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Since 1st March, 1999
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Liberty to reopen

New York, Nov. 26 (Reuters): The Statue of Liberty, one of America’s most famous tourist attractions, could reopen next year for the first time since the September 11 attacks after a $5 million make-over to improve safety, officials said yesterday.

The work began in September when the National Park Service, which administers the site, began studying ways to ensure visitors could safely leave the statue in an emergency.

The statue, a gift from France in 1886, houses a museum that explains how the monument was conceived and constructed, and has an observation deck in the pedestal area, 192 steps up, that offers spectacular views of the harbour.

Visits to the statue’s crown, a 22-storey climb over 354 steps, and to the torch held high by Lady Liberty are not expected to resume. “Sadly, since 9/11 the statue has been closed,” mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “I’ve argued a number of times that as long as that’s the case, in some sense the terrorists have won and we just can’t tolerate that. We have to get this statue open.”

Plump pear

London (Reuters): The humble pear will soon be protected from being repeatedly squeezed by supermarket customers making sure it is plump by a sticker that changes colour when the fruit is ripe, New Scientist magazine reported on Wednesday. A horticultural institute in New Zealand has developed the sticker which is now being tested in shops in the US city of Portland, Oregon. “The system uses a punnet that traps the volatile compounds fruits emit. As the fruit ripen, the label changes colour in response to changing concentrations of these compounds,” the magazine said.

Nut habit

Chicago (Reuters): Gray squirrels’ faulty memories turn out to be good for forests, but the nut-hoarding habits of their red cousins are not, US scientists said on Tuesday. The bane of suburban gardeners and backyard bird feeders, the ubiquitous gray squirrel buries walnuts, acorns and other nuts across the landscape in a pattern called “scatter hoarding,” a Purdue University scientist said. Some nuts are forgotten and have a chance to germinate and sprout into black walnut, oak and hickory trees needed to regenerate steadily retreating hardwood forests. The red squirrel, which invaded the US midwest from higher altitudes within the past century, usually piles nuts in a few above-ground caches, where the seeds are eaten. Seven times as many walnuts gathered by gray squirrels germinate compared with walnuts hoarded by red squirrels, ecologist Rob Swihart said in a statement released by the West Lafayette, Indiana, university.

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