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Briefly

Border wall work starts in Arizona

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — On a dirt road past rows of date trees, just feet from a dry section of Colorado River, a small construction crew is putting up a towering border wall that the government hopes will reduce — for good — the flow of immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

Cicadas buzz and heavy equipment rumbles and beeps before it lowers 30-foot-tall sections of fence into the dirt.

This 5-mile section of fencing is where President Donald Trump’s most salient campaign promise — to build a wall along the entire southern border — is taking shape.

The president and his administration said this week that they plan on building between 450 and 500 miles of fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile border by the end of 2020, funded by billions of former defense dollars.

The Trump administration says the wall — along with more surveillance technology, agents and lighting — is key to keeping out people who cross illegally.

Scientists find intriguing planet

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — In a tantalizing first, scientists have discovered water at a planet outside our solar system that has temperatures suitable for life.

Two research groups announced this week that they’ve found water vapor in the atmosphere of a planet 110 light-years away in the constellation Leo. This so-called Super Earth is just the right distance from its star to conceivably harbor life.

It’s the only exoplanet known so far to have both water and temperatures needed for life, the University College London team reported in the journal Nature Astronomy on Wednesday. But lead author Angelos Tsiaras stressed, “This is definitely not a second Earth.”

Its star and atmosphere are so different than ours, “Earth-like conditions are not possible,” Tsiaras told reporters. “The only question that we’re trying to ask here, and we’re pushing forward, is the question of habitability.”

A Canadian-led team announced similar findings Tuesday. In a paper just submitted to the Astronomical Journal for publication, these scientists suggest it might even be raining there.

“This represents the biggest step yet taken toward our ultimate goal of finding life on other planets, of proving that we are not alone,” the study’s lead astronomer, Bjorn Benneke of the University of Montreal, said in a statement.

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