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Great Lakes Frozen; Midterm Elections Start Today; Passengers with Stolen Passports Identified; Search Widens for Flight 370; Kerry Cancels Meeting with Putin

Aired March 11, 2014 - 08:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And escalating tension, Ukraine's ousted president speaks this morning as the U.S. and Russia put off talks to find a diplomatic solution with just days before Crimea voting to join Russia. Is any resolution in sight?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Major test. The 2014 midterm elections begin in earnest today as Florida voters head to the polls, giving the first indication how voters will lean this fall.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY continues now.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: We have breaking news for you. Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. Tuesday, March 11th, 8:00 in the East now.

And we will deal with this breaking news right now.

We now know the identity of the two men who used stolen passports to board that missing Malaysian Airline Flight 370. They are both Iranians. And authorities say at least one of them may have been trying to seek asylum. But and it is a big but, so far, no connection to terrorism found connected with either of them.

We also have new information from Malaysia on the search for Flight 370. We're going to have more on that in a moment.

First, let's bring in CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

Pamela, what do we know about these men, their identities, details et cetera?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we just learned the second passenger who boarded doomed Flight 370 with the stolen Italian passport was a 29-year-old Iranian man by the name of Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza. He was traveling with the 19-year-old Iranian who according to authorities was traveling to Germany where his mother lives. Interpol secretary general saying it appears the two men with stolen passports tried to get to Europe as part of human smuggling, not terrorism.


BROWN (voice-over): Investigators have now identified the two traveling with stolen passports on Flight 370. Interpol says the two Iranian nationals flew from Qatar to Kuala Lumpur airport using valid Iranian passports. The two men have been identified as 29-year-old Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza and 19-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad.

Authorities believe the younger man was attempting to seek asylum in Europe. They say his mother contacted authorities after he did not arrive in Germany as planned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The more information we get, the more we're inclined to conclude that it was not a terrorist incident.

BROWN: Authorities have been poring through airport surveillance video and thumb prints from the airport, to search for possible clues.

Investigators focusing on this Thai travel agency that booked tickets for the two passengers. Thai police telling CNN an Iranian middleman known as Mr. Ali first contacted the agency on March 1st, looking to buy cheap tickets to Europe for two men on two different flights. That booking expired. So, the travel agent rebooked the men on the same flight, Flight 370 on March 6th. Ali paid cash. Two days later, the plane vanished.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: They could be as I would say garden variety criminals, drug traffickers or people smugglers or fraudsters.


BROWN: And all the passports of the other passengers on Flight 370 checked out as legitimate. Interpol Secretary General Ron Noble saying the more information officials get, the more they focus on factors other than terrorism as the cause of the plane to go missing -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right. Pamela, thank you very much.

Now, what happened exactly? So many questions here as far as what happened to this plane, this Flight 370 and the 239 people on board.

Right now, dozens of ships and planes from at least 10 countries are involved in this search. Overnight, a Cathay Pacific pilot reported seeing large solid debris floating in the ocean during a flight from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur. At this hour, still no trace of this massive missing jetliner.

Jim Clancy is working this for us from Kuala Lumpur.

Jim, good morning.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Brooke.

You know, the pressure is really on. From dawn on this day, we saw air crews, we saw naval vessels, going out, flying the waters. They're searching several grids, about 100 nautical miles in radius in all of them, as they're searching for any confirmation, any sighting of debris possibly linked to this jetliner.

It's in some ways a desperate search. It's a vast open area.

Our own Saima Mohsin was among those who went a board a flight with the Malaysians this day, conducting one of the search exercises. Painstaking, they've got to go back and forth and divide everything up. And they know that the pressure is on.

Take a look at this press conference a little bit earlier in the day in Beijing, families of some of the people a board the flight.


CLANCY: Distraught beyond belief. These families want answers. They want to know what happened to their loved ones.

I talked to the CEO of the Malaysian Airways. He said it simply, he said, to make the families happy, to make the aircraft experts happy, we must find this plane.

Chris, they'll be back it again at dawn.

CUOMO: As well they should. And, Jim, obviously, the haunting question is not if, but when? When they did find out these answers that the families need so much?

Let's bring in former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Mr. Jim Hall.

Mr. Hall, thank you very much for joining us.

Let's separate the issues here from what happened to the plane to what we are learning about security in general through this unquestioned disaster. The passports, two Iranian men, it seems they used passports to get to Malaysia and stolen passports to move from there.

What do you draw in terms of what has been exposed here as a security lapse?

JIM HALL, FORMER CHAIRMAN, NTSB: Well, I found it alarming. One issue that I hope the U.S. Congress is going to look at very carefully as it pertains to U.S. carriers traveling a abroad. This is at the base a warning call to Americans that are traveling overseas to be sure that they're traveling on a reputable airline that know what their security procedures are.

CUOMO: So, that's something we have to deal with, regardless of whether or not it starts connecting us to what happened to this plane. And then we get to the plane itself and that it's missing. Something you've been speaking very intelligently about is, and it goes to questions from the audience.

Why isn't this train on GPS? Why isn't the recorder something that independently could be found? Why isn't there more technology in something that's supposed to be so technologically advanced to make discovery more easy? What are we missing here?

HALL: Well, unfortunately, I have been speaking out for a decade in an attempt to get deployable recorders adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal as a requirement for aircraft flying over water. You know, these accidents are not that unusual. Unfortunately, if you look over the history of aviation, modern aviation, there are about two a year.

And to put the families through this type of anguish and to expend millions and millions of dollars, we just went through this with Air France five years ago.

And once again now, we see resources that could be better used for humanitarian purposes and underdeveloped or even developed countries that have large low income populations, and all this money being expended to look essentially for a needle in a haystack, when we have the technology in use here with U.S. military. It was developed by the Canadians and been around for decades.

CUOMO: And what does it do? What is a deplorable recording device?

HALL: Well, essentially, the recording device is a black box that has a flight data recorder. The cockpit voice recorder and emergency locating transmitter built in the shell that is implanted in the tail of an aircraft. And it is designed to eject upon any type of impact of the aircraft.

It's used on our F-18, F-16 aircrafts. It's then also designed to float so it can float on the ocean sending a signal to its location as soon as the aircraft is involved in any type of impact, whether it be as a result of a criminal or an accident.

CUOMO: So these planes don't have that for all their technology even though it exists.

The last question for you, Mr. Hall, is that when you're looking that the situation, everybody today stores information on a Cloud. We all have information somewhere else in real time.

Why doesn't that happen with airplanes? Why aren't they in real time transmitting where they are not just for radar that has to be picked up and read, but in a way that is just, you know, allowed to be stored and discovered whenever you want. Why don't we have that?

HALL: Well, in this situation, I'm not exactly sure because e haven't had information forth coming in a public setting for a Boeing aircraft in Seattle in terms of what information they were collecting, as well as the airline because certainly they were in contact with their aircraft. All of that information -- someone hopefully is going through now. Hopefully, some of the NTSB investigators and some of the folks that are professionals in this area, to try to narrow this search area so that these families that are in such agony now can have some answers.

CUOMO: It's just amazing that everything on this plane isn't designed to work as well once it contacts water. That would obviously be the circumstance when you need it most.

Mr. Hall, thank you so much for the perspective and for spreading the word about needing to improve recording devices so that this doesn't happen again. Appreciate the perspective.

Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Brooke?

BALDWIN: Chris, thank you.

He's out of Ukraine. If you ask him, he's not out of office. Viktor Yanukovych says he remains Ukraine's president. Here he's flanked by Ukrainian flags even, and the elections he says to replace him is illegitimate, although he got out of there and headed to Russia.

Meantime, Secretary of State John Kerry has canceled a face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin to address the crisis, as the U.S. and European allies take steps to isolate Russia.

Diana Magnay joins us this morning straight from Crimea.

And, Diana, good morning.


Well, Mr. Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian president, said that the elections coming up here in Ukraine on the 25th of May weren't legitimate, that the new government in Kiev is backed by ultra- nationalists and fascists, he said, and that he's still the leader of this country and armed forces.

But, frankly, here in Crimea, it doesn't feel this way. And you wouldn't find many people even here who want Mr. Yanukovych back. On the pro-Russian side in Crimea, you have people telling you that they think Mr. Putin is the real leader and they don't think Kiev is legitimate. But certainly, no one here is very keen on Mr. Yanukovych coming back.

As you said, John Kerry has canceled a meeting with the Russian president. It would have been the highest level of contact between Russia and the U.S. since Russians invaded Crimea.

This referendum is coming up this coming Sunday when people in this region choose whether to join Russia, whether to join the U.S. Frankly, it feels a little on the ground as though this is Russia already. You have a Russian border between Crimea and Ukraine. You have Russian troops all over the streets. Many people on the streets say we're coming home. This is all we want, back to Mother Russia. PEREIRA: And that referendum still about five, six days a way. Diana, thank you so much for that.

Let's look at the rest of your headlines now.

Score a point for privacy advocates in the controversy over the National Security Agency's domestic spying program. The NSA was poised to destroy millions of phone records collected more than five years ago. However, a federal judge overseeing an invasion of privacy lawsuit against the agency has ordered the records be temporarily preserved.

A military sex assault trial could resume today. A brigadier general is accused of threatening a female captain and forcing her to have sex with him. But the judge thinks the top military brass interfered in the case and took plea deal option off the table because they were worried about political fallout. The military is under fire from Congress over the way it handles cases such as this. The judge gave the defendant until today to submit a plea order.

A new report out this morning says North Korea has developed, rather, sophisticated techniques United Nations sanctions, among them, using its embassies to facilitate an illegal weapons trade. The report also says North Korea uses complicated measures to make it difficult to track when it purchased sanction goods. It says also the country has shown no signs of abandoning its nuclear and ballistics programs.

Ryan Ferguson, the man that spent nearly ten years behind bars for murder he says he did not commit has filed a $100 million lawsuit against those who prosecuted him. It names 13 defendants including the city of Columbia, Missouri, its police department and prosecutor's office, claiming they violated his civil rights. Ferguson was convicted of killing a "Columbia Tribune" sports editor in 2005, but his conviction was overturned after the court ruled that evidence was withheld.

I've got to tell you this story that got out of control. A family in Oregon called 911 on their cat. That cat, 22-pound Himalayan called Lux attacked their 7-month-old son. So, they, the adult, ran in a bedroom, locked the door and called police.


CALLER: He's charging us. He's at our door, our bedroom door.

DISPATCHER: One moment, OK?

CALLER: Do you hear him? That was the cat.

DISPATCHER: Yes, I hear him. Keep the door shut, OK?]


PEREIRA: Police were able to apprehend the high strung cat that apparently spent the rest of the evening behind bars in a pet carrier. The mother admits her husband kicked the cat after it attacked their son. There's more to this story. The family says they aren't sure if they will little Lux, the cat. It looks harmless enough.

CUOMO: In America, the cat attacking a 7-month-old will lose to the fact they hear the cat was kicked.

BALDWIN: Seriously, they called police?

PEREIRA: They called police.

CUOMO: What do you do in that situation, Mick?

BALDWIN: You own a dog.


PEREIRA: I think that's the solution. And I love cats. I don't have any, but I love them. Yes. You might be a dog person.

CUOMO: Violation of man law, first of all.

PEREIRA: Kicking the cat or just calling 911.

CUOMO: Kicking the cat is not nice, but calling 911 because of a cat, violation of man law.

PEREIRA: All right.

CUOMO: Raccoon is smaller. It can't do it. Anybody knows that.

PEREIRA: Remember we add on man law now? 999?

CUOMO: It never ends.


CUOMO: It's evolving. It's evolving like the world itself.


CUOMO: This year's brutal winter has taken an expensive toll on the Great Lakes shipping industry because of frigid temperatures creating thick ice that are threatening the passages that literally blocking the ship's end. The coast guard crews are working around the clock to keep the vital channels open.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin with a look at how they do it. Ted, we heard from Indra Petersons that we're near a record over 90 percent coverage of ice on these lakes. What does it mean to everyday life there?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It means a lot of work, Chris. We're on the Mobile Bay, which is a coast guard cutter, and this is an ice breaker. The guys are getting ready to go outside right now, out on the Lake Michigan. You see Matthew in there cooking breakfast. It's a big week. This is the breakout week where, annually, coast guard cutters, the entire fleet around the Lake Michigan heads out into the ice. The problem is, this year, there is so much ice, up to four inches of ice in some areas. You can take a look at some of the chopped up ice here in Sturgeon Bay. What the cutters and the other ships in the coast guard fleet have to do is create shipping lanes for the cargo ships. Ninety million tons of cargo shipped through the Great Lakes last year.

Getting them up and running this week is imperative. There are two ships right now in Sturgeon Bay ready to leave. They can't because they are locked in. The coast guard is starting their operations today. They will move this ice out, create pass, and in some cases, create shipping areas or circular areas where these huge ships can actually turn around in small places. It is a monstrous task. They're getting ready to start it this week, because it is so imperative to get these ships moving.

CUOMO: So Ted, you remember the story about that Russian trip, the scientists. They were trying to get the ice breakers there. It was so difficult. We learned a lot about the ships that do the work, but they're not that sophisticated, these ice-breaking ships. So, what are they finding there up on the lakes? How difficult is it for the ice breakers to even make it through?

ROWLANDS: Well, it's very difficult in spots. There are areas that have been gone through over the season that are easy to breakthrough, and that -- they can just use the weight of the ship. This is a 670- ton ship, and this is one of the smaller ones in the fleet. Just the sheer weight breaks some of the ice. But when you get to areas which are four feet and more, the ship literally has to just ram the ice, go back in reverse ram it again.

At some points, they're moving one mile an hour because the ice is so thick, and that's what they're going to be up against today as they try to create the shipping lanes which gets the ships in Sturgeon Bay all the way out to Lake Michigan. It is an arduous task especially this year. It's something they look forward to every year. I don't know about this year, because it's going to be lots of work.

BALDWIN: It's a beautiful sunrise. Can we say that? Ted Rowlands, I feel like we say --

ROWLANDS: it is gorgeous.

BALDWIN: We find the most ice, the snow, the wind and we send him there. Ted Rowlands, you get the gold star for the morning for sure. Ted, thank you.

You were just talking about this Indra Petersons, right? All the ice that being a good issue.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Ted is my man for going out there and doing --

BALDWIN: Totally.

PETERSONS: -- taking one for the team today. Thank you, Ted. But yes, we're definitely seeing temperatures warming. So, it's good for a couple of days where things should improve. But unfortunately, this has been such a rough winter. This is like the tiny hint of good weather in what has been a long winter. New York City looking at 60 (ph). That's 12 degrees above normal. How about 70s out towards D.C.

Well, you're going to notice the big change, notice St. Louis, almost 80, 79 today is your high. Let's check out tomorrow. Forty degrees cooler, guys. That's the drop as the next system is making its way through. So, they're going above normal to well below normal. And unfortunately, this is the trend. Look what happens by just two days from now. D.C. Going down to 35 as your high.

New York City, say goodbye to the beautiful weather, your high only 27 two days away. It's all things. So, another system that's kind of ramping up, strengthening as it kind of builds and goes through the Ohio Valley in through the northeast. Timing of that again, kind of going through the Midwest overnight tonight, Ohio Valley, and then Wednesday night in through Thursday making its way to the northeast.

As it does, though, it's actually going to strengthen along the way. So with that, you can really see the snow totals start to pick up. Four to eight inches out towards Chicago, kind of ramping up towards Detroit then up to about a foot of snow by the time it makes its way to upstate New York and in through Maine.

So, that's what we're dealing with here in the northeast. But out west, remember how dry it's been (ph)? Of course, they got a little bit of rain, but unfortunately, Santa Ana wind that picking up again today. So, the fire danger is high as you look at those strong winds kind of building up in their region. So, no one unfortunately wins over the next several days. At least two days of nice weather.

BALDWIN: It's beautiful.

PETERSONS: We can take two.

BALDWIN: Appreciate it.

PETERSONS: You're welcome. Just for you because I knew you were coming to town.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

PETERSONS: Of course.


BALDWIN: Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, the first Congressional election of 2014 is underway in Florida right now. You've probably never heard of either candidate. So, why did both parties pour millions into this race? We will tell you and you may not like the answer.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

The 2014 midterm elections begin an earnest today. Florida voters are heading to the polls for the first Congressional election of the year. It's a special election. Up for grabs, a seat held for decades by a Republican, but this one is now a true tossup. Let's bring in CNN's Dana Bash in Tampa with the latest. Dana, good morning.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Chris. Well, this is a race to fill a Congressional seat only for eight months, but you certainly would not know it given the millions pouring in here. Both parties are using this to road test the messages for the fall.


BASH (voice-over): In this frantic neck-and-neck House special election, every vote really does count.

ALEX SINK, (D) CANDIDATE, FLORIDA'S 13TH DISTRICT: This is Alex Sink, and I'm a candidate for Congress. And I'm just calling to ask for your support.

BASH: For Democrats, an Alex Sink victory would not just mean picking up a GOP House seat, it could also give other Democrats in November's midterm election a road map to beat back attacks on Obamacare. The message, don't end it, fix it.

SINK: My position is that we can't go back to where we were before. We've got to fix what's wrong with it. And certainly, the roll out was bungled and botched up. And the administration didn't do a very good job of the roll out.

BASH: Sink talks about specific reforms like changing the requirement for businesses with 50 employees to provide health care.

SINK: That 50 employee just kind of arbitrary limit. And, I think it is a totally arbitrary number.

BASH: For Republicans, this is a 2014 message test, too, repealing Obamacare.

DAVID JOLLY, (R) CANDIDATE, FLORIDA'S 13TH DISTRICT: The voters have made Obamacare the number one issue.

BASH: So have outside groups. A whopping $11 million spent on this race, mostly from the outside, mostly on TV ads and much of it about Obamacare.

SINK: Instead of repealing the health care law, we need to keep what's right and fix what's wrong.

JOLLY: Let's replace Obamacare. It's a mess of broken promises.

BASH: Still, GOP candidate, David Jolly, argues Republicans should be for solutions, too.

JOLLY: It comes down to making sure that we are talking about how to solve some of the very specific problems that led us to Obamacare.

BASH: But this Florida special election is important beyond Obamacare, the first test of a swing district in 2014. About a third of registered voters are Democrats, a third Republicans, and nearly one-third independents and a very high percentage of seniors, even by Florida standards. It's why the Republican breaks from his party's proposed changes to their benefits.


BASH (on-camera): Now, Jolly was a Washington lobbyist. That's also something that you hear in TV ads, but he also was a long time aid to the congressman who passed away here, something he says just about at every stop. Now, Chris and Brooke, this race is truly a tossup. We're here at a polling place. We're going to watch turnout. It will determine, of course, this one single race, but as we've been saying, it is certainly not about this. It will also determine how both parties calibrate their messages for the big midterms in November.

BALDWIN: -- possibly of things to come. Dana Bash in Tampa. Dana, thank you.

Coming up next here on NEW DAY, Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius, says his girlfriend's death was a terrible mistake, that he thought she was an intruder when he shot her, but will testimony from the Olympian's own friend discredit that claim? We will take you live to South Africa.

CUOMO: And then, Justin Bieber mouthing off at a deposition. Is the pop star showing his true colors? Is this some kind of strategy? We're going to take a look.


PEREIRA: All right. Here we go. Time for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.


PEREIRA (voice-over): At number one, two passengers who used stolen passports to board that ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight 370 have been identified as Iranians with no apparent ties to terrorism.