– scratching hasnt weak

Vital Signs is a monthly program bringing viewers health stories from around the world.
(CNN) — A child throwing a ball. On the face of it, a simple act, but for four-year old Hannah Mohn this is a milestone.
Hannah was born with the neuromuscular disease arthrogryposis, which makes her joints curve and muscles extremely weak. She cant lift her arms very high without help.
We knew about five months into the pregnancy that something was not right, says Hannahs mother, Jennifer Mohn.
We were told that they did not believe that she would survive birth and that we should really think about what we wanted done and make arrangements for the day that she were to be born.
Hannah survived, but with severe challenges and a long road ahead.

Jennifer explains: When we saw my pediatrician … for one of her first visits, she said even if her legs dont work well enough for her to walk, the biggest thing that we need to work on is making sure that her hands and arms are working to the fullest extent, because if she has use of her hands and arms, she will be able to care for herself. If she doesnt have the ability to use her legs, she can at least use a wheelchair. And that stuck with me.

We were told that they did not believe that she would survive birth …
Jennifer Mohn, Hannahs mother

Hannahs chance at a normal life came aged 18 months, when she visited the dupont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware — a leading hospital in the United States. She began using a device the hospital designed, called the WREX — robotic arms made from 3-D printing.
WREX stands for Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton, explains Whitney Sample, a research design engineer at the hospital. Most of the kids that we deal with have neuromuscular issues that affect their ability to raise their arms. So they have a lot of difficulty getting their hand to their mouth, doing typical activities of daily living — combing their hair, scratching their nose … so it allows their arm to pretty much float.
The WREX uses special elastic bands to give a childs arm a weightless feeling. The mechanism is similar to how a luxo lamp works to make it effortless to move and position the head of the lamp, says Sample.

3-D printing for the human body

Refugee amputee gets 3-D printed arm

Its a life-changing device, and one thats benefitted hugely from 3-D printing. Producing components on site by printing them layer by layer greatly reduces the time it takes to create a WREX.
We can print a full set of plastic parts for one pair of WREXs for one patient overnight, and by the end of the next work day we can clean the parts and have the WREX fully assembled, says Sample, adding that metal components must also be made by traditional methods prior to assembly.
Read more: How 3D printing will reshape the world
Even after 25 years designing devices for those with disabilities, Sample still gets emotional when children he has helped thank him for the difference hes making.
When one child was given a school assignment to write a story about their personal hero, they chose to write about Sample.
Its really nice to have that recognition when the families come back and say Hey, this has been wonderful for us, he says.
Arthrogryposis is a condition that affects one in 3,000 children born in the United States, according to the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine. The dupont Hospital for Children says it sees a little more than 30 new cases each year.
We treat all spectrums of orthopedic disease, says Dr. William Mackenzie, chair of the hospitals orthopedics department.
3-D printing is allowing us to build devices very precisely — to build a device that can be attached and be closely adapted to that individual persons physique and improve function.
The next step, we think, is when we could put small motors in these joints that the child would control with either a twitch of the muscle or perhaps a laser. We dont know quite how might it be controlled, but we see that that is the future of the WREX.

Id love to see her go to college. As sassy as she is and as much as she likes to be in charge, she might run for president someday — who knows?
Jennifer Mohn, Hannahs mother

Read more: The night I invented 3D printing
The device has helped improve Hannahs movements, even when she is not using it.
The biggest change that weve seen is the ability for her to reach up higher and the ability to sustain that, says Jennifer. Her elbows are typically stuck at her sides and thats where shes been limited to raising her arms and reaching for things.
Shes gaining muscle strength in her arms that she hasnt had. It definitely teaches her about things with different textures and colors, shapes and where things go and how things work.
Teaching her, and opening up a future that knows no limits.
My hope is that she grows up to be as independent as she can, says Jennifer. Id love to see her go to college. As sassy as she is and as much as she likes to be in charge, she might run for president someday — who knows?
Up to this point there hasnt been much that she has let stop her. Whatever it is, shes going to achieve it.
Read more: How a 3-D printed arm gave hope to boy maimed by bomb

Mark Tutton also contributed to this report.

At she staffers products

St. Paul, Minnesota (CNN) — As darkness falls, Joy Friedman hits the streets — the same ones she used to troll for customers while working as a prostitute.
My last trick was turned behind that storefront, she said, gesturing to a nearby building.
Now the survivor of sex trafficking cruises these neighborhoods with a different purpose. Shes looking for women and girls who are caught up in this lifestyle so she can offer them free condoms and hygiene products.
She is also delivering a message: There is help for them if they want it.
Friedman works for Breaking Free, a nonprofit that helps women escape prostitution. Its where she got help 13 years ago.
(Prostitution) has been happening forever. And forever, women have just been the victims of it, said Vednita Carter, the organizations founder. They deserve better.
95% of the women Vednita Carter helps struggle with addiction, abuse, trauma, financial instability and shame.
Since 1996, Carter says she has helped more than 6,000 women get the support they need. In the process, shes built an army of survivors who have joined her crusade to end sex trafficking.
Lured into the life
Carter personally knows about this world. At 18, she was hoping to make money for college when she responded to an advertisement for dancers. At first, she danced fully clothed, but her bosses and then-boyfriend soon pressured her into stripping and, eventually, prostitution.
It was more than a year before Carter called a friend who helped her get back on her feet. Later, she realized how lucky she had been.
The majority of women dont have anyone to call. There is nowhere for them to turn, said Carter, now 60. Thats why I do this work.
Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2014 CNN Heroes
CNN Heroes: A tour of the sex underworld
For many of the women Carter helps, the life is all theyve known. Studies show that the average age of entry into child prostitution is 12 to 14, and many of the girls have been sexually abused or were runaways.
Carter works to educate the public and law enforcement to see these women as victims of sex trafficking rather than as criminals.
Prostitution and sex trafficking really are the same thing. Its about buying and selling a human being, she said.
Leaving the life behind
Carter says 95% of the women she helps struggle with addiction as well as physical abuse, mental trauma, financial instability and shame.
Its a process. If (theyve) been in it forever, its all they know, she said. They think its their destiny.
Prostitution and sex trafficking really are the same thing. Its about buying and selling a human being.
Vednita Carter
Carters drop-in center provides food, clothing and emotional support to any woman coming off the street, no strings attached.
For many women, the first significant step is to participate in a 14-week class called Sisters of Survival. Graduates are honored in a ceremony, marking the start of their new lives.
CNN Money: Inside the underground sex economy
They learn that they do have other choices that (they) can make, Carter said.
The group also provides permanent and temporary housing, addiction counseling, job skills training and legal assistance.
Most of the staffers who work at Breaking Free are survivors of prostitution, making it one of just a few organizations like it in the United States.
I have a purpose now, Friedman said. Im a fighter, and Im going to fight til I die for each and every person involved in sexual exploitation.
Fighting the demand
Carter believes that sex trafficking wont end until men stop purchasing sexual favors. She established one of the countrys first John Schools that educates men arrested for solicitation about the impact of their actions.
Im not here to make you feel like a piece of sh*t, but youve got to feel something, Doris Johnson, a survivor, told a group back in 2012. Thats somebodys daughter.
According to Carters group, only 2% of the men who complete the course reoffend.
Carter is considered by many to be a pioneer in the anti-sex trafficking movement, and she is determined to keep fighting as long as she can.
We are really raising an army here. And this is a battle, she said. Its not OK to buy and sell us. We are not for sale.
Want to get involved? Check out the Breaking Free website at www.breakingfree.net and see how to help.

Working men she can

St. Paul, Minnesota (CNN) — As darkness falls, Joy Friedman hits the streets — the same ones she used to troll for customers while working as a prostitute.
My last trick was turned behind that storefront, she said, gesturing to a nearby building.
Now the survivor of sex trafficking cruises these neighborhoods with a different purpose. Shes looking for women and girls who are caught up in this lifestyle so she can offer them free condoms and hygiene products.
She is also delivering a message: There is help for them if they want it.
Friedman works for Breaking Free, a nonprofit that helps women escape prostitution. Its where she got help 13 years ago.
(Prostitution) has been happening forever. And forever, women have just been the victims of it, said Vednita Carter, the organizations founder. They deserve better.
95% of the women Vednita Carter helps struggle with addiction, abuse, trauma, financial instability and shame.
Since 1996, Carter says she has helped more than 6,000 women get the support they need. In the process, shes built an army of survivors who have joined her crusade to end sex trafficking.
Lured into the life
Carter personally knows about this world. At 18, she was hoping to make money for college when she responded to an advertisement for dancers. At first, she danced fully clothed, but her bosses and then-boyfriend soon pressured her into stripping and, eventually, prostitution.
It was more than a year before Carter called a friend who helped her get back on her feet. Later, she realized how lucky she had been.
The majority of women dont have anyone to call. There is nowhere for them to turn, said Carter, now 60. Thats why I do this work.
Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2014 CNN Heroes
CNN Heroes: A tour of the sex underworld
For many of the women Carter helps, the life is all theyve known. Studies show that the average age of entry into child prostitution is 12 to 14, and many of the girls have been sexually abused or were runaways.
Carter works to educate the public and law enforcement to see these women as victims of sex trafficking rather than as criminals.
Prostitution and sex trafficking really are the same thing. Its about buying and selling a human being, she said.
Leaving the life behind
Carter says 95% of the women she helps struggle with addiction as well as physical abuse, mental trauma, financial instability and shame.
Its a process. If (theyve) been in it forever, its all they know, she said. They think its their destiny.
Prostitution and sex trafficking really are the same thing. Its about buying and selling a human being.
Vednita Carter
Carters drop-in center provides food, clothing and emotional support to any woman coming off the street, no strings attached.
For many women, the first significant step is to participate in a 14-week class called Sisters of Survival. Graduates are honored in a ceremony, marking the start of their new lives.
CNN Money: Inside the underground sex economy
They learn that they do have other choices that (they) can make, Carter said.
The group also provides permanent and temporary housing, addiction counseling, job skills training and legal assistance.
Most of the staffers who work at Breaking Free are survivors of prostitution, making it one of just a few organizations like it in the United States.
I have a purpose now, Friedman said. Im a fighter, and Im going to fight til I die for each and every person involved in sexual exploitation.
Fighting the demand
Carter believes that sex trafficking wont end until men stop purchasing sexual favors. She established one of the countrys first John Schools that educates men arrested for solicitation about the impact of their actions.
Im not here to make you feel like a piece of sh*t, but youve got to feel something, Doris Johnson, a survivor, told a group back in 2012. Thats somebodys daughter.
According to Carters group, only 2% of the men who complete the course reoffend.
Carter is considered by many to be a pioneer in the anti-sex trafficking movement, and she is determined to keep fighting as long as she can.
We are really raising an army here. And this is a battle, she said. Its not OK to buy and sell us. We are not for sale.
Want to get involved? Check out the Breaking Free website at www.breakingfree.net and see how to help.

The moments july

Editors note: Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present and claiming its place in history. The photographs we select will look ahead to the future and chronicle our changing world.



See more Defining Moments: February 2014, January 2014, December 2013, November 2013, October 2013, September 2013, August 2013, July 2013, June 2013, May 2013

World when it ended

Editors note: Dr Nawal Ba Abbad is a doctor from Sanaa, Yemen, who in partnership with White Ribbon Alliance Yemen has campaigned tirelessly for a law against child marriage in her country.
(CNN) — Throughout my career as a doctor I have traveled from the mountains of Yemen to its deserts. I have seen first hand what happens when children give birth to children. I have seen the tombstones of girls who died too young because they married too young.
Yemen is one of only two countries in the world with no legislation on a minimum age of marriage.
With a national dialogue underway to establish a new constitution, there is now a chance to establish a safe age of marriage, protecting young girls who are currently married off as young as 9 years old.
As I advocate to end child marriage in Yemen, I always remember my best friend at school. We would talk about our future and what we wanted to be when we grew up. We had big aspirations, as young girls should. My friend was the smartest girl in our class. Everything felt possible.
Nawal Ba Abbad
But when she was 13, she was told to leave school to prepare for her wedding. Her dreams ended. We were all so upset. I still remember her wedding day as we tried to support her. It was such a sad day for us all, a stark comparison for so many whose wedding day is remembered as the happiest of their lives.
We have a chance to establish a safe age of marriage, protecting girls who are brides as young as nine years old.
Nawal Ba Abbad
I was lucky. My parents did not want me to marry as a child. They were my firewall, protecting me from the pressure of all the people in my community who said I should marry. They were determined to give me a brighter future.
As I carried on my studies, and became a doctor, the image of my friends wedding always stayed with me. So many girls in my country dont have the right to say No, I dont want that man or this kind of life. My friend moved away and we didnt stay in touch.
My friends story is not unusual. The UN estimates that one in three girls in Yemen are married before 18. Around the world, approximately 14 million girls are married as children every year.
The right to choose
To think of all the girls in my country who are forced into marriage, lose their personalities, their happiness and just have to obey what they are told to do, is what drives me forward in my work.
Child brides dont talk about it, but they suffer. A recent study in Yemen has shown that girls who have their rights taken from them in this way do not forgive their parents, and there is a breakdown of family relationships.
11-year-old: I ran away from being sold
As a doctor I see the complications young girls are suffering from as they give birth before their bodies are ready. Girls not Brides, a civil society network campaigning against child marriage, suggests that girls under 15 are five times more likely to die giving birth.
Child brides: A global problem
Read more: Yemeni girl goes on YouTube to plea for education, not marriage
Yemen has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. According to the White Ribbon Alliance, one in 90 women die in childbirth in my country. I cannot bear to continue to watch young women giving up their lives and having to give birth too young.
We must support our girls and women by providing better maternal health care, access to family planning and safe abortion.
We must work together to end early marriage so that all girls have the right to choose when and whom to marry and are able to finish their education, strengthening the bonds that are so important to us, with our friends and our family.
We know how to fix these problems. We can tackle many issues if we tackle early marriage.
Together in partnership with the White Ribbon Alliance in Yemen and many other activists we have been campaigning for a safe age of marriage for many years. Since the uprising in 2011, a new constitution is being drafted in my country.
This is an opportunity to establish a minimum age of marriage. But it is a narrow window of opportunity.
Too often girls have no voice, no choice, no access. I am determined to help them have a better future. My friend did not fulfill her dream, but by ending child marriage together we can make sure that girls in Yemen and around the world can fulfill theirs.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Nawal Ba Abbad.

The flight radar

(CNN) — Until authorities know what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, theyll look for clues in the histories of everyone on board.
The cruel reality is that every one of the 239 people on board is both a possible victim and a possible suspect — until proven otherwise.
Already, some passengers and the pilots have fallen under increased scrutiny, and more are likely to come into focus as the search for answers continues.
You have to look at everybody that got onto that plane, Bill Gavin, former assistant director of the FBI in New York, told CNNs The Lead with Jake Tapper on Monday.

Relatives of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 watch a news program about the missing plane as they wait for information at a hotel ballroom in Beijing on Monday, March 17. The Boeing 777 disappeared during a March 8 flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

Malaysian Transportation Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, center, shows maps of the search area March 17 at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, next to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

U.S. Navy crew members assist in search-and-rescue operations Sunday, March 16, in the Indian Ocean.

Indonesian personnel watch over high seas during a search operation in the Andaman Sea on Saturday, March 15.

A foam plane, which has personalized messages for the missing flights passengers, is seen at a viewing gallery March 15 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

A member of the Malaysian navy makes a call as his ship approaches a Chinese Coast Guard ship in the South China Sea on March 15.

A Indonesian ship heads to the Andaman Sea during a search operation near the tip of Sumatra, Indonesia, on March 15.

Elementary school students pray for the missing passengers during class in Medan, Indonesia, on March 15.

Col. Vu Duc Long of the Vietnam air force fields reporters questions at an air base in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, after a search operation on Friday, March 14.

Members of the Chinese navy continue search operations on Thursday, March 13. The search area for Flight 370 has grown wider. After starting in the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam, the planes last confirmed location, efforts are expanding west into the Indian Ocean.

A Vietnamese military official looks out an aircraft window during search operations March 13.

Malaysian air force members look for debris on March 13 near Kuala Lumpur.

A relative of a missing passenger watches TV at a Beijing hotel as she waits for the latest news March 13.

A member of the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency scans the horizon in the Strait of Malacca on Wednesday, March 12.

Relatives of missing passengers wait for the latest news at a hotel in Beijing on March 12.

Journalists raise their hands to ask questions during a news conference in Sepang on March 12.

Indonesian air force officers in Medan, Indonesia, examine a map of the Strait of Malacca on March 12.

A member of the Vietnamese air force checks a map while searching for the missing plane on Tuesday, March 11.

Iranians Pouri Nourmohammadi, second left, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, far right, were identified by Interpol as the two men who used stolen passports to board the flight. But theres no evidence to suggest either was connected to any terrorist organizations, according to Malaysian investigators. Malaysian police believe Nourmohammadi was trying to emigrate to Germany using the stolen Austrian passport.

An Indonesian navy crew member scans an area of the South China Sea bordering Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand on Monday, March 10.

Vietnam air force Col. Le Huu Hanh is reflected on the navigation control panel of a plane that is part of the search operation over the South China Sea on March 10.

Relatives of the missing flights passengers wait in a Beijing hotel room on March 10.

A U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter lands aboard the USS Pinckney to change crews before returning to search for the missing plane Sunday, March 9, in the Gulf of Thailand.

Members of the Fo Guang Shan rescue team offer a special prayer March 9 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

A handout picture provided by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency shows personnel checking a radar screen during search-and-rescue operations March 9.

Italian tourist Luigi Maraldi, who reported his passport stolen in August, shows his current passport during a news conference at a police station in Phuket island, Thailand, on March 9. Two passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight were reportedly traveling on stolen passports belonging to Maraldi and an Austrian citizen whose papers were stolen two years ago.

Hugh Dunleavy, commercial director of Malaysia Airlines, speaks to journalists March 9 at a Beijing hotel where relatives and friends of the missing flights passengers are staying.

Vietnamese air force crew stand in front of a plane at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9 before heading out to the area between Vietnam and Malaysia where the airliner vanished.

Buddhist monks at Kuala Lumpur International Airport offer a special prayer for the missing passengers on March 9.

The Chinese navy warship Jinggangshan prepares to leave Zhanjiang Port early on March 9 to assist in search-and-rescue operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. The Jinggangshan, an amphibious landing ship, is loaded with lifesaving equipment, underwater detection devices and supplies of oil, water and food.

Members of a Chinese emergency response team board a rescue vessel at the port of Sanya in Chinas Hainan province on March 9. The vessel is carrying 12 divers and will rendezvous with another rescue vessel on its way to the area where contact was lost with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The rescue vessel sets out from Sanya in the South China Sea.

A family member of missing passengers is mobbed by journalists at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Saturday, March 8.

A Vietnamese air force plane found traces of oil that authorities had suspected to be from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, the Vietnamese government online newspaper reported March 8. However, a sample from the slick showed it was bunker oil, typically used to power large cargo ships, Malaysias state news agency, Bernama, reported on March 10.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, arrives to meet family members of missing passengers at the reception center at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8.

Malaysia Airlines official Joshua Law Kok Hwa, center, speaks to reporters in Beijing on March 8.

A relative of two missing passengers reacts at their home in Kuala Lumpur on March 8.

Wang Yue, director of marketing of Malaysia Airlines in China, reads a company statement during a news conference at the Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing on March 8.

Chinese police at the Beijing airport stand beside the arrival board showing delayed Flight 370 in red on March 8.

A woman asks a staff member at the Beijing airport for more information on the missing flight.

A Malaysian man who says he has relatives on board the missing plane talks to journalists at the Beijing airport on March 8.

Passengers walk past a Malaysia Airlines sign on March 8 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Malaysia Airlines Group CEO Ahmad Juahari Yahya, front, speaks during a news conference on March 8 at a hotel in Sepang. We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with the jet, he said.

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
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Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

How could plane fly under the radar?

Could a plane hide from radar detection?

You can start peeling the onion there by eliminating some of the people immediately — you know, like children, and maybe very elderly people, or infirmed people. You might be able to eliminate those folks.
But, by the same token, you really have to look through the whole category of people that are on the plane, he said.
Heres what we have so far about some of the people investigators want to know more about:
Pilot: Zaharie Ahmad Shah
Malaysias Prime Minister has said that somebody deliberately steered the plane off course. That means the pilots have become one obvious area of focus.
On Saturday, Malaysian police searched Zaharies home. The 53-year-old pilot and father of three lives in an upscale, gated community in Shah Alam, outside Malaysias capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian police said Sunday they were still investigating a flight simulator seized from that house.
Its somewhat common among aviation enthusiasts to use online flight simulator programs to replicate various situations.
The pilots political beliefs have also being questioned. Zaharie is a public supporter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Just hours before the flight took off, a court ordered Anwar to prison on charges of sodomy, a sentence the opposition leader says is a political vendetta.
Despite the timing of the decision, there is no evidence to tie the planes disappearance to the pilot or his politics.
He likely was upset at the verdict that had just been announced several hours before he boarded the aircraft, but to down an airline because of that I think at this point is pure conjecture. Again, I would take any of these accusations with a huge grain of salt, RAND Corporations Seth Jones told CNNs Erin Burnett OutFront.
Peter Chong, a friend of Zaharies, similarly said its unfair to imply the pilot had anything to do with what happened to the plane.
He said hed been to Zaharies house and tried out the flight simulator.

When did key system shut down?

Relatives of missing passengers react

Its a reflection of his love for people, Chong said, because he wants to share the joy of flying with his friends.
Zaharie joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and has more than 18,000 flying hours.
Co-pilot: Fariq Ab Hamid
Fariq Ab Hamid, 27, started at the airline in 2007 and has 2,763 flying hours.
Two vans were loaded with small bags, similar to shopping bags, at the home of the co-pilot, according to a CNN crew who observed activities at the residence.
It was unclear whether the bags were taken from the home, and police made no comment about their activities there.
U.S. intelligence officials are leaning toward the theory that those in the cockpit — the captain and co-pilot — were responsible for the mysterious disappearance, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the latest thinking has told CNN.
The official emphasized no final conclusions have been drawn and all the internal intelligence discussions are based on preliminary assessments of what is known to date.
Acting Malaysian Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has told reporters the pilots didnt request to work together.
Passenger: Mohammed Khairul Amri Selamat
The 29-year-old Malaysian civil aviation engineer works for a private jet charter company.
Although police are investigating all passengers and crew, he is likely to be of particular interest because of his aviation knowledge.
I am confident that he is not involved, his father said on Monday. Theyre welcome to investigate me and my family.
The bottom line, investigators say, is that whoever flew the plane off course for hours appeared to know what they were doing.
They are looking into the backgrounds of the passengers to see whether any of them were trained pilots.
There are still a few countries who have yet to respond to our request for a background check, said Khalid Abu Bakar, inspector general of the Royal Malaysian Police Force. But there are a few … foreign intelligence agencies who have cleared all the(ir) passengers.
Passengers: Pouri Nourmohammadi and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza
In the first few days after the plane went missing, investigators focused a lot on two passengers who boarded the plane using stolen passports.
Authorities have since identified them as Nourmohammadi, 18, and Reza, 29, both Iranians.
The men entered Malaysia on February 28 using valid Iranian passports, according to Interpol.
Malaysian police believe Nourmohammadi was trying to emigrate to Germany using a stolen Austrian passport. His mother contacted police after her son didnt arrive in Frankfurt as expected.
Malaysian investigators say neither of the men has any apparent connection to terrorist organizations.
Stolen passports dont necessarily indicate terrorism. In fact, passengers flew without having their travel documents checked against Interpols lost-and-stolen passport database more than a billion times in 2013, according to the international police organization.

CNNs Catherine E. Shoichet, Steve Almasy, Chelsea J. Carter, Jethro Mullen, Kyung Lah and Jim Clancy contributed to this report.

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