all i ask is they not be taken away. >> that's all the time we have. good afternoon to you, and welcome to al jazeera america. i'm morgan radford live in new york city. here are the stories we're following right now. taking sides in crimea. a standoff between pro and anti-russian forces. investigators may have discovered new clues in the disappearance of the malaysian airliner. it's been seven years since an american cia operative disappeared in iran, and al jazeera america talked to his wife about the ongoing ordeal. kenyan children turn to racing as a way to outrun
poverty. tensions escalating on the ground in ukraine where pro-ukrainian activists were attacked by pro-russian groups in the crimean city of sevastopol. r russian troops in control of the region. john kerry warned them any moves to annex it would close the door to diplomacy. jennifer glasse is following the developments in ukraine. vladimir putin says russian ukraine won't go to war at all, but 16,000 pro-russian troops occupy the region in the west. is russia gaining ground? >> reporter: morgan, they are gaining ground. they surrounded another base
today. that's a border point, a border base there. basically the coast guard. these are lightly armed very lightly trained folks. the ukrainians retreated inside the base. this is the 11th base they have taken control over since they arrived seven days ago. they've surrounded and blockaded ukrainian forces on the bases and ships at sea. basically the ukrainian military can do virtually nothing here in crimea. russian forces very much in control of anything that's going on. we've seen russian forces moving around the bases, and they're supported by these local self-defense forces. it's those that really, i think, people believe are the most dangerous that are really the flash point. so far the forces have been quite disciplined. a shot has been fired. a lot of ukrainian forces pu them weapons away so there's no problems so that nobody
accidentally fires on somebody and starts something that nobody seems to want to start here. >> you mentioned the forces, but what about the protesters? what's the scene on the ground today in terms of demonstrations? >> reporter: well, here in crimea and the crimean capital sevastopol, there was a pro-russian demonstration. a few thousand came in favor of crimea becoming part of russia. in kiev we saw a very emotional prime minister saying to the crowd that crimea remains a part of ukraine. >> translator: this is our land. our parents and grandparents spilled their blood for this land. we will not give up a single centimeter of ukrainian land. let russia and the russian president know this.
>> reporter: the russian president doesn't seem to care at all what kiev has to say. he told angela merkel what the crimean parliament is doing declaring a referendum is legal under international law, and russian forces and russian officials continue to make their presence on the ground very well-known. we had russian officials come to crimea to offer their support to crimean politicians, and politicians have been in moscow making their affiliation very clear, morgan. >> jennifer glasse is following the story from the very beginning in ukraine. jennifer, thanks so much for being with us this afternoon. on saturday the leader of the crimean called on the u.n. to send in peacekeepers to protect them. we report on just how minority groups in crimea are coping with the unfolding crisis.
>> they're not taking chicago chan -- any chances because they feel under threat. >> translator: we need a plan, but if the new regional government stays, i don't know what will happen to you. >> about there 300 unarmed man in the neighborhood in sevastopol. this can't fight off a pro-russia militia in it came, but they tried to fend off any provocation. nevertheless people receive it threats on their doorsteps. many wake up to find these crosses on their gate. for them to revives some of the darkest memories when only 70 years ago similar signs meant you're being to be deported to either russia or central asia. several houses have similar markings in the town. the threat is so serious that this man doesn't want to be identified. he's afraid history might be repeating itself.
>> translator: please, stop this war before it starts. it's really hard. we grew up hearing the stories of our grandparents being deported. >> reporter: pro-russian propaganda feeds the debate leaving little space to voice their opposition. >> translator: there are people who want a confrontation in crimea. that's why we call on the u.n. to send peacekeepers before it's too late. >> reporter: the regional government is going ahead with a referendum in which they choice is to join russia now or later. me feel their identities are being stolen away. al jazeera, crimea. >> ethnic tartars make up 14% of crimea. diplomatic effort to resolve the crisis in ukraine seem to be at a standstill. now ukraine's prime minister is heading to the u.s. to discuss the unrest. randall pinkston joins us from washington. former defense secretary said
today he doesn't think russia will let go of crimea. what is the u.s. doing to respond to russia's pretty aggressive move? >> reporter: well, morgan, the obama administration for now is focusing on political isolation and economics. today, the deputy national security adviser says russia is already feeling the pain. >> the cost is already significant, first of all. second, the president's made clear that going forward in coordination with our partners and allies, we have in place a mechanism with sanctions to raise the cost significantly, but this is really a choice for the russians to make. >> reporter: they say if president putin does not change course, russia will face increasing international isolation. morgan. >> speaking a response, what kind of response is the president getting from republicans? we know that cpac for example just wrapped up yesterday.
>> reporter: yeah. cpac speakers, many of them, were scathing in their criticism of the administration's handling of this particular foreign crisis policies and all the foreign crises in general. on the other hand, most republican do, including house speaker john boehner, support some aid for ukraine. other republicans support the sanctions on russia. one former secretary of state, james baker, he served in the administration of george h.w. bush says he doesn't like the way the obama administration draws red lines on policy issues as president obama did, for instance, in syria, and then fails to take action. >> i'm not sure that all of this would have happened had we, you know, stuck with our so-called red lines and that sort of thing. so i sort of support the idea of moving carefully with this and prudently. this has all the potential of
spinning out of control. it is clearly the most serious east/west confrontation since the end of the cold war. >> reporter: in addition, of course, to the crisis in crimea and ukraine, another concern is a threat made by russia's defense minister to pull out of allowing international inspections of russia's nuclear arsenal. the u.s. department of state is saying that they expect russia should maintain and respect its legal obligation with respect to arms control treaties. morgan. >> randall pinkston reporting from washington, d.c. randall, thanks so much for being with us again this afternoon. be sure to join us tonight at 8:30 for the regular sunday segment "the week ahead." we'll examine the growing crisis in ukraine and ask exactly what it means for international security. respecting world order is the topic, and that's tonight with jonathan betz at 8:30 p.m. eastern and 5:30 p.m. pacific on "the week ahead" right here on
al jazeera america. new details on the missing malaysian jetliner that vanished over the south china sea. two passengers that got on the plane with stolen passports is a matter of grave concern. a vietnamese navy plane found objects that may belong to the missing aircraft, and teams are looking for the jetliner near the coast of vietnam. the plane had 239 people on board, and now investigators are checking surveillance video of the two men believed to have boarded the plane with that stolen identification. let's turn to scott in kuala lumpur with the latest. >> reporter: they've expanded the area they're searching from 20 naught call -- 20 nautical miles to 50 because there's indication they changed direction possibly coming back. so they expanded the area they search. a lot of nations have joined in the search, about a half-dozen plus air asats and ships. right now it's nighttime so only
ships continue the search overnight, and the aircraft will be brought back in on monday morning. another area of focus on sunday have been the two gentlemen that boarded the plane using fake passports. a statement by interpol has said they're very concerned they're allowed on this aircraft mainly because the passports were in their system marked as stolen and they should have been red flagged before they got in. interpol is looking other questionable names on the manifest for this aircraft. right now -- this is from malaiysian officials -- they wil focus on finding the aircraft, because they say any of the answers to all these questions out there could possibly answered once they find that aircraft. >> all right. al jazeera's scott hieler reporting from kuala lumpur. thanks, scott. it's been a violent weekend in rasiraq. today a suicide bomber killed at least 35 people. police say at least 50 cars were set on fire at an area checkpoint, and people were
trapped inside. nearly 150 victims are being treated now for injuries, and then on saturday at least four people died from a car bomb blast in northern baghdad. it happened near a popular market, and it's still unclear who exactly is behind the bloodshed. he's been missing for seven years. up next, we taek with the wife of former fbi agent robert levinson who has been missing in iran since 2007. that story and a whole lot more when al jazeera america returns.
>> every sunday night al jazeera america brings you controversial... >> both parties are owned by the corporations. >> ..entertaining >> it's fun to play with ideas. >> ...thought provoking >> get your damn education. >> ...surprising >> oh, absolutely! >> ...exclusive one-on-one interviews with the most interesting people of our time. >> you're listening because you want to see what's going to happen. >> i want to know what works what do you know works? >> conversations you won't find anywhere else. >> talk to al jazeera. >> only on al jazeera america. >> oh my! welcome back to al jazeera america. i'm morgan radford. today marks seven years that an american working for the cia mysteriously went missing in iran. his family demanding that the u.s. government find him and bring him home. >> former fbi agent robert levinson disappeared march 9,
2007 here on kish island off the southern coast of iran. at the time the u.s. government said he was working as a private investigator looking into cigarette smuggling and avoided claims that he worked for the cia. that year levinson's wife and son went to iran in search of answers. he was last seen alive in these photographs released last year sent to his family by a private investigator in 2011. the family released this video. >> i am in hell here for three and a half years. >> reporter: last year an associated press investigation reported he had been working on a mission for the cia spying on the iranian government. levinson's family confirmed his cia employment, but exactly what he was doing in iran remains unclear. the family says the u.s. government has not done nush to bring him home. the iranian government denies holding levinson and says there's unaware of his whereabouts. >> more on levinson coming up
later in the hour. a cargo ship believed to be smuggling a stockpile of roberts from iran has docked in an israeli port. navy forces seized the ship last week, and authorities fear they were on their way to gaza to harm israel. they say the arsenal has more than 150 containers of syrian-made rock accounts. iranian officials deny any involvement whatsoever. a group of greek orthodox nuns kidnapped in the case i don'ts of syria's civil war has been released. the 13 nuns were exchanged for 150 prisoners who were being held by the syrian government. the nuns were captured after they are monastery was overrun by anti-government forces back in december. anti-government forces say they were holding the women for their own protection. up next on al jazeera america, an amazing story of kenyan children who turn to racing as a way to outrun poverty. plus, talk about a marathon.
good afternoon to you, and welcome back to al jazeera america. i'm morgan radford, and here are the headlines. tensions escalate on the ground in crimea, where pro-crimean activists were attacked at a rally. the search for the missing malaysian jetliner continues. reuters news agency is reporting the vietnamese navy may have actualed spotted debris that looks like belongings from that missing plane, but still no confirmation on the exact whereabouts. two passengers managed to board the flight using stolen passports, and the head of interpol says it's a grave concern.
no one actually checked the interpol database for stolen travel documents before that plane departed. and accusations of the venezuelan government is using brutal force against protesters. that's coming from the u.n. and human rights groups as a day of mass protests are under way in car racqqa rack cuss. now let's get the latest for the weather, and for that we turn to the meteorologist. we got a taste of spring yesterday. >> it was so sunny. >> it wasn't here to stay. >> no, it's not here to stay. we'll talk about a little bit of snow in a second. look at temperatures right now. denver reaches a high of 70 degrees. they have a lot of tropical moisture in the atmosphere and a lot of warm air off the pacific ocean. it's comfortable overall all up and down portions of the west coast, but we'll have a little bit of rain today. almost that 60 degrees in seattle down towards san francisco at 69 and very
warm in los angeles currently reaching a high of 82 degrees yesterday. yesterday it was close to 52 degrees in new york city for the daytime high. today it's a little cooler. we have an alberta clipper system out of canada. because of that we may see a little bit of snow across upstate new york, but for the most part very quiet across the east coast. we had gulf showers earlier on in the day across portions of eastern texas. again, the bulk of the activity here across the west coast. we have a storm bringing in a ton of moisture off the pacific ocean, and today the bulk of the activity is going to be along the oregon coastline down into northern portions of california where they definitely need the rain. i think today we'll see 1 to 4 inches of rain. the rain really subsiding across seattle. the showers have really tapered off, but down in oregon along the coast we see heavier rain later on this evening. now, in seattle as we track back to work on tuesday into wednesday, the sun will come out. it's going to be a beautiful couple of days. really starting to feel like spring. by wednesday we're up to a high
of 60 with overnight lows in the 40s. i felt bad for the north-central plains yesterday because most of the country experiencing this brief warm-up, but i think we're going to get in on it today, i should say. minneapolis going to be 10 degrees warmer than they were yesterday. fargo going to be 24 degrees warmer than they were yesterday. again, the bulk of the cold all year long, all winter long has been across the north central plains, and we have a snowstorm on the way. i'll tell you a little bit more about it later on today. back to you, morgan. >> all right. thanks so much. earlier i spoke with christine levinson, the wife of bob levinson. i began by asking her reaction from secretary of state john kerry about her husband. >> i think it's wonderful he's speaking about bob. all we want is bob home safely. in this his message he asked the iranian government to help, and i would like to do that, too. i believe with the help of iranian government we can resolve this case and get bob
home safely to our family. >> earlier this year your family decided to come forth and say that your husband was, in fact, working with the cia. since then have you felt more support from the u.s. government? >> i haven't felt anything different. the u.s. government has always been helpful in the case. they have told us they are doing everything they can, and so i believe especially with secretary kerry's statement that they are. >> so far have you gotten any updates whatsoever regarding his health in the seven years he's been away? >> in november of 2010 and in april of 2011 we received a video and piblctures and haven' heard anything since then. that makes it very difficult, because he does have diabetes and high blood pressure and he's turning 66 tomorrow. >> you mentioned his birthday. how are you and your family planning on honoring him? >> it's a very sad day. it's very hard for us. we try to get through it.
i'm always hopeful that tomorrow he'll be able to come home, and we'll be able to celebrate with him. unfortunately, that probably won't happen. >> mrs. levinson, what do you miss most? how has your family been able to cope in his absence? >> it's very difficult. bob is a wonderful husband. i miss him every single day. it doesn't get any easier after seven years. we have two new grandchildren. one is just three weeks old, the other is four months. it's very difficult, because i know how much he would love to be able to see them and put them on his lap. >> christine levinson, wife of robert levinson. thank you so much for being with us today. >> thank you. the fastest marathon time ever recorded was clocked last year in berlin at 2 hours, 3 minutes and 23 seconds. the runner was from kenya, a country that for decades has produced some of the best distance runners in the entire
world. as katherine sawyer reports there's pressure on children in the area to tap into this natural talent as a way to outpace poverty. >> reporter: children at this rural school in western kenya start their routine evening training session. they're the school's best runners. this region in the valley is famous for producing top world athletes. so the children from the primary school, most from poor backgrounds, hope to soon join that list of the running elite. amy is 14 years old and the best female runner so far. >> translator: i started running when i was in class four. i work very hard. i want to be like my favorite athlete and assist my family and village. >> reporter: but gone are the days of running for fun. it's still a passion of many children, but now it's loaded with pressure to perform and
bringing the big money. winning international races is lucrative. those who made it and millions of dollars in prize money and sponsorships. this region has produced many running champions, and because of that, there's a lot of pressure on children to follow that route and to win medals. >> they're here, and they are seen to excel in athletics and are breadwinners in the family. >> reporter: like in any other sport, many don't make it beyond, but those who do graduate to a famous training camp. it attracts thousands of athletes across the world and is known as the home of champions. this man has helped children over 30 years now. he runs a school that has been credited for the success of kenyan distance runners. >> one of our jobs, of course,
as mentors of young people is to try to get our young athletes to realize that it's not just all about money. it's not just all about the business of it. it's also about life. it's about your lifestyle. it's about your values in life. >> reporter: back at her home, amy found out she got accepted into the training program and prestigious high school. running to her is a ticket out of poverty. katherine sawyer, al jazeera, western kenya. talk about a marathon. a spelling bee that lasted two weeks has finally come to an end. >> d-e-f-i-n-i-t-i-o-n, definition. >> how do you spell winner? the correct spelling of definition made seventh grade sharma the winner of the spelling bee in kansas city. the battle for this title endured more than 90 rounds with
his opponents, fifth grader sophia hoffman. at wuone point they ran out of words. she misspelled the word stifling. >> i was sad when they got that word incorrect. it's sort of messed up it came to that, but it was going to come to that either way. >> i'm excited i got this far, and every kid that participated in the bee has done an amazing job. >> 13-year-old kush is the reigning champion is on his way to the scripps national spelling bee in washington. one of the most influential people in the west wing is resigning. she started to work for barack obama when he became a senator nine years ago. she's leaving her position for a job in the private sector. president obama reportedly asked her to stay on as an outside adviser. george zimmerman spotted at a florida gun show over the
weekend where the former neighborhood watchman was acquitted in the death of black teenager trayvon martin. this weekend he shook hands and autographed photos at an orlando gunn expo because one of the organizers supported him during the trial. zimmerman said he agreed to appear at the show to return the favor. the event was supposed to be held at a bigger venue but they canceled when they found out it was zimmerman making an appearance. the whales are the main attraction at san diego's seaworld, but a california lawmakers is proposing legislation to ban them based on the documentary "blackfish." it focuses on the animal's habitat and the death of a training in orlando seaworld a few years back. if this bill passes, the killer whales would be released from their basins into large outdoor pens. thanks so much for watching al jazeera america. i'm morgan radford live in new york city.
technical notice driverless cars is coming up next. for news updates you can head to our website at aljazeera.com. ass . ukraine's in big financial trouble, the world is rushing to rescue it. i'll talk to the new economic minister in kiev. we go inside venezuela where toilet paper is tough to find but gas is practically free. plus the multi-billion dollar commodity that literally falls out of the sky every day. i'm ali velshi, and this is "real money."