Sunday Oct 21, 2007
Friday Oct 12, 2007
By Danx-Oracle on Oct 12, 2007
Saturday Sep 01, 2007
Thursday Jun 14, 2007
Wednesday Dec 20, 2006
Sunday Nov 26, 2006
By Danx-Oracle on Nov 26, 2006
Thursday Nov 16, 2006
Tuesday Oct 31, 2006
Tuesday May 02, 2006
Sunday Apr 16, 2006
By Danx-Oracle on Apr 16, 2006
Before: Hotel San Diego, Northeast corner, May 2002
Yesterday, the historic Hotel San Diego was demolished. The seven-story hotel lived on 339 W. Broadway in downtown San Diego, California. The hotel was built in 1914 by John D. Spreckels, who made his riches from Spreckels Sugar and shipping. Spreckels moved out of San Francisco after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (100 years ago today) to someplace safer and nicer.
The hotel was built by architect Harrison Albright and is one of only three that remain (now zero of two). In recent years, before the Hotel was closed in 2002 Hotel San Diego became a ran-down, dirty residential hotel, occupied mainly by elderly and low-income residents on a weekly or monthly basis.
The hotel was demolished for a Federal Courthouse annex. The Federal Courthouse is on overload to take care of all the drug smugglers and illegal immigrant smugglers being hauled into court—we are on the Mexican border after all.
After: Hotel San Diego after demolition, Northeast corner, April 15, 2006
Historic preservationists wanted the hotel exterior preserved. The interior could have been gutted, earthquake retrofitted, and renovated for courthouse space. That way, we would have kept an historic and attractive building, yet still be functional. However, Federal rules require a large setback from the street to keep terrorists (both domestic and foreign) from blowing up the building. The new courthouse annex will be a 22-story (and probably sterile) building. I see their thinking about a setback, but isn't it ironic that we're blowing up a building in the name of homeland security?
- Hotel San Diego memorial
- San Diego Hotel reservations for hotels still standing
- Story from San Diego Union-Tribune: "Hotel San Diego checks out". Includes video of implosion.
- "Bringing down the house", San Diego Union-Tribune covers plans for the implosion, including a maps and diagrams
- Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO)'s viewpoint about destroying Hotel San Diego
- Video from channel 7/39 News
- Video from channel 10 News
- Video from KUSI News
- Another video (homemade). The date is wrong--it occurred April 15, not April 16.
- Another homemade video
Friday Mar 31, 2006
By Danx-Oracle on Mar 31, 2006
In my Congressional District we're having a special election to replace disgraced Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. One of the 18 candidates running is former Republican State Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian. He recently got caught for posting a scene of a street picture his group took showing how peaceful Baghdad is, that turned out to be suburban Istanbul, Turkey. (This was originally discoverd by anthonyLA and jem6x of Daily Kos.)Kaloogian also was caught for claiming false endorsements from the California Pro-Life Council, Center for Reclaiming America, and State Senators Tom McClintock and Bill Morrow.
Anyway, here's another fake photo. On Kaloogian's campaign website is a photo of him posing with President George Bush, in a rotating "Flash" slideshow. (Here's a screenshot in case it's taken down or you don't have Flash). Why is it fake? Well, both Kaloogian and Bush's shoulder's merge into each other. This is more evident from a fuller-length photo on Gabrielle Reilly's website. (Here's a copy in case it's taken down). Here's another version of the short Kaloogian photo. Observe how Kaloogian and Bush merge into each other: Kaloogian's left shoulder appears to be behind Bush, and Bush's right arm appears to be behind Kaloogian! Also Kaloogian is shorter in the Gabrielle photo than his campaign photo.
By itself, not a biggie, but with two fake photos and at least four fake endorsements, what can you believe?
Update: Problem solved. a reader found a comment from Republican political strategist Matt Rexroad who was at the photoshoot. He says the photoshoot was real, although at least one photo is obviously doctored for height and taken when Bush was governor. He has some unkind words to say about Kaloogian, such as a false endorsement and Kaloogian endorsing Bush and Bauer in 2000 at the same time.
Update 2: Yet another fake photo: A reader points out yet another fake Iraq photo was actually taken at MacDill AFB, Florida.
By Danx-Oracle on Mar 31, 2006
In my Congressional District we're having a special election to replace disgraced Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. One of the 18 candidates running is former Republican State Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian. He recently got caught for posting a scene of a street picture his group took showing how peaceful Baghdad is, that turned out to be suburban Istanbul, Turkey. (This was originally discovered by anthonyLA and jem6x of Daily Kos.)Kaloogian also was caught for claiming false endorsements from the California Pro-Life Council and State Senator Tom McClintock.
Anyway, here's another fake photo. On Kaloogian's campaign website is a photo of him posing with President George Bush, in a rotating "Flash" slideshow. (Here's a screenshot in case it's taken down or you don't have Flash). Why is it fake? Well, both Kaloogian and Bush's shoulder's merge into each other. This is more evident from a fuller-length photo on Gabriell Reilly's website. (Here's a copy in case it's taken down). Observe how Kaloogian and Bush merge into each other: Kaloogian's left shoulder appears to be behind Bush, and Bush's right arm appears to be behind Kaloogian! By itself, not a biggie, but with two fake photos and two fake endorsements, what can you believe?
Monday Mar 06, 2006
By Danx-Oracle on Mar 06, 2006
Cunningham prosecutors: US Assistant Attorneys Phil L. B. Halpern,
Jason Forge, Sanjahy Bharali after Cunningham sentencing 3/3/2006
I went to Cunningham's sentencing Friday (March 3, 2006) at the U.S. Courthouse in Downtown San Diego. There were lots of news camera and vans around all day. For those who don't know he was my Representative to the U.S. Congress from San Diego, before he was imprisoned for $2.4 million in bribes.
I listened to Judge Burns deal with a counterfeiting case and drug user parole violation case in the morning. Burns seemed even-handed and careful in his rulings.
I then went upstairs to wait in line for the sentencing in a bigger courtroom. I talked to Union-Tribune columnist Logan Jenkins who happened to be nearby in line. Most of the people were press. I knew the names, but didn't know what they looked like. I saw Seth Hettena of the AP, who has written several Cunningham articles.
Then we were led in. The seats were split between the press, public, and family (includes Cunningham friends). The friends I recognized were Congressman Duncan Hunter, Father Joe Carroll, Dan McKinnon (son of a former congressman; Dan is boarding Cunningham), and Cunningham's RIO in Vietnam, Willie Driscoll. Former Congressman Clair Burgener, who has Alzheimers, sat directly in front of me. The children were not present, at the request of Cunningham (and his wife was not present).
The defense and prosecution plead their cases, rehashing what were in their previously-filed briefs. Cunningham made a statement. He seemed emotionally and physically weak and sad, and much thinner. I couldn't hear all his statement, as his voice was shallow, but it seems some of the press did (with better seats). He expressed regret for what he did. The one sentence I wrote down was: "I think I'll trust my friends less, your honor, so I won't make those same wrong U-turns [criminal acts]". Burns listened carefully through it all.
Here's an outline of Judge Burns' ruling:
- $2.4 million bribe earns 16 sentencing "points"
- 4 points for being an elected official
- 0 points for orchestrating the bribes (not clear either way if he did nor not)
- 0 points for public statements denying the crimes (Burns says that's common with public officials)
- 2 points for obstruction of justice (prompting rug vendors to lie).
- -3 points subtracted because Cunningham accepted responsibility
- -2 points for assistance to Department of Justice (more reduction may be coming for future assistance, but it's too early in the investigation).
- Total of 33 points, giving 135-168 months to sentencing guidelines.
Here's some comments made by Burns:
- Bribes spread over 5 years, 2000-2005 is aggravating. It wasn't just one "U turn".
- The $2.4 in bribes "emasculates" all other bribes.
- "Bid rigging" affected many defense contractors, who thought the system was honest
- Hugely affected confidence in government.
- Burns was bothered by Cunningham's bullying. It was reprehensible, beyond pale. Defense officials were trying to do their jobs.
- Burns was confounded by the choice you (Cunningham) made. Burns recalled reading an article about a lobbyist who made $2.5 million in 2003. Burns didn't name the lobbyist, but said Cunningham knows who he's talking about [my note: was this Bill Lowery, who earned $2 million in 2003? See http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/politics/20051223-9999-lz1n23lewis.html ]. Burns said Cunningham with his stature in Congress should have earned at least twice as much in a year as a lobbyist if he wanted more money. Burns said you (Cunningham) weren't wet, cold, hungry, yet you did these things (took bribes).
- Burns said the real harm was loss of confidence in government works.
- Burns lamented that politics today is more shrill today. Opponents are now "enemies". Burns said he was an optimist, that your (Cunningham's) conduct was an abberation (among members of Congress).
- Burns took in account Cunningham's brave military service in an unpopular war.
- Burns was also impressed by two letters of Support:
- Ronald Ress -- Cunningham intervened with Vietnamese government to get Ress' wife out of custody and out of the country
- Charles Nesby -- Cunningham mentored Nesby at a time when Black pilots were rare.
Judge Burns then dished out the sentence:
- 100 months (8 years, 4 months). Count 1 60 months [Conspiracy to Bribe] and Count 2 40 months [Tax Evasion]
- 3 years suspended release.
- $1,804,031.50 tax liability to be paid at $1500/month while in prison and $1000/month after release.
- Forfeit $1.8 million in cash.
- Forfeit furniture (now in possession of the U.S. government)
- No upgraded sentencing score.
- Imprisoned immediately at MCC San Diego. Report Friday by next week for the permanent facility. Burns \*recommends\* a Level 2 institution. He recommended Taft [Central California] (ran by a contract agency, not the U.S. Bureau of Prisons)
- Good time can reduce sentence by 10%-15%
We all left the courtroom and there were a billion (or so) cameras and newspeople outside the courthouse. Outside, the prosecution gave a quick news conference, as did Rep. Duncan Hunter, Fr. Joe Carroll, and Dan McKinnon.
Cunningham was imprisoned immediately at MCC San Diego across the street (prisoner locator).
- Dan Anderson
Related news articles (more Cunningham scandal news articles and cartoons):
- Cunningham sentenced to 8 years, 4 months (first hand report, Dan Anderson, 3/3/2006)
- Cunningham's war heroics cited in reduced term (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/4/2006)
- Anatomy of a bribe: ex-lawmaker's web of cash, contracts Comes with a good chart. (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/4/2006)
- North County congressman avoids maximum sentence (North County Times, 3/4/2006)
- 'I Made the Wrong Turn' (Voice of San Diego, 3/4/2006)
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