A fragrant shop helps Ethiopians far from home

by ISABEL ESTERMAN Inside Oakland’s Albo African Gift shop, at the corner of Alcatraz and Telegraph, a deep herbal aroma wafts from a row of colorful bottles labeled ‘frankincense.’  Ethiopian Singer Hamelmal Abate’s mournful vibrato pours out of the stereo, crooning over an incongruously lively beat, while the store’s owner, Genet Asrat, sits behind the counter, her black sweater brightened by a bold patterned scarf with a yellow border.  The phone rings nearly continuously, and Asrat switches back and forth…

The Votes and Voices project 2008

By OAKLAND NORTH STAFF Nov. 4 –Oakland North’s special multimedia project captures the faces and voices of emotional voters on election day 2008. Click here to hear North Oaklanders talk about what this vote meant to them.

Bay Area child sex trafficking stings lead nationwide effort

  By ISABEL ESTERMAN OCT. 28 –Thirteen juveniles have been taken into custody in the Bay Area and 123 adults have been arrested as part of Operation Cross Country II, a nationwide effort to combat the sex trafficking of children, law enforcement officials announced this morning. Bay Area operations are responsible for almost 25 percent the juveniles apprehended, and a fifth of nearly 650 arrests nationwide, said FBI spokesman  Joe Schadler. “A bulk of the national work was done in…

Red flag warning lifted, but hills still in danger

By ISABEL ESTERMAN OCT. 14 — The red flag fire warning for the Oakland hills was lifted this morning, but officials urge residents to remain vigilant. The area is no longer being whipped by the 35 mph gusts that raised concerns over the weekend, but conditions in the drought-stricken hills are reminiscent of the weeks before the devastating 1991 Oakland firestorm.

Safeway, neighbors to discuss controversial expansion

A public meeting will be held 7-9 p.m. Wednesday at Claremont Middle School to discuss controversial plans to expand the Safeway supermarket on College Avenue in Rockridge. This will be the first meeting of a stakeholders group organized by Safeway after opposition from neighborhood organizations stymied building plans released in June. The existing store was built in 1964, and occupies about 25,000 square feet. Safeway’s most recent building plan proposed to double the store’s floor space by taking over an…