( Dan Honda )
A world away: Dublin soccer club hosts Japanese team for week's adventure

The Japan Football Association Academy, an under-15 girls national soccer team pool, visited Dublin for a series of friendly matches against Northern California clubs. They stayed with host families, did some sightseeing and met with local dignitaries in what the Dublin United Soccer League hopes will become a regular cultural exchange program. 
I'm glad to say that the trail more than lives up to the hype. It's an easy round trip of just less than 3 miles through a mostly wooded landscape, with a few gentle grades along the way. Set high above the shoreline, the trail provides spectacular views of Carquinez Strait and its maritime traffic, the city of Benicia and Mount Diablo peeping around the corner.  
 
JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO
Shepherd's Gate is helping a mother and her two children regain stability and independence after years of tumult  
 
A disabled big-rig has closed an off ramp on westbound Interstate Highway 580 in Livermore this morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.  
 
Editor's note: I'm pleased to welcome Nora Heston Tarte, our new Around Livermore columnist. Nora was born and raised in Livermore, and has been a working journalist for more than five years.  
 
Between the Vines is a biweekly column on wine and winemaking in the Livermore Valley region. This column was contributed by the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association.  
 
LIVERMORE-PLEASANTON FIRE DEPART
An employee starting work at a Livermore electrical contractor that installs streetlights noticed the cat jammed inside a new light pole.  
 
Reason doesn't sway believers in liberalismI was amused to read the comments by retiring U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, (Valley Times, Nov. 17) on why Americans were discontented with President Obama and showed it at the ballot box.  
 
JIM STEVENS
Historic Pioneer site will get more plots, paths and landscaping  
 
AccomplishmentsYoung musicians win competition: Vincent Liu and Misha Galant have won the 42nd annual Competition for Young Musicians, sponsored by the Livermore-Amador Symphony Association.