LETTERS: On ‘fake news,’ a ‘meat tax,’ new corporate taxes, net neutrality and more

Media bias

While the term “fake news” has only recently become a meme, media bias has plagued Republicans and conservative organizations for decades. Media bias isn’t just reporting incorrect or outright false “facts”; it’s also using questionable sources to corroborate real stories.

For example, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a George Soros-funded, liberal-run, and Democratassociated “watchdog” whose primary function is to file complaints against right-leaning individuals and organizations. To date, 98 percent of CREW’s IRS complaints have been filed against conservatives and 80 percent of House Ethics complaints targeted Republicans.

Yet media reports covering its complaints in November used descriptions like “nonprofit watchdog,” “watchdog group,” and a “government ethics watchdog.”

A Reuters/Ipsos poll from October found that less than 50 percent of Americans trust the press. If the media wants to regain the public’s trust, it can start by actually calling a liberal a liberal.

Richard Berman, Washington, D.C.

Organic animals

The Trump Administration ruled recently that animals raised for food under the “USDA Organic” label need not be treated any less cruelly than those in conventional farming. The decision reverses years of U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, which held that the “organic” label should impose minimal ethical, health, and environmental standards. For the animals, this included adequate space, light, and access to the outdoors.

Under the Trump Administration, this will no longer be the case.

“Organic” farm operations will be allowed to cram laying hens five to a small wire cage that tears out their feathers and to grind or suffocate millions of male chicks at birth because they don’t lay eggs. Mother pigs will spend their miserable lives in tight metal crates, as their babies are torn from them and mutilated with no anesthesia. And dairy cows will continue to cry for their babies torn from them at birth, so we can drink their milk.

Caring consumers opting for “organic” animal products, to reduce their role in subsidizing these abuses, will now have no choice but to switch to plantbased foods, including the widely available nut- and grain-based meats, milks, cheeses, and ice creams.

Joel Kriviak, McAllen

Tax bill

Our Texas senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, are selling out the voters of Texas on this tax bill which is opposed by AARP and millions of people to serve their corporate and donor masters. The supposed balanced-budget-and-nonew- debt party will incur a trillion dollar deficit or more like an anchor around the necks of our children.

Our president refuses to reveal his taxes and this bill was rushed through Congress by the Republican members. They are the ones responsible for their need for a “victory.” Ask yourself what kind of victory and for whom. This is trickle down voodoo economics that benefit the rich. Cornyn is counting on most people forgetting when he is up for election, but “lying” Ted Cruz is coming around the corner and they both should be held accountable. Let them know now. Cornyn and Cruz need to be held accountable for this at the ballot box. Let them know that no means no like Hidalgo County voters did with the “healthcare” tax vote.

Thomas Lindenmuth, McAllen

‘Shape of Water’

It has come to my attention in an appalling manner that local theaters throughout the Rio Grande Valley will not be screening Guillermo Del Toro’s latest film, “The Shape of Water,” which just recently released nationwide. I use the term “appalling” because this artistic and creatively inspired film has not only garnered seven Golden Globe nominations, but the nominated director himself is a Mexico native, something we as a U.S.-Mexico border community should be proud of. This should be something that we encourage everyone to see, not just because of the film’s acclaimed success but because of the message it portrays — that love has no limits or boundaries.

It also shows the younger generations that a creative and imaginative mind, such as Del Toro’s, can open up a window of possibilities, if only we have the strength to support it.

Now tell me, is that not something we need in our country’s current fearinduced climate?

Lexi Martinez, McAllen

Taxing meat

With congressional Republicans having rushed to place a new tax bill on President Donald Trump’s desk before Christmas, here comes the respected British publication, The Guardian, suggesting a new source of tax revenue — meat. Yes, a tax on meat, to beat the health and climate crises.

The concept is hardly radical. We already pay taxes on tobacco, alcohol, sugary sodas, plastic bags, and other consumables

that afflict the public health and other social costs. The revenue would reimburse Medicare, Medicaid and other government health care programs for treating victims of chronic diseases that have been linked conclusively with consumption of animal products. It would contribute to the costs of restoring air and water quality and wildlife habitats that have been devastated by production of these items.

Benjamin Franklin noted that nothing is certain except death and taxes. However, death can be deferred substantially by taxing the very products that make us sick.

Bill Motter, McAllen

Net neutrality

Mr. Robert Fuentes’s recent letter about net neutrality (Dec. 14, 2017) confused me about which side of the issue he is on.

Net neutrality, which was rescinded by the FCC, could easily allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to determine just how fast internet speeds could be for whomever they choose or slower for others.

It could also mean ISP’s could offer internet service like what cable TV packages are now where one would have to buy certain websites with no access to everything else. But the question is, if anyone goes to a website and offers a negative opinion about any subject, could that website block that person’s access to the internet?

Or could they refuse them access to the internet altogether? I say no to any changes and to have open access to the internet as it is now.

Manolo Garibay, Mission

Russia and elections

In regards to Congressman Henry Cuellar’s call to investigate Russian election meddling in Mexico: Is that a joke? They can’t even solve a petty crime in Mexico, much less election tampering. It’s a waste of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Come on Henry. Let’s take care of our own house and let the Mexicans take care of theirs. This Russian tampering is a bogus item to begin with.

The United States meddles in the elections of other countries including Russia.

That is why this whole deal is a scam. The big joke is on us, the taxpayers. One year post election of President Donald Trump, and the Dems are still beating the Russian collusion drum and the FBI investigation has yet to turn up a single Russian collaborator. It’s time for Mueller and the Dems to put up or shut up.

Jake Longoria, Mission

Marijuana and kids

One of the recurring local current events is the high quantities of marijuana being seized at the border, and these large amounts of marijuana in our communities is concerning.

Through the Prevention Resource Center (PRC) 11, focus groups with South Texas teens indicated that they find access to marijuana to be something easily attainable throughout our neighborhoods.

According to the 2016 Texas School Survey, one in ten middle school students and three in ten high schoolers in South Texas has used marijuana. When PRC asked the youth what the primary reason for marijuana use, the teens responded that it is due to the lack of support and understanding from family.

Furthermore in 2015, there were 1,201 juvenile arrests in South Texas related to marijuana offenses. Additionally, there were approximately 620 youth substance use disorder screenings for marijuana in 2016. Unfortunately, these statistics inform that our community is in need of more responsibility in educating our youth about the consequences that come with marijuana use — especially since so much marijuana is being crossed the border.

National research indicates that communication between parent and child is the most effective way to prevent use of any drug.

Some important topics of conversation include how to overcome peer pressure, how to approach exposure to marijuana, and overall conversation on how the child feels like they are doing. Early prevention of substance use is key to preventing a substance use disorder from developing in the future.

The Prevention Resource Center, a program of Behavioral Health Solutions of South Texas, serves as the central data collection repository for South Texas. To find out more about the prevention work being conducted in your community visit, www.prc11.

org or call (956) 787-7111.

Martha Gutierrez, Pharr

Meat tax likely

According to analysts with Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return, a tax on meat is likely within the next decade if governments hope to cover the true cost of people’s addiction to eating flesh — including the public health epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and cancer, as well as antibiotic resistance and climate change. PETA has been calling for a meat tax for years — and a tax on dairy products and eggs, too. Just as cigarettes, alcohol, and gasoline are taxed to

help offset their health and environmental costs, it’s reasonable to tax unhealthy — and unnecessary — foods that harm humans and animals, waste resources, and contribute to climate change.

Meat, dairy products, and eggs are linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other life-threating illnesses.

According to the United Nations, producing animalbased foods requires more resources and causes more greenhouse-gas emissions than producing plant-based ones.

A 10-cent tax on every pound of meat — and a modest tax on each dairy item and carton of eggs — would give consumers yet another incentive to eat tasty vegan foods, which are humane, environmentally friendly, and relatively inexpensive, especially if you factor in the medical costs that can result from eating a diet high in fatty, cholesterolladen animal-based foods.

For more information and a free vegan starter kit, please visit www.PETA.org.

Lindsay Pollard-Post, Norfolk, VA

Corporate tax cuts

The Republicans have now handed the president the corporate tax-cut that he so much wished for.

According to the president, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate. What he has failed to understand is that that no two nations are the same and neither are their tax rates.

He apparently wanted the same rate as Finland and Iceland, which have a tax rates of 20 percent.

But neither country is comparable to the United States in profile data.

The Republicans’ nonetheless obliged him with this generous corporate tax-cut gift that was very pleasing to his ego.

The current U S corporate rate of (38.9 percent) is inclusive of state and local taxes with accommodating tax loopholes that substantially lowers the actual rate that is currently paid by most corporations.

In comparison, Germany, smaller in size and population, has a 29.65 percent tax rate but also has an income tax of 18 to 45 percent) Mexico, which is less economically developed, has a corporate tax-rate of 30 percent but has much lower wages, much more poverty and an income tax of (18 to 28 percent) The rational in comparing our corporate tax rates to uniquely diverse countries is totally absurd. The statistical data of each country’s size, population, wages and economy is factored into the tax rate.

Our great nation, regardless of the president’s negative bashing towards it, is a country of economic opportunity. The stock market and the corporations have done remarkably well in generating profits for its investors.

Corporations have moved to under-developed countries to take advantage of their lower wages rather than corporate taxes.

Subsequently the newly passed tax cuts are more definitive gifts of increased corporate profits rather than the creation of U S high paying jobs. They also come with no regard for the individual taxpayer who daily struggles to pay his taxes on minimal wages. This is a totally unjust and cruel legislation on behalf of the Republicans.

Elia Franz, Hidalgo

Call to action – for

Thank you for printing David Jackson’s commentary in Monday’s Monitor (Dec. 25). I enjoy reading about strong opinions that are well written and expressed with civility and a dash of humor. When I read the title of Mr. Jackson’s piece, my immediate reaction was, “Now what?”

I’m glad I continued to read since he hit a home run with this one.

Hardy Pottinger, Mission

Call to action — against

David Jackson’s group Call to Action RGV is a group of Catholic outsiders who want to re-organize the Catholic Church. They are not a part of, and do not speak for the mainstream of over 70 million American Catholics. The CTA group wants female priests, and for priests to be able to marry and, as the platform says on their website, “We call upon the church to discard the medieval discipline of mandatory priestly celibacy and to open the priesthood to women and married men, so that the Eucharist may continue to be the center of the spiritual life of all Catholics,” Well Mr. Jackson, I love my church and my priest. No one twisted his arm to follow into the priesthood. I do not want women as priests; that is why we have nuns in the Catholic Church. But you and your small group of radicals want to re-write 2000 years of church doctrine. Good luck with that. Yes there have been problems with the church, and priests who have done bad things, but the Catholic Church has atoned for its mistakes and behavior. Overall, the Catholic Church is fine just the way it is, I urge Catholics to go to your website, http://www.cta-rgv.

org/platform.html, and see for themselves the entire platform of your organization and how it really calls for the blasphemous unraveling of a sacred institution.

Jake Longoria, Mission

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