I found two problems by going through the deactivation of all the plug-ins and reactivating them one by one.
The one was a wayward plug in that when I got that out of the way, then I found my simplepie problem. Simplepie, for those who need a reminder like I did, powers news feeds. The problem was with the SimplePie core, which I discovered would not work with 2.8 But fortunately by typing SimplePie into the plug in search, I found that there is now a specific WordPress SimplePie plugin that does not crash when activated.
I hope this helps someone. Really do go through each of the Plug-ins, it helps. De-activate all your plug-ins. Then starting at the top, Activate one and then click on the help tab. If help opens, that plug in is ok. Move on to the next plug-in and repeat.
Thanks so much to all of the friendly and patient members and moderators. All of this is so much better when we leave out our frustration with ourselves, and with beginners like me.