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On Dec. 6, the Mail Tribune ran an Associated Press story, "Rate of births to teens rises for first time in 15 years." According to the CDC, teen births rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006.

Corresponding to that time frame, in the last decade we have spent more than $1 billion on abstinence-only programs. Now we have another piece of evidence that illustrates abstinence-only education doesn't work.

Other recent studies have shown that abstinence-only programs don't reduce the number of teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections. Even worse, they deny teens medically accurate information about their own bodies and how to keep themselves safe and healthy.

We have a preventable public health problem in this country — at last count an estimated 750,000 American teens will become pregnant this year and nearly 4 million will contract a sexually transmitted infection.

Preventing unwanted pregnancies is an important part of helping young women to enhance their futures. Now, more than ever, we have mounting evidence that shows which methods work and which don't. I urge you to support comprehensive sex education in our schools and to request that your federal legislators cut funding to dangerous and costly abstinence-only programs. — Erin Wolford-Keller, Ashland

Let's assume that in his Nov. 30 letter, Allen Stewart made two valid points:

1. We invaded Iraq to "free up Iraq's oil for the Western world."

2. We never should have attacked Saddam Hussein, "no matter how much we despised him or his way of running Iraq."

Would we need to invade for oil if the Democrats would let us drill for our own?

It's a safe bet that millions of Americans who agree with point No. 2 are still thumping their chests over the 2.7 million tons of bombs we dropped six decades ago, and the massive invasion we staged against you-know-who.

Such inconsistencies have actually created a consistency. It's up to you to figure out what it is. — Ron Smith, Medford

Hey, Portland! My family came to Oregon from Oklahoma in the 1930s to "follow the fruit" and I was picking beans in the Willamette Valley when I was 9 years old.

Schools would let out early or take up late in the year to allow kids to help with the harvest. We earned enough money during the summer to buy all of our school clothes for the coming school year and help with the family food and fuel budget in addition.

The only union representation we had was the common need and the realization that we didn't want to be bean pickers for the rest of our lives. The only "freebies" we got were from school teachers who were handing out free education to anyone who wanted it and school lunches.

Now, I want a street named after me, OK? Get it right. — Charley Watson, Medford

Merry Christmas to us, the Oregon taxpayers. Our state has once again generously compensated us for their inability to do math.

I was happy to receive the check, but surprised there wasn't a thank-you note for the no-interest loan. Where else can you generate that much extra revenue for the cost of a stamp?

I wouldn't be so cynical if it wasn't for the fact that three months after filing my state taxes and including a very generous check to the powers that be, I received a bill for not having enough taxes deducted from my paycheck. Based upon the size of my kicker check it is obvious I really didn't overpay.

What do you think the odds are of getting a refund on my penalty? Better yet, where do I send my bill for the interest due on what was overpaid? — Dave Rucker, Medford