World and Nation

Shorts (right)

With eye on its reputation, Toyota issues repair for pedal

DETROIT — Toyota, struggling to eliminate questions surrounding millions of its vehicles, announced a repair on Monday to stop gas pedals from possibly sticking and causing cars to speed up unexpectedly.

The solution involves installing a steel reinforcement bar in the pedal assemblies of 2.3 million vehicles in the United States. Toyota has said it will provide replacement pedals to more than 5 million buyers whose cars were recalled over floor mats that could jam the accelerator.

The company said last fall that floor mats were the lone cause of the problem — only to add in January that pedal assemblies could cause accelerators to stick.

Now, the company is trying to assure owners and car shoppers that the matter is settled and to restore its credibility, which has been shaken more than in past recalls.

“If they’ve got it, great,” said Edwin M. Baum, head of the product and consumer litigation practice at Proskauer Rose in Manhattan. “If they haven’t got it, they have even bigger problems. Nobody knows right now.”

Where fear still rules, speaking freely makes a comeback

BAGHDAD — At the end of a week that included two spectacular bomb attacks, Ali al-Nijar left his home to talk about poetry. Al-Nijar, a retired professor of agriculture, was squeezed in among 60 others at a weekly literary salon on Baghdad’s Mutanabi Street, one of about a dozen salons that have sprung up around the city in the last two years as violence has dropped.

For centuries salons were a vital part of Iraqi intellectual life, places where people of different classes or sects met to discuss culture, literature or ideas. At one time Baghdad had more than 200 salons, about a quarter of them run by Jews, said Tariq Harb, a lawyer who is a regular at several salons and hosts his own.

But during Saddam Hussein’s presidency, the salons dwindled away or went underground, as people objected to government control or feared the presence of government spies. In the sectarian violence that followed the 2003 invasion, people were often afraid to meet in public.

Safia al-Souhail started her salon in April, after a level of peace had come to the city. It meets one afternoon a month at her home and ends after dark, which would have been unthinkable during the height of sectarian violence.­

John Leland, The New York Times