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Cairo Protests Turn Violent; Weather Forces Airplanes To Turn Back From 370 Search; President Obama Meets With Pope Francis; Suicide Attack Outside Kabul; California State Senator Charged With Arms Dealing; Ringed Asteroid Found

Aired March 27, 2014 - 8:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Now search planes sit idle on the tarmac in Perth as bad weather suspends the hunt for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

Ukraine's ultra nationalists prepare to fight back against Russia.

And the California state senator known for his strong views in support of gun control is accused of conspiring to traffic guns.

The search for missing Malaysian airlines flight 370 is facing another hurdle. For the second time this week, dangerous weather conditions have grounded air search operations.

Now back in Malaysia, the investigation continues into the flight's disappearance.

Today, Thailand sent Malaysia new satellite images showing about 300 floating objects near the current search area. Now it hasn't been determined yet if the objects are debris from the missing plane.

Let's get a better look now at the weather in this very remote and turbulent part of the Indian Ocean. Mari Ramos joins me from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, you know I was actually surprised to see that the pilots even went out earlier during the day on Thursday, but I think that's a testament of how eager they are to be able -- in this mission to be able to find something out there in this very remote area, this search area.

They took advantage of the morning hours. They were, and they did say in their press release that they were expecting some bad weather to move into that area later in the afternoon. So they did have to come back.

This time around, though, the planes are -- the ships didn't have to move away, so that's good news, because the seas are not as rough as they were last time.

So let's go ahead and get this moving here with the satellite. Here's the coast of Australia. There's Perth right there. We head all the way down here into this wide area of the search area. Of course they're pinpointing smaller areas in this entire box that we have here for you. But we did this so that you can see widespread -- what kind of weather is coming in to the region.

And you see that we have that little disturbance that came in and it's now beginning to exit our search area box. But a little bit of a break in between and then another weaker cold front begins to push in across this region. That one not a lot of moisture coming along with it, but definitely the potential for some more clouds.

So, on the weather map, it looks like this through the day on Saturday. That cold front begins to move away. And then we begin to see calmer conditions in this region. Conditions definitely improving by Friday. Maybe not early Friday morning, but definitely I think by the afternoon hours we could begin to see conditions where seas are relatively calm and the winds are generally light. I think maybe even some of those ships will be able to do some good work in the early part of Friday. Those planes I think will probably be better off in the afternoon hours. But we'll have to see what they actually come up with as the time gets closer.

Notice that there's a lot of cloud cover moving in as well and that's the concern especially for the aircraft, because one of the things they said today is that the ceilings were about 600 feet and that is definitely too low for them to be able to do any kind of significant work. Visibility is poor. They'd like to see those clouds be a little higher. Even if it's cloudy, if the clouds are higher it would definitely be a lot better.

So we went ahead and marked here the potential debris field that everyone has been talking about. It's in this general area.

Now this is looking at wind. You can see the stronger winds exiting the region as we head through the day on Friday. Still maybe winds gusting to about 30 or 40 kilometers per hour, that would be something to contend with, but by Friday afternoon we begin to see conditions clearing and then by Saturday looking pretty good as far as wind.

Now as far as rain -- very, very quickly Kristie, again in the same search area, the concern I think will be early Friday, another front moving in, but by late Friday and through Saturday possibility of some low clouds, but definitely an improvement in the weather. Back to you.

LU STOUT: All right, so it be looking good by Saturday. Mari Ramos with the forecast. Thank you so much for that.

Now the weather, it is certainly proving to be a major obstacle in the search. Atika Shubert looks at the sophisticated technology being used to find the debris in those very rough waters.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what search teams looking for flight 370 are up against -- strong winds and massive swells as high as five meters. Even China's icebreak The Snow Dragon struggles against these waves.

CHARITHA PATTIARATCHI, OCEANOGRAOPHER, UNIV. OF WESTERN AUSTRALIS: It is one of the most hostile regions in the whole world. This is what we call the Roaring 40s, which has always strong winds and big waves, because there is no land to interfere with the wind, which generates the waves.

These are ocean gliders.

SHUBERT: Charitha Pattiaratchi is a professor of coastal oceanography. And he teaches in Perth, now the hub of search operations. He uses these satellite controlled gliders to study the currents of the Indian Ocean. And using that data, he's created a model to plot a potential debris field.

PATTIARATCHI: The main current there is called the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is the largest current in the world in terms of the amount of volume of water.

To either to find the debris, you can use aircraft to pinpoint them and the ships to go and collect it, then you use sonar to map the sea bed to find out where the plane is and where the debris may be scattered. And once you find that, you actually have to go out with a different instrument and a vehicle which can actually recover material from the sea bed.

SHUBERT: So we're not talking about a few days here, we're talking about a long time.


SHUBERT: Even NASA satellites have joined the search, but most sightings are isolated and sporadic. professor Pattiaratchi has a theory.

PATTIARATCHI: It sort of tells me that the way the plane crashed there wasn't that much debris that most of it probably is intact at the bottom of the ocean.

SHUBERT: Is it possible that we'll never find the debris?

PATTIARATCHI: No. We'll find it.

SHUBERT: Somewhere, he says, the fuselage of flight 370 may simply be sitting on the ocean floor still intact waiting to be found.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Perth, Australia.


LU STOUT: Now as we've said, search planes they were grounded today because of the bad weather. Andrew Stevens is in Perth, Australia, the center of that international search operation. He joins me now live. And Andrew, before the aerial search was suspended today, what was accomplished?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There was some sight of the search zone, Kristie, before the weather closed in. Several planes actually got down there and were on the target zone for several hours. We spoke to a pilot from the Royal Australian Airforce who came back about three hours ago. And he said that they were down there for two hours. The visibility was bad, but disappointingly they didn't see anything. They were getting nothing from the search coordinates to say that any of the flights which actually got down there today saw anything.

This remains a race against time. And also with this bad weather we're getting reports of new debris fields, potential debris fields from the ties, but this bad weather is probably going to scatter that debris field some distance. And it's difficult enough as it is, as we now know. We get continued satellite images. There's been sightings from planes, but as yet none of those sightings, none of those images have been confirmed on the surface of the sea.

None of those ships have got to any of those areas. So we still are nowhere further forward.

It's was interesting listening to Atika's report there talking about the fact that the plane may be largely intact, or most of the debris could have gone down with the plane. That obviously is going to make this search for any debris a lot more difficult, because there's not much around which comes back to that comment we heard a couple of days ago. It's the haystack they're still looking for, not the needle.

And the haystack is a piece of debris which then they can look at and say, OK, looking at our drift models, looking at all the models we have, we would assume, or we could reckon that the fuselage, the main parts of that plane would be in this sort of area.

But at the moment, we don't have that, we don't have the haystack. The weather obviously not playing its part. We don't know how long it's going to be before it clears enough. They are expecting to fly again tomorrow, but we don't know what time the weather will be clear on that search zone, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, just a moment ago we spoke to Mari Ramos at the world weather center. She said that the conditions that the forecast should improve by Saturday. But what conditions are required for this search to go on?

STEVENS: Well, basically you've got to have reasonable winds and most important you've got to have good visibility. They can obviously operate in poor visibility, but that does affect their efficiency quite a lot.

We've got 12 planes, which are now rotating in and out of that search zone. And it is really all about visual sightings for those planes. As they keep saying, the rescue and search coordinators keep on saying you've got to get a visual identification of debris.

And remember, there's a lot of debris down there, which is nothing to do with the flight, nothing -- no leads there at all. So the pilots and the spotters actually have to look at what they've seen and work out whether it is in fact something material that they need to follow up on.

So you need good visibility for that.

And in this part of the world at this time of the year, as we turn towards the winter months, the storms get worse, the visibility deteriorates, it makes the job so much tougher.

LU STOUT: Well, here's hoping that the search can go on as early as tomorrow. Andrew Stevens joining me live from Perth, Australia, thank you.

Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up in the program, parts of Ukraine are on edge. Ultra nationalist forces, galvanized by their leaders recent death, are already preparing for a potential Russian invasion.

And politics meets religion, U.S. President Barack Obama has an audience with the pope. We'll go to Rome for a live report on their first ever meeting.

And could this man be the next president of Egypt? The army chief steps down and says he will run for the top job. We'll get reaction. Stay with us.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now here's some good news for Ukraine, the International Monetary Fund has agreed to throw Kiev an economic lifeline. It's setting aside $14 to $18 billion to help the country's struggling economy avoid a default.

Now there are strings attached here. The Ukrainian government has to stamp out corruption, stop propping up its currency and has to phase out natural gas subsidies for households as well.

Now the IMF's aid package, it comes at a deeply unsettling time for the country. Thousands of Russian troops are gathered just outside the border. And a new U.S. intelligence assessment suggests a Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine is more likely than previously thought.

But west of Kiev, some of Ukraine's ultra nationalists are already preparing to fight back, especially after one of their leaders was gunned down earlier this week.

Karl Penhaul has the story.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A final farewell from mother to son, parting shot from brothers in arms -- the killing of ultra nationalist leader Oleksandr Muzychko is enough to make paramilitary hard men cry.

ANATOLY VALSYUK, LOCAL PARAMILITARY COMMANDER (through translator): He was like a brother to me and my comrades. But that bastard Putin murdered him.

PENHAUL: Muzychko was a regional commander of the Right Sector, an alliance of political and militia forces that played a key role in protests that toppled Ukraine's president. Svetlana Bilyus (ph) says she met Muzychko on the barricades in downtown Kiev this winter.

SVETLANA BILYUS, RIGHT SECTOR SUPPORTER: He's inspiration for millions of Ukrainian people, especially for millions of young Ukrainians people because he is a local Robin Hood.

PENHAUL: The Ukrainian interior ministry says its special agents, seen here on CCTV, gunned down Muzychko Monday night. They accused him of being a gangster. But his loyalists say corrupt government officials ordered his murder, acting perhaps on orders from Moscow.

These are the kind of scenes likely to worry President Putin: the sight of well organized nationalist paramilitary militias. Putin accuses them of threatening ethnic Russians living here. And that's an excuse he's using to meddle in Ukraine's affairs.

Valentina Melyuk (ph) is herself ethnic Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Nobody has ever threatened or abused me. Tell Putin I don't need protecting.

PENHAUL: Pentagon sources are warning 30,000 Russian troops are now massing on Ukraine's eastern border and could roll in any time. If that happens, Right Sector's top leader Dmitry Yarosh says his fighters will start a war.

DMITRY YAROSH, NATIONAL LEADER RIGHT SECTOR (through translator): The Right Sector will do its best to launch an insurgency. The land will literally burn under the feet of the invaders. We will not be lambs to the slaughter.

PENHAUL: Right Sector's political support is growing and Yarosh says he'll run for president in May elections.

But Russia and some western government warn the party may harbor right-wing extremists, charges he rejects.

YAROSH (through translator): Right Sector is a nationalist alliance, but we have nothing to do with German Nazis or Italian fascists. We've always been opposed to xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

PENHAUL: As nationalist militiamen toss down earth onto Muzychko's coffin, his death was already raising a worry specter, that political partners in the new Ukraine they still have old scores to settle, divisions Moscow may be ready to exploit.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Rivne, Ukraine.


LU STOUT: Incredible report there.

You're watching News Stream. And still to come, a historic handshake as the U.S. president meets Pope Francis for the first time.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching News Stream.

Now the U.S. president's tour of Europe took him to Vatican City today. Barack Obama and Pope Francis met for the first time just a couple of hours ago at the Vatican. They greeted each other with a smile and a handshake. They then took some time for pictures before sitting down to talk.

Now CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski is following this historic meeting of the two world leaders and she joins me now live from Rome. And Michelle this was a very significant first meeting wasn't it?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And it was beautiful to see these pictures, a rare look inside that papal palace. A palace, in fact, that this pope has declined to live in saying that it's too ornate for him, it doesn't quite go along with his values of, in his words, being poor among the poor during his papacy.

It was also seeing President Obama when the meeting began on the other side of that big wood desk. President Obama has called a sort of rock star on this European trip, as one Dutch paper put it he stole the show. Well, now it was his chance to meet the man who has been called a rock star in the Catholic faith.

We don't know too much of what was talked about in that meeting, but senior White House administration officials gave some detail that the president sees this as an honor, that he wanted to talk about -- to the pope -- about the values that the pope has espoused that have really been an inspiration, as they put it, to President Obama.

In fact, President Obama gave an interview with an Italian newspaper that we got to see this morning and it almost seemed like the president was laying out for the reporter a list of his own policies in a way that President Obama felt they aligned with Pope Francis's values, talking about his efforts to raise the minimum wage, saying that he sees the income gap as being not just an economic issue, but a moral one.

Also talking about his emphasis of human rights, social justice and equality and also his use of diplomacy in dealing with a situation in Ukraine.

So we're going to wait and see exactly what was discussed, but we do have Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher with us today. And you were inside the papal palace while the entourage walked past. And were you able to actually hear some of those exchanges?

DELIA GALLAGHER, VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we were able to see the president walking in sort of looking around at the frescoes, because as you mentioned it is quite an extraordinary place. And we get to see the exchange of the gifts afterwards, which I thought we heard a little bit of the banter there, which was very interesting when the president gave the pope some seeds from the White House garden. And he said if you come to the White House we can show you the garden. And the pope responded in Spanish (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE), that was one of the sort of multilingual exchanges, because they had two interpreters in there as well.

And then of course the pope gave Obama a copy of his document, his exhortation called "The Joy of the Gospel," which among other things contains serious critique of the free market system and a general of capitalism. And that was when the president said, well I'll be reading this probably in the Oval Office when I'm deeply frustrated and I'm sure it will comfort me and calm me down.

And the pope in English said I hope so.

That is our little bit of the exchanges. We don't obviously hear what goes on in the private meeting. Nobody is in there outside of the two translators.

KOSINSKI: Right. And we heard President Obama crack a few jokes saying that the pope maybe the only person who has to put up with more protocol...

GALLAGHER: ...protocol exactly.

KOSINSKI: He also asked the pope to pray for his family at the very end.

But we know what they agree on. You know, President Obama has been really emphasizing their common shared values, which might be very good politically for him. But how likely is it that they really get into the nitty-gritty of things they don't agree on -- contraception, abortion rights, and those big weighty topics?

GALLAGHER: I don't think that the pope would shy away from those topics, however it is a very short meeting, all things considered, even though it ran to 50 minutes, which is considerably longer than with other heads of state. And I do think that the pope will have had to have mentioned some of the differences that the Obama administration has vis-a- vis Catholic teaching, for example the conscience (ph) clause in the Obama health care, which is one of the topics which the U.S. bishops have been very outspoken about.

I don't know that this pope would have focused too much on some of the moral issues on abortion, on gay marriage, because he has said himself that he doesn't want to go over the issues that people already know where the Catholic church stands.

So I think it will have been the larger questions of economic injustice, immigration, and those topics.

KOSINSKI: Thanks so much Delia.

And we expect to hear more, hopefully from the White House on all of these details and more -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Michelle Kosinski and Delia Gallagher live in Rome for us. Thank you.

Now Mr. Obama's trip to Italy is tight on time. We are told that he is expected to see the famed Coliseum. But as Ben Wedeman tells us, the president is unlikely to make it to one place that most tourists in Rome want to see.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No visit to the Vatican is complete without seeing this, the Sistine Chapel. It is here where for hundreds of years cardinals have elected the popes, where Michelangelo painstakingly painted the iconic ceiling and later vivid scenes from the Last Judgment. Every day thousands of visitors pass through here, craning their necks to take in the beauty and the majesty.

Since the election of Pope Francis a year ago, visitor numbers have been steadily increasing, up 8 percent in 2013. And according to the Vatican Museums' Monsignieur Paolo Nicolini, that number is up another 20 percent so far this year.

Power may have its perks, but time isn't one of them. It's unlikely us President Barack Obama, due here Thursday, will be able to squeeze in even a passing glance at this masterpiece. One of the advantages of being a CNN correspondent, as opposed to, say, the President of the United States, is that I have the time to visit the Sistine Chapel. President Obama, however, according to his schedule, will not be able to make it here during his visit to the Vatican.

First Lady Michelle Obama was luckier, in 2009 she had a guided tour of the chapel.

"I accompanied her and her daughters," recalls director of the Vatican museums professor Antonio Paolucci.

But when I ask him if he could have Pope Francis convince President Obama to pop in for a quick visit, he demurred, saying that's basically above his pay scale.

In any event, with a jumble of more pressing issues, from the Ukraine to the U.S. economy, staring him in the face, the president's mind may be elsewhere.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, in Vatican City.


LU STOUT: Now, authorities are still looking to find even just one piece of potential debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. And ahead, we'll bring you the very latest on the search.

And less than two weeks before Afghanistan's presidential election, insurgents launch deadly attacks almost every day. Anna Coren show us the heavy toll the violence is taking.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Now the air search for Malaysian Airlines flight 370 was called off again today because of dangerous weather conditions in the southern Indian Ocean. But satellite images provided by the Thai government may provide a new lead. They show about 300 floating objects in the vicinity of the search zone. Now we don't know yet if they are debris from the plane.

U.S. President Barack Obama has met Pope Francis at the Vatican for the first time. Now the two leaders held a private meeting which was seen as an opportunity to smooth things over after years of strained relations. While in Italy, Mr. Obama will also meet the Italian president and the prime minister.

The International Monetary Fund says it is prepared to provide up to $18 billion in loans to support Ukraine. Now the agreement requires Ukraine to tackle corruption, allow its currency to weaken and to phase out natural gas subsidies for households.

Now back to our top story -- the hunt for flight 370. Now the air search for possible debris could resume on Friday, but even in clear weather search crews will certainly have their work cut out for them. Rene Marsh has that.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three million parts to a Boeing 777 and after more than two weeks of searching, not one piece of Flight 370 has been found. Satellite images from Australia, China, and France showing floating objects in the south Indian Ocean, the latest suggests 122 floating objects, but so far nothing is confirmed to be from the plane.

The objects range from three to 78 feet. The larger piece could be a portion of the wing. The total wingspan of a 777 is 200 feet.

KEN CHRISTENSEN, FORMER AIR FORCE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR: The wing carries fuel, and so liquid doesn't leak out, it's sealed. So when a plane uses all that fuel and the tanks now are empty, those voids in the wing will now leave layer and that would float a wing.

MARSH: But the large objects could be multiple pieces.

WILLIAM WALDOCK, EMBRY-RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY: They're mangled with wire and other debris so you may have a lot of other smaller pieces mixed in which might look like a larger piece from the satellite or the air. MARSH: The size of debris depends on how a plane hits the water. If it hit water fast nose first like Alaska Airlines Flight 261 in 2000, the plane would shatter into thousands of small pieces. A midair explosion like TWA Flight 800 could produce larger debris and a wider field. But if someone attempted a controlled landing, like Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961, the plane could break into large pieces. What sinks and what floats depends on what it's made of.

CHRISTENSEN: I think floating today definitely seat cushions, definitely insulation.

MARSH: Plastic and composite parts of the plane like overhead bins and even the tail could still be floating. Air France 447's tail was floating days after it crashed. Heavy metal pieces like engines and the fuselage would sink. All of that considered, these satellite images may not even be the lead search crews need.

CHRISTENSEN: The eddy currents that are collecting this stuff, it's almost like a whirlpool effect -- 120 items, you know, this could be garbage, plastic bottles, things like this from merchant vessels.

MARSH: Time is of the essence to make that determination.

Well, here's another possibility: in this vast, very rough part of ocean, it's possible search crews could miss floating objects and that's because of the fallibility of the human eye and the possibility these objects are blending in with the water. On expert says historically visual searches have a 78 percent probability for detection in the first search. And that's in a best case scenario, meaning flat, calm water. But when you have lots of wave action like you have in the Indian Ocean that decreases.

Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


LU STOUT: We still have no idea why the plane flew off course and apparently ended up in the southern Indian Ocean. And while some reports have speculated about the pilot's possible role in the plane's disappearance, his son is coming to his defense.

Now for more, let's bring in CNN's Jim Clancy. He joins me now from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. And Jim, what more have you learned about the pilots of the missing plane?

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kristie we've had some speculation consistently cycling through the media both here in Kuala Lumpur and literally right around the world. The pilots always suspects in any air crash.

But in this case, the son of pilot -- senior pilot on this flight Captain Zaharie Shah came out today for the very first time and had some comments. He said that he is ignoring the speculation.

He said, I know who my father is. And he says despite the fact that his father was often gone when he was a youngster and maybe they didn't have the best relationship he said that we understood one another.

Also standing up for the pilot, if you will, today -- both pilots really was the former CEO of Malaysia Airlines, Dr. Aziz. He made it clear. I talked to him this morning -- he made it clear he didn't think that they were guilty of anything. Listen to a bit of our questions and answers.


CLANCY: You knew Captain Shah. Some people point a finger at him.

DR. ABDUL AZIZ ABDBUL RAHMAN, FORMER CEO, MALAYSIA AIRLINES: He is (inaudible) pilot and I think and also an actual (inaudible). I think they're going to the wrong way if they're pointing finger at him.

CLANCY: You also knew the co-pilot. What can you say about him?

RAHMAN: His father learned the Koran by heart. So he also learned the Koran by heart. He's a good Muslim. And I know that captain is also a good Muslim.


CLANCY: Now Dr. Aziz says there's no doubt about it, in order to clear the pilots, in order to really understand what happened to Flight 370 they need to find the flight data recorder. It is the only thing that can tell us with some amount of certainty what happened inside the cockpit, how this flight so mysteriously vanished -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Jim, there's also this ongoing analysis of the flight simulator data that was found in the home of the pilot. What is the latest on that?

CLANCY: We haven't heard back from that. You know that was shared with the FBI. They are saying that they found nothing untoward on the simulator itself. There was the discussion of perhaps there's more data that was deleted, was handed off to the Federal Bureau of Investigations some days ago, or actually more than a week ago. And we haven't heard anything back.

But, you know, U.S. investigators have said there is nothing that jumps out at them as a motive for either of these pilots. So that's where it stands today until and unless we hear more.

We didn't get an official briefing today. We got a written one and not much there to advance the actual investigation into the people and the motives -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And the search for debris, we know that the air search was suspended earlier today, and the search zone is an area known for very turbulent weather, harsh conditions, weather in terms of weather we know winter is setting in, the days are getting shorter. I mean, what are all the investigators up against when they try to reach and find the debris out there?

CLANCY: Well, you know, the investigators -- and there are several investigations that are ongoing. You know, you've got the investigation where is the plane. That's being headed up the Australians really right now. You've got the investigation into what might have happened in cockpit, what went wrong that's being further investigated right here in Kuala Lumpur as they talk to relatives, they talk to others and they try to source all of this out.

But everything comes back to the same single source: the flight data recorder. If you really want to know, if you really want to have evidence that's what you need.

And there are growing fears perhaps they won't find it and we will never, never unravel the mystery of flight 370 -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's right. And finding the flight data recorder is crucial and time is running out.

Jim Clancy reporting live from KL, thank you so much for that.

Now there is a lot of speculation out there about what might have happened on the flight. Some theories, more plausible than others, and you can see many of them here at

And this just in to CNN. We have wire services reporting that the former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko says that she will run for president.

Now the country is due to hold elections in May after the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych who beat Tymoshenko to the presidency after a runoff vote back in 2010.

Now Tymoshenko has also previously served as prime minister of Ukraine.

Now you are watching News Stream. And still ahead, a student protest in Cairo on Wednesday ended in violence. Ahead, human rights groups speak about what they say is the high cost of public dissent.


LU STOUT: Now welcome back.

Now there has been another bomb attack in the runup to Afghanistan's presidential elections. And this one happened early on Thursday about 150 kilometers southwest of the capital Kabul. Two security officers were injured. So far, no claim of responsibility.

Now just two days ago, Taliban militants stormed a Kabul election commission office and killed five people.

Anna Coren reports.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTENRATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Carnage on the streets of Kabul as Taliban fighters wage war against fellow Afghans. Their target, the offices of the independent election commission, packed with workers determined to bring fair elections to this country.

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gate before gunmen blasted their way into the building, killing five people.

Among the injured, 36-year-old Fatima Naziri (ph). The parliamentary candidate and mother of four was shot eight times, one of those bullets going straight through her jaw.

Visiting her at the emergency hospital, her cousin Masuda (ph) who says the daily violence has simply become part of life.

MASODA ARZUSH, COUSIN INJURED IN ATTACK: Maybe tomorrow I will be killed. She knew -- she knew before that she will be killed, that's (inaudible) she started where she encouraged to have a woman (inaudible).

COREN: In less than two weeks, Afghans will go to the polls to elect a new president. This election is considered critical to the country's future and stability with U.S. forces withdrawing at the end of this year.

In threats made earlier this month, the Taliban vowed to use all force to disrupt the vote and punish those involved. And the brutal attack on Kabul's luxurious and heavily fortified Sarina (ph) Hotel last week is just part of the insurgents' terror campaign.

Nine people were killed, including prominent Afghan journalist Saada Ahmad (ph), his wife and two young children, all shot at point blank range in the head.

Recent attacks here in Kabul have proved that Afghanistan's capital is not impenetrable to the Taliban. In fact, just outside this city is an insurgent stronghold with security officials saying that Taliban influence is in control more than half the country.

But for many Afghans who have known nothing but war for the past three decades, just trying to make a living and to feed their families in peace is all they want.

"This election is our future," says this mother. "It's for our kids, their education, and for a peaceful life."

And nothing is going to stop her and millions of others expected to cast their precious vote.

Anna Coren, CNN, Kabul.


LU STOUT: In Egypt, the army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has resigned from the military in order to run for president. al-Sisi made the announcement Wednesday on state TV. He said it would be an honor to serve as Egypt's president and called for the public's support.

al-Sisi led the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsy last year after mass protests. And later he served as defense minister in the country's interim government.

Now there was still no official date for the presidential vote, but it is expected before June.

And while many Egyptians welcome al-Sisi's candidacy, it could further polarize the country. On Wednesday, police clashed with protesters at Cairo University as they demonstrated against death sentences handed down to more than 500 Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Now human rights groups, the UN and western governments have criticized the mass trials.

Matthew Chance reports.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These students in Egypt are now at the vanguard of the protests against the military-backed government. This, a brief outburst of anger at Cairo University in which health officials say at least one protesters was killed.

But wide-scale arrests and harsh new anti-protest laws in the mass rallies of recent years were a thing of the past. Even Cairo's Tahrir Square, once the center of Egypt's popular uprisings, seems protest weary. And like Midhat (ph) who sells t-shirts, (inaudible) mood.

Does it sell well, this t-shirt?

Those picturing Egypt's military strongman General Sisi are best sellers, he tells me.

The man tipped to be Egypt's next president is good for business, he says.

Well, there's no shortage of souvenirs here. There are calendars and posters and key rings, even bottle openers showing General al-Sisi. It's much more difficult, though, to find anyone here in Tahrir Square who will speak publicly against his military-backed government. You get a sense after so much turmoil many Egyptians genuinely welcome the stability and the security that it promises.

This all coming at a very high price, because there are lots of concerns that in this new Egypt human rights are being trampled on.

The crackdown on supporters of the elected president Mohamed Morsy, ousted in July last year by Sisi, has seen hundreds killed and thousands jailed. Only this week, 529 people were sentenced to death in a mass trial, widely criticized as a violation of international norms. Egypt's government says it's fighting terrorism.

But aid groups say the human rights situation in Egypt today is even worse than under the old regime of Hosni Mubarak, toppled by a mass pro- democracy movement in 2011.

"There was a dictatorship, but it was organized and its violations known," he says. "We were able to deal with it and make small gains. But now the situation is much more chaotic and there is no specific authority we can hold accountable."

And in a country which has already ousted one dictatorship, human rights groups say they're concerned another more brutal one may take its place.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Cairo.


LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And after the break, we step into the past for a look at the war that never really ended and the moments leading up to it. The Korean War after the break.


LU STOUT: Now a shocking political scandal in the U.S. This California State senator was arrested on Wednesday on charges of conspiring to traffic firearms and trading favors for bribes.

Now Leeland Yee was one of more than two dozen people entangled in a 5 year long FBI investigation. Their main target, notorious Chinatown gangster. But investigators allege that during their undercover sting, he repeatedly took bribes and facilitated a gun trafficking deal.

The charges against Yee stand in surprising contrast to his stance on guns and violence. Yee has been an outspoken critic of violent video games and previously fought for tougher gun laws.

Now time now for a check of your global weather forecast. And east coast of the U.S. and Canada both bracing for a major, major storm. Let's get the details now with Mari Ramos. She joins us once again from the world weather center -- Mari.

RAMOS: Hey, this is a huge storm, this massive nor'easter. The cloud field has expanded anywhere, or covered areas anyway from the mid-Atlantic region and the Carolinas here in the U.S. and Washington, D.C. all the way up to past New England and through the Canadian maritimes.

I want to put this in motion so you can see just how beautiful and just really amazing this storm is. Now most of the action moving into Nova Scotia. There, the weather has been horrendous in the last few hours. Take a look at these pictures that we have of that region. Winds howling at hurricane force, visibility near zero. Yeah, that's what they call whiteout conditions, blizzard conditions.

This time of the year, storms this intense are a bit more rare. You can see from these pictures right over here -- that's in Halifax, which by the way had some significant snow, up to 18 centimeters of snowfall. But with the wind blowing like I said near hurricane force, make conditions very, very tough.

And Nantucket island in Massachusetts, they had winds gusting to 119 kilometers per hour. And in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia 35 centimeters of snowfall.

Fortunately, most of this is now beginning to pull away. You can see it right over here in our satellite image. Begins to move away. But there is another storm system approaching.

Come on, it's already the end of March. It should feel a lot more like spring. Hopefully this will be a last snow storm that we have to contend with.

It doesn't look like places like New York or Washington will have to deal with anything frozen this time around, but definitely some rain is in the forecast here.

I want to stay with this side of the U.S. because as that next front comes on through, it's going to bring a lot of rain showers here, not just rain showers, but also the potential for some severe weather across this southern portion of the U.S. probably on Friday and maybe into Saturday, that's definitely going to be something to watch.

There is even the possibility of some isolated tornadoes, but I think strong winds and hail will be the bigger concern.

In the western U.S. remember that we've been covering that story of that deadly mudslide up here in the U.S. State of Washington. Terrible, terrible tragedy there.

I want to show you that the conditions that they're having to work with here to try to dig through that rubble continue to be very tough. More rain is expected across this region. They've had above average precipitation already. And unfortunately they're not catching a break when it comes to the weather, making that job of search and rescue in that region even much more dangerous.

But I want to switch gears and end on something pretty cool, Kristie. I have not one, but two out of this world discoveries. Let's go ahead and take a look at the first set of pictures.

That's an asteroid. And, yeah, it's got rings. Isn't that something? It's called Charliklo. when it orbits between Saturn and Uranus, in the outer portions of the solar system. All those dots that you saw there on that map, that's in South America. They were able to track this in seven different locations including the southern observatory at La Cia (ph) in Chile.

They saw this star that seemed to disappear for a few seconds and then come back and then reappear again. And this led to astronomers to take a closer look, finding not just the asteroid but also the rings around the asteroid. You think, well, you know, that's pretty rare, right? Yeah, of course it is.

There are other objects in the solar system that have rings -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and now this one. Chariklo is the name, a Brazilian astronomer made the discovery.

And this that you're looking at over here is another planetoid in our solar system. Think of it this way, Kristie. Neptune is 2.8 billion miles from the sun and this new discovery is 7.7 billion miles away. That's for now, because it's closest point to the sun actually looks out about 42 billion miles away. It's in an area that they thought there was nothing even out there. It's one of the farthest things away from our sun, but still considered to be in our solar system.

42 billion miles. It takes like 10,000 years for it to do an orbit around the sun. Back to you.

LU STOUT: Incredible, these new discoveries. Thank you so much for sharing them with us -- Wow. Mari Ramos there.

An asteroid with rings. Wow, that's a head scratcher too. Thank you.

Now CNN right now, we are marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall by once again airing our 24 part series called Cold War. And the series, it looks back at the struggle between Communism and Capitalism that defined the second half of the 20th Century.

And this installment, it looks at what led to the Korean War. Here's a preview.


HAN PYO WOOK, SOUTH KOREAN EMBASSY, WASHINGTON: It's was in the evening. I got a telephone call from the UP duty officer saying that Korea had been invaded by North Koreans. And momentarily the remark stunned me so much I didn't know what to say, whether he was joking with me or whether he was really sure.

KENNETH BRANAGH, ACTOR: Senior officials were recalled that night to the State Department.

LUCIUS BATTLE, ASSISTANT TO U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: When the invasion occurred in South Korea, I think there was an immediate sense that action had to be taken. Exactly what that action was to be and how far it was to go, it was not something we had planned on. We had not worked out a contingency plan for war started by North Korea with South Korea.

WOOK: And about midnight, there was a call from President Syngman Rhee. I took the receiver and said please ask American government to rush necessary help.

BRANAGH: The South Korean ambassador went immediately to the State Department to see Assistant Secretary Dean Rusk.

WOOK: He said, if I quote him, "we thought that this is a matter American alone cannot be concerned with. It is a matter the world has to be concerned."

And with that judgment we have decided to summon the security council for an emergency session.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Noting with grave concern armed invasion of the Republic of Korea by armed forces from North Korea.

BRANAGH: The following day the security council met. Moscow was boycotting the United Nations, because of its refusal to admit Communist China.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those in favor will please raise their hand.

BRANAGH: The United States seized the opportunity to condemn North Korean aggression.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine votes for, one against, and one abstention.

BRANAGH: Two days later, the security council voted to create a United Nations military force to defend South Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is, in fact, an attack on the United Nations itself.

BRANAGH: Under the UN flag, soldiers from 16 nations would fight against Communism.


LU STOUT: And tune in this Saturday for the next episode of CNN's landmark series Cold War. It airs Saturday 6:00 pm in Hong Kong.

Now they maybe known as some of the happiest, most playful sea dwellers, but you wouldn't want to cross the path of a dolphin like this. Now this guy right here is a military dolphin. And his comrades in Ukraine represent the latest political win for Russian Vladimir Putin.

Now Russia's state run news agency reports that the Russian navy has taken control of an elite dolphin combat unit in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. Now Mr. Putin, pictured here, appears to be a fan of the species.

Now the Russian media reports that say Ukraine was about to retire its military dolphin program, but when Russia seized Crimea, Moscow decided to keep the fleet and fit them with updated equipment.

And that is News Stream. But the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.