Monkey Business

The June 21 KidsPost article on the new farm at the National Zoo says there is a reason the donkeys are different from the zoo's popular pandas and chimps: You can touch them. But the reason you can't touch chimps at the zoo is that there aren't any and haven't been any for many years.

-- David Krohne

Washington

Barbarism Begins at Home

A quick scan of your paper's online Crime Watch database reveals that, as of the end of May, more than 35 people have been murdered in the District in the previous four months.

Why does your paper deluge readers with graphic depictions of barbaric news from the Middle East but keep them largely ignorant of the blood bath going on in their own back yards? What roles do your paper, the police and the D.C. government play in keeping this news quiet? What role do we as citizens of this country and city play in turning a blind eye?

-- Laura L. Bird

Washington

Terrorists Don't 'Execute'

It is disconcerting that respected media organizations such as your paper often inaccurately refer to innocents slaughtered by barbarians as having been "executed" [news stories, June 24 and June 27].

"Execution" refers to putting someone to death in accordance with a legally imposed sentence. When lawless thugs kidnap people off the street and slaughter them without benefit of any legal process or any accusation of a crime, that's not an execution.

By referring to these crimes as executions, the media play into the hands of the captors of our citizens and those of other nations.

-- Oren M. Spiegler

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Clinton Caveat

Here's an "obvious caveat" for readers of Howard Kurtz ["Bill Clinton's Aura: Still at the Cleaners," Style, June 21]: Facts may not be as factual as they appear. Kurtz writes that Ronald Reagan left office a popular figure, while Bill Clinton's departure "was clouded by his wave of last-minute pardons." But didn't Clinton leave office with a higher approval rating than Reagan? Explain that.

-- Mike Di Paola

New York

Metro -- Riders = Smog

It's a shame that your paper's extensive coverage of the Metro fare increases that are driving passengers back to their cars ["Increased Mass Transit Fees Irritate Passengers," Metro, June 29] appeared separately from coverage of the Environmental Protection Agency's air quality analysis ["EPA Says Millions Are Inhaling Too-Sooty Air," news story, June 30].

In the Washington area, vehicles are the largest source of air pollution. According to your article, transit officials expect the fare increases to steer nearly 20,000 commuters back to their cars, aggravating the pollution problem.

If our region is serious about improving air quality, we must make Metro an attractive, affordable alternative. Costlier fares are only going to make our air quality worse.

-- Julie Eisenhardt

Washington

Sour Flower

Since when does your paper provide full-page advertisements for inexperienced, unqualified entrepreneurs ["Flower Empowered," Home, June 24]? Washington is full of expert flower arrangers, many of whom give lectures and lessons in the art. What possible qualifications merited this woman (who admits to being ignorant of flower names and proper conditioning) being featured in a huge article with full-color pictures?

-- Nancy Murphy

Arlington