Planet News Views

Friday, March 31, 2006

Headlines - Last Week

President Bush Indicates American Forces Won't Leave Iraq During His Presidency
Planet News Views

Afghanistan Man Deserves Freedom
Planet News Views

American Forces In Iraq Not Likely To Leave Anytime Soon
Planet News Views

News Blogs On Rise Around The World
Planet News Views

Iraq War Losing Support
Planet News Views

Interior Secretary Nominee Gets Poor Scores On Environment
Planet News Views

Editorial: Planet News Views Emphasizes Fairness In Writing
Planet News Views

Congratulations Japan For Winning World Baseball Classic
Planet News Views

Heat Go Cold When Playing Pistons, Suns Hot Shooting Continues
Planet News Views

Tough Defense Needed To Win NBA Title
Planet News Views

Looking Ahead To The NBA Playoffs
Planet News Views

Notes On Reaching The NBA Playoffs
Planet News Views

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ukraine's Parliamentary Elections Followed By Political Parties Working Together

By Scott McLean

Results of Ukraine's parliamentary elections are far from conclusive because no party has a majority of votes, which means a coalition of parties will be necessary.

A leader of the Orange Wave, which educates and mobilizes Ukrainian voters in Illinois, USA, gave his insights into the country's political process.

Iouri Melnik, organizer of the Orange Wave, described the core of the Orange coalition as the following three parties: The Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, Our Ukraine party of President Yushchenko, and the Socialist Party.

Melnik said the "Orange" parties would work together in a coalition, but it is like the weeks before a wedding and there's no marriage yet.

So much for single life...

The Orange coalition parties, which lean to the West, must work together because the Party of Regions, the Russia-leaning party, received the most votes, Melnik commented.


It appears a mistake was made in the article "Ukraine's Identity Observed In Parliamentary Elections", and the mistake has been corrected.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ukraine's Identity Observed In Parliamentary Elections

By Scott McLean

Ukraine's Parliamentary elections Sunday were only the beginning of the process of agreeing upon a direction for the government.

Ukrainian politics is quite different than America's two-party politics. In fact Ukraine has about 45 political parties, which means no party will receive 50 percent of the votes and at least some of the parties must work together and form a coalition to have a majority in the Verkhovna Rada.

Still, that does not take anything away from the political passion of activists, who work tirelessly to give their issues and parties the best chance possible to win.

The party faithful, whether Republicans or Democrats in the United States, or any one of a number of party members in Ukraine do make their presence felt in elections.

In America, Ukrainians are able to vote in Ukraine's elections similar to the way Americans vote when they are overseas, with the help of absentee ballots.

The Orange Wave, an organization in Illinois, USA formed a few years ago before Ukraine's "Orange Revolution", mobilized Ukrainian voters in Illinois to participate in the parliamentary elections.

Orange Wave Organizer Iouri Melnik explained in a telephone interview how the organization was involved in helping keep reforms going in Ukraine by electing a Parliament that would work with President Viktor Yushchenko.

"Most of our job is and will be to educate people about what's going on in Ukraine. Not everyone has internet and TV, we are educating people about the political process in Ukraine," Melnik commented.

Melnik said that his organization supports parties pushing Orange Revolution reforms.

Giving Ukraine back its own distinct identity, and getting away from the influence of Russia, as well as becoming an active trading partner with the West are among the issues of his group.

Orest Baranyk, vice president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, said that it's important that Ukraine continues those reforms.

When asked what he thought was the main issue in these elections, Baranyk said: "For Ukraine to be Ukraine and not a satellite of Russia. That is the central issue."

Ukraine's elections will be examined further in Part 2 of this series.

Ukraine's Parliamentary Elections Took Place Sunday, Ballots Are Still Being Counted With No Party Holding A Majority Of Votes

By Scott McLean

Since there are about 45 political parties in the country and no party is expected to receive 50 percent of the votes, some of these parties must work together and form a coalition to achieve a majority in the Ukrainian Rada.

The results of the election were not yet final at the time of this publication, but it seems clear that if the reforms brought about by Ukraine's Orange Revolution are to continue, at least three or four parties must work together.

Later today, Planet News Views will look at what went on behind the scenes of the campaign to elect candidates interested in continuing with those changes in Ukraine.

Planet News Views: Start Your Own News Weblog Or Write Articles

Planet News Views is looking for contributors from other countries. You may also want to consider starting a news weblog in the language(s) of your readers.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Blogs Make A Difference On Our Planet

People these days are turning to weblogs for information and entertainment.

There are so many kinds of weblogs, from travel journals to online news and publications.

News weblogs are on the rise for many reasons, because for one obvious reason more people are surfing the internet than ever before.

Online searches take us in different directions we may not have intended to go, but often take an interest in once they get there.

One might be looking for information on Japan or Thailand, for example, but end up discovering websites about other countries in Asia.

News and commentary blogs fill in the gaps that exist with the so-called mainstream news media.

When readers are looking for topics not covered by the major news organizations, blogs are often good places to find information.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

When News Takes Backseat To Ads It's Not Pretty

By Scott McLean

Just this one time I want to say something like the following: At 6 o'clock we will have a major news story, which is still developing and it could change the world as we know it.

I've heard it all before many times, it's 2 pm, words like those above suck me in, and by 5 pm they have me wrapped in knots. What's going to happen??? Tell me now, I can't wait any longer!!!

In between, they report some other smaller news stories, sure, but lots and lots of ads.

That's one reason why Planet News Views does not have ads, although we support each individual's choice to use ads on their website.

Ads are fine in their place. But their place isn't my place. I hope you will enjoy this weblog and come back any hour or day of the week.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Editorial: Planet News Views Emphasizes Fairness In Writing

As an editorial note, the purpose of Planet News Views is to provide information and get people to really examine the facts, not just accept the news they are reading in the so-called mainstream media.

Planet News Views makes every effort to be fair, as was the case in writing the articles about the U.S. ports controversy and the Iraq War. President Bush was quoted in both news articles in an effort to accurately report what he said.

This was an editorial decision to show fairness, which appears to be lacking in some of the reporting these days, but it should not be interpreted as the opinion of Planet News Views or this writer.

In fact, this writer opposed the ports deal in the interest of U.S. national security and pointed out that casualties and enormous costs are reasons why the war is losing public support.

Heat Go Cold When Playing Pistons, Suns Hot Shooting Continues

Steve Nash, last season's MVP, is why the hot Suns are looking like a championship contender

By Scott McLean

With the regular season almost over, the Detroit Pistons have really taken charge in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

The Pistons lead the Miami Heat by almost 10 games for the best record and important homecourt advantage.

That's simply amazing. Miami is not bad with Shaq and Dwayne Wade, but compared with Detroit... uh, there is no comparison. The Pistons fourth quarter pounding of the Heat a few days ago proves my point.

Now that Amare Stoudamire is back from injury, the Dallas Mavericks versus Phoenix Suns could have the potential for a classic series. But then one of those teams must inevitably play the San Antonio Spurs. Good luck.

If you just said, "Scott, no way" then I hear you... The hot hand of superstar guard Steve Nash could keep the Suns from going down in the West.

Nash is one of the NBA's best scorers when he's hot, as he proved last year in the playoffs, making shots from all over the floor. He also had more huge games than this writer remembers in, uh (scratching my head and thinking) since Michael Jordan was leading the Chicago Bulls to championships.

If there is an edge for Phoenix in the playoffs, it's Nash, who is one of the NBA's great competitors, playmakers and passers. For the Suns to win a championship, he will have to get them there.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Planet News Views: Afghanistan Should Free Rahman

Headlines From Last Week

President Bush Continues Support Of Dubai Ports Deal
Planet News Views

U.S. Ports Should Be Managed By U.S. Companies
Planet News Views

Afghanistan Man Deserves Freedom

By Scott McLean

For those who need proof that religious freedom does not exist everywhere, look no further. The case of Abdul Rahman shows that people in some countries are still persecuted for their beliefs.

The man could get the death penalty in Afghanistan because he converted to Christianity from the Islamic religion.

Human rights organizations received media coverage this week for their efforts help Rahman. Their cause is an important one.

It's this writer's opinion is that all people on this planet should have the freedom to belong to the religion of their choice, or none at all if that is their decision.

Tough Defense Needed To Win NBA Title

By Scott McLean

NBA Scorers usually don't have much fun playing they Detroit Pistons. During the last few years, the Pistons have outclassed the rest of the Eastern Conference.

As fans witnessed a few days ago, they had no problem shutting down the Miami Heat in the fourth quarter.

Tough defense is what makes Detroit a favorite to reach the Finals and possibly win another championship.

Outstanding defense is a trait of championship teams. Contenders play great defense, pretenders don't.

Western Conference teams generally follow that rule. The West will be won with defensive muscle, especially around the basket.

In the playoffs, and I'm talking predictions here, the teams with physical big men are going to have the advantage. A huge advantage.

This writer is not the first to make the San Antonio Spurs a favorite, primarily because of Tim Duncan, but also due to the unselfish play of the whole team, excellent ball handling, great passing and leadership from guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli.

The San Antonio backcourt is probably the only one in the NBA capable of matching up with Detroit's All Star guards Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton.

Don't count out Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns or Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.

Of course NBA fans know the two superstars used to play together on the Mavericks team. One or both of the teams will play the Spurs in the playoffs.

More next time on what could happen when these powerhouse teams face each other.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

President Bush Indicates American Forces Won't Leave Iraq During His Presidency

By Scott McLean

The longer the Iraq War goes on the more questions come to mind, the foremost being when will all the American troops come home.

President Bush in Tuesday's press conference refrained from specifics but gave the impression that America's military forces would remain in Iraq beyond the completion of his term in office, January 2009 when the next president is sworn into office.

According to the press conference transcripts released by the White House, the president indicated there would be American troops in Iraq until after his presidency.

The following is a quote from the president on when military forces would leave Iraq:

"That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq," President Bush said.

Bush cited changes in military strategies needed to combat terrorists, the ongoing liberation of Iraq and efforts to prevent terrorists from making Iraq a "safe haven" as reasons for the prolonged American military commitment.

American Forces In Iraq Not Likely To Leave Anytime Soon

In the next article coming soon, Planet News Views will look at a few of the reasons why American troops are still in Iraq.

There appears to be no timetable for the end of the war, and if Tuesday's comments by President Bush are any indication, the war won't end at least until the next presidency.

News Blogs On Rise Around The World

By Scott McLean

People everywhere are getting fed up with the major media because they often fail to report major stories or leave out important facts and issues.

Journalists with weblogs are meeting the needs of more people these days all over the planet, as they search for better news coverage and more intelligent commentaries.

This writer has enjoyed reading many blogs from countries around the world. There is a lot of good information out there on just about every subject imaginable.

It's the opinion of this writer that weblogs are among the best sources of interesting news and opinion articles.

Now you can quickly find information by going online. To receive daily updates, just check back with your favorite weblogs on a regular basis. It's also a great way to get to know and become friends with lots of nice people in other countries.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Congratulations Japan For Winning World Baseball Classic

By Scott McLean

Ichiro Suzuki is a champion at last. Not as a Seattle Mariner but as a member of Japan's baseball team which won the World Baseball Classic.

Most baseball fans remember Ichiro's 262 hits a few years ago that set the Major League single-season record.

Now comes the hard part. It's time to prepare for another challenging season with the Seattle Mariners.

This writer is known to go out on a limb with his sports predictions. That said, Seattle could be much improved this year.

But for the Mariners to win a championship, they must first win their division or be the wild-card team. Either way, Seattle probably needs to win close to 60 percent of its 162 games.

For Ichiro to win a second title in the fall, Seattle pitching must be better than last season or ever before, as the team has never won the World Series. It also would help if the Mariners hit about 40 or 50 more home runs this year.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Iraq War Losing Support

By Scott McLean

American outrage over the war in Iraq and concern about the decisions of their president and Congress have increased in recent weeks.

Marking the three-year anniversary of the war's beginning, President Bush said there will be victory in Iraq that will lead to long-term peace, but a growing number of people believe the military effort won't be successful.

Although there are those who say Iraq is not presently in a civil war, the country is going the opposite direction of order, to what some might call chaos.

Then there is the fact that American troops are not fighting a military there, as they were when the war began three years ago. They are fighting terrorists who will never surrender.

The only way of achieving the sort of victory the president is talking about is to keep a large number of troops there until the terrorists are all gone.

How is that going to be possible? Meanwhile, the casualties of troops and innocent Iraqis are growing.

An enormous U.S. deficit resulting from allocations to the military will likely lead to tax increases in the near future.

These are just a few of the reasons more and more Americans do not approve of the war effort and the job the president is doing.

Congress may be the biggest losers politically in this whole situation, especially Republicans who could lose control of the House of Representatives.

Some observers are curious as to what will happen in this year's House elections, because every two years all the members are up for re-election.

This time around many incumbents (those representatives in office at this time) have negative issues which could negatively impact their campaigns, and the war is likely the most damaging of those issues.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Interior Secretary Nominee Gets Poor Scores On Environment

By Scott McLean

President Bush's nomination of Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne as U.S. Secretary of the Interior has met with criticism from environmentalists.

Earthjustice Staff Attorney Todd True last week issued a statement that described Kempthorne's poor environmental voting record during his time in the U.S. Senate.

"As a one-term Senator, Kempthorne only cast one pro-environmental vote in six years, according to the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard. He also introduced a bill to undermine the Endangered Species Act that was unanimously opposed by conservation and scientific groups," True said.

The entire statement can be found on the organization's website at

Source: Earthjustice

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Everything From Ports To Sports On Planet News Views

Looking Ahead To The NBA Playoffs
Planet News Views

Detroit is the favorite to reach the NBA Finals. This article looks ahead to the playoffs.

President Bush Continues Support Of Dubai Ports Deal
Planet News Views

Americans were outraged over the Dubai ports deal putting a company from the Middle East in charge of some United States ocean ports.

Read this article for more information on President Bush's support of the ports deal.

U.S. Ports Should Be Managed By U.S. Companies
Planet News Views

Politicians often don't seem to grasp the obvious. Protecting America's ports first and foremost would seem "obvious" but maybe we are giving the people we elect to much credit.

Many Americans didn't even realize that foreign companies were in charge of U.S. ports, but isn't it the responibility of so-called leaders who have all this information to make wise decisions.

And if America is at war to fight terrorists, what good will those gains be if we our security within our borders to chance. Read more in my political opinion article by clicking on the above link.

Notes On Reaching The NBA Playoffs

By Scott McLean

I know what some of you are thinking after I didn't mention the Indiana Pacers in the last article. You wonder what's wrong with me.

You're muttering: The Indiana Pacers are contenders in the East!

Well, maybe, not so fast...

Peja Stojakovic is an outstanding scorer. The team plays solid defense. Indiana will probably make the playoffs, but if they play Detroit or Miami in the first round I'm guessing it won't be a happy ending for Pacers fans.

Last year the Chicago Bulls were the surprise team in the NBA, not just reaching the playoffs but showing they could win once they got there.

They were too young and inexperienced to make a real championship run. But they were so much fun to watch.

The Bulls aren't doing a great job defensively this year, and it's going to be hard to make the playoffs.

The final two teams to get into the playoffs will have a difficult time winning even one against Detroit or Miami.

Miami has two superstars, but I don't think it necessarily means they will win a championship this year. However, the opening playoff series should be easy for Shaq, Dwayne Wade and their teammates.

After losing some close games to lesser opponents in recent weeks, the Detroit Pistons have to start playing the tough championship-type defense which was why they won a title two years ago.

Detroit could finish the regular season with 25 more wins than their first round opponent. Wow!

That doesn't mean anything, right? You might be thinking, Scott, in the playoffs everybody starts with the same record. And they all have the identical number of wins. Zero.

How true. But at least a few of those teams will be exiting the playoffs with that number of wins as well. I'm referring to those teams that barely reach the playoffs. The ones that must play Miami and Detroit in the first round.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Expect Championship Favorite Detroit To Win The East With Defense

By Scott McLean

Basketball excitement in the form of the NBA playoffs is almost here. The obvious contenders are getting ready for their title runs, while some teams are clinging to hope for a postseason berth.

Just about everybody's favorites in the Western Conference and Eastern Conference are the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons, respectively.

And who am I to disagree? Well, actually I have been known to take a different team now and then, so watch out for my bold predictions especially in the early rounds of the playoffs.

Is there a team out there that can beat the Pistons with all that talent and defensive toughness? Uh, I say no, not a chance... But the Miami Heat if Shaquille O'Neal is healthy can make life tough for Detroit.

On the other hand, if Shaq isn't dominating opponents under the basket, Miami could be eliminated prior to a conference finals showdown with Detroit, which I predict the Pistons would win in six games.

Besides Detroit and Miami, the East isn't very good.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have the most exciting player to watch in LeBron James, possibly the league's best player, but they have too many problems defending against good scorers.

Washington has one of those all-world scorers in Gilbert Arenas, but the team's defense is lacking as well.

This year's New Jersey Nets are much improved with Vince Carter leading the way with tremendous ability to take over games.

Carter's great shooting, overall game, and leadership have made the Nets a contender.

While they will win the division title, I don't think they match up well with either Miami or Detroit.

Detroit is my strong favorite to return to the Finals this year.

With guards Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton leading the way offensively and all five players causing match up problems for defenders, I don't see how any teams can win a series against them.

The Pistons haven't been their best in recent weeks, but I expect they will start to play the championship-tough defense that shut down opponents a few years ago when they won the title.

Next time I'll see if I can find any teams in the West capable of knocking the Spurs out of the playoffs. I'm guessing it's going to be a difficult task.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

President Bush Continues Support Of Dubai Ports Deal

By Scott McLean

President Bush told a gathering of publishers Friday why he had supported the ports deal which would have put a company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in charge of operations at some United States ports.

It was clear from president's speech that a reason for allowing a Middle East company to run some U.S. ports was to retain the country's assistance in the war on terror.

The following is a quote from President Bush's speech at the National Newspaper Association Conference, as made public by a White House news release:

"I'm concerned about a broader message this issue could send to our friends and allies around the world, particularly in the Middle East. In order to win the war on terror, we have got to strengthen our relationships and friendships with moderate Arab countries in the Middle East. UAE is a committed ally in the war on terror. They are a key partner for our military in a critical region."

The President said that he wants Congress and the American people to understand the strategic relationship with the Arab country.

Friday, March 10, 2006

U.S. Ports Should Be Managed By U.S. Companies

Politics - Opinion

By Scott McLean

Americans deserve to find out why the Dubai ports deal was made in the first place, and therefore Congress should continue its investigation.

Moreover, Congress should come up with legislation that would provide incentives to make management of U.S. ports more attractive to U.S. companies.

Foreign companies should not be managing U.S. ports. PERIOD.

If that is called discrimination, fine. Protecting America is the bottom line. Who cares what the rest of the world says.

American lives are far more important than business deals.

Here is the most important question, though I may be one of the first to ask it:

Why is America fighting a war that is causing so many deaths of our young people as well as creating an immense national deficit when the government's plan for ports appears to be left to chance?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Philippines: National State Of Emergency Lifted

One week after a state of emergency was declared in the Philippines by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the emergency ended Friday morning as the President issued Proclamation 1021.

The President's official statement appears on Planet News Views through permission by the Philippine Information Agency, who produced the press release which reads:

PGMA lifts state of national emergency

Quezon City (3 March) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this morning issued Proclamation 1021 which formally lifted the state of national emergency imposed under Presidential Proclamation 1017 (PP-1017) a week ago.

Following is the statement of the President, delivered in Filipino, recalling PP-1017:

Pahayag ng Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: Pagbawi sa Proklamasyon 1017

Inihalal ninyo ako upang ayusin ang ekonomiya, mamuhunan sa ating mamamayan, at tanggalin ang nakadudurog na bigat ng kahirapan. Nagtatagumpay ang plano ko; sumusulong na ang ekonomiya. Patibay nito ang malakas na piso, lumalagong investment mula sa ibayong dagat, at mas malaking koleksiyon ng buwis na siyang popondo sa mga serbisyo publiko gaya ng edukasyon, pagamot at imprastraktura.

Subalit sa gitna ng pagsigla ng ekonomiya, may mga elemento sa ating lipunan na sukat naglunsad ng pakanang pabagsakin ang ating pamahalaan.

Isang linggo na ang nakararaan, nagsanib ang mga malisyosong destabilizer at mga sundalo at pulis na ligaw upang samantalahin ang maramdaming pangyayari sa ikadalawampung pagdiriwang ng EDSA. Wala silang ibang hangarin kundi ang sabotahe ng Saligang Batas at pagwasak ng legal na gobyerno ng Pilipinas. Ayon sa mga pangyayari, bumuo ako ng paghusga na may clear and present danger sa Republika dahil sa pagsasama ng mga puwersang ito. Bilang Commander-in-Chief ng Sandatahang Lakas at ayon sa kapangyarihang kaloob sa akin ng Konstitusyon, kumilos ako upang ipagtanggol ang katiwasayan ng mamamayan at sambayanan.

Napatibayan ang aking pagkabahala: maraming subersibo at ilang mga kawal at pulis ang naaresto natin. Bahala ang ating sistema ng hustisya sa kanilang makatarungang paglilitis. At gaya ng nakita natin noong Linggo ng gabi, nagpatuloy ang pakikibaka sa mga araw na sumunod. Kaya naman hindi ko binawi ang State of Emergency hanggang matiyak kong ligtas at maayos ang bayan.

Hindi ito hakbang basta ko ginawa; napakalaki ang nakataya upang kumilos nang kapos. Naniniwala ako na napalakas at nasanggahan ng aking ginawa ang ating mga karapatan at ang kalayaan ng media sa banta ng diktadurang leftist-rightist, at aking ipinagtanggol ang pagsulong ng ekonomiya na pinagsikapan nating matamo.

Ngayon, matapos ang isang linggo, ikinagagalak kong sabihin na nawasak ang pagsasabwatan, at panahon na upang bumalik sa tunay na gawain ng pamahalaan. Matibay ang aking tiwala na nanumbalik ang kaayusan. Samakatwid, ayon sa kapangayarihang kaloob sa akin ng Saligang Batas, ipinapahayag ko na mula sa sandaling ito hindi na umiiral ang State of Emergency.

Ibig kong pasalamatan ang ating mga tauhang militar at pulis na hindi nagpadala sa hatak ng politika at nanatiling tapat sa kanilang kalooban at sa bayan na sumpa nilang ipagtanggol. Napakarami nilang pasanin alang-alang sa atin. Inatasan ko si Defense Secretary Cruz na mamuno sa malawakang balik-tanaw upang alamin ang pananaw ng ating mga kawal sa larangan, tugunin ang kanilang mga hinaing at pangangailangan, at siguruhing magpapatuloy ang reporma sa Sandatahang Lakas tungo sa modernisasyon at katarungan. Ganoon din sa kapulisan.

Nagpapasalamat din ako sa ating mga pinunong lokal at pambansa na nanindigan sa panig ng demokrasya. At hindi ko mapupuri nang sapat ang dunong ng ating mga kababayan sa pag-unawa na nasa kasipagan ang magandang kinabukasan, wala sa pag-aalsa sa lansangan.

Napakahalaga ngayon na tumigil na ang ating mga kalaban sa politika at ang mga oportunista sa perhuwisyo sa ekonomiya at kahihiyan sa Pilipinas dulot ng mga walang kuwentang palabas.

Mas malakas ang bayan sa mabilis at buong loob nating pagtugon sa hamong ito. Hindi ko kailanman kukunsintihin ang ganitong uring adventurism. At kahit ilang ulit, kikilos ako nang may paninindigan at determinasyon tuwing mamimilit ang ating mga kaaway ng alanganin sa bansa at pahamak sa ekonomiya.

Samantala, pinagpala tayong nakatira sa masiglang demokrasya na malakas, matatag, at sumusulong.

Maraming salamat po.

Controversial UAE Port Deal Finds Critics In U.S. Congress

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi provides remarks made Thursday in the House of Representatives

Article By Scott McLean
With remarks from Rep. Pelosi

Public concerns over a United Arab Emirates company buying and preparing to take over operations at several U.S. ports have led to a proposed investigation by Congress.

The controversial UAE ports deal was a major topic Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives, although it became clear no agreement exists yet regarding what to do about it.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi tried to gain support for the one version of a measure that would require a 45-day investigation of the port deal and require the House to vote on approval of the deal, according to a press release from Representative Pelosi.

The proposal to debate was narrowly defeated by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Through the press release, Pelosi shared her official comments, which follow:

“Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked the third anniversary of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Yet today, three years later, our country is not as safe as it should be. We have a port security system that is full of holes.

“The ports are our first line of defense in protecting our country. Yet the backroom port deal shines a bright light on the failure of the President and this Republican Congress to secure our ports.

“The biggest threat to our security is the fissile materials that are still out there, the nuclear materials of the post-Soviet Union world. They were formally weapons of the Soviet Union and now they are not secured adequately and available to terrorists.

“The single biggest threat is those weapons in a container coming into our country. I really can’t understand why this Administration has refused to do what is necessary to protect our ports from that threat. And, it’s not only our ports; when these containers come from overseas to our country, they are unloaded onto a truck, onto a train, drive right through your city, your town, perhaps past your home. So the danger goes well beyond our ports.

“Here at home, only 6 percent of containers entering our ports are screened. Yet at two of the busiest terminals in the world – in Hong Kong – 100 percent of containers are screened. If Hong Kong terminals can do it, why can’t America?

“That is why Democrats are proposing that 100 percent of the containers that comes to our ports are screened, at the port of origin – long before they reach our shores and our waterways.

“Today, as we debate and vote on another issue of security, Democrats demand that attention be given to our ports. We will call for a vote on a bipartisan bill that is identical to the one introduced by the senior Republican and Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, Mr. King and Mr. Thompson. It will require a 45-day investigation of the Dubai deal. In addition, we require both Houses of Congress to have an up or down vote on whether or not to approve this agreement.

“Congress must assert itself. Congress must take responsibility. We take an oath of office to protect the American people and we take that oath seriously.

“Today is the day that the Dubai deal will be finalized, and this is our best chance to require a congressional vote on whether or not that backroom deal should go through. I urge my colleagues to assert Congress’s responsibility to the American people, to assert Congress’s role in checks and balances in our Constitution. I urge our colleagues to vote against the previous question.”

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Planet News Views: Religious Freedom

Regardless of where people live on the planet, they should have the freedom to the religion of their choice, without being persecuted or put in prison for their religious beliefs. Choosing no religion at all should be protected as well.

The Philippines: State Of Emergency And Media Freedom Addressed By Philippine Government And Commentaries

By Scott McLean

During the last few weeks, the Philippines has received much international media attention.

First came the devastating mudslides in the Southern province of Leyte. Then last week President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a state of emergency, issuing Presidential Proclamation 1017 to deal with a coup attempt.

The official position from the Philippines government is that there has been no crackdown on the media.

Statements by Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, which appeared in Philippine Information Agency press releases, and PIA commentaries from various writers carried this message and explained the state of emergency.

Some of these articles appear on Planet News Views and they are the opinions of their authors.

Commentary: PP 1017 counter acts of plotters

By Aurora J. Casimpan

Tacloban City (1 March) -- The importance of Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 cannot be overemphasized.

The ebb, and finally the restoration of normalcy was the aftermath of the proclamation order. It might be recalled that PP No. 1017 was declared by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over threats of allied forces of the extreme left and ultra right groups to wrest the Presidency and topple the government.

Implementing the order was the force which countered the acts of destabilization being wrought upon by the extremist groups.

The act of the Supreme Court negating the Temporary Restraining Order against 1017 bespoke of the importance of the proclamation order. Though Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said that while the high tribunal would prioritize the hearing of the petitions filed against the constitutionality of the proclamation order they would not be railroaded into issuing a temporary restraining order.

Considering the importance of the case since it involves basic human rights contained in the Bill of Rights gives the hearings a sense of urgency. But still all sides need to be considered and so giving the respondents time to submit a comment within a prescribed time had to be imposed.

Malacañang has expressed appreciation on the forbearance of the High Court relative to PP1017 and has assured full compliance of the executive to any decision of the court.

Meanwhile, the President in close consultation with economic and security advisers is weighing her options relative to the proclamation order in relation to public interest. Whatever the President will decide is anchored on facts and the vital factors impinging on the domestic and international millieu. The lifting of the PP1017 is dependent on the considered view that threat to the Republic has been contained.

Meantime, the state of emergency is not a forerunner of the declaration of martial law. The specter of a creeping martial law is purely a product of a creative thinker who loves spinning stories. (PIA-8)

Reposted with permission from the Philippine Information Agency

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Survivors Of Philippine Mudslides Receive Help From Save The Children

By Scott McLean

Save the Children is assisting survivors of the February 17 mudslides on Leyte Island, the Philippines, according to a press release issued by the organization.

The village of Guinsaugon was devastated by the mudslides resulting from heavy rains, which have caused residents of 11 other villages to be evacuated.

In cooperation with government officials and humanitarian organizations, Save the Children is assisting to provide food, water, and clothing at evacuation centers, the organization stated.

There are 84 confirmed casualties, nearly 1,000 people missing, all presumed dead, the Philippine Information Agency told Planet New Views by telephone Tuesday evening. Two days ago the search was called off due to bad weather conditions, a PIA staff member commented.

“Continued rains pose a challenge to the relief efforts,” said Rudy von Bernuth, who heads Save the Children USA’s emergency response efforts, “but the distribution of essential items for children and families affected by this disaster continues. We also remain vigilant of the risk to neighboring villages, where further mudslides or floods are possible due to the very heavy rains.”

The organization reports that children represent about one-third of the 2,100 people housed in evacuation centers.

For more information on the rescue effort, visit

Commentary: Gov't allays fear of media gag

By Aurora J. Casimpan

Tacloban City (1 March) -- The overriding intention of the President in implementing the proclamation order is to protect the interests of the state. Nowhere will the state be protected than in media's truthful and unbiased reporting of events.

The President's wish is for media to publish events fair and square and to avoid reporting news which would sow fear and confusion among the citizens.

The President issued this statement to allay fears of some media entities which reacted adversely over the raid of the office of the Daily Tribune newspaper.

The government's appeal to media outlets to maintain fair and factual reporting over events which threaten national security has been viewed by some as curtailment of press freedom.

In Tacloban City, some local media practitioners have expressed fear over the alleged stifling of press freedom. A militant group based in the city has also criticized the issuance of the Presidential Proclamation No.1017 as it would lead to gag order of media.

Over this sentiment, the Philippine Information Agency in the region explained that the government has no intention of gagging the media at all. PIA-8 said that the media in the region has been a partner in development information and it will always look at the media as its partner in the dissemination of information on government programs and projects.

Partnership between the media and the government in delivering developmental news will aid the country in securing the economic gains it had started to harvest. (PIA-8)

Reprinted with permission of the Philippine Information Agency

Commentary: Filipinos tired of people power

by Flor Jackson

Tacloban City (1 March) -- The Filipino people are tired and sick of people power being used by destabilizers everytime they want to fight against THE government and the sitting president.

This was the observation of some opinion leaders in the province of Biliran as they view on their television sets and listen to their radio sets the activities of the protesters who went to the streets in Manila to express their outbursts against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

However, the opinion leaders noticed that only few joined in the protest rallies – a sign, THEY SAID, that people nowadays are wary and fed up of all these rallies which to them has come to a point that it becomes nauseating.

The opinion leaders further said that the activity should be stopped, instead, people must join hands, unite and focus on activities that will help improve the lives of every Filipino especially the poor.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said “let us focus to the aspirations of the people to provide them jobs, good education, better health services”. This added will be realized if we unite to fulfill that dream.

However, the destabilizers of this country can do nothing but as mere deterrent to the programs of government leading towards its never-ending fight against poverty.

Even as President Arroyo declared the entire Filipino nation in a state of national emergency, it is business as usual in the entire province of Biliran.

In his noontime radio program, former Congressman Gerry Espina and now mayor of Naval advised the Navaleños and the Biliranons to keep calm, work and move on to improve their living conditions that will also lead to the development of the island province of Biliran. (PIA-Biliran)

Reprinted with permission of the Philippine Information Agency