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While I applaud the Sierra Club attempts to talk sense and cooperation to the Mount Ashland Association over the proposed ski area expansion, I have to remind them that they may be dealing with a dog that won't hunt.

After all, MAA simply ignored skiers, snowboarders, and pass holders and their community expansion alternative that would provide for critical improvements, a new lift and access to the middle branch without clearcutting. Environmental community support of the compromise was evident, but not MAA's.

More generally, MAA continues to push expansion regardless of economic and climate conditions and signs from the community that they should fix current problems not clearcut the mountain.

It is unfortunate that decreasing snow loads threaten the ski area and that users fed up with poor management (the unplowed parking lot and the poor service) are using the area less. All conditions point to a difficult future for a wonderful ski area.

It is more unfortunate that MAA continues to choose conflict over compromise. MAA makes it nearly impossible for me to advocate for Mount Ashland ski area support with my non-skiing, non-snowboarding friends who welcome closure and reclamation of the ski area. — Derek Volkart, Talent

I appreciated the Tribune's coverage of the sad state of Roseburg area schools, but wondered why the situation here in Medford doesn't warrant the same attention. As an example, Jackson Elementary, serving vulnerable and at-risk children, has class sizes exceeding those cited in the article: 26 in kindergarten and K-1 split, 29 in second grade. These numbers are outrageous for primary grades, and intermediate is worse. My friend teaches 38 in his sixth-grade class.

As dire as these numbers are, they will get worse if Measures 66 and 67 don't pass in January. Medford School District states they will have a $3 million shortfall without the revenue generated by these measures.

I am worried for the future of our state when we cannot fund vital services like education. I am worried for the future of my grandchildren.

Yes on 66 and 67. — June Buck, Medford

Having spent 55 days in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia this fall, I'm speechless and amazed at their total lack of sleazy Fox News-Limbaugh-style broadcasts masquerading as news broadcasts. We Americans have gotten so used to this garbage, we think it's normal.

In February 2007, a drug-addled former Playboy model overdosed. Fox News gave this "epic event of our time" coverage worthy of 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing put together. Their smirking, titillating, gossipy, soap opera-style "reporting" gave 16-month nonstop attention to such epics as the "Child Beauty Queen Murder," the "Lacy Peterson Saga" and our own personal fave, the "Missing Teenager in Aruba."

Common sense tells us, if the person missing in Aruba was a plump 58-year-old housewife, Fox News would've simply ignored it. Anyone who expects Fox News to simply report actual news stories is living in a dream world.

Americans love sleaze — witness the immense popularity of "Geraldo," "Jerry Springer" and the National Enquirer. No wonder Fox News hired Geraldo. Fox News and Geraldo are to professional journalism what Preparation H is to advanced medicine. — James P. Snyder, Medford

Today, three United States Navy SEALS are facing a court martial after allegedly "roughing up" an al-Qaida terrorist. The alleged abuse is said to be a "fat lip" and a punch in the stomach. The SEALS involved deny any wrongdoing. The terrorist is among the 10 most wanted, and responsible for the torture, murder and hanging of four U.S. independent contractors in Iraq.

As a former Navy SEAL and retired police officer I am outraged, not astonished, as the feminization of the U.S. military has become apparent, but outraged that our government and military are allowing this to happen. Can one imagine veterans of World War II being subjected to the same treatment?

War is a physical conflict. In physical conflict, injuries occur. I am encouraging all veterans, as well as those morally opposed to this unjust action, to contact their representatives and demand the immediate release of these three American heroes. — Keith Mak, Eagle Point

Louise Tucker of Ashland (Dec. 7) makes a connection between a cop beating up a black man in (where was it?) and the murder of four police officers in Lakewood, Wash. The first was "stupid." Tucker's snide remark suggests that Obama would think those four officers capable of acting stupidly. What's the similarity between these two events? Absolutely nothing.

The killer was a free man. Terrible. It's not a crime to be full of "rage." The answer to her "bold question": sure it "was a hate crime." The man hated the police. Simple. I guess the police should have beaten him up to have prevented this mass murder. Ridiculous thinking.

As to her panning the president for going to Harvard, he doesn't flaunt that fact, and besides, what's the problem with being smart? Alas, the dumbing-down of America continues at a remarkable and scary pace. Do we now have such a simplistic notion of what is required to be the president that any man can do the job? Stop dreaming. — Bill Foy, Medford

America, just where is the so-called transparency that this president promised us all anyway? Oh, I see it, it's behind Nancy Pelosi's locked office door where great decisions are made for all. — Curt Hinkle, Medford

A recent article on financial therapy (Financial therapy: Aid to manage cash, stress) was timely, but misconstrues the expertise of my profession, counseling and psychotherapy.

To some extent it is true that experts are taught mainly to look for mental health causes for problems, not monetary ones. However, professional counselors explore all potential sources of stress in our clients' lives, including money.

If finances are a problem, then we typically explore the possibility that mental health underlies monetary problems. For example, one's inability to regulate spending can often be a marker for deeper, underlying problems such as depression, marital distress or even bipolar disorder. In short, money and mind travel on a merry-go-round: Sound financial planning engenders mental health, and good mental health favors fiscal accountability. — Jeff Borchers, M.S., Ph.D., NCC, Jacksonville

Now is the time to keep encouraging Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to fight for a strong public option in the current Senate health bill. A recent article in the Mail Tribune (Dec. 1) reported that the independent Congressional Budget Office report said that premiums would not rise. An effective public option would provide the competition to actually lower premiums.

Leave a message of support at the senators' local offices: Sen. Wyden at 858-5122 and Sen. Merkley at 608-9102. — Jan Waitt, Ashland

The best way to create jobs for Americans is to outlaw leaf blowers. Also, we should outlaw herbicides. Give people jobs with a rake or pulling weeds. It is quieter and more peaceful to our planet.

Also, pesticides should be abolished. It is sickening to know that less than 1 percent of Americans are engaged in farming. We must eliminate the factory farms.

Moreover, outsourcing must be abolished. "Outsourcing" is a handy little far eastern-style euphemism for "taking away our jobs."

Finally, our government must impose a heavy tax on any "American" corporation operating from overseas. Make it cost-prohibitive to bypass our hard-won labor rights and laws. Impose taxes on those companies' investors, too. In fact, outlaw overseas operations altogether. In my opinion, if a company isn't operating in America, it's not American.

Did you know that products made overseas are included in our gross domestic product figures? That's absurd. What is America's gross domestic product, really? Right now, it looks like our gross domestic product is unemployment. The rich Americans who took all our jobs overseas should be persuaded to repent and be supportive of our president and our country by bringing our jobs back here. — Patti Morey, Ashland

Some e-mail between climate scientists was stolen, probably altered and posted anonymously on the Web. Those determined to remain in denial have seized on this as if it somehow supported their notion that global warming is a hoax. Their mentor, Glenn Beck, has distorted the whole issue into another of his paranoid us-versus-them fantasies involving a nefarious liberal conspiracy — to what end God only knows. Thanks to Fox "News," now even the weather is political.

Get a clue, people: The ice caps are melting. Nobody is making that up. Who but a Republican would find fault with reducing pollution and our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels? — Michael Steely, Medford