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Top Stories: Dec. 7, 2009

Peregrines' New Digs; Zanotto's Struggles; eBay v. Craigslist

Falcons Get New Home in San Jose
No, we aren’t talking about another plan for a new stadium. We mean the peregrine falcons that perch high above San Jose City Hall. Staff members from UC Santa Cruz's Predatory Bird Research Group are busy changing the wooden box that serves the falcons as a nest, and replacing 300 lbs. of gravel. According to researchers, the old gravel can lead to a decrease in hatch rate for the endangered species.

Glenn Stewart is one of the researchers who is replacing the materials by rappelling up and down from 18th-story ledge, says that this is the ideal time to make the switch because the birds' hormonal levels are at their lowest, and they are less likely to attack him. Falcons can reach speeds over 200 mph in a dive, whether hunting for prey or attacking other predators, including research scientists.

The fabled raptors were almost extinct in the 1970s, largely because of DDT. They have since made a strong recovery, with over 250 mating pairs now living on the tops of cliffs, skyscrapers, and bridges all around the country. In San Jose, the falcons and their new home can be viewed at the city's live webcam.
Read More at ABC 7.

Zanotto’s Struggles to Stay Open
Back in September, reported on how the new Safeway downtown was impacting local businesses. Commenting on how business has dropped by as much as 30 percent, Zanatto's owner Troy Tibbiles complained about a "mini Walmart syndrome," which is having "a negative impact overall." His response back then was to lay off 12 employees. Now Tibbiles is considering shutting down for good.

Zanotto's, which opened in 1997, was a major factor in the revitalization of downtown San Jose, but popular as it once was, business hasn't always been easy. The store was opened with a $1.65 million loan from the city, and it still owes over $750,000, but the money isn't actually being paid back.

The store shut down in 2003, and was only reopened a year later after the city agreed to restructure the loan, and subtract a sum each year from it each year until 2017. In fact, the only way that Zanotto would now have to pay back the city is if it shuts down before then. According to Tibbils, the landmark store is caught "between a rock and a hard place." Either it continues to stay open and lose money, or it shuts down now and owes even more money.

Wary of the impact that Safeway would have on business, Zanotto's already applied to the city for $200,000 in additional subsidies this summer. The request was denied. As much as people love the store, the city could not justify offering the subsidy when it is faced with its own $96 million deficit. It's a simple calculation: better schools and police v. a Panini with truffled ham with brie.

So Zanotto's is faced with a dilemma—one that only local shoppers can help it to resolve. To do that, they'd better make their way there now to pick up all their Christmas goodies. This time next year they may not be able to.
Read More at The Mercury News.

Craigslist, EBay Clash in Court
Two Internet titans will be meeting in Delaware Chancery Court today. EBay is suing Craigslist for financial maneuvering that caused its stake in the company to drop from 28 percent to just 24 percent. The move resulted in eBay losing a seat on Craigslist's Board of Trustees. Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster countered by suing eBay for using its board seat to steal confidential information from the company and using that information to set up, a potential competitor in the online bulletin board business.

Among the witnesses will be former eBay CEO and current California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.
Read More at the Business Journal.
Read More at the Business Insider.

Community Colleges Could Face Another Tuition Hike
Community colleges across California could face another tuition hike this year. Faced with yet another looming deficit, the State Legislature is preparing for an additional series of budget cuts, which will have a severe impact on funding for the colleges. Students now pay $26 per unit, which is the lowest in the country. In Illinois, for instance, students pay $62, per unit, while in Oregon, the cost can go up to $74 per unit. Yet even at $26 per credit, hundreds of thousands of students in California's 110 community colleges pay no fee whatsoever now.

While some students believe that the readjusted fees are necessary given the current economic climate, they are upset about the late notice they are receiving that their fees will go up. Furthermore, even if these fees can be refunded as tax credits, this still means that they will have to wait until the end of the year to get their fees returned to them, while they will still have to lay the money out up front. College advocates, meanwhile, are opposed to any fee hike whatsoever. Read More at The Mercury News.

Please Don't Be a Jerk in the Showers
A new photo circulating on the web warns of the dangers of masturbation. It may not cause blindness or cause your palms to grow hair, but the accumulation of semen can clog the drainage pipes, leading to thousands of dollars in damages to the showers in San Jose State University—hardly the kind of cost the university can absorb in these tough economic times.

The poster goes on to say that masturbation in the shower is an Honor Code Violation. Does that mean that people violating it (and themselves) will see more than semen being expelled?
Read More at ImageChan.