BERNIE SANDERS – Anderson Cooper profiles the self-described democratic socialist senator from Vermont who currently leads the polls for the Democratic presidential nomination. Andy Court is the producer.
298 COUNTS OF MURDER – Six years ago, a missile brought down Malaysia Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 onboard. Next month, four men, three of them Russian, go on trial in a Dutch courtroom. Scott Pelley investigates the evidence and speaks to victims’ relatives and prosecutors. Henry Schuster is the producer.
VISION OF MUSIC – Blind and truly gifted, Matthew Whitaker is wowing audiences all over the world at just 18 years old. Sharyn Alfonsi profiles the emerging jazz pianist who continues to develop his prodigious talent. Katy Textor, Kate Morris and Michael Karzis are the producers.
It was the Netherlands version of 9/11. On July 17, 2014, 298 people died when their aircraft was shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine. 193 of those on board were Dutch, many of them headed for vacation on Malaysian Airlines flight 17 as it headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Two weeks from now, in a Dutch courtroom, four men will go on trial for 298 counts of murder. Dutch prosecutors will present a case saying that MH17 was brought down by a Russian anti-aircraft missile fired by a Russian crew supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine. The chief prosecutor in the case, Fred Westerbeke, tells Scott Pelley that despite all the evidence pointing to the Russian military, Russia has not been helpful and has never admitted fault in the disaster. Pelley’s report on the incident will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Feb. 23 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Russia won’t turn over the defendants, and 60 MINUTES found one of them living openly in Moscow, under Russian government protection, denying any role in the shoot-down.
60 MINUTES shows what’s left of MH17, a Boeing 777 that was partially reconstructed in a hangar in the Netherlands from over 8,000 pieces of wreckage. Shrapnel unique to the Russian missile was found in the bodies of the pilots and throughout the cockpit. Prosecutors will present eyewitnesses, phone intercepts and video evidence culled from the internet to place the Russian mobile missile launcher in Ukraine and tie it to the attack.
Westerbeke says Russia has not helped the case. “[Russia] has not been helpful at all, because what they should have done is give us all the information and all the proof we needed in this difficult investigation…they should have told us that the second day after it happened,” he tells Pelley. “They should have told us, ‘We made a mistake.’”
The highest-ranking Russian indicted in the attack is Igor Girkin. He is a retired colonel in military intelligence who was in charge of a pro-Russia militia in Ukraine, where separatists are fighting the Ukrainian government to become part of Russia. 60 MINUTES found Girkin as he was about to enter a government building in Moscow. “Someone has to be the scapegoat. So they picked me and others who couldn’t even theoretically shoot down this plane,” Girkin said. “The militia did not bring down the Boeing plane. I have no further comment.”
Girkin and the others, Sergey Dubinsky, head of intelligence for the pro-Russia militia, Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko, who were involved in delivering the missile, will not be extradited by Russia. They will be tried in absentia. This troubles relatives of the victims. Pelley spoke to some of them, including Piet Ploeg, whose brother, sister-in-law and nephew were killed by the missile.
“It’s 9/11 for the Netherlands. All people in the Netherlands were very, very, very shocked,” Ploeg said. Despite the defendants’ absence, he will nonetheless deliver a message to them when he speaks at the trial. “I want them to know what they have done…not only to the victims but also the next of kin. They have to feel it.”
Leading Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says Michael Bloomberg’s performance at his first debate means President Donald Trump would likely “chew him up and spit him out” in a debate if he were to win the nomination. Sanders spoke to Anderson Cooper yesterday in Las Vegas in an interview to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Feb 23 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
This excerpt from the 60 MINUTES interview appeared on CBS THIS MORNING. Please credit 60 MINUTES.
ANDERSON COOPER: Were you surprised by how unprepared he seemed for some very basic obvious questions at a debate in –
BERNIE SANDERS: Yes, I was.
COOPER: – Nevada?
SANDERS: I was. And – you know – and if that’s what happened in a Democratic debate, you know, I think it’s quite likely that Trump will chew him up and spit him out.
COOPER: Are you less worried about Michael Bloomberg? If you were worried about him before, are you less worried now after having that debate?
SANDERS: I am worried about an unprecedented amount of money being spent on a campaign. And – you know, we’ve never seen anything like this in American history. And I just think that the American people will rebel against this type of oligarchic movement. We are a democracy. One person, one vote. Not a guy worth $60 billion buying an election.
Matthew Whitaker, the star jazz pianist, has dazzled audiences for years, playing in more than 200 clubs and concert halls around the world. A big reason for his success is a conscientious teacher named Dalia Sakas, who guided the 18-year-old blind prodigy to the highest reaches of his talents. She tells Sharyn Alfonsi teaching Whitaker was both exhausting and scary because “you didn’t want to blow it. You didn’t want to mess up. Someone of this talent, this creativity, this enthusiasm. He’s obviously got something to offer the world. And you want to make that possible.” Whitaker’s profile will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Feb. 23 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Whitaker’s parents, Moses and May, had trouble finding a teacher for their son in his early years; some said he was too young and others were reluctant to take on a blind child. Sakas is a concert pianist and the director of music studies at the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School in New York City, a school for the visually impaired. She agreed to start teaching him when he was 5 years old.
Sakas recognized Whitaker’s extraordinary talent when her new student came to a lesson after attending a recital in which she performed a complicated piano piece. “He comes in Saturday morning. I walk into the studio, and he’s playing the opening of the Dvorak Quintet…then the cello comes in and he knew that whole thing,” she says of the boy’s remarkable ability to hear something just once – especially a complicated piece for five instruments – and play all five parts.
Sakas worked diligently with him to make sure his prodigious talent would grow, and she painstakingly helped him learn to read Braille music so he would become a literate musician.
Whitaker was born at just 24 weeks and suffered from retinopathy of prematurity, a condition that often leads to blindness. Matthew played the piano for the first time when he was 3 years old. “It was ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,’” says his father, Moses. “But he played it with both hands, the chords and the melody.” As his talent continued to shine brighter, people wondered how he did it. Today there’s evidence suggesting that Whitaker “sees” the music.
Dr. Charles Limb, a musician himself, uses MRI brain scans to better understand how exceptionally creative people do what they do. He found Whitaker’s entire brain, including the part normally used for vision, engaged by music. “His visual cortex is activated throughout. It seems like his brain is taking that part of the tissue that’s not being stimulated by sight and using it or maybe helping him to perceive music with it,” says Limb.
Whitaker’s latest album is called Now Hear This. One critic who reviewed it said it sounds like the musician is “playing with six hands.”