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Search For Flight 370; NSA Data Ordered Held; Kerry Declines to Meet with Putin; Pistorius Murder Trial

Aired March 11, 2014 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Major developments breaking overnight on the search for Flight 370. Large debris spotted and now, an Iranian connection. We're live with the latest on this mystery, including a break on just who had those passports.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Talks over Crimea hit a diplomatic roadblock. The State Department and Vladimir Putin now battling over even needing to discuss the future of Ukraine. And with a referendum now just five days away, Ukraine's ousted president speaking out.

BERMAN: Physically ill. Oscar Pistorius breaks down in court, even covers his ears, as a doctor describes the injuries that ended his girlfriend's life after Pistorius shot her.

ROMANS: Ahh, dramatic. He is falling apart.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

All right, good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. Great to see you this morning. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's Tuesday, March 11th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin with breaking news. Authorities in Malaysia have now identified one of two passengers traveling with stolen passports on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. That plane with 239 people on board simply vanished four days ago on route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, leaving investigators and loved ones desperate for answers.

Much more on the search in a moment. But first, let's go live to CNN's Nic Robertson live in London for us this morning with more on these mystery passengers.

Nic, what's the latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, so much scrutiny on who was using those two stolen passports. Now, Malaysian officials identifying one of the -- one of those passengers traveling on the Austrian stolen passport as being Pouria Mahrdad, a young 19-year-old Iranian, they say. It appears he was essentially seeking asylum. The reason that they say they know this is because his mother was waiting for him in Frankfurt. When his flight didn't arrive, she contacted authorities. But police are also saying that they don't believe that this young man is connected with terrorism.


KHALID ABU BAKAR, POLICE CHIEF: We believe that he is not likely to be a member of any terrorist group, and we believe that he is trying to migrate to Germany.


ROBERTSON: So, the police have released a photograph of this man, and they've also released a photograph of a second man who they say was traveling on the stolen Italian passport. A picture uploaded to CNN's iReport late last night named that second person as somebody called Reza. At the moment, we haven't been able to name that down.

But this upload to iReport also said this second passenger was also a young Iranian. The photograph does show a young man. But again, all these elements we're trying to track down. And of course, we do know from yesterday that it was an Iranian who purchased the tickets for these two young men traveling on the stolen passports, Christine.

ROMANS: Certainly a mystery, and little pieces becoming clearer by the moment. Thank you, Nic Robertson.

BERMAN: And even if that is cleared up, it doesn't solve the entire mystery of where Flight 370 is right now. Authorities have now expanded the search area beyond the plane's flight path as another reported debris sighting. They've seen large debris. They're sending ships and aircrafts out over the ocean to look for any sign, any more sign of this Boeing 777.

CNN's David McKenzie following that part of the story. He's live for us in Beijing.

David, what's the latest?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest, John, is as you describe. They seem to have seen more debris in the ocean, but there have been many false starts up to this point. Dozens of ships and airplanes in the area, multinational effort, including U.S. Navy, on the scene to try and find any sign of where this plane is. They say without finding any debris or those flight data recorders, they can't begin to solve what they're calling an incredible mystery -- John.

BERMAN: And, David, as you said, there have been these debris sightings before. That's got to be so hard on the families to have these moments of hope only to have them dashed, because so far, the debris's turned out to be nothing. They're out looking at one more spot right now.

How are the families getting information? How are they getting the information they're asking for right now? MCKENZIE: Well, John, the families are very frustrated. They're getting information from Malaysian Airlines here in Beijing, hundreds of them in this hotel behind me. Most of the passengers on board that ill-fated flight were Chinese.

Now, today, they're banning together, refusing initial financial assistance from Malaysian Airlines, and many of them, despite the offer, don't want to leave China until that plane is found.

I spoke to one counselor here. He said the most difficult thing is the not knowing, that unanswered question, the holding out on hope, even if hope is slim at this point. People still want to believe that their loved ones are alive, though as the hours tick by, incredibly unlikely that's the case.

But that not knowing is really grating on the emotions of family members here in China and around the world -- John.

BERMAN: Think of the confusion we all have right now, just how hard it must be on these families.

David McKenzie for us in Beijing, thanks for being with us.

ROMANS: New developments in the legal battle over the NSA's surveillance of phone records. A federal judge in San Francisco has now ordered the spy agency to preserve all of the metadata from its monitoring of U.S. phone traffic to preserve it all. That just days after an intelligence court judge issued the opposite order, rejecting a government request to keep the data for more than five years.

For now, the Justice Department says it will abide by the order to keep the materials.

BERMAN: NSA leaker Edward Snowden is defending his actions and calling for more public oversight of government spying. He was speaking to the South by Southwest festival via video chat from Russia. Snowden said he had no regrets in stealing and then releasing thousands of pages of classified documents.


EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: So, when it comes to would I do this again, the answer is absolutely yes. Regardless of what happens to me, this is something we have a right to. I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I saw that the Constitution was violated on massive scales.


BERMAN: He spoke at the same time as South by Southwest's Lena Dunham, and I was seeing tweets that Lena Dunham had a much higher turnout rate than Snowden did.

Snowden did call on Internet users to better protect their information. He was apparently routed through different servers to hide his location from the government. ROMANS: It was a warm reception from, as "USA Today" put it, the scruffy tech elite in South by Southwest. He got a warm reception.

BERMAN: Sympathetic.

ROMANS: That's right.

All right. Attorneys for two former Chris Christie staffers will be in court today trying to convince a judge why they shouldn't be forced to turn over text messages and other private communications related to the New Jersey bridgegate scandal. Bill Stepien and Bridget Kelly say complying with subpoenas from state legislators carries the risk of self-incrimination.

Kelly was fired back in January after e-mails emerged linking her to the orchestrated lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, apparently as political payback. Governor Christie has denied any involvement.

BERMAN: Breaking overnight, Congress now demanding answers from General Motors about why it took the automaker nearly a decade to recall some 1.6 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches that have been linked to some 13 deaths now. The head of House Energy and Commerce Committee say they plan to investigate and hold hearings on the slow recall.

GM, in the meantime, has hired its own lawyers to lead what they call an internal investigation.

ROMANS: Happening right now, these are live pictures of the Senate floor, where more than two dozen Senate Democrats pulling an all- nighter in an effort to get Congress to wake up to the danger of global warming. It's not any kind of filibuster. The senators concede that right now a climate bill would almost certainly fail. The marathon speech fest expected to continue until 9:00 Eastern Time.

BERMAN: That was instead of putting actual legislation on the floor, they're talking all night. And they did quote Dr. Seuss again, which is always a good thing in Congress.

New details this morning of just how bad the winter has been for air travel. The four largest U.S. airlines say they had to cancel nearly 75,000 flights in just January and February this year. All of that the result of extreme weather that just shut down so much of this country. Delta alone says the cancellations cost it some $90 million in lost revenue.

ROMANS: Well, we used to complain about sitting on the tarmac, right? Then Washington got involved and said you can't just keep people sitting on the tarmac, we're going to fine you. So, what do they do? They cancel flights at the first hint of bad weather, and there was plenty of bad weather.

BERMAN: So you sit at the airports instead of on the tarmac.

ROMANS: Right. BERMAN: Well, as for that winter, at least for the time being, it's gone, right? Feels like spring here in New York City.

ROMANS: For now.

BERMAN: Which is fantastic, but I don't think it's going to last. Is it, Indra Petersons?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, John, if you just want to look at today, here's the first number. Just look at the 60, right? Maybe you want to look at the rest of the week.


PETERSONS: Look at this forecast. It's easy to see that bad boy, that blue, 20s in the forecast just two days away, and we are not alone. Let's first talk about the good part, right?

Today, it is beautiful out there because we're behind the warm front -- meaning, yes, warm air kind of filling in from the South, but we know there's a cold front out there and another storm that's going to be changing all this, so we're not going to be the only ones talking about these temperatures that are really dipping down.

Today, though, enjoy it. Cincinnati seeing 70s, 20 degrees above normal. New York City, 60s today, 20 degrees or 12 degrees above normal. Here's the roller coaster effect. It's going to be affecting a lot of you. Chicago going down to the 20s already by tomorrow. D.C., 70s down to, what is that, 30s?

Yes, there's a big ouch factor coming our way, and it's all thanks to this storm, expected again today, kind of in the Upper Midwest, Upper Plains there, starting to make its way across. You'll see some snow, icing and some rain farther to the South. As it makes its way across, eventually into the Northeast Wednesday night into Thursday.

For now, the heaviest amounts of snow staying well to the North. Still several inches in the Ohio Valley, but again, Upstate New York, Vermont into Maine seeing about a foot of snow. Good news for now, the big cities, not here yet.

BERMAN: But today, it is warm. I'm running outside in shorts today, so --

PETERSONS: Focus on the 60s.

BERMAN: Let that be fair warning. I'm warning you, I'm telling everyone now that it's going to happen.

PETERSONS: They're going to see those legs glowing, John.

BERMAN: Be warned. Fair warning.

ROMANS: Wear your sunglasses around John Berman.

All right. Thanks, Indra. Stocks around the globe really trying to recover from a bumpy start to the week. Let me show you stocks in Asia. They closed mostly higher. European stock markets up.

Things looking OK for the U.S. stocks as well in the early going looking higher. U.S. stocks ended lower on Monday, you know, down about 34 points, but they had been down 100 points. The problem was worries over the state of China's state of economy. That sparked Monday's selling.

The gloves are off. The CEO of Sprint's Softbank says he wants a three-way heavyweight fight in the U.S. wireless carrier business.

BERMAN: Uh-oh.

ROMANS: In an interview on Charlie Rose, Japan's Softbank CEO said no deal has been made, but he would like to buy T-Mobile and merge it with Sprint. Softbank acquired Sprint last year. The CEO Masayoshi Son says if a deal were to be made, he would wage a massive price war against AT&T and Verizon. Such a deal would likely face regulatory concerns.


BERMAN: But that could be good news for consumers, right?

ROMANS: That's right, and that's the important part of that story, is that's a good consumer -- that's good for consumers.

BERMAN: Drive down prices.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right. Eleven minutes after the hour.

Investigators getting to the bottom of a scary bus accident here in New York City. Look at this -- the bus full of children was heading down a street. Oh, man! You can just see it swiped Monday afternoon by a taxi there.

And then the bus wound up flipped on its side. You're looking at it right there. Nine people, including six special needs students, were taken to the hospital. All of them, thankfully, expected to survive.

ROMANS: Thank goodness.

All right. Coming up, just five days to go before Crimea votes on joining Russia permanently, and this morning, Ukraine's ousted president is set to speak out about who he thinks is in the right. Any guesses?


ROMANS: We're live with the latest.

BERMAN: And Justin Bieber at it again. Look at that. You can just tell in this video of the pop star he's at a deposition. He's not happy with the questions. He's acting out.

It's Tuesday. We will show you more right after the break.


BERMAN: All right. The U.S. and Russia hitting a diplomatic roadblock over the crisis in Ukraine.

Secretary of State John Kerry delaying plans now for a face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The State Department says this will not happen until Russia is willing to engage on proposals for ending the crisis. And U.S. officials say there will be little talk about that if a referendum on Crimea becoming a permanent part of Russia goes forward.

In the meantime, let me show you live pictures right now. This is the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. He is giving a live address right now, his feelings on where this should all go. You can imagine, they are most likely for a pro-Russian tilt.

Let's go to Fred Pleitgen right now -- CNN's Fred Pleitgen -- live in Moscow.

Give us the latest. Give us a sense, if you will, of what the former Ukrainian president is saying.


Yes, I've been listening to the press conference, which literally just started 2 1/2 minutes ago. And right now, what Viktor Yanukovych is doing is he's railing against the new government that's in power in Kiev. He's basically comparing them to fascists and Nazis. He's saying that they're trying to take over the military forces of Ukraine and use them against civilians. He's likening what they're doing to what happened in World War II with a lot of Ukrainians collaborating with the Nazis at that point in time.

So, it seems as though he is going to obviously take on a very pro- Russian position. He's going to reiterate again that he believes that he is the legitimate president of Ukraine, which is also something that Vladimir Putin has said as well.

And one of the things that is going to be interesting to see, which he hasn't gotten to yet, will be what his position will be on that referendum in Crimea, because it's seems as though that is what everything hinges on at this point in time. It's what the Russian decision hinges on and also, of course, what diplomatically everything hinges on with the U.S. and Russia, and whether or not they're actually going to be able to start talking again.

So, we're waiting for him to come to that point. But right now, the rhetoric is one of defiance, is one of calling the new leaders in Kiev, in Ukraine illegitimate and again saying that he is the true president of Ukraine, John.

BERMAN: And while that's happening, Fred, no progress between the U.S. and Russia on getting any closer to any kind of real communication here.


Well, you know what? It's not even no progress. It seems as though things are hardening between the two sides.

I mean, you had that statement yesterday by the Russians saying that they are very sad that John Kerry won't be coming to Russia. He was apparently supposed to come here today to talk with Vladimir Putin and also with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. That apparently is not happening.

The U.S., of course, is saying there's not going to be any U.S. top officials visiting Moscow until there is some sort of progress, especially on the question of the Crimea referendum. But it seems as though the Russians are just remaining absolutely hard on that question. Not only are they saying they are going to let this referendum go through, they're going to support the fact that this referendum is going through.

But the Duma, the parliament here in Moscow, has already said that it's going to debate the results of that referendum only a couple of days after it happens. Of course, those could be the initial stages of Crimea becoming a part of Russia.

So, I wouldn't even say it's not any movement, I would say that things have actually gotten more difficult between the U.S. and Russia on the Ukraine and on the Crimea issue, John.

BERMAN: Backwards, an awful bad direction in this crisis.

All right. Fred Pleitgen for us in Moscow -- thanks so much.


ROMANS: All right. Happening now, another day of testimony at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in South Africa. The court heard more details of Reeva Steenkamp's autopsy from pathologist Gert Saayman. During his first day on the witness stand on Monday, Pistorius broke down. He was physically sick, vomiting in the dock as he listened to the graphic description of his girlfriend's fatal wounds after he shot her.

BERMAN: A bill changing the way the military handles sex assault cases now headed to the House. The Senate has approved it 97-0. This measure would eliminate the so-called Good Soldier Defense, allowing the accused's service record to be taken into account, but the bill does face an uncertain future and is not even scheduled for a vote in the House.

ROMANS: A Methodist minister who faced a trial after officiating his son's same-sex wedding is off the hook after the case was dropped against him. Reverend Thomas Ogletree, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School, agreed instead to take part in a public forum debating gay marriage in the Methodist church. Last year, a United Methodist pastor from Pennsylvania, Frank Schaffer (ph), was defrocked for officiating at his son's wedding. He called the different outcomes unfair but said he's hopeful the decision is a sign that things are changing in the church.

BERMAN: All right, this morning we are getting a new, yet a new, different look at Justin Bieber. This time, it's in a deposition he gave in a case of a bodyguard allegedly beating up a photographer.

You can see Bieber. He was hostile to a lawyer trying to ask him questions. You have to look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember earlier today when I asked you --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you listen to what I have to say first, and then maybe you can tell me yes or no.

BIEBER: I don't have to listen to anything you have to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't hear your response. Again, sir, I'm pleading with you --


BIEBER: I know I didn't finish, I didn't finish --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't want to interrupt.

BIEBER: Oh, really? You didn't want to interrupt.


BERMAN: I don't have to listen to anything you want to say. You know, people think sometimes the media focuses too much on Justin Bieber, but this is a legal proceeding, a deposition here. I would think most lawyers would advise you not to behave like this in this kind of proceeding.

You can see Justin Bieber getting angry when a lawyer asked about ex- girlfriend Selena Gomez. He's waving finger. That's what he's waving his finger about there. Bieber says the lawyer should not ask him about Selena Gomez again. Hmm.

There it is, Justin Bieber, for today.

Coming up for us next, a medical scare. This was awful. This is in the middle of a hockey game last night. A star player rushed to the hospital --

ROMANS: Oh, my goodness!

BERMAN: -- after collapsing on the bench. This was terrifying. You need to hear what happened next.

Andy Scholes has the details in "The Bleacher Report", coming up.


ROMANS: A really frightening moment during an NHL game last night. The Dallas Stars' Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench after suffering some kind of cardiac event in the game, and the game had to be postponed.

Andy Scholes joins us more now with more.

The players real shaken up over this.

ANDY SCHOLES, THE BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, they certainly were, Christine. You know, this was just a really scary moment. Rick Peverley had just come off the ice after his shift. He was on the bench when he collapsed. It happened about six and a half minutes into the game.

The Stars staff, they immediately carried Peverley into the tunnel to begin treatment. After using a defibrillator on him, he regained consciousness, and Peverley -- he did miss the preseason and season opener this year because of a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat.

Right now, the Stars say he is doing well and is in stable condition.


LINDY RUFF, STARS' HEAD COACH: I thought the medical staff did an unbelievable job tonight. I was there firsthand. If it wasn't for our doctors and all the members reacting so quickly and so efficiently, we could be standing here with a different story. But they did an absolutely fabulous job.


SCHOLES: All the players on the Stars and Blue Jackets are clearly shaken. Both sides agreed to postpone the game. No word yet when it will be made up.

All right. Trending right now on, Clippers going for their eighth straight win, hosting the Phoenix Suns last night. And Blake Griffin was unstoppable in this one. The Suns got so frustrated, they tried to fight him!

Check it out. Griffin and P.J. Tucker get tangled up and Tucker throws a punch at Griffin. He's ejected from the game.

Griffin finished with 37 points as the Clippers beat the Suns.

All right. Mets/Marlins, spring training. A ball lands over the fence in the outfield, and check this out. This fan --

BERMAN: Oh! SCHOLES: -- abandoned his son in the cart.


SCHOLES: It goes crashing into the fence. Check out mom, guys.


SCHOLES: She is not happy about this.

BERMAN: Oh, oh, oh!


SCHOLES: Safe to say this guy will not be winning father of the year --

BERMAN: Oh, no!

SCHOLES: -- any time soon.

BERMAN: Dude, bad move!

ROMANS: He didn't get the ball, though, right? The most important part, did he get the ball?


BERMAN: He got nothing.

SCHOLES: Looks like that kid probably won't get in that cart again. He's probably traumatized.

BERMAN: He makes us look bad there. Dads everywhere, come on.

SCHOLES: It's spring training ball, too. Come one!

BERMAN: Everyone's OK. That's what's important.

ROMANS: Mom to the rescue.

BERMAN: I would do the same thing, sadly.

All right. Thanks so much, Andy.

It's been four days now since a Malaysian jet went missing with 239 people on board. This morning, the search is widening. There are new clues we need to tell you about in this hunt. What happened to flight 370?

We now know one of the people flying on a stolen passport, we know the identity. We'll have the very latest on that and some new debris sighted, right after the break.