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Young people lead global climate change protests

By ROD McGUIRK and FRANK JORDANS

BERLIN (AP) — In Canberra and Kabul, Cape Town and Berlin, and across the globe, hundreds of thousands of people took the streets Friday to demand that leaders tackle climate change in the run-up to a U.N. summit.

Many were children who skipped school to take part in the second “Global Climate Strike,” following a similar event in March that drew large crowds.

Events kicked off in Australia, where protesters marched in 110 towns and cities, including Sydney and the national capital, Canberra. Demonstrators called for their country, the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas, to take more drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Even though we ourselves aren’t sick, the planet which we live on is, and we are protesting and fighting for it,” said Siobhan Sutton, a 15-year-old student at Perth Modern School.

Organizers estimate more than 300,000 protesters took to Australian streets in what would be the country’s biggest demonstration since the Iraq War in 2003.

The protests are partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly demonstrations under the heading “Fridays for Future” over the past year, calling on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change. Thunberg is expected to speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Monday.

Hundreds of rallies took place across Europe, including in the Czech Republic, Germany, Britain and Poland, which is still widely coal-reliant and where many middle schools gave students the day off to enable them to participate in the rallies in Warsaw and other cities.

In Berlin, organizers said 80,000 people gathered in front of the capital’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, not far from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office where the Cabinet was thrashing out the final details of a plan to curb Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions .

In Helsinki, the Finnish capital, a man dressed as Santa Claus stood outside parliament holding a sign: “My house is on fire, my reindeer can’t swim.”

Smaller protests took place in Asia, including in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Hong Kong and India.

“We need to reclaim our constitutional right to clean air and water,” said Aman Sharma, a 16-year-old protester in India’s capital New Delhi.

In Tokyo, hundreds of students and environmental activists marched through the business and shopping district of Shibuya, chanting “Climate Justice!” while holding hand-painted placards made of cardboard with messages such as “Go Green,” ″Save the Earth,” and “the Earth is on fire.”

Smaller rallies were held in more than a dozen cities around Japan, including Kyoto, the nation’s ancient capital that hosted the 1997 climate conference.

In a quiet protest in Seoul, about two dozen environmental activists flashed messages in Morse code on LED flashlights, calling for action to rescue the earth.

In the Afghan capital, Kabul, an armored personnel carrier was deployed to protect about 100 young people as they marched, led by a group of several young women carrying a banner emblazoned with “Fridays for Future.”

Fardeen Barakzai, one of the organizers and head of the local climate activist group, Oxygen, said “we want to do our part. We as the youth of our country know the problem of climate change. We know war can kill a group of people. … The problem in Afghanistan is our leaders are fighting for power but the real power is in nature.”

Rallies were also held in Johannesburg and the South African capital, Pretoria, as well as Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where some young protesters wore hats and outfits made from plastic bottles to emphasize the dangers of plastic waste, a major threat to both cities and oceans.

Climate change “is worse than homework,” one sign proclaimed.

Experts say Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change and the least equipped to deal with it. Governments have pleaded for more support from the international community.

Further rallies were planned later Friday in the United States, where organizers say more than 800 events are expected.

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McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia. Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.

Osky volleyball ranked

For the first time this season, Oskaloosa’s volleyball team is ranked.  The Indians are 15th in the new Class 4A poll from the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.  Knoxville is ranked 8th in Class 4A.

Thursday night (9/19) in high school volleyball: Pekin over Lone Trail 3-1, Lynville-Sully swept Colo-Nesco and Belle Plaine defeated Keota 3-0.  And at the Des Moines Christian tournament, Pella Christian won three matches and lost one, Grinnell was 2-2, while Newton was 0-3.

Sestak campaigns in area

Democratic Presidential contender Joe Sestak may not be making a great impact in nationwide polling, but the former Pennsylvania Congressman says he has reason to be optimistic about his chances of getting the nomination.

“Well, in Iowa we’re ninth in the polls in almost every poll, and that’s the middle of the pack.   And we have focused just right here so far.  As you heard, 73 of the last 88 days have been right here living out of an EconoLodge.   So we need to get up in the air (advertising) and that will get even better exposure.  But we’re headed to New Hampshire, also.  And there, 90 percent of the population is undecided.”

Sestak spoke Thursday night (9/19) in Ottumwa and Oskaloosa.

Don’t drink the water in Baxter

People in Baxter are being asked to drink bottled water because of a drop in water pressure.  The Baxter Water Supply released a statement saying there was a drop in water pressure Wednesday night (9/18) due to an equipment failure.  A drop in pressure can cause the water to get a bacterial infection…and if you drink that water, you can get sick. The system has been repaired, but water samples must be tested to make sure the water is safe for drinking.

Nevada desert towns prep for possible ‘Storm Area 51’ influx

By KEN RITTER

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Visitors descending on the remote Nevada desert for “Storm Area 51” are from Earth, not outer space.

No one knows what to expect, but the two tiny towns of Rachel and Hiko near the once-secret military research site are preparing for an influx of people over the next few days.

“It’s happening. We already have people from all over the world,” Little A’Le’Inn proprietor Connie West said Wednesday from her bustling cafe and motel, where volunteers have arrived from Poland, Scotland, Australia, Florida, Idaho and Oklahoma.

Neighbors, elected officials and event organizers said the craze sparked by an internet joke inviting people to “see them aliens” might become a cultural marker, a monumental dud or something in between.

“This phenomenon is really a perfect blend of interest in aliens and the supernatural, government conspiracies, and the desire to know what we don’t know,” said Michael Ian Borer, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sociologist who researches pop culture and paranormal activity.

The result, Borer said, was “hope and fear” for events that include the “Area 51 Basecamp,” featuring music, speakers and movies, and two festivals competing for the name “Alienstock” starting Thursday.

Some neighbors and officials in two counties near Area 51 are nervous. The area of scenic mountains and rugged desert is home to a combined 50,000 people and compares in size with New England.

Elected officials signed emergency declarations after millions of people responded to the Facebook post this summer.

“We are preparing for the worst,” said Joerg Arnu, a Rachel resident who could see from his home a makeshift stage and cluster of portable toilets in a dusty area recently scraped of brush surrounding West’s little motel and cafe.

Arnu said he installed outdoor floodlights, fencing and “No Trespassing” signs on his 30-acre property. He’s also organized a radio-equipped night watch of neighbors, fearing there won’t be enough water, food, trash bins or toilets for visitors.

“Those that know what to expect camping in the desert are going to have a good time,” Arnu said. “Those who are looking for a big party are going to be disappointed.”

He predicts people showing up in the desert in shorts and flip-flops.

Officials expect cellular service to be overwhelmed. The nearest gas station is 45 miles (72 kilometers) away. Campers could encounter overnight temperatures as low as 41 degrees (5 degrees Celsius).

“We really didn’t ask for this,” said Varlin Higbee, a Lincoln County commissioner who voted to allocate $250,000 in scarce funds to handle anticipated crowds.

“We have planned and staged enough to handle 30,000 to 40,000 people,” Higbee said. “We don’t know how many will come for sure.”

Though the creator of the Facebook event later called it a hoax, the overwhelming response sent local, state and military officials scrambling. Promoters began scouting sites. A beer company produced alien-themed cans. A Nevada brothel offered discounts to “E.T. enthusiasts.”

The Federal Aviation Administration closed nearby air space this week.

“People desire to be part of something, to be ahead of the curve,” said Borer, the sociologist. “Area 51 is a place where normal, ordinary citizens can’t go. When you tell people they can’t do something, they just want to do it more.”

George Harris, owner of the Alien Research Center souvenir store in Hiko, welcomed the attention and planned a cultural program focused on extraterrestrial lore Friday and Saturday.

The “Area 51 Basecamp” promises up to 60 food trucks and vendors, trash and electric service, and a robust security and medical staff.

Harris said he was prepared for up to 15,000 people and expected they would appreciate taking selfies with a replica of Area 51′s back gate without having to travel several miles to the real thing.

“It’s exactly the same,” Harris said. “We just want people to be safe. As long as they don’t go on the desert floor and destroy the ecosystem, everyone will have a good time.”

West, the motel owner, is planning an “Alienstock” Thursday through Sunday in Rachel, a town of about 50 residents a more than two-hour drive north of Las Vegas on a normally lonely road dubbed the Extraterrestrial Highway. She plans 20 musical acts, plus food vendors and souvenir sellers.

West said she refunded some camping reservations after Matty Roberts, who created the Facebook post, broke ties with her event. Roberts, 20, of Bakersfield, California, is supporting an “Alienstock” festival scheduled for Thursday at an outdoor venue in downtown Las Vegas.

Roberts’ attorneys told West to stop using the “Alienstock” name, but she refused, saying, “I’ll just worry about the legalities later.”

The U.S. Air Force has issued stern warnings for people not to approach the gates of the Nevada Test and Training Range, where Area 51 is located.

Area 51 tested aircraft ranging from the U-2 in the 1950s to the B-2 stealth bomber in the 1980s. The government spent decades refusing to acknowledge the site even existed, before releasing documents confirming it in 2013. Its secrecy still fuels speculation that it’s where the government studies aliens.

County lawmakers in Nye County, home to a conspicuously green establishment called the Area 51 Alien Center, are discouraging Earthlings from trying to find extraterrestrials there.

“We’re taking precautions and checking the back roads,” Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said.

Her deputies last week arrested two Dutch tourists attracted by “Storm Area 51.” The men pleaded guilty to trespassing at a secure U.S. site nowhere near Area 51 and promised to pay thousands in fines.

Arnu said the military added razor wire to barbed cattle fencing on the Area 51 boundary near his home, installed more cameras and battery-powered lighting, and erected an imposing spike barrier just inside a gate. He noted a new sign telling trespassers they’ll be arrested and fined $1,000.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers and medics will be on hand, along with the Nevada National Guard.

Southern Iowa Speedway races this weekend

There’s going to be racing this weekend at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa.  The Musco Lighting Fall Challenge will feature the Mid State Machine Stock Cars, Oskaloosa Quality Rental Sportmods, Parker Tree Service Hobby Stocks and Auto Crafters Sport Compacts—along with the Wingless Sprint Cars. Warmups start at 7:00 both Friday (9/20) and Saturday (9/21) nights, with the racing at 7:30.

Fish kill near Malcom

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has been investigating a fish kill in Poweshiek County.  The fish kill was reported September 11 at Little Bear Creek, a mile west of Malcom.  DNR investigators found high ammonia levels in storm water runoff from Fremont Farms northwest of Malcom…and a second source of storm water runoff was found at the nearby Jerry Axmear farm.  It turns out the manure storage at the egg-laying facility was too full…and that caused a leak in one of the buildings.  So the manure was exposed to rainfall and while the manure was blocked at the farm, the high ammonia levels flowed into the creek.  DNR staff found dead fish for about three miles along the creek bank.  Work is underway at both Fremont Farms and the Axmear farm to prevent more runoff from reaching the creek.

Man who set himself on fire at Des Moines library has died

DESMOINES – Police said the man who set himself on fire Tuesday afternoon at the downtown Des Moines Library has died.

Officials evacuated and closed the library located at 1000 Grand Avenue just before 2 p.m. after the 36-year-old man poured an unknown liquid on himself and then set himself on fire .  Library staff used a fire extinguisher and put out the flames.

The man was taken to a local hospital and eventually flown to the University of Iowa Hospitals Burn Unit in Iowa City where he died around 6:20 p.m. Tuesday.

The Des Moines Library announced on social media that it will remain closed until further notice.

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