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Where Is Flight 370?; The Mystery of the Malaysian Airlines Flight; A Blow to Democrats; Firefighters Battle Flames in San Francisco; Pistorius Murder Trial

Aired March 12, 2014 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a new search area and new confusion in the disappearance of flight 370. With this mystery getting bigger by the minute, new questions about just how this investigation is being handled. We're live.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight. A high-rise up in flames. A neighborhood evacuation as hundreds of firefighters battle that. Wow! Look at that blaze.

BERMAN: All right. New this morning, a huge blow to Democrats overnight. Republicans wining a closely watched special election one the Democrats really, really wanted. So, what does this mean for the president's future and the future of Obamacare?

ROMANS: Only 3,500 votes. Every vote counts. And that is one of the those elections that shows it.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 31 minutes past the hour right now.

ROMANS: All right. This morning, there's growing confusion over what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight 370. It has now been missing for five days with 239 people on board. No idea where this flight is. Search crews are fanning out over a wider area today after a Malaysian official told CNN radar shows the 777 was hundreds of miles off course. Others are denying that that is true, and no one seems to know what happened.

We're waiting a live update from Malaysian officials on the search. You can see the room there. There will be a press conference. We will bring you the details of that when it happens. Saima Mohsin is live in Kuala Lumpur. What's the latest now? Still no sign of this wreckage, no sign of this flight, and great confusion overnight about where it was even last recorded -- Saima.

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. A lot of confusion at out our end because there's a lot of confusion coming out from the officials that are monitoring this situation. A massive search and rescue operation, as you know, has been carried out, expanded every day as every day goes on. Instead of narrowing it down to a specific carrier where they believe this plane could possibly have headed to, they're now expanding their operation.

And as you say, this press conference about get under way, in fact, just walking past me right now is the head of the Civil Aviation Authority here in Malaysia. We're expecting him to speak any moment here as well. We're waiting to hear from the defense ministry, too, as to what exactly happened to flight MH-370. And as you say, not a lot of clarity. We're getting information, perhaps, a day or two after we believe that it's been confirmed.

First, we had a lot of confusion over these stolen passports. Who were these people? What were they doing on board? There were fears link to terrorism. And then, of course, we then heard that, in fact, they were not connected to that in any kind of way. And by the way, that frustration now brimming over into those people, the loved ones, the relatives of those people on board who are still missing five days on.

I went and spoke to some of their family members today. A young man whose brothers, two of them, his elder brother and younger brother on board that plane. He spoke of their sadness, their deep sadness and their young children, 10 years old, four years old, one-year-old, asking where's daddy? When are they going to come home?

One of their wives was there as well, too distraught to talk, too distraught to speak. She was in tears. Back to you.

ROMANS: And they have no clues yet about where that plane went and what happened to their loved ones. Saima, thank you so much.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting. We keep showing that map with that left turn, the flight taking the left turn over the peninsula there. That is in dispute. Right now, there are military officials saying it did take that turn. It gone back on that. They denied it. The Vietnamese and Malaysians seem to be uncertain now whether it did make that turn, and that is the big question this morning. We'll check in with that news conference to see if they shed any light on that key, key issue.

All right. This morning now in Washington, safe to say it is in an uproar over allegations that the CIA spied on Senate staffers and even took documents off their computers.

Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Diane Feinstein, making that claim on the Senate floor. She said CIA spies went to those computers without authorizations as the staffers worked on a report about the agency's controversial prisoner interrogation programs.


SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: I have grave concerns that the CIA's search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States constitution.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: Nothing could be further from the truth. When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.


BERMAN: Senator Lindsey Graham says if it is proven that the CIA has interfered with Congressional investigation, he said someone should flat out go to jail.

ROMANS: On Capitol Hill today, Senators will hear from the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, who's likely to have to answer some questions about what the U.S. will do if Afghanistan does not sign off on an agreement to keep U.S. troops in that country after the end of the year.

Also today, Canada marks the end of its mission in Afghanistan with a formal flag lowering in Kabul. The last 100 Canadian troops there are expected to be out by the end of this week.

BERMAN: Very important visit at the White House today where President Obama will welcome Ukraine's new prime minister for talks over the diplomatic crisis in Crimea. The meeting comes days before a referendum over whether Crimea will secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Right now, European and U.S. officials are working at a series of sanctions against Russian officials for after that vote.

ROMANS: New this morning, President Obama's job approval hitting a new all-time low. An NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll says now just 41 percent of Americans approve the job the president is doing. That's the lowest it's been since the president took office. It could have an effect on the upcoming midterm elections. Forty-eight percent of voters say they're now likely or less likely to cast their ballot for a candidate who backs the president.

BERMAN: One sign that, perhaps, back this up. A closely watch Congressional special election in Florida has gone for the Republicans. Voters in the Clearwater area choosing David Jolly to finish off the late term of Congressman Bill Young. This was a close race, the margin about two percent. Only 3,500 votes. You know, turnout not terribly high in the special election. Some were painting this race as a rejection of the president and Obamacare.

That was the key issue in so many ads. Also, democrats really wanted this race. This was a district that voted for President Obama. It would have been a key switch to the Democratic column and presents a lot of problems for them heading into the 2014 elections.

As for the health care overhaul Obamacare, more people did sign up for coverage in February, but not enough, it seems, to meet the government's goals. The administration says enrollment through February is now nearly four and a quarter million people. About a quarter of the signups are young adults.

The trend is pointing upwards but doesn't seem like it is pointing upwards fast enough to reach the seven million people the government initially wanted to have signed up by the end of March. ROMANS: All right. Stocks are lower in Asia and Europe. U.S. futures, I mean, they're trying to hold steady here this morning. Big losses in Japan and Hong Kong. Fears that China's economy slowing down has led to worldwide selling all week. Stocks in Europe also lower. The Dow down more than 100 points this week, this, after two consecutive weeks of gains.

We saw more than two percent gain for the Dow in those two weeks. And back-to-back record highs for the S&P 500.

Target, target seeing a drop in customer traffic following the huge security breach at the end of last year. Customer traffic at Target is at its lowest point in three years, both in stores and online. Thirty-three percent of U.S. households shopped in Target at January compared with 43 percent in January of last year. That's according to the consulting group, Cantar Retailer. It shows you the effect of that huge security breach.

BERMAN: All right. We do have breaking news right now -- Malaysian officials are conducting their latest briefing on flight 370. The key questions, where was the last place they saw this plane, where did they get signals, and where are they now searching. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- MH-370. Twelve countries have joined the search with India, Japan, and Brunei being the latest to join the team. This is a multinational operation. We are thankful to the cooperation of our friends and neighbors with its unwavering, quite overwhelming. And we welcome even more expert assistance. The way forward, ladies and gentlemen is to bring more experts to analyze both the civilian and the military data in the east or in the west, and then, all in the water.

And this is exactly what we are doing today. We are now working with many experts, including from Boeing, the U.S. federal Aviation Authorities and the U.S. National Transport Safety Board. Any questions?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot confirm that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the new template where I will attend on a daily basis.


BERMAN: OK. We've been listening to press conference in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian officials are talking about the search for flight 370. At this point, not shedding a whole lot of light on information about when they may have last received contact from that flight. It's now in dispute that it happened at about 1:30 a.m. that morning or 2:40 a.m. as officials reporting. We're going to keep listening to this. We will tell you if there are any developments.

ROMANS: Reporters are asking different questions. We're going to monitor that and let you know just what new details are revealed at this press conference. All right. We're going to be right back after this quick break.


BERMAN: All right. In South Africa today, more drama at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. The actual door that he shot through killing his girlfriend, it was set up in the courtroom. You're looking at it right there. A forensic scientist took a swing at it with that cricket bat, that, just after a friend of the Blade Runner was on the stand testifying against Pistorius. Robyn Curnow live in Pretoria with the latest on the trial and the dramatic day -- Robyn.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there. Well, this has been some of the most compelling physical evidence we've seen in these past eight days. That door essentially through which Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp also assimilates the scene behind which is the exact mirror image of the bathroom and (INAUDIBLE) had that cricket bat. And then, we've seen the state trying to establish the angle by which the cricket bat hit the door.

And what we're also seeing is the state trying to prove or at the beginning of trying to prove that Oscar Pistorius had his prosthetic legs off. That he was on his stumps when he was trying to hit this bat against the door. And, of course, this goes against his statement, his affidavit during that bail hearing that he had his legs on.

So, what we're seeing is the beginnings of an understanding of what the state's narrative is going to be around all of this physical evidence, of course, remember, this forensic expert hasn't yet been cross-examined. And, of course, Pistorius' own legal team will interpret the same physical evidence perhaps under a different framework and a different way. So, this is very much the beginning of a long process.

But, for everybody in court, and of course, for the judge, this is the first time they're seeing the door and the cricket bat.

BERMAN: Playing out the forensic case here will be key. Robyn Curnow in Pretoria for us, thank so much.

ROMANS: And again, this news conference going on right now in Kuala Lumpur with the latest details of that missing Malaysia Airlines flight. The search continuing in the Strait of Malacca and in the South China Sea as 42 ships, 39 aircraft, 12 countries, 27,000 nautical square miles. Just a huge effort. We're monitoring those details of that press conference for you.

BERMAN: OK. And let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". Chris Cuomo with us now. Hey, chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Hey, how are you doing, guys? We're checking out the press conference. So far, it's just a rehashing of what they seem to know. The problem is that's far less than what they don't know. I don't know about you, but this is a very difficult story to follow. There's conflicting information and there's scenarios that just don't make sense. The mystery just seems to continue to deepen.

So, we're going to try to suss through what is known, what is unknown, and what is fueling the speculation right now because of these latest conflicting reports that the flight was hundreds of miles away. Hundreds of miles. What does that mean? That means time? That means intention? What does the flight path tell us?

Then, we have Malaysian officials who are denying that and yet expanding the search area to the region that is now theorized to be where it could be in this Strait of Malacca which sounds exotic, but it happens to be probably the most traveled shipping route in that part of the world if not the entire world. So, we're going to bring in people who have investigated these types of situations before to try to make some sense of what's going on because this is really getting into the land of the bizarre.

We also have Congressman Mike Rogers here. This is important. Senator Dianne Feinstein says "I believe the CIA has been spying on my subcommittee that is investigating the CIA." This is a huge allegation. It has constitutional implications. What is the basis? Does Mike Rogers, Republican important on the intelligence committee, does he believe it? If so, what would they have to do to the CIA? This is rare we've ever heard any kind of conversation like this, John and Christine.

So, we're going to have Congressman Rogers on the show which is very important. We're going to test the ideas about what the senator is saying, what the response would be, the same for the Ukraine as well. For Ukraine, because Mike Rogers very big with intelligence there. We're going to talk to him about the passports that were used on this Malaysian flight as well. Again, another intelligence issue. So, we'll try to home pack as much as we can.

BERMAN: It's rare with the Senate and CIA. It's virtually unprecedented.

CUOMO: Right.

BERMAN: It raises so many concerns, as you said, of the constitutional variety. All right, Chris.

ROMANS: Thanks, Chris.

BERMAN: Can't wait to see that show.

We have some breaking news overnight. Hundreds evacuated when a high- rise goes up in flames. Dramatic video of this intense fire. That's coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: In San Francisco, this morning, firefighters say they finally have the upper hand on this huge blaze. A blaze that destroyed a construction site where an apartment complex was being built. The fire erupted Tuesday afternoon, flames climbing 40 feet into the air. Massive plume of black smoke visible all across the bay area. And hundreds in nearby buildings were evacuated. Only one injury to a firefighter has so far been reported.

BERMAN: Big medical news. New device to prevent migraines is now legal in the United States. The FDA has given its OK to sipoli or Cefaly device, a battery-powered head band that sits across the forehead and puts out an electronic current. The current stimulates nerves associated with migraines and its makers say that helps prevent them from happening. This device doesn't eliminate migraines, though.

The study showed those who used it did experience fewer of those intense debilitating headaches. For people who suffer from them, as you know, this could be huge.

ROMANS: And, for people who really suffer from chronic migraines, they will try anything to try to prevent them.

All right. Here is the mystery, how does a huge jumbo jet disappear with hundreds on board? I talked to one of the world's most outspoken airline owners about it just what happens when a plane disappears. What he had to say in "Money Time" next.


ROMANS: Good morning! Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time."

Tough going overseas. Futures, stock futures are lower here. European stock markets lower. Asian stock markets steep losses today. There are still worries about a slowdown in China's economy.

Boeing stock has been down sharply in the five days since the Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared. Boeing made the missing plane. It's 777. It is considered to be one of the safest planes out there. Still, when a plane simply disappears, investors worry. I spoke with airline titan, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin about the missing Malaysia Airline plane. I asked him how a plane carrying nearly 250 people can simply vanish.


RICHARD BRANSON, CEO, VIRGIN: Obviously, you know, there was some kind of catastrophically failure, I believe. And you know, I'm hopeful they'll find out what it was. And every time that something like this happens, on the rare occasions it happens, you know, airlines and the industry learn from it to make sure it doesn't happen again. And, you know, it's very rare that the same thing happens twice.


ROMANS: We also talked about climate change. He was applauding, applauding, frankly, the climate change Senate Democrats and their big --

BERMAN: Can I say something?


BERMAN: I think he sounded a little nervous there. Not because -- you know, the unknown makes him nervous. As an airline executive not being able to explain something like this is very difficult because it does make people jittery. And he doesn't want people to be jittery.

ROMANS: He also doesn't want to speculate. He wants to find out what happened to that aircraft.

Anyway, also looking at this today, new information today that President Obama is about to force businesses to expand overtime pay for millions of Americans. "The New York Times" reporting an executive order could come tomorrow, it would apply to overtime for everyone from fast food workers to professional employees. And as you know, the president has been using executive order to try to move through some job initiatives. This looks like it's one of them.

BERMAN: This this is like low-level -- or managers who manage a few people but also do a lot of the work. You know, you supervise five broom sweepers and also sweep 50 percent or 90% at the time, the president says he wants you to get overtime pay, too. It will be controversial.

Thanks for watching, everyone. "NEW DAY" starts right now.