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Would Sen. Ron Wyden intentionally introduce legislation that could impair the future discovery of new medicines to fight human disease and suffering? I think not. Thus I have to believe that Senator Wyden does not understand that his recently unveiled "O&C Land Grant Act" will further the degradation of Oregon's forests with the associated loss of future discoveries that could advance medical science.

Studies from the National Cancer Institute show that fully one half of all prescription drugs and nearly three quarters of cancer medicines are from the wild. The senator must recall that Pacific Northwest forests gave us the Pacific yew that provided Taxol, critical in treating metastatic breast and ovarian cancers.

As written, with greatly increased clear-cutting and dramatically reduced species protections, Wyden's proposal will most certainly increase the speed of species extinction, thereby depriving future generations of novel medicines to treat human diseases. — Paul F. Torrence, Ashland

Following up on Ms. Hawkins' guest opinion about labor contract negotiations, I have suggestions to help employers elicit their employees' feelings:

1. How do you feel about the fact that raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for jobs programs, infrastructure repair and better schools is off the table, but reducing your health benefits and pensions are considered reasonable?

2. How do you feel about the fact that raising the minimum wage to an amount that allows people to be able to feed their families is considered a "job killer" but that cutting food stamp benefits is considered prudent?

3. How do you feel when our state government gives big tax incentives to companies like Nike in response to blackmail that they will leave the state if we don't comply, but when teachers ask that promises made to them be kept, they are called selfish?

I'm sure that everyone will feel a lot closer to one another after such an honest sharing of feelings. Perhaps someone will even break out a guitar and they can all sing Kumbaya. — Art Baden, Ashland

I'm always amazed at the position of the pro-life, Bible believers when it comes to the unborn. Their anti-abortion proclamations about the "56 million innocent children" we pro-abortionists have allowed to be "murdered in the womb" never ceases to cause a rebuttal from we "murderers."

These people never stop to consider the incredible financial burden of 56 million more human beings crowding onto the planet, or the 56 million more mouths to feed, particularly when we already have millions who go to bed hungry daily. Another 56 million children and others under 50, who need care and jobs and medical, are of no particular concern to these people.

The recent letter from Jerry Duran, about the freedom for a woman to make her own decision about abortion (To quote: "a movement that unscrupulously promotes the wanton massacre of unborn children") causes me to ponder about life-and-death choices. An unborn fetus is not a breathing occupant of the planet. A group of playing Afghan children being obliterated by the U.S. military forces, hmm ... I wonder how Mr. Duran feels about those lives. Now there is, as Mr. Duran stated, "a tragedy that defies description." — Wayne Packwood, Gold Hill

I've known the Vogels for over 20 years now and I can say without a doubt that they are two of the finest people I have ever known. The Vogel family has played a large role in the Rogue Valley community for generations and I am thankful for families like theirs.

Having said that, I would like to ask the City Council to reconsider the name of the park to be built on Hersey near Oak Street (currently referred to as The Ashland Creek Park). Why not call it the Vogel Park? After all, there would be no park if Pete Vogel had gone with a higher bidder rather than sell it for a small amount to the City of Ashland.

All I ask is that you consider the idea and bring it up at the next City Council meeting. I'm willing to bet that several people on the council know of the Vogels and respect them as much as I do. — John Allen, Ashland

It has come to my attention that there is little to no recourse for someone who is stalked or harassed.

Evidently, if someone shows up to your employer to harass you but doesn't specifically single you out but instead talks to someone else — that does not constitute harassment, at least not toward "you." Your employer could pursue legal remedy including a harassment or trespass charge, but the real victim? Powerless.

What about a phone call? Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) only addresses "personal" phones. That's right — in this day and age they don't cover "business" phones. Someone harasses you over the phone? Better hope it is your personal phone because Oregon's telephonic harassment laws don't particularly deal with business phones.

What about a stalking order? Again, the ORS wants to see a "pattern" of behavior by the stalker for six months. Who wants to be harassed for six months? That's insanity.

The point I am trying to make is, if you manage to upset or irritate someone enough to be stalked or harassed, you're in trouble if you live in Oregon. We wonder why people take the law into their own hands. The examples above are quite telling. — S. Michael Ryan, Medford

Your Feb. 7 story on the fact that "Oregon has never recorded a cougar-caused injury or fatal attack on a human" made me kind of sick.

Aided and abetted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, cougars have been all but exterminated in this state, and this country, by hunters and ranchers. One result is that out-of-control deer, their natural prey, destroy plant life ultimately necessary for the survival of the planet.

Man doesn't seem to realize that damaging the ecosystem by removing top predators like cougars and wolves disrupts, and in some cases destroys, the very ecosystem upon which we all depend. By exterminating species, we invite our own extermination. — Julia Sommer, Ashland

I would like to add my reasons for refuting the "spontaneous creation" statement of Ms. Arvette in the form of a syllogism:

Human understanding is at once rational, intuitive and empirical. Science (the scientific method) is purely empirical. Therefore, science alone is insufficient for human understanding.

The belief that science is sufficient for human understanding (scientism) is a fallacious episteme (body of knowledge).

Scientific atheism maintains that science is sufficient for human understanding.

Therefore, scientific atheism is based on a fallacious body of knowledge.

The above is adapted by "The Illogical Atheist" by Bo Jinn.

Max Planck, the patriarch of the quantum theory, wrote: "... over the gates of the temple of science are written the words Ye must have faith. It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with ... Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. That is because in the last analysis we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the very mystery we are trying to solve."

I doubt St. Thomas Aquinas, being rational, intuitive and empirical, would be influenced by the faulty logic of modern scientism.

Ms. Arvette's previous letter about caring for cats was very instructive and very well received. — M.J. Stoll, Medford