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NASA Mars satellite shifts course to avoid hitting planet’s moon

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A NASA science satellite orbiting Mars was forced to make a rare evasive maneuver to avoid a collision next week with one of the planet’s two small moons, the U.S. space agency said on Thursday.

Flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, commanded the MAVEN spacecraft, which is studying Mars’ vanishing atmosphere, to fire up its engine on Tuesday to boost its speed by about 1.3 feet per second (0.4 meters per second).

The acceleration was necessary to slightly shift MAVEN’s orbit and steer the satellite clear of the Martian moon Phobos, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said in a statement.

Without the tweak, MAVEN and the small, lumpy moon would have reached the same point in space within seven seconds of one another next Monday, March 6. In its new orbit, MAVEN will miss Phobos by about 2-1/2 minutes, NASA said.

MAVEN is in an egg-shaped orbit that regularly crosses the paths of other science satellites and of Phobos, which circles just 6,000 miles (9,656 km) above the Martian surface, closer than any other known moon to a planet in the solar system. At that distance, Phobos whips around Mars three times a day.

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Flight controllers regularly monitor MAVEN’s path for potential collisions. Tuesday’s evasive action was the first time MAVEN had to dodge the potato-shaped Phobos, which measures about 10 by 14 miles by 11 miles (16 by 22.5 by 18 km).

MAVEN, short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, reached the red planet in September 2014.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)

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American Islamic State ‘sniper’ charged in New York: Justice Dept

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A naturalized American who was a sniper for the Islamic State group has been charged in New York with material support for a terror group after being captured in Syria and repatriated to the United States, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Kazakhstan-born Ruslan Maratovich Asainov fought for the Islamic State in Syria for five years before he was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces and handed over to US custody, the department said.

Asainov, 43, was brought back to the United States on Thursday and was to be arraigned Friday afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn.

He fought for IS in Syria from 2013 to 2018 as a sniper and a weapons trainer for other combatants.

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WATCH: Employee at Tim Hortons slurs Muslim couple and tells them ‘go back to your own country’

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According to a report from Deadline Detroit, a Muslim advocacy group has filed a complaint against a local Tim Horton's location after an employee insulted a Muslim couple and told them to "go back to their own country," followed by a sexist slur.

The report states Alaa Kouider and her husband, Ameur Dhaimini, were purchasing coffee at the local fast food location when they got into an argument with the cashier.

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President Bolsonaro says claims of hunger in Brazil ‘a big lie’

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Friday there was no hunger in the country, citing the lack of "poor people in the street with a skeletal physique" as evidence.

Speaking to foreign journalists, Bolsonaro blamed "populists" for propagating "a big lie" that some of Brazil's 209 million people did not have enough to eat.

"There is no hunger," the far-right leader said, noting Brazil "was rich in practically every type of crop".

"You don't see poor people in the street with a skeletal physique like in other countries.

"To say that there is hunger in Brazil is a populist discourse to try to win popular sympathy, nothing more than that."

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