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‘A totally different ballgame’: Inside Uber and Lyft’s fight over gig worker status

Published August 28, 2020 on CNET News
Labor activists are targeted in a social media campaign as gig economy companies spend millions to prevent workers from becoming employees.

How Uber and Lyft battled Seattle over minimum wage for drivers

Published July 14, 2020 on CNET News
As the city looked into how much drivers should be paid, the ride-hailing companies commissioned their own study, which painted a rosier picture.

How boogaloo members allegedly used Facebook to plot a murder

Published June 19, 2020 on CNET News
To track down the suspects, the FBI pieced together surveillance videos, cellphone records and social media conversations.

Private Facebook groups are using ‘Justice for George Floyd’ as a cloak for racist behavior

Published June 16, 2020 on CNET News
Experts say these groups serve to indoctrinate and radicalize like-minded people with racist rhetoric.

Gig workers with COVID-19 symptoms say it’s hard to get sick leave from Uber, Lyft, Instacart

Published March 26, 2020 on CNET News
The gig economy companies promised workers paid leave if they got the virus or were quarantined. Here are stories from five people who’ve struggled to get help.

Lyft is fostering a sexual assault ‘epidemic,’ victims say

Published October 24, 2019 on CNET News
Sexual assaults are reportedly happening daily to Lyft passengers. Lawsuits involving at least 34 women allege the ride-hailing company isn’t doing enough to stop them.

Bedbugs are giving Airbnb users headaches… and itchy bites

Published August 13, 2019 on CNET News
Waking up with bedbug bites can be a nightmare. It’s also a costly and traumatic problem for Airbnb guests and hosts.

In a Texas border town, a church on the edge and wildlife at risk

Published May 9, 2019 on CNET News
Some South Texans say they’d rather live with constant surveillance by Border Patrol than a physical barrier.

At Texas border, tech can’t keep pace with immigrant influx

Published April 12, 2019 on CNET News
Drones, cameras and sensors are being used to monitor what many call a desperate situation at the southern border. More tech may not help.

Trump wants a border wall. Texas may want a smarter alternative

Published March 20, 2019 on CNET News
President Trump says a physical wall needs to be the main line of defense in the south. But a visit to several border towns in Texas shows that isn’t necessarily the case.

Electric scooters are now disrupting wrists, elbows and heads

Published November 28, 2018 on CNET News
Injured scooter riders are flooding US emergency rooms. Accident rates could be as high as 1,000 per month.

In the Amazon rainforest, this tribe may just save the whole world

Published November 2, 2018 on CNET News
The Surui in Brazil are fending off illegal ranchers, gold miners and loggers. Their weapons: boots on the ground, satellite images and smartphones.

Techies, taxes and homelessness converge in battle over San Francisco’s Prop. C

Published October 25, 2018 on CNET News
Salesforce has thrown in nearly $5 million to support a ballot measure that aims to help the homeless. Lyft and Twitter’s CEO have contributed $225,000 to defeat it.

Con artists are fleecing Uber drivers

Published June 28, 2018 on CNET News
And the ride-hailing company knows all about it.

The mad, twisted tale of the electric scooter craze

Published May 30, 2018 on CNET News
For Bird, Lime and Spin: Betrayal, clipped brake cables and chop shops. And that’s just in San Francisco.

Uber and Facebook ads aim to counter ‘avalanche of smear’

Published May 18, 2018 on CNET News
The message in their TV apology ads: We promise to do better.

Uber arbitration move helps sexual assault victims, but goes only so far

Published May 17, 2018 on CNET News
In an about-face, Uber shows it’s #TimesUp for forced arbitration that kept claims out of court. Still, class-action suits are off-limits.

Airbnb is freaking out over NYC’s report on rising rents

Published May 7, 2018 on CNET News
The tit for tat between the home-rental site and the city’s comptroller rages.

Uber’s U-turn: How the new CEO is cleaning house after scandals and lawsuits

Published April 27, 2018 on CNET News
Dara Khosrowshahi isn’t your typical tech bro. Uber insiders say that may be just what the ride-hailing service needs.

Electric scooters are invading. Bird’s CEO leads the charge

Published April 24, 2018 on CNET News
Travis VanderZanden says scooters should ease traffic and be fun. But lawmakers from Santa Monica to San Francisco say they’re a public nuisance.

Was Uber’s driverless car crash avoidable? Experts say yes

Published March 23, 2018 on CNET News
After watching a dashboard video of the fatal collision, some autonomous-vehicle analysts say the car’s sensors should’ve detected the pedestrian.

Drivers lose out in gig economy

Published February 14, 2018 on CNET News
The first case to go to trial over classifying gig-economy workers ends in favor of Grubhub. It won’t be the last word.

Four days, $245 million: How Waymo v. Uber came to an end

Published February 9, 2018 on CNET News
A surprise settlement ends the case before it reached the jury. Here’s an inside look into how it went down.

Uber has a tip limit? That’s news to drivers

Published February 2, 2018 on CNET News
If you want to leave a generous tip for your Uber driver, you may have to use cash because the ride-hailing app has a ceiling. Lyft has tipping limits, too.

Uber tries to ‘rebuild the love’ with drivers. Can it work?

Published December 21, 2017 on CNET News
The ride-hailing company is bleeding drivers and has spent the last six months trying to make things better. Drivers say they still want more.

Drones, sun — and a strong will — elevate Rwanda’s health care

Published September 18, 2017 on CNET News
Infamous for its genocide, Rwanda is using every means it can to make itself Africa’s health care leader. It hasn’t been easy.

Where land mines kill and maim, Princess Diana’s mission lives on

Published August 25, 2017 on CNET News
Twenty years ago, Diana walked the minefields of Angola. Today Google Earth, drones and brave Angolans are still working to clear the mines.

Being an Uber driver in South Africa can be lethal

Published August 4, 2017 on CNET News
After clashes between taxi and Uber drivers, some of which turned deadly, the ride-hailing company hires a security force called Hi-Risk. It may not be enough.

Uber and Lyft messed with Texas — and won

Published June 20, 2017 on CNET News
The rival companies banded together and spent millions of dollars on political campaigns and state lobbying to get the ride-hailing law they wanted.

At Uber, dinner is being served earlier now

Published June 13, 2017 on CNET News
Former AG Eric Holder’s recommendations for the company include earlier catered dinners, no romantic trysts with bosses, and rules around alcohol and drugs.

Egg freezing, so hot right now

Published May 22, 2017 on CNET News
Facebook started the trend. Now more than a dozen tech firms offer benefits that pay for female staff to put their eggs on ice.

Tech companies’ newest cause celebre? Boycott Breitbart

Published February 3, 2017 on CNET News
Ride-hailing company Lyft joins HP, T-Mobile, Lenovo, Autodesk and others in pulling its ads from the far-right news site. But some companies remain.

Uber’s robot cars move in, and the homeless must move along

Published December 22, 2016 on CNET News
Security guards working at Uber’s San Francisco facility for self-driving cars dismantle a nearby tent city, according to homeless people who were displaced.

Meet Impossible Foods’ lab-grown veggie burger. It bleeds

Published October 12, 2016 on CNET News
Slap an Impossible Foods’ burger on a grill, and it pops, sizzles and smokes like a typical hamburger. But there’s nothing typical about it.

East Palo Alto: Life on the other side of Silicon Valley’s tracks

Published August 31, 2015 on CNET News
Wedged between techie territories like Palo Alto and Menlo Park, this once down-and-out California town is trying to turn itself around while still keeping its identity.

What is Uber doing to train its drivers on disability rights?

Published August 3, 2015 on CNET News
With looming lawsuits and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled people ask whether Uber can do more to ensure they’re not refused rides from drivers.

Surplus food for the homeless is just an app away

Published June 21, 2015 on CNET News
On-demand smartphone apps are known for addressing the whims and desires of the comfortable. It turns out they can also serve the greater good.

Meet Da Poke Shack, one of the finest restaurants in the US — according to Yelp

Published May 3, 2015 on CNET News
The power of the Internet makes a takeout joint in Kona, Hawaii, one of the highest-reviewed US restaurants on Yelp.

Can one woman change the way Uber operates?

Published April 25, 2015 on CNET News
After allegedly being raped by her Uber driver in Delhi, an Indian woman sues the US-based ride-hailing service on its home turf. She’s asking Uber to “overhaul” its safety measures around the world.

How Carl Bass is crafting Autodesk’s push for makers like you

Published February 26, 2015 on CNET News
The software company known for projects as far afield as One World Trade Center and Grand Theft Auto is bringing its tools to DIY-ers tinkering fixes to everyday problems.

Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins trial kicks off with mudslinging

Published February 24, 2015 on CNET News
In the high-stakes Silicon Valley case of he-said, she-said, lawyers for both sides argue over whether an atmosphere of gender discrimination persisted at Kleiner Perkins.

Who’s really taking you for an Uber ride?

Published December 22, 2014 on CNET News
After an Uber driver allegedly rapes a woman in Boston, the ride-sharing service’s background checks come under scrutiny.

How risky is your Uber ride? Maybe more than you think

Published October 8, 2014 on CNET News
When you agree to Uber’s terms and conditions, you basically sign your life away, consumer advocates say. So then, what happens when a driver hits you on the head with a hammer, as one passenger claims?

The ‘sharing’ economy’s hidden toll on San Francisco

Published August 20, 2014 on CNET News
Under the guise of “sharing,” companies like Airbnb and Uber are cashing in. While they’re providing services beloved by many, their impact is also causing reverberations on the ground.

How Israel and Hamas weaponized social media

Published January 13, 2014 on CNET News
More militaries and armed groups are using social media as a weapon of war — but when ground skirmishes are mirrored by cyber-social battles, managing the message can get messy.

Now you’re a sharpshooter: The smart rifle arrives

Published September 25, 2013 on CNET News
Hit a target at 1,000 yards? No problem. Tracking Point’s computer-enabled rifles let novices shoot moving targets at extreme distances with near 100 percent accuracy. The new era of firearms is upon us.

Inside the Studio with Famed Furniture Maker Jared Rusten

Published February 18, 2013 on 7×7
After rooting around a box in the back of his workshop, Jared Rusten pulls out an ordinary-looking block of honey-colored wood. He carefully shaves off a few curly strips and says, “smell that.”

World’s Largest Light Sculpture to be Installed on the Bay Bridge

Published September 24, 2012 on 7×7
People in San Francisco will start to see a flicker of lights along the suspension cables of the Bay Bridge next month, and by March the entire western span will be illuminated with tens of thousands of lights. Internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal is installing the world’s largest light sculpture in honor of the 75th anniversary of the bridge.

Cult Artist Barry McGee at BAM/PFA

Published August 29, 2012 on California Home + Design
Barry McGee has several aliases. Some know him as Twist, others as Ray Fong (he goes by Lydia Fong too). Then there’s Raymond Virgil and Bernon Vernon. All of these figures combined create McGee—the illusive, legendary, cult artist.

Twitter’s New Digs, but will they ever leave the office?

Published August 2012 in San Francisco Magazine
A stroll through the new Mid–Market District reveals pretty much what a stroll through the old one did: grassy vacant lots, empty storefronts covered in paper and cardboard, and street people begging for change or digging through trash cans. But you’ll also hear the incessant din of jackhammers drumming and metal clanking, palpable signs of the massive reinvestment that’s sweeping this neighborhood.

La Cayetana, Memorias bajo el Volcan

Published July 3, 2012 in the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen magazine
En una tarde acalorada de noviembre en 1974, Dolores Alfaro y su esposo descendieron del volcán Chichontepec de El Salvador. Habían estado cosechando granos de café en una de las plantaciones que salpican las escarpadas laderas y volvían a casa con canastas de mimbre. Caminando por el bosque, Alfaro vio media docena de camiones verde olivo, repletos de soldados, que bordeaban la cúspide de un cerro y entraban lentamente en el pueblo.

What Made One Goh, the Oikos University Shooter, Snap?

Published April 4, 2012 on The Daily Beast
One Goh, stormed an Oakland school in search of an official as his target. Instead, he executed seven students against a wall.

Occupy Oakland, Police Bruality, and a Change in Tactics

Published February 28, 2012 on Guernica
About 100 occupiers gathered for a rally in front of Oakland City Hall a couple of weeks ago. Bowls of rice and beans were doled out, TV news vans lined the street and a helicopter buzzed overhead. A few people toted cardboard signs with slogans like “End Police Violence” and “#OO.” This rally’s goal was to support those arrested in Occupy Oakland police sweeps.

U Win Htein: The Return of Burma’s National League for Democracy

Published November 30, 2011 on Guernica
Aung San Suu Kyi’s senior staffer U Win Htein on how and why the Burmese government is now reforming, the grounds for that change, and the National League for Democracy’s role in the transformation.

Shall We Shop at Safeway or Safeway?

Published August 24, 2011 in the East Bay Express
The supermarket chain’s own data shows that its plans to greatly expand its two Rockridge stores depend largely on the same customers.


Published June 22, 2011 on Oakland North
Few know what lurks the depths of the murky, brackish, crustacean-filled Lake Merritt. Few know what beastly beast, what cryptid, what leviathan, what man-eating monster could be swimming below, slithering through those fetid waters. Few know… but many have seen.

Oakland Muralist Dan Fontes Paints Massive Giraffes, 20-Foot Sea Turtles

Published June 8, 2011 on The Bay Citizen
Nearly 30 years ago, Dan Fontes was under a highway painting on a massive round concrete support beam. With cars speeding by, he diligently worked on his piece of art: a realistic depiction of a 30-foot tall giraffe craning its neck up toward the freeway. As Fontes painted, a police car pulled up.

Under the Volcano

Published May 2011 on Guernica
Elected in 2009, leftist Mauricio Funes became the first Salvadoran president to apologize for government death squads. Dara Kerr investigates the massacre and subsequent cover-up, the U.S. role in the killings, and the backdrop for an unprecedented apology.

Despite criticism, Harold Camping remains adamant the world is ending

Published May 25, 2011 on Oakland North
On Saturday, May 21, a colossal global earthquake—the likes of which no one has ever felt before—was supposed to tear across the Earth. Saturday was to be the first day of the Rapture or Judgment Day, according to predictions by Harold Camping. But May 21 came and went.

Tombstone engravers carve memories into stone

Published May 12, 2011 on Oakland North
On a hot spring afternoon, Javier Delgado Jimenez kneels on the grass at Mountain View Cemetery. He is poised over a flat gravestone and wearing a gas mask, knee guards, long work gloves and a white hood with a clear plastic visor. Jimenez is an engraver and he is sandblasting a new name into an older family gravestone.

Ghosts of El Salvador

Published May 2011 in Brink
Salvadorans have determined to acknowledge and investigate the atrocities of their country’s civil war. Our reporter shines a light on a buried war crime that should change the way the current generation understands its history.

Brewing beer with Oakland’s Linden Street Brewery

Published February 18, 2011 on Oakland North
Perched above a steaming stainless steel cauldron, Adam Lamoreaux rhythmically stirs the contents with a large metal oar. Inside, a thick amber-colored concoction of cracked grains and hot water simmers. Lamoreaux is mashing grain to make his Urban People’s Common Lager.

Fed Up with Official Foot-Dragging, Bordertown’s Skaters Ride Again

Published December 24, 2010 on The Bay Citizen
Behind a 12-foot-high chain-link fence topped with barbed wire on a dead-end street underneath one of Oakland’s major freeways there is a concrete skate park called Bordertown. This site is now at the center of a controversy between between the City of Oakland, Caltrans and the skaters who built the park.

Finding Feathered Friends in Oakland

Published December 21, 2010 on The Bay Citizen
Early Sunday morning in the drizzling rain, a small group of people is standing on the shore of Lake Merritt peering out onto the lake through binoculars. They are birdwatchers participating in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count— the group’s annual tally of how many different species of bird are living in the United States.

How Oakland Became Ground Zero in Marijuana Legalization

Published November 15, 2010 on The Bay Citizen
On Broadway, in downtown Oakland, a small coffee shop called the Bulldog has a couple of round tables out on the sidewalk where people sit, read the paper and drink coffee, shaded by big blue umbrellas. To the unsuspecting eye, it looks like a regular business you’d find in any downtown city.

Meet the ‘Digester’ — It Turns Your Food Scraps into Energy

Published November 10, 2010 on The Bay Citizen
Five days a week, a long chrome truck pulls up to the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s wastewater treatment plant. It lifts its hydraulic-powered trailer bed and proceeds to dump 40,000 pounds of what looks like thick sewage into a giant underground mixer.

The same-sex marriage seesaw

Published August 19, 2010 on Oakland North Teresa Rowe and Kristin Orbin have waited in line to get married at San Francisco City Hall two times in the past two weeks and were planning on a third. When Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled to strike down Proposition 8 on August 4, saying that the […]

Footbag players go toe to toe in the world championship

Published August 5, 2010 on Oakland North
For years, no one thought that “the nemesis” was possible—a freestyle footbag trick in which a player must kick a small leather ball, also known as a hacky sack, into the air, circle it twice with each leg then catch it on their shoe behind their back.

A Shepherd Prevents Wildfires in the Oakland Hills

Published July 29, 2010 on The Bay Citizen
Francisco Ballesteros stands on Old Tunnel Road, halfway to the crest of the Oakland hills, and looks down into a small valley where a herd of sheep and goats are grazing. “I have seven new babies,” he says, then gingerly starts making his way down a dirt path toward the animals.

An Anarchist’s View of the Mehserle Protest

Published July 19, 2010 on The Bay Citizen
Disparaged as outside troublemakers, these protestors identify as “freedom fighters.”

After dark, peaceful Mehserle verdict protest turns violent

Published July 9, 2010 on Oakland North
As the sun set behind City Hall and the City of Oakland’s official rally came to an end, a few people in black hoodies began weaving throughout the crowd, pulling bandanas up over their faces. What had been a peaceful afternoon demonstration — against the outcome of the trial regarding the shooting of Oscar Grant — was about to become a chaotic night.

Fixies, Manifests, and the Rad Massaker Alleycat

Cover story published May 12, 2010 in the East Bay Express
When, on a whim, I decided to enter last June’s Rad Massaker Alleycat bike race, I didn’t quite know what to expect – fun, intense competition, getting severely lost, being ticketed by the cops for running red lights?

Guilty Robots

Published December 13, 2009 in The New York Times Magazine
Imagine robots that obey injunctions like Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative – acting rationally and with a sense of moral duty. This July, the roboticist Ronald Arkin finished a three-year project with the U.S. Army designing prototype software for autonomous ethical robots.

Gourmet Dirt

Published December 13, 2009 in The New York Times Magazine
Laura Parker, an artist and agricultural activist based in Northern California, asked a friend late last year to raise a 320-pound pig on his farm to see if its flavor would match that of the dirt it grew up on. In May, Parker and her friends butchered, slow-cooked and ate the pig while smelling soil from the same farm.

U Can’t Touch This

Cover story published September 9, 2009 in the East Bay Express
Coach Alonzo Carter tasted fame as a dancer for MC Hammer. But his career was short-lived, like those of many athletes. That’s why he expects his players to succeed in the classroom.

San Francisco High School Relishes Last Spin as Skateboarding Mecca

Published June 1, 2009 in SF
At first glance, San Francisco’s Raoul Wallenberg High looks to be just another city school with peeling paint, tall fences, and randomly tagged walls. And yet, this is one of the most hallowed and revered sites in the world of skateboarding.

Proton Cancer Therapy Accelerates

Published August 20, 2009 on CBS
For bone cancer patient Nicole McLaughlin to get proton-beam radiation therapy–a treatment to which she owes her life–it took traveling across the country to what then, in 1999, was the only facility providing such technology.

No golden parachute for stores on Piedmont Avenue

Published February 9, 2009 on Oakland North
Loren Partridge has until February 28th to vacate Cunningham Partridge Gallery and Framing, the Piedmont Avenue business she ran for seven years. “I’ve seen it coming for months,” said Partridge last Saturday afternoon. “Then January came, and boom.”