Day: May 1, 2017

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Illegal immigrant pulled out of minors' shelter by ICE on his 18th birthday


It was not a happy birthday for a young immigrant from Mexico who turned 18 this weekend at a youth center in Los Angeles County. Despite having filed for asylum, Erik Javier Flores Hernandez was taken into custody on Saturday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and transferred to an adult detention facility.

Flores entered the country illegally last year, allegedly fleeing death threats from drug-related gangs. According to his lawyers, Flores’ mother and grandmother are believed to have been kidnapped and killed by those gangs five years ago.

KENTUCKY DERBY 2017: IMMIGRANT WORKERS AT CHURCHILL DOWNS FEAR DEPORTATION

“Erik has family in the community who are willing to sponsor him. Erik has volunteers who have offered to help connect him with resources to help him heal,” the Immigrant Defenders Law Center stated in a Facebook post.

The Los Angeles-based law firm is urging ICE officials to release Flores on his own recognizance, highlighting that he has no criminal record.

Upon entering the U.S., Flores was placed in one of the many shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.

ILLEGAL MAN FROM PRO-TRUMP HOUSEHOLD DEPORTED TO MEXICO DESPITE PLEAS

“We expect to get him out on bond from immigration detention eventually, but he’ll have to at least initially fight his [deportation] case inside detention and go through the trauma of having been picked up and shackled,” said his lawyer Lindsay Toczylowski to the L.A. Daily News.

Toczylowski told the Times her law firm had never had a case like this and compared the transfer “to putting [someone] in criminal custody when he has no criminal history.”

In a statement, a spokesperson said ICE is currently reviewing the circumstances of Hernandez’s case to determine appropriate next steps.

“Individuals being housed in centers operated by the Department of Health and Human Services that are designed to hold unaccompanied alien children may not appropriately remain in those facilities once they reach age 18, as Mr. Flores now has,” the statement read.

“Accordingly, he was transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody Saturday and will be moved to a facility used to house immigration detainees who are 18 and older.”



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Texas begins rebuilding after weekend of deadly tornadoes – Severe weather threat remains as Midwest, South clean up – FOX NEWS WEATHER CENTER


In Fruitvale, Ame York walks along US Highway 80, a rural stretch of East Texas uprooted by tornadoes over the weekend. York, a parishioner at the Fruitvale First Baptist Church, her son and several others stop at each impacted property in the area, handing out doughnuts and coffee.

“You know it is ashes right now. It looks like a war zone,” York says, pausing in front of a car flipped upside down next to a gutted home. “But there is beauty. Beauty In those ashes.”

York is focused on all of the help and support the community has received over the last 48 hours, a silver lining after a fatal weekend.

SEVERE WEATHER: AT LEAST 6 KILLED IN TORNADOES, FLOODING ACROSS SOUTH, MIDWEST

Residents continue to reel across East Texas after four tornadoes ripped through Van Zandt County Saturday evening. The National Weather Service has determined two of the tornadoes were EF-0s, the other two were EF-3s with wind speeds up to 165 miles per hour.

Four people were killed in Canton, an hour east of Dallas, and more than 50 were sent to nearby hospitals. A local car dealership took a direct hit, several trucks were tossed miles down the road. There’s debris everywhere; trees stripped bare and snapped in half; dozens of homes destroyed or severely damaged.

Dawn and Reagan Sumner are two lucky survivors. The married couple built the Rustic Barn, a red-roofed building just outside of Canton, so their son could have a nice wedding venue. Planning for retirement, the Sumners then turned the Rustic Barn into an event hall that was set to host the local prom Saturday night.

SEVERE WEATHER: AT LEAST 5 SUSPECTED TORNADOES REPORTED IN GEORGIA, SOUTH CAROLINA

Forty-five minutes before the dance, the Sumners and a dozen others inside the barn received text alerts about tornadoes touching down in the area. They immediately took shelter inside two bathrooms and a half-sized closet underneath a set of stairs. The building shook and the power went out. Minutes later, all 15 emerged from their protective refuges and realized half the barn had been destroyed.

“When I walked out of that restroom and I looked to the left and saw sky, daylight and nothing, everything was just caved in… I almost lost it then,” Dawn Sumner said. She’s thankful the tornado did not hit the building during the prom when as many as 80 people may have been inside.   

On Sunday afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott toured the hardest hit areas by helicopter.

“It looked like it in areas that were filled with trees, that were forests, it looked like they had been ripped down like tinker toys, just completely knocked down,” the governor told the media.

Van Zandt County has issued a disaster declaration and the cleanup has only started. At Fruitvale First Baptist Church, the pastor has stocked up on food and water as members of his church continue to help victims and pray for a quick recovery. 

Will Carr joined Fox News Channel (FNC) as a Los Angeles-based correspondent in June 2013.



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Grassley presses Comey on 'material inconsistencies' in Trump dossier inquiry – VIDEO: Grassley accuses FBI of 'inconsistencies' in Russia probe


A top senator is pushing FBI Director James Comey for information on the bureau’s connections to a British ex-spy who authored an unsubstantiated dossier of claims about President Trump on behalf of an opposition research firm — saying there are “material inconsistencies” between new documents and prior FBI accounts.

In a letter to Comey dated Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, complained about a “startling lack of responsiveness” from the FBI on previous questions the committee had about its involvement with Christopher Steele, who wrote the dossier for Fusion GPS.

The dossier, which claimed the Russians had compromising information about Trump, was first circulated by Buzzfeed, but many news networks, including Fox News, have chosen not to report on the specifics of the unsubstantiated allegations.

In the letter, Grassley says a prior account by Comey of the FBI’s relationship with Steele appears to differ from information in Justice Department documents later given to the committee.

“There appear to be material inconsistencies between the description of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele that you did provide in your briefing and information contained in Justice Department documents made available to the Committee only after the briefing.” 

“Whether those inconsistencies were honest mistakes or an attempt to downplay the actual extent of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele, it is essential that the FBI fully answer all of the questions from the March 6 letter and provide all the requested documents in order to resolve these and related issues,” Grassley wrote.

In particular, Grassley asked Comey to explain if the FBI was aware that Fusion GPS was allegedly working as an unregistered agent for Russian interests at the same time it was working on the dossier. Grassley has previously asked the FBI about media reports it offered to pay Steele in connection with the dossier.

The dossier was used to justify a FISA warrant for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and it was read into congressional testimony by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Comey is scheduled to testify before the committee at an FBI oversight hearing on Wednesday.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.



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TODD STARNES: Bible reading not allowed before class, professor tells student


It’s apparently okay to read history books at Northern Arizona University, but not the Good Book.

Mark Holden, a 22-year-old history major, tells me he was ordered to leave a lecture hall after his professor objected to him reading the Bible before the start of the class.

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Holden alleges that Professor Heather Martel ordered him to put away the Good Book around six minutes before a scheduled history class. It’s unclear why she objected to the reading of God’s Word. 

According to her biography, Professor Martel is a noted scholar who is working on an essay titled, “The Gender Amazon: Indigenous Female Masculinity in Early Modern European Representations of Contact.”  She also teaches classes on Global Queer History and Feminist Theory.

When Holden declined to stop reading his Bible, the professor summoned Derek Heng, the chairman of the department.  Heng then proceeded to explain the situation.

Holden recorded the conversation and turned it over to congressional candidate Kevin Cavanaugh. In turn, Cavanaugh provided me with a copy of the audio.

“So Professor Martel says that she doesn’t want you sitting in front of her because you put, you know, a Bible out, right?” Heng said.

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“So she doesn’t want me in the front because I have my Bible out,” Holden replied.

“No, I think she, I mean, well why do you have your Bible out anyway,” Heng asked.

After a bit more back and forth regarding the dynamics in the classroom, the chairman of the department got to the heart of the issue.

“So, will you, will you, will you, put your Bible away,” Heng asked.

The incident occurred back in February, but just recently became public after Campus Reform reported on controversy.

Holden had previously drawn the ire of his professor during a classroom discussion on assimilation.

“All the students agreed with her that assimilation is oppressive and evil,” Holden said. “I suggested there are both positive and negative aspects to assimilation.”

As an example, he referenced a report about two Muslim men in California who reportedly said the Koran justified doing terrible things to women.

“She told me I was a racist and she would not tolerate that kind of racism in the class,” Holden said. “I told her Islam was not a race and I was only talking about what the two Muslims men as individuals said – I was not making broad claims about Islam or my interpretation of the Koran.”

After a bit of back and forth, Holden said the professor told the class, “Welcome to Trump’s new America – where straight white males can say prejudicial things without being reprimanded for it.”

I reached out to Holden and university officials for their side of the story – but so far they have not returned my calls.

However, I did obtain an email Martel sent to Holden warning him about “disruptive behavior.”

“For the remainder of the class, I will ask you to move to one of the desks along the wall by the door,” she wrote. “The roll sheet will be passed to you. You will make sure that students who come in late sign in. I will also require that you respect me and the other students in the class by acting in a civil manner.”

In a separate email addressed to the entire class, Martel vowed to “re-instate civility” in the classroom.

“I want this to be clear: hate speech does not meet the definition of respectful discussion and will not be tolerated,” she wrote. “In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group.”

Something tells me Christians and Conservatives are not considered to be a protected group at Northern Arizona University.

“If you are a Christian, you are being targeted,” Cavanaugh told me. “Christians are being silenced.”

Cavanaugh said he got involved in Holden’s case because stopping the radicalization of public universities is a part of his campaign platform.

“If free speech is not permitted on a public university campus, federal funding should be refused,” he told me. “If you want to limit free speech, don’t take federal money.”

“We have seen on this campus and across the nation that people are being punished for their Christian views,” Cavanaugh said.

That may or may not be the case here – but based on that audio recording – there’s not much wiggle room.

The cold hard reality is a student was yanked out of a classroom for reading the Bible. Woe be unto us, America. 

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary. His latest book is “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.” Follow him on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.



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Elon Musk's SpaceX launches spy satellite, breaks up Lockheed-Boeing stronghold


SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, launched a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Monday, breaking up the Lockheed Martin (LMT)-Boeing (BA) stronghold on U.S. military contracts.

Musk’s Falcon 9 received certification from the U.S. Air Force in 2015, paving the way for SpaceX to handle national security missions and enter a business long dominated by a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Space Exploration Technologies’ launch on Monday was completed as part of a contract between spacecraft maker Ball Aerospace (BLL) and the National Reconnaissance Office, which oversees U.S. spy satellites. NROL-76, the designation for the classified satellite launch, was SpaceX’s first dedicated mission for the military.

The 23-story-tall Falcon 9 rocket took off at 7:15 a.m. ET from a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla. After splitting from its payload, the rocket landed back to Earth at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX has specialized in testing rocket landings and launching used rockets back into space. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company flew its first recovered booster last month, as Musk attempts to lower the cost of rocket launches.

United Launch Alliance, the Lockheed-Boeing partnership, was the sole company launching satellites for the military for the last 10 years. In 2014, SpaceX sued the U.S. Air Force in a dispute over an $11 billion contract awarded to ULA. SpaceX pulled the lawsuit after a settlement with the military, which said it would make future contracts available to other companies.

SpaceX now holds two launch contracts with the Air Force. The contracts call for SpaceX to launch Global Positioning System satellites in 2018 and 2019.

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Musk is also the founder and CEO of Tesla (TSLA).

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US Army paratrooper killed fighting ISIS in Iraq is ID'd


A decorated U.S. Army paratrooper killed while fighting ISIS last week in Iraq has been identified by the Pentagon.

1st Lieutenant Weston C. Lee was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated during a patrol outside of Mosul on Saturday. He was the third Army soldier killed battling ISIS last week after two other soldiers died during a firefight in eastern Afghanistan.

PENTAGON NAMES ARMY RANGERS KILLED FIGHTING ISIS IN AFGHANISTAN

The 25-year-old Lee, from Bluffton, Georgia, was an infantry officer assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

“1st Lieutenant Wes Lee was an extraordinary young man and officer. He was exactly the type of leader that our Paratroopers deserve,” Colonel Pat Work, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said in a statement. “Our sincere condolences and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Lee joined the Army in March 2015. After completing the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course he was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division as a platoon leader. His first deployment was to Iraq in December 2016.

Lee was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, and the Meritorious Service Medal. He had also received a series of other awards and decorations including the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Ranger Tab, the Parachutist Badge, and the Army Service Ribbon.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.



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Severe weather threat remains as Midwest, South clean up from deadly storms – FOX NEWS WEATHER CENTER


Parts of the Midwest and South are spending Monday cleaning up from weekend storms that brought isolated tornadoes and flooding that killed at least 15 people, while a chance remains for more severe weather across the region.

The National Weather Service said parts of the parts of the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi could be affected by severe thunderstorms as the day goes on.

Tornadoes hit several towns in East Texas late Saturday, killing four people. Survey teams will return to Van Zandt and Henderson counties Monday to look at damage from the Two EF3 twisters with wind speeds of up to 165 miles per hour that touched down, FOX 4 reported. There were also two EF0 tornadoes in the area.

Thousands of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed from the four tornadoes, and four school districts are closed on Monday because of the storms, according to FOX 4.

In Canton, students from  Edgewood High School students were supposed to be celebrating pom but found themselves crammed into a bathroom for safety as the tornado passed by.

Dallas firefighter Reagan Sumner, who owns the Rustic Barn event space in Canton told FOX 4 he watched his practically new venue and dreams of retirement collapse around him.

“There was people screaming and crying but there was so much noise when the building started collapsing,” he said. “It was like I could see them crying and screaming but I couldn’t even hear them.”

Sumner said he’s still in shock but thankful that no one in the barn was hurt by the storm.

Related stories…

At least five people were killed in neighboring Arkansas from flooding and winds caused by the storm system, including a fire chief who was struck by a vehicle while working during the storm.

Rescuers in northwest Arkansas said the search for an 18-month-old girl and a 4-year-old boy who were in a vehicle swept off a bridge by floodwaters in Hindsville is now a recovery mission, FOX 16 reported.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office said the mother, who was the driver of the vehicle, swam to safety but could not locate children. Madison County Sheriff Rick Evans told FOX 16 that clothes had been found but no bodies.

Elsewhere in the state, a 10-year-old girl drowned in Springdale and the body of a woman who disappeared riding an inner tube Saturday was found in a creek in Eureka Springs. Also, a 65-year-old woman in DeWitt in the eastern part of the state was struck and killed in her home by a falling tree, officials said.

An Arkansas volunteer fire department chief was killed while working during storms in north-central Arkansas, state police said.

Cove Creek/Pearson Fire Chief Doug Decker died shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday after being struck by a vehicle while checking water levels on Highway 25 near Quitman, about 40 miles north of Little Rock, Trooper Liz Chapman said. It wasn’t known if he will be included as a storm-related death, she said.

Futher noth in Missouri, two deaths were reported, including a woman who drowned after rushing water swept away a car. Flooding closed part of Interstate 44 near Hazelgreen, Missouri, and officials expected it would be at least a day before the highway reopened. Officials may also have to close Interstate 55 at the Meramec River due to flooding, FOX 2 St. Louis reported.

Near Clever in southwestern Missouri, a man tried to save his 72-year-old wife from floodwaters that swept away their vehicle Saturday, but her body was found when the water receded, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.

The storm system moved through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Sunday with strong winds causing isolated pockets of damage.

One of two deaths in Mississippi included a 7-year-old who died by electric shock and a 2-year-old girl died in Tennessee after being struck by a soccer goal post thrown by heavy winds.

In Durant in central Mississippi, one person died in the storms. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency didn’t give details. Later Sunday the agency reported the death of a child from Rankin County, 20 miles east of Jackson, who died from electric shock in flood waters. The Rankin County Sherriff’s Department reported that a 7-year-old boy had unplugged an electric golf cart and dropped the cord in water on the ground and was shocked.

Alexa Haik told the Associated Press she went to bed Saturday night expecting just rain, but heard the sirens Sunday morning and turned on the television to see the tornado warning. She rounded up her pets and hid in a hallway with her family, then was stunned to emerge to trees down in her neighborhood in Clinton, Mississippi, about 20 miles  west of Jackson.

A trip up the road showed how isolated the worst of the storms were.

“I really thought when we got out of our neighborhood, there would be damage everywhere. But our little subdivision was the only one hit,” Haik said.

A 2-year-old girl in Tennessee died after being struck by a heavy, metal soccer goal post that was blown over by high winds, The Metro Nashville Police Department posted on its Twitter page Sunday evening. Melanie Espinoza Rodriguez was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead, according to a second post from the department.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more from FOX 4 News.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Saudi Arabia without headscarf


German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with its top leaders Sunday — but she chose not to wear the traditional headscarf and full-length robe that women and girls who live in the country are forced to wear.

It was Merkel’s first trip to Saudi Arabia in seven years. Women visiting the country are not legally required to cover their hair or wear a robe, but diplomatic officials have advised them to do so or face possible arrest.

AFTER SAUDI STOP, MERKEL HEADS TO NEIGHBORING UAE

Merkel isn’t the first female leader to skip the traditional garb. Former first lady Michelle Obama, British Prime Minister Theresa May and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all picked pantsuits instead of robes.

While meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and his successors, Merkel said she pressed them on human rights concerns, The Telegraph reported.

“I have the impression that the country is in a phase of change and that a lot more is possible now than some years ago, but it’s still a long way away from having achieved what we would understand as equality,” Merkel said.

Merkel previously has spoken out against the wearing of full-face veils and argued that they should be banned in Germany “wherever it is legally possible.”

She’s also supported a ban prohibiting civil servants from wearing such veils. Many Saudi women wear the full face veil, known as the niqab, in line with the kingdom’s conservative Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. 



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Police search for sex offender who escaped hospital


Phoenix Police have now identified the escaped sex offender from the Arizona State Hospital as Randy Layton. 

Layton of Arizona State Hospital’s Arizona Community Protection and Treatment Center at 34th Street and Thomas escaped from a “regularly scheduled off-site treatment related activity” on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m.

During the escape, the patient was able to dodge hospital staff and remove the GPS tracking device. The ankle monitor was located at Central and Dunlap.

The patient had completed the prison sentence and was being reintroduced into society.

Related stories…

Police confirm the patient is a moderate risk patient for potential harm to others, and is a sex offender.

ACPTC is a program mandated by the Arizona legislature to provide supervision, care, and treatment to men adjudicated as sexually violent persons who have already completed their prison sentence. 

The description of Layton is that he’s a white male, 37-years-old, 5 foot 8 inches, 210 pounds with tattoos. He was wearing a black long sleeve shirt and black shorts.

Read more from FOX 10 Phoenix.



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‘Iceball’ planet discovery


A newfound alien world is quite Earth-like in some ways, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

The exoplanet, known as OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, is about as massive as Earth and orbits its star at about the same distance Earth circles the sun. But OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb’s parent star is tiny and dim, meaning the alien planet is likely far too cold to host life, its discoverers said.

OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb is not in Earth’s neck of the cosmic woods; the alien world lies nearly 13,000 light-years away. The astronomers spotted it using a technique called gravitational microlensing, which involves watching what happens when a massive body passes in front of a star. The closer object’s gravity bends and magnifies the background star’s light, acting like a lens. [7 Ways to Discover Alien Planets]

In many cases, the foreground object is a star as well. If this star has orbiting planets, their existence can be inferred based on their influence on the background star’s light curve. And that’s indeed what happened with OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb.

The planet’s microlensing signal was first spotted by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), a ground-based survey managed by the University of Warsaw in Poland (hence the newfound world’s name).

The discovery team then used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Korea Microlensing Telescope Network — a system of three telescopes, one each in Chile, Australia and South Africa — to track and study the microlensing event.

These combined observations revealed the existence of OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, and allowed researchers to calculate its mass and orbital distance. That mass is remarkable, it turns out.

“This ‘iceball’ planet is the lowest-mass planet ever found through microlensing,” Yossi Shvartzvald, a NASA postdoctoral fellow based at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. Shvartzvald is lead author of the study announcing the new planet’s existence, which was published online April 26 in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. (You can read the paper for free at the journal’s website.)

The team was also able to determine that OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb’s host star is tiny, containing just 7.8 percent the mass of Earth’s sun.

That’s so small that the parent may not be a proper star at all, researchers said: Its mass is right on the boundary between the “failed stars” known as brown dwarfs and ultracool dwarf stars such as TRAPPIST-1, which hosts seven recently discovered Earth-size planets.

Three or four of the TRAPPIST-1 planets may be capable of supporting life, but they orbit much closer to their star than OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb does. Indeed, all seven of the known TRAPPIST-1 worlds would fit inside the orbit of Mercury, if they were transported to our own solar system.

Like two other planets detected by Spitzer via microlensing, OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb lies in the Milky Way galaxy’s flat disk, not its central bulge.

“Although we only have a handful of planetary systems with well-determined distances that are this far outside our solar system, the lack of Spitzer detections in the bulge suggests that planets may be less common toward the center of our galaxy than in the disk,” study co-author Geoff Bryden, an astronomer at JPL, said in the same statement.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+ . Follow us @Spacedotcom , Facebook or Google+ . Originally published on Space.com .



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