Every week, The Post runs a collection of letters of readers’ grievances — pointing out grammatical mistakes, missing coverage and inconsistencies. These letters tell us what we did wrong and, occasionally, offer praise. Here, we present this week’s Free for All letters.

Where was this Fourth of July coverage?

I was disappointed at The Post’s decision not to provide photographs or hardly any coverage in print of the protest at the Fourth of July activities. The July 5 front-page article “A divided America gathers for Fourth” remarked on “Baby Trump balloons bobbing in protest,” but there was barely anything about it in the lengthy coverage. There were no photographs of the protests, either.


Marsha Liebl, Germantown

I was disappointed that The Post’s print coverage of the Fourth of July activities in Washington ignored the spectacular and nationally broadcast “A Capitol Fourth” celebration on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol.


I’m a big fan of this annual event, and this year’s was by far the best — fast-paced, family-friendly, rich with a full spectrum of musical genres and outstanding performers. Plus “Sesame Street” characters, the National Symphony Orchestra, the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band and a breathtaking finale with the Mall fireworks framing the whole celebratory, nonpartisan, patriotic scene. And it could have been attended by thousands more than those who had to squeeze into the smaller Lincoln Memorial venue for the president’s speech.


Let the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”) be The Post’s role model: It somehow managed to be at both events.

Robert H. Hurt, Washington

'Condimentization'? A bastardization!

The July 10 front-page article “Your new main squeeze? A standup pouch is changing condiments.” used the word “condimentization.” Ouch. Certainly, English, unlike Akkadian and Latin, is a living language, and words must be added to describe new concepts. It is difficult, though, to imagine some scribe back in Sumer creating the cuneiform for “condimentization.”


Is this right to neologism universal? If so, is it inherent or earned? Are there standards, or are all permitted to mint new words? Alas, standards lead to regulations, websites and, possibly, cabinet positions. Our only hope is that editors be more critical in protecting the public from this new plague.


F.W. Lillis, Leesburg

What are our troops doing there?

The July 7 Retropolis article, “50 years ago, Life magazine stunned readers by showing Vietnam’s toll,” still stunned, especially when — two pages later — I encountered The Post’s regular listing of “Afghanistan war deaths,” now numbering 2,425. Also stunning was the explanatory note at the end of the Afghanistan list stating that the numbers “include service members killed in other locations involved in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, including” 15 countries outside the United States.


As a news junkie and retired Navy officer, I had no idea that we had service members in harm’s way in places such as Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sudan, Yemen or Tajikistan. What the heck are they doing in those remote places? Piloting drones? Special operations? Logistics? Diplomatic missions? I think The Post and its stated source, the Defense Department, should tell us why they are out there and give us an understanding of how many are considered to be in harm’s way.

Ed Nanas, Reston

Three sports stories that inspire

The first all-female crew to sail in the Whitbread Round the World Race [“Her mom broke barriers at sea. She’s set to sail on same yacht.”]. Two climbers seeking a new route to the top of Mount Everest [“On Everest, an intrepid search for new route”]. Thanks for making room for these inspirational stories in the July 5 Sports section among traditional sports coverage.


Tricia Obester, Arlington

Something changed in the Sports section the past couple of weeks with women’s soccer and Megan Rapinoe; Cori “Coco” Gauff, a 15-year-old who was making a run at Wimbledon; and the awesome Washington Mystics all taking up some prominent space in the Sports section. I hope the paper continues covering all great sports teams and athletes.

Sandy Shin, Crofton

A reminder of what really matters

I was absolutely charmed by Elizabeth Bruenig’s July 8 op-ed, “Dear Clare: Welcome to the world.” With all of the discord and noise in today’s political world and in the media that covers it, it is incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating to step back and be reminded of what really matters: life and, eventually, eternal life. Thanks to Bruenig for expressing the joy and sorrow that awaits her little Clare Heather. Baby Clare is blessed to have such a loving mother.


Judi A. Teske, Arlington

The poor placement of these comics is no laughing matter

I assume comic-strip artists don’t know their comics will be adjacent to one another, but editors do. The July 6 “Speed Bump” featured capital punishment (complete with hooded executioner); “Dennis the Menace” joked about solitary confinement.

With frequent insightful articles and opinion pieces about absurdly high rates of imprisonment in the United States, especially for black men, The Post should know that incarceration is no laughing matter. The April 29 editorial “Progress, but too slow” said, “If the country no longer wants to be known as the world’s greatest jailer, reform must continue in statehouses and Congress toward a system that is geared less toward warehousing people and more toward ensuring public safety without wasting human potential.” While we’re at it, let’s not make light of cruel and unusual punishment in the funny pages.


Michele Claeys, Washington

What's killing the bees

The July 6 Economy & Business article “Tough times continue for honeybee colonies” said a University of Maryland entomologist claimed that “the biggest threat is varroa mites” in regard to honeybee deaths. This claim is based on a survey of beekeepers’ opinions, not science. Beekeepers look at their failed hives and try to guess what killed their bees. Laboratory tests for pesticides are rarely done, as each costs about $400 per hive, and pesticides are difficult to detect.

The Bee Informed Partnership associated with U-Md. is funded by Bayer CropScience, Syngenta and CropLife America through the Honey Bee Health Coalition. An entomologist from U-Md. has previously forgotten to disclose conflicts of interest when publishing.


Bees are a subset of the flying insects that are in shocking decline worldwide. That decline can’t be blamed entirely on mites: They harm only honeybees. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that pesticides are harming bees (as well as flying insects in general), which supports what the beekeepers have said and is consistent with reports of massive insect declines.


Bees can fly miles from their hives to retrieve nectar and pollen. If they are killed by a lethal dose of pesticide in a farmer’s field or in someone’s garden, they will not return to the hive. Such a pesticide kill is indistinguishable from colony collapse disorder. Scientists have shown that even if bees survive pesticide exposure, they may die young, have a compromised immune system or lose the ability to navigate effectively. Pesticide exposure leads to exactly what beekeepers see as their hives fail: a dwindling population that can’t support the colony.

For the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, systemics, the entire plant becomes poisonous, including its nectar and pollen. Neonicotinoids are a chemical class of systemics that have become the world’s most widely used insecticides. Pesticide industry supporters will tell you that “pesticide use has reduced dramatically” in the past 40 years. They fail to mention that one pound of imidacloprid, the most widely used neonicotinoid insecticide, is so incredibly potent that it is about 7,000 times more toxic for bees than a pound of an older pesticide. Neonicotinoids are so harmful to bees that they have been banned in the European Union , even in the face of intense pressure by agribusiness to keep them in use. But here in the United States, we beekeepers have to lose, on average, one-third to almost half of our hives each year while the Environmental Protection Agency does nothing to reduce what is undeniably a major contributor to, if not the outright cause of, the death of our pollinators: pesticides.


Luke Goembel, Idlewylde, Md.


The writer is a member of the board of the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association.

Define 'upheld'

The July 8 front-page article “Court’s ruling on ACA could cost GOP” claimed that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act “twice,” presumably referring to National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius in 2012 and King v. Burwell in 2015.

King v. Burwell did not uphold the ACA. On the contrary, King overturned part of the ACA.

The King plaintiffs challenged the Internal Revenue Service’s unexplained decision to spend funds that the ACA plainly does not authorize it to spend and to impose the ACA’s mandate penalty on millions of Americans whom the plain language of the statute exempts. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. affirmed that “the most natural reading” of the operative statutory language favors the plaintiffs. In other words, the plaintiffs sued to uphold the ACA as written.

The court nevertheless upheld the Obama administration’s rewriting of the statute. In so doing, it overturned part of the ACA.

Michael F. Cannon, Washington

The writer is director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute.

What would you do without 'What do you do?'

The July 6 Style article “A question that makes small talk a big chore” admonished the common social icebreaker of “What do you do?” as an invasive question that should not be asked because it gauges status in the career place or social hierarchy. What an incredible overreach.

It is best in any gathering to ask people about themselves rather than talk about oneself. When I ask “What do you do?” it’s an open-ended question with no motive or subject in mind. The person can tell me about his or her lofty career or about his or her thoughts on any topic. It is an open invitation to have a dialogue and learn from each other. Should we instead opt directly for politics or religion firebrands, or just stare at each other in uncomfortable silence?

Dave Sullivan, Sterling

The votes that matter

In his July 10 op-ed, “The pathbreaker for Trump: Ross Perot,” David Von Drehle said because Ross Perot got nearly 20 percent of the popular vote when he ran for president in 1992, he was “the most successful outsider candidate since Theodore Roosevelt in 1912.”

Roosevelt won six states, garnering 88 electoral votes. Perot won no states and had no electoral votes. George Wallace in 1968, however, gained five states and 46 electoral votes, admittedly via a mere 13.5 percent of the popular vote.

As we learned painfully in 2000 and 2016, popular votes are nice, but electoral votes are dispositive.

Emory Damron, Alexandria

Children, with a glass of Chardonnay

I was surprised and saddened by the July 8 Style article “Rising sober-curious movement challenges ‘wine-mom’ culture.” It seems to be based on the presumption that moms drinking wine or champagne at soccer practices and 10 a.m. birthday parties for their children is the new norm. Acting against the norm are a courageous few who are wondering what it would be like to attend these events completely sober. However, one D.C. mom warned that sobriety may be okay for some, but “if it’s taking away one of the few things that other moms have to find a little moment of joy, that’s a problem, too.”

I’m no teetotaler and, being male, I probably have no credibility on the subject, but I think it’s very sad if parents consider child-rearing such a burden that it can be suffered through only with the help of alcohol. I also found it a little disturbing that the potential danger of transporting children home while under the influence was not even mentioned by anyone involved in the debate.

Ron Hill, Woodbridge

Biodegradable bags, perhaps?

Hear, hear for the call in the July 7 editorial “An ocean of plastic” for a global, all-hands approach to limiting the environmental degradation wrought by one-time-use plastics. Yet I can’t help but wonder: How does The Post intend to keep my morning newspaper dry?

Paul S. Hewitt, Bethesda

You do the math

The July 7 Arts & Style article “Now on display: The museum sector’s gender pay gap” stated that the “median salary for male chief curators was $71,050, compared to $55,550 for women” — a difference of $15,500. That’s bad, but the article underplayed how bad. It uses the conventional male-biased approach of saying that women are paid about 20 percent or so less than men. A more sympathetic approach would have emphasized that the men are paid about 30 percent more than women.

Emphasizing 30 percent, rather than 20 percent, should enrage a lot more activists and managers to take more effective remedial action. I have a stake in this because I’m the father of a daughter who is a superb artist who is also aiming to be a museum curator.

Bob Meehan, Washington

Why so crabby?

Regarding the July 9 Style article “Crabby about picking”:

Who knew there were that many people to whine about picking and eating the meat of our local Chesapeake Bay resource — the blue crab?

Of course it’s easier to buy a hamburger, as the article implied, or to get more meat from a boiled lobster. But is that really the point? There wasn’t a single soul from the area to be found who enjoys the fine points of picking and eating Chesapeake Bay blue crabs? How about an equal-length article in which crab lovers share their tips on the fine points of picking and eating crabs?

Michael Rae, Potomac

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