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Questions for Toyota go beyond gas pedals and into electronics

FLINT, Mich.—It was a Saturday afternoon, April 19, 2008, and Guadalupe Alberto, a 77-year-old former autoworker, was driving her 2005 Toyota Camry. Within blocks of her home, witnesses told police, the car accelerated out of control, jumped a curb and flew through the air before crashing into a tree.

Alberto was killed instantly.

Her car’s model was not among the millions of Camrys and other Toyotas recently recalled for sticky accelerator pedals. And it also did not have floor mats at the time, which were part of a separate recall.

Instead, Alberto’s crash is being looked at as a possible example of problems with the electronic system that controls the throttle and engine speed in Toyotas.

Such computerized systems are part of a broader inquiry by U.S. regulators into problems with sudden, unintended acceleration in Toyotas, beyond the issues that have led to the company’s recent recalls. Toyota denies there is a problem with such systems.

In a lawsuit filed in Circuit Court in Genesee County, Mich., Alberto’s family alleges that Toyota and one of its suppliers, the Japanese firm Denso, were negligent in manufacturing an electronic throttle system that caused her death.

“We think Toyota has a safety problem with the electronic throttle control system in Camrys and other Toyota models,” said Eric Snyder, a lawyer for the family.

Rebuffing scholars, Germany vows to keep Hitler out of print

MUNICH —In Germany, an author is granted an ironclad copyright for 70 years after his death, apparently even if he is subsequently regarded as one of the greatest mass murderers in history and a dark stain on the national character.

Hitler’s copyright on “Mein Kampf,” in the hands of the Bavarian government since the end of the Nazi regime, has long been used to keep his inflammatory manifesto off the shelves in Germany. But with the expiration date looming in 2015, there is a developing showdown here over the first German publication of the book since the end of World War II.

Experts at the respected Institute of Contemporary History in Munich say they want to prepare a critical, annotated version of the book for release when the copyright expires 70 years after Hitler’s suicide in his Berlin bunker.

“We hope to prevent neo-Nazi publications by putting out a commented, scholarly edition before that,” said Edith Raim, a historian at the institute. “ ‘Mein Kampf’ is one of the central texts if you want to explain National Socialism, and it hasn’t been available in a commented edition at all in Germany.”