Podunk Protest Coverage

Your coverage of last weekend's anti-Iraq war protest was both inadequate and disingenuous. Washington is not just our home town, it is also the nation's capital. Protests in the nation's capital on issues of major national debate and importance belong in the A section.

Placing the story in the Metro section ["Antiwar Protest Largest Since '60s," Oct. 27] provides you with a "but we covered it" excuse, but a protest of that size deserves much more prominence. Yours was the coverage of a parochial paper, not one of national stature.

-- Karen Lubieniecki

Bloody Sunday

Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald on Sunday morning, not Saturday morning, the day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, as Tim Maloney writes ["Forty Years Later, Another Black October," Close to Home, Oct. 20].

I was two months shy of my 13th birthday, and my parents made me watch TV that morning with them. I'll never forget seeing that murder.

I've never seen another one live in my life.

-- Mike Goldstein

Keep Sleeping Babies Safe

The Oct. 29 "For Better or For Worse" strip shows that there is still a need to help people understand the safest way to put a baby to sleep. The opening panel in the strip shows a newborn lying in the crib on her side, not on her back, as is recommended by scientific evidence showing that the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is greatly reduced by always placing a baby on his or her back to sleep.

In addition, the baby is lying on soft bedding surrounded by stuffed toys. Federal guidelines aimed at reducing SIDS specifically warn parents and child-care providers against these practices.

As executive director of Zero to Three, a national nonprofit focused on early childhood development, I commend Lynn Johnston for addressing the questions that families face in a sensitive, wise and lighthearted manner. Here's hoping she will get the message on the importance of reducing SIDS by placing babies on their backs to sleep.

-- Matthew E. Melmed

His Acting Speaks Louder

I was saddened to read about the passing of the great artist Richard Harris, two-time Oscar nominee for best actor, but wondered why the headline "Rowdy Irish-Born Actor Richard Harris Dies at 72" was used.

Are you suggesting that his rowdiness was linked to his Irish birth? Why even use "rowdy"? Richard Harris will be remembered for his performances in more than 60 movies. Why not praise his accomplishments rather than his weakness in your headline?

The New York Times used a much more appropriate headline: "Richard Harris, Versatile and Volatile Star, 72, Dies."

-- Brian P. O'Hanlon

Before the Beatles

The Dave McKenna review of Elvis Costello's show at Constitution Hall [Style, Oct. 28] noted that he covered " 'Slow Down' by the Beatles." While the Beatles recorded a tremendous version of "Slow Down," the song was written and originally recorded by Larry Williams. The Beatles covered two additional songs by Williams, "Bad Boy" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzie."

-- David Mencarini

Cartoon Talk

No one was more overjoyed than I was at the news that the great Herblock was to be succeeded by Tom Toles, whose work I have admired for years. That said, his skills as a cartoonist apparently are not matched by his skills as a grammarian. The last box of the cartoon published on Oct. 29 has President Bush stating, "We won control of Congress, but they are more confused than ever."

Does Toles (or any of the editors to whom he submits his cartoons for review) not realize that "Congress" is singular and therefore requires a singular pronoun and verb? The cartoon should have read, " . . . but it's more confused than ever."

Or was Toles, in addition to cleverly commenting on Bush's struggles with his political strategy over Iraq, also cleverly commenting on Bush's struggles with grammar and syntax?

-- Bruce G. Kauffmann