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World Newsbits for October 3,2013

Tiger Cub

London (AP) — Call it Cub Cam: Hidden cameras have captured the birth of a Sumatran tiger cub, London Zoo’s first in 17 years. The zoo announced Wednesday that five-year-old tiger Melati had given birth to the cub over the weekend following a six-minute labor. It said zookeepers had kept Melati’s 105-day pregnancy under wraps so they could keep a careful eye on the tiger, installing hidden cameras so as not to disturb the first-time mother. The cub is the grandchild of the zoo’s last tiger cub, Hari; the father of Melati.

The cub; whose sex and name are not yet known, was born six months after the opening of the zoo’s new “tiger territory’’ exhibit, which is designed to encourage breeding of the critically endangered species. The zoo said its new arrival will not be shown for a few weeks.

VISAS EXTENDED

WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure in Congress passed just before the US government shutdown could provide relief for thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives to help the United States. The special visa program is designed for Iraqis who worked as contractors, interpreters and others who aided US efforts, as well as their families. The program was set to expire at midnight, with an estimated 2,000 applications still in the pipeline. But the Senate extended it by unanimous consent a half-hour ahead of Monday night’s deadline. The special visa was established in 2007 amid a raft of targeted killings of Iraqis who helped US. forces or reconstruction operations.

SEASONAL WORKERS

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon.com says it is hiring 70,000 full-time seasonal workers around the U.S. to fill orders during the holiday season. The world’s largest online retailer says the hires are an increase of 40 percent over last year’s 50,000 workers. Seasonal employees at Amazon.com Inc. order fulfillment centers are eligible for health care benefits and, on average, earn 94 percent of the wages of regular employees. Amazon says it plans to convert “thousands’’ of the temporary jobs into full-time roles after the holiday season. Tuesday’s announcement from the Seattle-based company follows seasonal hiring announcements from other large retailers.

NAT’L AQUARIUM

WASHINGTON (AP) — An aquarium that opened its doors to visitors in 1885 is closing its doors in the U.S. capital. The National Aquarium is closing its Washington location after the last visitors leave Monday. Officials announced in May that the aquarium must move out of the U.S. Department of Commerce building due to renovations. The 1,500 animals will be moved to other locations, including the National Aquarium in Baltimore, in the months ahead. The aquarium’s Washington location has been housed at the site near the National Mall since 1932. For decades, it has drawn families and tourists to see fish, turtles, alligators and snakes in the basement of the massive federal building.

YOSEMITE PARK

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Google feted Yosemite’s 123rd birthday by devoting its search doodle to the world-famous park Tuesday; just as it and other tourist landmarks like the Grand Canyon closed due to the US shutdown. Clicking on the signature doodle brought up a page of headlines about Yosemite National Park joining all other US national parks in closing due to the budget standoff on Capitol Hill.

Below was the link to Yosemite’s own website, which was also down. ‘’Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service webpages are not operating,’’ it told surfers.

‘’Anyone who’s hoping to arrive, even for a day visit, would see gates closed and would be turned away,’’ National Park Service chief spokesman Mike Litterst said, according to the Los Angeles Times.’’There won’t be any access.’’

The company that operates over 1,000 rooms in the park, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, was working to warn tourists of the shutdown before they arrived, while guests already staying there would have to leave within 48 hours, company spokeswoman Lisa Cesaro told the newspaper. She did not immediately respond to request for further comment.

Meanwhile the Grand Canyon, also among the biggest natural tourist attractions in the western US, began turning away visitors from 6:00 am, while guests already staying in lodging in the park, like Yosemite, were being given 48 hours to leave, a spokeswoman said.

‘’Having to turn anyone away is hard,’’ said spokeswoman Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski, adding: ‘’We’re just trying to maintain an orderly shutdown and closure of the park.’’

The Grand Canyon usually gets 18,000 visitors a day in October, she said.