as Dreams, Bombastic, Mayhem and I Feel Nothing, which weave a spirited, at times nihilistic, narrative through the traffic.
In the towns and villages of war-ravaged eastern Congo, the lumpy, lava-covered roads belong to the humble chukudu: hand-hewn wooden scooters that men ride and push across the hills, hauling towering loads of charcoal, cabbage, potatoes and other stuff of daily life.
Climate Fight Is Heating Up in Deep Freeze
By JOHN M. BRODER
Published: February 10, 2010
WASHINGTON – As millions of people along the East Coast hole up in their snowbound homes, the two sides in the climate-change debate are seizing on the mounting drifts to bolster their arguments.
Skeptics of global warming are using the record-setting snows to mock those who warn of dangerous human-driven climate change – this looks more like global cooling, they taunt.
Most climate scientists respond that the ferocious storms are consistent with forecasts that a heating planet will produce more frequent and more intense weather events.
But some independent climate experts say the blizzards in the Northeast no more prove that the planet is cooling than the lack of snow in Vancouver or the downpours in Southern California prove that it is warming.
Poll finds most Americans are unhappy with government
By Jon Cohen and Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Two-thirds of Americans are “dissatisfied” or downright “angry” about the way the federal government is working, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. On average, the public estimates that 53 cents of every tax dollar they send to Washington is “wasted.”
Despite the disapproval of government, few Americans say they know much about the “tea party” movement, which emerged last year and attracted voters angry at a government they thought was spending recklessly and overstepping its constitutional powers. And the new poll shows that the political standing of former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who was the keynote speaker last week at the first National Tea Party Convention, has deteriorated significantly.
EU leaders on verge of deal to rescue Greece and save euro
From The Times
February 11, 2010
David Charter, Charles Bremner and Rory Watson
European leaders are poised to announce a multibillion-pound rescue of the Greek economy today to try to stop its debt crisis spreading to other countries and wrecking the euro.
Finance ministers from the main economies in the single currency area, led by Germany and France, worked through the night to let the EU’s new President, Herman Van Rompuy, save his first one-day summit from disaster by announcing a guarantee that Greece would not be allowed to fail.
There were sharp disagreements yesterday over how to restore market confidence in Greece, with the Netherlands continuing to argue for the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be called in despite strong opposition from Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.
Paranormal Activity ‘causing panic attacks and paralysis’ in Italy
Paranormal Activity, a horror film set in a haunted house, has caused uproar in Italy after a string of people who watched it were “paralysed” by panic attacks.
By Heidi Blake
Published: 7:07AM GMT 11 Feb 2010
The film opened in Italy with no age restrictions at the weekend, despite having been rated 15 in the UK and given an adult R rating in the US.
But the Italian parents’ association is calling for an age limit of 18 to be slapped on the film amid claims that even the trailer is terrifying “thousands” of children.
Emergency services received dozens of on calls on Saturday from cinema-goers having prolonged panic attacks after watching the film.
The most severe case was that of a 14-year-old girl who was brought into hospital “in a state of paralysis”, an emergency services spokesman said.
Parents say the trailer alone is enough to terrify their children and claim it is being screened “obsessively” on Italian television.
State of denial: Robert Fisk searches for peace in Israel
Can peace in the Middle East be achieved while both Israelis and Palestinians refuse to give ground? Robert Fisk takes a road trip through a divided land, from Ben-Gurion’s Tel Aviv villa to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the besieged Gaza Strip
Thursday, 11 February 2010
There are no armed guards on the gate of Number 17 Ben-Gurion Boulevard in Tel Aviv, just a tired, two-storey villa set back from the street and an open door that leads to a dark kitchen and a little room with a cot on the floor.
There are bricks over the window above the neat little bed – to protect its owner and his wife Paula from Egyptian bombs during the 1956 Israeli invasion of Sinai, and the 1967 war – but upstairs is the bejewelled centre of this little home, David Ben- Gurion’s library of 20,000 books. I pad through this den, scribbling in my notebook any clues to the mind of this most persuasive of Israeli leaders. Most of the books are in Hebrew – on religion, histories of the Zionist movement, research on Eretz Israel – but the creator of Israel and its first prime minister was also a linguist.
Iranians rally to mark Islamic Revolution
Thousands of pro-government Iranians are rallying to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
The BBC Thursday, 11 February 2010
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is addressing the rally, which is being carried live on Iranian TV.
Opposition leaders have also called for a huge turnout of their supporters, and there are unconfirmed reports of demonstrations in Tehran and Tabriz.
It is the most important day in Iran’s political calendar. The government has warned protests will be dealt with.
BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne says it could be the largest confrontation since the disputed election last June, and the government and opposition have chosen to make the day a huge trial of strength.
‘Teargas and shots’
Official events are being held across Iran, but the main gathering is at Tehran’s Azadi square. State TV showed tens of thousands of people filling the streets.
Sarath Fonseka supporters clash with Sri Lanka police in Colombo
From The Times
February 11, 2010
Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent
Government supporters clashed yesterday with thousands of Sri Lankans protesting over the arrest of Sarath Fonseka,the former army chief, a day after Parliament was dissolved and a snap general election called.
In Colombo, police fired teargas to disperse crowds after government supporters threw stones at opposition activists demonstrating outside the Supreme Court over the arrest of General Fonseka, supposedly for plotting a coup against President Rajapaksa.
Similar incidents were reported in two other cities. “Just a few months back, Fonseka was a war hero and now the Government is branding him a traitor,” said Rathnapala de Silva, 70, an opposition supporter.
Myanmar takes a democratic step
Feb 11, 2010
By Larry Jagan
BANGKOK – As Myanmar prepares for its first elections in 20 years, uncertainty surrounding the promised democratic transition has crippled the workings of government and raised tensions inside the armed forces. While many analysts view the highly anticipated polls as mainly a one-horse race, there is also a growing sense that the elections may not go exactly as dictator Senior General Than Shwe plans.
Even though an official polling date has not been announced, election fever has gripped the country, one of Asia’s poorest and most politically repressed. The state-controlled media are now full of reports, footage and photos of government ministers in full campaign mode inaugurating community development projects, meeting with local leaders and handing out government assistance.
South Africa honours Nelson Mandela’s walk to freedom
‘One emotion that overrode everything about those few days and the four years that followed. It was hope’
Justice Malala in Johannesburg
The Guardian, Thursday 11 February 2010
I was 19 when the ANC was unbanned. I was in the streets of Johannesburg, walking back from an interview at the University of the Witwatersrand, clutching my rucksack and worrying about not losing my way to the train station. Suddenly a huge crowd, a seething mass of singing and chanting bodies, turned the corner ahead and marched towards me.
They held posters of the afternoon edition of the Star newspaper. They were running, dancing, ululating and weeping. I joined in.
Something was wrong, though. The crowd was followed by police casspirs [armoured personnel carriers] and vans, but there was no teargas or sounds of gunshots in the air.
Rankin in Africa: Images of love in a land of conflict
When Rankin went to Congo he wanted to capture images of love in a land of conflict. He tells Claire Soares what he saw, and offers one lucky Independent reader the chance to join him for a day’s shoot
Thursday, 11 February 2010
The wizened woman cradling her baby granddaughter, the eager schoolboy balancing his books on his head, the hairdresser showing off her latest creation and the dreamy-eyed couple recalling the day they met at market.
The subjects stare dramatically out of the white canvas. It is only reading the captions that you get a sense of the reality hidden by the blank space: a country wracked by violence, lives littered with loss and upheaval. But visually extracted from the physical context of the Democratic Republic of Congo, these people are presented not as victims but ordinary folk, full of love – for a partner, for a baby, for knowledge, or simply for looking good.
Reuters: Haiti judge will free 10 Americans
Missionaries, who were accused of kidnapping, could be released Thursday
msnbc.com news services
A Haitian judge has decided to release 10 U.S. missionaries accused of kidnapping 33 children and trying to spirit them out of the earthquake-stricken country, a judicial source told Reuters Wednesday.
However, NBC News reported that no final decision had been made, though it’s possible a decision could be made as early as Thursday. A lawyer representing one told The Associated Press he expects Judge Bernard Saint-Vil to issue his recommendation to the prosecutor Thursday.