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Diablo's Week in Review March 28-April 4, 2009

Oakland woman one of two journalists held in North Korea, protesters chase UC president into Walnut Creek aerobics class, Pleasant Hill's Jayne Appel leads Stanford Cardinal to NCAA FInal Four

Jayne Appel as the up-and-coming star her sophomore year in the 2007-08 season.

Marc Abrams/Stanford Athletics

Oakland woman and mom one of the journalists held in North Korea on spying charges: A reader tells us that Euna Lee, one of two San Francisco-based journalists facing trial in North Korea, is a really “sweet person” and a mom who lives in Oakland. The Korean-American Lee and Chinese-American Laura Ling, sister of former View co-host Lisa Ling, were captured by a North Korean border patrol along the China-North Korea border on March 17. The journalists were reporting on North Korean defectors who reside along the border and work for former Vice President Al Gore’s Current TV. They face 10 years of hard labor. Their arrest comes amid high-stakes diplomatic maneuvering over North Korea’s plans to violate UN resolutions and conduct a missile test. 

UC President Mark Yudof chased into Walnut Creek aerobics class: Five dozen UC employees, protesting executive pay raises, confronted the president of the UC system when he came to speak at Walnut Creek’s Jewish Community Center. The protesters trailed him as he entered a wrong building, where he briefly took refuge in an aerobics gym. He later made his way out and presumably made his speech.

Jayne Appel scores 46 points Monday night to carry Stanford Cardinal to NCAA women's Final Four: Appel, a Carondelet High graduate from Pleasant Hill, led the Stanford's womens basketball team to a resounding 74-53 victory over Iowa State Monday night.  The Cardinal, with 6-foot-4 Appel as center, face Connecticut in the semifinals Sunday night. Connecticut defeated Stanford in the finals last year and is once again expected to win the national title.

West Nile virus detected in Martinez: Contra Costa mosquito and vector control officials said that a batch of mosquitoes collected in Martinez tested positive for West Nile virus. These insects constitute the first virus-positive group to be found this season. Since 2004, when the disease first showed up in Contra Costa County, 27 people have been diagnosed with the illness and two have died. If you find a dead bird around your home, you should call the state’s Department of Public Health's Dead Bird Hotline at (877) WNV-BIRD.

Walnut Creek planners give OK to new Neiman Marcus plan: The city’s planning commission wants the City Council to say “yes” to bringing a Neiman Marcus to Broadway Plaza. The planners said OK to a revised proposal. The city threw out the original proposal, for a three-story, 107,000-square-foot luxury store, in the face of a lawsuit and a voter referendum over the project’s height and failure to provide new parking. The new proposal involves a 92,000-square-foot, two-story store with some additional new parking provided by mechanical car lifts in the five-story Broadway Plaza garage.

Livermore’s large regional arts center on track: With the approval of the City Council and a multi-million donation from Wente Vineyards, a dream to build a 2,000-seat theater in downtown is likely to become a reality. The proposed theater would complement the 500-seat Bankhead Theater, which opened 18 months ago. The new theater, still years off, would be the largest of its kind in the East Bay suburbs and would be able to attract national touring shows, like blockbuster Broadway musicals.

Bomb squad investigates package left at the office of BART shooting lawyer: Perhaps this event shows how things are still tense in Oakland following the January 1 police shooting of an unarmed BART passenger and the March 21 killings of four Oakland police officers. On Tuesday, the Oakland police bomb squad evacuated a 12-story building and investigated a suspicious package left at the law office of John Burris. The famed civil rights attorney represents the family of Oscar Grant, the man killed in the BART shooting, and the building rises across Interstate 880 from the Oakland Coliseum. Police found that the package contained what looked like telephone wires wrapped in a bunch of newspapers.

Speaking of Burris and Oscar Grant, BART lawyer says Grant's shooting "tragic error": In a response to the $50 million lawsuit John Burris has brought on behalf of the family of Oscar Grant, the unarmed 22-year-old man shot to death at the Fruitvale BART station, a BART lawyer says the shooting was a mistake. Officer Johannes Mehserle meant to fire his Taser at Grant, not his gun. The BART attorney also said Grant was involved in the fight on the train and gave officers reasons to try to detain him.

Perata running for Oakland mayor: Former State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata announced that he will run for Oakland’s top job, moved by signs that Mayor Ron Dellums has lost the confidence of the police and many Oakland residents. Perata’s decision follows the killings of four Oakland officers. Dellums’ anger many when he failed to show up at the police officers union hall in the hours after the March 21 shooting . And his “irrelevance” became clear when at least two of the officers’ families asked him not to speak at the memorial on March 27.

Speaking of Perata, a man faces life for carjacking him and for unrelated shooting that paralyzed a 10-year-old boy: An Alameda County jury found Jared Adams, 26, of Oakland, guilty of two high-profile crimes. The first involves the December 2007 carjacking of former State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata in North Oakland. The jury also found Adams guilty of firing shots during a gas-station robbery two weeks later. Tragically, one of the bullets flew across the street and burst through the wall of a school, where a boy was practicing piano. Christopher Rodriguez, who has turned 12, was shot in the spine and left paralyzed.

Despite troubles in Oakland, the police department sees a surge in applications: The March 21 shootings of the four Oakland police officers has not stopped men and women from wanting to protect and serve in that troubled city. Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan said the department has seen an “upsurge” in people wanting to work as Oakland cops, including from people who work for other police agencies throughout California.