Satellite "Pings" Have U.S. Looking in Indian Ocean For Missing Jetliner

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 13 2014 4:42 PM

Slatest PM: Satellite "Pings" Have U.S. Looking in Indian Ocean For Missing Jetliner

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This picture taken on March 8, 2014 shows military personnel scanning the sea aboard a Vietnamese Air Force aircraft taking part in a search mission for a missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, somewhere between Malaysia's east coast and southern Vietnam

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Looking to the Indian Ocean: ABC News: "U.S. officials have an 'indication' the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner may have crashed in the Indian Ocean and is moving the USS Kidd to the area to begin searching. It's not clear what the indication was, but senior administration officials told ABC News the missing Malaysian flight continued to 'ping' a satellite on an hourly basis after it lost contact with radar. The Boeing 777 jetliners are equipped with what is called the Airplane Health Management system in which they ping a satellite every hour. The number of pings would indicate how long the plane stayed aloft. It's not clear, however, whether the satellite pings also indicate the plane's location. The new information has greatly expanded the search area and it will take another 24 hours to move the USS Kidd into position, a senior Pentagon official told ABC News."

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The Four-Hour Theory: Washington Post: "Administration officials later said the new information was that the plane’s engines remained running for approximately four hours after it disappeared from radar early Saturday over the Gulf of Thailand. The officials said they did not know what direction the plane flew — or whether it simply circled — during that time or whether it was airborne at all. But four hours of additional flight could have put the plane somewhere over the Indian Ocean, prompting U.S. officials to consider expanding the search into that area."

Jay Carney at Today's White House Briefing: "It's my understanding that based on some new information that's not necessarily conclusive, but new information, an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean, and we are consulting with international partners about the appropriate assets to deploy."

Note: Earlier Thursday, Malaysian officials dismissed a Wall Street Journal report suggesting the plane could have flown an additional 2,200 nautical miles—possibly putting the plane in the Indian Ocean or any number of other locations.

It's Thursday, March 13th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Don't Forget About Russia: New York Times: "Russia’s Defense Ministry announced new military operations in several regions near the Ukrainian border on Thursday, even as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned the Kremlin to abandon the politics of the 19th and 20th centuries or face diplomatic and economic retaliation from a united Europe. The operations came as Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, said in a statement on his official website that he believed Russian forces massed near the border were 'ready to intervene in Ukraine at anytime,' and that he hoped diplomatic efforts by Ukraine and sympathetic nations would 'stop the aggression.' Underscoring the potential gravity of the troop movements, Russia’s senior commander, Valery V. Gerasimov, spoke by telephone with his NATO counterpart, Gen. Knud Bartles of Denmark, the news agency Interfax reported, citing a defense source. The details of the conversation were not disclosed."

Harlem Rescue Goes On: Associated Press: "Rescue workers using dogs and thermal-detection gear searched the rubble Thursday for victims of a gas explosion that killed at least seven people, while investigators tried to pinpoint the leak and determine whether it had anything to do with New York's aging gas and water mains, some dating to the 19th century. At least five people were unaccounted for after the deafening blast Wednesday morning destroyed two five-story brick apartment buildings in East Harlem. More than 60 people were injured. Fire and utility officials said that if the buildings were plagued in recent days or weeks by strong gas odors, as some tenants claimed, they have no evidence anyone reported it before Wednesday. Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said experts would first try to reach the basement - still under rubble - to examine heating units, meters and other equipment that might hold clues to the blast. "

The Texting Shooter: Tampa Bay Times: "Curtis Reeves Jr., accused of fatally shooting a man in a movie theater during an argument over texting, himself sent a text message from his seat in the Wesley Chapel Cobb 16 Theatres. The revelation comes from court documents released Wednesday in the case that has drawn national attention. Matthew Reeves, the defendant's son, said in an interview with deputies after the Jan. 13 shooting that he was running late to meet his parents for a 1:20 p.m. show of Lone Survivor. He texted his father that he was on the way. His father wrote back that he and his wife, Vivian, were in their seats. About 15 minutes later, Matthew Reeves walked into the theater as a single shot rang out. Matthew Reeves, a Tampa police officer, told investigators he caught Chad Oulson, who was struck in the chest, as he collapsed in the aisle."

Pope Invited to Capitol: National Journal: "House Speaker John Boehner has sent a formal invitation to Pope Francis to speak at a joint session of Congress on behalf of congressional leadership from both parties and chambers, his office announced Thursday. ... Boehner, who is Catholic, isn't the first U.S. politician to try and bring the pope into American politics. In a major economic speech last December, President Obama directly quoted Francis, asking, 'How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points'" Boehner and Obama have reason to evoke the pope. Francis, who has now been pope for one year, is wildly popular stateside. In a December Washington Post poll, 69 percent of all respondents had a favorable view of the pope, including 92 percent of Catholics."

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds