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Ralph Vartabedian

February 15, 2008 | Stephanie Simon, Ralph Vartabedian and P.J. Huffstutter, Times Staff Writers
A gunman, dressed all in black, stepped on stage in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University on Thursday and opened fire on a geology class. A short time later, five students were dead and the gunman had killed himself on the lecture hall stage. Sixteen others were wounded, at least two of them critically. It was the fifth school shooting in a week in the U.S. The violence at Northern Illinois unfolded about 3 p.m., as the entry-level ocean sciences class was wrapping up.
Question: I find it increasingly difficult to shift into reverse on my 1991 Toyota Camry. The manual transmission just seems to get stuck and won't go into the reverse position; it goes into first without any problem. The dealer said the transmission needs to be pulled out and rebuilt. But I'm wondering if there's another option. The car is otherwise in good shape with 110,000 miles on it, but I don't want to sink more than $1,000 into an 8-year-old car. --J.E.
January 3, 2011 | By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times
In a tactical shift, lawyers suing Toyota Motor Corp. over sudden acceleration are building their cases around the automaker's resistance to installing a brake system that they claim would have prevented deaths and injuries. The emerging legal strategy is centered on Toyota's slow adoption of so-called brake override systems, which attorneys say is the automaker's single biggest vulnerability as it defends itself against more than 100 lawsuits in state and federal courts. Toyota discussed adopting brake overrides with federal safety regulators as early as 2007, documents show.
July 11, 2008 | Richard A. Serrano and Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writers
Outside her Bel-Air home, Nancy Reagan stood arm in arm with John McCain and offered a significant -- but less than exuberant -- endorsement. "Ronnie and I always waited until everything was decided, and then we endorsed," the Republican matriarch said in March. "Well, obviously this is the nominee of the party." They were the only words she would speak during the five-minute photo op. In a written statement, she described McCain as "a good friend for over 30 years."
October 31, 2007 | Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
Question: I am looking to the L.A. Times for help in trying to find out what is causing the orange/yellowish spots that are appearing on our cars in increasing numbers. I have lived here for 24 years and have owned white cars for all of that time. In the past four or five years I have noticed dark orange/yellow droppings on my car, about the size of a pencil eraser. Within the last two years they have increased in number. Once dried, it is very difficult to get them off.
October 6, 2008 | Ralph Vartabedian and Richard A. Serrano, Times Staff Writers
John McCain was training in his AD-6 Skyraider on an overcast Texas morning in 1960 when he slammed into Corpus Christi Bay and sheared the skin off his plane's wings. McCain recounted the accident decades later in his autobiography. "The engine quit while I was practicing landings," he wrote. But an investigation board at the Naval Aviation Safety Center found no evidence of engine failure.
January 30, 2010 | By Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger
Toyota Motor Corp.'s decision to blame its widening sudden-acceleration problem on a gas pedal defect came under attack Friday, with the pedal manufacturer flatly denying that its products were at fault. Federal vehicle safety records reviewed by The Times also cast doubt on Toyota's claims that sticky gas pedals were a significant factor in the growing reports of runaway vehicles. Of more than 2,000 motorist complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles over the last decade, just 5% blamed a sticking gas pedal, the analysis found.
Question: I have a squeak in my car's front end that is driving me crazy. It occurs whenever I turn the steering wheel--but it disappears when it rains. I have had the steering and suspension checked out, and the mechanic could not find loose parts. He said the squeak is coming from a rubber bushing. Is there a way to lubricate this thing? --J.M. Answer: You can lubricate a squeaky bushing, but you need to be careful about the lubricant you use.
January 28, 2010 | By Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger
Toyota Motor Corp.'s sudden-acceleration troubles mounted Wednesday, with the automaker adding 1.1 million more vehicles to an already massive recall even as it came under increasing fire for its handling of the problem. The new attention was triggered by Toyota's unprecedented decision this week to halt sales and production of eight models, including its popular Corolla and Camry sedans, until it could figure out how to stop their gas pedals from getting stuck and causing runaway acceleration.
January 2, 1991
Editor: Linda Darnell Williams News Editor: Steven Seiler Artist: Michael Hall Reporters: Jane Applegate Bob Baker James Bates Michael Cieply Alan Citron Bob Dallos Tom Furlong James S. Granelli Amy Harmon Bruce Horovitz Kathy M. Kristof Marie L. La Ganga Carla Lazzareschi Patrick Lee Robert Rosenblatt Stuart Silverstein Ralph Vartabedian George White
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