Toyota

It's more than twice as large as the GM recall, but is not linked to any deaths.

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President Obama visits the Detroit area on Friday, and his timing couldn't be better: Today's Detroit Free Press brings more good news from the auto industry: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all plan to add jobs in Michigan, which stands to benefit more than any other state. Nissan, BMW, Honda, Toyota, Kia and Mercedes-Benz also are hiring. Suppliers are looking to add engineers and technical people, but at a more gradual pace. About 15,000 auto-related Michigan jobs could be created this year, said Sean McAlinden, economist at Ann Arbor's Center for Automotive Research.

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Let’s say you’re a huge corporation that’s just spilled oil all over the Gulf of Mexico, or a car company dealing with brakes that don’t brake, or a fast-food chain seeking distance from snot-flinging employees or your own inedible pizza. What’s the best way to say you’re sorry?  The somber, full-page newspaper ad was once the obvious venue for corporate apologies.

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The Chevrolet Volt was supposed to symbolize the resurgence of America's car industry while fostering energy independence.

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GM's Turnaround

Interesting observation from First Read: We said it at the time: As the GM bailout goes, so goes the Obama presidency. It was the bailout everyone in America could understand, and it wasn’t popular. In our June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll, the American automaker had an awful 18%-47% fav/unfav. A year later, however, the Obama administration believes it has a good story to tell. And today, the president is going to tell that story. Later this morning, he heads to Michigan, where he will tour a Chrysler and then a GM plant. After that, he’ll make remarks about the auto industry at 1:40 pm ET.

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The most interesting piece I read in the Times last week—excluding the profile in which Reykjavik’s new mayor said that he would rule out as a coalition partner “any party whose members had not seen all five seasons of ‘The Wire’”—was Book Review editor (and TNR contributor) Sam Tanenhaus’s 2,500-word exploration of John Updike’s archive.

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Yesterday, I flagged an embryonic attempt by conservatives -- in this case, Chris Stirewalt of the Washington Examiner -- to defend right-wing coal mine operator Don Blankenship, one of whose mines recently exploded and killed two dozen workers. Stirewalt scoffs at the possibility that Blankenship ignored safety standards: We don’t know what caused the explosion – an electric arc, a spark from metal on metal, etc.

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I'm not all that fond of dogs myself, but it seems like they need a bit of defending. A few months ago, New Scientist reported that a large dog like a German shepherd has twice the carbon footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser that's driven 6,000 miles each year—mainly because of the dog's meat-heavy diet. (Cats, by the way, have a carbon footprint comparable to a Volkswagen Golf.) And that's not to mention all the havoc they wreak on local wildlife.

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Upper Mismanagement

One of the themes that came up while I was profiling White House manufacturing czar Ron Bloom earlier this fall was managerial talent. A lot of people talk about reviving the domestic manufacturing sector, which has shed almost one-third of its manpower over the last eight years. But some of the people I spoke to asked a slightly different question: Even if you could reclaim a chunk of those blue-collar jobs, would you have the managers you need to supervise them? It’s not obvious that you would.

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On Labor Day, President Obama appointed Ron Bloom, head of the administration’s auto industry task force, as his manufacturing “czar.” A former United Steelworkers staffer, Bloom recognizes the importance of high-wage manufacturing to the U.S. economy and to the well-being of the Great Lakes metropolitan areas that have been its center for more than half a century. But his experience is mainly in structuring financial deals. Does he understand the non-financial obstacles to reviving American manufacturing?

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