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Outrage over N Korea nuclear test

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 25, 2009

BBC.COM

North Korean soldiers at a mass rally to celebrate the country"s first nuclear test in 2006

North Korea insists it has a right to nuclear weapons

There have been expressions of international outrage after North Korea said it had successfully carried out a underground nuclear test.

US President Barack Obama described the North Korean action as a “threat to international peace” and said international action was called for.

China and Russia also condemned the test, but called for a return to talks.

A number of external agencies confirmed an explosion, probably associated with a nuclear test, had taken place.

It appeared to be a much more powerful blast than North Korea’s first nuclear test, in October 2006.

An emergency session of the UN Security Council is being convened by Russia, which currently occupies the council’s rotating presidency.

BBC world affairs correspondent David Loyn says North Korea appears to have moved from a posture of negotiation to confrontation over the nuclear issue.

‘Safeguarding sovereignty’

An official communique read out on North Korean state radio said another round of underground nuclear testing had been “successfully conducted… as part of measures to enhance the Republic’s self-defensive nuclear deterrent in all directions”.

 

David Loyn
David Loyn, BBC world affairs correspondent
Understanding the motivation behind the actions of this most secretive of powers is never easy, but North Korea does now appear to have moved from a posture of negotiation to confrontation.

Two years ago North Korea agreed to close its main nuclear plant at Yongbyon and reveal its nuclear assets. But it has since refused to allow in inspectors, and has now withdrawn from all negotiations.

Monday’s tests come a little over a month after a test of a long-range missile that threatened Asia and could have reached the US.

Neither pressure nor the offer of a large aid package have worked.

When it meets later on Monday, the UN Security Council will issue a strong statement of condemnation. President Obama is threatening action, but there are very few options left short of war.

 

It said the test had been “safely conducted at a new higher level in terms of explosive power and control technology”.

The test would “contribute to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and the nation and socialism”, the communique said.

The North gave no details of the test location, but South Korean officials said that a seismic tremor was detected in the north-eastern region around the town of Kilju – the site of North Korea’s first nuclear test.

Geological recordings of the tremor suggest it was much larger than the 2006 test. That was backed up by the Russian defence ministry, which detected a blast of up to 20 kilotons – comparable to the American bombs that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Just hours after the test, North Korea appeared to have test-fired two short-range missiles, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, but this was not confirmed.

In a strongly worded statement, President Obama said the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatened peace and was in “blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council”.

 

 

“The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants action by the international community. We have been and will continue working with our allies and partners in the six-party talks as well as other members of the UN Security Council in the days ahead,” his statement said.

A spokesman for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said the test was “a provocation that can never be tolerated”, while Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said any nuclear test by the North would be “unacceptable”.

Both said they would ask for action from the UN Security Council.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply disturbed” by reports of the test – which, if confirmed, he said would violate UN Security Council resolution 1718, which demands that North Korea refrain from nuclear testing.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he condemned the test “in the strongest terms” and said it would “undermine prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula”.

Allies’ caution

Meanwhile, the foreign ministries of North Korea’s closest allies, Russia and China, echoed the words of condemnation.

 

NORTH KOREA’S SUSPECTED NUCLEAR TEST SITE
Map
Nuclear test on 25 May 2009 is thought to have been carried out at same site as October 2006 test

China said it was “resolutely opposed” to the test, while Russia called it “a blow to non-proliferation efforts”.

But both urged North Korea back to the negotiating table – with Russia saying six-party talks were the “only solution”.

Correspondents say both countries are fearful of the destabilising effect that military action or cutting off trade ties could have on their impoverished former protegee – with the spectre of millions of refugees pouring over their borders should the regime implode.

But with their shared policy of attempting to engage the North in dialogue having apparently failed, it is unclear what sway their approach will have when the UN Security Council meets later.

Last month, the UN Security Council adopted a statement calling on North Korea to comply with a 2006 resolution banning missile tests after it launched.

This was a weaker response than the full resolution sought by the US and Japan, due to resistance from Russia and China.

This time, correspondents say, they may be under pressure to back a stronger response.

Rocket condemnation

The North says it remains under military threat from its historic rival, South Korea, and South Korea’s allies, primarily the US – citing such examples as the annual US-South Korean military exercises undertaken in South Korea.

It says it is entitled to retain a military deterrent.

Six-party disarmament talks involving the US, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas have stalled over Pyongyang’s failure to agree how information it has handed over on its nuclear activities and facilities should be verified.

Pyongyang pulled out of the talks last month, in protest against international condemnation of its rocket launch.

North Korea had previously agreed to dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear facility as part of an aid-for-disarmament deal and, in response, the US removed North Korea from its terrorism blacklist.

But the North now believes it is no longer bound by its previous bilateral agreements with the US and agreements under the six-party talks, reports the BBC’s John Sudworth in Seoul, South Korea.

He says the North, which already faces a stringent sanctions regime, probably thinks it has little to lose.

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M’sians must remember: The time of reckoning will come

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 25, 2009

SUARA KEADILANnajib20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By P Ramakrishnan

The Court of Appeal’s ruling as to who the legitimate Menteri Besar is has not in any way resolved the political crisis that the state of Perak has been embroiled in. That is the first point.

The sanctity of the the principle of the separation of powers has been unceremoniously violated and sacrificed for political expediency. That is the second point.

A peoples’ government duly elected and determined by 53 per cent of Perakians has been overturned. That is the third point.

The betrayal of three renegades who jumped ship for selfish reasons has been legitimised as contributing to the so-called majority of the Barisan Nasional that allowed the BN to ignore and dismiss the electoral process. That is the fourth point.

Through manoeuvring and manipulation, the peoples’ will has been subverted with impunity. That is the fifth point.

We can safely assume that the two renegades who have been charged in court will not be found guilty either because the case may be dropped or there may not be sufficient incriminating evidence. That is the sixth point.

It has been established that Article 72(1) of the Federal Constitution can be discarded and it will apparently become irrelevant in future cases involving the Opposition. That is the seventh point.

In future no motion of confidence will be allowed or recognised in the Perak State Assembly because it is not specifically provided for in the Perak State Constitution. That is the eighth point.

Speaker Sivakumar, if he claims to be the legitimate authority of the House, will be rudely dragged away from his seat by the sergeant-at arms amply assisted by the ever-willing police. That is the ninth point.

Any Pakatan assembly member who dares to challenge the BN-installed Speaker’s legitimacy will be suspended without any emolument. That is the tenth point.

This will be the scenario of Perak politics. This will be the corrupted version of our democratic process that will continue to shame us and haunt us until the people have the opportunity to right this grave wrong when the assembly is finally dissolved.

The court-appointed Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir has stated, “I believe that people will be able to see the truth now.”

No, Datuk, they have not seen the truth but they saw the farce that frustrated the democratic will of the people.

The court of law may have appointed you as the MB but the peoples’ court will definitely reverse this absurd decision and will ultimately re-appoint the legitimate MB, Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the chief executive of Perak state.

As for the rest of the nation, they will remember Perak and they will remember this injustice when the time of reckoning comes.

[P Ramakrishnan is the president of social reform and human rights group Aliran]

Obama to regulate ‘pollutant’ CO2

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 18, 2009

BBC NEWS

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Car exhaust

The EPA’s first action could cut emissions from cars

The US government is to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, having decided that it and five other greenhouse gases may endanger human health and well-being.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the move following a review of the scientific evidence.

The decision marks a major change from the Bush presidency, when the EPA argued it could not regulate CO2 because the gas was not a pollutant.

Developing countries have asked for the US to show leadership on climate.

Many are not prepared to curtail their own emissions without firm indications that the US is willing to make significant reductions

This reclaims the US role on the international stage as a leader
Phyllis Cuttino
Pew Environment Group

 

Carbon-cutting legislation is being proposed in Congress, but the EPA decision – known as an “endangerment finding” – will allow the agency to mandate some cuts without waiting for the draft bills to become law.

 

“This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations,” said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

“Fortunately, it follows President Obama’s call for a low-carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation; and… the solution is one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”

‘Disproportionate impacts’

In 2007, the Supreme Court instructed the agency to review the evidence on climate change with a view to reconsidering its stance on the possible threats of climate change.

In the endangerment finding, the EPA now cites a number of impacts that it believes may impact significantly on US citizens, including:

·     an increased risk of droughts and floods

·     sea level rise

·     more intense storms and heatwaves

·     harm to water supplies, agriculture and wildlife

Ms Jackson concluded that these impacts would fall disproportionately on people who were poor or in ill health, and on indigenous groups.

The EPA quoted a 2007 report by a group of retired generals and admirals who said that climate change presented “national security challenges” for the US.

 

Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson said Mr Obama would prefer new legislation on climate

Environmental groups said this was the latest sign that the Obama administration is taking a very different line on climate change from its predecessor.

“This reclaims the US role on the international stage as a leader,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the US global warming programme at the Pew Environment Group in Washington DC.

“The EPA’s next step will probably be to grant the ‘California waiver’, which would allow states to restrict tailpipe emissions, and that we expect to happen very soon,” she told BBC News.

Under the Bush administration, the agency denied California the right to set targets for vehicle efficiency, for which it needed a waiver from federal law.

At least 15 states plan to follow California’s lead.

The EPA’s decision now goes out to public consultation. The agency says it will “conduct an appropriate process and consider stakeholder input” before imposing restrictions on any part of the economy.

The endangerment finding also empowers the EPA to regulate the other five greenhouse gases included in the Kyoto Protocol – methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride

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Afghan Quakes Kill at Least 21, Destroy Homes in 4 Villages

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 18, 2009

FOX NEWS

AP- BHEZAD KHEIL, Afghanistan —  Two earthquakes shook eastern Afghanistan early Friday, collapsing mud-brick homes on top of villagers while they slept and killing at least 21 people.

The quakes hit four villages in the high mountains of the eastern province of Nangarhar, about 30 miles from the Pakistan border.

afghan-quakeShafiqullah from the village of Bhezad Kheil said 21 people were buried in a cemetery, including two of his young neighbors. Nijad, 10, and Sima, 7, both died after the roof above their second-story bedroom collapsed, raining down wood beams and chunks of mud, he said.

“There were two shakes,” said Shafiqullah, 30. “The first shake was very strong, when everyone was asleep. The first shake destroyed everything. Then the crying and the shouting started.”

The quakes destroyed or damaged an estimated 100 houses in the four villages in Sherzad district, about 50 miles east of Kabul, said governor’s spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Nangarhar province was hit by two earthquakes — a 5.5 magnitude quake at about 2 a.m., and a 5.1 magnitude aftershock two hours later.

A villager in Sherzad, Shah Mohammad Khan, told The Associated Press that 40 people were killed and 60 wounded, but government officials had not confirmed those figures.

Afghanistan‘s Hindu Kush mountain range is hit by dozens of minor earthquakes each year. Many Afghan homes are made of dried mud, so even moderate earthquakes can cause many deaths and major damage to infrastructure.

Ambulances from the Afghan Red Crescent Society helped ferry the wounded from the remote earthquake site, reachable only after hours of travel on bumpy dirt roads.

U.S. forces stationed in the region also were standing by to assist if the Afghan government requested help, said spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias.

Meanwhile, a Norwegian intelligence officer serving with the nation’s peacekeeping force was killed by a roadside bomb near the northern city of Maymana on Friday, said Kjetil Eide, the Norwegian Joint Headquarters spokesman.

Norway has a 585-member contingent in the NATO-led force for Afghanistan.

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Thousands Say Farewell To Earthquake Victims

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 11, 2009

Sky News

Thousands of people have attended a state funeral for 205 victims of the earthquake in Italy, as the country held a day of mourning.

italy-11

Mourners, some barely able to stand with grief, kissed the coffins laid out on the parade ground of a police academy in the mountain city of L’Aquila.

Some collapsed onto the caskets in tears and were comforted by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

A message of hope from Pope Benedict was also read out. The Pontiff said he shared their anguish.

An estimated 1,600 bereaved relatives were present at the exceptional Good Friday funeral Mass.

In all, about 10,000 mourners turned out for the ceremony beneath Abruzzo’s snowcapped mountains.

Violent aftershocks again hampered rescue efforts as the death toll from the tremor rose to 289.

The rescue operation is coming to an end as hopes of pulling any more survivors from the rubble fade.

“The search is almost over,” said Luca Spoletini, of the Civil Protection Agency which is co-ordinating Italy’s response to the disaster.

But one fireman said: “As long as we know there are people under the rubble we’ll keep searching – even if we’re sure they’re dead.

“Families need to know what happened to their loved ones.”

The aftershocks have caused even more damage to buildings.

About 17,000 people are now living in tent villages while thousands more survivors are being put up in hotels or relatives’ homes.

Mr Berlusconi called L’Aquila a “ghost town” and said reconstruction would cost billions.

Later, the billionaire politician offered to put up some of the thousands of people made homeless in his own homes.

Mr Berlusconi’s private homes include a mansion in Arcore near Milan, beach villas in Sardinia and Portofino on the Riviera, another on Lake Maggiore, an apartment in central Rome and many more.

Forbes magazine rates him as Italy’s second richest man.

Pope Benedict has said he will visit the region soon.

Some of the earthquake victims have already been buried privately.

A rite funeral for six Muslim victims will also be held.

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Strong quake strikes north of Indonesia

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 4, 2009

ABC News

Indonesia’s meteorological agency says a strong earthquake has struck north of the island of Sulawesi, although there was no tsunami warning issued or immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The quake measured 6.5 on the Richter scale and was at a depth of 10 km with the epicentre 117 km north-east of Melonguane in the Talaud islands, it said.

Indonesia suffers frequent earthquakes, lying in an area of intense seismic activity straddling a number of tectonic plates.

Reuters

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Destroying the Glacier to Save it

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on March 29, 2009

The Asia Sentinel

 

 

 

Image

Photo by: Jagawins (www.flickr.com/photos/jagawins)

Globalwarming melts an India-Pakistan bone of contention

The Siachen glacier, at 19,000 feet in elevation, has long been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan and is the world’s highest battlefield, with intermittent exchanges of fire. However, there may not be much left to fight over as the ice mass is disappearing due to global warming caused by emissions by industry and transport sectors.

Recent studies have found that the length of the glacier has dwindled to half from 150 km to 74 km. Dr Rajeev Upadhayay, of the geology department at Nainital’s Kumaun University (in Uttaranchal state) has studied the glacier since 1995 and delineated causes behind its reduction by 76 km.

In a recent study for a science magazine, Upadhayay wrote that lateral moraines — debris on the sides of the glacier up to 600 meters high – have appeared where thick ice sheets were earlier. He wrote that he is concerned over the existence of the river of ice if temperatures continue to rise and if snowfall continues to drop. The decline, he added, is marked in the core Siachen glacier and not in the related tongues and tributaries in Pakistan. His studies have extended to the Nubra-Shyok river valleys and the adjoining Karakoram Mountains.

The melting of the glaciers is causing concern over floods and landslides. The Himalayan regions in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal state and Ladakh contain more than 6,500 glaciers, the source of many rivers in the region. In the case of Siachen millions of lives of Pakistanis can be affected. There are also fears of a severe water crisis.

Siachen and a tributary glacier, Rimo, are points of origin of the Nubra and Shyok rivers, which source the Indus River in Pakistan which supplies bulk of the country’s irrigation water. Siachen and other Himalayan glaciers have contributed significantly to sea level rises in the last 20 years, according to the World Glacier Monitoring Service in 2005. In June 2005, the rising waters of Tibet’s Parchu Lake alarmed Indian authorities due to fears of large-scale flooding of the lower reaches of the Himalayas.

Some authorities have said that the recession of the Siachen glacier has accelerated since the mid-1980s when thousands of Pakistani and Indian soldiers were deployed. In 1947, when the Line of Control was formulated between India and Pakistan, the Siachen terrain was considered too rough and difficult to justify extending the border. Until 1984, neither India nor Pakistan troops positioned at Siachen, as neither side saw any point.

However, as relations between the two countries worsened, Siachen rose in strategic importance. India first occupied the upper reaches of the glacier in 1984 with what was called Operation Meghdoot and the fighting was on. In 1999, in what was called the Kargil War, Pakistan took the high ground and rained fire down on the Indians before they were driven off. The two countries agreed to a ceasefire in 2003 but troops continue to be stationed there under some of the world’s harshest conditions.

Indian soldiers defend the glacier at an estimated cost of up to US$1 million a day.

Thousands on both sides have died not from gunfire but because of the severe weather conditions and frostbite.

However, there may not be much left to fight for if matters continue in the same steam. Some observers say the establishment of permanent cantonments on either side of the Saltoro ridge, daily heavy air traffic to advance camps (up to Indra Col post) has caused damage.

Wars are hell on the environment. Military routines that are damaging the glacier include cutting and melting of glacial ice via chemicals; the daily dumping of more than a tonne of chemicals, metals, organic and human waste; daily leakage from 2,000 gallons of kerosene oil from 250 km of plastic pipeline laid by India that traverse the glacier.

Other observers say the military impact is minimal and the main cause is greenhouse gases, chiefly CO2, that is resulting in the worldwide temperature rise.

“The military presence has been there for two and a half decades. Artillery shelling has certainly had some effect, but I have not seen any physical evidence in my visits of such swift damage,” Upadhyay was quoted as saying in Hindustan Times.

Whatever the causes, the increase in temperatures due to global warming in the Siachen region has been confirmed by more studies including Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power. According to a study by the World Wide Fund for Nature, much harm has been caused to the glacier. The report warned that “Siachen is weeping, tomorrow the world will cry”.

A report of the Expert Committee on Glaciers by India in 2006 strongly recommended restriction of tourist and mountaineering activities after observing the melting of the Gangotri and other Himalayan glaciers.

The report urged that Siachen and other Himalayan glaciers be declared as world heritage sites and handed over to UNEP/UNESCO for their preservation to prevent natural calamities.

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Earth Hour May Prompt 1 Billion to Turn Off Lights (Update1)

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on March 28, 2009

Bloomberg.com

By Jason Scott

dataMarch 28 (Bloomberg) — Earth Hour, an event created in Sydney two years ago by environmentalists keen to cut energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, started today as residents of New Zealand’s Chatham Islands turned off their lights.

Inhabitants of the islands, 800 kilometers (500 miles) east of New Zealand, were among the 1 billion people worldwide organizers say may participate in the event. Lights at the Sydney Opera House were cut two hours later, one of 829 iconic landmarks expected to darken including the Empire State Building in New York, London’s Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Las Vegas Strip, according to an Earth Hour statement. A total of 3,929 cities in 88 countries are expected to take part.

Organizers want the event to underline public support for government policies to cut greenhouse gases, blamed for global warming. World emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 2.8 percent last year as coal consumption outpaced crude oil and cleaner-burning natural gas, BP Plc said.

“People want to know how they can be part of the solution rather than the problem,” said John Wright, the director of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s energy transformed flagship. “People worldwide are realizing it’s an issue.”

CO2 reductions are needed to help prevent the average world temperature from warming 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and avoid the worst effects of climate change, some scientists say.

U.S. President Barack Obama has reversed the previous administration’s climate-change policy and wants Congress to endorse emissions-trading legislation by early next year.

‘Symbolic Gesture’

To be sure, Earth Hour has its critics.

An “Anti-Earth Hour” group on Facebook is urging members to “keep every light you own running during Earth Hour,” which it says will “change nothing.”

Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Denmark-based think tank Copenhagen Consensus Centre and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” said in the Australian yesterday that Earth Hour participants using candles after switching off their lights would probably emit more CO2 gases. Earth Hour is “an entirely symbolic gesture that creates the mistaken impression that there are easy, quick fixes to climate change,” Lomborg wrote.

When it began in Sydney in 2007, 2 million Australians participated. Last year, the event went international with 400 cities joining in. Dubai, Bangkok and New Zealand’s Christchurch recorded falls in power consumption ranging from 2 percent to 13 percent during the hour.

Taiwan, Malaysia

Taipei 101, the world’s tallest building, will lead Taiwanese companies in shutting off lights tonight. Diners in its 85th floor fine restaurants will eat by candlelight during the switch-off.

The one-hour shutdown will save 2,770 kilowatt-hours of electricity and around $310 in power costs, said Anne Wang, a spokeswoman for Taiwan Financial Centre Corp., which owns the buildings.

In Malaysia, about 5 million people, about one-quarter of the population, will cut their lights, according to Earth Hour advertisements in national media. In the capital, Kuala Lumpur, the 88-story Petronas Twin Towers plans to switch off external floodlights.

In Singapore, lights will be dimmed along the island- state’s Orchard Road shopping belt and Singapore River tourist district, including the city’s Merlion attraction, according to the Singapore Tourism Board.

Khao San Road

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will push a button to turn off the lights at Khao San Road, a famous Bangkok street for foreign backpackers. Electricity at the Grand Palace, Temple of the Dawn and other tourist attractions will be shut down. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration said in a statement it wants to reduce the electricity usage in the city of more than 8 million people by at least 30 percent during the hour.

“It’s quite trendy to help save the planet,” said Panitta Rojanajirapa, 33, a computer engineer in Bangkok. “I will ask my parents to join the program. Even though we are a small part of the world, we should do something to help. It’s better than doing nothing.”

India is joining Earth Hour for the first time, with New Delhi and Mumbai among cities that will switch off lights. About 60 buildings in Jakarta will darken, and more than 21,000 Indonesians have signed up a local message group supporting the event, said Verena Puspawardani, a local co-ordinator.

Other landmarks to go dark tonight include the Great Pyramids, Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, the Sydney Opera House and the Acropolis in Athens. Organizers concede it may be difficult to judge whether the event will reach its 1 billion people participation target.

Not Big in Japan

Not all countries have embraced the event. While some international companies operating in the countries will individually dim lights, the only two Group of 20 nations not participating are Japan and Saudi Arabia, according to the Earth Hour organizers.

“It hasn’t resonated in the same way as it has in other countries in Japan,” Andy Ridley, the event’s executive director said by phone from Sydney yesterday. “A lot probably gets lost in communication because a tiny little team in Australia kicked this thing off.”

At his home in Maitland, a small city in Australia’s New South Wales state with a population of around 62,000, Wright said he plans to switch off every electrical switch and appliance and go for a walk.

“It’s not going to make any measurable difference to energy use across the year, but if it’s going to create awareness, that’s a positive thing,” he said. “I’m hoping lots of people will turn off their lights so I can see more stars,” he said.

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