Behold the Bad News 

Plummeting stocks, bankruptcies, humiliating Raiders loss, West Nile Virus — but at least kittens are still cute.

Keep this in mind as you review the last seven days: kittens will always be cute; your mother will always love you; there's someone out there for you, no matter what you may think; art and music and literature enrich the human experience; there's something breathtaking about the double helix. These things are here to give you solace in the hard days. Because the hard days? They're here. Exhibits A through whatever:

Oakland is so broke that Mayor Ron Dellums and the City Council are now considering capping police overtime, crippling the police department's investigative arm as the homicide rate continues to stack corpses on the streets of East and West Oakland. "We have not seen the worst," Dellums told the council. "We are in for even darker times." Despite the terrible financial straits, Dellums still found enough money in the budget to fly down to Palm Beach, Florida, and stay at a swanky hotel for a few days. Oakland taxpayers paid $3,500 so he could get a little sun.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers stalled the East Oakland hills Oak Knoll development in its tracks. SunCal Companies, the developer who bought the old Navy medical facility for $100 million, has run out of money now that its financier is wiped out. The developer had just enough money to cut down all the trees on the site, but not enough to build the more than nine hundred units of housing. For the foreseeable future, Oak Knoll will be a deforested scar, a geographical reminder of the credit crisis.

At least one-third of Angel Island burned to ashes, illuminating the night sky and giving residents around the bay a unique view of the catastrophe.

The Dow Jones plummeted below 8,600 in a fresh round of bleeding, sending the East Bay's publicly traded companies scrambling for relief. Chevron lost 12.45 percent of its value, Safeway lost 5.91, Synnex lost 7.49 percent, Ross Stores lost 8.59 percent, and Central Garden and Pet lost 8.45 percent, all in one day. The PMI Group, the 12th largest public company in the East Bay and the second-largest mortgage insurance firm in the country, lost almost 40 percent of its value in a single hour.

Mother's Cookies, the Oakland-based firm that has provided the nation with baked goods for 92 years, died on the spot last week. Its parent company, a private equity firm in Connecticut, will sell what's left of it for parts.

The East Bay Business Times published its last issue last week. The paper will be folded into the San Francisco Business Times, although a ten-person East Bay bureau will remain in Pleasanton.

The West Nile virus has been found in more fauna around Contra Costa County. So far this year, West Nile has been discovered in 79 dead birds, 27 swarms of mosquitoes, 9 squirrels, 14 chickens, and 2 horses.

The Berkeley City College has come under federal investigation, on charges that at least one administrator deliberately overpaid students who were to receive financial aid. An audit of the 2005-06 fiscal year revealed that the college made mistakes in doling out aid to 400 of the college's 1,135 financial aid recipients.

Elijah Warren, a UC Berkeley senior and a veteran of the Iraq War, fatally shot himself in his home in East Oakland.

The Hayward-based department store chain Mervyns, already facing bankruptcy, announced layoffs at its headquarters; the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the damage could be as high as three hundred jobs.

The Oakland Police Department is still reeling from an internal investigation into charges that cops fabricated evidence to obtain search warrants. The tainted evidence could invalidate convictions going back years. Last week, the District Attorney's office dropped charges against a felon accused of being in possession of ammunition, once it was determined that the search warrant officers used to discover the ammo was invalid. More such cases are expected to come.

On the eve of signing the state budget, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped just long enough to strike a line item funding $5.4 million in labor studies at the University of California.

The Oakland Raiders lost to the New Orleans Saints by a humiliating score of 34-3. New coach Tom Cable could do nothing to reverse the grim trajectory of the team, which seems destined for another disgraceful year. San Francisco Chronicle writer David White summed it up: "New coach, new play caller, new motto, same hideous result." These are the New Orleans Saints we're talking about. The fans put brown paper bags over their heads in the more disgraceful years. The team's a metaphor for the most romantically tragic city in the nation, a city left to drown by arguably the worst president in history. And the Raiders couldn't even score a touchdown against them.

But kittens will always be cute.


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