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SPOTLIGHT

1. POLITICS

New homes rise on hazard-prone beach as officials lobby for more federal protection

NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. -- A crane swung a new roof truss into place above a house being built on this belt of sand last week, helping to expand development on what some experts say is one of the most dangerous islands to build on in the United States. Construction has already produced a line of stilted houses along the beach of this barrier island in southeastern North Carolina, despite a law passed 30 years ago that barred it from receiving federal money for a variety of things, including federal flood insurance, money for roads and bridges, and federal help building dunes.

2. RESEARCH

Could weakening winds threaten Pacific Northwest's mountain water supply?

New research suggests that the Pacific Northwest's watershed managers could face more of a climate challenge than they bargained for. A paper published last week in the journal Science hypothesizes that climate change is behind a steady, 60-year slowdown of the westerly winds blowing off the North Pacific. The winds play a key role in carrying precipitation into the Cascade and northern Rocky mountain ranges.

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