Fighting Fires on a Global Level

Thank you for bringing the world's attention again to the problem of world fire in "Facing Burning Forests, Russia Can't Afford a Bucket" (Oct. 15).

I find it tragically ironic that the single most powerful aerial weapon against big fires is found in Russia. Proven at home and in a most successful campaign on Greece's 100-year fires this summer, the Russian Federation's EMERCOM, needs a boost by earning cash in foreign markets before sufficient copies can be made for the home fires. Without money, the home fires will continue to burn, taking their toll both on Russia's future, and on the world's environment.

The Russians were up against seemingly intractable bureaucrats in western firefighting agencies who seem to have a hard time admitting (1) they have a duty to find the most effective means of suppression for their own fires and (2) they owe the rest of the world honest objectivity on any judgements they make on others' methods. The Russians broke through in Greece in spite of opinion in the west.

No longer hamstrung by a 1994 US Forest Service report on the aircraft the Russians called "unprofessional," EMERCOM is now a proven service in some world fire-fighting decision-making circles. It is like those overseeing the G-7's Pilot Program for Amazon fire protection, regrettably, not yet in others.

John Anderson

Calgary, Alberta

Global Emergency Response

Stadiums and sports support

As I read your article "Colleges Add Stadiums to Game Plan" (Oct. 14) on the latest excess by colleges as millions are spent on college football, I noticed the common refrain that big college football programs support the other sports. I have heard this litany from many friends at big football schools and it deserves to be examined more critically.

When I was going to college, we had a question we would ask the football people: "What college has the highest level of athletic participation in the US?" As they would try, and quote Michigan or other big football schools, they always missed the correct answer. This was because the school with the highest level of participation (over 99 percent if I remember correctly) was MIT, a school without a football program. MIT has an extremely large and competitive intermural program, as well as good intercollegiate programs, several of which have extremely good records.

The obvious point here is that when all the money and attention is not focused on a commercial sports venture supporting (and abusing) a few athletes, then the focus is on providing students with the benefits of playing sports, which is a proper mission for a college.

The other point no one seems to raise, is that with all the millions raised from alumni going to new stadiums, then obviously that money is not going to other buildings, or endowments, or programs at the university.

Personally I believe that these pro-college programs should be spun off from the universities and run by the NFL as a farm team program or as professional football/sports schools.

Jamie Ross

Via e-mail

Monitor partisanship

Your editorial "'Did-Something' Congress" (Oct. 15) makes me think your [view] is Republican. I don't like the biased anti-Democrat tone and content of the article. I thought the Monitor was an impartial, unbiased, straight paper. That editorial was not.

If the Republicans had spent more time on the real business and agenda of importance and less on the Clinton [situation], they would have done their work.

Louis Bernstein

Redmond, Wash.

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