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Australian Prime Minister Backs Away From Promising Lead Comment; Former Opponents In Independence Square Train Alongside Each Other As Ukrainian National Guard; U.S., EU Announce New Round of Sanctions; Venezuelan Government Targets Opposition Leader Maria Machado
Aired March 21, 2014 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.
Now almost two weeks and still no answers. We'll have the latest on the desperate search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
And Russia signs on the dotted line to annex Crimea, ignoring new sanctions by the west.
And Turkey's prime minister acts on his promise to wipe out Twitter.
The air and sea search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 has wound up for the day. There has been no sign of the suspect object spotted on Australian satellite radar in the remote Indian Ocean.
Now the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says planes and ships did not find anything of any note in the search area on Friday.
Now Malaysia has asked for more resources to help with the search, specifically locators which can detect pings from the flight data recorder and deep sea salvage equipment.
Now at the daily update on the search, Malaysian authorities said that Kazakhstan has found no sign of the missing plane after checking its territory on the so-called northern corridor. Now they also said according to Ukrainian police, background checks on Ukrainian passengers came out clear.
Now anxious families of the people on board that missing flight, they are clinging to every word in those daily briefings in Malaysia, but nearly two weeks into the search, they were told to be prepared for an even longer wait.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HISHAMMUDDIN BIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN ACTING TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: The one question that they really want to know is the answer to which we do not have, which is where are our loved ones and where is the airplane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: Now passengers' families have been anxiously awaiting any news. Many have complained about what they say has been a lack of information from Malaysian authorities. And today, for the first time. Some of them in Beijing were able to put direct questions to high level officials who flew in from Kuala Lumpur. Now Pauline Chiou joins me live from Beijing. And Pauline, tell us more about what happened during that meeting.
PAULINE CHIOU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, it was a very intense three-and-a-half hour session of questions and answers, questions by the Chinese families who have been here in Beijing for 14 days waiting to meet these high level officials, this high level delegation from Malaysia from the government as well as the airline.
Now it was a very intense atmosphere in this ballroom. There are about 400 to 500 relatives. They were very focused. They asked very technical questions, very pointed questions, questions like what did you know, when did you know it, did you share it with other countries early on?
One woman stood up and said, "don't underestimate other country's search and rescue capabilities." She was referring to her hope that Malaysia had indeed shared all the necessary information from day one.
Now another man stood up and asked about a theory. He said is it possible that a country's military may have shot down this plane? And he directed that towards the military officials there. And the Royal Air Force official who was present was very careful in the way he answered that question. He said, based on the data and radar at this point in time a shooting by military is not highly possible.
So, Kristie, these are the very technical, very specific questions these relatives are asking these high level officials.
And finally for the very time after 14 days they're getting to meet face-to-face with them to ask them these questions for the answers they deserve.
LU STOUT: Yeah, finally they got that high level meeting that they have been asking for.
Now the hunt goes on for the plane with the focus on the South Indian Ocean. No debris spotted today. But still, 14 days out, how much hope do families still hold about the search and getting answers?
CHIOU: You know, Kristie, I would say after talking to some of these families and just looking at their facial expressions and reading their body language, I would say a good portion is getting ready for bad news. But then there's a small group of families that really are eternal optimists. And they are asking questions that -- hoping for answers that give them some sort of more optimism.
For example, one man in this briefing today, he asked about that debris from Australia. And then he also said I've heard that there are two uninhabited islands near this search area. Is that possible? And if these islands exist, will you go to that area and search?
And the answer was of course first the military has to confirm that the debris was indeed from the plane.
But I think the fact that there are relatives still asking questions like this. Are there two islands in the middle of this part of this remote area of the Indian Ocean, just indicates how they are just grasping and trying to hang on to any piece of hopeful information because they really are -- really are hoping for some sort of miracle.
LU STOUT: You know, later on in the hour, Pauline, we'll be bringing up our Mari Ramos. And she'll be zooming in very closely on the map where those objects appeared via radar, via satellite, and she'll be answering some of those questions about whether these uninhabited islands do exist out there.
Pauline Chiou, thank you so much for your sensitive reporting on the strength and resilience of these families there in Beijing waiting for answers.
Pauline, thank you.
Now since the jet disappeared again nearly two weeks ago, many have wondered how is it possible for a commercial plane to simply vanish in this day and age? But now that's happened. And there's talk about improving tracking mechanisms for commercial aircraft.
As Athena Jones reports, better technology is indeed out there and it is being used.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The future of tracking flights could already be here. This is Boeing Corporation's 787 command center near Seattle where technicians track Airborne 787s in real time, mapping their location and monitoring maintenance and technical issues on screens throughout the center as they happen. If a plane has a tire pressure problem flying over the Atlantic, they'll know.
MARK SINNETT, BOEING: In fact, it's a little more extensive than that because there are several of us that get the messages to our Blackberrys and so, where ever we are, whether we're in the room or we are off on a picnic somewhere, we'll find out about it immediately.
JONES: But command centers this sophisticated don't exist for 777s and other smaller and older aircraft and tracking every plane flying at any given time this closely would be a massive undertaking and of course, the systems have to be turned on to work. That's one of the biggest problems in this search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. The plane's transponder and the ACAR system that sends back data about the plane's health were apparently switched off.
WALLACE: It wouldn't surprise me that in the aftermath of this investigation, a safety recommendation comes typically from the National Transportation Safety Board certainly in this country, say you just have to put on a tracking system in every airliner that cannot be disabled.
JONES: Another piece of technology that could be due for an upgrade, flight data recorders. Their batteries are only required to last 30 days and what's more the signals they send have a range of only about two miles, making them difficult to find unless search teams are close by and lucky.
Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.
LU STOUT: Now let's cross live to CNN's Andrew Stevens for the latest on the search and the hunt for debris, these possible objects in the south Indian Ocean that could be from the missing plane. Now he joins me live from Perth, Australia. And Andrew again today no debris has been found in that region. Could you tell us why it is just so difficult to reach and to find these possible objects?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the fundamental reason, Kristie, is the sheer size of that search area and the remoteness means that the search aircraft only get two hours on station once they've flown there. It takes four hours just to fly there.
Also, commercial vessels and naval vessels, it does take time to get there.
The Naval side of this is ramping up. There are going to be warships in that area in the next 24 hours, which is going to be critical for combing the area. And finding -- not only finding any objects, but actually identifying them and seeing if they are actually linked to MH 370.
But very frustrating today -- day today.
Think back 24 hours after Tony Abbott had said that there was credible new information. There was a real buzz where I was here as the media assembled thinking this was going to be a breakthrough, Kristie, that finally we had direction and there was purpose in that search.
24 hours later, we've had multiple flights in and over that zone and nothing. The pilots today worryingly saying that visibility was very, very good, but they still didn't see anything.
And Tony Abbott was talking again, the Australian Prime Minister was talking again today. And he was backtracking somewhat and he gave a little clue to reporters about why he decided to say what he did about this credible information yesterday.
This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We've been trying everything we've got at that area to try to learn more about what this debris might be. Now it could just be a container that's fallen off a ship. We just don't know. But we owe it to the families and the friends and the loved ones of the almost 240 people on flight MH370 to do everything we can to try to resolve that is at yet an extraordinary riddle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: All right. And that was Tony Abbott speaking then. Andrew Stevens was reporting live. It was very interesting and disheartening to hear that sound bite, that quotation from the leader of Australia dialing back his confidence in what was called the best lead so far, that credible evidence that was released just yesterday.
Now Russia, the annexation of Crimea, it's signed and sealed as far as Moscow is concerned. So what comes next? We'll be taking a look at how Russia's decision will affect Ukraine.
Now also ahead, weeks of protest in Venezuela, they have turned violent. And the government is pinning the blame squarely on one woman. We'll tell you who she is and why she's being targeted.
Turkey's prime minister is vowing to wipe out Twitter. But the social networking site is stepping in to help its users there. We'll explain in a live report.
LU STOUT: Now Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an accession treaty into law, officially bringing Crimea into the Russian Federation. That after the upper house of parliament gave its final stamp of approval. Also today, leaders in the European Union signed the political provisions of an association agreement with Ukraine. This is the very same trade pack that the country's former president rejected, which sparked widespread protests in Ukraine and eventually lead to his ousting.
Now the signing of the pact today is a strong show of solidarity with Ukraine following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Now let's get the view from Moscow now. Fred Pleitgen is there, joins me live.
And Fred, first, after getting hit with those sanctions, especially those very tough sanctions from the U.S., how is Moscow responding today?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly seem to be a lot more bitter than they were after the first round of sanctions, which happened last Monday, which were quite weak. The news sanctions by the U.S. and also by the European Union that have just come out are really hitting a lot closer to Vladimir Putin and his inner circle. And therefore there are some very sour reactions. There's the spokesperson for Vladimir Putin who said that Russia would respond in kind with mirror sanctions. So far we see no indication of that. And strangely enough, Vladimir Putin earlier today said that there would be no retaliation against the U.S. or Ukraine at this point in time.
There are some people who went to Twitter who basically laughed off these sanctions who said that they mean absolutely nothing. However, there are some customers of that one Russian bank that's on the U.S. sanctions list who said that they have trouble paying for things abroad with Visa and Master Card.
So certainly people are already feeling the pinch of these sanctions. And right now it seems as though there is a lot of uncertainty here in Moscow, especially if you speak to the business elites, a lot of them are waiting to see what goes forward. Certainly it's not a very good state that the Moscow business elites are in.
So it is a little bit more sour, but at the same time it's not something, Kristie, that has caused them to in any way back off their stance. As you said just a couple of minutes ago, Vladimir Putin signed into permanent law that treaty simply annexing Crimea, Kristie.
LU STOUT: People are feeling the pinch, as you say there in Russia as a result of these new sanctions. These sanctions are indeed punishing. Will they deter Russia from making any more moves, taking any more action in Ukraine?
PLEITGEN: Well, that's the very big question. Certainly so far they haven't deterred Russia in any way shape or form away from its Crimea policy. And it doesn't look like that's actually something that they're set to do. They are punitive sanctions, if you will, for Russia has already done in Crimea.
They are not backing off. In fact, what we're seeing on the ground is that the Russian forces there are consolidating their grip on the area. Vladimir Putin aside from signing that treaty today also announced the presidential envoy to the Crimea region.
The big question is what's going to happen in eastern Ukraine. And as you've noted, President Barack Obama said there will be very, very tough sanctions. If Russia decides to move into Eastern Ukraine, not only targeting individuals but whole sectors of the Russian economy, that's something that would be very detrimental not just to Russia, but also to Europe, but certainly would hit Russia a lot harder.
And so, therefore, we're waiting to see what will happen there. The Russian head of the military, the secretary of defense of Russia had a phone call with Chuck Hagel, the secretary of defense of the United States and assured him that Russian forces were not poised to move into eastern Ukraine, that there were no plans.
But certainly the Ukrainians still do believe that that is very much a threat that is out there. And certainly the west doesn't seem to trust the Russians on not doing that, otherwise that specter of the tougher sanctions wouldn't be out there, Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Fred Pleitgen reporting live from Moscow, thank you.
So, now that the deal is effectively done and Russia has signed the legislation to bring Crimea into its territory. What happens next, authorities in Moscow and Crimea are wasting no time in putting the new agreement into practice.
Let's take a look at just some of the changes in store for the region.
Now starting March 30, Crimea to move to Moscow's time zone. In April, Russia's currency, the ruble, will become the main currency in Crimea. Drivers will have to swap the Ukrainian driving licenses for Russian ones. And Ukraine's country code for phone numbers will soon be replaced by the Russian country code.
The secession will also mean an overhaul of public services and utilities which are currently run by Ukraine and will now need to be transferred to Russia.
Now the Turkish prime minister said he would do it, the courts have ordered it. And now the international community is criticizing Turkey for going ahead and blocking Twitter.
LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.
Now, over to Turkey where the government is blocking Twitter. On Thursday, the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would ban the social media site claiming that it did not comply with court orders to take down certain links.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY (through translator): Can you imagine there are international conspiracies? Twitter (inaudible), we have a court order now. We will wipe out all of these. The international community can say this, can say that, I don't care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: But the move, it backfired for Prime Minister Erdogan, Twitter showed its muscle. It posted this, reminding users they can still tweet via text message. Now many users, they also found other ways to get around the block, including the Turkish president Abdullah Gul, who himself tweeted earlier today.
Now Andrew Finkel, a journalist in Istanbul posted that the block feels like a coup. And then, within hours, hashtags like #twitterisblockedinturkey surged to the top of the sites worldwide trends list.
Now the ban, it comes as corruption scandals leaked on social media, continued to plague Erdogan's government and his family. It also comes less than two weeks before a critical election.
Now let's bring in journalist Cuneyt Ozdemir who joins me live from Istanbul. NAME thank you so much for joining me here. What is the real reason behind this? Why has Erdogan vowed to eradicate Twitter?
CUNEYT OZDEMIR, CNN TURKEY ANCHOR: I think first and first I have to tell the situation of social media in Turkey. It's different than lots of countries all around the world, because of the pressure of government to the mainstream media, lots of people are starting using Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to communicate each other to give commands and to get some knowledge from everywhere in the world, including Turkey.
Now we have elections in 10 days, in local elections. And there was a correction tapes were being -- have been broadcast and started broadcast in Twitter. So it was a surprise for ministry, for prime minister and his cabinet.
So they are not happy with these tapes, because lots of scandals are inside -- in this telephone talks. As you mentioned on your news, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said that they will -- it will even close the Twitter.
Twitter is a symbol for Turkey after the Gezi protest, which is backside of me, the Gezi Park protest in the early -- last year, early June. Twitter turns to a symbol of free speech and freedom. Maybe this is one of the reasons, but the main reason is the tapes, which are leaked in the Twitter.
LU STOUT: Thanks for that context there. We know that Erdogan, he is under pressure politically, perhaps in his mind he sees Twitter, as you put it, the symbol of free speech. He is attacking that symbol.
Will other social media platforms be targeted as well -- YouTube, Facebook?
OZDEMIR: Not yet. But YouTube were also closed for a few years in Turkey, maybe because of this lots of Turkish people, including Prime Minister, president they know how to -- how to bypass these kind of bans. So as you mentioned, prime minister closed the Twitter, but the president today he's probably he changed the DNS and he tweets from Turkey. And he says that I hope it will be as soon as it will be open.
But, lots of people, thousands of our people are now they are using DNS. They are changing their DNS numbers and they are using VPNs and different ways and they are inside -- they are using Twitter maybe more active than yesterday.
LU STOUT: Now, Prime Minister Erdogan, he's trying to shore up his political authority and his clout, especially ahead of this election coming up in 10 days. Do you think this Twitter blackout has backfired on him?
OZDEMIR: Yes, probably, because now as you see all the world is talking about this Twitter ban. And even Turkey -- you know lots of people on Twitter now, they are making jokes about this because they are using Twitter and it's not a -- in this -- in this age, it's not easy to ban -- ban a social media, even its Twitter or Facebook or YouTube.
I don't know what will happen next, because nobody knows what will happen next. Why instead of Facebook, YouTube, the Twitter closed first. As I mentioned, it's a symbol of the social media now. All 10 millions users in Turkey, they are using Twitter. So maybe it might be a first step. We hope it's not the first step, we hope it will be open as soon as possible.
LU STOUT: All right, Cuneyt, thank you so much for joining me and sharing your perspective on the story. Cuneyt Ozdemir joining me live. A journalist based in Istanbul, also affiliated to CNN. He's with CNN Turk. Thank you. Take care.
Now, a deadline has been set by students occupying Taiwan's legislator in protest. It's passed without a response from the government. Hundreds of students have been barricaded inside the parliament for the last four days. They're calling on the government of President Ma Ying-jeou to scrap a controversial trade agreement with China that was signed last year. They say that the deal is harmful to Taiwan's economy and it gives China too much leverage.
Now weeks of violent clashes in Venezuela between opposition demonstrators and government forces have left at least 31 people dead and more than 400 people injured. And now the government is going after the face of the opposition, Maria Corina Machado. Rafael Romo has her story.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A fiery speaker that has galvanized the Venezuelan opposition. Opposition lawmaker Maria Corina Machado says the government of Nicolas Maduro has Venezuela in ruins while the president accuses her of being an undemocratic leader, bent on inciting violence and promoting a coup.
MARIA CORINA MACHADO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION LEADER: How do you call a regime that persecutes and has repression that tortures students and the censorship the press, how is that regime called? It's a dictatorship.
ROMO: The 46-year-old lawmaker has countless followers throughout Venezuela.
People say they're tired of the government of President Nicolas Maduro. In fact, they're blaming him personally for the insecurity, shortages, blackouts and other problems that Venezuela is currently experiencing.
Machado denounced the arrest of former presidential candidate Leopoldo Lopez last month. And now she's the one being targeted by the Venezuelan government and accused of inciting violent anti-government protests that have left more than 30 people dead in just over a month.
The national assembly is seeking to strip Machado of her parliamentary immunity and charge her with multiple crimes.
DIOSDADO CABELLO, VENEZUELAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT (through translator): Inciting crime, treason against the motherland, terrorism, murder and calling for violence in an irresponsible way.
ROMO: Are you afraid that you're going to be targeted by the government and end up in jail?
MACHADO: What I'm afraid is that our country is to keep on going through this way of destruction, of fears, of blood, of violence that this regime has brought.
ROMO: Government loyalists say it is Machado who is an enemy of democracy. They point to the fact that she signed a document in support of Pedro Carmona, a businessman who took power during a coup that briefly ousted Hugo Chavez from the presidency in 2002.
They're also highly critical of Machado's close ties to Washington. She received more than $100,000 from the U.S. government in 2005 for her political action committee and $31,000 the year before from the National Endowment for Democracy.
TANIA DIAZ, VENEZUELAN LAWMAKER (through translator): It's not about fighting against shortages, no sir. It's not even about getting the president to resign. What she's looking for is civil war.
ROMO: Machado remains unfazed by the threats, convinced, she says, that what she's fighting for is bigger than herself and the opposition she's leading.
Rafael Romo, CNN, Caracas.
LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And after the break, the ongoing search for flight MH370, we'll tell you more about the satellite images that refocused efforts on the Indian Ocean.
Also ahead, we'll have more on the tense situation in Ukraine and how Russia is dealing with sanctions it faces from the west.
LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And we'll focus on the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in just a minute, but let's take a look at the other stories making headlines.
Now Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an accession treaty into law, officially bringing Crimea into the Russian Federation, that's after the upper house of parliament gave its final stamp of approval.
Also today, leaders in the European Union signed a pact with Ukraine. It is the association agreement that the former Ukrainian president turned down eventually leading to his ouster.
Now Thailand's constitutional court has ruled that last month's general election was invalid. And the court says that the vote did not happen in all constituencies on the same day as it should have. Now nationwide protests in Thailand disrupted the elections.
The first ladies of the U.S. and China are spending the day together. Michelle Obama arrived in Beijing on Thursday. Her mother and both daughters are traveling with her. Now she plans to talk about the importance of education and youth empowerment and to avoid politics.
The founder of a controversial religious congregation in the U.S. has died at the age of 84. Now Fred Phelps started in the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas back in 1955. He and other church members became notorious for their anti-gay protests at public events including funerals for Americans killed in combat.
Now it has been almost two weeks now since Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 vanished on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Investigators, they still don't know where it is. Nothing was found in Friday's air and sea search of an area of the Indian Ocean where the satellite spotted objects that could be the plane's debris.
Now Malaysia has asked for more resources to help with the search, including remotely operated submersibles and locators that can detect pings from a flight data recorder.
Now the so-called northern corridor, that is still an active search area. But Kazakhstan has told Malaysia that no trace of the plane has been found in its territory.
Now for an update of the investigation, let's go straight to Jim Clancy. He joins me live in Kuala Lumpur. And Jim, I was watching that news conference earlier today there in KL. I really got the sense of desperation and frustration, especially among the press corps. I mean, 14 days out, still no answers.
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Noticeably fewer journalists in the media center today than in past days. I don't know if people are giving up. I think people are exhausted. They've been on this story and trying to cover it. Exhausted, too, no doubt, Malaysian officials.
Everyone thought by now they would have heard something. There would be some shred of evidence that they would have that would somehow explain the disappearance of flight 370.
You know, as we look at this situation now, it's gone on for so long and so many people have given so much, the families have suffered through so much, they're deserving of answers but there are none.
Take a look.
CLANCY: Many Malaysians mark day 14 as they would any other Friday, but no one failed to note the need for a miracle to solve the mystery of flight 370.
HUSSEIN: The Malaysians actually are united in praying that we just recover and find the plane. And it's not just Malaysia, I'm getting the support and prayers from so many people around the world. I think that is something that gives me strength to continue and persevere.
CLANCY: As search planes concentrated their focus on the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean, this drama is staggering into a sea of doubt.
TIMOTHY TAYLOR, UNDERWATER SEARCH EXPERT: This is a clock ticking. And as Bobby said, the AVs can go down and scan with sonar, but first I think more importantly what they will do if they find debris in the next day or so they will be looking for the signature of the beacon on the plane. It'll have a beacon that lasts -- they say 30 days, maybe 35 if the batteries are good.
CLANCY: If they can locate debris, if the batteries are good, if -- if only we knew the answers to all our questions. Was it a terrible mechanical failure that sent the plane wildly off its flight path? Did the pilots or crew deliberately steer the plane to some other destination? Were there unknown hijackers among the passengers on board flight 370?
All those questions unanswered, a new total absence of evidence. 14 days later all we really know is that Malaysian airlines Flight 370 with 239 people aboard vanished at cruising altitude on a calm moonless night.
CLANCY: Kristie, as you well know everybody has their theories of what happened to this flight. There's no sense in speculating. 14 days in, they're having to go back and rethink whatever theory anyone had, there's no evidence to support it. And that's precisely what I'm told by someone close to the investigation they're doing it.
They're doing -- they're going back over everything and trying to recheck data, trying to determine how will we figure out where this plane is?
Because it's only when they know what they can answer how?
LU STOUT: That's right. I mean, 14 days our we can only report on what we know. What we know today, no trace of this missing plane.
Jim Clancy joining me live from KL. Thank you so much for that.
Now the satellite images that prompted the current search, they were actually taken on Sunday by an American company. And authorities say the task of analyzing them, it's extremely complex and it's required going through them frame by frame by frame.
Now Brian Todd tells us more about how the satellites were able to capture these images.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Credible sightings, Australian officials call them, two large objects, captured on satellite photos, one about 79 feet long, the other about 16 feet.
JOHN YOUNG, AUSTRALIAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY: We need to get there, find them, see them, assess them to know whether it's really meaningful or not.
TODD: What gave the Australians confidence to say these two blurry objects may be parts of the plane? These images come from a Colorado based company called Digital Globe. Imagery analyst Tim Brown says Digital Globe satellites fly at four miles a second in a polar orbit, snapping huge swaths of pictures at a time.
(On camera): How would the searchers have taken these satellite images and determined that this was debris?
TIM BROWN, IMAGERY ANALYST, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: What they're looking for are bright objects against the dark sea and sometimes you use a change detection software to do that, other times, they have the human eyeballs and in the case of the Australians they have lots and lots of eyeballs.
TODD (voice-over): Google Earth satellites can zoom down and capture very detailed pictures, like these of planes at Reagan National Airport with publicly available technology. But these satellite pictures of the objects in question are fuzzy. Brown says Australian intelligence officials likely saw higher-resolution versions than the ones released to the public.
BROWN: And that's because they just don't want to share that information with potential adversaries, for example.
TODD: Why did it take four days for the pictures to go public? Brown says Digital Globe would have had to first download them to ground stations then send them by a satellite to their Colorado labs, process them in different formats, then send them to the Australians who would examine them frame by frame, pixel by pixel.
(On camera): If the currents are strong, and the ocean is choppy, how do you distinguish between white caps and a crucial piece of debris?
BROWN: If you have a white cap like that it's much more difficult to identify a piece of degree. And so it would require just more attention and a lot more eyeballs to make those distinctions.
TODD (voice-over): And now what's making the search difficult is that the water has been really choppy. After the pictures were taken released there was low visibility and rough seas in that same area.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
LU STOUT: Now let's focus more on the challenging conditions in the search area -- the bad weather, the poor visibility and what we heard just then from Brian Todd, the churning open sea. Let's get more now with Mari Ramos. She joins me from the World Weather Center -- Mari.
MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, such a huge area. Just the expanse alone is a challenge, because what we're dealing with is such a widespread area.
And before we focus on that area to the south, I want to remind you guys that one of the things that they said in the -- authorities said in press conference earlier was that they are still looking in areas to the north. So I want to talk to you about the north just for a moment. This area over here across southeast Asia compared to when the plane first went missing almost two weeks ago has rain now. Back then it was nice and dry, now we're getting -- starting to see the rainy season kicking in. So scattered rain showers are in the area.
And in areas farther to the north the weather gets even more complicated as we start spring. There are still some winter storms that move through this region so that always complicates, of course, any kind of search or rescue or anything that you might be doing because the winter storms here are so unforgiving and so is the terrain.
But let's go ahead and head south, because of course that's where this focus has been. This area, 2,500 kilometers away from Perth as you can see here, about the same distance that it is from Antarctica, by the way. And one of the most remote places on Earth.
This is the area that we're talking about. The water temperature 12 to 15 degrees Celsius.
This was a lot warmer than I expected actually when we started doing this research. A person could survive in temperature like this probably one to six hours if they are submerged in the water. So that's something very, very important also to keep in mind.
Another thing is, the ocean depth two to three kilometers, this is something that keeps coming up, of course. And then of course the terrain of the ocean underneath also a big challenge in that area.
So, let's talk a little bit about the weather situation. Here, big picture, you can see one front that's moving in, another one that's starting to approach. As we move into this area farther to the east, here's the coast of Australia, here's the search area. You have one front that has moved away, a big break in the weather, that's what we have right now. And then this right over here, our next weather system that's starting to come along.
So we've had much better conditions through the day on Friday, overnight Friday through the day on Saturday. And it's not going to be until late Saturday that we begin to see our next weather system coming in. Probably not a lot of rain with this for this particular area, according to our latest forecast models, Kristie, but it looks like definitely some wind coming across this region and of course those waves that will start picking up.
Again in our exclusive high resolution model right over here that we have at CNN, you can see that line that's starting to approach into this region. And that's going to be of course another challenge that they're going to have to deal with.
One more thing I want to show you, I'm going to go back to Google Earth over here, because this is one of the questions that came up by the families earlier also when they got to meet -- they got to meet -- the islands that are nearby. They're not nearby, they're about 1,600 kilometers away from the search area. They are virtually uninhabited. This island, the French southern Antarctic islands does have a town, Port of Francais. But really it's a research area more than anything. The other two islands here farther to the south, nobody lives on them. They're volcanic islands that are uninhabited.
Back to you.
LU STOUT: All right, Mari Ramos there. We know that the families, they are watching from their hotel rooms in Beijing. Thank you so much for that update. Really, really appreciate it.
Still to come right here on News Stream, the threat from Russia, it looms large in the mind of many Ukrainians. And the government is shoring up its military. We will meet the men giving up their day jobs to defend their country.
LU STOUT: Now we've been keeping you updated on the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but now I want to take you back to the crisis in Ukraine. EU heads of state, they have slapped sanctions on another 12 Russians as well as a list of 21 blacklisted individuals on Monday.
Now EU leaders, they are meeting in Brussels right now. And CNN's Nina Dos Santos is there. She joins me live for more.
Nina, EU leaders, we know they have been widening sanctions against individuals in Russia. Is this tough enough?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's the big question. You've hit the nail on the head. No companies here.
What we're seeing -- excuse me, Kristie, I'm just going to take this out because I can hear myself over -- what we're seeing here is we're just seeing individuals for the moment. And that is very, very different to the tact that we're seeing in the United States where obviously we've had Bank Rossiya which has been put on the list there, notably tightening the noose around Vladimir Putin's inner circle.
But you've also factor in the fact, Kristie, that there's about 28 heads of state here and 28 different countries that have to be taken into account. And each of them have different relationships with Russia. a number of the Baltic states, for instance, were under the Soviet Union. They have concerns about what's going on in Crimea. And then we have countries like Germany, which relies on Russia for an ever larger portion of its energy needs, around about 35 percent of Germany's gas needs come from Russia.
So these are competing factions that they have to account for.
12 names -- officially they haven't come out with the names. The heads of state have made an agreement to show united front and refused to disseminate those names until the press conferences that are just about to happen here in Brussels eventually wrap up after they get under way in about five minutes time.
But I can already tell you that from conversations I've had from various sources, we do know that some more senior figures have been added to this list. This includes the speaker of the upper house of parliament. This is a lady who is the most important lawmaker in Russia, Mrs. Valentina Matviyenko. We also have one of the deputy prime ministers of Russia Dmitry Rogozin, and that was a very contentious character, including two key aids to Vladimir Putin.
And we have a noted broadcaster and journalist who is very famous for his very outspoken anti-west views, he will be making it to the list, too, official here say.
LU STOUT: Yeah, these sanctions are aimed at, you know, just key Putin aids, Russian elites. When you talk to EU leaders there in Brussels, what do they see as the true impact of these sanctions?
SANTOS: That's very interesting and very insightful question, Kristie. I spoke to the prime minister of Sweden about this, Fredrik Reinfedt and he said, well we really don't know what the end-game scenario is here.
His own foreign minister told CNN just hours before I spoke to the prime minister that he thought that Vladimir Putin wasn't planning on stopping at Crimea, he wanted to go all the way over towards Kiev.
So, what we're seeing here is stage two of a ratcheting up of sanctions by the European Union. They want to target a softly, softly approach, a wait and see whether they get any kind of reconciliation with Russia, any signs that Vladimir Putin will either stop at Crimea or indeed back out. Many people say that looks unlikely from here.
Stage two has been agreed on. That's the extra 12 people on the list. Stage three, I understand, will now include talks about potential arms embargoes, also trade embargoes. And tightening the noose around financial activities with Russia as well.
And then stage four would involve this whole block completely reevaluating if energy security policy. This has been on the agenda, by the way, here in Brussels for literally years. If they pivot away from -- if they pivot away from Russian gas and say, for instance, get gas from the United States, well it has severe implications for Russia's economy. And that is what they're hoping they don't have to come to, but they could meeting in the months to come on these issues if they don't hear what they need to say from Moscow.
LU STOUT: Very interesting. We talk of stages. This could be just the beginning of more sanctions, more action to be taken to come.
Nina Dos Santos joining me live from Brussels, thank you so much for that.
Now Ukraine's government is also preparing for the possibility of more moves from Moscow militarily.
And as Ivan Watson reports, those who were once on opposite sides of Kiev's Independence Square are now ready to fight together.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Target practice on a Ukrainian firing range. The Ukrainian armed forces are preparing to defend their country and they're signing up new recruits.
If these national guard reservists look ragtag, it's because they were only recruited less than a week ago. They are all volunteer fighters who signed up from Kiev's Maidan Square.
Recruiters from Ukraine's newly formed national guard have been on duty on the edge of Kiev's famous Maidan for less than a week. Signing up, they say, about 100 new recruits a day. It's part of the government's new 700 million military mobilization plan to recruit 40,000 more men to the armed forces and national guard. And it seems to be working.
Throughout the day, men trickle in to this National Guard recruiting center. Among those signing up is a 44-year-old flight engineer named Alexander Lukyanenko. He calls himself a patriot motivated by a single goal.
ALEXANDER LUKYANENKO, RECRUIT: ...protect Ukraine. Protect the Ukraine.
WATSON: Does it feel like Ukraine is in danger right now?
LUKYANENKO: Yes. I feel very dangerous situation in Ukraine just now, very dangerous.
WATSON: Nearly everyone we talk to says the threat comes from Russia. That's why 33-year-old Alexander Stefanchuk (ph), a former systems analyst, has traded in his computer for a Kalashnikov.
Speaking in fluent Russia, Stefanchuk (ph) says Ukraine's enemy is Russia. A war could break out, he tells me, all because of a little Napoleon named Vladimir Putin.
The Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea has helped bring together Ukrainians who just last month battled each other on opposite sides of Kiev's barricades.
Black uniformed officers from the ministry of interior now train former anti-government militiamen how to fight.
Former adversaries united for the moment against their much bigger, better armed Russian neighbor.
Ivan Watson, CNN, at the Novikitritzi (ph) national guard base in Ukraine.
LU STOUT: Still to come right here on News Stream, both Radar and the human eye are scouring the Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian plane. But we'll show you a new invention that could help with the possible underwater search.
LU STOUT: Welcome back. And let's recap our top story, the search for Flight 370. Now nothing significant was found Friday during searches of an area in the southern Indian Ocean where satellites spotted what could be debris from the missing plane. And as the battery life and the flight data recorder ebbs way, Malaysia is asking for more locators and remotely operated submersibles to help the search effort.
Now whenever the search moves underwater, a team of oceanographers is ready to help. Randi Kaye shows us the tools they'll be using to scan the sea floor.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This robot submarine may hold the key to finding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It's called the Remus 6000 and was developed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod. It's 13 feet long, weighs almost a ton, and costs about $2.5 million.
Mike Purcell is the principal engineer here.
MIKE PURCELL, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION: They can go up and down mountains that are up to 40 degrees in slope. They are very stable so you get really good data almost all the time.
KAYE: Why would this robot find something that the U.S. Navy and search teams from more than two dozen different countries haven't been able to find? First of all, the torpedo shaped vehicle can reach depths up to 6,000 meters or more than 3.5 miles below the surface and it can survey wide swathes of the ocean floor using what's called side scan sonar.
PURCELL: They send a sound pulse that's sort of a fan beam out to the side. It will travel out almost half a mile from the vehicle and it bounces off the sea floor and we get a reflection back to the vehicle.
KAYE: They call the process mowing the lawn because it works its assigned grid back and forth before returning to the surface with images captured on a high resolution camera. It's all done at the touch of a laptop on dry land.
(on camera): How would you tell the difference? I mean, how would you know if it's a fish or a rock or plane engine?
PURCELL: I think that you can tell from return. Manmade objects, metal down there on the sea floor responds very strongly.
KAYE (voice-over): The team here hasn't been asked yet to help search for the plane in the ocean, but if they are, it won be the first time. The Remus 6000 was called on to find Air France 447 after it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in June 2009. Two years later a search team from Woods Hole located the wreckage of the jet about 2.5 miles beneath the surface after months searching, something only possible because of this underwater robot.
This is the initial shot of the Air France debris field captured by the Remus 6000.
PURCELL: There were obvious signs that this was from the plane.
KAYE: One team member first noticed a backpack on the ocean floor belonging to a passenger. Closer images revealed the plane's engine, one of the wings, even the landing gear.
(on camera): Before you put one of these vehicles in the water, you have to narrow down the search area. The team from here searched 5,000 square miles for the Air France flight and it still took them more than 100 attempts to find the debris, and that is just a fraction of the area they're still looking at for Flight 370.
(voice-over): And while the team here with their underwater robots is ready for the call if it comes, what they hope to discover more than anything are survivors.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
LU STOUT: That is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.