Planet News Views

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Taking a Break From Politics

Getting online has been a nightmare. I've tried several times, and finally here I am. Next time there could be more problems. Hopefully not.

Monday was an interesting day. Polvoron crumbles covered my bedroom floor a few minutes after I jumped out of bed. In case you didn't know it, polvoron is a popular dessert from the Philippines. It's very delicious, but it tends to break into tiny bits. That was just the beginning of the day...

It was a holiday in the United States -- Memorial Day. What a great opportunity to rest and not be too serious.

The month of May was bitter in many ways as American politics has turned rather nasty. For one day it was wonderful to forget all the disagreements, and relax.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Live Update: Tonight's Dream, Food Of Philippines

Live update time... I'm so hungry for some fish from the Philippines that I don't know what to do. If you live there or have ever been there, then you know what I'm talking about.

During my stay in Makati a year ago, I feasted on crispy danggit and bangus. In between meals and with breakfast, I snacked on fruits we don't have here in the United States.

I'm really missing lanzones, siniguelas, tambis and of course Philippine mangoes, some of the best I've eaten.

Okay, before I can't take it anymore, I should eat something and go to bed. Halo-Halo dessert dreams are near. I just know it. Talk about sweet dreams...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

U.S. Provides Five Million To Help Indonesian Earthquake Victims

Relief operations to Indonesia, struck by an earthquake early Saturday morning, received a boost from the U.S. Government, which has committed $5 million to those efforts, according to a news release from PR Newswire.

In my opinion, this is the kind of effort the U.S. should be involved in. I hope the earthquake victims in Indonesia get all the help they need.

Live Blogging on Whatever Comes To Mind...

While sipping on some coffee a few minutes ago, the idea for a live two hours of Planet News Views came to me. During this time, I plan on posting whatever seems appropriate.

My confidence is due to having virtually no problems getting online this evening. Last week was quite a different story because I had a problem with the computer almost each time I attempted to get online an update this blog.

Right now I'd like to begin by saying my thoughts and prayers are with all the people whose lives have been devastated by the earthquake in Indonesia. They have been through so much in the last few years, including the tsunami and now this disaster.

I'll be back with more posts later this evening and early morning.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Getting Past The Selfishness, To Helping People In Need

By Scott McLean

Lately I've been thinking about what compassion really means... and why the protesters in the U.S. get so much attention when there are people in other countries who don't have enough food to eat or whose lives have been destroyed by a natural disaster.

One explanation why immigrants sneaked across the border from into this country is they want a better life. Who doesn't? However, some people on this planet are struggling just to stay alive.

Hopefully I'm not the only writer out there putting this in perspective: Needs are more important than wants. Selfishness gets in the way of greater good on our planet.

There are many examples of giving from the heart, but we don't hear enough about it these days.

When compassion is put into action, the world is a better place. In the Philippines a few months ago, mudslides devastated one area, and I wrote about efforts to bring aid to the people there.

The needs of people are often given less attention than they deserve in this world where so many selfish demands are made. But it's a good time for a return to what matters most in life.

I admire organizations and individuals who help survivors of natural disasters. In order to do my part, I plan to post more information about these efforts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Detroit's Guards, One Reason To Pick Pistons Over Heat

Sports - Opinion
By Scott McLean

During the regular season, the Eastern Conference was dominated by the Detroit Pistons, who had the best record and got the homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Miami Heat finished second in the conference, but they didn't have anything close to the Pistons fantastic record.

When they played each other, the Pistons looked like the better team by outplaying the Heat in the fourth quarter.

Detroit guards Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton will have to find some way to contain Miami's superstar guard Dwayne Wade. They are not going to shut him down, which is why I didn't write it that way.

Wade, Gary Payton, and Jason Williams aren't going to stop Billups and Hamilton, either. I think Wade will average the most points, but Billups and Hamilton together will outplay the Miami guards.

Then there's Shaq... I'm talking about Miami center Shaquille O'Neal, who is always difficult to stop around the basket.

Shaq is going to dunk the ball, as usual, and he's going to get fouled... Because opponents don't fear him when he's shooting free throws.

As a result, keeping Ben Wallace out of foul trouble is an area of concern for the Pistons. If he's on the bench a lot, Miami might win the series. That's really the only way the Heat can stop Wallace from stopping their season.

Will Ben Wallace be the difference in this series? He could be one of them. I would say the center matchup is even. But Wallace is quick enough to cause problems for any shooters near the basket.

Over all, the forwards on these two teams are about equal. Of all the forwards on both teams, Rasheed Wallace is the one who can make clutch shots in the fourth quarter.

However, in my opinion, the guards will determine which team wins this series. I'm picking the Pistons because of Billups and Hamilton. Detroit in seven games.

My Computer Problems Can't Stop Me From Picking The Pistons

Since I never know when the computer is going to have a problem, it's a good idea if I write something now while I can get online. If you don't hear back from me this afternoon, it doesn't mean I'm not picking the Detroit Pistons to win their series with the Miami Heat, because I think the Pistons match up well with the Heat. More later...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks!

By Scott McLean

You are the best team in Texas! Now, let's see if you can get to the NBA Finals and win a championship.

I thought the San Antonio Spurs would win the series, but Dallas prevailed. If I had to analyze the series, it seemed like the Mavericks had slightly better perimeter shooting than the Spurs. The Mavericks also showed me more confidence, and desire than I remember them having in past years.

Can the Mavericks win a championship? Definitely. Will they? I'll have to think that over and let you know later. However, I will say that Dallas looks as good as Detroit, and their ability to score, the way they did against the Spurs, could be the difference.

But first they have to win the conference finals, before they start thinking about the NBA Finals.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Three NBA Playoff Series To Be Decided In Game 7

Sports Column/Opinion
By Scott McLean

What an unbelievable NBA playoffs this has been so far!

Three out of the four conference semi-final series will be decided in Game 7.

Who knows, maybe one or more series will come down to the final shot of the game. That would be wild!

Now it's time for me to admit I underestimated the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James is quickly turning Cleveland into a contender.

The Detroit Pistons have really struggled to contain Le Bron. Let's also give some credit to the good defense played by the Cavaliers.

The Pistons found some way to win Game 6 in Cleveland, and thanks to the homecourt advantage, they will be able to play the deciding Game 7 in front of their fans.

Can Le Bron pull off the heroics and the biggest upset of the year by leading the Cavaliers past the Pistons? Or will the Pistons show why they had the best record of the regular season?

My guess is the Pistons will be hard to beat at home, but Cleveland eliminate Detroit if Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton are unable to make jump shots.

And then there's the series I said would take seven games to decide: San Antonio vs. Dallas . Sorry to say, somebody will be done after Game 7.

The Mavericks have become a great team, good enough to have a 3-games-to-1 lead over the Spurs, but the lead just slipped away.

Like the Pistons, the Spurs have the conference homecourt advantage, which could be the difference in this series.

For Dallas to win, they will need huge performances from their shooters. San Antonio must play tough, physical defense and not leave the Mavericks wide open for lots of three-pointers.

The other Western Conference series which is hard to figure out is Phoenix vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.

Before the series began, I said this would happen. But I didn't know the Clippers would be this competitive. Yes, Clippers fans, your team is good.

Elton Brand has dominated inside for the Clippers, and the Suns don't have a way to stop him. Together, Brand and Chris Kaman are making life tough on the smaller Suns, a team that doesn't defend well especially around the basket.

However, the Suns are playing at home, and have a good chance to win if they are shooting the ball well.

Shawn Marion has some impressive performances this postseason. He could be the go-to guy in the fourth quarter, when the Suns are looking for a clutch basket.

Of course, two-time MVP Steve Nash might make the clutch basket or pass. Brand, Sam Cassell or another Clipper may also make huge baskets near the end of the game.

Whatever happens, I'm just hoping for more of the same spectacular basketball.

I'll stick with my picks of the Suns, Spurs and Pistons, but any of these three games could go either way.

Note: A short introduction to the announcement by United for Peace and Justice was added today.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

United For Peace And Justice Leads Nationwide Call Congress Effort To Stop NSA Phone Surveillance

United for Peace and Justice on Wednesday, May 17 began an effort of people all over the U.S. calling their legislators in Congress and asking them to stop NSA phone surveillance.

At the end of this post you will find the organization's contact information. With the permission of United for Peace and Justice, the following announcement from the organization is reprinted here:

TAKE ACTION TODAY: National Call-In to Congress to Stop NSA Phone Surveillance

MAY 17th

Last December, we learned that President Bush had broken the law by allowing the National Security Agency to listen in on the phone calls of tens of thousands of people in this country.

On Thursday, May 11th, USA Today published a major cover story revealing a National Security Agency (NSA) database of millions of innocent peoples' domestic phone call records, indicating who, when and where we are calling. This database has nothing to do with catching suspected terrorists: It is documenting all our associations in the largest database in history -- with a goal of including "every call ever made" within the nation's borders!

Take Action Now
It's time for us to tell Congress in a clear, loud voice that we've had enough!

Today, Wednesday, May 17th, people from around the country will participate in the Congressional Call-In Day initiated by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the ACLU, People For the American Way, and other organizations (see below). We will demand a Congressional investigation of this government intrusion immediately. If you can't make the calls today, then any day this week would be great. Let's keep those phones ringing in the Congressional halls all week long!

The Message Please phone each of your Senators, and your Representative. Urge them NOT to consider draft legislation that would give the executive branch new surveillance powers that are immune to oversight by the courts and Congress. Call for a full, public investigation of the NSA surveillance program.

Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 (24 hours) and ask the operator to connect you. Or use the Bill of Rights Defense Committee call-in page to find your legislators' phone numbers.

Sample talking points:

Here are a few suggestions. Choose one or two:

The President has broken the law. He must stop warrantless eavesdropping and collecting records on all our phone calls and come clean about any further secret powers he claims as Commander-in-Chief.
The administration's claim that it must break the law to protect us from al-Qaeda are just plain false: Monitoring any communications targeting an al-Qaeda member outside the U.S. doesn't even require a warrant, and FISA judges are ready and waiting to issue warrants to wiretap any suspected al-Qaeda in the U.S. -- even if those calls include U.S. citizens or residents.

Overburdening the FBI with thousands of false leads makes us less safe because it leaves them less time and fewer resources to find the real terrorists.

How can Congress even consider passing legislation to make these illegal programs legal, when it can't even find out what they entail? It must investigate. This is no time for new legislation!

What's needed is an immediate, full and unrestricted public investigation into the NSA spying program, including a probe into the massive database collecting millions of peoples' phone calls.

The idea that the database of all our calls is permissible as long as it doesn't contain names and addresses is ludicrous. By linking the database of phone calls with all the other government data-mining operations, the government can literally follow our every move, every contact, and every transaction. It's "Big Brother" run amok!

Congress needs to pass whistleblower protections for government employees and safeguards for journalists who provide information about illegal government acts.

The Fourth Amendment is clear. Electronic surveillance of this sort requires a warrant. A warrant allows a judge to serve as a check against executive abuse of power. That check keeps our government honest -- preventing one branch of government from mischief and errors.

Organizations supporting the call-in day (partial list) include the Alliance for Justice, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Civil Liberties Union, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, First Amendment Foundation, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Liberty Coalition, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Coalition Against Repressive Legislation, National Lawyers Guild, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, People For the American Way, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and United for Peace and Justice.

Note: Reprinted with permission of United for Peace and Justice
How to contact United for Peace and Justice:

Check Back For More Information On The Effort To Stop NSA Phone Surveillance

United for Peace and Justice is leading a nationwide call-in to Congress to stop phone surveillance of Americans, and wants a public investigation into the NSA spying program, with a "probe into the massive database collecting millions of peoples' phone calls," according to the announcement on the United for Peace and Justice website.

The complete information will be posted here later today, with permission from the organization.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Job Approval Ratings Way Down For President Bush and Congress

In my opinion, the numbers have been low due to lack of action on important issues, the threat of another war, and concerns about privacy rights

By Scott McLean

A Harris Poll released last week showed President Bush's job approval rating at 29 percent, the lowest since he took office, according to a news release from PR Newswire.

Could polling numbers be any worse for a politician? Well, yes, and make that politicians, U.S. Congress.

You pretty much needed to use a magnifying glass to see the tiny support for the nation's lawmaking body. Sure it's my opinion, and there's more on the way.

First, a few more numbers...

The 18 percent positive and 80 percent negative approval rating of Congress (also Harris Poll) are difficult to imagine, unless we bring up "the issues" and the apparent lack of attention to them by Congress.

The following is how I see it...

Did anyone say Congress might start by securing the border, to prevent illegal immigrants, some criminals, and possibly even terrorists from crossing into our country? Hope so. And then there is the issue of what to do about the millions of illegals already in the United States.

On Monday, President Bush spoke on national television and gave his plan to secure the border, which could improve his poll numbers. Still, other concerns exist for Americans.

The war in Iraq and the possibility of U.S. military action against Iran are getting lots of Americans upset these days.

While this is my opinion, I believe it's an accurate one. Wouldn't another war be a terrible thing for the U.S.? I think so.

And while I'm thinking up questions, why is the NSA spying on Americans?

The domestic spying program no longer seems limited to stopping terrorists, and privacy rights of ordinary people are being threatened.

Congress can't afford to only debate this serious matter - a thorough investigation must be done, followed by action if necessary to protect our rights - or many of them could be debating in coffee shops a year from now, if they are not re-elected.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

You Can Leave Me Comments and I Will Get Back To You Soon

Even writers have off days... yesterday I was not well and slept most of the day. However, I did check my comments and e-mail because what you write is important to me.

If you are interested in writing a commentary on a particular topic, you can let me know in the comments section. Your input is appreciated.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Leave Me A Comment and I'll Get Back To You Right Away

When I get online, I'll respond to your questions. Thanks for reading my blog. Take care, Scott

Big Issues and Sports Too on Planet News Views

Planet News Views has a higher purpose than just eating ice cream, but I realize people get their fill of the "big issues" from time to time.

Immigration reform was the most recent big issue in America, although gas prices are still high, causing concern for people all over the planet, and obviously many people are jittery about a possible war with Iran.

But on more than a rare occasion we just need to relax, and that's one reason spectator sports are so popular in America and all over the planet. That's why I write sports articles and mix in other forms of writing, as well.

Blogging In Real Time While Eating Chocolate Ice Cream

Guess what happened?

The computer crashed...

Sorry for the delay. Talk about glitches in the new frontier of real-time blogging.

No Comment...

Uh yeah, I will comment but first I'm going to devour a bowl full of chocolate ice cream. Wait, I'll get it and be back in a jiffy. Hang on, this is real time blogging. It's not a radio talk show, I realize that, but it can still be a heck of a lot of fun. Wait a minute, and I'll have more comments...


Please Leave Comments And I Just Might Answer Right Away

It's now early afternoon. I'll be here for an hour or so...

Awake late, awake early because it's hard to write while I'm sleeping. Leave me a message and I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My Thoughts On The NBA Playoffs

Sports Commentary
By Scott McLean

The NBA playoffs are a lot of fun again this year. It's quite possible San Antonio and Dallas will have to play seven games to decide their series.

Phoenix vs. the Los Angeles Clippers might get interesting, too, but I still say the Suns will prevail in six.

In the Eastern Conference, the Detroit Pistons are dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers, although LeBron James will make more tremendous plays before the series is over.

Regardless, it could be a Detroit sweep, unless LeBron's teammates do more scoring and play better defense.

Before the series began, I thought the Cavaliers would win one or two games, but I don't see them making the Pistons worry.

The New Jersey Nets vs. Miami Heat is a much more physical series, which could take the full seven games to decide. I think the Heat will win the series, if only because of Shaquille O'Neal.

Shaq creates matchup problems for the Nets, who will probably double-team him when he has the ball near the basket.

Rather than put all their effort into limiting Shaq, in my opinion the Nets need to do a good job of guarding Dwayne Wade and the rest of Miami's shooters.

If the Nets keep scoring the way they have all season, with Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson taking the ball to the basket and efficiently making jump shots, and Jason Kidd passing the ball to them, they could make this a close series.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Thanks for Visiting

If you have had difficulty accessing my blog, sorry for the inconvenience. I have been experiencing the same problems with the blog today. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Please Feel Free To Leave Comments

You can leave me comments, and I will respond to you as soon as I'm online. Take care, Scott

Two-Time MVP Steve Nash And Suns Take On Second Los Angeles Team Of NBA Playoffs

Congratulations to Steve Nash on winning his second MVP Award!

Nash and the Suns were red hot in Game 7 to end the Los Angeles Lakers season, but the two-time MVP and his teammates aren't done with Los Angeles -- next up the Clippers -- as L.A. fans hope to avoid a second playoff heartbreak

By Scott McLean

The first round series for the Phoenix Suns wasn't easy, except for Saturday's Game 7 blowout of the Los Angeles Lakers. Steve Nash was doing a fine job distributing the ball, as usual.

L.A. can expect another exhibition of greatness by Nash this week when the Suns take on the Clippers, the other Los Angeles team.

The Suns biggest matchup problem could be trying to contain the powerful inside game of Elton Brand. Nobody has been able to really limit Brand's scoring this season, as he is an excellent shooter and rebounder.

This could be a huge test for the Suns defense, which struggled early in the series with the Lakers.

On the other hand, it's doubtful the Clippers can keep up with the Suns, a team that takes advantage of opponents in the open court.

Nash is among the best ball handlers and passers in the league, and his focus is on the team and winning, which is possibly the reason he was chosen for the MVP Award.

The NBA is dominated these days by superstars and their statistics, whereas Nash's focus is on making his teammates better and working hard to win a championship. But Nash has lots of talent around him on this Suns team.

Forward Shawn Marion had a great season, scoring and rebounding to pick up the slack when Amare Stoudamire was out with an injury.

Boris Diaw is also an important part of the Suns ability to score at will. Diaw is a great all-around player, which means he is a good passer, as well as a scorer and rebounder.

But the Suns offense is excellent because of Steve Nash, because of his remarkable talent to distribute the ball, to find the open man and his emphasis on team.

If the Suns don't look past the Clippers (meaning they must take the Clippers seriously), they could win the series in five games.

However, if they don't shoot well in Los Angeles and Elton Brand or Sam Cassell get hot, this could be another seven game series, something the Suns don't want, given they get to the conference finals against San Antonio or Dallas.

As I sit here thinking over the matchups, it's hard for me to see how the Clippers will have a way to contain Nash or Diaw, both of whom can take the ball inside and pass it back out to the open man.

The team that gets the most easy baskets should win this series because it won't be a physical series comparable to the Texas series between Dallas and San Antonio.

I'm thinking the Suns will get more fast break baskets, possibly shoot more free throws and get more wide-open jump shots.

Phoenix will be patient and make the extra pass needed to work the ball inside or find the man with no one guarding him on the perimeter. That's why my prediction is Suns over the Clippers in six games.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

San Antonio vs. Dallas To Decide Best NBA Team In Texas

By Scott McLean

Texas is a great basketball state, which is to "state" the obvious. During the regular season, the San Antonio Spurs were the best in the Western Conference.

But their record was only slightly better than the Dallas Mavericks. It's now time to find out which team is the best in Texas, and potentially in the NBA, too.

The games will be fun to watch because both teams can score and play physical defense. I'm thinking most of the games will be close, and this series could go the full seven games.

San Antonio has the homecourt advantage, so that is why I'm predicting the Spurs will win it.

What do you think? Who's going to win this series and why? Let me know in the comments section.

Enjoy the rest of the NBA playoffs.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Americans Can Make A Difference On Immigration Reform

By Scott McLean

Before going out for my Friday evening latte, I thought of a few encouraging words on immigration issues that might be helpful.

In the last post I wrote: Let's overcome hurt feelings with forgiveness, friendship, love and kindness. This was my response to the recent protests by illegal immigrants here in the United States. However, more needs to be said.

Americans should be thinking what they will tell their members of Congress regarding immigration reform. A letter to your representative is the best way to share your opinion.

It's up to you what you write, but one thing really stands out to me: We all know very little has been done to stop millions of individuals from illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

America needs to secure the border as soon as possible by hiring more border patrol agents.

Hopefully, Congress will read all their mail and get the message, that the opinions of American citizens matter far more than protests by illegal immigrants.

Congress needs to do a better job of listening to voters, especially as this is an election year.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cinco De Mayo Party Time

When I get up tomorrow, it will be time to start drinking... milkshakes and lattes, that is.

Cinco de Mayo is here -- let the fun begin!

The U.S. immigration issue can wait until next week. Let's enjoy the weekend, but not too much (smile)... Let's overcome hurt feelings with forgiveness, friendship, love and kindness.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Happy Middle of The Week! or whatever...

And a very busy week in America it has been. The illegal immigrant boycott in the United States was on Monday, and in just two days it will be Cinco de Mayo.

Maybe it's just me, but I'll take Cinco de Mayo on a Friday over a huge protest on a Monday anytime.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Click to Read

Will Politicians Give In To Demands of Illegal Immigrants?
Planet News Views -- Question of the Week

Reporters, Politicians Should Pay Attention To Opinions Of People
Planet News Views

Friday Night Issues At Planet News Views
Planet News Views

Analysis: U.S. Diplomacy and Iran
Planet News Views

Commentaries... Click to Read

U.S. Immigration Reform Must Be Fair To All Immigrants
Planet News Views

Reporting of Immigration Protests, News And Opinion
Planet News Views

Immigration Reform, In Search Of Answers and Solutions
Planet News Views

Early Playoff Surprises, Top Teams Struggle

By Scott McLean

After playing four games of a seven-game playoff series, the San Antonio Spurs don't look so dominant anymore. The Sacramento Kings are now tied at two wins apiece with the defending NBA champions.

Defense is what the Spurs are known for and why they won the title last year. But they need to do a better job of guarding the Kings hot shooters, as well as get more physical around the basket. The series is closer than I expected, and it could go the full seven games.

Another surprise is the way the Los Angeles Lakers have beaten the Phoenix Suns in three out of four games, thus far. One more loss and the high-scoring Suns will be out of the playoffs.

Phoenix needs a huge performance from Steve Nash if they are going to continue this year's quest for a championship.

The Miami Heat looked tough when they played in Miami, but now that they are playing in Chicago, the Bulls are looking good. Tied at two games each, Miami needs a win to regain momentum.

I'm not saying Bulls will knock the Heat out of the playoffs, but these young Bulls have a lot of talent and heart. It's another series that could take seven games to decide.

No matter what happens in these three series, this year's playoffs have been very exciting.