Trampling Over Paradise

Susan Morse's Sept. 19 Travel article included the following passage regarding a hike at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico: "The climber in our group (and the only one in sandals, natch) took one look at the crumbly three- and four-story rock forms that announced the start of our hike and ran gleefully up their sides. As an environmentalist, he should have known better, but there was no one around to chide him."

That this sort of behavior was publicized in your newspaper is distressing. The stone is incredibly fragile, and it is crumbling -- which is what created the formations in the first place. If people run on the crumbling rock formations, there may not be any tent rocks left to visit.

-- Janice Williams

Washington

Don't Dismiss Haiti

Why have the deaths of nearly 700 people in Haiti been relegated to Pages A15 ["Storm's Death Toll in Haiti Exceeds 600," Sept. 21] and A20 ["Haitian City Bears Brunt of Jeanne," Sept. 22] of your newspaper? (Yesterday's front page had a mention of a story again inside the A section.) It's bad enough that Iraqi deaths in our mistake of a war are brushed under the rug by the Bush administration, but the placement of this article underscores the arrogant notion that non-American lives are of less worth. Only when we recognize the value of all lives will we begin to address the problems stemming from anti-American sentiments.

-- Karen Kuzniczci

Haymarket, Va.

Suspicious Slip-Up

Thousands of members of Vietnam veterans against John Kerry demonstrated on Sept. 12 near the U.S. Capitol. I perused the Sept. 13 edition of your paper for some mention of this event without success. Obviously your editors did not think that an anti-Kerry protest (so close to the election) by Vietnam veterans was important enough for mention in the newspaper. Why, pray tell, did your paper not cover this event?

-- William N. Ciccolo

Springfield

Overblown Storm Story

Having just moved to the Washington area after eight wonderful years in New Orleans, I take bitter exception to the Sept. 15 front-page article "Awaiting Ivan in the Big Uneasy" by Michael Grunwald and Manuel Roig-Franzia.

The first two paragraphs of the article quoted an emergency management official as saying that New Orleans would "cease to exist" if a Category 4 Hurricane Ivan made a direct hit, and that the city had 10,000 body bags at the ready. For your newspaper to have led this story with such sensationalistic talk was irresponsible.

Anyone can develop a doomsday scenario. Yes, the city was threatened with severe damage, and yes, many of its natural protections are vanishing, and, yes, a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico is a scary proposition. But such sensationalistic treatment by the media damages the wonderful image of a beautiful city that has been around for nearly 300 years and is still kicking.

-- Shane Cohen

Potomac

About Moscow's 'Chinatown'

Bill Thomas [Magazine, Sept. 19] correctly observes that Moscow's Kitai Gorod, which he translates as "Chinatown," does not appear to have much Chinese influence.

Had Thomas done a little research, he would have discovered that there is much debate concerning the origin of the word "Kitai" in this use, but that the translation of "Chinatown" has been uniformly dismissed. The most consistent explanation is that Kitai originates from an archaic word for the wooden stakes (kita) used to build the surrounding walls, and some even translate it as "wooden city."

-- Kristen Koines

Fairfax