Posts Tagged ‘Law



19
Apr
10

Toyota recalls 9,400 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV in North America

NEWS
Toyota recalls 9,400 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV in North America

Tuesday, April 19, 2010

••• After duplicating a leading consumer magazine’s tests that showed its 2010 Lexus GX 460 sports-utility vehicle may be susceptible to rolling over, Toyota Motor (TM) will recall the luxury SUV to fix the potential safety problem, it said Monday.

The company will voluntarily recall about 9,400 of the vehicles to update their electronic stability control software. Known as VSC, the system helps control the SUV during a loss of traction that can occur as a result of front or rear wheel slippage during cornering.

▪ A message from Mark Templin, Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager
“Since it was launched more than 20 years ago, Lexus has built its reputation on customer respect and concern for safety. With the news from Consumer Reports that our 2010 GX 460 did not pass its “Throttle Lift-Off” test, we immediately stopped selling the vehicle and commenced vigorous testing to identify and correct the issue.

Today, I’m happy to announce that we have developed a remedy that will be quickly implemented to help address customer concerns. We will be voluntarily recalling all 2010 GX 460s that have been sold in order to update the Vehicle Stability Control system. We will begin implementing this program in the next two weeks and our dealers will be reaching out to customers shortly to set up appointments to make this modification.

Lexus is confident that the update will make the performance of the GX even better for our customers.

As announced earlier, we will provide a courtesy vehicle to anyone who has purchased a 2010 GX 460 and has concerns about driving it until the recall work has been completed.

Customers who have any questions or concerns should contact their local Lexus dealer or Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987 or at www.lexus.com/recall.”

Toyota said owners of affected models will begin receiving notices in early May. The company will provide loaners to vehicle owners who don’t wish to drive them before the recall work has been completed.

The recall follows a report last week by Consumer Reports magazine, which discovered in road tests that the GX 460 could roll over during certain maneuvers, such as decelerating onto a highway exit ramp. The nonprofit publication determined the problem was severe enough to warrant a “don’t buy” warning, its first such rating on a vehicle in almost a decade.

When subjected to a standard track test involving driving the vehicle through a turn as the driver lifts his foot off the accelerator, the rear of the GX 460 slid out until it was almost sideways before the electronic stability control system was able to regain control, Consumer Reports said last week. In a real world situation, such a control failure might cause the the vehicle to hit a curb or the side of the road, leading it to flip over.

After Consumer Reports published its findings on April 13, Toyota halted sales and production of the GX 460 and began its own tests. On Friday, Toyota said it had duplicated the problem that Consumer Reports encountered with the vehicle’s electronic stability control system.

Toyota has struggled with quality and safety issues in recent months. It recalled millions of vehicles last fall for uncontrolled acceleration problems believed to be associated with bulky rubber floor mats. Other recalls soon followed, including one for sticky gas pedals, which led to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fining Toyota a maximum $16.4 million for failing to act quickly enough in notifying the agency of the problem.

On Monday, Toyota agreed to pay the fine, but denied any wrongdoing. Toyota said that while executives could have done a better job of sharing information, both within and outside the company, “We did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem.”

▪ Lexus Canada has announced a voluntary safety recall affecting 2010 model year GX 460 vehicles to update software in the vehicle’s Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system

Toronto, ON – April 19, 2010 – Toyota Canada Inc. has announced a voluntary safety recall affecting approximately 446 2010 model year GX 460 vehicles to update software in the vehicle’s Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system.

Toyota’s vehicle and design evaluation objective is to meet or exceed customer expectations and regulatory requirements. Toyota’s engineering team undertook similar tests to confirm the issue raised by Consumer Reports on April 13, 2010 and we are confident that an update to the VSC software addresses the concern.

All Canadian Lexus dealers will have the VSC software update by end of April. Letters will be sent to owners included in this recall in early May.

No other Toyota or Lexus vehicles are involved in this recall.

• Customers who have any further questions are asked to visit www.lexus.ca or contact Lexus Canada at 1-800-265-3987.

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16
Apr
10

Toyota recalls 600,000 mini-vans over corrosion on spare-tire cable

NEWS
Toyota recalls 600,000 mini-vans over corrosion on spare-tire cable

Friday, April 16, 2010

••• Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday it was recalling 600,000 Sienna minivans sold in the United States to address potential rusting spare tire cables that could break and create a road hazard in the latest safety problem to strike the beleaguered automaker.

The recall came as House investigators said they planned to hold another congressional hearing in May to review potential electronic problems in runaway Toyotas. The Japanese automaker has recalled more than 8 million vehicles because of faulty accelerator pedals, humbling a car company long known for its quality and safety.

Company leaders vowed to respond quickly to the safety concerns.

Toyota said its latest recall covered the 1998-2010 model year Siennas with two-wheel-drive that have been sold or registered in 20 cold-climate states and the District of Columbia. Toyota said rust from road salt could cause the carrier cable that holds the spare tire to rust and break, allowing the tire to tumble into the road. The problem could threaten the safety of other drivers.

Toyota said it was unaware of any accidents or injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had received six complaints of spare tires falling off Siennas.

The company said it was working on a fix for the problem. In the meantime, customers will receive a notice telling them to bring their vehicle to a dealership for an inspection.

• The recall involves Siennas in the District of Columbia and the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

“Toyota is listening to its customers attentively, and we want to make sure their voices are heard,” said Steve St. Angelo, Toyota’s chief quality officer for North America.

St. Angelo said the company was providing free inspections of the spare tire carrier cable across the nation, including states not included in the recall. Owners can call (800) 331-4331 for more information about the recall.

Lawmakers remain focused on the spate of recalls affecting the company. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., a subcommittee chairman, said they plan to hold a May 6 hearing to look into potential electronic causes of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles.

Toyota has said it has found no evidence of electronic problems, attributing the issues to sticking gas pedals and accelerators that can become jammed in floor mats.

Toyota said in a statement Friday it was “more than willing to meet with the committee and discuss the ongoing testing related to our electronic throttle control system, as well as the steps we are taking to improve our quality assurance processes. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive.”

The Transportation Department has fined the company $16.4 million for failing to promptly notify the government about defective gas pedals among its vehicles. Toyota has until Monday to agree to the penalty or contest it. The fine is the largest civil penalty ever issued to an automaker by the government.

Transportation officials have not ruled out additional fines. The department is reviewing whether Toyota delayed for six weeks the late January recall of the 2009-2010 Venza in the United States to address floor mats that could entrap the accelerator pedal after making a similar recall in Canada.

Toyota recalled the Venza in Canada in December and reported to the U.S. government on Dec. 16 that the floor mats could move forward while the vehicle is in use and “may interfere with the accelerator pedal.” Toyota told U.S. authorities at the time that the floor mats in question were not imported into the U.S. but the Venza was added to the floor mat recall in late January.

Automakers are required to notify the U.S. government within five business days when they find a potential safety defect.

Waxman and Stupak, meanwhile, have asked Toyota and outside consulting firm Exponent Inc. to provide documents detailing a review of possible electronic problems in its vehicles. Exponent, which was hired by Toyota, said in an interim report it could find no evidence that electronic malfunctions had caused sudden unintended acceleration.

Committee investigators said in February that the Exponent testing was flawed because it studied only a small number of Toyota vehicles and consumer groups have said electronics could be the cause of the acceleration problems. Reviews of some high-profile crashes in San Diego and suburban New York have failed to find either mechanical or electronic problems.

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15
Apr
10

Mazda Recall Adds To Japan’s Car Woes

NEWS
Mazda Recall Adds To Japan’s Car Woes

Thursday, April 15, 2010

••• Japan’s Mazda Motor will recall nearly 90,000 passenger cars domestically and in China due to an oil hose defect, the company said on Thursday.

The company, which is part owned by U.S. auto giant Ford, will start recalling 35,181 units in Japan and some 54,000 in China of the Mazda 3, known as the Axela in Japan, the automaker’s most popular model.

Mazda said the cars, produced from January 2006 to March 2009, have been recalled because an oil hose and a radiator shroud panel have been placed too close together and may be damaged by friction when travelling on bumpy terrain, leading to potential leaks.

‘The company has received two cases of complaints due to the problem, both in China,’ said a Mazda spokesman who asked not to be named.

‘No accident because of it has been reported.’

The Mazda 3 compact car is widely sold in Japan, China and Europe, said the spokesman, who added that no decision had yet been taken if the recall will affect the European market.
Japanese car maker Toyota has suspended worldwide sales of the Lexus GX 460 sport utility vehicle due to a roll-over risk, saying it will test all its SUVs for safety.

‘The company has decided to suspend the SUV’s sales worldwide …,’ Toyota spokeswoman Mieko Iwasaki said on Thursday.

The move comes a day after Toyota suspended sales of the GX in the U.S. and Canada after U.S. magazine Consumer Reports gave the SUV a rare ‘Don’t Buy: Safety Risk’ rating.

The report claimed that when pushed to its limits, the rear of the GX ‘slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways before the electronic stability control system was able to regain control’.

Having now suspended the SUV’s sales worldwide, Toyota said it will work on analysing potential safety risks in the model which has sold 6000 units, as well as its other SUVs.

Toyota will start testing all the other SUV models, including the Land Cruiser, Land Cruiser Prado and Rav4 but the company will continue to sell those models.

The car maker has recalled millions of vehicles worldwide since late 2009, mostly over a series of problems linked to ‘unintended acceleration’.

Toyota, which overtook General Motors in 2008 as the top-selling car maker, has been bedevilled by a series of safety issues that have raised questions about whether it sacrificed its legendary quality to become world number one.

The recalls have caused an outcry in the U.S., with Toyota executives hauled over the coals in the US Congress and the company’s previously stellar reputation for safety left in tatters.

The company faces a record $16.4 million fine in the U.S. for its failure to notify authorities quickly about vehicle safety problems.

• Customers who have any questions or concerns should contact Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25 LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987.

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13
Apr
10

Facebook rejects suggested ‘Panic Button’ for pages

NEWS
Facebook rejects suggested ‘Panic Button’ for pages

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Facebook has announced an overhaul of its online safety measures that include the redesign of its abuse reporting system. But British users are concerned the new features still don’t go far enough.

Facebook’s “Safety Center” features new tools for parents, teachers, teens and law enforcement; it’s the first major endeavor from the social networking site and its four-month-old global safety advisory board.

Some new features of the safety center include four times more content on staying safe, such as dealing with bullying online, an interactive portal and a simpler design. But the company has not announced the installation of a panic button on every page as British officials had urged it to do.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said the social networking giant did not agree to his demands outright at a meeting in Washington but he felt they were moving in the right direction.

Speaking after a four-hour meeting yesterday, Mr. Gamble said Facebook was close to “doing the right thing” but urged the website to turn “words into action”.

“They are one small step away from doing the right thing,” he said.

“I am more optimistic than when I came. They are not saying no, that is very clear.

“There is no doubt they are looking to improve their position around child safety and we recognise that. What I am looking for is turning words into action.”

The showdown came after controversy in Britain over Facebook’s refusal to include a “panic button” on its pages after the conviction of a serial rapist who used the site to lure and murder a teenage girl.

Peter Chapman posed as a young boy to lure 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall to her death in north-east England.

Calls have since grown for the inclusion of the buttons – which allow youngsters who feel threatened online to quickly contact a number of sources of help, such as CEOP or anti-bullying helplines.

Politicians, police and anti-bullying groups have voiced outrage that the online giant will not bow to demands to include the system.

“In our view they are experts at creating a fantastic online environment but they are not experts in law enforcement, the power of deterrents and the reassurance it brings for mums and dads,” Mr. Gamble said.

The other problem with a “panic button” is that it could lead to a false sense of security. If someone truly is aware of an online emergency, they are better off calling 911 or its equivalent in whatever country they are in.

Related: U.K. pressures Facebook to install ‘panic button’ to protect kids GO
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13
Apr
10

GAO piracy report: A deeper look

NEWS
GAO piracy report: A deeper look

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A report released by the Government Accountability Office questions Hollywood’s billion dollar losses claims, citing a lack of evidence as the main reason for the doubts. On the other hand, the Congress-commissioned report emphasizes that piracy may also benefit the entertainment industries and third parties.

The PRO-IP Act is a United Stated law that aims to combat copyright infringement by increasing civil and criminal penalties for offenders. As part of the Act, Congress has instructed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to quantify the impact of piracy on the economy. The results of this investigation have now been published in a report.

The report puts the claimed ‘massive losses’ by the entertainment industries in a different light. After having interviewed many experts and plowed through the relevant literature, GAO writes that it cannot make any solid conclusions about the financial effect piracy has on the economy as a whole.

“Lack of data hinders efforts to quantify impacts of counterfeiting and piracy,” is one of the main conclusions from the report.

One of the problems signaled by the GAO is that government officials admit that they simply reply on statistics and reports from the entertainment industries without conducting research on their own. These reports naturally lack transparency about the source of the figures and are often written to sell a political agenda through lobbying efforts.

Although the GAO report cannot make any strong conclusions on the financial impact of piracy and counterfeiting on the economy, the writers do note that piracy can have several benefits for consumers and businesses.

“Some authors have argued that companies that experience revenue losses in one line of business—such as movies—may also increase revenues in related or complementary businesses due to increased brand awareness,” the report states.

“For instance, companies may experience increased revenues due to the sales of merchandise that are based on movie characters whose popularity is enhanced by sales of pirated movies.”

Another aspect that was mentioned is the positive impact piracy has on the revenues of third party companies. The example of routers is given in the report, but it is not hard to see that Apple’s iPod might also have benefited from the availability of pirated music.

“One expert also observed that some industries may experience an increase in demand for their products because of piracy in other industries. This expert identified Internet infrastructure manufacturers (e.g., companies that make routers) as possible beneficiaries of digital piracy, because of the bandwidth demands related to the transfer of pirated digital content,” the report reads.

One of the most interesting benefits of piracy mentioned in the report is that it encourages innovation, since this is the exact opposite of what copyright holders always argue. Unfortunately for consumers, this innovation is not always aimed at making a better product.

“While competitive pressure to keep one step ahead of counterfeiters may spur innovation in some cases, some of this innovation may be oriented toward anticounterfeiting and antipiracy efforts, rather than enhancing the product for consumers.”

The overall conclusion of the GAO is that they can’t put a number on what the financial consequences of piracy are for the economy. However, blindly trusting statics and reports from the entertainment industry is probably not a good idea, they say.

It is unclear at this point what impact the report will have on the legislation and anti-piracy measures as proposed by the PRO-IP Act.

Story Highlights:
▪ The development of technologies that enable the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works is widely recognized as leading to an increase in piracy.

▪ To the extent that counterfeiting and piracy reduce investments in research and development, these companies may hire fewer workers and may contribute less to U.S. economic growth, overall.

▪ The U.S. economy may also experience slower growth due to a decline in trade with countries where widespread counterfeiting hinders the activities of U.S. companies operating overseas.

▪ There is no government agency that systematically collects or tracks data on the extent of digital copyright piracy.

▪ Many of the experts we interviewed identified lost tax revenue as an effect of counterfeiting and piracy on governments. IP owners or producers of legitimate goods who lose revenue because of competition from counterfeiters pay less in taxes. The U.S. government also incurs costs due to IP protection and enforcement efforts.

▪ Some authors (of studies on this issue) have argued that companies that experience revenue losses in one line of business–such as movies–may also increase revenues in related or complementary businesses due to increased brand awareness. For instance, companies may experience increased revenues due to the sales of merchandise that are based on movie characters whose popularity is enhanced by sales of pirated movies.

▪ Commerce and FBI officials told us they rely on industry statistics on counterfeit and pirated goods and do not conduct any original data.

▪ According to experts and government officials, industry associations do not always disclose their proprietary data sources and methods, making it difficult to verify their estimates.

▪ There is no single methodology to collect and analyze data that can be applied across industries to estimate the effects of counterfeiting and piracy on the U.S. economy or industry sectors.

▪ The Business Software Alliance publishes piracy estimates based on a set of annual surveys it conducts in different countries. Based on its survey results, the industry association estimated the U.S. piracy rate at 20 percent for business software, carrying a loss of $9 billion in 2008. This study defined piracy as the difference between total installed software and legitimate software sold, and its scope involved only packaged physical software. While this study has an enviable data set on industries and consumers located around the world from its country surveys, it uses assumptions that have raised concerns among experts we interviewed.

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13
Apr
10

Democrats take aim at John Roberts court

NEWS
Democrats take aim at John Roberts court

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Democrats hope to turn the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings into a referendum of sorts on controversial recent decisions by the Roberts court – portraying the conservative majority as a judicial Goliath trampling the rights of average Americans.

As President Barack Obama mulls possible replacements for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, the administration and congressional aides are gravitating toward a strategy that goes beyond the goals of a run-of-the-mill confirmation fight – to define a corporations-vs.-the-common-man battle between Democrats and the high court.

In addition to building a defensive perimeter around Obama’s pick – whoever that may be – Democrats will use the hearings to attack what they view as a dangerous strain of conservative judicial activism espoused by Chief Justice John Glover Roberts, Jr. and Associate Justices Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., Antonin Gregory Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

“I don’t think people are going to tell the nominee, ‘It is terrible what the Roberts court has done — what are you going to do to reverse it?’” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), laying out the argument on Monday.

“But I think what people are going to do is say, ‘Do you share our concern about the fact that the court always seems to side with the big corporate interests against the average American?’” he added. “I think there’s going to be more of the public realizing they really do have a stake in who’s on the Supreme Court.”

Obama himself laid the groundwork for the strategy during the State of the Union speech in February, when he stunned Roberts and Alito by sharply criticizing their 5-to-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which loosened McCain-Feingold restrictions on corporate contributions to campaigns.

“The justice [Obama] appoints will be a pivotal voice on this court on issues like, for example, the one we just saw, Citizens United, where the court ruled that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals and they basically sanctioned a corporate takeover of our elections,” said Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Monday.

“Massive new spending by corporations – these kinds of decisions affect people’s lives. And the justice he appoints will be there for a generation,” added Axelrod.

Still, administration officials suggested Obama won’t seek to balance the court by tapping a controversial liberal.

Instead, the White House is emphasizing a candidate’s temperament, hoping to pick a “confirmable” candidate who shares Stevens’s personal charm and gifts of persuasion – which sometimes helped him win over swing voter Anthony Kennedy.

“The president will weigh heavily the ability of a nominee to build a consensus and win over a majority of his or her colleagues to counterbalance the increasingly ideological manner in which the business of the Supreme Court is conducted,” said an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Leahy told that he has been consulting with the Obama administration’s SCOTUS team for weeks and personally tipped off the president about Stevens’s intention to retire in January, after meeting with the 89-year-old justice in Stevens’s personal office inside the Supreme Court building.

Senate Republicans have vowed to scrutinize Obama’s pick – and have refused to rule out a filibuster if the candidate is outside the “mainstream,” according to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, dismissed the frantic pre-nomination strategizing by Democrats and scoffed at statements by Obama’s aides saying the process would have nothing to do with political considerations.

“Are you telling me they want to use the Supreme Court confirmation for political purposes? They told us we weren’t supposed to do that,” he said. “Jeez Louise, I’m confused. You need a scorecard to keep up with these guys.”

Obama is expected to decide on a nominee from a list of about 10 moderate to liberal lawyers and judges within the next several weeks.

On Monday, an administration official confirmed the names of two more jurists on that list: federal appeals court Judge Sidney Thomas of Montana and former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, the first African-American state chief judge in American history.

They join a roster of possible picks known to include Solicitor General Elena Kagan, federal Judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, a former prosecutor.

While all of the names on Obama’s shortlist enjoy solid reputations, none of them have the sheer populist pop of the justices appointed to the high court by Franklin D. Roosevelt, another Democratic president claiming to represent the common man.

Roosevelt – operating in an age before instant messaging and cable news – had more leeway in his picks, but they were an audacious bunch: William O. Douglas, who cleaned up Wall Street as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, utility-buster Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter, author of the landmark Securities Act of 1933.

“These were big personalities, really famous people with long, controversial paper trails, people with really powerful liberal records,” said Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman, who is writing a history of FDR and the court.

Regardless of the selection, Republicans on the committee will almost certainly paint any Obama nominee as a liberal judicial activist and pepper the person with familiar questions about his or her writings, decisions and speeches.

But this time, Democrats are likely to counter with their own set of questions about conservative activism – and question the judicial philosophy of Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy in their recent decisions.

Among the cases Senate Democrats intend to focus on: the politically charged Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007), in which the Roberts court denied a pay equity complaint from a female factory supervisor because she had failed to file by the three-year deadline, and the court’s 2008 decision to reduce damages from the Exxon Valdez spill from $5 billion to $507 million.

On a parallel track, Democrats, led by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), will soon introduce legislation to increase transparency among some corporate donations.

But the Citizens United case, which scrapped key sections of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws, is the one that the White House and Hill Democrats plan to target most.

Citizens United “is the most high-profile case in the last couple of years, and there’s no question, in my judgment, that the issue will be raised one way or another during the nominee’s testimony before the committee,” said Obama spokesman Josh Earnest.

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11
Apr
10

Supreme Court: The Contenders

NEWS
Supreme Court: The Contenders

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Merrick Garland, Diane Wood and Elena Kagan all have connections to Chicago, and all rose through the ranks during the Clinton years. They would face varying degrees of criticism if nominated.

Nearly a generation ago, they were three young lawyers working their way up in the Clinton administration. Now, one of them could very well be the next justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Merrick Garland was a Justice Department official overseeing the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy J. McVeigh from afar.

Diane Wood worked in the building too, specializing in antitrust law.

And down the street at the White House, Elena Kagan was taking on Big Tobacco.

Their paths later diverged. Garland stayed in Washington as a federal judge. Wood too became a judge, but in Chicago, while Kagan headed for academia.

But all three also shared commonalities – of experience, training and even geography – that have helped place them on the White House’s short list to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

All three have ties to Chicago – and by that token, to President Obama. Garland was born there. Wood and Kagan lectured at the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught constitutional law. Garland and Kagan, like Obama, are Harvard Law graduates.

All three hail from what some call the “judicial monastery” – the highest levels of government service, the bench and academia. And although they would probably face different degrees of opposition from Republicans, any one would be considered a traditional choice.

Merrick Brian Garland
Age: 57
Current job: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (confirmed by a 76-23 vote in March 1997)
Education: Harvard College, 1974; Harvard Law School, 1977

For Garland it is his background in criminal law, particularly cases dealing with terrorism, that sets him apart from others on the list to replace Stevens.

The son of an advertising executive from the Chicago area, Garland arrived in Washington as a clerk for then-Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. He never left, spending most of the 1980s in private practice with a local law firm

But Washington at the time was all but under siege from narcotics and gun violence, and Garland left the firm for public service, becoming an assistant federal prosecutor. Among the cases he handled was a drug investigation into then-Mayor Marion Barry.

“He gave up a lucrative law partnership to share an office prosecuting drug cases in D.C.,” said Nicholas Gess, a fellow prosecutor. “Drugs were rampant and getting more rampant, and Merrick saw this as something he could help change.”

From street prosecutions, he moved to the Department of Justice headquarters, eventually helping run the criminal division and serving as the principal associate deputy attorney general. From his new perch, he oversaw the prosecution of Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski and the cases coming out of the anti-government movement at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

In 1997, Garland was nominated by President Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, considered the nation’s most crucial court behind the Supreme Court.

At the outset, Garland may have the easiest path to confirmation. He is considered a judicial moderate. On the appeals court, he largely handles regulatory and national security cases, thus avoiding others involving controversial social issues.

Diane Pamela Wood
Age: 59
Current job: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago (confirmed unanimously in June 1995)
Education: University of Texas at Austin, 1971; University of Texas Law School, 1975

Wood has been a federal appeals judge even longer than Garland, since Clinton tapped her in 1995 after she served in the Justice Department for three years.

Wood obtained her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Texas, which would, if she were selected, provide the high court with geographic diversity. She spent the bulk of the 1980s as a law professor at the University of Chicago before joining the Justice Department. She is an expert in antitrust law.

Among the three top-tier contenders, her selection by Obama would be greeted most warmly by the president’s liberal base.

It would also probably trigger another bruising ideological standoff with conservatives, who contend Wood’s writings and opinions show that she believes in a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage, is markedly a supporter of abortion rights and would like to see the phrase “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

“She’s a liberal activist who was appointed to the bench and seemed to remain a liberal activist,” said Tom Fitton, head of the conservative group Judicial Watch.

Many lawyers who have argued before Wood hold a different view. Mark Rotert, an attorney with the Chicago firm Stetler & Duffy, praised her demeanor and intellect while emphasizing that the liberal jurist label is an oversimplification.

“I think in terms of what is the proper relationship between government and business, my impression is that she would fairly be characterized as liberal in those kinds of areas,” Rotert said.

On criminal procedures, however, “I’m not sure she fits the classic viewpoint of a liberal justice,” he said.

Wood, who grew up in New Jersey and Texas and lives in Hinsdale, Ill., nonetheless features a number of points on her resume sure to be picked at by Obama’s critics should he nominate her.

She had a long and close association with the late Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, clerking for him a few years after he wrote the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision, which effectively legalized abortion. It was Blackmun who delivered the oath to Wood when she was sworn in as a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 1993, Wood wrote a law review article praising Blackmun for articulating in Roe and other cases “the important insight that a core set of individual rights exist that neither the states nor the federal government may trample.”

Elena Kagan
Age: 49
Current job: Solicitor General (confirmed by a 61-31 vote in March 2009)
Education: Princeton University, 1981; Harvard Law School, 1986

Of the three candidates, Kagan may be the most inscrutable in terms of her legal philosophy.

She has never served as a judge. Most of her professional career has been moving among the powerful, first in Washington, later at Harvard.

The time she has spent over the last year as Obama’s solicitor general — the administration’s top advocate before the Supreme Court — represents the most courtroom experience she has had.

As dean of Harvard Law School, she showed an ability to build consensus between warring factions, an attribute she shares with the justice she would replace should she be chosen.

As a result, when Kagan appeared last year before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her confirmation hearing as solicitor general, two conservative law professors from Harvard were on hand to support her, including Jack Goldsmith, who has been assailed in liberal circles as an architect of the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism legal strategy.

In fact, Kagan’s views on national security alarm some liberals. During that hearing, she agreed point-for-point with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on the power of the American government to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely during wartime.

It was almost too much for Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who joked that she now understood why Kagan had once received a standing ovation at a gathering of conservative lawyers.

Born and raised in New York, Kagan is the daughter of a lawyer who was a fierce fair-housing advocate. As a student at Harvard Law, she, like Obama after her, edited the Harvard Law Review. From there, she went to Washington to clerk for liberal Justice Thurgood Marshall.

In the Clinton administration, she worked as a domestic policy advisor, helping to shape the regulatory and legal battle against the tobacco industry.

Clinton rewarded her with a nomination to the federal appeals court in Washington, but it was never acted upon by the Senate. (The slot would later go to John G. Roberts Jr., now the chief justice.)

She was named Harvard Law’s first female dean in 1993 and is credited with re-energizing the school. She also actively resisted the so-called Solomon Amendment, which cuts off federal funding to institutions that bar military recruiters from campus.

Edward Whalen, a former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and a conservative judicial analyst, calls Kagan an “unknown.”

“Kagan I see as sort of an indeterminate point in the middle between Wood and Garland. She has no judicial record. She’s clearly very liberal in her views,” Whalen said. “How that translates into how she would be as a judge isn’t entirely clear.”

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10
Apr
10

Weekly Address: Relief for the Middle Class at Tax Time

NEWS
Weekly Address: Relief for the Middle Class at Tax Time

Saturday, April 10, 2010

As April 15th approaches, the President discusses several of the tax breaks for middle class families he has signed into law. Find out more about the Making Work Pay tax credit, breaks for first-time homebuyers, rewards for making your home more energy efficient and more through our Tax Savings Tool.

All across America are good, decent folks who meet their obligations each and every day. They work hard. They support their families. They try to make an honest living the best they can. And this weekend, many are sitting down to pay the taxes they owe – not because it’s fun, but because it’s a fundamental responsibility of our citizenship.

But in tough times, when many families are having trouble just making it all work, Tax Day can seem even more daunting. This year, however, many Americans are seeing some welcome relief.

So far, Americans who have filed their taxes have discovered that the average refund is up nearly ten percent this year – to an all-time high of about $3,000. This is due in large part to the Recovery Act. In fact, one-third of the Recovery Act was made up of tax cuts – tax cuts that have already provided more than $160 billion in relief for families and businesses, and nearly $100 billion of that directly into the pockets of working Americans.

No one I’ve met is looking for a handout. And that’s not what these tax cuts are. Instead, they’re targeted relief to help middle class families weather the storm, to jumpstart our economy, and to bring the fundamentals of the American Dream – making an honest living, earning an education, owning a home, and raising a family – back within reach for millions of Americans.

First, because folks who work hard should be able to make a decent living, I kept a promise I made when I campaigned for this office and cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans. For most Americans, this Making Work Pay tax credit began showing up in your paychecks last April. And it continues this year, for a total of $400 per individual and $800 per couple, per year.

Second, because a college education is critical to the success of our workers and our economy, we’re helping to make it more affordable for millions of Americans. Millions of students and parents paying for college tuition are now eligible for up to $2,500 under the American Opportunity Credit. Along with a host of other steps we’ve taken, this will help us reach our goal of once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

Third, we’re restoring the home as a source of stability and an anchor of the American Dream. If you’ve bought a home for the first time, you’re eligible for a credit of up to $8,000. And if you bought a new car last year, you can deduct the state and local sales taxes you paid on that car.

Fourth, whether you bought a home for the first time or you’ve owned one for a long time, if you invested in making your home more energy-efficient with certain improvements like new insulation or windows, or plan to this year, you’re eligible for up to $1,500 in new tax credits. This does more than just put money back in your pocket; it’s helping create new clean energy, manufacturing, and construction jobs at small businesses across the country.

Fifth, to help working families with children through difficult times, we increased the Earned Income Tax Credit and allowed more families to qualify for the Child Tax Credit.

Finally, for those who lost their jobs in the recession and need some help getting back on their feet, we provided a 65 percent tax credit to help cover the cost of health care and made sure the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits is tax-free.

These are among the tax breaks and savings that are available to over one hundred million Americans right now. It’s also important to note that the new health reform law includes the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, and once it’s implemented; millions of Americans will finally be able to purchase quality, affordable care and the security and peace of mind that comes with it. And one thing we have not done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000. That’s another promise we’ve kept.

We’ve also made it easy to find out what’s owed to you and your family. After all, the big guys know how to find their tax breaks; it’s time you did, too. Just visit WhiteHouse.gov and click on the Tax Savings Tool. It’s already been accessed more than 100,000 times by folks who want to see what savings they’re owed and how to collect them. If you’ve already filed your taxes and missed some of the savings available to you, don’t worry – you can still amend your returns after April 15th to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

And just as each of us meets our responsibilities as citizens, we expect our businesses and our government to meet theirs in return. That’s why I’ve asked Congress to close some of the biggest tax loopholes exploited by some of our most profitable corporations to avoid paying their fair share – or, in some cases, paying taxes at all. That’s why we’re tightening Washington’s belt by cutting programs that don’t work, contracts that aren’t fair, and spending we don’t need. And that’s why I’ve proposed a freeze on discretionary spending, signed a law that restores the pay-as-you-go principle that helped produce the surpluses of the 1990s, and created a bipartisan, independent commission to help solve our fiscal crisis and close the deficits that have been growing for a decade. Because I refuse to leave our problems to the next generation.

It’s been a tough couple years for America. But the economy is growing again. Companies are beginning to hire again. We are rewarding work and helping more of our people reach for the American Dream again. And while there’s no doubt we still face a long journey together, with more steps to take, more obstacles to overcome, and more challenges to face along the way; if there is one thing of which the people of this great country have convinced me, it’s that the United States of America will recover, stronger than before.

Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.

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08
Apr
10

Toyota Executive Urged Company to ‘Come Clean’

NEWS
Toyota Executive Urged Company to ‘Come Clean’

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Toyota’s bid to present itself as a company that puts customers first has been shattered by an internal memo in which a senior American executive begged Japanese management to stop concealing safety issues from the general public.

“The time to hide on this one is over,” warned the email, “We need to come clean.”

The emergence of the email follows the decision by U.S. safety regulators earlier this week to issue Toyota with the maximum possible fine of $16.4 million. That judgment, which punishes the Japanese giant for its slow response to safety issues, has left the company in a difficult position: appeal and prolong its public grilling or accept the decision and risk admitting liability in scores of class-action lawsuits.

Written in mid-January, just days before the company was plunged into its most damaging vehicle recall ever, the email refers directly to company efforts to cover-up mechanical problems with accelerator pedals.

Before January, Toyota had only acknowledged publicly that accelerator pedals could become stuck by becoming entangled in loose floor-mats.

But the internal emails now in the hands of U.S. investigators reveal a tussle within Toyota over whether or not to inform the public over more fundamental flaws in the pedal mechanism – problems that had not at the time been fully understood by Toyota’s engineers and to which there was no clear “fix” available.

Irv Miller, who has since retired but was then Toyota’s vice president for public affairs, sent the email in response to comments by his Japanese colleague, Katsuhiko Koganei – a senior executive who had been dispatched from Toyota’s Japanese headquarters to co-ordinate with his U.S. colleagues.
Mr. Koganei argued in a previous email that the company “should not mention about the mechanical failures of the pedal”, because the cause of the fault had not yet been identified and that a statement by Toyota would unsettle motorists.

“We are not protecting our customers by keeping this quiet,” replied Mr. Miller, who then used capital letters to stress his concern, “…WE HAVE a tendency for MECHANICAL failure in accelerator pedals of a certain manufacturer on certain models.”

The email is among a massive collection of over 70,000 documents currently held by U.S. government safety investigators as they continues their probe into Toyota’s handing of its “sticky” accelerator problems. The paper trail includes a large number of internal emails and memos.

Those documents include a letter sent in 2006 to the then president of Toyota from the leader of one of the company’s unions. The letter cited direct and long-term experience from the factory floor and identified systemic “safety sacrifices” made as the company had expanded.

Toyota said that it would not comment on internal communications within the company but said that: “we have publicly acknowledged on several occasions that the company did a poor job of communicating during the period preceding our recent recalls.”

Toyota said that it had subsequently taken “important steps to improve our communications with regulators and customers”.

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07
Apr
10

FBI arrests man for threatening Pelosi

NEWS
FBI arrests man for threatening Pelosi

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Federal agents in California have arrested a man for allegedly threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Gregory Lee Giusti, 48, was arrested at his San Francisco home in the Tenderloin district shortly after noon, said Joseph Schadler, a spokesman for the FBI office in San Francisco.

Rose Riggs, Giusti’s neighbor in a public housing complex, said she saw two plainclothes and two uniformed officers take him away in cuffs. Riggs said Giusti was known for engaging in heated political debates with others in the building.

“He was not one of my favorite people. He had a real attitude problem,” she said.

The court documents are sealed and will remain so until the Giusti appears in San Francisco federal court at 9:30 Thursday morning.

“The FBI takes threats against elected officials very seriously,” Hansen said Wednesday.

Pelosi’s office issued a statement late Wednesday evening, acknowledging the arrest.

“The Speaker thanks the FBI, the Capitol Hill Police, House Sergeant at Arms, and other law enforcement officials for their professionalism in this matter,” spokesman Brendan Daly said in a statement Wednesday evening. “She will have no further comment at this time.”

Officials told The Associated Press that a man called Pelosi’s Washington and California homes, in addition to her husband’s business office, several times.

This arrest is the second such arrest in as many days: The FBI in Washington state arrested a man Tuesday for threatening Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a top Senate Democrat who also supported the legislation.

Federal officials in Philadelphia arrested a man for threatening House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) last month.

Pelosi’s office declined to comment.

Threats toward lawmakers have been especially prevalent in the weeks since Congress passed health care overhaul legislation last month. Lawmakers have had bricks thrown through their windows, threatening voicemails left and protests outside their homes.

In Cantor’s case, Norman Leboon, the man arrested, allegedly threatened the Republican and his family through YouTube videos. Cantor also got threatening e-mails. Charles Wilson, the man accused of threatening Murray, allegedly left threatening voice messages on her office line in Washington.

Threats directed at an elected official carry a different charge than harassment toward any citizen – if convicted, similar charge carries up to 10 years imprisonment and a quarter-million dollar fine. It is unclear what Pelosi’s alleged threatner might be charged with.

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06
Apr
10

U.S. Department of Transport to fine Toyota $16.4 million

NEWS
U.S. Department of Transport to fine Toyota $16.4 million

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

••• Toyota Motor Corp faces a proposed $16.4 million fine from U.S. regulators who said the automaker knowingly delayed a massive recall for defective accelerator pedals.

The U.S. Department of Transport has announced that it plans to fine Toyota Motor Corporation $16.4 million after the family-controlled automaker failed to notify U.S. transport regulators about defects that allegedly cause unintended acceleration.

According to a statement released yesterday, the investigation into the Toyota recalls by the Department of Transport revealed the world’s largest car manufacturer was aware of the so called “sticky-pedal” defect for at least four months before revealing it to safety authorities. U.S. law states carmakers must inform authorities of any problems the find within five days.

Toyota, which now has two weeks to decide whether to appeal against the decision, is yet to respond to the news.
The defect in question is at the centre of the current recall crisis that has seen Toyota recall over 8 million vehicles worldwide since November. Third-generation family head Akio Toyoda has been accused of mishandling the recalls, as he remained largely silent on the matter until February.
However, he has since attempted to rectify the company’s negative publicity, appearing in public often and personally heading a Toyota committee that is investigating the safety recalls.

Toyota has two weeks to decide its response.

The “sticky pedal” case was the only one in a string of voluntary recalls where a formal defect finding was established.

Documents obtained from Toyota showed the automaker had issued repair notices in Canada and Europe to address complaints about “sticky pedals,” sudden acceleration and sudden engine revving in late September, but did not begin a U.S. recall until late January, regulators said.

Manufacturers are legally obligated to notify U.S. safety regulators within five business days if they determine that a safety defect exists. The documents showed Toyota was aware U.S. consumers were experiencing the same problems, the Transportation Department said.

As part of the pedal recall, Toyota has offered to add a metal shim or replace them completely.

Previously, the largest fine was $1 million against General Motors Co for failing to promptly recall windshield wipers in 2002-2003 model vehicles.

Fines for violating auto regulations were increased earlier in this decade after massive recalls involving Firestone tires.
Related: Toyota to Replace Accelerator Pedals for Unhappy Owners GO
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28
Mar
10

Shaoxing City is world’s hacker hub

NEWS
Shaoxing City is world’s hacker hub

Sunday, March 28, 2010

••• An American Internet security company has named the Chinese city of Shaoxing as the world’s cyber-espionage capital.

According to a research by Symantec, almost 30 % of “targeted attacks” were sent from China and 21.3 % originated from Shaoxing in eastern China alone.

The key targets of Chinese hackers were mainly experts in Asian defence policy and human rights activists, researchers, who traced 12 billion emails for the study, said – suggesting state involvement.

Symantec is assisting the investigation into suspected hacking attacks on Google, which closed its website in China last week after refusing to censor itself on the government’s orders.
Cyber-espionage uses emails sent in small volumes with legitimate-looking attachments or documents to fool the user into letting a malicious code infect their computer.

“The ultimate aim is to gain access to sensitive data or internal systems by targeting specific individuals or companies,” the report said.

Previously, hackers in China had been able to camouflage themselves behind servers in Taiwan.

The findings show China was the source of 28.2 % of global targeted attacks.

It was followed by Romania, with 21.1 %, presumed to be mostly attempts at commercial fraud.

The United States came third, followed by Taiwan and then Britain, with 12 % of attacks.

Symantec: Internet Security Treat Report Volume XV

Symantec: RSA 2010 Francis De Souza

Symantec: RSA 2010 Kevin Rowney

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24
Mar
10

Google’s withdrawal from China pushing itself into corner

NEWS
Google’s withdrawal from China pushing itself into corner

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

•••Google’s decision to stop censoring its Chinese search engine and redirect mainland users to its servers in Hong Kong was tantamount to pushing itself into a corner and ruining its image and interests, world media and experts say.

“If Google had hoped to rally rivals to its cause, it failed. If Google was planning to embarrass China by whipping up a global debate on Internet freedom, it failed,” the Financial Times wrote in an article published Monday.

China trade economist Derek Scissors of the U.S. Heritage Foundation called Google’s move to Hong Kong “pretty close to a complete exit” that will provoke Beijing and puts Google outside the firewall with regard to advertisers and other partners.

Russian newspaper Vedomosti said Google has completely burned all of its bridges in China behind it and is unlikely to ever return to the Chinese market.

Google, the world’s top search engine, held only an estimated 30 percent share of China’s search market in 2009, compared with home-grown rival Baidu Inc’s 60 percent. Official statistics put the number of netizens in China at 384 million by the end of 2009.

Michel Riguidel, head of the Department of Computer Science and Networks at Telecom Paris Tech, said all companies pay great attention to building their own images.

Google claimed that its image is based on freedom, information exchange and respecting human rights, but the fact is that it absorbs large amounts of personal information and does research on the information without getting agreements from web users, Riguidel said.

Izumi Harada, chief fellow of the Crisis and Risk Management Society of Japan, told Xinhua that there is no question that multinational companies should follow local laws while running their businesses in other countries.

Google has breached the commitment to observe Chinese laws and regulations that it made when entering China (four years ago), he said.

Jesse Wright, a leading expert of Institute Internet, told a Russian radio station that Google has been working in China since 2005 and knows the requirements of Chinese law.

“Compliance with the requirements of the Chinese was a condition of work in this market,” Wright said. “So, trying to force China to reconsider its own censorship requirements – be it Google or others – it seems to me untenable.”

Alexey Basov, CEO and co-founder of Begun, Russia’s largest contextual ad service, said if Google quits the Chinese market, it will be a major strategic loss for the company.

At about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing time, Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond made the “stop censoring” announcement in a blog post, saying “users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored searches in simplified Chinese.”

In reaction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a routine media briefing that: “The Google case is just a business case and will not undermine China-U.S. relations unless someone politicizes the issue.”
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)
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24
Mar
10

Arguments over Google’s withdraw

NEWS
Arguments over Google’s withdraw

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Google is also citing censorship in its withdrawal from the Chinese mainland market. Some netizens and experts say foreign companies should abide by the laws of the country.

Chinese Internet users and experts say abiding by the laws of the country is an established convention. They say all this applies to all companies, including Google.

A Chinese internet user said, “China has its own system and you have to abide by the laws in China if you want to do business in China. “

Shi Xiangsheng, Deputy Sec’y Gen., Internet Society of China, said, “The foreign Internet companies must promise to respect the local customs and laws when they start business in China. And it’s also the international convention.”

Google says another factor in the pull-out was attacks by hackers.

Shi said, “We are not quite clear about the hacker attack Google mentioned. But it did not appeal to the relevant regulator or ask the Chinese government to carry out investigations on the case. “

Some say it’s debatable that Google has completely withdrawn from China, as it transferred its search business to Hong Kong.
• Source(s): CCTV (China)
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24
Mar
10

Google in hot water

NEWS
Google in hot water

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Google has recently been warned by several foreign authorities over its controversial services including Google news, Google street view, as well as the latest social network service Google buzz.

Last month, the European Union Commission said it had received various requests for anti-monopoly investigations regarding the Internet search giant. They claim Google has been filtering out its competitors on purpose in order to keep more advertisement profits.

In France, the government has formed a special team to investigate lawsuits filed by local media companies against Google. They accuse the company of profiting from their products without reimbursement. Another lawsuit was filed by Louis Vutton.

The luxury bagmaker said it has found links on Google’s website to pirated products. Italian authorities have also launched an anti-trust investigation against Google filed by the country’s print media.

Meanwhile, Google street view, which was introduced in 2007, has challenged privacy laws in Britain and Germany. Though the company has begun to obscure search results for human faces and car license plates, it is still frequently taken to court for violating privacy rights. Its latest social web service, Google Buzz, has also been accused of a privacy breach. The company was ordered by the Canadian government to explain privacy bugs, which have already triggered widespread complaints.

Google’s trouble seems to be everywhere. Recently Spanish telecom operator Telofonica accused the company of using free bandwidth for its own benefit. The company said it is considering charging Google for network use.
• Source(s): CCTV (China)
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24
Mar
10

Who will share the cheese after Google moves?

NEWS
Who will share the cheese after Google moves?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Netizens said Tuesday Google’s withdrawal from the Chinese mainland was only a “publicity stunt” while experts believed the online search giant had abandoned its cheese when no others moved it.

Google announced Tuesday morning that it had stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine Google.cn and redirected Chinese mainland users to another portal in Hong Kong.

Google’s earlier threats to pull out of China and its latest move to reroute traffic to Hong Kong were just “publicity stunts,” said a netizen named Ding Wei on the Internet industrial network www,sootoo.com.

“Google’s redirecting Google.cn to Google.com.hk is a compromised decision reflecting that the company wants to save its reputation in China,” the netizen said.

Google said in Tuesday’s statement it still intended to continue research and development and maintain a sales staff in the Chinese mainland.

Experts interviewed by Xinhua said they believed Google’s latest move was mainly out of business and market concerns, adding that Baidu and other Internet companies doing business in China would benefit from Google’s withdrawal.

“Google faces censorship in about 25 countries, but why does it only quit the Chinese mainland? Because it can not beat Baidu,” said Dr. Wang Yu, a Nanjing University lecturer.

“Google does not give up its smart phone operating system Android or other partnerships with domestic Internet companies, because unlike Google.cn, they are all promising,” said Wang who specializes in network information studies.

The domestic search giant Baidu would not be the only beneficiary of Google’s exit.

“Google’s about 30 percent market share in search services on the mainland will be absorbed not only by search engine rivals but also companies doing other search-related businesses,” said Li Zhi, a senior analyst with Analysys International, a leading Chinese Internet consulting company.

According to Analysys, Baidu occupies about 60 percent of the market share. Sohu’s Sogou, Tencent’s Soso and other new-comers including Microsoft’s Bing were all eyeing Google’s share of the market, analysts said.

Microsoft’s Beijing office said in an email reply to Xinhua on Tuesday that the company regarded China as the most important online search service market.

“The pull-out is the price to pay for Google’s move of politicizing commercial issues,” Li Zhi said.

Sean Tzou, CEO of Trina Solar Limited, a U.S. joint venture based in Changzhou of Jiangsu Province, said the biggest challenge for many joint ventures in China was their willingness and ability to adapt to the local environment.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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23
Mar
10

Toyota to Replace Accelerator Pedals for Unhappy Owners

NEWS
Toyota to Replace Accelerator Pedals for Unhappy Owners

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

••• NHTSA gets over 100 complaints on fixed Toyota vehicles.
It was reported earlier this month that some Toyota drivers are still experiencing unintended acceleration after their recalled vehicles were repaired. According to an Associated Press analysis of government data, complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles repaired under recall have nearly doubled in the past two weeks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received complaints from 105 drivers, raising the question about whether Toyota’s recall repairs are actually working.

Toyota has previously said that it is confident in its repairs and found no evidence of other problems, such as a problem in the electronics.

David Strickland, NHTSA’s administrator, did say in a statement Wednesday that the agency has found “several instances in which a dealer made mistakes in applying one of the recall remedies.” He said that the NHTSA is working with Toyota to improve instruction to dealers.

Toyota has recalled more than 8.1 million vehicles worldwide since October.
Just last week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had received complaints from 105 drivers complaining that their vehicles were still experiencing unintended acceleration issues after they took their vehicle in for a recall fix.

Toyota has now told its dealers that it will provide a replacement accelerator pedal to owners who are unsatisfied with their repairs.

Toyota sent out a memo today, obtained by the Associated Press, stating that if customers are still unhappy with with the feel of the accelerator after being repaired, the dealer can provide them a replacement pedal at no additional charge.

“A replacement pedal should only be offered to a customer after the reinforcement bar has been installed and the customer has expressed dissatisfaction with the operation and/or feel of the pedal,” Toyota said in the memo to dealers.

“If a customer is not satisfied with the operation and/or the feel of the accelerator pedal after the reinforcement bar has been installed, please assist us by assuring a replacement pedal is provided at no charge to these customers,” the memo said.

The memo addresses eight Toyota vehicles including:

▪ 2005-2010 Avalon
▪ 2007-2010 Camry
▪ 2007-2010 Tundra
▪ 2009-2010 Corolla, Matrix
▪ 2009-2010 Toyota RAV4
▪ 2008-2010 Sequoia
▪ 2008-2010 Highlander.

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23
Mar
10

Google case will not affect China – United States relations

NEWS
Google case will not affect China – United States relations
▪ China says Google issue will not affect China – United States ties

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

••• Google’s withdrawal from the Chinese mainland will not affect China-U.S. relations “unless someone politicizes the issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday.

Qin told a regular press conference the Google issue was a commercial matter and would not damage the image of China.

He said moves to tie the issue to the China-U.S. relations were “making a fuss” and “overstating the issue.”

The Chinese government encouraged and pushed for the openness of Internet and its management according to its laws and regulations, which was common practice in all countries, Qin said.

“What China is striving to prevent on the Internet is the flow of information that would pose a danger to national security and the interests of the society and the public,” he said.

“Any foreign company operating in China must abide by Chinese laws and regulations,” Qin said.

China would stick to the strategy of opening-up and the principle of mutual benefits, and welcome foreign entrepreneurs to invest and do business in China within the law.

“We will create a sound environment for them,” he said.

Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said his company would “stop censoring” in a blog post at about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing Time, more than two months after the company said it had been attacked by hackers operating in China and was reconsidering its approach to China.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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22
Mar
10

China says Google breaks promise, totally wrong to stop censoring

NEWS
China says Google breaks promise, totally wrong to stop censoring

Monday, March 22, 2010

••• Google has “violated its written promise” and is “totally wrong” by stopping censoring its Chinese language searching results and blaming China for alleged hacker attacks, a government official said early Tuesday morning.

The official in charge of the Internet bureau under the State Council Information Office made the comments about two hours after the online search service provider announced it has stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine Google.cn and is redirecting Chinese mainland users to a site in Hong Kong.

“Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks,” said the official.

“This is totally wrong. We’re uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts,” the official said.
Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond made the “stop censoring” announcement in a blog post at about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing Time, more than two months after the company said it had been attacked by hackers supported by the Chinese government and was considering pulling out of the Chinese market.

The Information Office official said relevant departments of the Chinese government talked with Google twice at its requests, on Jan. 29 and Feb. 25 respectively, to hear the company’s real intentions and demonstrate sincerity of the government.

“We made patient and meticulous explanations on the questions Google raised (in the talks), …telling it we would still welcome its operation and development in China if it was willing to abide by Chinese laws, while it would be its own affair if it was determined to withdraw its service,” the official said.

“Foreign companies must abide by Chinese laws and regulations when they operate in China, ” the official said.

He noted that the Chinese government encourages the development and promotes the opening-up of Internet.

“Online opinion exchanges are very active in China and e-commerce grows rapidly here. As facts have demonstrated, the environment for Internet investment and development in China is sound,” the official said.

“China will unswervingly adhere to the opening-up principle and welcomes foreign companies’ participation in the development of Internet in the country,” he said.

The official also vowed the government will provide good service to foreign businesses, adding Internet will maintain, as before, rapid growth in China.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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