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Three Planes Nearly Collide at Reagan National; Obama Authorizes Action in Syria; Toyota Recalls 780,000 Vehicles; Badminton Player Says Goodbye; Number of Whooping Cough Cases Soars; Romney Struggles to Relate to Voters; Tropical Depression 5 Aims for Caribbean; Is Phelps the Greatest Olympian Ever?; Clerk Gone Wild Chases Customer
Aired August 2, 2012 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, seconds from disaster. Three jets put on a collision course at Reagan National Airport just moments from a mid-air accident. We'll hear what's going on in the control room.
Health alert. A comeback of the cough. New concerns that current whooping cough vaccine might not be strong enough. What your family needs to know, straight ahead.
Swimming shocker. Winning by .01 of a second. Nathan Adrian beating the Aussie missile in the 100-meter freestyle finish. You've just got to see it.
When is gold actually green? Olympians being taxed for their gold, silver, and bronze. Does first place really mean a $9,000 tax bill?
Skipping, pirouettes, the extended trot. A 15-year-old mayor named Rafalka enters the Olympic sport of dressage today. Why is this news, you ask? Rafalka is Ann Romney's horse.
NEWSROOM begins right now.
And good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining us. Just in this morning, a collision narrowly averted at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. It involved three jets carrying a total of 192 passengers. Two planes took off Tuesday afternoon heading toward a third plane, which was already cleared to land. The planes were seconds away from crashing when an air traffic controller realized a mistake had been made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: 3329, stands by. Hold on. We're trying to figure this out, too. Stand by.
UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: OK. We really don't have the fuel for this.
UNIDENTIFIED AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: And we've got a temporary stop on all departures right now. I'll get you guys out as soon as I can. UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: We got to get on the ground here pretty quick.
UNIDENTIFIED AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: And everybody standby. We've got a couple of opposite direction arrivals so it's going to be a bit of a delay in your departures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Athena Jones has more, including the FAA's explanation.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. It was a pretty scary situation that went down on Tuesday afternoon at Reagan National Airport here in D.C. It was during heavy rains that air traffic controllers decided they needed to change the direction that planes were taking off and landing. They had been taking off and landing from runway one going from south to north. They decided to change that so that planes would come in and depart on runway 19 headed from north to south.
The problem is they failed to communicate that change to all of the parties that needed to be notified, which led to this incident. You had two planes that were getting ready to depart from runway one and this other plane that was coming in -- into runway 19.
Now I should tell you the standard separation requirements for planes is three nautical miles laterally and 1,000 feet vertically. That first plane that was taking off was about half that distance. The second plane was a little further away, but of course these large planes, heavy planes, traveling at high speeds, it's still pretty scary.
The FAA says they're investigating the incident -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Athena Jones, reporting in Washington.
To Syria now, where after a 16-month crackdown that the U.N. says has killed nearly 17,000 people, Syrian rebels are set to receive help from the United States.
Officials telling CNN President Obama approved giving clandestine support, secret support by the CIA and other agencies. The order comes after a failure by the U.N. Security Council to approve tougher sanctions on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Mohammed Jamjoom is in Abu Dhabi.
President Obama's order is secret, but we are getting some details. First off, when did the president authorize this action?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, U.S. officials say that President Obama signed this action within the last several months. But it's still unclear as to exactly what type of aid is being specified here. Now the Obama administration has ruled out arming the rebels so far. The U.S. administration has said on many occasions that they don't want to further militarize this conflict, that they don't want to be arming the rebels and making the situation even more precarious in Syria because of the violence, because of the clashes all across that country.
But the Syrian rebels and the opposition have maintained from pretty much day one that they want more arms, they want the international community to provide them with more weapons. And I was just at a press conference a few days ago here in Abu Dhabi where the head of one of the main opposition groups in Syria, the Syrian National Council said, hey, we need anti-aircraft guns, we need anti-tank guns, we need the international community, including the U.S., to step up to provide us with weapons.
And they say that the international community will bear the responsibility if there are more massacres that are going on in Syria and if the international community hasn't stepped up and provided them with weapons.
But that having been said, that we must point out that in the last couple of weeks, we know that the Syrian rebels are getting better armed. There have been several instances in the past few days when the Syrian rebels, especially in places like north Syria, have been able to take over bases. They have been able to take out ammunition and seize tanks from regime forces that they have defeated.
And they are now using those tanks and weapons against air bases in the north of Syria. So even though the rebels are more organized and better armed right now, they're saying we still need weapons, we still need more support. They are maintaining the international community must step up and do more to help them -- Carol.
COSTELLO: OK. Any idea how the United States might be helping, like the CIA, if the United States isn't providing arms to the rebels?
JAMJOOM: We know that -- we know that the U.S. has said that they'll provide nonlethal support. They'll provide communication equipment. Also a lot of humanitarian aid. There is a humanitarian disaster going on in Syria right now. Refugees fleeing across the border to neighboring countries. We also know that the U.S. is cooperating with countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. That U.S. officials say are providing weapons to the rebels there.
Right now U.S. is trying to assess more what they can do to help the rebels, to identify rebel groups they can provide more aid to as well -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Mohammed Jamjoom reporting live from Abu Dhabi this morning.
If you drive a Toyota, listen up. There's a massive recall involving 780,000 vehicles, RAV4's and Lexus's. At issue is a suspension problem that could cause crashes.
Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock exchange.
How serious is this and what model numbers are we talking about?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: OK. How serious is it? Well, it really depends. If you drive one of these cars, and you've actually taken your vehicle in for some work recently, because the issue would be more pressing for those drivers, and that's because Toyota says this is not a manufacturing defect, but instead it's something that happens when you take your car in to get its wheels aligned.
Now if the nuts on the rear suspension arms aren't tightened properly during this wheel alignment service, the arms can come loose or separate. So the big question is, how will you know it? Well, Toyota says you'll most likely hear a strange noise coming from the back of the car if your car is affected.
All right. So you want to know which cars are affected. The recall is for those Toyota RAV4s from 2006 to early 2011 model years, and 18,000 Lexus HS 250H's from the 2010 model years. There have been nine crashes and three minor injuries alleged to be related to this problem -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Alison Kosik reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange.
It's the London debut for Ann Romney's horse Rafalka. That horse is participating right now in the dressage competition. Ann Romney, who of course as you know is the wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is at the London games to watch her horse compete. She is taking her racket and going home for good.
I'm sorry. This is another story. Ann Romney is watching her horse Rafalka at the London games. Mitt Romney is not. He remains here in the United States campaigning for president.
In other Olympic news, she's taking her racket and she's going home for good. Yu Yang is one of the eight badminton players kicked out of the Olympics. They're accused of throwing matches to draw easier opponents in the next round.
Zain Verjee is live in London to tell us more.
Zain, she's only 26. She's really good but she says she's had it?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes. She says she is done with badminton. She says her dream was heartlessly shattered, and she blames the Badminton World Federation for destroying all the hopes that she ever had. She said this on her -- what was the Chinese equivalent of a Twitter account. She said, "This was my last match. Farewell, Badminton World Federation, farewell, my beloved badminton."
What she also said, Carol, was she blamed the new badminton competition rules for what happened. Because you see what they did in this competition, which was different from other Olympics, is that they created this round robin tournament. So it wasn't like a knock out -- that was previously the case. So what it meant was that it allowed players to kind of do what they did, to decide whether they wanted to really win or lose.
Now the Chinese coach has said we're really sorry, and the Chinese themselves have criticized the players. But it looks like for Yu, she is hanging up her -- she's hanging up her badminton racket.
COSTELLO: Zain Verjee reporting live in London for us this morning.
U.S. winners at the Olympics get something extra with their medals, a tax bill. You may not know that medal winners get cash awards, $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $5,000 for bronze. Medal winners are taxed on those amounts, but they're also taxed on the value of the medal.
The group Americans for Tax Reform says gold medallists could have to pay upwards of $9,000, but a PolitiFact analysis has one big caveat. The tax bill will depend on how much each athlete earns outside the Olympic event. If you're Michael Phelps, with all your endorsements, of course, you're going to pay higher taxes than all the others.
And by the way, Senator Marco Rubio has introduced a bill to eliminate the taxes on medals saying our Olympian should not be punished for their success.
There is now a tie at the top of the Olympic leader board. Both the United States and China have 30 overall medals. The Chinese have 17 gold, the U.S. now has 13 gold. Japan, France, Germany and South Korea follow in the medal count.
And one more nugget from the Olympics, actually nuggets and burgers and fries. U.S. swimmer Ricky Berens won gold Tuesday in the 4-by-200 freestyle relay. So how did he celebrate? He hit the McDonald's in the Olympic Village. And here's what he ate. Two quarter pounders with cheese, one Big Mac, one six-piece nuggets, two medium fries and a medium McFlurry. If you're counting, that's 3,330 calories. Wow. But he exercises a lot.
You may soon be getting a big fat raise. You say really? Pay raises are expected to go up for nearly everyone next year.
And there's more good news, too.
COSTELLO: It is 14 minutes past the hour. Checking our top stories.
A frightening moment near Reagan National Airport. Three commercial airplanes almost collided in the sky Tuesday. One plane cleared for landing was heading towards two planes that had taken off. The planes came within 12 seconds of crashing. The FAA now investigating.
Crowds flocked to Chick-Fil-A restaurants around the nation for appreciation day organized by former Governor Mike Huckabee. It was all to show support for the company after its president says he is against same-sex marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here to support the traditional marriage of men and women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here to support the owners of this business. And their Christian values.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that he's the owner of a private company, and has the right to say what he wants. But I have the right not to eat chicken at his restaurant. And I won't eat chicken at his restaurant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: The event was not organized by the restaurant. A spokesperson says it will not release sales figures either.
In money news, you may be getting a bigger pay raise next year. A new survey shows employers expect to increase salaries on average by 2.9 percent. That's actually up from 2.7 percent. Fewer companies are expected to freeze salaries, though.
And a horrifying scene in Taipei, Taiwan. A sink hole opens below a man walking on a street. Rescue crews, they tried to save him but he died. The sink hole was caused by heavy rain from a powerful typhoon. The storm killed 23 people in the Philippines and is expected to make landfall in China today.
Several homes in Connecticut are filled with water this morning, after five inches of rain fell in one hour in Naugatuck yesterday. The flash flood turned roads into rivers ands created huge sink holes there, prompting the mayor to declare a state of emergency.
Whooping cough, it can kill. And it is killing babies.
And every year we are seeing more cases of the disease in the United States even though we have had a vaccine since the 1950s. But solving the problem isn't just about vaccinating children.
Here's CNN's Mary Snow.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paloma Rodriguez says she'd never heard of whooping cough. That is, until the day she gave birth to her son, Devin (ph). Doctors warned her about it then and there. She says she didn't hesitate to get Devin (ph) vaccinated as soon as he was two months old.
PALOMA RODRIGUEZ, MOTHER: I'm very worried, because I heard that cough, you know, causes a lot of -- it can choke him. And it can possibly -- he could turn blue.
SNOW: Paloma's concern comes as the Centers for Disease Control reports more than 19,000 cases of pertussis or whooping cough so far this year. That would be a 50-year record outbreak.
Pertussis can cause violent, rapid coughing, pushing air from the lungs, and leaving those battling with it to inhale with a distinct whoop sound. It can be fatal in some infants. Nine babies in the U.S. have died this year from it. Increases in whooping cough are reported in 37 states, with the highest rates so far in Washington and Wisconsin.
DR. TOM CLARK, MEDICAL EPIDEMILOGIST, CDC: If protection wears off even slightly faster, pertussis is really transmissible. If you send somebody into a room with 100 people, and that person has pertussis, about 15 people are going to get it if they're susceptible.
SNOW: The CDC's Tom Clark says the vaccine is being closely examined following changes made to it back in the 1990s. And a new study from Australia, published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," found the newer vaccine was not as effective as the older one.
Clark says while the study is a small one, he believes it's important and says the CDC is working to confirm those results.
In the meantime, doctors are raising awareness of whooping cough, which at first can mimic the symptoms of the common cold.
CLARK: Infants are at greatest risk of pertussis or whooping cough.
SNOW: Pediatric pulmonologist Rajik Shah (ph) says in babies, coughing is not necessarily always a symptom.
(on camera): A six-week-old baby came in, and he stopped breathing for seconds at a time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SNOW: And you knew right away it was whooping cough?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SNOW (voice-over): Dr. Shah is encouraging mothers to get their children vaccinated. Babies can't get it until they are two months old. At four months, Devin is on round two of five doses of the vaccination. His mother hopes it will protect him from the disease she is now becoming an expert in.
(on camera): The CDC is encouraging adolescents and adults to get a booster dose, and its newest recommendation is that pregnant women do the same. Until babies can get a vaccine and build up immunities, they are dependent on the people around them to protect them from getting sick.
Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
COSTELLO: Another stump speech in battleground Ohio. But why is the presidential race so tight in all of the swing states? It's our talk back question today.
COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: why is the presidential race so tight in the swing states? President Obama stumped in Ohio yesterday for the ninth time this year . And what was the one word he kept repeating? The word "built."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is not built from the top down. America is built from the middle out. America is built from the bottom up. America is built by farmers and factory workers and small businesses and companies that send American products overseas, not jobs overseas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Hmm. Does all that talk of building have something to do with the president's now infamous "you didn't build that" line from a new weeks ago, you know, the one Republicans have been using to bash the president?
Well, that attack might be resonating among voters in swing states like Ohio, where despite an uptick in Ohio's economy, the hungry are still flocking to local food banks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE CAMILLETTI, MANAGER, GOOD NEIGHBORS INC.: I'd say we're going into the middle of the middle class now, reaching up to the suburban people, to people who used to have a nice home, a nice car. It is worse than it was three years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: This despite the fact the president's auto bailout helped Ohio with jobs. It has an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent. That's below the national average.
A new Quinnipiac/CBS News/"New York Times" poll shows a majority of voters backing the president in three critical battleground states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. But it's not all good news for the president. According to the poll, although Obama is gaining support, it's mostly because of his personal likability or empathy. Most people say they trust Governor Romney more than the president to help their financial situation.
So the talk back question today, why is the presidential race so tight in the swing states? Facebook.com/CarolCNN, Facebook.com/CarolCNN. I'll read your comments later this hour.
His family horse is competing in the Olympics, but Mitt Romney may find it better for his White House bid to stay right here in the United States instead of in the stands by his wife's side in London. Our political panel talks about what some say is Romney's struggle to relate.
COSTELLO: We're coming up on 30 minutes past the hour. Good morning. I'm Carol Costello.
Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM.
Opening bell on Wall Street. Stocks set for a solid open this morning. Investors keeping a close eye on the European Central Bank to see what action it might take on preserve the Euro. Ringing the opening bell today, economics teachers from New York City.
General Motors releases second quarter earnings of $1.5 billion, that's a 41 percent drop from last year. The world's largest automaker blames big losses in Europe. Still, the 90 cents per share profits are well ahead of what analysts had expected.
A frightening moment Tuesday near Reagan International Airport. Three commercial airplanes almost collided in midair. One plane cleared for landing was heading towards two planes that had taken off.
Planes came within 12 seconds of colliding. The FAA is now investigating.
It's a big day for the Romneys as the family horse Rafalca makes its Olympic debut. Ann Romney cheering on the horse she co-owns in London, but where's her husband Mitt? He's back here in the United States, preparing to pick a vice president, and possibly trying to avoid charges that a sport involving horse ballet might not make him the most relatable candidate for the average voter.
And things like this don't help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: No surprise the liberal critics call dressage elitist. Just because the uniform makes you look like Lady Mary Sutter from "Downton Abbey." I expected this from liberals but not this from conservative like Charles Krauthammer.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: I'm not sure why the horse has to be in the most upper class, hoity-toity Olympic event ever invented. It's unnecessary. They are running for the presidency.
COLBERT: How dare you, sir? Dressage is not hoity-toity! It is frou-frou. Get your facts straight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: You just can't help but laugh.
Anyway, a new poll shows a majority of voters in three swing states, critical swing states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- say Mitt Romney does not care about the needs and problems of people like them. And that is a problem for Mitt Romney.
Joining me now: John Avlon, a CNN contributor. He's independent.
And Roland Martin, also a CNN contributor. He leans left.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm going to lean right today.
COSTELLO: Are you? Oh, I can't wait for that.
MARTIN: Yes, what the heck?
COSTELLO: So, let me ask you the first question then, Roland. Mitt Romney is here in the United States. Ann Romney is in London watching her horse perform. You know, on a personal level, I'd want my husband to be with me.
MARTIN: Horrible optics. No, no, he shouldn't be there because he is running for president. But it's horrible optics.
I find it interesting that if you are conservative you will criticize President Obama for vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, but then have you this image of Ann Romney and her horse in this particular Olympics.
Look, the Obama campaign has done a very effective job of defining the narrative of the kind of guy that Mitt Romney is. We criticize negative campaigning. This is precisely why they have painted him as a rich, out of touch guy who cannot speak to the everyday voter.
And so, that's going to be a crucial component in the next 96 days.
COSTELLO: Well, John, you knew Roland wasn't going to lean right. Is there another side to this conversation?
MARTIN: No, that's a fair analysis. That's easy analysis.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think these negative narratives work best when they rip off something real. And, you know, what American doesn't like to kick back with a beer on the couch and watch a little horse dancing? It is the most elitist sport you can come up with.
So it's a real fundamental problem because it reinforces that narrative.
COSTELLO: Well, why did they enter the horse in the Olympics?
AVLON: Because this is Ann Romney's big shot to have her horse compete in the Olympics.
COSTELLO: But it's her husband's big shot to be president.
AVLON: They didn't know Mitt Romney was going to have the nomination perhaps. It's unfortunate. But this news cycle will not define the election race. But this isn't the conversation they are looking forward to back in Boston.
COSTELLO: Well, Romney did release this new ad, and I want to play it for people. He is in an SUV, in a plaid shirt. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My own experience was I got the chance to start my own business. I know what it's like to hire people and to wonder whether you're going to be able to make ends meet down the road.
Freedom and free enterprise are what --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: OK. So this ad will run in the swing state of Virginia, where Romney really needs to win that state. So does this kind of thing soften his image at all? Roland?
MARTIN: They are trying to soften his image, but when he says -- because you notice, I started a small business. I hired people.
I don't think a small business owner out there will put themselves in the same category of a Bain Capital. I doubt it very seriously. And, again, one of the things that Romney has always had a problem with, he has always had a problem just being able to sit down and interact and communicate with just regular ordinary voters.
Remember in Pennsylvania, when he criticized the cookies of the Pennsylvania bakery? Of course, it was owned by a Republican. And so, he has to be able to somehow connect that way. But it's difficult.
I called him plastic man in 2008. And that's part of the problem.
COSTELLO: In fairness, I remember when Barack Obama tried to bowl during the 2008 campaign.
COSTELLO: He didn't connect with anyone --
MARTIN: Yes, bowling --
COSTELLO: -- because it is real.
MARTIN: First of all, a bunch of regular people can't bowl. But my point is --
COSTELLO: I'm a great bowler.
MARTIN: Let's just be honest. But how do you communicate with a person in everyday conversation? That's Romney's struggle a bit.
COSTELLO: John, go ahead. Sorry to interrupt.
AVLON: The whole point of this ad is to humanize and soften the candidate. And make people understand that Mitt Romney, the man. And he has a very compelling story in many respects.
But the problem is 100 days out, this is not the ad you necessarily want to be running at this stage of the campaign because it does indicate a need to humanize the candidate. And the fact that Mitt Romney came back from Europe and immediately embarked on the swing state tour and releases ads like this does show that his campaign is taking this challenge seriously.
These new polls of likely voters in key swing states show that at a time when voters are starting to make up their mind, the numbers are not trending in their direction. This is an attempt to address that. And it's an important one, because people need to feel a sense of connection with a candidate before they make him president.
COSTELLO: You know, the only thing that I will say about this ad is that this poll also shows that people do admire Mitt Romney's business acumen. And maybe that will spark something in people. And he's talking about a businessman. Isn't that what he should be talking about?
MARTIN: Yes, he should be talking about that. But he should be having events where he literally is talking to homeowners, tai talking to people who are renters, talking to people out there trying to get a credit line because they have a business.
So he has to be able to interact and show that. Remember he said before that it was his wife and his sons who were going to also humanize him a bit more. It's a little hard to humanize him when she's over in London looking at this horse.
And, again, that's part of his problem. And so he's going to have to connect in a much better way to compete against President Obama who can be very smooth. He's not the greatest communicator with everyday voters as well, but he does a better job than Romney does.
COSTELLO: All right. Roland Martin and John Avlon, thank you so much for the conversation this morning.
MARTIN: Let's go bowling, Carol.
COSTELLO: I bet you're a good bowler, too.
MARTIN: I'm OK.
AVLON: We'll have a bowl-off.
MARTIN: Bring it.
COSTELLO: Roland Martin and John Avlon, thanks.
A 911 call, police, guns, and Miley Cyrus -- what police are saying this morning about a call and the singer's home.
COSTELLO: A big scare in the Los Angeles neighborhood of pop star Miley Cyrus. Police and paramedics rushed to the singer's home after reportedly getting calls of a kidnapping and shooting. There was just one problem. It was a prank.
A.J. Hammer is in New York.
Oh, this is terrible.
A.J. HAMMER, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" HOST: Yes. Really, really terrible, Carol. Thankfully it was a big false alarm, and that's likely a relief to Miley Cyrus herself, who has been the victim of threats and stalkers in the past.
But the calls seem to fall in line with an increasingly popular and disturbing prank known as swatting, which involves callers attempting to tricking law enforcement officials to responding to emergency situations by making up a serious crime like this one.
Here's what happened in this case. Just before 7:00 p.m., Los Angeles police responded to a 911 call for what they believed to be a home invasion and kidnapping in progress with possible shots fired at a home belonging to Miley Cyrus. Now, officers swarmed the property. That means they arrived and established a perimeter. And then with guns drawn, they approached the house where they found everything was quiet and nobody was home.
Miley is actually reportedly in Philadelphia right now where her fiance Liam Hemsworth is shooting a movie. Police say it was a 911 abuser. They are investigating. The person responsible for the hoax could face serious criminal charges.
The entire event shook up her neighbors, as there are reports of helicopters flying overhead. So thankfully it wasn't a real event, not a real crime. But, Carol, why someone would put other people through this is really, really hard for me to understand.
COSTELLO: You're also taking the time of emergency crews who could be responding to real emergencies. So, yes.
The very same thing happened to Erick Erickson, one of our CNN contributors. Police came to his house.
HAMMER: Terrible, terrible situation.
COSTELLO: A.J., thanks so much.
A.J. will be back with us next hour for an update to that New Orleans bar incident with Cuba Gooding, Jr.
A store clerk was stretching, bored at work, when a car crashed through the wall and smashed into him. He was almost killed. What led up to the crash?
COSTELLO: It is 43 minutes past the hour. Checking our top stories now:
A frightening moment Tuesday near Reagan International Airport. Three commercial airplanes almost collide in the sky. One plane cleared for landing was heading toward two planes that had taken off. Planes came within 12 seconds of crashing. The FAA is now investigating.
A store clerk in Texas is lucky to be alive after a car crashes through the wall of his store. Oh. He was thrown 15 feet across the room, and he is A-OK.
This crash happened on July 23rd. Police say the driver had been drinking. He stepped on the gas instead of the brake. The 36- year-old woman driver is charged with intoxication assault with a vehicle.
In money news, it's better to buy than rent. That's according to the real estate listing Web site Zilo. In almost every market in the country, if you're going to stay put for at least three years, you're better off buying a home instead of renting one.
And a tropical depression a heading towards the Caribbean. It's slowly gaining strength and may become a tropical storm by Saturday. Rob Marciano is here to tell us the odds.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Pretty good. But it's going to be a slow developer it looks like. It's been four weeks of pretty much nothing.
We got off to a strong start this hurricane season, with four named storms very early on. And now, we are getting back into the swing of things. It is August now and things are going to ramp up, that's for sure.
Here it is I mean just a blob; it's kind of getting a little bit more active here in the last couple of hours. Winds of 35 miles an hour, so almost a tropical storm status. It's moving westerly at 21 miles an hour. Just under 500 miles from Barbados and some of the lower Antilles -- Greater Antilles.
So we do expect it to strengthen somewhat, but it's up against some pretty strong winds, some head winds which is typical in an El Nino year. So the forecast from the National Hurricane Center, a little bit unsure as far as the strength goes.
But we do think it will become a tropical storm at some point here with winds of 45-plus miles an hour, maybe becoming a hurricane. But the track is what is the most concerning here because it's a pretty good bet that it gets well into the Caribbean and potentially just south of the Gulf of Mexico by the middle of next week. And then all bets are off. So we have to see how this thing develops. But it would be Ernesto, Carol, if it does become a tropical storm, which is quite possible in the next day or two.
COSTELLO: Well, I hope not. Thanks, Rob.
COSTELLO: Michael Phelps races against Ryan Lochte today for the final time in their careers. The 200-meter individual medley gives Phelps a shot to increase his Olympic record medal count. When Phelps won his 19th gold Tuesday night, it set off a global debate about this. Is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympic athlete ever?
Sebastian Coe, the London Games chief and a former four-time medallist said probably not. Carl Lewis, who won 10 Olympic medals including nine gold, thinks athletes should be judged just by their era.
Lewis was on CNN's Piers Morgan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL LEWIS, OLYMPIC MEDALIST: And we're so often and so quick to say here is the greatest winner of all time, instead of allowing him to define their generation. Michael is defining this generation in a way that no one's ever done before. And, you know, I wouldn't say anything. But the person that affected me the most as an Olympian was without question Jesse Owens.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
LEWIS: No doubt about it. But I think that we should focus more on who defines a generation and -- and who carries the memories of their time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: We'd like Dr. Ross Tucker to join in the debate. He is an exercise physiologist at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. Welcome.
DR. ROSS TUCKER, EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST: Hi Carol. Thank you.
COSTELLO: Ok so you study the science behind exercise. Is Phelps as a swimmer the greatest Olympian?
TUCKER: Honestly, I don't think science answers that question. And for me, I think Carl is being a little bit conservative in the way that he's categorized it. I think what defines the greatest Olympian depends on how you categorize it. Because there are Olympians who've made an impact that is broader than just the sport. And Jesse Owens for me stands out. Carl Lewis himself stands out as repeating that feat. I think someone like Sir Steven Redgrave of Great Britain who won five medals. I think in terms of longevity of someone like Baerga Tricia who won six gold medals in the same event for Germany. You think of athletes like Parvan Amy (ph) and Emil Zatopek (ph) because they achieved amazing things within one Olympic games.
And then of course you look at Phelps, who over the course of three different Olympic Games has been the world's preeminent swimmer. So I think it depends on how you categorized it.
For me, Phelps probably is the greatest ever, based on the number of medals he's gotten. And just the fact that he's done them in such competitive sports and such a competitive environment over so long.
COSTELLO: Oh but people really want to boil it down to physicality. For example, is swimming as tough as track?
TUCKER: If you ask a swimmer, yes. If you ask a track runner, no. So that's a -- that's a subject of course. I think the one difference is that swimming allows multiple events to be done. And so in that respect, no it's not. Because there is no way, for example, that a track runner is going to be able to run four or five events within the same Olympic games. It's just not physiologically possible.
Whereas a swimmer can do it, because they can come back over and over. For example, Lochte tonight he'll win potentially two gold medals within half an hour of one another. That can't happen in track. And that's a physical difference. So for me, in that respect, swimming probably loses out.
COSTELLO: That's fascinating.
You know, the other thing I really wanted to ask you about is when will the time come when athletes will no longer be able to break records. Are we approaching that time?
TUCKER: I remember about 40 years ago, sports scientists said that we were and everyone who said it back then now looks like a fool. So if I -- if I said that we're getting to the point where records will no longer be broken, probably in the year 2050, people will be telling me that I was wrong.
But I do think that we are getting to the flat end of that curve. You can imagine that athletes get better and better and better, and eventually it must start leveling off. I think we are starting to see that now. Obviously, once in a generation, you'll get an athlete like Usain Bolt and he knocks the record down. You'll get Haile Gabriel Selassie (ph), you'll get a Phelps in the pool.
But I think in general you're starting to see a slowing down in that trend. And I would be surprised if there are more than a few generations left before we start to get to the point where unless we're measuring in thousands of a second we're going to see one world record every few years.
At the moment, we see world records yearly, sometimes many times a year. I think that's going to start disappearing and we'll -- we'll regard world records with a lot more luster as a result of how rare they become in the future.
COSTELLO: Well, we'll save this tape. And -- and test it out in 20 years. Dr. Ross Tucker, thanks so much for joining us this morning.
TUCKER: Thank you.
COSTELLO: We've all had bad service at the store at some point in our lives but one clerk loses it. Her over-the-top rant is caught on tape. So what set her off?
COSTELLO: If you've ever had a bad experience with a store clerk, you might want to have your cell phone camera ready the next time it happens. A man did in Florida.
And CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've all experienced bad service, but what do you call it when you're served a middle finger?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.
MOOS: Holding the camera was a guy named Chris, who came into this 7-Eleven in Orlando, Florida with his 3-year-old son. The worker asked the boy if he wanted a ride on the broom she was using. The dad said no. He said she started yelling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked her to stop. I said, if you don't stop, I'm going to record you and put it on YouTube and she kept going.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just get out of my face.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She gave me the finger. She just gave me the finger and cursed me. Don't touch my phone.
MOOS: Chris complained to the manager.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just gave me the finger. I have it on video.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have the whole thing right here on video.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show it.
MOOS: But this was only part one. After Chris left the store, guess who showed up once again with an up-raised finger? You can hear Chris's son asking a very good question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This lady's chasing us in the car. Here she is again. She's chasing me down in her car.
MOOS: Maybe this is her idea of curb service.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got the whole thing on video.
MOOS: But both drivers stayed in their cars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm being followed by this lady. I'm an armed citizen.
MOOS (on camera): while he may say he was armed, but at least no shots were fired. Actually, the only thing fired was the employee, which explains the "Now Hiring" sign.
(voice-over): We weren't able to track down the worker to get her version of events, and neither the 7-Eleven's manager nor corporate headquarters would comment. But Chris had this reaction to the employee's firing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very happy with it. By her actions, she should have been arrested.
MOOS: Instead of pressing charges, Chris pressed his case in the court of public opinion, AKA, YouTube, where he musically chewed her out for chewing him up.
At least you can't say this worker never lifted a finger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
Next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts after a break.
COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining us this morning.
Happening now in the NEWSROOM, seconds from disaster. Three jets put on a collision course at Reagan National Airport. Just moments from a midair collision, we'll hear what was going on in the control room.
Money in the bank. Your job and your paycheck. CNN has new numbers on how much of a raise you could expect next year. The war on terror. Three suspected terrorists captured in Spain. The interior ministry calls this the biggest operation against al Qaeda in that country.
And soaring high, American gymnast Danell Leyva climbing back and capturing bronze for the United States. What an amazing story. We are going to talk to him in ten minutes.
NEWSROOM begins right now.