Planet News Views

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Best Wishes To You In 2007!!!

Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Life, Human Rights and Peace

By Scott McLean

There seems to be no end to the negative news these days. That's why it's important not to forget about what's positive, especially what each person can do to make the world a better place.

In the United States, as in other countries that have democratic elections, people can influence government by voting. The U.S. congressional elections in November showed that people do make a difference. Democrats will be in charge of the U.S. Congress next month.

Change is not going to happen overnight, at least not with Iraq policy unless President Bush decides it's time for the U.S. military to leave Iraq.

The President has said many times that U.S. troops would stay in Iraq until we 'win'. In some ways we did win because Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity and will be executed. Not everyone agrees with the death sentence.

Amnesty International USA said Friday in a PR Newswire release it was concerned that violence might increase in Iraq because of the execution, the organization stating: "Amnesty International opposes the death penalty, regardless of method, in all cases, and regards it as the ultimate, irreversible human rights abuse."

I agree. I'm opposed to the death penalty, but I do respect the decision of the Iraqi court and was saddened by the horrible atrocities Hussein was found guilty of committing against people.

Looking at it a bit different way, if a person convicted of such heinous crimes were spared, then the death penalty could not fairly be given to others awaiting execution.

Putting the emphasis on life rather than death is an important goal for the planet, although it's easy for me to see that not all governments and people would agree with me.

On a very positive note, the Philippines abolished the death penalty this year. The Catholic Church Bishops had a major influence and of course the church advocates for life.

Of course commuting death sentences to life in prison without the possibity of parole would be no 'walk in the park' for murderers, but it would take the government out of the business of killing people.

While I'm not trying to speak for other opponents of the death penalty, I do feel that God--not governments-- should determine when it is time for life to end.

Then again, many people don't believe in God, so possibly they will at least understand if I say only natural causes not government should decide when life is over.

Besides the common argument that putting a person to death is cruel and unusual punishment, there is a bigger issue of trying to reduce the human suffering in the world caused by brutal regimes. Human rights violations are a huge problem in many countries.

So then, if the U.S. wants to encourage China and other countries with questionable human rights records to clean up their act regarding how they treat their own citizens, the best way to get results is leading by example.

If the U.S. were to abolish the death penalty, I think it would send a very strong message that governments should not put people to death nor should they be involved in violence against their own citizens.

Instead, governments should put an emphasis on protecting life, respecting human rights and pushing for peace in 2007 and beyond.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas!

Love! Peace! 2007 & Always!

Photo/computer artwork: Scott McLean

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hope you have a great week!

Happy Holidays!

I wish you the best in your life including good health, much success and happiness!

End the War in Iraq!

What a wonderful gift to the planet that would be

By Scott McLean

It's Christmas Eve and I just returned from shopping. I literally waited until the last minute to finish buying presents. Maybe I'll elaborate on that topic at Fast Food Yummy.

So anyway, I'm driving home with the radio on, not blasting but at a low volume, and a Marilyn Manson song or one imitating his style got me feeling pretty good.

I'm sure you didn't expect me to write about a rock star whose eyes rarely match due to some really bizarre contacts lenses, at least not on Christmas. Anyway, I'll just break in with something about music when I feel like it. Cool!

Lousy segue moment after the colon: This weird talk about celebs becoming president or senator is poppycock to some people (can you imagine M.M. as president? yikes), but I think it's a result of Americans not trusting their elected officials. Many politicians have proven themselves untrustworthy jerks.

By the way, I'm talking about American politicians, but there are many problems in other countries calling themselves democracies. For one, journalists are killed at alarming rates in some countries and the governments of those countries should in 2007 prove they are pursuing, prosecuting and punishing murderers of journalists.

In the U.S. the hot topic is something altogether different: apparently the Iraq War is going to get bigger in terms of troops before it gets smaller. Okay, I chose to capitalize "War", even though it is not a conventional war against a government but rather a war against terrorists in Iraq. The bottom line is people are getting killed. Those people are very important.

Before I continue, I want to point out that people like me who say the war should be ended now do support the troops. They want no more deaths of soldiers and Iraqi civilians. But what's going on in Iraq is getting hard to understand.

President Bush not long before Christmas said more troops would be sent to Iraq early next year. I think that was the worst decision he has made as president.

It's starting to look more and more like a Democrat will win the White House in 2008, though things could change. If the war-hawk presidential hopeful John McCain is the Republican nominee, I think the Democrat will be hard to beat.

McCain is an older version of Bush. McCain wants more troops in Iraq. Neither man seems to get it: Americans want an end to this war.

Bush, McCain and other politicians seem to think an increase in troops is the right way to bring the troops home later. Bush says we must win in Iraq. This certainly is a time of year when "winning" is talked about on TV with all the football games. War is no game. When people die, that's it. They're not coming back.

Enough of grim reality.

As I write these words, it's Christmas in less than one hour! So, let's not forget it's a celebration of the birth of Jesus. I wonder what Jesus would say about this war in Iraq. Maybe the leaders who call themselves Christians should really think about the peaceful life of Jesus.

Back to my brand of thinking. I'm opposed to war. Ending the war is the best gift many of us could imagine for the world. Sure it sounds like a fantasy. But there's always hope.

Democratic leaders in Congress can demand that the war be brought to an end. They have the power to make a difference on policy regarding Iraq. It's up to them. That's why Americans voted them in to take the reins of Congress. Now they just need to do what they promised.

Then I'll be able to turn up the radio and really celebrate to whatever rock songs fills the airwaves.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Compassion is a Busy Santa

Men put boxes of food and toys in the
back of a vehicle.

By Scott McLean

Holidays are times we are able to see our own reflection in shiny ornaments on a Christmas tree. We can shake our presents and guess what's in them. But holidays are also about giving to people in need, namely those who have little to eat and possibly not enough warm clothes.

Help Them To Hope, an organization serving the needy on both sides of the Idaho-Oregon border and staffed entirely by volunteers, shows what it's like to put compassion into action.

Volunteers work together to make the holidays brighter for those in need.

On a freezing cold Wednesday morning, boxes of food and toys were loaded into vehicles and then delivered to more than 800 families by volunteers using their own cars and gasoline to make the deliveries, according to Help Them To Hope.

The volunteers included men, women and high school students, who helped load boxes into vehicles and school buses for distribution throughout the region.

Students help load a bus headed
for a nearby town.

Food, toys and clothing were donated by countless residents at drop off sites the organization opened shortly before Thanksgiving. The clothing was not delivered with the other items, but instead will be selected by each recipient using a voucher at a nearby clothing warehouse.

Article and photos: Scott McLean

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday Giving To People in Need

This morning, Help Them to Hope volunteers delivered boxes of food and toys to needy families on both sides of
the Idaho-Oregon border.

Photo: Scott McLean

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hi! Thanks For Reading Planet News Views!

Writing is fun!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Now Sold in Manila

Krispy Kreme opens for
business in Manila.
(photo: provided by Krispy Kreme)

By Scott McLean

The Philippines recently greeted Krispy Kreme with great enthusiasm despite the possibility of some of the harshest weather conditions imaginable.

Krispy Kreme, a major doughnut chain which started in the US, opened its doors on November 30 for the first time ever in the Philippines, the flagship store setting a number of records for a first day, the Krispy Kreme marketing department said.

As the donut store was preparing to open in Manila, the news media broadcast a typhoon warning which soon turned nasty elsewhere.

This didn't stop hundreds of hungry people from showing up many hours early to set a record number for dozens of doughnuts purchased on day one.

"It was really a surprise! There was a typhoon on the 30th and the 1st of December but it gave way to us because there were 500 people in line" which set a record for customers waiting "before the door opened," Mark Gamboa of the Krispy Kreme marketing department said Thursday in an interview.

The market for sweets in the Philippines keeps growing even though the country already has many delicious Filipino desserts, ice creams and even other brands of doughnuts.

But apparently some Filipinos had been waiting awhile for Krispy Kreme doughnuts to be sold in the Philippines.

Before the new Krispy Kreme store opened in Manila, "Filipinos were bringing Krispy Kreme doughnuts back from the US", Gamboa commented.

Customers waiting in line for doughnuts
(photo: provided by Krispy Kreme)

The first customer on opening day won a one year supply of glazed doughnuts, setting a record for waiting in line the longest before the doors opened.

Gamboa described how the first customer showed up at 7 am on Nov. 29, more than a full day before the 9 am, Nov. 30 opening. She bought a double dozen and coffee, spending 645 pesos, according to Gamboa.

More doughnut locations on the way...

Gamboa says the Krispy Kreme expansion plan is to add 30 stores during the next five years.

"The majority will be here in Manila, but we are very much open to Cebu and Davao," he commented.

If you live near Manila or plan to visit the Philippines before the end of the year, there will be another Krispy Kreme store opening in the SM MegaMall later this month. Stay tuned for more details...

Find Krispy Kreme in the Philippines

For more information, click on Krispy Kreme to get store locations in Manila and a contact phone number in the Philippines.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Doughnuts and Coffee go with News and Views

There is nothing like reading the morning newspaper while sipping on a cup of coffee, except relaxing with newspaper, coffee and a doughnut at a local doughnut shop.

Doughnuts are available in so many locations these days. For example, the international doughnut chain Krispy Kreme recently celebrated the grand opening of it's first Philippine store in Manila. I spoke with the company's marketing department this week, and tomorrow I'll publish an article on Krispy Kreme in the Philippines.

It's making me very hungry. See you later...

Flowers For Happiness

Beautiful orchids of Thailand
Bangkok - Sept. 2005
Photo: Scott McLean

Happy Birthday, N!


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thailand Flowers

Beautiful flowering tree in Uthaithanee
Thailand - July 2005
Photo: Scott McLean

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Have a nice week!

Looking at this photo makes my finger
cold all over again.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hi There!

How are you? Nice of you to stop by. It's cold tonight, as it's been much of the past week. But that didn't stop me this evening. A few hours ago I went outside, got in the car and the moment I sat down felt as though I would freeze to the seat.

After driving down the road a bit, I began to warm up, but the heater made me too warm. Rather than drink hot coffee, I had my favorite iced latte.

My advice is the same as always: If you are cold, you ought to eat some soup or warm milk. I do that once in awhile, though right now I'm going to devour some delicious ice cream! I'd let you see it, but it will be gone before I can take a picture.

Anyway, I hope you have great week! Take care!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Democrats' Agenda in Congress

By Scott McLean

Democrats are preparing to take over leadership of Congress, which will mean a change in priorities. Election Day and public opinion polls showed that Americans are overwhelming opposed to the war in Iraq and the direction Republican leaders in Congress and President Bush have been taking the country.

It's obvious, too, that Americans want much more done to improve our country and help those in need. Democrats have said they will go right to work in January on specific domestic issues.

It's clear to just about anyone (except for many Republicans in Congress) that the federal minimum wage at $5.15 an hour is way too low.

This week, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi released a statement that ethics reform and a minimum wage increase would be at the top of the Democrats agenda in the 110th Congress.

“Democrats are determined to take our country in a New Direction to restore economic fairness and opportunity for all American families; that is why in the first 100 legislative hours of the new Congress, we will increase the minimum wage and impose strict pay-as-you-go budgeting,” said Pelosi in a news release.

On another key issue, big-money interests through their lobbyists exert far too much influence over legislation, especially as some companies have benefited greatly at the expense of consumers.

Pelosi in another news release said what Democrats intend to do about it.

“The Democratic ethics package will break the link between lobbyists and legislation, where well-connected special interests write legislation that cost consumers more at the pharmacy and gas pump," Pelosi said.

Speaker-designate Pelosi and her fellow Democrats have their work cut out for them, but their agenda makes a lot good sense. Here's to hoping they will be successful next year.