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NASA Reveals What Actually Happens in a Martian Dust Storm

NASA(NEW YORK) — Could a massive dust storm really leave an astronaut stranded on Mars?

Ahead of the release of the movie The Martian, NASA is giving the lowdown on what weather on the Red Planet is really like. While powerful winds tear through part of the astronauts’ camp in the movie, NASA experts said it’s unlikely a Martian dust storm could leave any future visitors stranded in real life.

“Even the wind in the largest dust storms likely could not tip or rip apart major mechanical equipment. The winds in the strongest Martian storms top out at about 60 miles per hour, less than half the speed of some hurricane-force winds on Earth,” a NASA blog post explained.

Martian dust storms sometimes stir up enough dust to be seen by telescopes on Earth, however the atmosphere on Mars is 1 percent as dense as Earth, making the intensity of the storms different.

“The key difference between Earth and Mars is that Mars’ atmospheric pressure is a lot less,” William Farrell, a physicist who has studied Martian dust storms said, according to NASA. “So things get blown, but it’s not with the same intensity.”

Mars experiences strong dust storms annually, yet some of these storms are so intense that scientists refer to them as “global dust storms.”

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Pope Francis Looks Beyond Havana in Cuba Trip

Carl Court/Getty Images(HAVANA) — After holding Mass in Havana and meeting with Fidel Castro Sunday, Pope Francis will have another busy day Monday in Cuba as part of his 10-day visit to that country and the United States.

The pontiff will leave Havana Monday morning and travel to the town of Holguin, where he will conduct Mass. Then later in the day, Francis will travel by plane to Santiago to meet with the bishops at the Seminary San Basilo Magno. He will then attend the Shrine of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre.

Pope Francis, who arrived in Cuba Saturday, held Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square Sunday to an estimated crowd of 300,000 people, according to the Cuban government.

“God’s holy and faithful people in Cuba is a people with a taste for parties, for friendship, for beautiful things,” Francis said. “It is a people which marches with songs of praise. It is a people which has its wounds, like every other people, yet knows how to stand up with open arms, to keep walking in hope, because it has a vocation of grandeur.”

After Mass, the pope met with Cuban president Raul Castro and his brother, Fidel Castro. Raul Castro gave the pontiff a large crucifix made by a Cuban artist. The pope gave the president a painting of the patron saint of Cuba, La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre.

In his meeting with Fidel Castro, Francis gave the former Cuban leader several books, as well as a book and two CDs of homilies and a copy of his two encyclicals. In return, Castro gave Francis an interview book titled Fidel and Religion, written in 1985 by Freitas Betto. Fidel wrote a dedication in it: “For Pope Francis, on occasion of his visit to Cuba, with the admiration and respect of the Cuban people.”

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The pope later spoke at a vespers celebration at Havana Cathedral in which he warned against letting riches rule your life and called poverty “the wall and the mother of consecrated life.”

Meanwhile, before his upcoming U.S. visit, Francis said he looked forward to attending the World Meeting of Families Congress in Philadelphia in a video released by the organization. “I look forward to greeting the pilgrims and the people of Philadelphia when I come for the World Meeting of Families,” he said. “I will be there because you will be there! See you in Philadelphia!”

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World’s First Sandcastle Hotel Now Open

Zand Hotel/Global Powwow(NEW YORK) — It’s a kid’s summertime dream come true.

The Zand Hotel — or Sand Hotel — is the first sandcastle hotel in the world. And there’s two of them.

Housed in the Netherlands in the Frisian town of Sneek and the Brabant Oss, the temporary hotels are part of a sand sculpture festival. For $170, guests can stay overnight in the Sand Hotel. It even has Wi-Fi included.

Also included with an overnight stay: Reception with coffee or tea, personal tour of the festival, breakfast in your room and a bottle of Prosecco and fresh fruit in the room.

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After Meeting Fidel Castro, Pope Francis Preaches About ‘Spirit of Poverty’

Carl Court/Getty Image(HAVANA) — Pope Francis met with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Cuba Sunday after this morning’s Mass, Vatican spokesman Father Lombardi said.

The pope then went to back to the Nunciature, and then with a small group, he went to Fidel Castro’s home for another meeting. Castro’s wife was also there with his sons and grandsons.

They were together for about 40 minutes. Francis gave Castro several books, a book and two CDs of homilies and a copy of his two encyclicals.

In return, Castro gave Francis an interview book entitled, “Fidel and Religion,” written in 1985 by Freitas Betto. Fidel wrote a dedication in it: “For Pope Francis, on occasion of his visit to Cuba, with the admiration and respect of the Cuban people.”

The atmosphere was “familiar and informal,” Father Lombardi said, and the conversation centered around “protecting the environment and the great problems of the contemporary world.”

Francis began a busy day in Cuba by holding Mass Sunday morning in Havana’s Revolution Square.

When Francis drove by in his open-sided Peugeot popemobile, the crowds sang and waved Cuban, Vatican and Argentine flags.

As he headed towards the square, he passed by two men and a woman who tried to seize the moment. They approached with leaflets, threw them toward the pontiff and were instantly pounced on by security guards. Once the three were detained, the guards picked up the fliers.

Francis then began Mass, which was attended by 300,000, according to the Cuban government.

“God’s holy and faithful people in Cuba is a people with a taste for parties, for friendship, for beautiful things,” Francis said. “It is a people which marches with songs of praise. It is a people which has its wounds, like every other people, yet knows how to stand up with open arms, to keep walking in hope, because it has a vocation of grandeur.”

“Today I ask you to care for this vocation of yours, to care for these gifts which God has given you, but above all I invite you to care for and be at the service of the frailty of your brothers and sisters. Do not neglect them for plans which can be seductive, but are unconcerned about the face of the person beside you. We know, we are witnesses of the incomparable power of the resurrection, which everywhere calls forth the seeds of a new world.”

Francis also gave several children their first communion.

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Two American Citizens Detained in War-Torn Yemen Released

PeterHermesFurian/iStock/ThinkStock(WASHINGTON) — The White House said Sunday that two U.S. citizens in Yemen who had reportedly been detained since early this year by rebels who overthrew the country’s government have been released.

In a statement from the National Security Council, spokesman Ned Price thanked the government of Oman for helping facilitate the release of the two Americans, though it did not identify them by name.

“Since we first learned of their detention, the United States Government has been in regular contact with their families and representatives and, in coordination with our international partners, we have worked tirelessly to secure their release,” Price said in the statement.

The two Americans were met in Oman by the U.S. ambassador to Muscat, and their families have been informed of their release, the statement said.

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Pope Francis Meets Fidel Castro After Mass in Cuba

Carl Court/Getty Image(HAVANA) — Pope Francis met with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Cuba Sunday after this morning’s Mass, Vatican spokesman Father Lombardi said.

The pope then went to back to the Nunciature, and then with a small group, he went to Fidel Castro’s home for another meeting. Castro’s wife was also there with his sons and grandsons.

They were together for about 40 minutes. Francis gave Castro some books, while the former leader gave the pope a book with a dedication inside.

Francis began a busy day in Cuba by holding Mass Sunday morning in Havana’s Revolution Square.

When Francis drove by in his open-sided Peugeot popemobile, the crowds sang and waved Cuban, Vatican and Argentine flags.

As he headed towards the square, he passed by two men and a woman who tried to seize the moment. They approached with leaflets, threw them toward the pontiff and were instantly pounced on by security guards. Once the three were detained, the guards picked up the fliers.

Francis then began Mass, which was attended by 300,000, according to the Cuban government.

“God’s holy and faithful people in Cuba is a people with a taste for parties, for friendship, for beautiful things,” Francis said. “It is a people which marches with songs of praise. It is a people which has its wounds, like every other people, yet knows how to stand up with open arms, to keep walking in hope, because it has a vocation of grandeur.”

“Today I ask you to care for this vocation of yours, to care for these gifts which God has given you, but above all I invite you to care for and be at the service of the frailty of your brothers and sisters. Do not neglect them for plans which can be seductive, but are unconcerned about the face of the person beside you. We know, we are witnesses of the incomparable power of the resurrection, which everywhere calls forth the seeds of a new world.”

Francis also gave several children their first communion.

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Pope Francis Begins First Day in Cuba with Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square

Carl Court/Getty Image(HAVANA) — Pope Francis began a busy day in Cuba by holding Mass this morning in Havana’s Revolution Square.

When Francis drove by in his open-sided Peugeot popemobile, the crowds sang and waved Cuban, Vatican and Argentine flags.

As he headed towards the square, he passed by two men and a woman who tried to seize the moment. They approached with leaflets, threw them toward the pontiff and were instantly pounced on by security guards. Once the three were detained, the guards picked up the fliers.

Francis then began Mass, which was attended by 300,000, according to the Cuban government.

“God’s holy and faithful people in Cuba is a people with a taste for parties, for friendship, for beautiful things,” Francis said. “It is a people which marches with songs of praise. It is a people which has its wounds, like every other people, yet knows how to stand up with open arms, to keep walking in hope, because it has a vocation of grandeur.”

“Today I ask you to care for this vocation of yours, to care for these gifts which God has given you, but above all I invite you to care for and be at the service of the frailty of your brothers and sisters. Do not neglect them for plans which can be seductive, but are unconcerned about the face of the person beside you. We know, we are witnesses of the incomparable power of the resurrection, which everywhere calls forth the seeds of a new world.”

Francis also gave several children their first communion.

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Pope Francis Arrives in Havana, Cuba

Buda Mendes/Getty Images(HAVANA) — Pope Francis arrived in Havana, Cuba, Saturday afternoon, beginning his 10-day visit to Cuba and the United States.

He is the third pontiff to visit Cuba in the last 17 years.

In a special Alitalia flight, the pope, his entourage and a group of reporters took off Saturday morning from the main airport in Rome. This is the pope’s first trip to Cuba and the United States.

On the eve of his departure, Pope Francis promised he would do everything possible to build bridges, remove barriers and foster communication between Cuba and the United States.

Pope Francis has never visited either country but has already played a key role in helping thaw hostile relations that led to the reopening of mutual embassies in July.

The Vatican expressed hope that the Pope’s trip would lead to an ed to the 53-year-old US embargo against Cuba and bolster human rights in a country that has jailed dissidents.

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Canadian Government Wants Muslim Woman to Remove Face Veil

Mike Ridewood/Getty Images(TORONTO) — The Canadian government is trying to stop a Muslim woman who wears the niqab, or face veil, from being sworn in as a Canadian.

Zunera Ishaq wants to vote in next month’s election. She’s eligible but still has to swear the oath of citizenship.

Regulations say she must first take off her face veil, something she says violates her freedom of religion.

A court recently ruled in her favor but now Prime Minister Stephen Harper is appealing and asking the court to put the lower court ruling on hold.

Her lawyer, Lorne Waldman, is asking the court to hold a hearing on the application for stay, in time for Zunera to vote in the October 19th election.

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Pope Francis Headed to Cuba

Buda Mendes/Getty Images(ROME, Italy) — Pope Francis has left Rome and is flying over the Atlantic Ocean to Cuba where expectations are soaring high that the Catholic leader can bring about political change.

In a special Alitalia flight, the pope, his entourage and a group of reporters took off Saturday morning from the main airport in Rome. This is the pope’s first trip to Cuba and the United States.

On the eve of his departure, Pope Francis promised he would do everything possible to build bridges, remove barriers and foster communication between Cuba and the United States.

Pope Francis has never visited either country but has already played a key role in helping thaw hostile relations that led to the reopening of mutual embassies in July.

The Vatican expressed hope that the Pope’s trip would lead to an ed to the 53-year-old US embargo against Cuba and bolster human rights in a country that has jailed dissidents.

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