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The Death of Supercar; Bad Vibrations; Farewell, Philip Berrigan

The Death of Supercar

In 1993, amid much fanfare, President Bill Clinton and the heads of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors announced a bold and ambitious goal: to develop a family car capable of getting 80 miles to the gallon.  Nine years and billions of taxpayers' dollars later, Supercar is dead.

The failure of the Supercar effort "stands as a sobering reminder of the forces arrayed against greater fuel efficiency and a cleaner environment," writes Sam Roe in the first of a series of forceful articles running in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  [Registration required.]  Having squandered an opportunity to protect the environment, conserve energy and wean itself from foreign oil, the U.S. instead finds itself more dependent than ever on Mideast oil, even as war in Iraq looms.

What went wrong?  "A review of thousands of government and industry documents ... show[s] that the Big Three automakers and U.S. government officials repeatedly put their own short-term interests and political agendas ahead of what was good for the project and what was good for the country," writes Roe.  Instead of lowering gas consumption, "the average fuel economy for new passenger vehicles on U.S. roads is the worst in 20 years, largely because of consumers? increasing desire for gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks."

Could an anti-SUV backlash finally be gathering critical mass?  "Unlike any other vehicle before it, the SUV is the car of choice for the nation's most self-centered people," writes Stephanie Mencimer in an angry Washington Monthly review of a recent anti-sport-ute book by New York Times reporter Keith Bradsher.  "The bigger the SUV, the more of a jerk its driver is likely to be."


Short Takes

The Times Takes a Mulligan
The New York Times prints the Augusta National-related sports columns by Dave Anderson and Harvey Araton that were spiked last week amid considerable controversy.

The Feel Bad President
George W. Bush never makes verbal gaffes when talking about violence, punishment and death, NYU communications professor Mark Crispin Miller tells The Toronto Star.

Bad Vibrations
Dick Cheney's neighbors are rattled by mysterious construction at the veep's Naval Observatory home, reports David Nakamura in The Washington Post.

Farewell, Philip Berrigan
Jacques Kelly and Carl Schoettler remember the dedicated, oft-imprisoned Roman Catholic anti-war activist, in The Baltimore Sun.

Serious Athletes Only
Paul Cabana checks out the World Rock-Paper-Scissors Championship in Toronto, for The Boston Globe.

I Am One of You
Leander Kahney defends Wired's "Cult of Mac" series of articles against peeved and complaining Apple fanatics.

A Taste of His Own Medicine
A bulk e-mailer profiled in the Detroit Free Press is being bombarded with junk mail, reports columnist Mike Wendland.

I've Been Practicing
National Hand Washing Awareness Week is here at last.

Want more links? The Spike Report regularly follows links from these useful daily Weblogs: Jim Romenesko's MediaNews and The Obscure Store offer highlights in the areas of news, features and media gossip; Arts Journal and Arts & Letters Daily cover the arts and culture beat; the Utne Web Watch Daily cherry-picks the alternative press; E-Media Tidbits and the UK Guardian weblog find consistently interesting selections; Metafilter, Boing Boing and Eliot Gelwan's Follow Me Here offer an eclectic mix of political, technical, scientific and general-interest items.

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