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Bay News: The Queen, the trial, the puppies and the immigrant

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This week, we’ll talk about where the Ghost Ship case is headed, why you shouldn’t eat salad at McDonald’s, how you can help a revered Mission District restaurant owner being attacked by Trump’s immigration policy and where to find a furry best friend. But first, we pay respect to the Queen. Let’s go…

All hail the Queen

She was Detroit’s pride. She was the diva of all divas. She was the Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin died Thursday at the age of 76. Her life was lived against all odds as a woman of color hell bent on taking on the pop world – she not only took it on, but took it over. The first Black woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, her role in the fight for civil rights and feminism was often kept tucked into the background, but she played her part in those fights until her last days. As the daughter of a famous minister and inspired by Sam Cooke, the Queen set out to bring her gospel roots to the main stage and she did just that. She dominated the pop and R&B scene for nearly 50 years and earned her rightful place as music royalty, performing at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration and being honored by Bill Clinton and George Bush alike.

Aretha Franklin sings in the studio during during her early career at Columbia Records. Photo courtesy of GPB News

You’d be hard pressed to find a single person, young or old, who doesn’t bust out when they hear R-E-S-P-E-C-T, who doesn’t reminisce about that one love when Natural Woman plays on the radio. To the woman who made paved the way for so many others, who fought for her place in society and won – to the one and only Aretha Franklin, rest in peace Queen. Your voice will be never be duplicated or forgotten.

McDonald’s and the parasite

As if eating at McDonald’s doesn’t make you feel sick enough about yourself, now one of the franchise’s “healthy” options is actually making people very, very sick. The salads have been attributed as the cause for a parasite that has infected over 400 people in 15 different states, sending at least 20 people to the hospital. Although the Center for Disease Control hasn’t reported any cases here from California, let’s go ahead and err on the side of caution. If you find yourself giving in to the drive-thru gluttony, stick with the damn burger. Who the hell eats a fast food salad anyway?

Next step in the case of the Ghost Ship

Now that a controversially lenient plea deal has been taken off the table, defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris will be back in court Friday for a “D&S” hearing, which basically amounts to a pre-, pre-trial proceeding. Judge Jim Cramer rejected the plea deal Friday on the basis that the consequence was inadequate, or “unfair,” in regards to Almena specifically. During the intense two-day sentencing hearing held Thursday and Friday, friends and family of the Ghost Ship Fire victims made impact statements about the loss of the their loved ones and begged the judge to reconsider the six and nine-year sentences Harris and Almena previously agreed to in exchange for their no contest pleas.

An illustration depicting David Gregory’s victim impact statement on Aug. 9, 2018, in the criminal trial charging Max Harris and Derick Almena with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for their role in the 2016 Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland. (Photo courtesy of Vicki Behringer/Courtroom Artist)

Although Cramer rejected the deal, he warned those in court that a trial may not garner the results they hope for. In a separate article, we bring you the full story about the sentencing hearing and discuss the challenges as the case moves forward.

Trump touches down on Bissap Baobab

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the reality TV version of the U.S. presidency, where everything is shock-and-awe and the blows against progressive values come in rapid fire. For many, it’s just too much and people choose to turn it off in an effort to save some semblance of sanity. We get it.

But it’s harder to ignore when the impact of the White House makes a direct hit at home. Trump’s war on immigration and immigrants, legal and undocumented, is one headline us Californians cannot and should not ignore. In a recent strike, owner of the Mission District’s Bissap Baobab, Marco Senghor, announced he was arrested and charged with “Procurement of Citizenship for a Person Not Entitled to Citizenship,” a charge he says is bogus and intends to fight. Read more about the story here, but you can do something by supporting the Senegalese restaurant as it and its owner now face an uncertain future.

Bissap Boabab on 19th in the Mission District. Photo courtesy of emylogues/Wordpress

Weird shit to do on your day off

What’s better than watching videos of cats plunging toilets or dogs howling show tunes? Having a real life furry friend, of course. If you’re looking for a new buddy to snuggle with, the Berkeley Humane Society has got you covered with the 6th annual Bark (and Meow) Around the Block adopt-a-thon being held Saturday between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ninth and Carlton streets. They’ve got all your senses covered with food trucks, beer, wine, music and lots and lots of adoptable pets to incite that primal urge to make cooing noises and scratch butts. Over 150 animals will be available to adopt for waived or reduced fees, making it a little easier for people to find their furry soulmate match. Go and check it out even if you’re not in a position to bring home a new best friend, because being around a bunch of happy tails and puppy eyes is better for the mood than Prozac. And while you’re there, feel free to donate a few bucks to help the Berkeley Humane Society do what they do; it’s purr-ty important work.

Furry things. Photo courtesy of

Advice for the week: Get out there and “love somebody” – every little bit helps…


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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.