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The investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involve more than 290,000 Mazda3s from the 2007-2009 model years and nearly 50,000 Z4s from the 2003-2005 model years.

NHTSA say it has received 33 complaints of steering problems in the Mazda3s and reports of three crashes thought to be tied to the problem.

The government has received 107 complaints in the BMWs and one crash has been reported.

The complaints involve the loss of power steering, making it difficult to maintain control.

Government investigations sometimes lead to recalls.


Gates wants military interviews cleared

Military officials will need Pentagon clearance for interviews and other dealings with reporters, according to an order from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates not long after the top general in Afghanistan was sacked for his comments in a magazine article.

The order, issued by Mr. Gates on Friday in a brief memo to military and civilian personnel worldwide and effective immediately, tells officials to make sure they are not going out of bounds or unintentionally releasing information that the Pentagon wants to hold back.

The order, first reported by the New York Times on its website Friday night, has been in the works since long before Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal stunned his bosses with criticism and complaints in a Rolling Stone article that his superiors did not know was coming.

“We were not happy with the content, and we were not happy that we didn’t know about it,” Assistant Defense Secretary Douglas Wilson said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Wilson promised that no “Iron Curtain” would fall between the Pentagon and the news media.

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