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What was important

Since we are born we question what is important in life. We begin with family; family is important because it’s the nucleus, our very center of our existence.

I have a special place for women in my life. My grandmother would drill me as a child as to staying within our fence and not wandering beyond; do not speak to strangers, there are bad people who steal children. That was enough to keep me within our property. That was important.

My mother would walk me to school a few blocks away for my first-grade class at the elementary school. I felt uneasy being away from family until I made friends and eased my way into the school system. Friends were important, like a family outside the family.

I can still smell the aroma of my mother cooking breakfast before leaving for school. Every morning I enjoyed a good breakfast that made a special bond with my mother forever. Everywhere she went, I went: church, to visit relatives, stores, parties, etc. That was important.

At 16 years old my father talked to me about the labor force in America. What made America work. I need to experience what the labor force is all about.

I went to apply at a local shoe store, because it was close to my home, maybe a 1/4 mile away. My father gave me a watch and told me that if I was going to work, I must wear a watch to be there on time, not go over my break time. Time is important. I began to work as a shoe salesman at 60 cents an hour in 1967. First job in the workforce, standing on the floor waiting to assist customers and looking at a clock on the wall. Today we are lucky to see one at any business. I watched the second hand on the clock sweep clockwise 360 degrees and thought wow, I just made one penny working here today.

And that’s where my labor force experience began. That was important.

Rafael Madrigal

Pharr

Women haters

Let’s see: President Biden is now looking at fixing the border situation! The president has agreed to reporters that there is a problem. Duh! It must be an election year!

For all you Democrats and especially women, now it’s a problem, but don’t forget to vote blue! I especially call out women because of HR 734, a bill to protect women and girls in sports by not allowing biological males to continue current practices. It passed in the house in 2023 and not a single Democrat voted for it! None of our local Democratic representatives voted for it! None of them! The bill sits at the desk of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and will not be heard until the people, especially women, vote these women haters out of office!

Forget the politics! This is morally wrong and women are being told to sit down and shut up by Democrats! Democrats are telling women that if a man decides to dress like a woman to succeed in sports, he is allowed to undress in front of our daughters and granddaughters! Democrats are telling women and girls that they are nobody special and their privacy means nothing!

Is this the party you want to reelect so they can change life as we know it here in our United States? This issue is not political! It is about morals and our faith and beliefs that God gave us! Every Democrat should have voted for this bill! None did! Please fact-check!

Ernest Gorena

Brownsville

News bashed

Another day, another news cycle. I’m just here on standby, waiting for the next cause celebe the paid mouthpieces insist warrant my outrage. They’ll cherry-pick some peripheral event or social media post to overexpose to advance their political football down the field.

Which flavor of corporate morality shall I submit? For whom shall I raise my pom-poms today? Who’s dilemma du jour shall I hang my emotions on? On whom next will they paint a target? Elon Musk? Gov. Abbott? Russia? Donald Trump? Very, very popular subjects to form fellowship in communal outrage with. Aforementioned questions posed facetiously, of course.

Ever notice that the first couple dozen Google results on national topics say the exact same thing? It’s almost like the information industry — academia too — are bought off, and the public only has access to info after maximum processing and distortion. Fine-tune your spiritual discernment before accepting the news from airwave agitators and their approved scripts.

Jamey Honaker

Primera

Immigrants’ motivation

On Jan. 13 Mr. Jake Longoria had a letter deploring the situation with illegal migrants at the border. Two months ago there was a report on NPR where the person interviewed stated that of all the applications for legal entry to the U.S. from Central and South America, fewer than 2% are granted. I have been unable to confirm this independently. I guess, though, that if you are a soccer or baseball star you would be a shoe-in, but not if you are a common laborer. And then, a lot of those coming across the border have little education or if they do, they do not know how to apply for legal entry. All they want is an opportunity to do well for their family and give their children a chance at a better life.

We live here now, but our former church up north had a sister parish in San Salvador, El Salvador. We visited this parish four times and each time it got worse. The last time we had to get permission to go from one neighborhood to another from the gangs that controlled the neighborhoods. We have friends whose teen boys have been beaten up and one killed because they would not join a gang. Mr. Longoria, what would you do in a case like that?

Another NPR reporter interviewed a lady at the Tijuana border. Her father and husband had an avocado farm. The local cartel wanted a cut of the profits. They refused and were killed. She was at the border with her child in hopes of getting asylum.

Mr. Longoria, put on their shoes. If you and your family lived in a country where inflation was sky high, you had little education, your children had no future and you saw this wonderful country just across the river, the land of opportunity, what would you do?

Mr. Longoria states this will be “the downfall of our nation.” How? History shows that immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Germany, indeed all over the globe, have only enriched our nation. Yes, it does take some time and money (probably less than two modern fighter jets), but in the end it benefits our country.

Lastly, the mere fact that the governor sends migrants only to Democratically led cities shows that he is playing politics and cares nothing at all about fellow human beings. And oh, think about it. How did these southern countries get into the situation they are now? You might want to look at former administrations that supported dictators because they supposedly were not communist.

Gerard Pahl

Edinburg

Patriots and problems

You are a patriot if you believe and follow our Constitution and the rule of law.

The presidential election of 2020 was won by Joe Biden. This is a fact proven by countless recounts by Republican election officials. It was also verified by more than 20 court decisions, including by many Republican judges who found there was no voting fraud.

Donald Trump has convinced his MAGA followers that the election was stolen in spite of the extensive amount of evidence showing the opposite.

The Constitution and the law call for the election results be counted by Congress and announced by the vice president on Jan. 6. Trump, the loser of that election, purposely called for a rally in D.C. on that same date. During that rally he incited a riot and an attack on the Capitol where the election was being certified. His plan was to stop the peaceful transfer of power and stay in power.

His plan was a coup to overthrow the legally elected government of the U.S. It is not a coincidence that Trump planned the rally specifically on Jan. 6. He had riled up his supporters with the big lie for weeks prior.

He started the stolen election lie even before the election was held. Since his worshipers believe every lie that comes out of his mouth, by Jan. 6 Trump had convinced his cult members that the election was stolen. They were ready to use violence to keep Trump in power.

The traitors attacked the Capitol police, broke windows, broke into congressional offices and smashed furniture, the whole time yelling, “Hang Mike Pence,” After being told by Trump that Pence was not supporting the coup.

Amazingly, cult leaders can convince their flock of the most unbelievable and even ridiculous lies. They are supporting a candidate with numerous criminal charges pending, six bankruptcies, four indictments, two impeachments, one convicted company, a fake charity shut down, a fake university shut down, 26 sexual assault allegations, $25 million fraud settlement, $5 million sexual abuse verdict, $2 million charity abuse judgment, and that’s not all. They have been convinced to ignore reality just to please their guru. This is a prime example of a cult.

To support a man for president who is a pathological liar, crass, incompetent, vulgar, vindictive bully, engages in juvenile name calling and petty personal attacks is not patriotism. It is a gross disservice to our country.

In spite of all these serious faults, the MAGA part of the Republican Party still want this man to lead the country. Forget the Constitution, forget the rule of law. This is certainly not patriotism.

The Jan. 6 attackers who were fooled into attempting to stop the peaceful transfer of power, a basic part of our democracy, were and are traitors to the United States of America.

If you think yourself a patriot after you try to overthrow your own country, you’re living in an alternate reality.

Beto Conde

Rancho Viejo

Lawmakers draw criticism

I would like to comment on the latest failure of Texas politicians with regard to education/public school funding during the fourth special that ended in December.

Sadly, politicians made it abundantly clear that education/public school funding is at the bottom of their list of priorities. As has been reported, the special session was marked by endless bickering and intra-party fighting. Thus, Senate Bill 5, which would have allocated $800 million to school safety measures and proposed bonuses for teachers, went down in flames.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s fixation with school vouchers proved to be a major hurdle to overcome and a deal breaker after everything was said and done. So much for public school safety and increased compensation for Texas teachers.

A question arises: Where were so-called Texas teacher organizations during the debate on Senate Bill 5? As has been reported, some teacher groups proved to be part of the problem instead of part of the solution after voicing opposition to increased compensation for teachers if it meant school vouchers.

In the final analysis, the fourth special session of the Texas legislature might have been more productive if Democrats and Republicans had devoted themselves to answering the question: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Sad!

Ben Castillo

Harlingen

Vets memorial funding sought

Vietnam Veterans of America is the only organization chartered by Congress to represent Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans. We feel it’s time to honor our brothers who paid the ultimate price while they so bravely served their country.

It’s been more than 53 years since their families saw these brave patriots go off to serve in the Vietnam War. Their families never got to see them again or welcome them back home. They were killed in Vietnam. Some may have left behind their moms, fathers, siblings. Or perhaps they were married; maybe they had children who never had the chance to hug and love them ever again.

It’s been too long, and our organization, made up of Vietnam veterans who are now in their early 70s to late 80s know all too well that it’s time to honor them.

Harlingen is the only city in the Lower Rio Grande Valley without a monument for our local 23 killed in action comrades.

For this reason, our chapter proposed, and the Harlingen City Commission and mayor approved, our proposal to honor these 23 KIAs with a beautiful monument made of black polished granite. The front side will show the names of these patriots and their KIA dates. On the back side will be a beautiful prayer.

Our chapter is donating this monument to the city. It will be at Pendleton Park, also referred to Veteran’s Park.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 856 can only achieve this goal with the help of generous donations from supporters and community patriots like yourself. With your support, we’ll be able to complete this project. Our fundraising goal is $8,000.

If you would like to donate, you can contact our project treasurer, Mrs. Donna Newton, at (956) 202-5281.

If you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached at (956) 371-2335, or at my email address, [email protected].

Thank you in advance for your support.

Samuel D. Cardenas

President

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 856

Harlingen

Drug discounts abused

Hospital chains are unfairly profiting off a program meant to help low-income patients afford their medicines. If policymakers don’t reform this system soon, I worry that many of the marginalized patients I’ve devoted my career to protecting won’t be able to access the care they need.

The program, known as 340B, gives drug discounts to hospitals in underprivileged areas so they can better serve their communities. Yet, with little oversight, the hospitals can divert the savings to their own bottom lines.

In short, money intended to help marginalized communities is instead being funneled into hospital profits in ever-greater amounts. Having spent much of my career helping Black men with HIV, I find this gravely concerning.

It all started three decades ago when lawmakers launched a seemingly benevolent plan: In order to help non-profit “safety net” hospitals in poor communities; 340B required pharmaceutical companies to sell them drugs at big discounts. The idea was that this would lower drug prices for low-income patients and also help the hospitals, so that they could reinvest in facilities, equipment and staff to serve disadvantaged patients.

Unfortunately, the 1992 law failed to codify any rules about what hospitals should do with the savings, so no proof of reinvestment is required. Soon enough, even hospitals serving prosperous communities realized they could use the law’s loopholes to turn 340B into a profit center.

Many hospitals have multiple locations. Under current regulations, a hospital can use its facility in an underserved community to qualify for the 340B Program, take millions of dollars in drug discounts, then resell the drugs in more affluent neighborhoods.

The profit from such maneuvers can be substantial. For instance, 340B hospitals sell top oncology drugs at a median of 4.9 times their discounted price, according to a report from the Community Oncology Alliance.

It’s no wonder that 44% of U.S. hospitals now report that the 340B program is a substantial revenue source.

Despite the program’s rapid expansion, there’s little evidence that it’s benefiting marginalized patients. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the “financial gains for hospitals have not been associated with clear evidence of expanded care or lower mortality among low-income patients.”

In fact, 340B may actually increase healthcare costs for low-income patients. Because hospitals benefit from the difference between the discounted drug price and the sale price, they are incentivized to prescribe more expensive drugs, which yield higher profit margins than lower-cost generic alternatives.

This appears to be happening with the PrEP drugs — short for preexposure prophylaxis — that prevent transmission of HIV. A report from the American Action Forum think tank found that 340B likely incentivizes hospitals to prescribe more expensive brand-name PrEP over generic versions. This means some patients are paying more than they should for this lifesaving medicine.

Congress needs to reform the bloated and unaccountable 340B program as soon as possible. Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree that eligibility standards must be tightened and reporting requirements improved. Hospitals must use 340B profits to help our most vulnerable patients.

Guy Anthony

President and CEO

Black, Gifted & Whole

Texas’ shame

Uvalde, Texas, should be an embarrassment to the people of Texas but is not. The M4 carbine rifle did exactly what it was designed to do: efficiently kill as many people as possible. Why did none of the GOP in the Greg Abbott administration tell the parents of the slaughtered children that the rifle worked perfectly? The Abbott administration has done absolutely nothing to prevent mass slaughter by an 18-year-old from doing it again. While many in America were grieving the slaughter of the children in Uvalde, Abbott attended a political fundraiser, 300 miles from the grieving parents.

What does pro-life mean to the GOP? It does not mean helping feed poor children is summer school recess from school. The legislature opted out of programs to help feed the poor. If God rewards the ones he loves, he does not love poor people. Do they want the children to grow up to be poor with a low education level, and ready to steal to stay alive? Then force the woman to have a child she can’t afford?

Countries that ban or restrict abortions can plan for a large increase in juvenile crime 15-plus years after the bans go into effect. The coming increase in juvenile crime will be an effective campaign issue for the GOP when it happens.

Hank Shiver

Mission

Trump preferred

The Jan. 20 letter written by Arnoldo Gonzalez has some big-time words! I think I’ll stay with my eighth-grade English.

I would ask Mr. Gonzalez a couple of questions.

First, do he and most other Americans feel they are better off now, as compared to four years ago? I have memories of $1.83 gasoline, food costs were 16% less, housing about 20% less, utilities about 18% less, and our status as a totally energy-independent nation. Now we buy oil from countries that hate us!

I don’t want to belabor this point, but Mr. Donald Trump’s continuing popularity is easy to define — he things done that were for average Americans and he put America first! Since that time, the current administration has purposely destroyed all of Mr. Trump’s initiatives, and we now have approximately 3.4% inflation!

Just as concerning is the fact that most foreign leaders see our president as a feckless, out of-touch-president, mentally compromised, whose actions in the Middle East have demonstrated to them that when trouble knocks at their door, they are unsure of promised American support. And please tell me how a vice president can acquire six mansions and a millionaire bank account on that salary.

Yes, Mr. Gonzalez, I do “think,” and I think most Americans are eager to have Donald Trump at the reins of government once again! And, national polling shows that many Hispanics are leaving their traditionally Democratic roots for better representation in the Republican Party.

Sherwood Uhrmacher

Palmview

Editor’s note: Kamala Harris’ wealth is largely based on the proceeds of three published books and her marriage to lawyer Doug Emhoff. Reports indicate they own three homes worth a combined $10 million: one home Emhoff owned before they married, one they bought together, both in California, and a third in the Georgetown area they acquired after she was elected to the Senate. As vice president she currently resides in a public building near the White House.


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