Planet News Views

Friday, January 26, 2007

Have a great day! See you again soon!

I've been having problems getting online this week. Some work needs to be done on the home computer before I'll be able to publish the blog. Right now I'm at the only place I know of with Internet for miles around. Anyway, I'll return again before long. Until then, take care!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


First light through lines of night
photo: Scott McLean

I like photos that are a bit different. It's intriguing to not know precisely what the photographer was thinking. Maybe there is some symbolism, or a statement being made?

I'm not always sure what my own photos mean. The photo (shown above) gives me the impression sunrise and night are battling for supremacy. And the sun will win, unless the clouds come along to swallow up the light and turn the day cloudy and gray. Other than that, it's a common sunrise for this part of Oregon, USA.

In this moment of balance between darkness and light, which do you feel is strongest, and why?

Monday, January 15, 2007

End the War? Congress Needs a Big Play

By Scott McLean

Other than nervously walking in and out of the living room dozens of times Sunday afternoon during the Bears-Seahawks game, I tried to come up with some thoughts on why President Bush would want to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq.

I still am scratching my head, trying to explain it to myself. I'm puzzled by the current direction of the war. The game was equally confusing.

The two defenses couldn't do much of anything to stop the offenses.

Somehow Chicago won the game with a field goal in overtime, even though they had problems tackling Seattle's star running back. Yeah, I missed some plays because I kept visiting the kitchen.

I drank way too much soda pop, began to feel like an enormous parade balloon, then drifted off to sleep before the sun went down.

If I had a picture of myself snoring, I would insert it here, though I'm sure you feel lucky I don't.

When I finally woke up, it was dark outside, the perfect setting to do more thinking and writing on the topic of American politics and Iraq.

After typing out several paragraphs, I came back here to add: the defense is not working.

Overtaking Saddam Hussein and his regime was no problem for the U.S. and allied forces. However, the whole idea that the U.S. military could somehow stop all the terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq has come up short.

Through the air, the U.S. military is superior, but on the ground, in a civil war-like environment, the military, doing what the Iraq's police should by now be doing, has been unable to win.

And unlike a football game, there's no long field goal that can end whatever you want to call what's going on in Iraq.

Is there a way to end it, stop the bloodshed, replace violence with calm and tranquility. At the moment, a happy ending doesn't seem likely.

President Bush's decision for more troops is directly opposite to the wishes of Americans, as indicated in public opinion polls and the landslide win by Democrats in the November '06 congressional elections, in which the big issue was the direction of the war.

The president must find a way to justify the addition of troops to Democrats in charge of Congress. They are mounting strong opposition, as they should.

Following the president's speech, Democrats had strong criticisms for the increase in troops. Bush, a Republican, said Democrats should come up with an alternative plan if they didn't like his plan in Iraq.

Some Democrats, though by no means all, have warned that funds could be cut off, although it's still hard to say what form that would take or whether such a political move would have any success.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

More U.S. Troops in Iraq... Why??

I'm sipping on a latte. I'm tired and feeling kind of sad after President Bush's speech Wednesday evening. The president wants more than 20,000 additional troops sent to Iraq.

The majority of Americans are opposed to the War in Iraq. As previously noted, I have chosen to capitalize "War" out of respect and concern for the soldiers and all who have been killed in Iraq, including soldiers and civilians.

Democratic leaders should not give the president the funding necessary for more troops to Iraq.

Violence in Iraq is causing an alarming number of deaths. It's a good reason to begin bringing troops home, the exact opposite of sending more troops. That's all I have to say at this moment.

I'm reading over what Democratic leaders had to say about the president's plan. My goal is to write an analysis article during the next few days or week.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Fight for Internet Freedom

By Scott McLean

Should there be Internet freedom throughout the world? If there cannot be universal Internet freedom, should there at least be a law in the United States that prevents U.S. Internet companies from cooperating with countries that censor the Internet and dictators who punish their own citizens for reading, writing or accessing web site information?

U.S. Congress this year will have a second look at a proposal that would, if it becomes law, stop U.S. companies from assisting oppressive regimes.

U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) Monday reintroduced legislation to prevent Internet firms from helping ruthless regimes limit freedom of expression and access to the Internet, according to Rep. Smith's news release on PR Newswire.

"American companies should not be working hand-in-glove with dictators. By blocking access to information and providing secret police with the technology to monitor dissidents, American IT companies are knowingly-and willingly-enabling the oppression of millions of people," said Smith, who in the last session of Congress received extensive testimony on similar unsuccessful legislation from companies that had helped limit Internet freedoms by going along with the requests of dictators.

"Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Cisco Systems testified that they have complied with censorship laws and/or provided personally identifiable information about Internet users to repressive regimes in countries where they do business," the news release from Rep. Smith states.

"By helping dictators stifle free speech and spy on dissidents, American IT companies are putting profits before principles," said Smith.

However, Smith added that he thinks the "Global Online Freedom Act of 2007" (as it is named) will have a better chance at success before the 110th Congress. He cited Internet companies changing business practices with oppressive governments as a reason for his optimism.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Cute Fruit

Pomegranate Love?

During my visit to Bangkok, Thailand in 2005, I took this pic of pomegrantes growing on a small tree in Saphan Mai. I really doubt it's possible for pomegranates to fall in love, but they do seem kind of close, don't you think?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Philippines Abolished Death Penalty In 2006, Credit Catholic Religion's Advocacy For Life

Holy Doors
Manila Cathedral - May 05
photo: Scott McLean

By Scott McLean

Today is New Year's Day and people around the world are thinking about what will happen in 2007.

Will this year bring more good news than bad, or will the pain and suffering caused by war, natural disasters, disease and violence make more people wish they could turn back the hands of time?

Lately, commentators have been criticizing the many religions of the world, possibly because all that they take into consideration is the lack of tolerance by extremists, who take religious documents and teachings out of context to discriminate against people they don't like.

Terrorists are using their twisted versions of religious doctrines to harm people. That's just plain sick!

Now for the upside of religion, and I feel it's huge!

Before I begin, let me say this is not a blog about religion, nor do I write about it often. And I'm not a member of the Roman Catholic Church, although I do think the church plays an important role in the lives of people and in society.

Now for the sweet part. No matter what the mainstream media or commentators think, religion is essential in the world, that is when people quit being so selfish and think about others.

In the Philippines, the Catholic Church is a key part of the daily lives of most Filipinos. Not only is Catholicism the main religion but the religion runs through the culture and politics of this beautiful country.

As mentioned in the last article, the death penalty was abolished in the Philippines in 2006. That's marvelous!

The Catholic Church's advocacy for life, I feel, was a major reason the Philippines got rid of the death penalty. I'm going to add, "Thank you, God!"

Clearly, religion influences events in the world, often in a positive way.

Unlike critics of religion, who blame religions for wars and other problems in the world, I believe religions have accomplished many, many good things for people.

Human beings are capable of good, evil and just about every thought and action in between. If we followed the highest laws of God, and did not mix in our own selfish actions, there wouldn't be as much violence and turmoil in the world.

In conclusion, it's up to each one of us to do what we can to make the world a better place to live in 2007 and beyond.