April 8th, 2010
08:42 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Irv Miller

Toyota's former U.S. vice president of environmental and public affairs warned his company in January that it needed to "come clean" about problems with gas pedals that could lead to sudden acceleration.

"We are not protecting our customers by keeping this quiet. The time to hide on this one is over," Miller wrote in a January 16 e-mail obtained by the Detroit Free Press.

Miller sent the e-mail five days before Toyota recalled 2.3 million cars. He also wrote, using capital letters for emphasis, "WE HAVE A tendency for MECHANICAL failure in accelerator pedals."

In a December 5, 2009, letter to The Los Angeles Times, Miller wrote: "The safety of our owners and the public is our utmost concern, and Toyota will continue to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any vehicle defect trends that are identified."

Detroit Free Press: Toyota exec: Time to hide troubles over

Toyota: Letter from Irv Miller

Mohammed Al-Madadi

There's no place for jokes when it comes to airline security.

On Wednesday, United Flight 663, from Washington, D.C., to Denver, Colorado, was carrying 157 passengers and six crew members. Some 25 minutes before landing, an air marshal confronted a mid-level diplomat from Qatar amid reports of smoke in the cabin.

The passenger, identified by law enforcement officials as Al-Madadi, was in a lavatory for a long time and may have been smoking, a U.S. official said. He also may have made an "unfortunate comment" referring to a shoe bomb when questioned on the plane, the official said.

The pilots requested an escort into Denver and the North American Aerospace Command sent two F-16 fighter jets. The diplomat was removed from his first-class seat when the plane landed and was questioned by the FBI.  Thursday morning, a spokeswoman for the Qatari Embassy's law firm said Al-Madadi had "been given clearance to travel back to Washington" and was free to leave Denver.  

The Denver Post reports that a LinkedIn.com online biography says Al-Madadi graduated with a master's degree from George Washington University in information systems technology and works as a database administrator for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Qatar.

CNN: Diplomat taken into custody after airliner disturbance

Denver Post: Jet-smoke incident cloudy

Pfc. Bowe Robert Bergdahl

A video purportedly showing a U.S. soldier captured in Afghanistan last June was posted Wednesday on a radical Web site. CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.

Bergdahl, 23, disappeared from his combat outpost in southeastern Paktika province sometime after he finished his guard duty shift on the night of June 29. In the video posted on TheUnjustMedia.com, a bearded young man wearing Army fatigues is first seen attempting to prove his identity - providing his name, rank and address, naming friends and family, and detailing his job in the Army - before pleading for his release.

The man says the loss of U.S. and Afghan lives in the war on terror isn't justified and calls for an end to the fighting. In the past, freed hostages have indicated their statements during captivity were forced and made against their will.

Lt. Col. Tim Marsano, a spokesman for the Bergdahl family, told CNN affiliate KIVI in Boise, Idaho, that the family has been informed about the existence of the video.

CNN: Video purportedly shows U.S. soldier captured in Afghanistan

KIVI: Captured Idaho soldier shown in Taliban video

Earl Woods

Tiger Woods is returning to golf the day after his late father spoke to cable TV viewers.

Yesterday, Nike purchased commercial time for an ad featuring the words of Woods' father Earl, who died of prostate cancer in 2006. In the 30-second black-and-white commercial, Tiger Woods is seen on a golf course, wearing Nike apparel. He doesn't speak, but his father's voice is heard saying, "Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are, and did you learn anything?"

The New York Daily News reports that there is no explanation in the commercial of when or why Earl Woods made the recording.

Woods, along with K.J. Choi and Matt Kuchar, will tee off next to last on the first hole at Augusta National at 1:42 p.m. on Thursday in the Masters golf tournament.

Tiger Woods' father asks in Nike ad, 'Did you learn anything?'

Nike: Earl and Tiger commercial

Jeanne White-Ginder

Ryan White's mother remains one of the country's most vocal advocates for HIV/AIDS programs and awareness.

Ryan was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984 at the age of 13, having contracted HIV through blood-based products his doctors were using to treat his hemophilia. He was told he had six months to live.

The local school system in Indiana forced him to attend classes by telephone, until courts ruled he could return to school, where he was taunted.

The family eventually moved to Cicero, Indiana, which turned out to be a very supportive community. He began speaking publicly about his life and about others with HIV/AIDS.

Ryan White died ten years ago today at the age of 18. Elton John performed at his funeral, which was also attended by Michael Jackson and first lady Barbara Bush.


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