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
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday urged President Obama to reject a bill extending sanctions on Iran which passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday in a 99-0 vote.
"America's president is obliged to exercise his authority by preventing [the bill's] approval and particularly its implementation," Rouhani said in a parliamentary speech, "and if this gross violation is carried out we will firmly respond."
The White House has said it does not believe the sanctions violate the Iran deal, as Rouhani claims, and Obama is expected to sign the bill. If approved, the extended Iran Sanctions Act will permit the president stop investment in key Iranian industries, including its energy sector. President-elect Donald Trump has expressed dissatisfaction with "terrible" Iran deal, promising to renegotiate it on better terms for the United States. Bonnie Kristian
At least three times since the election, Hillary Clinton has been spotted — and duly photographed for social media — while taking walks through the woods near her home in Chappaqua, New York. The sightings have become such a regular occurrence that Saturday Night Live launched a "quest for Bigfoot"-style investigation to find Clinton in a sketch called "The Hunt for Hil."
As one eyewitness recounts, the creature haunting the woods of Westchester County is "blonde, about 5-foot-6, and it seemed like it wanted to be by itself — so I started running after it." Wildlife investigators Rafe DeGraw and Coop Dixon are on the case, mimicking as a lure the distinctive laugh of "the most elusive legend of all." Watch the full skit below. Bonnie Kristian
The ashes of former Cuban President Fidel Castro were interred Sunday morning in Santiago, Cuba, following nine days of national mourning. "Few in the world believed in [Cuba's] ability to resist and overcome," said Fidel's brother, current Cuban President Raúl Castro, at the interment. "Fidel showed us that it was possible."
Fidel Castro's funeral procession reaches its final stop on journey across Cuba pic.twitter.com/eH0GnnMH2k
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) December 3, 2016
Raúl also announced Cuba would not name streets and landmarks after his deceased brother, insisting that the "leader of the revolution rejected any manifestation of a cult of personality and was consistent in that through the last hours of his life." Apparently having missed that memo, Cubans who watched a four-day procession of Castro's casket chanted, "I am Fidel! I am Fidel!" as it passed. Bonnie Kristian
President-elect Donald Trump "is already a statesman, he is the head of the United States of America, one of the world's leading countries," said Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview aired Sunday. "Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man. And if [he is] a clever man, then he will fully and quite quickly understand another level of responsibility. We assume that he will be acting from these positions," Putin added.
Trump has been accused of undue friendliness toward Putin, particularly considering alleged Russian hacking to influence the U.S. election. Before Sunday's remarks, Trump liked to quote a mistranslated Putin comment in which Trump believed the Russian president called him "brilliant." But a better translation than "brilliant" would be "vivid" or "colorful;" the Russian word Putin used means "bright," yet does not carry the English meaning of "intelligent." Bonnie Kristian
Saturday Night Live returned with an opener featuring Alec Baldwin's Twitter-happy President-elect Donald Trump, as well as the random Twitter users he loves to retweet. While Kate McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway vainly attempted to wrangle Trump for a security briefing, the apparently irresistible lure of sharing the words of complete strangers with millions of people just kept pulling him back to his phone.
Though the sketch was ripped from real life (Trump actually did retweet a 16-year-old high school kid weighing in on voter fraud last week), the man himself was yet again displeased with SNL's portrayal. "Just tried watching Saturday Night Live — unwatchable!" he said on Twitter, apparently without irony. "Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse." Watch the offending skit below. Bonnie Kristian
The Green Party dropped its initial case for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania in court documents released Saturday, but early Sunday the Green Party nominee spearheading the recount campaign, Jill Stein, said she will instead file suit in federal court demanding a recount on constitutional grounds.
PA’s election law and recount process raise serious questions about due process and whether fundamental democratic rights are protected.
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) December 4, 2016
On "Monday the Stein campaign will escalate our campaign in Pennsylvania and file for emergency relief in federal court, demanding a statewide recount on constitutional grounds," said a statement released around midnight.
Pennsylvania required a $1 million bond to advance the recount under Stein's previous strategy. Her recount push has also been hit with lawsuits in Michigan and Wisconsin, and critics have charged the whole project is pointless given electoral realities. Bonnie Kristian
A transgender police officer in San Diego was barred from an LGBT event that she helped organize over concerns that her uniform would upset other attendees. Officer Christine Garcia helped plan and provided security for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event honoring victims of transgender-violence, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. But when she tried to enter a post-march event, she was turned away. A spokesperson blamed the incident on a "misunderstanding" and later apologized directly to Garcia, as well as the San Diego police chief.
"While we need to support those that are uncomfortable and honor their reactions to valid and understandable difficult previous experiences," one of the organizers wrote in a statement, "our LGBTQ San Diego police liaisons are a valued part of our community."