AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

Print
Email
|

Associated Press

Posted on March 24, 2014 at 10:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 25 at 6:00 AM

China demands satellite data from Malaysia on lost jet as bad weather delays search

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — China demanded that Malaysia turn over the satellite data used to conclude that a Malaysia Airlines jetliner had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, killing everyone on board, as gale-force winds and heavy rain on Tuesday halted the search for remains of the plane.

The weather is expected to improve so that the multinational search being conducted out of Perth, Australia, could possibly resume Wednesday. But the searchers will face a daunting task of combing a vast expanse of choppy seas for suspected remnants of the aircraft sighted earlier.

"We're not searching for a needle in a haystack — we're still trying to define where the haystack is," Australia's deputy defense chief, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, told reporters at a military base in Perth as idled planes stood behind him.

Australian and Chinese search planes spotted floating objects in an area 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth on Monday, but none was retrieved. Now, with the harsh weather and a 24-hour delay in the search, those objects and other possible debris from the plane could drift to an even wider area.

In remarks to the Malaysian Parliament, Prime Minister Najib Razak cautioned that the search will take a long time and "we will have to face unexpected and extraordinary challenges."

___

Chinese kin of Flight 370 passengers protest at Malaysian Embassy, furious over death claim

BEIJING (AP) — Furious that Malaysia has declared their loved ones lost in a plane crash without physical evidence, Chinese relatives of the missing marched Tuesday to the Malaysian Embassy, where they threw plastic water bottles, tried to rush the gate and chanted, "Liars!"

The Chinese government, meanwhile, demanded that Malaysia turn over the satellite data it used to conclude that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went down in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors after turning back from its flight path to Beijing on March 8.

Among the flight's 239 passengers, 153 were Chinese nationals, making the incident a highly emotional one for Beijing, and the government's demand reflected the desire among many Chinese relatives of passengers for more conclusive information on the plane's fate.

Nearly 100 relatives and their supporters marched to the embassy in the late morning, wearing white T-shirts that read "Let's pray for MH370" as they held banners and chanted for about three hours.

"Tell the truth! Return our relatives!" they shouted. There was a heavy police presence at the embassy, and there was a brief scuffle when some relatives tried to get past police to approach journalists, but no effort was made to break up the demonstration. The group presented a letter of protest to the embassy before getting into several buses and departing.

___

Novel analysis of satellite data, knowledge of physics helped narrow Malaysian jet search

HONG KONG (AP) — Investigators are closer to solving an international aviation mystery thanks to a British communications satellite and classroom physics.

A masterful analysis of a handful of faint signals sent from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to an Inmarsat satellite led officials to conclude that the Boeing 777 crashed in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, with all 239 lives likely lost. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called the effort "a type of analysis never before used in this investigation of this sort."

More precise information about the plane's last position is helping authorities refine the search being undertaken by planes and ships in seas 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, Australia. Investigators had precious little information to examine otherwise because the transponder, identifying the jet to air traffic controllers, was deactivated about the same time the jet veered off course from its original destination, Beijing, early March 8.

THE PINGS

Even with other communications shut down, the plane automatically sent a brief signal — a "ping" or a "handshake" — every hour to an Inmarsat satellite. The pings did not show the jet's location, speed or heading, but an initial analysis showed the last ping came from a position along one of two vast arcs north and south from the Malaysian Peninsula.

___

US, allies seek to isolate, punish Russia; Moscow shrugs and strengthens its Crimean foothold

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The thrust of his diplomatic efforts still focused on Ukraine, President Barack Obama met Tuesday with a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin as he continued his efforts to isolate Moscow over its incursion into Crimea.

In a last minute addition to his schedule, Obama sat down with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev in a long room at the U.S. embassy, with the two countries' flags set up behind them. U.S. officials offered no details about the meeting's agenda, but Nazarbayev is part of a Russia-centered economic bloc focused on Eurasia.

Kazakhstan is the second largest country by territory and economy to emerge from the former Soviet Union. Nazarbayev has maneuvered between Russia and the West during more than two decades in power. Kazakhstan's energy resources and strong economy give it some independence from Moscow.

Obama was also diving back in nuclear security summitry and further sideline overtures on Tuesday as his four-country, weeklong trip entered its second day.

Still, as the United States redoubled efforts to pressure Russia out of its aggressive pose, the Russian annexation of Crimea began to take root and Moscow shrugged off Obama's drive to leave Putin in the cold.

___

Fears rise that more than 14 died in Washington state mudslide as dozens still missing

OSO, Wash. (AP) — First there was a "whoosh." Elaine Young said she thought it might be a chimney fire, a rush of air that lasted about 45 seconds. But when she stepped outside there was ominous silence. Something felt very, very wrong.

And then she saw it. Behind the house, a suffocating wall of heavy mud had crashed through the neighborhood.

Dark and sticky, the mile-long flow Saturday heaved houses off their foundations, toppled trees and left a gaping cavity on what had been a tree-covered hillside. In the frantic rescue, searchers spotted mud-covered survivors by the whites of their waving palms.

Now, days into the search, the scale of the mudslide's devastation in a rural village north of Seattle is becoming apparent. At least 14 people are confirmed dead, dozens more are thought to be unaccounted for or missing, and about 30 homes are destroyed.

"We found a guy right here," shouted a rescuer Monday afternoon behind Young's home, after a golden retriever search dog found a corpse pinned under a pile of fallen trees. Searchers put a bag over the body, tied an orange ribbon on a branch to mark the site, and the crew moved on.

___

Obama to propose ending NSA's systematic sweep of telephone records

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House wants the National Security Agency to get out of the business of sweeping up and storing vast amounts of data on Americans' phone calls.

The Obama administration this week is expected to propose that Congress overhaul the electronic surveillance program by having phone companies hold onto the call records as they do now, according to a government official briefed on the proposal. The New York Times first reported the details of the proposal Monday night. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the plan.

The White House proposal would end the government's practice of sweeping up the phone records of millions of Americans and holding onto those records for five years so the numbers can be searched for national security purposes. Instead, the White House is expected to propose that the phone records be kept for 18 months, as the phone companies are already required to do by federal regulation, and that it be able to preserve its ability to see certain records in specific circumstances approved by a judge.

According to a senior administration official, the president will present "a sound approach to ensuring the government no longer collects or holds this data, but still ensures that the government has access to the information it needs to meet the national security needs his team has identified." The administration official spoke late Monday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the proposal before it was officially announced.

The president's plan, however, relies on Congress to pass legislation — something that has so far seemed unlikely.

___

Businesses mount religious objection to health law's birth control coverage at Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court justices are weighing whether corporations have religious rights that exempt them from part of the new health care law that requires coverage of birth control for employees at no extra charge.

The case being argued at the Supreme Court on Tuesday involves family-owned companies that provide health insurance to their employees, but object to covering certain methods of birth control that they say can work after conception, in violation of their religious beliefs.

The Obama administration and its supporters say a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the businesses also could undermine laws governing immunizations, Social Security taxes and minimum wages.

The justices have never before held that profit-making businesses have religious rights. But the companies in the Supreme Court case and their backers argue that a 1993 federal law on religious freedom extends to businesses as well as individuals.

Under the new health care law, health plans must offer a range of preventive services at no extra charge, including all forms of birth control for women that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

___

Expert: 'Miracle that nobody died' when Chicago commuter train crashed up escalator at airport

CHICAGO (AP) — The crash of a Chicago commuter train that derailed and plowed up an escalator at one of the world's busiest airports would have been far worse, and likely fatal, had it not happened how and when it did, a transportation expert says.

Federal investigators are staying mum about what may have caused the Chicago Transit Authority train to jump its tracks around 3 a.m. Monday, screech across a concrete platform and crash up a heavily used escalator that takes travelers and workers into O'Hare International Airport. Investigators were expected back on the scene Tuesday.

"It is a miracle that nobody died," said Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert at DePaul University.

Had the crash occurred during the day, when the trains are often full and the escalator packed with luggage-carrying travelers, far more people likely would have been injured, some even killed, he said. The crash injured more than 30 people, all of whom were on the train, though none suffered life-threatening injuries.

"A train running up a (crowded) escalator could have been a worst case scenario," Schwieterman said. "When pedestrians are hit by a train, it is usual fatal."

___

Crews scour for tar balls and use cannon booms to scare birds as they clean up Texas oil spill

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Cannon booms reverberate across the Houston Ship Channel, a scare-tactic to keep birds away from oil-slicked beaches. On a mainland shore near a line of refineries, crews scour the sand for quarter-sized tar balls that have washed ashore.

Far on the horizon a few ships floated outside the channel, among the dozens of vessels waiting for the U.S. Coast Guard to reopen one of the nation's busiest seaports after a barge collision dumped as many as 170,000 gallons of heavy oil into the water.

Three days after the collision, the cleanup effort is still going on in earnest. But authorities hope the channel's closure could end sometime Tuesday, allowing more than 80 stranded ships to resume activity.

Officials believe most of the oil that spilled Saturday is drifting out of the channel into the Gulf of Mexico, which should limit the impact on bird habitats around Galveston Bay as well as beaches and fisheries important to tourists.

"This spill — I think if we keep our fingers crossed — is not going to have the negative impact that it could have had," said Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, the lead state agency on the response to the spill.

___

Los Angeles hospital doctors practice communication skills in 'operating room of the future'

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Before the car-wreck victim reached the emergency room, doctors, residents and nurses at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center knew what to expect by glancing at their smartphones.

The details came in the staccato of text messages: A 35-year-old man had driven head-on into a bus. He suffered major chest injuries. His vital signs were crashing.

This was not just another day in the hospital. It was a laboratory billed as the "OR of the future," an ongoing experiment aimed at breaking down barriers that bog down care through open communication, better use of technology and teamwork.

In reality, trauma care is rarely this organized. But those who are prized for individual skills are increasingly learning that when it comes to treating trauma patients from accidents, natural disasters or terrorist bombings, communication and coordination can determine whether someone lives or dies.

At an office building less than a mile from the main Cedars-Sinai campus, doctors are guinea pigs in simulations designed to test such skills.

Print
Email
|