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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...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mainstream media hints at bugs in Toyota's electronic throttle control

Did Toyota admit to electronic defects associated with unintended acceleration as part of the federal criminal settlement? Listen to the attorney for unjustly imprisoned Toyota driver Koua Fong Lee in this 3/20/2014 CBS podcast, segment 20:00 to 20:53.

***Updates 4/25/2014 -
> In this 4/24/2014 article, yet another attorney is saying Toyota's federal criminal case settlement of $1.2 billion was "for misleading motorists about a faulty electronic-throttle control system."
> This 4/25/2014 article states that "Toyota was fined by the Department of Justice for misleading motorists about a 'faulty electronic-throttle system' in their cars after settling a lawsuit in July that claims the same make, model and year of the Toyota Solara involved in the day care crash lost resale value after sudden-acceleration complaints."
***Has the Justice Department been lying to the public?

There's been some strange language in mainstream media articles about Toyota's $1.2 billion payoff - er I mean settlement - to end the federal criminal investigation. Real hoot for anyone aware of world-renowned embedded systems expert Michael Barr finding bugs in Toyota's electronic throttle control.

The Department of Justice gang made it clear from the get go that news is to be limited to concerns about Toyota's pesky floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals. Their position was underscored when EE Times' freelance writer David Benjamin asked the DOJ point blank, in writing, if they were aware of Michael Barr's findings, and if so, why they hadn't investigated. And the DOJ curtly replied, "No comment." In like fashion, Toyota whistleblower Betsy Benjaminson telephoned the DoJ, brought up Mr. Barr's findings, and was asked to spell his name.  

With Michael Barr's findings leaking out on the Internet, Associated Press kinda broke ranks with the DOJ, reporting that "until now" (7th paragraph) Toyota had blamed floor mats, sticky accelerator pedals, and driver error. Strangely, neither AP nor NPR saw fit to mention what Toyota is blaming "now," and I musta missed Toyota's press release.

Then there's this article, extolling Dr. David Gilbert, a professor at Southern Illinois University. He's the guy who'd been sayin' all along that Toyota's sudden acceleration problem was in the electronics. Even had the audacity to testify before Congress. The article says the professor - who nearly lost his job for daring to speak out - has been vindicated by Toyota's federal criminal settlement, 'cause "before the settlement" Toyota blamed floor mats, sticky accelerator pedals, and driver error. Here again, the article stops short of specifying what Toyota is now blaming, but it does bring up Professor Gilbert and his claims about electronics. That gives the Southern Illinoisan one up on NPR and the Associated Press. What we'll see next - and from which media source - is anybody's guess. Where, oh where, is that Toyota press release revealing what the Recall King is now blaming for its problems with sudden unintended acceleration?

Looks like a convoluted game of chicken is takin' place amongst America's presstitute mainstream media. Something along the lines of "Who will be first to dare to print the name Michael Barr, disclose his findings, highlight his testimony and the 150 feet of skid marks left by the plaintiff's tires in the Oklahoma case, and put it all in Toyota-settlement-mode perspective?"

Word is leaking out about Michael Barr, and it looks bad for mainstream media - not to mention NHTSA and the DOJ - to keep ignoring Mr. Barr's findings. Must be awful. Here the guvmint is, makin' it clear that electronic issues are not to be addressed, and here the Emperor is, out in public runnin' around stark naked. What is Police State Press to do? Reminds me of that movie where the lawyer was suddenly unable to stay quiet, and was also unable to lie. Watch mainstream media squirm as the heat gets hotter, turned up all the more by Columbia Journalism Review's scathing criticism of the Wall Street Journal's editorial blabber on behalf of Toyota. CJR exposed WSJ for "brazenly" ignoring the Recall King's own admissions of wrongdoing.

Ya can't have it both ways. At least ya couldn't "until now."

Let's face it. The time has come for government and its mainstream media stooges to address the  compelling evidence of problems in Toyota's electronic throttle control, and determine if there are bugs yet to be exterminated. Put up or shut up. Meanwhile - as complaints of sudden unintended acceleration continue - Mr. Barr's peers over at EE Times are proudly naming him as the guest of honor at their upcoming conference March 31st - April 3rd.

Betcha mainstream media won't dare to mention EE Times' conference. After all, it's only the public's safety that's at stake.

***Updates 4/25/2014 -
>   In this 4/24/2014 article, yet another attorney is saying Toyota's federal criminal case settlement of $1.2 billion was "for misleading motorists about a faulty electronic-throttle control system."
>  This 4/25/2014 article states that "Toyota was fined by the Department of Justice for misleading motorists about a 'faulty electronic-throttle system' in their cars after settling a lawsuit in July that claims the same make, model and year of the Toyota Solara involved in the day care crash lost resale value after sudden-acceleration complaints." 
***Has the Justice Department been lying to the public?   

Updates 4/1/2014 -
>  Found another Southern Illinoisan article about Dr. Gilbert, cleverly stating "Changes are underway with car manufacturers thanks to a SIU professor. It comes four years after David Gilbert shared his concerns regarding (electronic) acceleration issues in Toyota vehicles. Now, Toyota has been fined more than $1 billion for the way it handled 'the' (emphasis mine) deadly safety flaws." The rest of the article includes "tin whiskers are not the only issues that can cause acceleration problems..." http://www.wsiltv.com/news/local/Local-Professors-Findings-Spark-Car-Safety-Changes-253069331.html 

>  Strong criticism of Toyota today at the EE Times conference. Speaking to an audience of his peers, embedded systems expert Michael Barr said "Despite assurances by companies like Toyota that their software undergoes rigorous testing, the rush to get cars on the road means that you, the users, have been testing the software." http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1321734

Update 4/6/2014 - Yesterday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also chimed in with an article about Dr. Gilbert (so far, the closest mainstream media dares come to mentioning Michael Barr), revealing that Professor Gilbert has support at NASA (don't tell NHTSA). And a physicist at NASA believes there's increased liklihood of unintended acceleration events as "tin whiskers" continue to grow, notably in Toyotas manufactured from 2002-2006. Toyota redesigned pedal sensors in 2007 and 2008, with the express intent of eliminating the tin whisker risk, and NASA Physicist Henning Leidecker asks the obvious question: "Why would (Toyota) do that if tin whiskers were never a problem?" As one might guess, Recall King Toyota "did not respond to multiple requests for comment."     

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feds' billion dollar deal protects Toyota

Talk about a slap on the wrist. Ol' corporate-controlled puppet Uncle Scam has done it again for his bosom buddy Toyota. What a racket. What a sham.

First off, by what rhyme or reason is anyone allowed to buy their way out of a criminal investigation? So much for the public interest. And second, what kinda brainwashed individual is it that thinks Toyota is being punished? Like previous "punishments" - wet noodled by NHTSA - the dollar amount - this time comin' to $1.2 billion - is only "staggering" to most individuals. The feds are well aware that Toyota is a filthy-rich corporation with a cash stash of 60 - SIXTY - billion bucks. 

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder rants about what Toyota has done, noting the criminal charge, Toyota's admission of wrongdoing, etc. Problem is, there's no serious effort to discipline the Recall King. Nowhere is there even any mention of the name Michael Barr. Who's that again? Michael Barr? Oh... you mean the world renowned computer expert who found bugs in Toyota's electronic throttle control software? The guy whose findings prompted the billion dollar economic loss settlement in December of 2012, and the landmark guilty verdict in Toyota's sudden unintended acceleration case in Oklahoma last October where the plaintiff's tires left 150 feet of skid marks? The fella whose findings put Toyota in its current settlement mode regarding all of the remaining cases of sudden unintended acceleration and the federal criminal complaints? Not sure that we've ever heard of him. Or those skid marks. What was that name again?

Really, folks. As complaints of sudden unintended acceleration continue, how utterly ridiculous can a corporate-controlled government get? Rake in a cool billion point two bucks wortha payola for ending a criminal probe, ignore evidence of electronic problems, and hardly scratch the financial surface of a corporate culprit-at-large. It's gotta be hard for mainstream media, NHTSA, and Holder to keep a straight face.

We haven't heard the end of Toyota's problems with sudden unintended acceleration. Word is leaking out about Mr. Barr's findings. His peers, trade journals, whistleblowers, and bloggers are filling in the blanks left by mainstream media. End of this month, Mr. Barr will be the featured guest at an EE Times conference. Stay tuned.

Update 3/21/2014 - As Toyota's government friends rake in payola for droppin' the criminal probe, here's the kinda chump change CONSUMERS are gettin' in Toyota's billion dollar class-action settlement for economic loss associated with claims of sudden unintended acceleration: http://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/tri-state-residents-unhappy-over-toyota-settlement-over-faulty-acceleration

Updates 3/27/2014 - 
> Found an excellent article - the only one I know of published by anything close to mainstream media - that gives comprehensive coverage of the Oklahoma case and puts Toyota's problems with sudden unintended acceleration in proper perspective: http://www.sddt.com/Commentary/article.cfm?SourceCode=20131104tbc&Commentary_ID=140&_t=Software+bugs+found+to+be+cause+of+Toyota+acceleration+death

Since Toyota whistleblower Betsy Benjaminson is mentioned in the above referenced article, here's a closer look at Betsy and her struggles to reveal the truth: http://www.timesofisrael.com/high-price-but-no-regrets-for-israels-gutsy-toyota-whistle-blower/

> Mainstream media's rush to defend Toyota has become so outlandish, the Columbia Journalism Review has published an article addressing the issue: http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/the_toyota_skeptics.php?page=1 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jailed Toyota driver deserves punitive damages

If anyone ever deserved a punitive damage award, it's Koua Fong Lee, the financially-challenged immigrant who was falsely imprisoned for two years after his Toyota Camry sped out of control, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries. Amidst publicity regarding Toyota's problems with sudden unintended acceleration, charges were finally dropped, and Lee was released. That's all well and good.


As Lee weighed his legal options, something very strange took place. Rather than pursue a separate lawsuit against Toyota, Lee joined the lawsuit launched by other victims of the accident in exchange for forfeiting his right to claim punitive damages. I was puzzled at the time, and remain even more puzzled now that the Recall King - prompted by a jury's guilty verdict in an Oklahoma sudden unintended acceleration case - is rushing to reach a "global settlement" involving all sudden unintended acceleration cases.

Toyota has one whopper of an interest in not allowing juries to determine punitive damages. This was demonstrated in the Oklahoma case when Toyota immediately settled the matter after the guilty verdict was returned. It boils down to millions of dollars worth of "settlement" versus the risk of billions of dollars worth of punitive. The jury in Oklahoma - impressed with expert testimony (not to mention 150 feet of skid marks from the plaintiff's tires) - was fed up with Toyota's shenanigans, stating that Toyota acted with reckless disregard. Not surprising that the Recall King didn't want those folks assessing punitive damages in a death case.

So if the jury in Oklahoma was fed up, wonder what a jury's response would likely be regarding multiple deaths and injuries, and a Toyota driver who wound up in prison for two years before finally being cleared of all charges. A lawsuit from Lee - including the prospect of punitive damages - would have indeed been risky business for the Recall King.

Lee's case had already made headlines due to the horrific nature of the accident. And as Toyota's problems with sudden unintended acceleration continued to draw public attention, an imprisoned Toyota driver claiming that his Camry suddenly sped out of control was an ever-increasing liability for the Recall King. Lee has never wavered on that crucial point. Prison isn't pretty - Lee has recurring nightmares - and the specter of a jury one day assessing punitive damages was a ghost to be reckoned with. Lee's case weighed heavily in a D.A.'s decision to drop charges against a Lexus driver.

Lee's case - still not resolved - raises troubling questions. Not only about Toyota (now being allowed to buy its way out of a federal criminal investigation), but about a legal system that imprisons penniless immigrants on trumped-up charges, is forced to admit the error, and then protects corporate interests by taking away the right to seek punitive damages.

Something is heinously wrong with this picture.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Shhh... sudden unintended acceleration complaints are continuing

In light of renowned embedded systems expert Michael Barr finding bugs in Toyota's electronic throttle control software that could cause sudden unintended acceleration, we now get to the crux of the matter. Have the defects been corrected?

With the Recall King insisting that the Oklahoma jury got it wrong (despite that pesky evidence of 150 feet of skid marks from the plaintiff's tires), and a corporate-controlled mainstream media concealing Michael Barr's findings, Toyota is hoping that a gullible public will believe there isn't anything to correct. The situation is similar to what happened regarding engines suddenly disintegrating in MR2 Spyders.

Toyota stonewalls, big media - most notably, perhaps, Consumer Reports - shys away from addressing the issue, and owners are left with depleted bank accounts and unsatisfactory vehicles. Pretty much the same with all those oil-sludged engines, and the list goes on. In a corporate-controlled police state, it's best to be wary of repercussions. What on earth would Big Brother do if it weren't for a tail-tucked citizenry? Nothin' like a cooperative effort...

NHTSA, as Shawn Kane notes, "walked away from the (sudden unintended acceleration) problem in 2010. The agency pressured Toyota into floor mat and sticky accelerator pedals, collected millions in recall timeliness fines and never addressed the technical problem." Adding insult to injury, NHTSA proceded to set things up with NASA, then disingenuously claimed that NASA had laid the matter to rest. As facts come to light about a hamstrung NASA coming nowhere near settling the issue - and having said so - it's obvious who corporate stooge NHTSA is lookin' out for, and it ain't the consumer.

Real hoot watchin' NHTSA, mainstream media, and Toyota try to ignore Michael Barr's findings and the guilty verdict in Oklahoma as complaints keep pourin' in about Toyotas suddenly accelerating out of control. Few days ago, an interesting comment appeared (BrianPaul, 03-01-2014, 03:37 PM) on a website for fans of the RAV4 (which lately has had software issues beyond sudden unintended acceleration). Reminds ya of those song words "now I'm a believer," and is consistent with complaints on NHTSA's website. Read it and weep. Here's an excerpt:

When the “sudden acceleration” issue with Toyota vehicles was all over the news, I was not concerned because I assumed it was user error. I remember my boss saying to me, “you’re not afraid to drive your Camry?” I told my boss that it’s just a bunch of idiots who are stepping on the gas by mistake, or people trying to get money from Toyota. Now that I’ve had this happen, I realize what a fool I was! I was so proud of the Toyota vehicles I own that I wouldn’t even consider that such a problem exists.

Of course, the RAV4 website didn't dare publish my comment. RAV4World.com's attitude seems to be if the guy who's now wanting more information about sudden unintended acceleration (and who in his shoes wouldn't?) doesn't get any, that's tough. The RAV4 website (is it run by Toyota?) musn't offend the Recall King.

Meanwhile, the ol' Recall King is tryin' to buy - talkin' moola in excess of a billion dollars - an end to the federal criminal investigation involving reporting procedures for sudden unintended acceleration. And I'm bettin' the Recall King is gonna get away with it, complete with confidentiality agreements and no admissions of wrongdoing.

After all, the sudden unintended acceleration issue only involves people's lives.