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Letters: Automakers, GM CEO, 'American Buffalo'

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Listeners weigh in on the plight of the Big Three automakers, correct an impression GM CEO Rick Wagoner gave about the failed electric car, the EV-1, and opine on Steve Rinella's book American Buffalo.


From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Melissa Block. Our inbox has been overflowing with email about the CEOs of Ford, GM and Chrysler. David Havilland of Houston, Texas, says he thinks the Big Three should be asking for a big loan from Big Oil. He writes, the oil companies share a major part of the responsibility for where the Big Three automakers are today. For the oil companies, 20-plus billion is pocket change.

NORRIS: Some of you took issue with the statement by GM CEO Rick Wagoner on our program yesterday. When asked about mistakes that contributed to GM's problems, Wagoner first cited the company's inability to continue the EV1, an electric concept car it developed in the 1990s. Wagoner said the EV1 was not a financial success.

BLOCK: Ben Nips of Austin, Texas, points out that GM never actually sold the EV1; it was only available by lease. Nips says that debacle was nothing more than an attempt to say that no one wanted an electric car in hopes that California and national legislators would ease up on environmental standards.

NORRIS: On a different subject, my interview with author Steven Rinella. His book "American Buffalo" is about history and his hunt for buffalo in Alaska.

Mr. STEVEN RINELLA (Author, "American Buffalo"): I pulled the trigger and it fell immediately and slid down a snowy hillside and crashed into a stand of timber. And by time I got down there, it was dead.

NORRIS: Hmm, writes Sue Sprinkle of Fairbanks, Alaska, so this hunter claims to be interested in the history of buffalo. What better way to understand something than to kill and eat it? We should all be glad that he's not an anthropologist.

BLOCK: David Clumpner wrote from Okinawa, Japan, to disagree. He says, hunting, to most of us who do it, is far beyond just shooting and killing. For me, it's about knowing where my food comes from, being a witness to or participant in the process of death, developing close family relationships and, as your speaker noted, finding a connection to the history that is both my ancestors' means of survival and the animal's cultural relevance.

NORRIS: Well, send us your comments, relevant or otherwise. Go to, click on Contact Us, and tell us where you're from and how to pronounce your name.

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