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In the extensive media coverage of the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the accepted source of conflict between Chinese police and Tibetan protesters has been competing claims of nationalism and self-determination. But a number of experts now say that control and management of a vital resource—Tibet's vast supply of freshwater—is also central to this increasingly tense political and cultural relationship.

This may have been a political no-brainer:

Campaigning in Montana on the eve of the primary, Obama stated his opposition to a proposed open-pit coal mine 40km north of the Canada-US border in the headwaters of the Flathead River, which forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park, declaring that "the Flathead River and Glacier National Park are treasures that should be conserved for future generations."

Drink? Or drive? That may sound like questions to ask a a prospective designated driver before a night on the town. It may soon be the stark choice faced by an entire region.

We've had a spate of stories here in northern California about the crash of the fall run of king salmon returning to spawn in the watershed of the Sacramento River. Historically, many hundreds of thousands of the fish would return annually; this year the count was around ninety thousand, which spells disaster for salmon fishermen up and down the coast. It is also one more indicator that the river system, and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in particular, is very sick, largely because of the enormous volume of water diverted via giant pumps for agricultural and domestic use.

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