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Had I the chance to speak at Sen. Jeff Merkley's recent town hall meeting in Medford I would have thanked him for skillfully giving his life's time to public service. Politics lately is a dismal, daunting realm, draining anyone with soul. Selfish demands and unrelenting ridicule alienates our democratic faith, resulting in a corrupted, barely functioning Congress. In such a time, good politicians like Merkley do a hero's work.

But this applies also to the many local politicians and citizens in the room. A half-dozen mayors, state representatives and senators, former county commissioners, hundreds of involved citizens — these deserve our appreciation also. America isn't finished; it is ours to cherish and advance in our time, despite rude ridicule and systemic corruptions.

When asked who is concerned about climate change, most hands went up. We shouldn't expect politicians alone to solve this for us. We're all involved. We all have a responsibility.

We need good politicians, but they need us too, for ultimately, our government is us taking care of ourselves, economy and environment. What can we all cooperatively do to boldly model a significant lessening of our carbon pollution, something environmentally and economically advantageous, something that is replicable in many areas? — Brad Carrier, Ashland

At a time when one of Jackson County's largest employers, Amy's Kitchen, is employing 800-plus Jackson County residents in two shifts in White City because of the processing plant's proximity to the county's organic produce, it's unbelievable that we not want to ban GMOs and promote organic — for jobs and for health. The money for GMO seed and pesticide goes out of the county, whereas the money for organic (as God intended) produce stays here employing local people and going round and round. — John Anastasio, Ashland

The mysterious glowing orb described in the account of Scott Vierck is actually a fairly common optical phenomena called a "glory." He was in the perfect position to witness the effect as the sun was rising behind and his refracted image was projected onto the mist in front of him.

If you have ever had a window seat on a passenger plane as it was flying above the clouds or descending into the clouds you may have seen the "pilot's rainbow," which is the same effect, sometimes with the image of the plane in the center. In China the effect is called "Buddha's Light."

The interested reader will find a number of strikingly similar images on the Web.— Dale S. Smith, Ashland