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Watercooler Stories

Sept. 14, 2007 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

UC-Berkeley protesters can stay in trees

BERKELEY, Calif., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Protesters, their propane tanks and assorted sanitary issues, can stay in an oak grove near University of California-Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, a judge ruled.

In denying University of California-Berkeley's request to boot the protesters, Alameda County, Calif., Superior Court Judge Richard Keller said the university didn't supply enough evidence to show an immediate threat of fire or health problems, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The tree-sitters took up residence nine months ago after university officials said the school wanted to clear part of the grove for a sports training facility.

Keller scheduled a hearing for Oct. 1. Three lawsuits to halt construction are to be heard earlier.

The university asked the court to remove the protesters after police found several propane tanks in the tree houses and an increase in human waste spilled from the protesters' buckets, University of California-Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof told the Chronicle.

"We have a long tradition of honoring and protecting free speech on this campus but we also have to protect the safety of the students, community and the people in the trees," Mogulof said. "This is becoming a small village and we're seeing all the same sanitation and safety issues you see in any small village."


Ore. family heartbroken from loss of deer

MOLALLA, Ore., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- A family in Molalla, Ore., said they were heartbroken after failing to persuade authorities to let them keep two pet deer.

The Portland Oregonian said Thursday that 43-year-old Jim Filipetti and his family tried this week to convince authorities to leave the two deer alone but eventually the animals were taken by wildlife officers.

"These deer wouldn't even be alive without us," Filipetti told the newspaper. "I brought that deer (Snowball) to the vet every 10 days. We raised it in our house. And they want to take her away. It's ridiculous."

Officials were concerned that Snowball and its yearling buck, Bucky, posed a health risk living with the family and should be relocated or euthanized.

But 39-year-old Francesca Mantei, Filipetti's girlfriend, told the Oregonian that Snowball had spent so much time with them that the deer was now effectively a family member.

It broke our heart," she said. "That one's a family member."


Putrid fish permeates Calif. neighborhood

MURRIETA, Calif., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Like unwanted house guests, fish begin to smell after a few days, as residents of a California neighborhood learned.

The air has become so putridly pungent around a small golf course lake in Murrieta, people living nearby are keeping their windows and doors closed, The Press-Enterprise in Riverside reported. Dead fish up to three feet long that washed up on shore in recent days are to blame.

"This is what we call fish soup," said Christina Pinney, 31. "The flies are appalling; it's disgusting."

Hot weather, a drawdown of water and a lack of oxygen in the water are thought to have killed about 500 fish in the shallow, five-acre lake. About 120 rotting fish had been removed as of Wednesday.

John Martinez, director of operations at the golf course, says he is pumping more water back into the lake, but has to do it slowly or even more fish will die from temperature shock.

"We're kind of in a Catch-22," Martinez said.


Aspen ranch selling for $135M

ASPEN, Colo., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- A Saudi prince's palatial Colorado digs are going for a Rocky Mountain high price of $135 million.

The 95-acre Hala Ranch outside Aspen, which includes a 56,000-square-foot mansion, is owned by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States, The Rocky Mountain News reported.

The job of finding a buyer for the 16-year-old estate goes to Joshua Saslove, a 66-year-old real estate broker who sold his first building 30 years ago for about $60,000. He's sold many properties in the millions but he says this property takes the cake.

"I've been here more than 100 times, and every time I discover something new about it," he said on a recent visit.

Saslove says more than 1,000 people inquired about a look-see but he's only given a gander to 14 prospective buyers, the News said.

The ranch is not the most expensive property on the market. There's a $155 million property up for grabs in Bozeman, Mont., and a $139 million mansion on sale in Windlesham, England.

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