May 28th, 2003


More dead by the day...

Good thing we aren't at war!

Today, a US heicopter was downed in Iraq, apparently killing four, according to Al Jazeera. Their reporter says that the helicopter was downed during clashes with armed Iraqis in the town of Hit, 90 miles north of Baghdad, after Iraqi civilians were angered by Iraqi police participation in a US-led house-to-house search for weapons. Residents attacked the police station, which brought in US forces to support the police. The US forces have since withdrawn after coming under heavy fire.

The Pentagon says that it has no information on any missing or crashed U.S. helicopter in Iraq. It said the U.S. military in Baghdad knew of no such incident but that checks were being made.

Too bad for them that Al Jazeera takes such good pictures, I guess.

This is the 3rd straight day that US forces have been killed in Iraq, with nine US personnel dead and at least an equal amount wounded in the past few days.

I have to share this with the wifey...

Japanese "Engrish" cat costuming site...

"Anne of Green Gables appeared in popular costume play series! The hair of the red hair of costume is coquettish and cute. The cat which became a hood figure is likely to have a broom at any moment, and is likely to begin cleaning."

A houseful of cleaning cats? I can't tell you how nice that would be... Must get one of these for Tobias the Bastardcat, to be used as punishment the next time he does something evil. (i.e. several times a day.)

Heroes come in all guises...

The people of Iraq have a new hero... but not the hero that most Americans would prefer.

Think about the article in terms of Iraq today, where there is a strong undercurrent of humiliation (especially amongst the males) for allowing invaders to conquer their country. The US went out of its way to demoralize and humiliate the Iraqis, both in terms of the media coverage the Iraqis were exposed to, and by naming a female (since replaced) to oversee the country's reconstruction. Such humiliations might backfire, however, and galvanize opposition to the US... especially when non-violent means of opposition can make you a target.

"She was brave and she will be our hero. We wanted to demonstrate. But we were afraid the Americans would kill us."

and another email back about media deregulation...

Dear Mr. Kraft:

Thank you for contacting me regarding efforts at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lift caps on the number of outlets that any one company may own in each media market. This matter is of critical importance to our nation, and I appreciate the time you have taken to raise this issue with me.

As you may know, the FCC relaxed media ownership limits in 1996, ushering in unprecedented consolidation, especially in radio, where just a few companies now dominate the airwaves. The FCC is now proposing to loosen these ownership rules even further by allowing a single company to own several types of media outlets in a community. Such a change would pave the way for large media conglomerates to dramatically expand their influence in local media markets. The FCC will vote on its proposal on June 2, 2003.

To be fair, the FCC has been forced to revisit these ownership rules after it unsuccessfully defended the limits in four recent court cases. However, the courts have not instructed the FCC to loosen its regulations, and yet, this is the course that the FCC has, thus far, chosen to pursue. Although FCC Chairman Michael Powell recently acknowledged that he is "troubled" by media consolidation, I am concerned that his deregulatory agenda threatens to undermine many of the pro-consumer policies that the FCC adopted during the Clinton Administration.

It is in the public's interest to foster an environment in which many independent media organizations can deliver entertainment and news. That is why I joined many of my Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to Chairman Powell urging him to delay a final rulemaking until the FCC can justify publicly "how any changes in media rules will promote diversity, competition, and localism." I have also cosponsored House Resolution 218, which calls on the FCC not to weaken current ownership rules, and to better examine and inform the public about the consequences of media concentration.

Please know that I understand the importance of the FCC's upcoming vote. We are, in fact, fighting to preserve what little diversity remains in the media sector. Since 1975, two-thirds of America's independent newspapers have disappeared. The number of minority-owned television stations in 2000 was at its lowest level in 10 years. Attention to local issues is rapidly declining and will diminish further as local media outlets are bought by outside interests. Children's television shows have decreased by almost half over the past five years. Weakening our media ownership rules will only exacerbate these problems. A small handful of companies should not control the public's access to information. I shall continue to work with my Congressional colleagues to ensure a diversity of viewpoints throughout our nation's media outlets.

Thank you again for contacting me. Your views help shape the way I represent our district. Please continue to keep me apprised of issues that are important to you.

Mike Honda
Member of Congress