Underwater vehicle to look for missing Malaysian plane

An unmanned underwater vehicle will be deployed to look for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on the floor of the Indian Ocean, Australian authorities said Monday, and investigators have collected samples from an oil slick discovered in the search area.

With six days having passed with no further detection of “pings” from what may have been the plane’s black boxes, searchers on the Australian ship Ocean Shield will cease using the U.S. Navy’s towed pinger locator and deploy the Bluefin-21 underwater search vessel, officials said.

The Bluefin-21 will search an area of about 15 square miles on its first 24-hour mission. It takes two hours to get to the sea floor and the vehicle will search for 16 hours. It takes another two hours to bring the Bluefin-21 to the surface and four hours to download and analyze the data it has collected.

The Bluefin-21, which moves at a walking pace, produces a high-resolution, 3-D map of the sea floor.



Obama pressures Putin on resolving crisis in Ukraine

A senior administration official says President Obama has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that although a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine remains open, Russia’s actions have not been conducive to that approach.

The official said Monday’s phone call between the leaders took place at Russia’s request. It comes amid deepening instability in eastern Ukraine, which the U.S. has blamed on Russia.

The official said Obama told Putin that Ukraine’s central government has made real offers to address concerns about giving local governments more power. But the official said Obama reiterated his belief that Ukrainians must decide those matters.

Military mental-health cases double, but treatment lags


The Army’s mental health caseload has doubled since 2007, and Sen. Dick Durbin says the United States is not “up to that challenge” that “may be with us for some time.”

“What we are learning,” the Illinois Democrat said in an interview, “is that the cost of war goes way beyond the end of conflict.”

The mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas this month, in which Army Spc. Ivan Lopez killed three fellow soldiers and wounded 16 others before taking his own life, brought back into focus the mental health strains on soldiers, sailors and Marines in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lopez had served in Iraq and had sought treatment for post-traumatic stress, the base commander told reporters.


Rocket leak delays launch of space station cargo ship


A space station cargo ship will remain earthbound for a while longer because of a rocket leak.

With just over an hour remaining, the SpaceX company called off Monday’s planned launch. Officials said they believe the problem can be fixed by Friday, the next opportunity for flying and the last chance before astronauts do urgent spacewalking repairs.

A helium leak in the first-stage of the unmanned Falcon rocket forced a halt to the countdown, the latest delay spanning the past month.

— From news service reports

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