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Behind the scenes at Toyota's R&D center – Click above for high-res image gallery

Somehow, we're guessing that the "any publicity is good publicity" cliche isn't ringing particularly true with Toyota these days. That said, we do have to give some props to the automaker for being open about the current state of its recent recall woes. According to Toyota, roughly 3.2 million of its many recall notices have been fulfilled.

The past few days have seen a new rash of stories about Toyotas run amok. First, a 2009 Venza struck a house in Hamilton, Ontario. According to The Hamilton Spectator, the driver said he lost control of the vehicle after experiencing uncontrolled acceleration. While 2009-2010 Venzas were recalled for the infamous floor-mat issue, police have yet to determine whether the Hamilton incident was a result of faulty hardware or driver error. No one was injured.

Throughout all of the recent Toyota recall talk, the automaker has stated on numerous occasions that it has never found any sort of electronic defect that would cause unintended acceleration. Instead, Toyota insists that only floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals were to blame for the problems that owners have cited in recent months.

Could cosmic rays from space be to blame for Toyotas that uncontrollably speed out of control? Could such cosmic rays put you in danger of becoming a bright orange superhuman rocky man-Thing? These are the questions that a number of researchers are suggesting need a closer look to see if electronic glitches could be the root cause of Toyota's unexplainable rash of unintended acceleration.

The hits keep on coming for Toyota, with reports of unintended acceleration multiplying like rabbits with aphrodisiacs and grandstanding of all sorts going on at every level. Orange County, California District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has added another layer to the cake with a lawsuit alleging Toyota sold cars it knew had problems.

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Just yesterday, Toyota Motor Company's president Akio Toyoda (yep, the grandson of the company's founder) indicated that he had no intention of attending a February 24 Congressional hearing before the House Oversight Committee. Instead, Toyoda said that Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota's operations in North America, will appear on behalf of of the automaker.

Another day, another major story on Toyota's recent recall woes. As you may have already heard, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration – and particularly U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood – is less than pleased with the way Toyota has handled its various vehicle callbacks.

Toyota's got its sticky-pedal fix in high gear, with dealers exorcising an impressive 50,000 unintended acceleration demons per day. Thus far, 225,000 of the several million recalled vehicles have already been repaired. Going all-in on the fix was the only choice for Toyota, anything less would telegraph an attitude of apathy toward safety, and brand perception has tumbled precipitously lately.

Man, when it rains, it absolutely pours. Especially if you're a carmaker called Toyota and are already embroiled in a credibility-killing (and sales-smothering) gas pedal recall plus another for defective floor mats. According to the Detroit Free Press, none other than U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has absolutely blasted the Japanese giant, calling it "a little safety deaf" and noting he was upset that NHTSA officials had to fly to Japan "to remind Toyota management about its legal ob

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