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NEW DAY SUNDAY
Were Pilots Behind Plane's Disappearance?; Crimea Votes on Independence or Reunification with Russia
Aired March 16, 2014 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... found the flight profile. Is that what you're saying?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you re-enact the...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) What finding...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not another 777.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CHRISTI PAUL, CO-HOST: Good morning, everybody. So glad to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CO-HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Six a.m. here on the East Coast. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.
PAUL: We've been listening to the latest news conference from Malaysian officials about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. We want to get you caught up on the latest breaking news here.
Malaysian police examining now information taken from a flight simulator that was inside the home of the flight's captain. That's him there sitting in front of that machine there.
BLACKWELL: Yes. And the latest developments coming as U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN they are leaning towards, quote, "those inside the cockpit" as being responsible for the flight's disappearance.
PAUL: Just moments ago, too, we learned the number of nations involved in the search for the missing jet has jumped from 14 to 25. You see how expansive this is now. India saying it has temporarily halted search efforts until it gets some updated instructions here.
BLACKWELL: We've also learned -- you see this map here on your screen that -- well, we saw the map just a moment ago, that the northern corridor and the southern corridor, they're getting equal attention in this investigation. We learned that in this news conference you saw just before the start of our show from the acting minister of transportation there in Malaysia. The news conference this morning.
In addition to the pilots, though, Malaysian police were also looking at the entire crew and the passengers aboard Flight 370.
PAUL: They're also investigating any engineers who may have had contact with that plane prior to it taking off on Saturday.
Now CNN's Jim Clancy is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. That's where Flight 370, of course, departed. And it's been more than a week now at this point. So Jim, we've been listening to Malaysian authorities here. They've been holding this press conference. What else have they been saying? Because I'm wondering -- I think a lot of people are wondering if these pilots knew each other well, and they had some new information about the two of them, did they not?
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have done a search of their homes. One of the pilots had a flight simulator that he built himself. He was an enthusiast about flying.
There is absolutely nothing in their backgrounds that really stands out. And -- although he had some, you know, political ties -- he was a member of the political party in opposition for most of his life, so are millions of others -- of Indonesians. We don't have a motive from the pilots. We don't have a motive from anyone right now.
This is -- we're more than a week passed since this event took place and this plane disappeared. We haven't heard from anybody. There hasn't been any demand. There hasn't been any manifesto. You know, if you were going to do something, you would think you would tell people about it to make your point. And who would you tell? Well, you'd tell the news media. They're here. They haven't heard anything either. The...
BLACKWELL: We just had a technical problem there with Jim Clancy there reporting live from Kuala Lumpur. But you see the map here they're focusing on. Again, 25 countries, and they -- the Malaysians are asking for cooperation, satellite data from the cooperating countries. That number jumped from 14 to 25 as part of this investigation. Again, that's what we're hearing from the Malaysian acting minister of transport this morning.
PAUL: Well, and one of the things we, too, heard from the minister, as well, was the fact that these pilots and the co-pilot, they did not ask to fly together on that day.
BLACKWELL: You know, one thing that -- stood out to me in the reporting from our Barbara Starr is that they just went in -- we reported this yesterday, on day eight, into the homes of these pilots. And we learned from a U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to Barbara Starr that the Malaysians were waiting for a reason to go in. And you know...
PAUL: Which to us...
PAUL: ... in the U.S. we think if a plane disappeared...
PAUL: ... our people would be there within two hours.
BLACKWELL: Yes, go into the home. And they stood outside of the home, guarded it for several days but never went in.
So when we get Jim Clancy back up, he knows that part of the world really well, and I want to ask him about the philosophy of law enforcement and going into -- into those homes. So when we get that signal back, we'll, of course, talk about that.
PAUL: Yes. I want to talk about the other big story that we're following this morning, of course. Voters in the hotly-disputed region of Ukraine casting ballots right now as we speak to decide whether to join Russia or effectively become independent.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Polls have been open in Crimea for about four hours now. Voters considering these two questions, and these are the only two. Support the reunification of Crimea with Russia or support the restoration of the constitution of the Republic of Crimea in 1992, leaving it as part of Ukraine.
PAUL: Diana Magnay is outside a polling station in a village near the Crimean capital of Simferopol. So Diana, has there been a heavy presence there at the polls today, and what's the mood?
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, about 600 people so far in the first four hours of voting. And most of them -- and we've been to the ballot boxes, which is transparent, so you can see through. Most of them are voting to join Russia.
And if you walk around the streets of Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, at the moment, it is not impartial. Every billboard says, "Together with Russia." Every rally of a demonstration in Lenin Square, you see people waving Russian flags. So those dissenting voices, those ethnic Tartars, ethnic Ukrainians here don't -- aren't really showing much of a presence.
The polling booth -- the polling station here behind me, I'm at the base -- military base of Perevalnoye. And I'll just turn around, and you'll get a sense of this area. It's been so surreal. You have this music blasting out. There's the base. And if you can make them out, you will see Russian troops standing there.
Two weeks ago today Russian troops arrived at Perevalnoye and surrounded the Ukrainian military base. They have been demanding that they give up their oaths to Kiev and that they swear allegiance instead to the Crimean authorities.
Now, we haven't see any Ukrainian soldiers come in to vote. Apparently, those who are registered on this soil are allowed to, but they will be wearing civilian clothing, says the deputy commander at the base, so that they don't cause any kind of provocation with the majority here who are very pro-Russian -- Christi. BLACKWELL: Diana, one of the people there -- a CNN iReporter told CNN everybody -- and this is in Kiev. Everybody believes the results are already rigged. And we've actually got some video here to show people, a camera crew, your camera crew, caught a voter apparently, if you look here closely, dropping two ballots into the box. Watch this again. Two sheets of paper here. What are the concerns about the legitimacy of today's referendum?
MAGNAY: Well, the west don't consider it legitimate at all. It is not in line with the Ukrainian constitution. Frankly, if the people of Crimean vote in a referendum, then all the people of Ukraine should vote in a referendum.
We did watch that voter, as you see, drop not one but two ballot papers into the ballot box. We asked just now is there any way that you can be allowed to vote for somebody else. And they told us, quite frankly, no, absolutely not. It is one ballot paper per person.
There are election monitors here. There's one upstairs in the polling station. And I met some at my hotel yesterday. Frankly, these election monitors are a very motley crew. They come from all sorts of fringe parties across Europe, from the far right nationalist parties, separatist parties, to the communist party of Greece. It's a very strange selection. And they all share the view that the government in Kiev is illegitimate.
So an illegitimate referendum, according to the west, overseen by a very strange bunch of election observers with, as we ourselves have witnessed, some irregular voting proceedings, Victor.
PAUL: Diana, we have heard the reports of some 60 Russian troops that had six helicopters, three armored vehicles, crossing into eastern Ukraine, you know, beyond the Crimean border, that they were in defensive mode. In fact, I believe Ukraine's foreign ministry has called this latest push a military invasion. Wondering how much concern there might be there that perhaps President Putin has his eye on more than just Crimea.
MAGNAY: Well, this is the big question, isn't it? Is he going to push further north? This incursion is not actually onto mainland Ukraine. It was on something called the Arabat Spit to the northeast of the Crimean Peninsula. And Russian soldiers who arrived there in helicopters said that they were just starting the oil and gas facility that is there.
And that's in line with what we've seen as we've driven around the north of this region. They are guarding key telecommunications points, infrastructure points. They have a very heavy military presence. We saw long-range artillery guns. They're blocking every bridge across a major waterway with their APCs. And you do wonder why is there this significant military presence there? Are they looking to push further north into the eastern region?
And of course, we've had these very big demonstrations, violent demonstrations, in the city of Donyette. Now the Russian foreign ministry has said that they've received lots of calls from Ukrainians asking for Russian protection in eastern Ukraine. That, of course, was the justification to come into Crimea to protect people here, and perhaps that is the reason Russia would use to move further north.
PAUL: All right. Diana Magnay, thank you so much for bringing the latest from that region. We're going to be checking in all morning with her as this vote continues. They expect to have results by tomorrow.
BLACKWELL: Absolutely. Polls close 2 p.m. Eastern, 8 a.m. local time. Still to come on NEW DAY, the pilots' home search. Flight simulator examined. Investigators trying to figure out, of course, what happened to Flight 370.
PAUL: Ahead, we're talking to a former transportation inspector general about what authorities specifically may be looking for here.
BLACKWELL: The investigation into missing Flight 370 is now refocussing on the pilots but also the crew. And overnight we learned investigators are now examining the flight simulator that was kept in the captain's home. Malaysian officials searched the homes of the captain and the co-pilot yesterday.
PAUL: These latest developments are coming as U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN they believe the pilots are responsible for the jet's disappearance.
We're joined now by CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Mary Schiavo.
Mary, thank you so much. It's so good to have you with us. What specifically are authorities looking for in that flight simulator that was in the captain's house?
MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Yes. Well, some flight simulators save your recent work. They save your recent routes flown. For example, if the captain had flown a route similar to what they're picking up on these satellite pings or if he had entered in other airports, you know, maybe in the regions where they think the plane has gone, had practiced landing there. Or if he had checked out entering way points, et cetera, on computer. Or if he had brought in someone else to train on that flight simulator.
So two different possibilities. Either that he was training for another mission or that someone else was training for another mission on that flight computer. Or that they weren't that there is an absence of that, and maybe it was someone else other than him.
BLACKWELL: And Mary, this is something that Christi and I have discussed this morning. It just didn't make sense to us. And you're, as the former inspector general, the perfect person to ask this question. Reporting from our Barbara Starr from a U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, the Malaysian government went into the home of the captain on day eight. And the reporting is that the Malaysian government had been looking for a reason to search the home, but it was only in the last 24 to 36 hours that they felt comfortable. This official saying Malaysians don't do this lightly.
If this had been a Delta flight taken off from La Guardia, U.S. officials would have been in that home within hours. Why eight days?
SCHIAVO: Well, that's very mysterious to me, because as I've said before, it almost appears like Malaysia doesn't believe its own words. You know, it says it's looking for, you know, reasons within the cockpit. They said there was nothing wrong with the airliner's maintenance. So then you have to look to the piloting.
I mean, I can tell you on September 11, after those planes crashed into the Tower and the Pentagon and the ground, everyone on that plane was a suspect. I mean, they looked at, you know, passengers. They looked at the hijackers once they got the clues. Everyone was a suspect. And so it's really bad police work. And it is police work at this point, if they're looking at a crime. To wait eight days.
But hopefully no one, if they're looking for that computer and that was the flight simulator, hopefully, nobody's messed with it. But it's really bad police work.
PAUL: OK. And I understand that they're searching for an engineer, too, who may have had some contact with that plane prior to it taking off, and as well as possibly there's a report that an aviation engineer was a passenger. What are they doing to find out more about these passengers? And how widespread or expansive do you think this thing could be if it was deliberate? How many people could have been involved?
SCHIAVO: Well, it depends who they think in the cockpit was directing the flight. You know, if this is a pilot suicide it's a difficult to see why they flew on for seven hours if that data is accurate.
But another theory is that they actually had extra people onboard, and someone went down into the belly of the plane to disable key communications systems. Now, to do that, that hatch, that door, is back in the passenger cabin. So you'd need not only an engineer to go down and do that; you'd need somebody to guard or keep the passengers under control.
Plus, you'd obviously have to have somebody in the cockpit flying the plane. So it would be a large crew, and also there was a report by another outlet that said that the way points -- you know, the way- off-course way points, the markers, the places that the plane was traveling to and then turning in the air, were entered in advance. So a flight engineer could have done that or the pilots could have done that. so that's another reason to search for that. So there's still many mysteries, many clues without answers. But they're coming very quickly now.
PAUL: All right. Well, Mary Schiavo, we are so grateful for your expertise. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today.
BLACKWELL: Thank you, Mary.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Coming up, as the Crimean people, as we go to the other big story today, the Crimean people continue to cast their ballots, the international community anxiously awaits to see the results. So what will be, if any, the political fallout? CNN's Christiane Amanpour joins us to discuss.
PAUL: Plus Malaysian authorities examining a Flight simulator, as we were just talking about, in the home of Flight 370's pilot, as the country's defense minister proclaims the search has entered, quote, "a new phase." We'll catch you up on the latest developments just ahead.
BLACKWELL: Twenty-two after the hour now, and the world is watching as voters in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula head to the polls today.
PAUL: Most of the international community, obviously, calls today's referendum, as you've heard, illegal. Crimea pushing on, though, leaving it to the people there to decide whether they want to join Russia.
BLACKWELL: We've got pictures here from a polling station in Crimea. Polls have been open for more than four hours now. But here's the question. When could be the fallout from today's election?
PAUL: For that we want to go to CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, joining us by phone from London.
Christiane, help -- help people watching this understand the implications for, you know, for Russia and even for the U.S., who have said we're not recognizing this, and there's going to be some sanctions. There's going to be some recourse if Russia doesn't stand back.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): That's right, Christi and Victor. It is an incredibly tense situation still. And at first, you know, the international community insisted that this referendum should not go ahead. You saw that that was vetoed by Russian security council. And now they're saying, well, if it does go ahead, don't annex Crimea and, beyond that, don't interfere in other parts of eastern Ukraine.
So the real question is, and everybody is waiting to see what will President Putin of Russia do after this referendum. So, yes, here in London and around the European community, there have been foreign ministers meeting. They were meant to draw up a list of targeted sanctions, either to be voted on today or tomorrow.
There's a bit of an argument between various different countries as to how wide those sanctions should be. But nonetheless, this is what appears to be on the table as a next move from Europe and the United States, sanctions.
But in the meantime, very, very tense. Not just in Crimea but also eastern Ukraine. And that would be a major escalation of all of this, if the Russians were to move into eastern Ukraine. There's already been a huge amount of tension. And everybody is waiting to see if that, in fact, happens next.
And what happens at the Russian parliament at the end of this next week? Will they decide to act on whatever the result of the referendum is, which most people believe has been manufactured, essentially, by the Russians and will go Russia's way.
BLACKWELL: Christiane, is there any evidence that these sanctions that will be voted on, that will be decided by the international community, will really discourage Putin from moving forward, even if he wants to move beyond Crimea? We look back at what happened in 2008 in Georgia. There are still Russian forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
AMANPOUR: That's absolutely correct. Unfortunately, for those people there, the -- Ossetia and Abkhazia are little, you know, dots in terms of geopolitical strategy compared to Ukraine. This is a major, major issue. The U.S. and the Europeans have a lot at stake here. Ukraine is a massive place. Tens of millions of population. And this is now a direct confrontation between Russia and the west.
As I say, if it develops into a shooting war over eastern Ukraine, then all bets are off. In terms of will -- will sanctions make any difference, look, there are very many different analysis over that. What we see new over the weekend, major reports saying that major Russian oligarchs and businesses have started to withdraw billions of dollars from British and European banks, worried about asset breezes that could come starting Monday.
We know that the Russians are saying, "Well, this won't affect us. Lit affect you," that sanctions will backfire. To an extent, it will affect the west. Of course it will. But it will probably also affect President Putin going forward. There is no doubt that, if sanctions are imposed and are ratcheted up over the years, the increasing isolation of Russia will become an issue.
The real question here, honestly, as to a diplomatic solution, is whether President Putin even wants a diplomatic solution. There can be no diplomacy if there is no end game. If he just wants to keep going and keep ratcheting it up and keep playing to his nationalist base, there's no real knowing where this is going to stop.
BLACKWELL: CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Christiane, thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you very much. PAUL: Thank you.
Alrighty. Still to come on NEW DAY, new data showing Flight 370 may have been flying for more than seven hours after that last contact. What could have happened during that time? We have details for you ahead.
PAUL: An update for you on mortgages. Rates are down from last week. Take a look.
PAUL: Bottom of the hour now on a Sunday. We're so grateful for your company, as always. * PAUL: Bottom of the hour now on the Sunday. We're so grateful for your company, as always. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. There have been some dramatic new developments in the search for Malaysian Flight 370 this morning.
PAUL: Yeah, the country's defense minister said moments ago at a news conference the search has entered a quote, "new phase." And that 25 countries now involved in the search for this missing jet.
BLACKWELL: Now, the defense minister also said that Malaysia is asking the U.S. and China to turn over more satellite information and that's coming as the search recalibrates to include remote oceans and large tracks of land. And we also learned from Malaysia Airlines that the two pilots did not request to fly together on the day the flight disappeared. Now, even now nine days, it's been nine days, nine days after officials are trying to piece together what happened to Flight 370 after, of course, it left Kuala Lumpur.
PAUL: New satellite data is emerging, too, and some key moments in the plane's movements are becoming a little clearer. But obviously, there are still so many questions. Rene Marsh takes a look here at the timeline for you.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, there are antennas on various parts of the plane intended to beam down vital information about the plane. All of them stopped communicating with the ground. And now, the strongest language yet from Malaysian authorities suggesting this was no accident. It appears to be deliberate. All of this after the NTSB and FAA analyze new satellite data suggesting the plane's last known position was the west side of the Malaysian peninsula, not the east.
MARSH: Takeoff from Kuala Lumpur 12:41 a.m. local time last Saturday. Flight 370 headed north along its planned route to Beijing. But then two communication systems stopped working within minutes of each other. And investigators now believe someone almost surely turned them off. At 1:07 a.m. near the East Coast of Malaysia the system known as ACARS stops transmitting information about the plane's operating condition and that was before the last radio transmission "all right good night" indicating everything was normal. 1:21 a.m. The transponder, which identifies the aircraft on radar stops transmitting. It was someone trying to hide the plane. We also now know blips then seen on Malaysian military radar were in fact Flight 370 headed west and authorities say there is every indication someone was in control.
NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, this movement consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.
MARSH: Still unclear whether it was a pilot or a hijacker. CNN has confirmed the plane made erratic changes in altitude and was flying what officials described as a strange path. At one point it appears to have climbed to 45,000 feet. Well above its approved altitude. Then descending to 23,000. Now a new analysis of satellite information shows the plane kept flying more than seven hours after takeoff. Much longer than previously thought. A satellite searching for operational data from the plane detected the aircraft every hour in a so-called handshake. But no data was transmitted. Its last contact, 8:11 a.m., Somewhere along this arc that stretches as far north as Kazakhstan and as far south as the Indian Ocean west of Australia.
MARSH: Well, after more than eight hours in the air it would have been close to running out of fuel. And something we haven't talked a lot about, but there is a possibility we won't get all of the answers we are looking for in this mystery. The cockpit voice recorders are located right in the back of the plane and they are only required to record the last two hours of the flight. So, if the plane flew for hours we may never know what happened in the very beginning. Now, the cockpit's data recorder which stores information on all of the airplane's systems should have captured the whole flight. It records 36 hours. One other thing, so many people are asking why didn't any of the passengers either text or called home. Well, we do know that this plane did not have the equipment that would have allowed cell phone service. Christi, Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. Rene Marsh, thank you very much. We are just getting a note from our producers who are on top of this. They just heard from the CEO of Malaysia Airlines that just announced that this plane had no extra fuel. It had the normal amount of fuel. No additional fuel. Of course, the question has been if this plane was recognized with that ping, seven hours after it left that ...
PAUL: Yeah, could it have still been flying at that point.
PAUL: If it only had seven hours worth of fuel, to begin with. BLACKWELL: Absolutely. So, we've learned from the CEO that the jet took off with its normal amount of fuel needed for the Kuala Lumpur to Beijing route and did not have extra fuel onboard. That's from the CEO of Malaysia Airlines.
PAUL: All right. Now on to other big story that we are following for you today. The vote on Crimea's future.
BLACKWELL: The voters are deciding whether Crimea should rejoin Russia or become an independent state, effectively. Now, the U.S. and Europe say that the referendum is illegal and they warned Russia could face repercussions as soon as tomorrow.
PAUL: Well, CNN's Erin McPike is joining us live now from Washington. Erin, good morning to you. And now, President Obama's national security team met on the Ukraine crisis at the White House. What do you know came out of that?
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, that's right. It was CIA Director John Brennan, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. And they met at the White House for roughly three hours. We don't know exactly what came out of that meeting. What I have heard from White House aides is they expect another very busy meeting today. The president did get briefed on that meeting yesterday. But I'm sure we will see much more activity come out of the White House today and likely, some developments on what happened yesterday and how they are looking to proceed today.
BLACKWELL: Erin, President Obama said Friday that he hopes that there is a diplomatic solution to this. He hopes that one comes about here. But we just had Christine Amanpour on and she questioned and many people are. Does President Putin even want a diplomatic solution? Does it seem like one is more likely?
MCPIKE: Well, that's hard to say. What Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told Secretary of State John Kerry is basically that he does not know how Russian President Vladimir Putin is going to respond to this vote today. Of course, if Russia does move to annex Crimea, that will then mean the United States is going to move further. Likely with more sanctions. There are already sanctions in place that the question is do they clamp down even harder if Russia makes these moves. We have seen reports of Russian troops moving further into Ukraine and that, of course is presenting a big problem for the international community.
PAUL: Right. A lot of questions about how far we wants to go.
BLACKWELL: Absolutely. Erin McPike in Washington for us, thank you.
PAUL: I want to let you know that investigators are focusing now on the missing plane's pilots, talking about Plane 370, of course. And they have been looking for clues in their homes. We will tell you what is going on. BLACKWELL: Yes. But first, this month marks 58th anniversary of Elvis Presley's debut album. But in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, his legacy is as lively as ever. And Elvis tribute artist takes you on this week's travel insider.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I'm William Shtaus (ph). I'm Elvis tribute artist from Memphis, Tennessee, and I want to show you my city.
When you think of Memphis, you think of Beale Street, you think of barbecues, or you think of blues. Most of all you think about Elvis.
(SINGING): Where since my baby left me ...
This is where it all began. Sun Studios.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Elvis Presley started recording here in 1953. Other than Elvis, artists like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did the king stand?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He stood right about here. This is one of the original microphones that we used back in the '50s to record.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the exact microphone.
(singing): Are you lonesome tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The acoustics or the ceilings - are all original.
Walls are also all original. It is very special because it does have that same quality sound that they would have had back in the '50s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sun studios has really cool old-style malts. You want some of this?
While I'm in town, Beale Street is where I want to be. Here I am with my all-time favorite place to eat. Blue City Cafe. Man, that was awesome. The best place, the party that I like is a B.B. King's. This is B.B.'s first bar. A lot of musicians have rolled through here. Look, man, don't be a fool. You want good music come to Memphis, Tennessee. Thank you very much.
BLACKWELL: Well, Malaysian authorities now say that Flight 370 was deliberately taken off course and they are investigating the plane's captain and the co-pilot. Officials have searched both homes and we are seeing leaving with small bags.
PAUL: Here's the thing: in the meantime experts say, you know, as they have been investigating this, whoever disabled the plane's communication systems must have had a lot of flying experience, be very adroit at what they were doing. So, let's go to national correspondent Gary Tuchman to (INAUDIBLE).
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These are the men who were in charge of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53 years old, and his first officer, 27-year old, Fariq Abdul Hamid. Captain Shah is a very experienced pilot with 33 years under his belt at the airline. Shah said who've liked his job so much he made his own flight simulator in his home. You could see it behind him in this YouTube video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPTAIN ZAHARIE AHMAD SHAH: Hi, everyone. This is a YouTube video that I made at the community service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: The video actually has nothing to do with aviation. He was talking about household air conditioners.
SHAH: This video is to be used to optimize your heat pump or your compressor in order to reduce your electric bill.
TUCHMAN: First officer, Hamid, is a much less experienced pilot. He has flown for Malaysia Airlines for just over six years, but is relatively new on the 777. You can see him here in the white co-pilot seat. Coincidentally, CNN's Richard Quest recently shot a story aboard the plane Hamid was flying. Richard's visit to the plane was, of course, authorized. But a South African passenger says she had a much different kind of visit to the co-pilot's cockpit. Jonti Roos says in 2011 co-pilot Hamid and another pilot invited her and a friend to sit in the cockpit for an entire flight from Thailand to Malaysia.
JONTI ROOS: We boarded the plane normally with all the other passengers and went to our seats. A short while after taking our seats the air hostess came to us and asked us if we would like to move into the cockpit. After which we did, and that's where we spent the flight.
TUCHMAN: Malaysia Airlines says it's shocked by these allegations, but certainly has more urgent investigative priorities now, which will undoubtedly the clue checking into the backgrounds of this captain.
(Begin video clip)
SHAH: If your system is suffering from any kind of the heat, there is no cold air coming in --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: And his first officer. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta. BLACKWELL: And we just learned that the investigation into that flight simulator continues. It has been dismantled at the home. Now transferred to a facility where investigators have reassembled it and now are looking through this system for any evidence that indeed this was something that was managed from the cockpit. Now, focusing, on, of course, the captain.
PAUL: Yeah, doing that as we speak.
And the other big story the voters in Crimea are casting ballots right now and deciding whether to join Russia.
PAUL: The stakes for Moscow, you know, couldn't be higher here. We are going to talk about what today's results could mean for that country, for its relationship with the rest of the world and the U.S.
BLACKWELL: From Moscow to Kiev and across - the dispute of Ukrainian region of Crimea, huge pro-Russian protests have erupted in the run-up to today's referendum.
PAUL: Yet voters in Crimea casting ballots as we speak here to decide whether to join Russia or to support the restoration of the constitution of the Republic of Crimea in 1992. Leaving it as part of Ukraine.
BLACKWELL: And Ukraine's defense minister now claims there are 22,000 Russian troops in Crimea. What officials are calling the latest push and this is a quote, "a military invasion."
PAUL: Let's bring in CNN analyst Vladimir Posner. Who's also, by the way an anchor on Russian television. Vladimir, good to see you this morning. So, has there been a very strong turnout so far this morning at the polls? And what's the mood there in Moscow?
VLADIMIR POSNER, CNN ANALYST: According to the reports that I have been getting, the turnout has been unexpectedly large, as a matter of fact. In Moscow, I think, people are taking that as a kind of blase. This is to be expected, and I think what's happening, really, is that President Putin has carefully weighed the consequences. So, on the one hand he is going to be seen by the vast majority of Russians as someone who's righted a wrong that was committed back in 1954 by Khrushchev and then kind of supported by Yeltsin in 1991. He is bringing back something that was always Russian. And he is going to be seen as a kind of a hero. And he is going to get huge support from the Russian population. On the other hand, he is being seriously criticized by the West and there will be sanctions, but I think most people here think, well, sanctions are sanctions. But it is not going to be anything that terrible. And we can stand that. So, I think that the final decision, which will come within the next few days basically, is going to be if the people of Crimea want to become part of the Russian federation, then we are going - we that is to say, the Russian government is going to say, fine, we accept that.
BLACKWELL: Vladimir, the White House has said that they, of course, want a diplomatic solution to this. But I read in "The New York Times" this weekend that there was this hard-liner, Stalinist writer, his name is Alexander Prokhanov, and between interviews on state television, state sponsored television, I think that's important to say here, that Prokhanov said, I'm afraid that I am interested in a Cold War with the West. That was very patient, waited 20 years. I did everything so this war would begin. He is going for a Cold war with the West. And he is on state television. Is there any evidence that there is a diplomatic solution? Is Putin interested in a diplomatic solution?
POSNER: You know, I wish I were in Putin's brain and I could tell you what he wants. I think probably some kind of solution that would be a positive thing for Russia is something that would be attractive. Such as a guarantee that Ukraine would not ever become a member of NATO. With NATO troops on Russian borders. Something like that. But that obviously is not happening. Now, Mr. Prokhanov, I know him very well. He has been on my show a few times. He's a hard- liner. When you say state controlled television, sadly enough, all of the main television networks in this country, and there are three, all are either directly or indirectly controlled by the state. So, in that sense, you are getting state television no matter where you look for those three networks. And the fact that Prokhanov is very much a Cold War -- how should I put this - a Cold War warrior and -- does not want closer relationship with the United States, does not trust the West, is a well-known fact. I mean this is the first time his name comes up, I guess, on CNN. But he is not a big name. He's a writer. He is the editor of a rather small newspaper, but he is not a policy maker. He is just reflecting some of the views that exist today on what I would call the far left in this country.
PAUL: All right. Vladimir Posner in Moscow live for us. Vladimir, good to see you this morning. Thank you.
POSNER: Thank you.
PAUL: So, let's switch gears here back to our other top story as we talk about the families of the victims of that vanished Flight 370. They say, you know what, they are not going anywhere. This after Malaysia Airlines offers to pay their way home from Beijing. Apparently Malaysia Airlines is ready for them to go home.
BLACKWELL: Yeah, up next, why some relatives accuse officials of not providing enough support during this understandably agonizing time.
BLACKWELL: As investigators take a closer look at who was inside the cockpit of vanished Flight 370, family members of those onboard cling to hope and they anxiously wait for word of their loved ones.
PAUL: Yeah, I think that we can't help, but put ourselves in their shoes and think how are they coping with this. So many of them now, too, are really angry with Malaysia Airlines. Saying that they are not providing them enough support. CNN's Paula Chiou joining us live from Beijing. Pauline, thank you for being with us. Have family reacted yet to this press conference that happened earlier this morning with the Malaysian defense minister?
PAULINA CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have, in fact. I was texting with two different family members as they were watching that press conference live on television. It just ended about a half an hour ago. And one of the bullet points that came out from that news conference was that one of the satellite signals that had contact with the plane may have shown that the plane was actually on the ground. So, for the family members here that's actually good news because at this point they say the best case scenario is that this plane was hijacked and maybe the passengers onboard are still alive. So, I was texting with some of the family members. That's what their reaction was. Now, earlier today, there was a family briefing here at this hotel behind me where tempers flared. The balk ground is that Malaysia Airlines has been paying for their hotels and meals for the past couple of days. We're going into day nine. And now the airline says that people can go home if they choose and Malaysia Airlines will pay their return journey home. Now, many family members took that as an insult. One woman stood up and started screaming at the airline representative.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (speaking in foreign language)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in foreign language).
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CHIOU: Now, this woman was saying, we are not going anywhere. We will wait right here. There were other outbursts. One man took the microphone and asked all the family members in the room who has lost faith in the Malaysian government? Who has lost faith in Malaysia Airlines, stand up? And as you can see, about half of the room stood up. The general sentiment here is that too much precious time has been lost. It is Sunday night here in Asia. Ending up day nine of this search.