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Flopping isn’t just for fish out of water

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TonyHeader NEWEveryone more than likely has a memory, either of the actual thing or a scene in a movie, of a father driving a car and becoming increasingly irate at the behavior of the kids in the back seat.

Whatever set the kids off was never found out; it was dad’s reaction that was portrayed, mostly humorously, threatening mayhem on anyone who said another thing.

Saying, “but, Dad,” only earned you a glare and possibly a profanity-laced admonition that Dad was serious.

That exact kind of response is being played out on a national scale in several areas, the latest being the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was reauthorized by the U.S. House and now heads to the Senate, which probably will be passed.

Why this is important is that there was an amendment offered to require the government to get warrants before it begins surveillance on Americans, which failed. That means Uncle Sam can continue to become the creepy uncle no one wants at the holidays.

(As an aside, there was a part of the warrant requirement that created exceptions for “elected officials.”)

The law originally was designed to find out about illicit activities but has been used against many Americans for political reasons, essentially being the dad in the car and threatening everyone with being spied on because of the actions of other.

(Aside No. 2: the vote was dead even, and Speaker Mike Johnson cast the tiebreaker.)

Benjamin Franklin famously said that those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety, and if you do a little research, we’ve come to that particular destination already.

Ask anyone who has lived under a communist regime about the quality of life they have. Any and everything you say and do is subject to observation by the government, and what happens after that depends on the whims of leaders. That is straight-up KGB tactics; think Moff Tarkin’s phrase “fear will keep the people in line.”

This flies in the face of so many of the most important codicils of the Constitution, but most notably, innocent until proven guilty as well as protection from unreasonable search and seizure. But it’s not the first time, and more than likely won’t be the last.

I could make the case that drug-testing athletes, especially those in public schools, is the result of the same type of reaction; a few bad apples means the whole barrel is now spoiled and everybody is under the microscope.

The same approach is being taken on guns. We don’t just hold perpetrators of crimes accountable, we’re looking to make everyone suffer the consequences.

Just like the kids in the back seat are upset to be included in being punished for something they didn’t do, we as citizens need to be just as indignant and hold the perpetrators of these blatantly unconstitutional laws accountable for their own actions and get them out of office.

Which, if the gun control crowd get their way, will never ever happen. And that is the epitome of unfair.

Tony Farkas is publisher of the San Jacinto News-Times and the Trinity County News-Standard. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.

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Luttrell Introduces legislation to improve veterans affairs

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morgan luttrell portraitSpecial to the News-Times

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Morgan Luttrell, R-Texas, Chairman of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced the Veterans Claims Quality Improvement Act of 2024.

The legislation was cosponsored by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Congressman Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and was discussed during the DAMA legislative hearing on Wednesday.

“Over the course of several hearings, I’ve heard time and again about the Veterans Affairs Board of Appeals failing to ensure quality decision making on veterans’ claims,” Luttrell said. “The legislation I introduced this week would ensure that the Veterans Affairs Board of Appeals provides veterans and their families with legally accurate and fair decisions on their claims for VA benefits.”

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., Chair of the House Committee of Veterans Affairs, said veterans and their families have earned legally accurate and fair decisions on their claims for VA benefits, but in reality, that’s not always the case.

“Veterans are stuck in limbo waiting years on end for their earned disability compensation benefits,” Bost said. “The Veterans Claims Quality Improvement Act would make vitally important improvements to the VA appeals process by implementing a robust quality assurance program so that veterans have a system at the VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals that they can trust. Luttrell and I know firsthand that we can’t take our foot off the gas when it comes to modernizing and pushing VA’s disability compensation benefits processes forward.”

Stefanik said bringing the concerns of our veterans and service members to the highest levels of government is one of her top priorities.

This bill will:

•Require Veterans Board of Appeals to identify errors made, including errors identified by the Court, and require the Board to report this information to Congress.

•Require Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA) and Veterans Board of Appeals to learn from these mistakes through their training programs.

•Ensure that VA Office of General Counsel (OGC) trains VBA program offices on when to seek OGC’s review of policy guidance revisions so that these mistakes are prevented.

•Authorize annual performance evaluations for Board judges.

•Require the VA to develop a plan to decrease unnecessary remands.

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Luttrell introduces legislation to improve border security

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Special to the News-Times

morgan luttrell portraitWASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Reps. Morgan Luttrell, R-Texas 8, and Lou Correa (D-Calif., recently introduced the Emerging Innovative Border Technologies Act.

This bipartisan legislation will require the Department of Homeland Security to submit a plan to Congress to identify, integrate, and deploy new, innovative, advanced technologies to enhance or address capability gaps in border security operations.

“As cartels and foreign adversary operations become more sophisticated amidst the ongoing border crisis, the United States must deploy the latest and most advanced technologies available to our borders to disrupt these threats,” Luttrell said. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleague, Representative Correa, that aims to combat and neutralize threats at our borders. I’ll continue to push for effective measures to safeguard our country and enforce our laws.”

“Border security means keeping drug and human traffickers away from our communities—and new, bleeding-edge technology that is already available for commercial use would give our hard-working officers the tools they need to keep us safe,” Correa said. “Through this bipartisan effort, Congress will better-understand how our officers can use new technology to stop smugglers, as well as identify and respond when migrants are crossing in remote and deadly conditions, and hopefully deliver them the resources they so-desperately need.”

The Emerging Innovative Border Technologies Act requires DHS to submit to Congress a plan to identify, integrate, and deploy new, innovative, disruptive, advanced technologies. These technologies may incorporate artificial intelligence, sensors, imaging, and other emerging or advanced technologies, to enhance, or address capability gaps in, border security operations.

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Protecting natural treasures in 17th District

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Pete SessionsPete Sessions
District 17 Representative 

One of my top priorities is ensuring the natural resources and public lands within our 17th District are properly cared for and accessible to all Texans.

That’s why last week my team and I met with officials from the United States Forestry Service to discuss the state of our National Forests in Walker County.

It was a productive and informative meeting. I was reminded of how vital proactive forest management is to mitigate the threat of wildfires due to drought. The USFS is utilizing cutting-edge drone technology to conduct prescribed burns more effectively and efficiently. This allows them to get ahead of potential fire risks and maintain the health of our forests.

We also discussed the impact of urbanization on our national forests, and the critical need to maintain an extensive network of forestry roads. These roads don’t just allow the USFS to access remote areas, but also provide recreational opportunities for hunters, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts like myself.

It was a great opportunity to build upon our existing working relationship with the USFS. I will continue to work with the USFS to keep our forests healthy and accessible for generations to come.

Welcoming new Americans

It was an honor to join Magistrate Judge Derek Gilliland, Mayor Dillon Meek, and Patty Notgrass from the Daughters of the American Revolution to celebrate an extraordinary naturalization ceremony in Waco. More than 150 individuals from around the world took the oath and became proud, new citizens of the United States.

Witnessing their journeys and deep commitment to the ideals of our great country was inspiring. These new Texans have worked hard, played by the rules, and now rightfully earn the privilege of full civic participation. Their diverse backgrounds, skills, and perspectives will undoubtedly strengthen our communities.

The ceremony exemplified the promise of America — that through dedication and perseverance, people from all walks of life can achieve the American Dream. These new citizens have demonstrated their belief in our democratic principles of rule of law and capitalism.

I know they will be active and engaged members of society. Their journeys serve as a reminder of the boundless opportunities available to those who seek freedom, security, and a better life for themselves and their families.

Promoting growth andopportunity in Williamson County

I am always eager to meet with local leaders and discuss ways we can collaborate to drive economic development and opportunity in our communities. That’s why I was pleased to sit down with Commissioner Russ Boles and Dave Porter, the Executive Director of the Williamson County Economic Development Partnership.

Williamson County has been one of the fastest growing areas in the State of Texas, adding more than 24,000 new residents just last year. This explosive population growth presents both challenges and exciting prospects for the future.

During our meeting, we had a thoughtful discussion about ensuring the county’s economic development efforts can keep pace with this rapid influx of new businesses and residents.

Commissioner Boles and Mr. Porter provided valuable insights into initiatives to attract top employers, foster innovation, and maintain the high quality of life that makes Williamson County such an attractive place to live, work, and raise a family.

Working together, I’m confident we can build upon Williamson County’s strong economic foundation and capitalize on emerging opportunities. I look forward to continued collaboration to promote growth, create good-paying jobs, and preserve the unique character of this thriving region.

Confronting troubling trendsof vaping and marijuana use

It is important to address the public health challenges facing our communities — particularly when it comes to the alarming rise in vaping and high-potency marijuana use among our youth. That’s why I was honored to speak at the Vaping & Marijuana Impact Conference held at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center in Lufkin.

The room was filled with local officials, community leaders and concerned citizens who have witnessed first-hand the devastating effects these substances can have on our young people. During my remarks, I emphasized that this is not just a problem isolated to any one demographic — it’s a challenge that cuts across all socioeconomic lines.

Addiction and substance abuse do not discriminate. That’s why we must take a community-wide approach to addressing the root causes and providing necessary support and treatment.

I was proud to discuss “Randy’s Resolution” — a piece of legislation I have championed to combat the public health threat associated with high-potency marijuana and THC products. It’s not enough to simply talk about the problem. By taking a holistic, collaborative approach, I’m confident we can make meaningful progress.

But progress starts with education and prevention. I strongly encouraged all in attendance to be active participants in discussions with young people about the dangers of vaping and marijuana use.

The facts are clear, and we can no longer afford to ignore this growing public health threat. I remain dedicated to reducing the use of high-potency cannabis products and safeguarding the future of our communities.

Nominating futuremilitary leaders

It brings me pride to congratulate Elias Moore on his appointment to the United States Military Academy. Elias is an outstanding young man who embodies the values of service, integrity, and leadership that are the hallmarks of our nation’s service academies.

Through rigorous academic and physical training, the Academy will shape Elias into a principled officer ready to defend our country. I have no doubt that he will make our community and our country proud.

Opportunities like this to attend a prestigious service academy are life-changing. I commend Elias for seizing this chance to begin a rewarding career in uniform. I wish him all the best as he embarks on this new chapter.

Pete Sessions represents District 17, which includes Trinity County, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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News of the ridiculous

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FromEditorsDesk TonyBy Tony Farkas

On the days that I am just too dejected to yet again comment on the declining state of affairs in the state, nation and world, I look to humor to perk myself up.

So let’s explore some of the more ridiculous entries into the world of media, shall we?

To show I’m an equal opportunity shot taking writer, we’ll start with Breitbart News, which has a couple of doozies: 70-year-old transgender lawyer goes viral for provocative courtroom outfit; and, Wild raccoon attacks Hersheypark visitors, bites young girl.

To the second headline, I’ll just say for a national news outfit, this seems a skosh pedantic, and should probably have been left for local media to cover. To the first, this may sound a bit harsh, but who cares? It’s been a societal goal, ever since the advent of apps like TikTok, Vine, Snapchat and the like, for people to have any and all of their peccadillos sent into the world to be seen.

“Look at me. LOOK AT ME!” go the users, almost exactly like Mad TV’s Stuart to his long-suffering mother. Why should this man be any different?

At MSNBC, a headline reads Confederate statues prove parts of American History are just a lost cause.

Whatever that means, it seems to me that history is just that. It’s something that regardless of being viewed as good or bad actually happened and viewing it through the lens of current proper thought, or destroying anything that depicts such a time, only sets up future failure.

On to CNN, where you not only got information on watching Monday’s eclipse, you were told that While you watch the eclipse, you’ll also be able to feel it.

Apparently, the intrepid reporters claim that the eclipse will cause changes to temperature, windspeed and even humidity, which probably should have Greta Thunberg screaming at the heavens, “How dare you!”

Seems to me that if some cosmic event can have such an effect on the planet, will converting to electric cars really make a difference? All the laws on the planet will become useless in the face of what is wrought by God.

Also, an opinion writer on this site said that the issue that will keep the Democrats in power is abortion. Not sound fiscal policy, Ukraine or Israel aid, the flagging economy, election integrity or spending problems. It’s abortion.

On the Texas Tribune website, apparently only a fraction of voters decide who runs Texas.

Seems that the old bugaboo gerrymandering — designing districts to benefit a political party — means that many elections are decided in the primary, as is quite common in the local races here in East Texas.

I’m old enough to remember when candidates were elected on the strength of their promises.

On Fox News, there were headlines about the nephew of a “Yellowstone” star who died at 27 and about a tiger cub that enjoys bubbles.

Couple of things here: It’s apparent that Fox News is succumbing to the nightly foibles of all people who watch hours’ worth of YouTube shorts and Instagram reels to rack up the silly and/or feelgood experiences that keep us from fretting over the state of the world; and putting out such silliness is a way to draw people into a website to help spike its web traffic.

All of that is to say that, yeah, we kinda have the news, but look! Bunnies!

I’d much rather these sites take our leaders to task and let their readers know the true state of affairs.

Plus, not enough silly dog videos.

Tony Farkas is editor of the Trinity County News-Standard and the San Jacinto News-Times. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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