Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Officials Identify Passenger with Stolen Passport as Search Shifts West


Top News: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continues this morning, and after four days of fruitless searching, authorities said yesterday they are expanding the search area. A military source says they believe projected flight paths based on the last known radar position of the plane could place the airplane somewhere near the Strait of Malacca, suggesting the plane was attempting to turn back.
The United States is increasing its involvement in the search, contributing two guided missile destroyers, each with two helicopters aboard, and a P-3C Orion airplane designed to detect submarines -- or, in this case, airplane debris in the water. This augments a search coalition that has brought together 10 countries to help. It is unclear, though, how closely these search efforts are being coordinated between countries and how international efforts for the investigation will be shared, writes FP's Dan Lamothe.
As the international fleet of search vessels and aircraft shifts from the eastern coast of Vietnam to the western coast, officials are now discounting the possibility that the stolen passports used to board the flight could be evidence of a terrorist attack. One of the passengers flying with false documents has been identified as Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, an Iranian teenager who is believed to have been trying to seek asylum in Germany. He is not believed to have any links to terrorism.
Israel: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Western countries of "hypocrisy against Israel" in efforts to reach a nuclear accord with Israel while Iran continues arms shipments. Netanyahu delivered his remarks in front of an array of rockets, mortars, and small-arms ammunition seized by Israeli forces last week aboard a ship that had sailed from Iran.

  • Appearing by video from Russia, NSA leaker Edward Snowden addressed an audience at the SXSW technology conference and encouraged technology companies to use encryption methods to make government surveillance more difficult.
  • After elections in El Salvador failed to elect a clear winner, the government began on Monday a formal review of the preliminary results.
  • The government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos retained control of parliament in elections on Sunday that were billed as a referendum on Santos's efforts to broker a peace deal with the FARC rebel group.
  • Sixteen police officers were killed and another 25 wounded when Maoist rebels attacked them on their way to provide protection for road construction in Chhattisgarh, India.
  • Nils Horner, a Swedish radio journalist who had just arrived in Afghanistan to cover the upcoming election, was assassinated in Kabul.
  • Former NBA player Dennis Rodman said he will not visit North Korea again if Americans do not want him to.
Middle East
  • A Jordanian man of Palestinian descent was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces at a border crossing as he entered Israel; reports differ over whether the man, a 38-year-old judge, was reaching for a soldier's gun or a metal detector when he was shot.
  • Fighting between rival groups -- the Shia Houthi movement and Sunni militants -- in Yemen's north came within 20 miles of the capital of Sanaa; at least 40 people have been killed in the violence since last Friday.
  • In accordance with a negotiated prisoner exchange, al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra released 13 Maronite nuns it was holding in captivity in Syria and the Assad regime released 15 female political prisoners.
  • A crowd of more than 1,000 people protested against the United Nations in South Sudan after the South Sudanese government accused the U.N. Mission in South Sudan of arming anti-government rebels.
  • The Central African Republic paid wages to civil service workers for the first time in six months, a move that is seen by some as a sign of normalcy returning after months of violence.
  • Somali al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab initiated a new campaign to encourage attacks against Ethiopia, which is conducting an offensive against the group and driving it out of towns in South-Central Somalia.
  • NATO announced that it will begin flying reconnaissance planes over Romania and Poland to monitor the situation in Ukraine and reassure its NATO allies.
  • Panicos Demetriades, the head of Cyprus's central bank, resigned after three years in office, during which time he has been criticized for contributing to the country's financial dysfunction.
  • Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt condemned violence in Malmo which left four people wounded, tying the attack to right-wing extremists.

-By J. Dana Stuster


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