Ever since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in the early morning of March 8, there have been two basic theories to explain how the massive Boeing 777 with 239 people on board vanished: It crashed, or it was hijacked. Malaysia is now treating the lost flight as a criminal hijacking, and on late Monday U.S. officials bolstered that case, saying that the plane's initial turn off-course was programmed into the Flight Management System computer and was not the result of somebody manually steering the plane away from its Beijing destination.
Because the flight computer can only be programmed in the cockpit by somebody familiar with Boeing jets, it now seems unlikely that a passenger could have taken control of the jetliner. The new information, if true, doesn't do anything to illuminate why the pilots or a trained hijacker would have carefully veered the passenger jet off its planned course. If a hijacker or rogue pilot had wanted to crash the plane, there would be no point in turning off the communication and tracking devices and programming the flight computer — he would simply steer it into the ocean.
Chris Goodfellow, a veteran commercial pilot, plausibly hypothesizes that the captain piloted the plane off-course because of a fire in the cockpit or another major event onboard, and was headed to the closest large landing strip, at Palau Langkawi.
Instead of a nefarious hijacker, the pilot was likely "a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi," Goodfellow says. But the pilots were incapacitated before they got it there, and the plane "just continued on the heading probably on George (autopilot) until either fuel exhaustion or fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed," he adds. "Smart pilot. Just didn't have the time." That's not the most optimistic theory, since it assumes that everyone is dead, but it has the air of nobility and simplicity. And it makes as much sense as the other explanations out there. Peter Weber
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday said that while he believes sexual orientation is an inborn trait, he still opposes same-sex marriage.
"I don't believe same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right. I also don't believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people," Rubio said on Face the Nation, adding that "sexual preference is something that people are born with."
Rubio said states have traditionally regulated marriage, and that he believes they should continue to do so without interference from the courts. —Jon Terbush
Jon Stewart says his decision to leave The Daily Show after a 16-year run was not based on concerns with the show's direction, but rather the result of him no longer "getting the same satisfaction" from his work.
"These things are cyclical," he told the Guardian. "You have moments of dissatisfaction, and then you come out of it and it's OK. But the cycles become longer and maybe more entrenched, and that's when you realize, 'OK, I'm on the back side of it now.'"
Patti Smith on Saturday delivered a teary-eyed speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's induction ceremony for the late Lou Reed, saying the famed musician's "consciousness infiltrated and illuminated our cultural voice."
Smith spoke about a decades-long friendship with Reed that began as both artists developed in the New York City music scene of the 1970s. And describing the day Reed died, Smith said she realized the Velvet Underground frontman was "not only my friend, he was the friend of New York City."
"True poets must often stand alone," she said. "As a poet, he must be counted as a solitary artist. So, Lou, thank you for brutally and benevolently injecting your poetry into music." —Jon Terbush
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday accused the U.S. of fabricating tales of Iranian nuclear weapons.
"They created the myth of nuclear weapons so they could say the Islamic Republic is a source of threat," Khamenei said in an address to military commanders. "No, the source of threat is America itself, with its unrestrained, destabilizing interventions."
The remark came one day before nuclear negotiations between Iran, the U.S., and five world powers were to resume. The negotiators have until June 30 to reach a final accord. Jon Terbush
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says he will almost certainly get into the 2016 White House race.
"If I can raise the money, I'll do it," Graham said on Fox News Sunday. When pressed to say how seriously he was considering a presidential bid, Graham pegged his odds of running at the oddly specific "91 percent."
In January, Graham launched a presidential exploratory committee. Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.), and Marco Rubio (Fla.) are the only major GOP candidates to formally declare their candidacies for the White House. Jon Terbush
Poland on Sunday summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest FBI Director James Comey's recent comment casting some blame on Poland for the Holocaust.
"The murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn't do something evil," Comey said in a speech last week, which was then adapted as an opinion piece in The Washington Post. "They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do."
Poland's ambassador to the U.S. denounced the comment as "unacceptable" and a "falsification of history." Soon after, the U.S. Ambassador in Warsaw, Stephen Mull, told reporters that suggestions anyone "apart from the Nazi Germany was responsible for the Holocaust are wrong, harmful and offensive." Jon Terbush
A slew of declared and potential Republican presidential candidates trekked to New Hampshire this weekend for the two-day Republican Leadership Summit. Close to 20 prospective candidates — ranging from establishment types like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, to bottom-tier hopefuls like Donald Trump and John Bolton — used their stage time to discuss policy, ding the president, and assail presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
"When Hillary Clinton travels, there's going to need to be two planes," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said. "One for her and her entourage, and one for her baggage."
Also at the event, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Clinton represented "the third term of Barack Obama," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee denounced the "Clinton political machine," and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) quipped that Clinton was not at the event because it was not being bankrolled by foreign interests. Jon Terbush