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July 23rd, 2014
05:24 AM ET

MH17 Crash: First Set of Bodies En Route to the Netherlands

After spending days exposed to the elements on a Ukrainian field and then inside refrigerated train cars, the first group of victims from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 are one step closer to home.

The first plane carrying the remains of some victims are expected to arrive in the Dutch city of Eindhoven on Wednesday.

The arrival will mark a homecoming for many of the victims. Most of the 298 people on board the plane were from the Netherlands, which has declared Wednesday a national day of mourning.

Dutch royals, government officials and families of the passengers will be at the tarmac when the remains arrive. After a solemn ceremony, the bodies will be taken to a military facility for forensic testing.

But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it could take weeks or even months to identify the remains.

Follow this developing story on CNN.com

July 22nd, 2014
05:13 AM ET

Train Carrying Bodies of MH17 Victims Heads Across Ukraine

A train carrying 282 bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 arrived in Kharkiv, Ukraine, getting the bodies one step closer to their grieving families around the world.

The train arrived at a rail station and continued on to an undisclosed location. The bodies will eventually be taken to the Netherlands.

But a litany of obstacles remain - not just in handling the remains, but in figuring out how and why MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com.

July 21st, 2014
05:01 AM ET

'Moment of Truth for Russia'

There's no shortage of evidence that shows pro-Russian rebels shot down a Malaysian jet in Ukraine last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 fell from the sky in Donetsk on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard.

There's video of a launcher with one surface-to-air missile missing, imagery showing the firing and intercepted calls with rebels claiming credit for the strike, Kerry said.

"We know from intercepts ... that those are in fact the voices of separatists," he told CNN's State of the Union on Sunday. "And now we have a video showing a launcher moving back through a particular area there out into Russia with at least one missing missile on it."

Kerry accused Russia of backing the separatists.

"This is the moment of truth for Russia. Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists. And Russia has not yet done the things necessary in order to try to bring them under control," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron didn't mince words either on who was to blame. In an op-ed in The Sunday Times, he called the plane crash and its aftermath "an outrage made in Moscow."

Russian President Vladimir Putin fired back with a video statement posted on the Kremlin's official website early Monday, arguing that his country has been pushing for peace in Ukraine.

"We have repeatedly called on all parties to immediately stop the bloodshed and to sit down at the negotiating table. We can confidently say that if June 28 fighting in eastern Ukraine did not resume, this tragedy most likely would not have happened," he said. "However, no one should have the right to use this tragedy to achieve selfish political objectives. Such events should not divide but unite people."

He stressed that safety must be guaranteed for international experts investigating the crash.

"We must do everything to ensure their work has full and absolute security (and) ensure necessary humanitarian corridors are provided," Putin said.

MORE on CNN.com

July 18th, 2014
03:30 AM ET

U.S. Official: Missile Shot Down Malaysia Airlines Plane

A Malaysia Airlines passenger jet crashed in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine on Thursday, spurring swift accusations from Ukrainian officials that "terrorists" shot down the aircraft.

The United States has concluded a missile shot down the plane, but hasn't pinpointed who was responsible, a senior U.S. official told CNN's Barbara Starr.

The Boeing 777 with 298 people aboard fell from the sky near the town of Torez in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, officials said. A top Ukrainian official said the plane, which was on the way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was flying at about 10,000 meters (nearly 33,000 feet) when the missile hit.

A radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system turn on and track an aircraft right before the plane went down, the senior U.S. official said. A second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit, the official said. The United States is analyzing the trajectory of the missile to try to learn where the attack came from, the official said.

The Obama administration believes Ukraine did not have the capability in the region - let alone the motivation - to shoot down the plane, a U.S. official told CNN's Jake Tapper.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the plane never made a distress call.

He called for an international team to have full access to the crash site.

"We must and we will find out precisely what happened to this flight. No stone will be left unturned," he said.

"If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice," Najib said.

Ukrainian officials maintained that pro-Russian separatists were behind the crash.

You can follow the updating story at CNN.com

Posted by ,
Filed under: MH17 • Russia • Ukraine
May 14th, 2014
04:18 AM ET

Magic Johnson to Donald Sterling: Sell the Team

Magic Johnson has some advice for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling: Sell the team, take the money and enjoy the rest of your life.

A day after Sterling appeared on CNN slamming the NBA legend's character, his battle with HIV and his community outreach efforts, Johnson said Tuesday that he feels sorry for the 80-year-old billionaire.

"It's sad. It really is. I'm going to pray for this ... man," Johnson told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview.

Sterling's explosive CNN interview that aired Monday night was the first time he had spoken publicly since audio recordings surfaced last month of him making racist remarks. Reaction to the taped remarks came fast and furious, and the NBA responded with a lifetime ban for Sterling.

Johnson became an involuntary figure in the controversy after Sterling named him in the leaked recording.

"Admire him, bring him here, feed him, f**k him, but don't put (Magic) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me," Sterling is heard telling friend V. Stiviano.

Johnson told Cooper he is still waiting for an apology from Sterling for getting roped into Sterling's fight with Stiviano, and Johnson called the Monday interview - in which Sterling directed another tirade at the NBA legend - "disturbing."

"What's really sad is, it's not about me," Johnson said. "This is about the woman you love outing you and taping you and putting your conversation out here for everybody to know. ... This is between you two, but then he wants to include me."

Johnson said he had only met with Sterling three or four times, and most of those discussions had focused on basketball. Johnson couldn't say if the Clippers owner has slipped mentally.

Sterling "seems like he's all there," Johnson said. "But the problem is, he's living in the stone ages."

MORE on CNN.com

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 7th, 2014
06:01 AM ET

Malaysia Flight 370: New Signal Sounds 'Just Like' One From a Plane's Beacon

After weeks of searching vast swaths of ocean, investigators now have their "most promising" lead yet in finding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

A pinger locator in the Indian Ocean has detected signals consistent with those sent by a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder, the head of the Australian agency coordinating search operations said Monday.

The sounds were heard at a depth of 4,500 meters (about 14,800 feet), retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said.

"We've got a visual indication on a screen, and we've also got an audible signal. And the audible signal sounds to me just like an emergency locator beacon," Houston said.

"We are encouraged that we are very close to where we need to be."

But it could take days before officials can confirm whether the signals did indeed come from the plane, which fell off the radar on March 8 with 239 people on board.

"In very deep oceanic water, nothing happens fast," Houston said. "I would ask all of you to treat this information cautiously and responsibly. ... We haven't found the aircraft yet."

At least one investigator has described the search not as finding a needle in a haystack, but rather trying to find the haystack.

"It's very exciting, very exciting," forensic audio expert Paul Ginsberg said Monday. "I think we have finally found the haystack."

And Malaysian authorities are hopeful there will be a positive development in the next few days, if not hours, acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters Monday.

But some relatives of those on board haven't lost hope, despite Monday's news of the promising signals.

"If the plane is there, its there. We can't change it," the husband of one passenger said. "But I am still hoping for a miracle to happen."

But time could be running out in tracing the sounds. In a few hours or days, the pingers aboard the plane stop transmitting for good.

The batteries inside the beacons, which are designed to start sending signals when a plane crashes into water, last about 30 days after the devices are activated.

Monday marks the 31st day of the search.

What happens after the Malaysian plane's pingers die?

New flight details

While searchers may be getting closer to the plane itself, a fresh mystery has emerged about what happened during the flight.

The aircraft skirted Indonesian airspace as it went off the grid and veered off course, a senior Malaysian government source told CNN on Sunday.

After reviewing radar track data from neighboring countries, officials have concluded that the plane curved north of Indonesia before turning south toward the southern Indian Ocean, the Malaysian source said.

Whoever was flying the plane, the source said, could have been trying to avoid radar detection.

But why?

Like most details in the case that's baffled investigators ever since the plane dropped off Malaysian military radar, it depends on whom you ask.

CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes cautioned against assuming a nefarious reason for steering the plane around Indonesia's airspace.

"I think the plane's being intentionally flown there, but I think it's still a mystery as to why. ... I think they would probably guess they're not avoiding anybody's radar, because there's a lot of radar in the area," he said. "I think they're avoiding getting shot down or colliding with another airplane."

CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien said the new route includes designated waypoints that pilots and air traffic controllers use.

"This particular route that is laid out happens to coincide with some of these named intersections," he said. "So what it shows is an experienced pilot somewhere in the mix on this."

Investigators haven't said who they think might have flown the plane off course or why.

But Hussein, Malaysia's acting transportation minister, said Monday that Indonesian military authorities told the chief of the Malaysian defense force that they had "no sighting" of the plane the night it disappeared.

The possibility that the plane was hijacked by someone who knew how to fly a commercial jet is still on the table. Authorities have also been investigating the plane's captain and co-pilot. And they haven't ruled out mechanical problems as a possible cause of the plane's diversion.

So far, no physical evidence of the plane's eventual whereabouts has been found, leaving many relatives of those on board trapped in uncertainty.

Zeroing in

The HMS Echo, a British navy ship equipped with advanced detection gear, sailed into the area of the southern Indian Ocean on Monday morning (Sunday afternoon ET) where a Chinese crew had detected two audio signals.

The area of detection is roughly 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) west-northwest of Perth, according to coordinates reported by Chinese state media.

The arrival of the Echo will be critical to the search for the missing Boeing 777. It has state-of-the-art sonar and is capable of mapping the ocean floor, which is about 4,500 meters (2.8 miles) deep in the focused search area.

It should be able to help determine more confidently whether audio signals picked up on Friday and Saturday by the Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 came from the plane.

The Chinese said the electronic pulses – detected only 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) apart – were consistent with those emitted by pingers on an aircraft's black boxes.

Sounds travel long distances underwater, Houston said, making it difficult to ascertain their sources. If detectors were near a pinger, they would pick up the signal for a more sustained period.

Houston also said that search authorities were informed Sunday that the Ocean Shield, an Australian naval vessel equipped with sophisticated listening equipment, has detected "an acoustic noise" in another area of the ocean to the north.

'Most promising lead'

The Ocean Shield, which has a high-tech pinger locator borrowed from the U.S. Navy, will continue to pursue the sound it heard. If that lead turns cold, it will move to the other detection area, a journey that will take at least a day, officials said.

On Monday morning, the Ocean Shield was "continuing investigations in its own area," Australian authorities said.

"At the moment, the most promising lead appears to be the one associated with Haixun 01," Houston said.

The pulses registered by the Chinese ship are of particular interest because they occurred in an area that fits with the latest calculation by experts of roughly where the plane is likely to have entered the water, Houston said.

April 1st, 2014
07:14 AM ET

New Last Words From Flight 370 Cockpit

They were words heard around the world as investigators searched for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Weeks ago, Malaysian authorities said the last message from the airplane cockpit was, "All right, good night."

The sign-off to air traffic controllers, which investigators said was spoken by the plane's copilot, was among the few concrete details officials released in a mystery that's baffled investigators since the Boeing 777 disappeared with 239 people aboard on March 8.

There's only one problem. It turns out, it wasn't true.

On Tuesday, Malaysia's Transport Ministry released the transcript of the conversations between the Flight 370's cockpit and air traffic control. The final words from the plane: "Good night Malaysian three seven zero."

Malaysian authorities gave no explanation for the discrepancy between the two quotes. And authorities are still trying to determine whether it was the plane's pilot or copilot who said them.

The final quote is routine and is not a sign that anything untoward occurred aboard the flight, said CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo.

But the change in wording weeks into the search for the missing plane raises questions about how Malaysian officials have handled the investigation.

"It speaks to credibility issues, unfortunately," Schiavo said.

"We haven't had a straight, clear word that we can have a lot of fidelity in," said Michael Goldfarb, former chief of staff at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. "We have the tragedy of the crash, we have the tragedy of an investigation gone awry and then we have questions about where we go from here."

Malaysian authorities have defended their handling of the situation.

Read the cockpit transcript

Acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Monday that authorities were not hiding anything by declining to release some details of the missing flight. Some details are part of ongoing investigations into what happened to the plane, he said.

"We are not hiding anything," he said. "We are just following the procedure that is being set."

Hussein said the transcript released Tuesday offered "no indication of anything abnormal."

January 29th, 2014
06:15 AM ET

Stranded, Cold Motorists Spend Nights on Freeways After Rare Snow in South

Thousands of commuters across the South are desperate after spending 12 hours or more stuck in traffic because of a storm that brought the region's biggest cities to their knees.

Two inches of snow isn't supposed to turn highways into campsites. Backups aren't supposed to last all day, through the night, and into the following morning.

And yet, here they were - hundreds of motorists across Alabama and Georgia - still hunched over in their cars Wednesday morning, feeling the aftereffects of a snow shower that hit the states more than 12 hours earlier.

In Atlanta, seven students children were still making their way home on a school bus at 5:30 a.m. ET Wednesday morning - a full 16 hours after school let out and they got on.

To see more, visit CNN.com and  to hear CNN's Jason Evans describe his ten hour struggle to get home in the Southern snow in Atlanta, click on the video above. 

Posted by ,
Filed under: Snow
December 3rd, 2013
06:04 AM ET

'Extreme Speed' Eyed in Fatal Bronx Crash

The commuter train that jumped its tracks in the Bronx was barreling into a curve at nearly three times the posted speed when it derailed, killing four passengers, federal safety officials said Monday.

Preliminary data from the event recorders aboard the train clocked it at 82 mph as it approached the 30-mph curve, where the Hudson and Harlem rivers converge, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener told reporters. The data show the engineer cut the throttle and slammed on the brakes, but those moves came "very late in the game," Weener said.

"This is raw data off the event recorders, so it tells us what happened. It doesn't tell us why it happened," Weener said.

Investigators questioned the engineer, William Rockefeller, and the rest of the train crew on Monday. Rockefeller told investigators he applied the brakes, but the train didn't slow down, according to a law enforcement official who was at the scene and is familiar with the investigation.

But while the cause of the derailment has not yet been determined, investigators have seen no indication of brake problems, Weener said.

All seven coaches and the locomotive came off the tracks in the Sunday morning crash on New York's Metro-North Hudson line. In addition to the four dead, at least 67 more were hurt. Three remained in critical condition Monday night, and 16 others were still hospitalized, hospitals told CNN.

The train's recorded speed is not only far faster than the rated speed for the curve where the derailment occurred, it's faster than the 70 mph posted for the section of track that led into the curve, Weener said. The force of the crash ripped apart the rails and a section of the track bed, leaving chunks of concrete strewn about the scene.

David Schanoes, a former deputy chief of field operations for the Metro-North line, said the data is "uncannily similar" to a July rail crash in Spain that left 79 dead.

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