In the Dirty Dancing article the NMHS teen says it all: "... we're teenagers, and we're going to do what we want to do." Can't you imagine where those teens will be in 10 years? Doing what they want regardless of anyone else. This group will someday, heaven forbid, want to govern this country. Thank goodness not all the teenagers think like this. Bravo to those who want to enjoy the dances without the porno show. — P. Moran, Medford

I find it ironic that, on the same day this paper reports how the Ashland School District has branded the Christmas tree a glaring symbol of Christianity, I also read that a hotel in Muslim Abu Dhabi has no qualms about erecting an $11 million, jewel-bedecked Christmas tree with no requirement for counterbalancing interfaith symbolism.

Perhaps the Islamic scholars are aware that the Christmas tree is a minor and very late (16th century) Christian symbol — one derived from pagan lore and with nowhere near the centrality of the cross, the fish or even the crèche. In contemporary American society, it's been sanitized and commercialized right along with St. Nick.

That said, I'm fine with the idea of decorating the school trees with Islamic crescents, menorahs, stars of David, smiling Buddha statuettes — the more the merrier! Heck, I'm an Ashlander, and somehow I suspect baby Jesus wouldn't mind a bit. — Bruce Borgerson, Ashland

As a retired Navy Seabee and one who spent a year in Iraq, I am fully aware of how trying things can be over the Christmas holidays with family so far away. NMCB-18 is currently deployed to Afghanistan until early next year. Many of them are from Southern Oregon. When asked if there was any way that Harry & David could help lift the spirits of these heroes, they came back with a resounding yes.

I have lived in this valley most of my life and am proud of what this company does to not only support the local area, but also for their continuous support of our fighting men and women! Well done! — Terry M. Haines, Medford

There are three big political and economic facts that everybody should be clear on.

1. It was the big banks (Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and a few others) that were primarily responsible for the financial disaster that is creating unemployment and years of near poverty for millions here in the U.S. and the world over. Both political parties are stalling on basic preventive measures.

2. It was Larry Summers who helped to engineer the repeal of Glass-Steagall. The repeal enabled commercial banks to act like investment banks and invest in the exotic financial instruments that ultimately failed and brought down the whole system. And Obama made Summers the head of his economic team and froze out Paul Volcker, who opposed repeal of Glass-Steagall.

3. The Democratic Party, while differing with Republicans on social policy, is as one with them in protecting and supporting the big banks. The new film "Inside Job" by Charles Ferguson shows this conclusively.

In a few years there may very well be an even more devastating crash. Paul Krugman predicts one. — Harry L. Cook, Ashland

Ms. Tinsley's analogy in Sunday's paper is fallacious when she compares tax cuts to a dinner party.Just because my neighbor is rich doesn't mean I can't be. A tax cut for all does not take anything away from anyone. And, let's remember, the rich's money is their money. As long as that wealth has been acquired honestly, good for them. Paying higher taxes is not an entitlement program. — Bob Simpson, Central Point

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