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Russia in secret plan to save Earth from asteroid: official

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MOSCOW — Russian scientists will soon meet in secret to work on a plan for saving Earth from a possible catastrophic collision with a giant asteroid in 26 years, the head of Russia’s space agency said Wednesday.

“We will soon hold a closed meeting of our collegium, the science-technical council to look at what can be done” to prevent the asteroid Apophis from slamming into the planet in 2036, Anatoly Perminov told Voice of Russia radio.

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“We are talking about people’s lives,” Perminov was quoted by news agencies as telling the radio station.

“Better to spend a few hundred million dollars to create a system for preventing a collision than to wait until it happens and hundreds of thousands of people are killed,” he said.

The Apophis asteroid measures approximately 350 metres (1,150 feet) in diameter and RIA Novosti news agency said that if it were to hit Earth when it passes nearby in 2036 it would create a new desert the size of France.

Perminov said a serious plan to prevent such a catastrophe would probably be an international project involving Russian, European, US and Chinese space experts.

Interfax quoted him as saying that one option would be to build a new “space apparatus” designed solely for the purpose of diverting Apophis from a collision course with Earth safely.

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“There won’t be any nuclear explosions,” Perminov said. “Everything will be done according to the laws of physics. We will examine all of this.”

In a statement dated from October and posted on its website, the US space agency NASA said new calculations on the path of Apophis indicated “a significantly reduced likelihood of a hazardous encounter with Earth in 2036.”

“Updated computational techniques and newly available data indicate the probability of an Earth encounter on April 13, 2036, for Apophis has dropped from one-in-45,000 to about four-in-a-million,” NASA said.

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RIA Novosti said the asteroid was expected to pass within 30,000 kilometres (18,600 miles) of Earth in 2029 — closer than some geo-stationary satellites — and could shift course to hit Earth seven years years after that.


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Trump is refusing to talk with China: ‘They hit us with the plague’

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During his interview on Tuesday with CBS News' Catherine Herridge, President Donald Trump said he does not intend to speak with China for a second round of trade talks, and blamed them for infecting America with the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm not interested right now in talking to China," said Trump. "We made a great trade deal was done, the ink wasn't even try and they hit us with the plague."

COVID-19 originated in China, with the first publicly reported cases in the city of Wuhan. However, experts believe one of the first and largest outbreaks of the virus in the United States came from Europe.

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‘Dangerous and breeds distrust’: Trump administration ripped for bypassing CDC with coronavirus data

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According to a new report from the New York Times, starting Wednesday, the Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the CDC and send all coronavirus patient information to a central database in Washington.

"The new instructions are contained in a little-noticed document posted this week on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website, Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports. From now on, H.H.S., and not the C.D.C., will collect daily reports about the patients that each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic," the Times reports.

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‘It’s freedom of speech’: Trump defends Confederate flag — and compares it to Black Lives Matter

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During an interview with CBS News' Catherine Herridge on Tuesday, President Donald Trump was pressed on whether he stands by his remark in 2015 that the Confederate flag should only be displayed in museums.

Trump replied that he believes the flag "is freedom of speech" just like "Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about." He declined to answer the question specifically.

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The confederate flag “is freedom of speech,” Pres. Trump says when asked whether he still believes the flag belongs in a museum. “Whether it’s confederate flags or Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about. It’s freedom of speech.” pic.twitter.com/WtdESdmCSy

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