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The real threat to Christmas

Your editorial Thursday about the war on Christmas failed to note the real threat to the spirit of Christmas: Its transformation from a sacred celebration of the love and compassion embodied by Jesus, into a months-long shopping binge.

For Jerry Falwell and his cohorts to insist that retailers identify this orgy with Christmas shows just how warped their minds are. Such so-called preachers put the fundament back in fundamentalism. ' Michael Steely, Medford

Student loan cuts damaging

As elected student representatives, we fear the repercussions that cuts to the federal student loan program will have on access to higher education.

Financial aid administrators tell students that we can rely on multiple student loan borrower benefits to make loan repayment an easy process. Yet many of these benefits are in jeopardy because the government plans to eliminate them and make school more expensive for millions of students.

Through a special process known as budget reconciliation, Congress has proposed to repeal repayment benefits and make other cuts to the student loan programs that will hurt students. On Nov. 4, Sen. Gordon Smith voted in favor of the Senate's version of budget reconciliation; on Nov. 17 Rep. Greg Walden voted in favor of the House version of the bill.

Both of these representatives will have another opportunity to represent students and support access to higher education. In December a final version of the bill will be put to a vote in both houses, and no votes from Sen. Smith and Rep. Walden are needed to defeat this dangerous legislation.

— A no vote from Smith and Walden will help guarantee access to higher education for many students and their families. ' Kurt Manseau, Associated Students of Southern Oregon University president, and Evan Bell, ASSOU director of governmental affairs

Oppose mining changes

Thank you for your editorial on the mining law changes Rep. Richard Pombo has inserted into the House budget bill. It should not have been allowed to get that far, and it may yet make it into law if citizens who want their public lands to remain in public hands don't move immediately to tell their congressional representatives in both House and Senate to keep it out of the final bill.

It is a terrible idea, with potentially devastating consequences for this area. Remember the Nicore mining claims in the Kalmiopsis area? That one's not over yet, and if the Pombo changes are enacted, it could still happen ' thousands of acres of pristine Rough and Ready Creek landscape at serious risk of becoming private property, and an environmental sacrifice zone.

Please speak up, folks, and let Congress know this piece of the budget bill is completely unacceptable. ' Carol Ampel, Medford

Troops deserve more

Many now press for a speedy and cowardly withdrawal from Iraq. Nothing could be more destructive to the interest of our nation or to the fledgling democracy in Iraq than to have our soldiers leave Iraq too early.

Our troops deserve more than this after all the blood, sweat and tears they have expended to give this troubled nation a chance at democracy and freedom. Rather than turn like cowards to avoid our responsibility, I would accept the tragic but necessary deaths of more civilians and more of our noble soldiers.

I would demand every soldier in Iraq face certain death, horrible maiming and torture, rather than leave one second earlier than is necessary for the victory of freedom. Even if it meant that the result of staying in Iraq much longer would bring about worldwide economic collapse and misery, with millions of little girls and boys all over the globe starving to death, I would still insist we stay the course. Let us fly the flag and endure! ' Gerald P. Murphy, Yreka, Calif.