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News Wrap: China spots possible debris in Malaysian jet search

March 12, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: China now says one of it satellites has spotted possible debris in the sea near where that missing Malaysian airliner vanished. Beijing today released this image and two others taken Sunday over the South China Sea. It came after another day of fruitless searching.

John Sparks of Independent Television News reports from Kuala Lumpur.

JOHN SPARKS: After five days of confusion, the location of a sophisticated jet is still unknown, and it’s the sort of thing that makes people nervous.

MAN (through interpreter): Obviously, I’m a bit — a bit — a bit concerned, a bit anxious.

JOHN SPARKS: So, the Malaysian government put their cards on the table today before a large group of international journalists.

Firstly, said the transport minister, they needed more help.

DATUK SERI HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, Transport Minister, Malaysia: The way forward, ladies and gentlemen, is to bring more experts to analyze both the civilian and the military data in the east or in the west, on land or in the water. And it is exactly what we are doing today.

JOHN SPARKS: They need more help, because they just don’t know where Flight 370 is. Here’s what they said. At 12:41 a.m. on Saturday, it left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. The authorities say they lost contact with it 50 minutes later.

The aircraft’s transponder, which sends out information about direction and speed, also stopped working. But, after reviewing military radar, officials saw an aircraft alter course. It may have been Flight 370, but they’re not sure. It was tracked 200 miles off the coast and disappeared at 2:15 a.m. as it headed out to sea.

GEN. ZULKIFELI MOHD ZIN, Chief of Armed Forces, Malaysia: There’s a possibility that — that this aircraft made a turn back, but we are not sure whether it is the same aircraft.

JOHN SPARKS: With little to go on, the Malaysians have expanded the search area, although there seems little chance of finding anyone left alive.

But, to understand what’s happened, they have to find the aircraft’s black box. While the government tries to clarify, the public have been offering their prayers to the relatives and friends of the missing, because nobody needs an explanation more than them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: At a White House mini-summit, Ukraine’s embattled interim government got a vote of American support today. President Obama warned that U.S. and other major democracies will not recognize any vote in Crimea to break free of Ukraine. Hari Sreenivasan looks at the U.S. role in the crisis right after the news summary.

The president also made ready today to order beefed-up overtime protection for millions of American workers. It’s aimed at salaried workers, such as fast food supervisors and store managers, who now work more than 40 hours a week without getting overtime.

Betsey Stevenson is with the president’s Council of Economic Advisers.

BETSEY STEVENSON, Council of Economic Advisers: Without overtime and minimum wage protections, there are many people who aren’t able to get that basic promise, which is that, when you work hard, you get a fair wage. And what he’s going to do is to make sure that we modernize this rule, so that people are able to get treated fairly in the labor force and that they’re rewarded for a hard day’s work with fair pay.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Also today, the White House issued a report aimed at the gender wage gap. It said women who work full-time still earn just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. That’s even though women have surpassed men in earning college degrees, and made inroads into male-dominated occupations.

Snow and bitter cold are back in the Midwest and Northeast, after a hint of spring. A new storm swept across the country’s midsection today. Chicago and Detroit saw six and eight inches of snow, respectively. In Detroit, the total for the entire winter could top a record set 133 years ago.

A thunderous explosion blew apart two apartment buildings in New York City today, killing two people and injuring more than 20. More a dozen others were unaccounted for. The fiery blast ripped through an East Harlem neighborhood amid reports of a possible gas leak. It touched off a five-alarm fire that more than 250 firefighters battled.

Meanwhile, crews in San Francisco mopped up one of the largest fires there in recent years. It burned through the night at a construction site.

In Turkey, riot police battled demonstrators again today after a night of protests triggered by a teenager’s death. Thousands turned out in Istanbul and other cities to mourn a 15-year-old-boy who was hit by a tear gas canister last summer, and never regained consciousness. Police fired water cannon and smoke grenades today, while protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails.

The Israeli Parliament has voted to induct ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military. They’d been largely exempted to pursue their religious studies, but that’s become a sore point with other Israelis. Today, lawmakers approved limits on the exemptions from compulsory military service. And a number of ultra-Orthodox lawmakers walked out, calling it a — quote — “black day.”

A man who spent 26 years on Louisiana’s death row enjoyed his first full day of freedom today; 64-year-old Glenn Ford walked out of prison last evening, after a judge voided his conviction in a 1983 murder. New evidence backed up his claim that he wasn’t involved.

Ford said it feels good to be free, but he resents all the years he lost.

GLENN FORD: I can’t go back and do anything I should be doing when I was like 35, 38, 40, stuff like that. My sons, when I left, was babies. Now they’re grown men.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Under Louisiana state law, Ford may be eligible for a total of $320,000 in compensation for being wrongly jailed.

In economic news, average cash bonuses at Wall Street securities firms rose 15 percent last year, to $164,000. That’s the highest since 2008. Meanwhile, the markets were little changed today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 11 points to close at 16,340. The Nasdaq rose 16 points to close at 4,323. The Standard & Poor’s 500 also rose half-a-point to finish at 1,868.