A New World Order? Oh, Yawn.

I am somewhat baffled by your muted front-page coverage of the German reunification ceremonies {Oct. 3}.

While I realize that something as transient and ephemeral as the complete redefinition of the post-Cold War world order could hardly compete with the news of Mark Rypien's latest injury or the annual budget wrangles, I hope that the imminent breakup of the Soviet Union will at least merit a short notice in your "World Briefs" column. The Berlin Wall may fall, but the Beltway will never crumble.

Thomas M. Kearney

Prudence, Not Panic

The Federal Page article on the U.S. Customs Service {Oct. 4} left your readers with the extraordinary impression that fiscal restraint in the shadow of the budget crisis is a sign of weakness.

There is a phrase in government, "anti-deficient," which means that you are spending money you don't have. It is a criminal offense, but more so it is a breach of faith with the working men and women of this country.

With that in mind, U.S. Customs Commissioner Carol B. Hallett issued orders to restrain certain expenditures. This action still protected Customs employees and allowed essential services to still be rendered.

Your paper chose to call this a panic. I call it prudence. Not one of your readers would conduct "business as usual" in the face of impending economic crisis, nor, I hope, would readers wish that government agencies would operate on standards lower than their own.

William A. Anthony

The writer is a special assistant for media affairs with the U.S. Customs Service. Unhappy Anniversary

Notice of the third anniversary national exhibit of the AIDS quilt, which took place in Washington during the first weekend in October, was buried so deeply in your paper that a reader would have needed the services of a seeing-eye dog to find it. Further, your paper didn't even report on the event itself or on the members of this community who took part in it.

Granted, this year's display was not the entire quilt; so many people continue to die with AIDS that the quilt has grown too large to be displayed in one place. Instead, large portions of it were displayed simultaneously in Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles.

The quilt is not old news, and it will not be old news until there is a cure for AIDS and until people in Washington and elsewhere in the United States and around the world are no longer sick and dying because of HIV infection. -- Carl Stein Misdiagnosis

Anyone who has read and been inspired by Norman Cousins's "Anatomy of an Illness" would know that Cousins recovered not from cancer, as Chuck Conconi stated in his Personality column {Style, Oct. 8}, but from a disease of the connective tissue called degenerative collagen illness.

-- Louise D. Piazza Verbal Abuse

Kindly inform your foreign news editors that "peril" is not a verb {"Humans Peril World's Biggest Swamp," Oct. 4}. The verb is "imperil."

This is not the first time I've seen "peril" abused in your paper, but I hope it will be the last. According to my dictionary, "peril" is a noun. The adjective form can be used to describe another noun (perilously), or an adverb can describe a degree or level of something ("perilously). "Imperil" is the verb.

Please don't let "peril" go the way of another abused noun, "impact."

-- Ruth E. Thaler-Carter More of the Same

Shirley S. Lynn's comments about Wheaton {Free for All, Oct. 6} perpetuated the mentality she was criticizing. Your paper's choice of denigrating adjectives such as "gritty blue collar" to describe those who work with their hands for a living was objectionble in itself {Metro, Sept. 19}, but Lynn's outrage reflected the same snobbery she felt your paper was subjecting her to.

I too have lived in Wheaton for more than 30 years. I am glad that I live in a city that has all kinds -- workers, professionals, business people and tradesmen. Such diversity is what makes Wheaton a community. -- Mary Chandler Avoiding the Question

Herbert J. Gans's response {Free for All, Sept. 29} to Mickey Kaus {op-ed, Sept. 18} is a perfect example as to why the general public should be wary of public policy "experts" such as Gans.

"Immorality is not a cause of human behavior," he wrote. Perhaps not, but immorality is the cause of immoral human behavior, such as depriving others of their life, liberty or lawfully acquired property.

Gans obviously doesn't believe that. In fact, like many of today's public policy types, he appears to be uncomfortable with discussions about morality. Just give everyone a "decent" job, and "poverty related" crime will disappear. The question of morality need not even be addressed.

Right. And Doc Holiday turned to gunslinging because he didn't have enough patients.

-- John J. Finerty Jr.