Let it snow -- but not in Baltimore!You hear it every time...

the Forum

March 04, 1993

Let it snow -- but not in Baltimore!

You hear it every time there is talk of snow: ''I want it to snow,'' "I don't want to see any snow."

For the people who say they want it to snow, I don't think many realize the problems of a deep snow storm -- for the truckers who have to answer calls on the side streets which are not cleaned off, for the police who have to answer calls for the paramedics, for the people who have to drive to work.

Many years ago, Baltimore got the reputation of being called ''Panic City." People flock to the super-marts, to the drug store for prescriptions, to the hardware store, etc. They act as though they will not get out for a month.

Bob Crooks


U.S. airdrops over Balkans are too risky

By directing airdrops of supplies into former Yugoslavia, our new president and his administration demonstrate the same ignorance about military matters they showed in directing our armed services to accept gays. This time, they're going to get people killed.

After taking part in many air deliveries and airdrops (the two terms mean different things) in Vietnam, I know that parachuting 2,000-pound pallets from an altitude of 10,000 feet (almost two miles) is an exercise in futility. Cargo parachutes are affected by every vagrant breeze on the way down and can be blown several miles away from their target, perhaps even to the enemy.

Most of the besieged people are in enclaves at the bottom of deep valleys. Anybody who has seen what the wind can do to a baseball in stadiums with high sides (e.g., Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia) should imagine what will happen to material parachuted into the winds that swirl in these valleys, some of which are 2,000 to 3,000 feet deep. It would be pure luck if five percent of the supplies reach the people in these villages, most of which are at the bottom of these valleys.

In addition, the ''bad guys'' command the heights. Certain of them have shoulder-fired aircraft weapons effective up to 8,000 feet above the terrain from which they are fired. The unarmed C-130, our primary tactical resupply aircraft, is no match for these weapons, even with AWACS monitoring the source of the ground fire.

Only one of the three warring factions has agreed not to interfere. These hilltops must be ''sanitized'' first, just as we did the areas from which we extracted downed aircrews in North Vietnam and Laos. Then we can use low-level parachute extraction (the aircraft flies five to six feet over a field and releases a drag chute that drags out the cargo). This method is far more accurate.

I sympathize with the people trapped in these villages. However, until we can make air deliveries by low-flying aircraft safe for the aircrews, Mr. Clinton and his friends would be well advised to leave the situation alone, pathetic as it may be.

Charles A. Frainie


Whither Clinton?

Our new president, although elected with only 43 percent of the popular vote, no doubt has the good wishes of the majority of Americans in his effort to improve the economic health of the nation.

The principle of "fairness in sacrifice" seems the intent of his program, with which reasonable individuals can scarcely find fault.

However, the ever-pressing problem of deficit reduction and the crushing national debt must remain in the forefront of consideration by both executive and legislative arms.

It remains questionable whether the added billions from the "sacrifice" will be used to deal with these matters or be blown away on new-old social programs pushed by Mr. Clinton's legion of advisers, including his wife and the undistinguished coterie comprising his cabinet.

The next six months will no doubt reveal Clinton's true direction. Will he prove worthy of voter confidence, or be exposed as just "Slick Willie, the artful dodger"?

Samuel M. Poist


Stop the slide

The discovery that "Dateline NBC" faked crash results is another illustration of the fading distinction between news and entertainment.

Understandably, most of what we see as TV "news" is presented visually, and more emphasis is given to those events that show well. There seems to be a preponderance of disasters, wars, starving babies, violence and plane crashes, and little of the less dramatic events that really make up most of the news.

Since news shows are a very valuable part of a network's ratings, the pressure is on to make them more interesting. The question they seem to have trouble answering is what is too much.

One national news program did a lead-in for its all-important movie about Amy Fisher. All the networks routinely use national news programs to announce the "big" story on the pop news shows airing later in the evening.

Many of the stories on the investigative news programs aren't news at all, just entertainment with a news story as the lead-in -- something to give the program legitimacy.

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