DETROIT -- Safety regulators in the U.S. are investigating whether to add more than a million General Motors midsize cars to a recall for brake light problems.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it's checking into complaints about the 2004 to 2011 Chevrolet Malibu and the 2007 to 2009 Saturn Aura. The safety agency says the brake lights may not come on when the pedal is pressed, while at other times the lights can illuminate for no reason.
In 2009, GM recalled about 8,000 Pontiac G6 midsize cars from the 2005 model year for the same problem. The government announced in February that it's investigating whether to add 550,000 G6s sold from 2005 to 2009.
Now the agency is investigating 97 complaints from Malibu and Aura owners about the same problems. The two cars share many of the same parts with the G6, but GM spokesmen were unsure Tuesday whether all three cars have the same brake lights.
The Detroit company sold more than 1.5 million Malibus and Auras from 2004 through 2011, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank, but it was unclear how many of them are included in the investigation.
No additional recalls have been issued beyond the 8,000 cars called in for repairs in 2009, although NHTSA says it opened the probe "to determine if the scope of the recall should be expanded or an adjustment in existing remedies is required."
NHTSA says if the brake lights don't illuminate, drivers behind the cars won't be warned, and that could lead to a crash. A GM spokesman said Tuesday the company has no reports of crashes or injuries.
LA schools settle claims: The Los Angeles school district will pay millions of dollars to settle claims and lawsuits filed by students and families from an elementary school where a third-grade teacher was accused of spoon-feeding children semen in what he called "tasting games," lawyers in the cases said Tuesday. District officials did not reveal the total amount of the settlement, but attorney Raymond Boucher, who represents several Miramonte Elementary School students, said each claimant will receive $470,000. District General Counsel David Holmquist said the settlement covers 58 of the 191 claims and lawsuits filed by students and parents against the district after the January 2012 arrest of former third-grade teacher Mark Berndt on 23 charges of lewd behavior spanning five years at Miramonte.
LA archdiocese settles cases for $10M: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay nearly $10 million to settle four cases alleging abuse by a now-defrocked priest who told Cardinal Roger Mahony nearly 30 years ago he had molested children, attorneys confirmed Tuesday. The cases involving ex-priest Michael Baker span 26 years from 1974 to 2000. Two were set for trial next month. A judge had said attorneys for the plaintiffs could pursue punitive damages at trial. The cases were settled this week. Two of the claims named Mahony and alleged he didn't do enough to stop Baker from abusing children, said plaintiff's attorney John Manly. Mahony retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011 and was rebuked by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, last month after confidential church files showed the cardinal worked behind the scenes to shield molesting priests and protect the church from scandal.
New cyber medal production stopped: The military has stopped production of a new medal for remote warfare troops -- drone operators and cyber warfighters -- as it considers complaints from veterans and lawmakers over the award, which was ranked higher than traditional combat medals like the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a review of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, which was to be awarded to troops who operate drones and use other technological skills to fight America's wars from afar. Pentagon press secretary George Little said Tuesday that Hagel ordered another look in light of concerns by lawmakers and veterans groups over the fact that the new medal was ranked above medals for those who served on the front line in harm's way, such as the Purple Heart given to wounded troops.
FAA approves Boeing plan: A Boeing plan to redesign the 787 Dreamliner's fire-plagued lithium-ion batteries won approval Tuesday from the Federal Aviation Administration, moving the cutting-edge planes a step closer to flying passengers again. The plan includes changes to the internal battery components to minimize the possibility of short-circuiting, which can lead to overheating and cause a fire. Among the changes are better insulation of the battery's eight cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system, the FAA said in a statement. The FAA statement didn't provide an estimate for when the grounded planes might return to service.
Panel says no cover-up attempt: An independent panel says the operator of Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear plant misinformed investigators and blocked inspection of key equipment last year, but that there was no cover-up attempt. The case involves a parliamentary probe of equipment at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's Unit 1 reactor. A member of the investigative team said investigators had to scrap an inspection of the reactor's emergency cooling equipment, accusing plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. of falsely saying the building was dark and dangerous. After the incident caused an outcry from lawmakers and the public, TEPCO commissioned a panel to look into the matter.
Moves ahead to sell Twinkies: Hostess is moving ahead with plans to sell its Twinkies and other snack cakes after nobody stepped forward to top an offer made by two investment firms. The bankrupt company had earlier picked a $410 million joint offer from Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management as the "stalking horse" bid to set the floor for an auction. In reference to that deal, Metropoulos & Co. CEO and founder Dean Metropoulos said in a statement that the firm was looking forward to having "America's favorite snacks back on the shelf by this summer."