Friday: April 18

Tune in at 4 am ET: Latest developments on South Korean ferry
April 18th, 2014
04:34 AM ET

Anti-Semitic Fliers in Eastern Ukraine Denounced

U.S. officials Thursday denounced what one called a "grotesque" leaflet ordering Jews in one eastern Ukrainian city to register with a government office, but the Jewish community there dismissed it as a "provocation."

The fliers were handed out by masked men in front the main synagogue in Donetsk, where pro-Russian protesters have declared a "People's Republic," Jewish leaders there said. The document warned the city's Jews to register and document their property or face deportation, according to a CNN translation of one of the leaflets.

Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" that a respected Jewish leader in Ukraine showed him a photograph of one of the leaflets. He called the document "chilling."

And in Geneva, where diplomats held emergency talks on the Ukrainian crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the leaflets "grotesque" and "beyond unacceptable."

But the Jewish community statement said relations between the Jews of Donetsk and their neighbors were amicable, and the self-proclaimed head of the "People's Republic," Denis Pushilin, denied any connection to the fliers.

Pushilin told CNN the handwriting on the flier wasn't his, and the title attached to his name was not one he uses. It wasn't clear who had distributed the leaflets, but the chief rabbi of nearby Dnipropetrovsk said, "Everything must be done to catch them."

"It's important for everyone to know it's not true," said the rabbi, Shmuel Kaminezki. "The Jews of Donetsk will not do what the letter says."

MORE at CNN.com.

April 17th, 2014
11:33 AM ET

Portland: Teen Urinated in Water Supply

The city of Portland, Oregon, has been forced to dump millions of gallons of drinking water. Why?

Because someone urinated into a water reservoir.

Surprising still, this isn't the first time this has happened.

The latest incident took place about 1 a.m. Wednesday. Cameras captured three teens near the Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5. One of them approached the iron fence and apparently got close enough to relieve himself directly into the reservoir.

The three teens were apprehended, and the 50-million-gallon reservoir was taken offline for testing.

Thanks to the teens, the Portland Water Bureau will have to dump 38 million gallons of drinking water, said administrator David Shaff.

"Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated," he said.

All three teens received citations for trespassing; one was cited for public urination.

Shaff told the Oregonian newspaper that the teen knew exactly what he was doing.

"It's stupid," Shaff told the newspaper. "You can see the sign that says: 'This is your drinking water. Don't spit, throw, toss anything in it.' He's four feet away from that sign."

Shaff was also the administrator when a similar incident took place in June 2011. Surveillance cameras caught a man urinating into an 8-million gallon reservoir.

Posted by
Filed under: Portland
April 17th, 2014
04:53 AM ET

Captain to Families: 'I Am Sorry'

Of the 46 lifeboats attached to the sunken South Korean ferry, only one was deployed, CNN affiliate YTN reported Thursday.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm the report. If true, the report will add to the anger and desperation of families still waiting for word on the fate of 287 missing passengers.

Video acquired by another affiliate JTBC showed at least 12 of the white survival capsules still attached to the ferry even as it was keeled over in the water. The survival capsules hold lifeboats.

The five-story, 6,800-ton ferry sank Wednesday morning, with only its white and blue hull remaining above water.

The death toll stands at 9. At least 179 passengers have been rescued.

But no one knows whether the missing 287 are alive, perhaps on the ship, or if they succumbed to the water about 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit.)

"I am sorry," Lee Joon Suk, the captain of the ship, said Thursday when reporters asked if he had any words for the family members of the missing.

"I am at a loss for words," he said as he sat at a Coast Guard station, facing possible charges of negligence and accidental homicide.

No one knows exactly why the ship started to sink.

Some analysts had said that it might have gone off course - speculation that South Korean Oceans and Fisheries Ministry quashed Thursday.

The agency approved the ferry's intended route, and "there was no huge difference between their plan and the actual track chart," spokesman Nam Jae Heon said.

At one point or another, the massive rescue efforts has included 169 boats, 29 planes and 512 divers.

Crews will next use cranes next to stabilize the ship.

"Since there is the possibility of survivors, we cannot waste any time," South Korean President Park Guen-hye said.

The cold, dreary scene

At the Peng Mok Harbor in Jindo, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the site of the accident, family members spend the hours staring at the water.

They have camped out here since Wednesday. Mothers and grandmothers huddle together, crying and comforting each other.

Chang Min, whose son is a second-grader, said he was furious that search officials are using the word "investigation" and not the word "rescue."

"If the government cares for the people, our family, our children, please rescue our families and our children," he said.

He, like many others, are angry at the pace of the process.

Rescue officials are at the mercy of the elements. It's drizzling, making for poor visibility. The water currents are powerful, making for dangerous operations.

Three divers who took it upon themselves to go look for the missing were momentarily swept away by the tide Thursday, CNN affiliate YTN reported. A fishing boat eventually picked them up.

On Thursday afternoon, rescue crews were trying to get a crane out to stabilize the ship.

"The maritime police told them they will start the rescue process again today," Chang said. "I'm going to wait and try to trust them and believe in them. But if they say they can't, I'm going to grab them and drag them into the sea. We'll die together."

See the latest developments on CNN.com.

Posted by ,
Filed under: South Korean ferry
April 16th, 2014
04:49 AM ET

Putin: Escalating Conflict Puts Ukraine on 'Brink of Civil War'

The escalating conflict in Ukraine "essentially puts the nation on the brink of civil war," Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

His assessment came during a telephone conversation with his German counterpart, according to the Kremlin, the same day Ukraine's military launched its first, formal military action against pro-Russian militants with troops retaking an airport in the eastern Donetsk region after a reported clash with gunmen.

The military action came a day after a Ukrainian ultimatum expired for protesters to lay down their arms, a move that appeared to signal an escalation in the crisis that has sparked a diplomatic row between Ukraine, its Western allies and Russia.

With pro-Russian militants seizing government and police buildings in as many as 10 towns and cities in eastern Ukraine, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told Parliament "an anti-terrorist operation" was under way in the region.

The aim of the military operation is to "stop attempts to tear Ukraine to pieces," he told lawmakers.

Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and aircraft that appeared to be coming from the airfield in Kramatorsk, which Turchynov's office said was under the control of Ukrainain special forces late Tuesday.

There were conflicting reports about casualties, with Russian state-run media citing varying casualty claims supplied by militants. According to the reports, there were either two injured or four killed, claims that CNN cannot independently verify.

MORE on CNN.com.

MH370: After Aborted Underwater Search, Crews Hope to Try Again
April 15th, 2014
04:30 AM ET

MH370: After Aborted Underwater Search, Crews Hope to Try Again

Time to try this again.

The first deployment of an underwater vehicle to hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was aborted early, sending the drone back to the surface 10 hours before expected.

Search officials analyzed data from the Bluefin-21's six hours underwater, and found no objects of interest, the U.S. Navy said Tuesday.

Crews will try to send the Bluefin-21 probe back into the Indian Ocean later Tuesday, weather permitting.

So what went awry the first time?

"In this case, the vehicle's programmed to fly 30 meters over the floor of the ocean to get a good mapping of what's beneath and to the sides, and the chart we have for the area showed that water depth to be between the 4,200 and 4,400-meter depth," said Capt. Mark Matthews, who heads the U.S. presence in the search effort.

But the water was deeper than expected - about 4,500 meters.

"Once it hit that max depth, it said this is deeper than I'm programmed to be, so it aborted the mission," Matthews said.

David Kelly, CEO of the company that makes the Bluefin-21, said the device's safety mechanisms have triggered such recalls have happened.

"Although it's disappointing the mission ended early, it's not uncommon," Kelly said. "We've operated these vehicles around the globe. It's not unusual to get into areas where the charts aren't accurate or you lack information."

Mathews said the initial launch Monday night took place "in the very far corner of the area it's searching, so they are just shifting the search box a little bit away from that deep water and proceeding with the search."

It is unclear how much of the area - 5 kilometers by 8 kilometers (3.1 miles by 4.9 miles) - the Bluefin scanned during its first attempt. It could take up to two months to scan the entire search area.

MORE on CNN.com.

Posted by ,
Filed under: Flight 370
April 14th, 2014
05:01 AM ET

Suspect Shouts 'Heil Hitler' From Police Car

 A Missouri man, with a long virulent history of anti-Semitism, is suspected of killing a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center in Kansas City, and a woman at a Jewish assisted living facility nearby.

While police in Overland Park, Kansas, stopped short of labeling the Sunday attacks a hate crime until they were further along in their investigation, the suspect - Frazier Glenn Miller - is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party.

Both operated as paramilitary organizations in the 1980s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.

The 73-year-old Miller, who also goes by Frazier Glenn Cross, faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder. He is expected to appear in court Monday.

The shootings took place at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park and at the Village Shalom Retirement Community in Leawood - a day before the start of Passover, the major Jewish spring festival.

"The timing is terrible. The timing is awful," said Rabbi Herbert Mandl, a chaplain for the Overland Park police.

In all, the gunman shot at five people, none of whom he's believed to have known, said Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass.

Three people died; the other two were not injured.

Shortly afterward, authorities arrested the suspect at a nearby elementary school.

Video from CNN affiliate KMBC showed the suspect sitting in the back of a patrol car and shouting, "Heil Hitler."

Douglass said police were investigating statements the man made after his arrest, but declined to provide additional details.

The Anti-Defamation League said it warned last week of the increased possibility of violent attacks against community centers during the coming weeks, "which coincide both with the Passover holiday and Hitler's birthday on April 20, a day around which in the United States has historically been marked by extremist acts of violence and terrorism."

'This has left us all breathless'

The shooting began just after 1 p.m. Sunday in the Jewish community center's parking lot.

Inside the center was a hive of activity. A rehearsal for a production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" was underway as were auditions for "KC Superstar," an "American Idol"-style contest for the best high school singer in the Kansas City area.

Outside, the gunman opened fire. Police said he was armed with a shotgun and may have been carrying other weapons.

Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, was coming to audition for the singing competition. His grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, was driving him. The bullets struck them in their car. Both died.

Corporon was a doctor who practiced family medicine in Oklahoma for many years before moving to Kansas City to be closer to his grandchildren.

"He cherished his family," the family said in a statement.

Reat was a high school freshman who was active in debate, theater and had "a beautiful voice," his family.

At a vigil Sunday night at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Reat's mom walked up to the podium and introduced herself as the mother and daughter of the community center victims. The gathered gasped.

"I know that they're in heaven together," the mother, Mindy Corporon, said.

Jacob Schreiber, president of the community center, remembered the family fondly.

"This is one of the nicest, kindest, most supportive families that we have here," he said. "This has left us all breathless."

The center immediately went into lockdown.

"Some of these kids were taken into locker rooms and told to lay on the floor as the shots rang out," CNN affiliate KSHB reporter Lisa Benson told CNN.

Jeff Nessel, a parent, told the Kansas City Star he had just dropped his 10-year-old son off at the community center when a staff member told him to get back inside because there had been a shooting.

"We'll keep you on lockdown. You're safe here," Nessel said a staff member told him.

'Stay away from the windows'

The gunman then drove to the retirement home, where he shot the third victim in the parking lot. She has not been identified.

Amy Rasmussen was helping with her grandmother's laundry when residents were warned by a staff member.

People "were told by one of the staff that it was a tornado warning ... and stay away from the windows," Rasmussen told the newspaper.

'A raging anti-Semite'

Miller, the suspected shooter, is a "raging anti-Semite," who has posted extensively in online forums that advocates exterminating Jews, the Southern Poverty Law Center (the SPLC) said.

He has called Jews "swarthy, hairy, bow-legged, beady-eyed, parasitic midgets."

According to the SPLC, Miller founded and ran the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s. He was forced to shut down after the SPLC sued him for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and intimidating African-Americans.

He then formed another group, the White Patriot Party.

In the late 1980s, Miller spent three years in prison on weapons charges and for plotting the assassination of SPLC founder Morris Dees. The short sentence was a result of a plea bargain he struck with federal prosecutors. In exchange, he testified against 14 white supremacists in a sedition trial in Arkansas in 1988.

"He was reviled in white supremacist circles as a 'race traitor and, for a while, kept a low profile," according to an SPLC profile of him. "Now he's making a comeback with The Aryan Alternative, a racist tabloid he's been printing since 2005."

April 11th, 2014
06:13 AM ET

5 Students, 5 Adults Die in Bus-Truck Crash

A FedEx truck crossed a freeway and slammed head-on into a bus carrying students in Northern California, killing 10 people, authorities said Friday.

The collision Thursday evening killed both drivers, five students and three chaperones, said Lt. Bill Carpenter with the California Highway Patrol.

At least 34 people were taken to local hospitals, authorities said.

The bus was taking students from various Los Angeles-area schools to visit Humboldt State University in Arcata. The collision occurred in Orland, about 100 miles north of Sacramento.

In a statement, the university said it got word of the crash but was working to find out more details.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the tragic accident on I-5 in California. We are cooperating fully with authorities as they investigate," FedEx spokeswoman Bonnie Kourvelas said.

The truck also sideswiped another car before crashing into the bus. The condition of the car's driver was unknown.

Tommy Chang, the instructional superintendent for the Los Angeles School District, confirmed there were local students involved. He declined to provide additional details.

"The first priority is informing parents," he said.

Posted by
Filed under: California bus accident
April 10th, 2014
12:55 PM ET

Heartbleed Bug: What You Need to Know

Security researchers have uncovered a fatal flaw in a key safety feature for surfing the Web - the one that keeps your email, banking, shopping, passwords and communications private.

What is it?

It's called the Heartbleed bug, and it is essentially an information leak.

It starts with a hole in the software that the vast majority of websites on the Internet use to turn your personal information into strings of random numbers and letters. If you see a padlock image in the address bar, there's a good chance that site is using the encryption software that was impacted by the Heartbleed bug.

"It's probably the worst bug the Internet has ever seen," said Matthew Prince, CEO of website-protecting service CloudFlare. "If a week from now we hear criminals spoofed a massive number of accounts at financial institutions, it won't surprise me."

What does it do?

For more than two years now, Heartbleed has allowed outsiders to peek into the personal information that was supposed to be protected from snoopers.

The bug allows potential hackers to take advantage of a feature that computers use to see if they're still online, known as a "heartbeat extension." But a malicious heartbeat signal could force a computer to divulge secret information stored in its memory.

At the very least, Heartbleed exposes your usernames and passwords. It also compromises the session keys that keep you logged into a website, allowing an outsider to pose as you - no passwords required. And it allows attackers to pose as a real website and dupe you into giving up your personal details.

Making matters worse, the Heartbleed bug leaves no traces - you may never know when or if you've been hacked.

"You could watch traffic go back and forth," said Wayne Jackson III, CEO of open source software company Sonatype. "This is a big deal. When you think about the consequences of having visibility into Amazon and Yahoo, that's pretty scary."

For more on this story, see CNN Money. 

Posted by
Filed under: Heartbleed bug
April 9th, 2014
06:30 AM ET

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: 2 New Signals in Search Area Buoy Hope

In a sea of uncertainty, two bits of good news emerged Wednesday.

Searchers picked up fresh signals that officials hope are locator beacons from the data recorders of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The Australian ship Ocean Shield had first picked up the underwater pulses Saturday. But then, for the next three days, nothing.

On Tuesday, the ship once again reacquired the signals. That's four signals in the same broad area: two on Saturday; two on Tuesday. All of the signals are within 17 miles of one another.

"I believe we are searching in the right area, but we need to visually identify wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370," said Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who's coordinating the Australian operation.

The second piece of good news? Authorities analyzed the signals picked up Saturday and determined they weren't natural occurrences, but likely came from specific electronic equipment. Some marine life make similar sounds.

"They believe the signals to be consistent with the specification and description of a flight data recorder," Houston said. "I'm now optimistic. We'll find the aircraft or what's left of the aircraft in the not too distant future."

Signals getting weaker

Wednesday is Day 33 in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went missing March 8. It was carrying 239 people.

Authorities haven't given up trying. Instead, they are pinning their hopes on the pings.

But time is not on their side.

The batteries powering the flight recorders' locator beacons are certified to be working for 30 days. Stored in a plane's tail, they are designed to begin sending off distinct, high-pitched signals as soon as they come in contact with water.

"The signals are getting weaker. Which means we're either moving away from the search area or the pinger batteries are dying," Houston said.

The first signal, at 4:45 p.m. Perth Time on Saturday, lasted 2 hours 20 minutes.

The second, at 9:27 p.m. Saturday, lasted 13 minutes.

The third signal was picked up Tuesday at 4:27 p.m. That lasted 5 minutes 32 seconds.

The fourth, at 10:17 p.m. Tuesday, was 7 minutes long.

"It's certainly encouraging that more signals have been detected," Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby told CNN. "There is still much work to do, however."

U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Matthews did not join the speculation over the new signals, instead sticking to the black and white world of science.

"I'm an engineer so we don't talk emotions too much," he said.

Matthews is overseeing the American equipment being used aboard the Ocean Shield to pick up the signals.

Scouring for debris

There's still no indication of wreckage from the plane. And so the visual search goes on.

Wednesday's effort includes up to 11 military planes, four civilian aircraft as well as 14 ships. Three of them - the Ocean Shield farther north, and the British HMS Echo and Chinese Haixun 01 to the south - will be focusing underwater.

All told, everyone involved will be scouring a 29,000-square-mile zone centered about 1,400 miles northwest of Perth.

That's roughly the size of South Carolina.

But it still pales in comparison to the once nearly 3 million miles, at sea and on land, the searchers were scouring for signs of the lost aircraft a few weeks ago.

Kevin McEvoy, a New Zealand air force commodore involved in the effort, noted that authorities once "didn't even know which haystack" to look in for the aircraft.

"I think we have got a much clearer picture around the areas that we need to concentrate on," McEvoy told CNN's Erin Burnett from Auckland.

Authorities greatly reduced that area after analyzing satellite data to determine Flight 370 had set off from Kuala Lumpur toward Beijing, turned around to go back over the Malay Peninsula, then ended up in the southern Indian Ocean.

Why? No one really knows.

The best chance to answer that question may rest wherever the plane - and its so-called black boxes, with their trove of information about the plane and its movements - now resides.

Search planes dispatched day after day looking for evidence of the missing airliner - a floating wing, a seat cushion, anything - thus far have come up empty.

The latest, greatest hopes have come from crews listening underwater for signs of Flight 370.

The ocean to contend with

The first such possible breakthrough came last Friday and Saturday, when a Chinese ship detected pulses that may have been from the plane. No more have been heard since.

According to McEvoy, "the main focus" centers around the site of Ocean Shield's discovery. The ship used more advanced detection gear than that aboard the Chinese vessel and was found some 375 miles away, leading Houston to believe they are separate signals.

Beyond the dwindling battery life, there's all the ocean to contend with: The Ocean Shield signals were in water about 2.6 miles deep, meaning a number of things could literally get in the way of or otherwise disrupt the pulses.

To make sure the waters in the area isn't roiled any further, air and sea traffic there is being limited. That's why there's no rush to put in underwater drones to take photos.

Ocean Shield can search six times the amount of area with a towed pinger locator than can be done with the sonar on a drone, Houston said.

"The better the Ocean Shield can define the area, the easier it will be for the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle to subsequently search for aircraft wreckage," he said. "Bear in mind with the Air France disaster, it took the underwater vehicle 20 days to get to the wreckage."

A painstaking process

If more pulses are detected, it's not as if they'll lead down in a straight line to the flight recorders. As is, the pings that were heard could have emanated from anywhere within a 5-mile radius, said Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Finding more signals could narrow the search area. Without them, authorities could then start the painstaking process of using side-scanning sonar to try to find the aircraft on the ocean's bottom.

Somewhat 'befuddling'

The absence of wreckage near these detected signals leaves some skeptical, worried that the Chinese and Australian ship's finds could be yet another false lead in an investigation that's been full of them.

Acknowledging "a very high-speed vertical impact" could explain the lack of aircraft remnants, CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien said there's reason to be cautious.

"It's either the most extraordinary event, or those pings weren't real," O'Brien said. "It's somewhat befuddling."

Sarah Bajc, the partner of American passenger Philip Wood, isn't convinced about anything. She told CNN's Erin Burnett she thinks the plane was hijacked.

"All of us pretty well agree that until there's the bulk of the plane, the bulk of the bodies discovered, and a black box intact, we won't believe that it's final evidence," Bajc said early Wednesday from Beijing. "I don't think the authorities have given us much confidence of their investigative skills so far."

The lack of clarity makes it hard to "grieve properly and ... move on" - something that she's not yet willing to do.

"I want to fight to find him, in whatever form that ends up being," said Bajc, who is coordinating with other passengers' kin to press for answers. "And I think most of the families feel the same way."

Until they get answers, family members like Steve Wang are clinging to hope while trying to hold themselves together. His mother was on the plane.

"We're just going through so many kinds of emotion," Wang said. "Desperate, sad and helpless - something like that. Everything."

April 8th, 2014
05:44 AM ET

Married Congressman 'Sorry' After Seen Kissing Staffer in Video

Newly elected Rep. Vance McAllister asked for forgiveness from God, his family and his constituents after a local newspaper published what it said was surveillance video of the married Louisiana Republican making out with a female staffer.

"There's no doubt I've fallen short and I'm asking for forgiveness. I'm asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether your (sic) a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I've disappointed,” McAllister said in a statement.

“From day one, I've always tried to be an honest man. I ran for congress (sic) to make a difference and not to just be another politician. I don't want to make a political statement on this, I would just simply like to say that I'm very sorry for what I've done. While I realize I serve the public, I would appreciate the privacy given to my children as we get through this,” he said.

The Ouachita Citizen in West Monroe, Louisiana, published the video it says shows McAllister and the woman passionately kissing in his office last December.

McAllister is married with five children. The woman, the paper reported, is also married.

McAllister was elected in a November special election to fill the vacancy left by  GOP Rep. Rodney Alexander’s resignation.

McAllister campaigned as a Christian conservative. He made headlines earlier this year when he invited “Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertsonto be his guest at the President’s State of the Union address.

CNN’s Curt Devine contributed.

« older posts