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6/11/2014 - Updated the original post by entering direct links to reference material, and added remarks about the legal issues involved with...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

NEWS BLACKOUT re bugs in Toyota's software causing sudden unintended acceleration

"Anyone who wastes their time on the US media is a brainwashed idiot, a danger to humanity." Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, from his article, "America Totally Discredited."

National disgrace when consumers have to depend on trade journals, bloggers, and social media for the facts. Especially when it's a matter of life and death.

Renowned computer expert Michael Barr spent 18 months examining Toyota's software relevant to sudden unintended acceleration. His findings convinced an Oklahoma jury to find Toyota guilty, underscored with a declaration that the Recall King acted with "reckless disregard" in its response to a faulty electronic throttle system. The jury was ready to calculate punitive damages when the Recall King suddenly saw fit to settle, avoiding what may well have been punishment consistent with the kinda stuff levied against big tobacco. The kinda stuff Toyota's friends in Congress and NHTSA shoulda come up with years ago. Punishment based on the wealth of the corporation as opposed to amplified slaps on wrist designed to wow the average consumer. A gang like Toyota needs what they were likely on the verge of gettin' in Oklahoma: a woodsheddin' in the billions 'steada the millions.

The Recall King is hastily moving to settle hundreds of remaining cases - can anyone imagine why? - in a "global settlement" given the green light by our ever vigilant legal system. Conjures up recollections of corrupt corporations too big to fail, surviving at the public's expense. But this time, more than money is at stake.

An at-risk public has a right to know about the incriminating evidence Mr. Barr found. Especially since other computer experts are speaking out in favor of his conclusions. This is not the time for silence in the name of protecting Toyota. This is the time for fundamental fairness to the public. As with engine failures in MR2 Spyders, such fairness certainly hasn't been offered by Toyota. And regarding sudden unintended acceleration, not by Congress, and not by NHTSA. Dirty rotten shame when the taxpayin' public has to uncover facts and seek recourse through expensive, time-consuming, emotionally draining lawsuits because government agencies are beholden to the industries they're presumably set up to regulate.

Where is our "free" press? Why haven't there been lengthy articles focusing on the gist of what happened in Oklahoma? Headlines making sure an at-risk public can put in proper perspective Toyota's sudden rush to settle hundreds of remaining lawsuits involving sudden unintended acceleration. Adding insult to injury, a USA Today article - ostensibly addressing Toyota's current problems with heated seats - made it sound like the sudden unintended acceleration issue had been conclusively related to nothing more than driver error, floor mats and sticking gas pedals. Hard to believe such stories - how many more are being circulated? - are published out of ignorance. I sent e-mails to reporters with Minnesota's Pioneer Press and Star Tribune newspapers, both of which took keen interest when efforts were made to get local resident Koua Fong Lee out of prison after his Toyota sped out of control, people died, and the economically challenged immigrant was railroaded. I suggested followups informing the public of Michael Barr's findings and any bearing they might have on Lee's lawsuit, which the Recall King is trying to get dismissed. My e-mails were ignored. Reuters continues to ban me from commenting, and then there's this "story" about the University of Iowa's $17.2 million "driving safety research" grant. Another bona fide hack job, making it appear as though sudden unintended acceleration is all about driver error. No mention of Michael Barr's findings, and no reply to my e-mail explaining that it's time for media to quit focusing on "driver error." The "grant," incidentally, came via Toyota's "settlement" for economic loss claims over sudden unintended acceleration. And that settlement too was prompted by Michael Barr's findings.

In a superb article, "Toyota's killer firmware: Bad design and its consequences," Michael Dunn, writing for engineering journal Design News, provides a summary of Mr. Barr's findings:
  • Toyota’s electronic throttle control system (ETCS) source code is of unreasonable quality.
  • Toyota’s source code is defective and contains bugs, including bugs that can cause unintended acceleration (UA).
  • Code-quality metrics predict presence of additional bugs.
  • Toyota’s fail safes are defective and inadequate (referring to them as a “house of cards” safety architecture).
  • Misbehaviors of Toyota’s ETCS are a cause of UA.
In what sense, pray tell, do we have a "free" press?

It will be interesting to see the "presstitute" media's response - or lack thereof - to the upcoming EE Times conference featuring a keynote address by none other than Michael Barr himself. Evidence of the respect Mr. Barr's colleagues have for his conclusions about Toyota's software. An occasion that should make national news, top spot. But don't hold your breath.

Next thing ya know, it'll be said that America is nothin' more than a tacky little corporate-controlled police state.

Update 2/7/2014 - Thanks to #Whistleblower Daily News for headlining this post.

Update 2/10/2014 - Toyota is reported to be on the verge of a billion dollar settlement to end the federal criminal investigation involving reporting procedures for sudden unintended acceleration complaints, concerns about mail fraud, wire fraud, and whether stockholders were misled. Nothin' like buyin' yer way outta hot water. Stay tuned.

Update 2/11/2014 - Minnesota's Star Tribune newspaper - referenced in this blog post - is refusing to publish a comment I submitted this morning (it's now 4:50 PM EST) exposing the news blackout regarding Michael Barr finding bugs in Toyota's software causing sudden unintended acceleration.

Updates 2/12/2014 -
> Software problems have now prompted a major Prius recall. Other models are also on the list, and some of the issues involve SKID control. Toyota's software problems sure are lending credence to Michael Barr's findings. Bloomberg has removed a comment I made to that effect a few moments ago regarding their article about the Prius recall. Bloomberg's censorship of my comments is nothin' new.  

> My comment putting Toyota's current software problems in proper perspective re USA Today's article is being repeatedly removed. Toyota can't stand the truth.