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.
If President Obama had The Rock's build, he would have a much easier time getting Republicans to do what he wants. Or, at least, he would have a much easier time tossing them out windows and ripping off their limbs when they made him angry, as was the case in this Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Dwayne Johnson as "The Rock Obama."
"Don't be alarmed," Johnson says after some maddening Republican subversion causes him to hulk out and rip through his suit. "The Rock Obama much like Barack Obama, only larger and more violent." —Jon Terbush
Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Sunday crept closer to a White House bid, saying in an interview with Fox News there is a "higher than 90 percent" chance she will run.
"As other potential candidates are doing, we need to make sure we have the right team in place, that we have the right support," she said, adding that an announcement would likely come in late April or early May.
A political neophyte, Fiorina ran for Senate in California in 2010 but lost by a 10-point margin. A CNN poll earlier this month found her with less than one percent of the vote in a hypothetical GOP primary. —Jon Terbush
Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Sunday took a none-too-subtle swipe at Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, the presumptive frontrunners for their parties' 2016 nominations.
"The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families," O'Malley, himself a prospective White House candidate, said on ABC's This Week. "It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people." —Jon Terbush
What would Bambi look like with bulging muscles and an entourage of woodland gunmen? That's the question Saturday Night Live answered with a The Fast and the Furious meets Disney reboot staring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the titular orphaned deer.
"When I was a boy, they took away my mother," Johnson says in the faux trailer. "Now it's time for them to pay — dearly." —Jon Terbush
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday assailed the emerging details of a nuclear agreement intended to curb Iran's nuclear program.
"This agreement, as it appears, confirms all of our concerns and even more so," he said.
The U.S. and Iran have three days left before the deadline to reach a framework deal.
Arab leaders on Sunday announced a tentative agreement to create a joint military force to combat violence and extremism in the region.
"We recognize the clear challenges in the Arab world and the need to take measures to combat them," Nabil al Araby, chairman of the Arab League, said on the final day of the group's summit in Egypt.
The announcement came days after a Saudi-led coalition began launching airstrikes in Yemen against the Houthi rebels who have overrun the country and forced President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) said Saturday his state would move to "clarify" the intent of a controversial so-called religious freedom law that critics contend will allow businesses to discriminate against gays.
"I support religious liberty, and I support this law," Pence told the Indianapolis Star. "But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there's a way to clarify the intent of the law."
The law, which will go into effect in July, bars the state from enacting legislation that could "substantially burden" the ability of people and businesses to practice their religious beliefs. Several high-profile businesses and figures have expressed concern over the law, or threatened to boycott the state.