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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Argo protagonist shares story at One from the Heart breakfast


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Jonna and Tony Mendez, subject of the Oscar-winning “Argo,” address a full house at Pathways’ One from the Heart awards breakfast last week.

Retired CIA operative Tony Mendez, whose exploits the Oscar-winning “Argo” documents, shared his story before 600 guests Thursday at the One from the Heart awards breakfast in Palo Alto.

Mendez appeared at the annual event, a benefit for Pathways Home Health, Hospice & Private Duty, with his wife, Jonna. Expressing their personal appreciation for the compassionate care provided by organizations like Pathways, the Mendezes recalled how important hospice care was for their loved ones during their final days – Mendez’s first wife died of lung cancer and Jonna’s mother of brain cancer.

But the backstory of how Mendez conceived and successfully executed the CIA operation to extricate six U.S. diplomats who escaped capture during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis took center stage at the event.

Supplemented by film clips, the couple offered details on the rescue mission, dubbed the “Canadian Caper,” and the making of “Argo,” which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2012.

Before gaining worldwide attention, the operation was shrouded in secrecy for more than 12 years. With security tight in the wake of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students, Mendez said the CIA’s options for rescuing the diplomats, who took refuge in the home of a Canadian diplomat, were limited.

“There were only bad options, and this one was the best one we had,” said Mendez of the ultimate plan to send CIA operatives posing undercover as a movie crew to gain access to the diplomats.

Working with makeup artist John Chambers, Mendez recounted how he set up a fake production company and worked with a Hollywood producer to develop a phony science-fiction film, providing a realistic front for the film crew and lending credibility to their plan. The ploy was so convincing, he said, that top directors of the day, including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, submitted scripts to the fake film company.

Despite reservations from the U.S. Department of State about how such an absurd plan could work, the operation succeeded.

The art of disguise is a powerful medium for deception, as proven by the complex phony movie scheme, but Mendez revealed that “Argo” took some creative liberties in interpreting the actual operation.

Among the fictionalized elements in the film is the truck chase at the airport. Although it’s one of Mendez’s favorite scenes, in reality, he said, his team waited an hour and a half in Iranian airspace with F-4 fighters nearby before takeoff.

The evening prior to the breakfast, the Mendezes put in an appearance at the home of Pathways supporters Gunilla and Tom Follett of Los Altos.

For more information, visit pathwayshealth.org.

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