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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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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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