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CNN NEWSROOM

Romney Stumping with Trump; Manufacturing Jobs Back, But Wages Flat; Medal of Freedom Awarded; TSA Wants More of Your Money; New Computer Virus Could Be Worst Yet; Nuns at Odds with Vatican Meet Today; Beryl Soaking Southeast; 81-Year-Old's Scary Skydive

Aired May 29, 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: -- shore in Florida. So close they are bumping into these surfers. How long will they hang around?

Madonna mocking Lady Gaga. That's Madonna covering Gaga's hit "Born This Way" when she was supposed to be performing her own song "Express Yourself." Well, it sure escalates her copycat criticism of Gaga. But after you listen to this, does Madonna have a valid point?

Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks, what you're seeing right now is a reunion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: And something that will surely put a smile on your face as you start your day honoring U.S. troops and their families.

NEWSROOM begins right now.

And good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining us this morning.

Mitt Romney is standing by his decision to attend a Vegas fund- raiser with Donald Trump today even though the real estate mogul won't let go of the birther issue. Trump is again questioning where President Obama was born. He first raised the issue a year ago. You know, back when he was running for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: Barack Obama should end this. And he should provide the public with a birth certificate. And if he doesn't do it, he's doing a tremendous disservice to the public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Trump harped on the issue for such a long time that for the first time in American history, an American president produced his long-form birth certificate. Trump still hasn't put the issue to arrest but Romney welcomes his support. Joining me now is CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Hi, Ron.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

COSTELLO: So the Obama campaign is already hitting back with a new campaign ad going after Romney about this controversy. Let's watch a bit of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have read about him. He's an Arab.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a -- he's a decent family citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with.

TRUMP: Why doesn't he show his birth certificate? He doesn't have a birth certificate. Now he may have someone but there's something on there. Maybe religion. Maybe it says he's a Muslim.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: OK. I was going to ask you if this was effective but I'll ask you this question instead. Should Mitt Romney come out and say, hey, Donald Trump is absolutely completely wrong about this birther issue?

BROWNSTEIN: You would expect it. I mean look, part of the job of being president is being president of the whole country, and that includes saying no to your own party at times. And one thing that Mitt Romney has been throughout this primary season is very reluctant to pick a fight on the right.

When Rick Santorum got up and said challenge the separation of church and state and said John Kennedy had made him sick, Mitt Romney was pretty much silent. When Rush Limbaugh attacked a Georgetown student over the contraception issue, Mitt Romney only said well, I wouldn't use -- you know, that's not the language I would use. He's been very mild. There's been -- there's been a pattern here where he is seen reluctant to challenge the right. I think he's always been concerned whether conservatives would ultimately kind of rise up against him in some ways.

COSTELLO: Yes, but --

BROWNSTEIN: And the -- the cumulative portrait makes you look kind of weak.

COSTELLO: Well, but still, I mean, Mitt Romney came out and said, hey, I need 50.1 percent of the vote.

BROWNSTEIN: He does.

COSTELLO: I need money to win. BROWNSTEIN: He does.

COSTELLO: I need all of the support I can get. I'm not going to agree with all of your supporters. And I certainly don't agree with that part of Donald Trump's mantra. But I need support to win?

BROWNSTEIN: And that's fine as far as it goes. I think that's fine as far as it goes. But, you know, Carol, I mean if you think about where this election is going to be decided, both parties have a pretty solid base. The portion of the Republican Party, and there is a significant minority of the Republican Party who believes, who basically agrees with Donald Trump's questioning, although seemingly the issue has been settled.

The issue is going to be decided, I think, fundamentally by voters who tend to be college educated, suburban voters who may be somewhat economically or ideologically disappointed with President Obama after 2008 but are reluctant to turn over power to the Republicans either because they see them as too ideological, or intolerant or extreme, and by not unequivocally separating himself from these sentiments, I think Romney adds another hurdle for himself with those voters who, in the end, outside of Philadelphia and outside of Detroit, are the kind of voters he's going to need.

COSTELLO: Ron Brownstein, thanks for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: First Lady Michelle Obama is on a TV tear. This morning she went on "Good Morning, America," later she'll drop by "The View" and then it's on to "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." She won't be talking heavy politics but about things like growing gardens and raising healthier children. That's what she talked about on ABC's "Good Morning America."

And she did mention her new book, "American Grown" and her "Let's Move" initiative to fight childhood obesity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Let's Move is a way of giving people the tools and information and it really requires everybody to step up. We need our mayors stepping up. Restructuring cities so that kids have safer places to play. We need our food manufacturers stepping up and really thinking about how to reformulate food products so that they are a little more healthy.

ROBIN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, ABC'S "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": And affordable.

OBAMA: And affordable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Mrs. Obama also gave an interview to "People" magazine and she told the world intimate details of the president's nighttime rituals, and I quote, this is from the article, "We have a ritual where he," President Obama, "tucks me in because I'm usually in bed before anybody. He'll come in and turn the lights out and give me a kiss and we'll talk. He's, like, ready to be tucked? I'm, like, yes, I am."

You can read more in "People" magazine online.

We've heard the president brag about the uptick in manufacturing jobs. It is true. Manufacturing employment has seen a revival but -- and it's a big but -- employers are able to hire for a reason. They're not paying workers as much as before.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports wages are not keeping up with inflation. In fact average pay for a manufacturing job is about $19 an hour which is what workers were making back in the year 2000, 12 years ago.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, there's more than one reason this is not so good.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And to start with, those lower wages, Carol, they've got a big ripple effect. You know, when you get paid less, when you're making less money, it impacts your every day life, doesn't it? Like the vacations you take or what kind of cars or houses that people buy or what schools people's kids go to.

You know it also hits stores. It hits restaurants. You know the places that these workers go to to spend their money. So what essentially you see is this lower wages. That is lower wages winds up rippling through the economy. So let me go back here and tell you what's happening.

So getting a manufacturing job decades ago, this was a sure bet way back when. You know with a stable middle class life. But guess what? Things have changed. Now what manufacturers are doing is using a two-tier wage system. Older workers they get to keep their higher pay. These new hires come at a lower rate.

Let me give you an example. Look at -- of automaker General Motors. New workers there, they make $19 an hour. And that's actually a bump up from the low of $14 in 2007 but look at what older workers make. They make anywhere from $28 to $38 an hour and interestingly enough, this comes as the auto industry is rebounding. Now what these automakers are trying to do, for example, is they really want to stay strong.

So they need to keep these salaries competitive and what it does is it gives them room to open jobs here and hire -- Carol?

COSTELLO: So sort of like a double-edge sword. And like the point since the economy is bad, neither side can really win.

KOSIK: Exactly. I mean think of it this way. You know keeping these wages lower, it makes these U.S. manufacturers more competitive. They're able to keep their costs down so they can compete with those overseas companies and it allows them to actually move jobs overseas here and open up new jobs here. Something that we desperately need. But in order to do that, once again they have to remain competitive and keep those wages low. So yes, it is really a double edge sword, isn't it?

COSTELLO: Yes. And the big picture doesn't look so rosy. SO I guess that's the other side of it.

Alison Kosik, live at the New York Stock Exchange.

Here's a -- here's a look at other stories we're following for you this morning. We're on a verdict watch in the Edwards corruption trial. Jurors are beginning their seventh day of deliberations. Edwards is charged with accepting illegal campaign contributions, falsifying documents and conspiracy for trying to hide his affair during his 2008 bid for the White House.

After nearly 15 hours, a standoff on a construction crane is now over. There's this man, he climbed up the crane on Monday on the campus of Southern Methodist University trying to avoid arrest, claimed he had a weapon. Well, this morning it all ended tragically. He fell 150 feet to his death. Police say it all started when a man stole a truck and led them on a chance that ended on FMU's campus.

Take a look at this. Hot chunks of metal rained down on cars Monday knocking out several windshields. Authorities think those chunks fell off an Air Canada plane. Its engine failed shortly after takeoff from Toronto. The flight made an emergency landing, no injuries except, of course, to cars reported.

Parts of the southeast getting hammered by what's left of Beryl today. After hitting the coast the storm is now moving inland. Flash floods are expected in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina over the next 48 hours. But wind and rain wasn't the only thing Beryl kicked up. There's also been a rash of shark sightings since the storm hit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the waves were really nice and glassy, I saw a very large, at least seven foot or so, shark. Very close to my surfboard. So it was a little unnerving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just kind of paddle away from where I've seen them in a different direction. Sometimes I lay on my board to keep my feet out of the water. I'm scared but I'm not scared, too scared to come in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Brevard County Ocean Rescue says there have been no reports of injuries from sharks.

They are names you know. Thirteen people who have distinguished themselves in their field. This afternoon they received the nation's highest civilian honor. John Glenn, Madeleine Albright, Bob Dylan and Tennessee's basketball coach Pay Summit among those receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.

Our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar is in Washington.

So, happy for John Glenn. He's -- had met him so many times. What a gentleman and many would say an American hero.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And he's one of the people, Carol, that's -- will be getting this award. A really a big honor, a big honor. The -- the highest civilian honor handed out and by the White House it's kind of similar to the Congressional Honor that's handed out. But some of these names you said you definitely recognize. John Glenn, first American to orbit earth. He was, among other achievements, the oldest American in space at 77.

Tony Morrison, renowned author, will be receiving this award. But there are also some names that maybe won't roll off your tongue as quickly as some of these others. For instance, William Faggie who eradicated small pox. Certainly you know that happened. You might not know the person behind that.

And as well Gordon Hirobayashi. This is very interesting, Carol. He'll be awarded Posthumously as a number of these recipients will be receiving this award. But he challenged an order to evacuate to an internment camp. He's a Japanese American. This was during World War II. He challenged that, took that challenge all the way up to the Supreme Court which ruled against him, and it wasn't until 1987 that criminal charges were basically rescinded.

And then I think sort of my favorite, Carol, Juliette Gordon Lowe, if you're a Girl Scout or you've been a Girl Scout, she's the founder of Girl Scouts and it is the 100th year of the organization. She will be receiving this award Posthumously as well.

COSTELLO: Brianna Keilar, thanks. I know you'll be covering the ceremony later this afternoon and it will air live on CNN.

Thanks, Brianna.

Those Cubs fans and their goat Wrigley, they have finally reached Chicago. We told you about these guys yesterday on a 2,000 mile trek with two missions -- raise money for cancer research and break the curse of the cubs. Just to remind you. A tavern owner was thrown out of Wrigley Field at the 1945 World Series because of his stinky pet goat. He brought the goat with him to the game.

The tavern understood that cubs would never again win a World Series and guess what? They have not since. Now this modern day Cub fans think their pet goat will reverse the curse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT GREGORY, CUBS FAN: It's about respecting the goat and the hike is about 2,000 miles but, you know, raising money for cancer research and letting the goat see all of the different parts of the country like route 66, the goat has helped us raise almost -- over $20,000 close to $25,000 now and the Cubs are going to make a donation today so to me that's just respecting the goat and I think that is part of the curse was not respecting the goat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Such a calm goat, isn't it? The Cubs do have a game this afternoon. We'll see if they let Wrigley -- that's the goat's name, Wrigley -- into Wrigley. We'll keep you posted.

The TSA wants more of your money. They want to get this double security fee on most airlines. Yes, you pay for that. In your airline ticket. We'll tell you about an unlikely alley for passengers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Sixteen minutes past the hour.

Checking our top stories now.

Northern Italy on edge this morning after an earthquake kills at least 10 people. Several aftershocks have been reported. Today's quake was centered in the province of Modena, near Bologna. Nine days ago, the quake struck the same region, killing seven people.

"We are going to survive this" -- that's what a husband and father in Idaho said right after the small plane he was piloting slammed into a mountain. He was right. Brian Brown, his wife, Jan, and their daughter, Heather, are injured but they are expected to be OK. Immediately after the crash, Heather calmly called 911.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DISPATCHER: Owyhee County 911, what is your emergency?

CALLER: Hi. I'm in an airplane and I crashed, and I'm in the mountains.

DISPATCHER: Where are you at, huh?

CALLER: In the 29 miles east of west of Mountain Home, Idaho. I need you to send a search party, please.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Because of the rough terrain and bad weather, it took 15 hours for a chopper to finally rescue them.

And Mitt Romney isn't backing down from his decision to attend a Vegas fund-raiser with Donald Trump today, even though the real estate mogul will not let go of the President Obama birther issue. When asked about it, Romney says he's grateful for all his supporters. He said he doesn't agree with all of them but, quote, "I need to get 50.1 percent."

Baggage fee, reservation fee, seat assignment fee, security fee, it seems fees on airline tickets keep getting higher and higher, added and added, right?

Well, now, the TSA wants to double one of those fees. Here's Lizzie O'Leary.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LIZZIE O'LEARY, CNN AVIATION AND REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Take two things that many travelers love to hate: the TSA and ticket fees. Now add them together.

MOIRA JEWELER, PASSENGER: What is it that's prompting them to ask for more money?

O'LEARY: The agency, backed by Democrats in the Senate, wants to increase the security fee everyone pays with a ticket from $2.50 a flight to $5 per one-way ticket, $10 round trip.

JEWELER: Ten is kind of pushing it to a limit. I mean, I guess it's only $5 more but I'm wondering, you know, how that fits in with they already have a budget.

O'LEARY: TSA's budget, like many in Washington, is set to be cut. The agency says boosting this fee would help cover the increasing price of security, like those costly scanners. The fee hasn't been hiked in 10 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straight over here. Have a great flight.

O'LEARY: But a powerful lobby is pushing against it, airlines. They don't want the cost shifted to their customers.

SEAN KENNEDY, AIRLINES FOR AMERICA: Air security is a national security function. It's something that all of us need to be behind as Americans, and the government should be picking up the cost of that.

O'LEARY: Many travelers we talked to didn't mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say it's like using a toll road. If you use a toll road, you pay the toll.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To make us secure.

O'LEARY: But they want to know it's money well-spent.

(on camera): Does increasing the fee increase the level of security TSA can provide?

STEWART BAKER, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL: It means that TSA's budget will be a little less likely to get cut just to save money in the overall deficit reduction effort. So in that regard, it's useful.

It's also useful if you can tell where the benefits go for a particular program, then the people who get the benefits generally should pay for it.

O'LEARY: There's a big political fight over this fee. Senate Democrats voted to support it last week. House Republicans are dead set against it. They have got to figure out how to square those two approaches before the TSA can be funded.

Lizzie O'Leary, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Radiation is showing up in tuna off the West Coast. We'll tell you what scientists are saying about it.

And don't forget, if you're heading out the door, take us with you. Watch us anytime on your mobile or computer. Just head to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: "Flame" -- a spy better than James Bond and way more dangerous. "Flame" is not human but a computer virus so powerful and so malicious that it can takeover a computer and turn it into your enemy. Wow.

Zain Verjee is live in London to tell us more about "Flame".

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Scary, right, Carol?

This is a virus totally designed to spy on you and me and other people that are way more important than you and me. Basically what it does is the following. It kind of signals a way that maybe this is going to be the war of the future really.

Here's what it can do, OK? Apparently it can turn on microphones in your computer or iPhone and record your whole conversation. When you have instant message conversations with your friends or between officials or countries or governments, those instant messages can be copied.

It can also get into different files and just delete data in a mass way and then it can grab screen shots from your computer. So whatever you have up, it can go in there and take a snap of it, and do things also like recording your Skype calls. Things like that. So, it's pretty scary. It would be a national security threat as well.

Now, apparently computers only in the Middle East have been affected. Iran mainly and countries like Syria and Egypt as well.

The big question everyone is asking is who is behind it? It's not really clear what the answer to that is. But, today, there was one Israeli official that hinted Israel has the capability of creating this "Flame"-like virus and capacity to do it, but they didn't say they were doing it.

So, it's something to look out for. It's something to be concerned about and it's something just to keep our eye on because this could really develop to other parts of the world.

COSTELLO: I was going to ask you. It hasn't spread West yet, huh?

VERJEE: Not according to the reports that we're seeing. What I did see today earlier there were experts that said for the last two years, most of this gathering of information has really been only limited to the Middle East. If it's in the United States, we don't know about it yet. And it would probably be only a matter of time because it's the Internet and cyber security and that's a whole different ball game all together.

COSTELLO: Zain Verjee live in London for us -- thanks.

Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: why won't the birther thing die? Mitt Romney will be benefiting from a big-time fund-raiser today in Las Vegas. And guess who is hosting that fund-raiser? The Donald. Donald Trump -- the most famous birther in America. Who can forget at the height of his pseudo presidential campaign when Trump questioned President Obama's birth's place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: Barack Obama should end this and he should provide the public with a birth certificate. If he doesn't do it, he's doing a tremendous disservice to the public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: He harped on it so long and so hard that President Obama finally said enough and showed his birth certificate to the nation.

It's not like the birther issue ever really died. Just last week, Arizona's attorney general apologized for threatening to leave the president off the ballot unless Hawaii authenticated his birth certificate. In Iowa, Republicans (INAUDIBLE) to show proof they're natural-born citizens.

And now, here's Mitt Romney campaigning with Trump. The whole birther thing doesn't seem to really bother him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I don't agree with the people that support me. My guess is they don't agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1 percent or more and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Some Republicans are worried. Former McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt calls birtherism a fringe issue and says, quote, "In the middle of the electorate, people think it's bats crazy."

So, if those birthers were all tinfoil hats, why are we still here?

The talk back question for you: why won't the birther thing die?

Facebook.com/CarolCNN, I'll read comments later this hour.

America's largest group of nuns rebuked by the Vatican. Now, the group's leader decides how to respond to the crackdown. I'll talk to one sister the Vatican would probably object to.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Thirty minutes past the hour.

You hear opening bell on Wall Street. Hopes that Greece might get out of eurozone could give stocks a boost today. Also, news that China might announce a stimulus package for its slowing economy to help lift investor confidence.

Mitt Romney is downplaying Donald Trump's birther comment about President Obama. Romney says he believes that President Obama was born in Hawaii. The president's re-election campaign is calling Romney out for not condemning Trump's claim.

Scientists say a radioactive bluefin tuna was caught off the coast of California last summer. They confirm low levels of radiation are from Japan's nuclear plant that melted down after a powerful earthquake and tsunami struck in March of 2011. Scientists say the tuna is still safe to eat but want to test this year's catch to check -- to see if there's more radiation poisoning.

Take a look at this. Hot chunks of metal raining down on cars Monday, knocking out several windshields. Authorities think those chunks fell off an Air Canada plane. Its engine failed shortly after takeoff from Toronto. The flight made an emergency landing, no injuries except to the cars have been reported.

It is a showdown, although a prayerful one, between Catholic nuns and the Vatican. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is meeting in Washington to determine how nuns will respond to allegations of radical feminism. Bishops accused America's nuns are fighting for the poor, but not fighting against contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage. The church is demanding major reforms.

Sister Maureen Fiedler is host of "Interfaith Voices," a public radio show. And she's worked for social justice and gender equality issues for many, many years.

Sister Maureen, welcome.

SISTER MAUREEN FIEDLER, NUN: Thank you. It's good to be here, Carol.

COSTELLO: I'm glad to have you.

I'm going to ask you a tough first question. Aren't you kind of radical, feminist nun the bishops are concerned about?

FIEDLER: You know, I had to laugh when I read that part of the document. I mean, if these men really want to beat radical feminist, I can introduce them to them. But I don't think the women of LCWR are that.

I certainly am a feminist. I believe in fundamental equality of women and men, which by the way the Second Vatican Council does as well. It says and I'm quoting, "Every type of discrimination based on sex is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent," close quote.

COSTELLO: OK. So, you came out. You say, yes, I am a feminist. But doesn't that mean you're not a good Catholic in the bishop's eyes?

FIEDLER: Oh, absolutely not. I don't think you can be a good Catholic and not be a feminist, not be someone who believes in the fundamental equality of the genders.

COSTELLO: That's not what the bishops say.

FIEDLER: Pardon me?

COSTELLO: That's not what the bishops are saying.

FIEDLER: Actually, I think if you scratch the surface and talk to a lot of bishops, particularly those who have not joined this recent lawsuit on the contraceptive issue and there are most that have not joined, there is a lot of dissent on those issues in the bishop's conference. It just doesn't always make it publicly.

COSTELLO: OK. So, I know what Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the gathering of most of the nation's nuns, they will pray for a solution. But you know women attending this conference -- are they angry enough to consider splitting from the Vatican and turning orders into nonprofits and working with the poor on their own?

FIEDLER: I don't think that quite is the issue. I think there's a possibility. It has been suggested by some former leaders that LCWR itself, which is the leadership council, the elected leaders of nuns in America, to become a nonprofit on their own. That's one of the ideas on the table so to speak.

But I do think they are going to go about this thoughtfully, prayerfully and intelligently -- which is the way they have always gone about business.

COSTELLO: The Catholic Church is on a mission, 40 some Catholic universities are suing over Obamacare, Catholics are investigating the nuns, the Girl Scouts, what's next do you suppose?

FIEDLER: I don't know. I keep saying is it puppies and kittens next, you know? But what's really at stake here in larger significance of this is the future of the church.

Whether we're going to go back to the old church before the Second Vatican Council, which was male and dictatorial and not collaborative, obsessed with issues of sexuality, or whether we're going to go forward with what Second Vatican Council called us to, which was collaborative leadership and dialogue and a church where the laity really have a place -- and a place where social justice issues are in the forefront of the agenda that we're carrying forward.

And I think the laity of this country wants the second. In fact, I think it would be a tragedy for the American church if they ever went back to that old model. And unfortunately, that's represented in this Vatican document.

COSTELLO: Sister Maureen, thank you for joining us this morning.

FIEDLER: Thank you so much. It's good to be here.

COSTELLO: Two the biggest pop stars go at it again. It's Madonna versus Gaga, with Madge pulling the first punch this time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Madonna is going after Lady Gaga again. During a rehearsal, Madonna covered a Gaga sound. But in this latest case, imitation was not the most sincere form of flattery.

"Showbiz Tonight's" A.J. Hammer has the video.

Tell us about it, A.J. It's interesting.

A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": It is interesting, Carol. You know, Madonna really has always laughed out all the questions she's gotten about Lady Gaga sounding like her and acting like her over the years, particularly when Gaga's "Born This Way" came out, and a lot of people thought it sounded like Madonna's "Express Yourself."

Well, somebody was shooting this video during Madonna's rehearsal for a concert in Tel Aviv, and here's what they saw if you can pull that full.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

HAMMER: So, if you thinking maybe Madonna was mixing it up as a tribute to Lady Gaga and the great song, she does finish the song by singing "She's not me." So, pretty clear to me, Carol, it's a dig. I can't help think even though this was done at a sound check and not annual concert, Madonna is smart enough to know in this day in age, if you do anything controversial, it will get out there and, Carol, people will talk about it.

COSTELLO: It sounds exactly like the same song. It's amazing. I enjoyed listening.

OK. Moving on now, you'll tell us about kids stars who say they were bullied. What are they saying?

HAMMER: Well, child stars Tia and Tamera Mowry, who you may remember from their show, "Sister, Sister," all grown up now. But they are telling "Showbiz Tonight" that some of their classmates in high school bullied and made fun of them. They said at one point they were actually called the buckwheat twins at school.

But they also pointed out they had a pretty good comeback. Watch what they told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIA MOWRY, ACTRESS/REALITY TV STAR: I will never forget a kid screamed down the hall and he said, "Your show sucks," just like that, out loud in front of all of the kids. I said you know what? I'm sick and tired of this. I'm going to say something.

I turned around and I said, "Well, the checks don't."

TAMERA MOWRY: He shut up.

TIA MOWRY: He sure did.

TAMERA MOWRY: It worked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: So, Carol, you know, I can see in high school that would totally shut anybody down trying to bully you.

COSTELLO: Very definitely so. A.J. Hammer, thank you.

A.J. will be back with us next hour with more showbiz headlines including the king's former resting place, Elvis's original crypt up for auction.

Down South, Gulf Coast residents affected by the 2010 BP oil spill are about to benefit from $18.7 million worth of health-related projects. We'll tell you about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Forty-five minutes past the hour checking our "Top Stories" now, Northern Italy on edge again after another earthquake. This one killed at least 10 people. Several aftershocks have also been reported. Today's quake was centered in the province of Modena, near Bologna. Nine days ago a quake struck the same region killing seven people.

Mitt Romney is downplaying Donald Trump's birther comments about President Obama. Romney does say he believes Obama was born in Hawaii. The President's re-election campaign is calling Romney out for not condemning Trump's claim.

And tropical depression Beryl is dumping as much as a foot of rain in some areas as it moves across Florida and Georgia. It's also creating dangerous surf conditions including rip currents as far north as north Carolina.

CNN's George Howell is in Tybee Island, Georgia. Not raining yet.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Carol in fact, we are starting to feel the rain here in Tybee Island just a few miles to the west of us in Savannah. It's already raining there.

And the big concern today is flooding. Obviously in Jacksonville we're starting to see that. In Jekyll Island just north of Jacksonville starting to see the same thing.

Keep in mind this area was suffering from drought conditions just a year ago and now with a slow moving storm dropping so much rain in a short amount of time there is a concern about flooding. Officials are keeping a close eye on rivers also just flash flooding, there are flash flood watches that have been issued here for this area as the storm slowly moves through this -- this city.

COSTELLO: George Howell reporting live for us this morning. Thank you.

We asked you to "Talk Back" on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning "Why won't this birther thing die?" Facebook.com/CarolCNN.

We'll have some of your responses on the other side of the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: We asked you to "Talk Back" on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, "Why won't this birther thing die?"

This from Colleen, "Because it plays to the common people's fears and also they don't have to focus in on the real issues if they can rally the troops over a fringe issue."

This from Nancy. "Because now Mitt Romney is desperate and wants to get that 50.1 percent by any means necessary."

This from John. "Because President Obama won't put an end to it."

From Gary. "Because some people will continue to believe what they want to believe regardless of whether it makes sense or if there is evidence to the contrary."

And this from Stephen. "Can we just call this duck like we see it? That is racist. Trump feels he accomplished something by asking the President to quote, 'see his papers' and he did. He proved that he is a racist."

Keep the conversation going. Facebook.com/CarolCNN. More of your responses in the next hour of NEWSROOM.

And we're following a lot of developments in the next hour. Let's check in with Reza Sayah.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Another report of an alleged assassination plot linked to Iran. It sounds scary, it sounds bad but does it have substance? Or is it part of what many call the Iran hysteria? That story at the top of the hour.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange. After a fiasco of an IPO, there's a new headline about Facebook. The company reportedly is planning to make its own Smartphone. But guess what, not everyone thinks it's such a good idea. Carol I'm going to have more on that in the next hour.

COSTELLO: Thanks to both of you.

The same group that said men should not get regular prostate screenings is now releasing new guidelines for postmenopausal women. The report will recommend which should take hormone replacement therapy and which should avoid it.

All the details for you ahead.

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COSTELLO: Oh the Miami Heat take care of business in the opening game of the NBA Eastern finals. The Heat's two superstars, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade led the way against the Celtics. James outscored Boston by himself in the first quarter. Yes he finished with 32 points and 13 rebounds. D Wade makes the football pass up court. Take a look at that. Yes James dunks it pretty easy too. D Wade finished with 22, Miami never trailed -- final 93-79.

Tigers-Red Sox, Boston's Alex Sevilla swings and you can see he misses. It looks like Detroit is out of the inning but the umpire calls it a foul tip and he says the ball hit the ground.

Oh the replay shows the ump blew the call. You can see the Tiger's manager Jim Leyland arguing. He's really good at arguing, too. But he loses the argument as they always do and yes he gets tossed. After the game, the Tigers lost, Leyland told reporters to call them like they see them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM LEYLAND, TIGERS' MANAGER: There should not have not been a second inning rally -- it was three outs. I've been in the game a long time, when the catcher catches the ball and strike three, you call the guy out. It's that simple isn't it.

There should not have been a rally in that inning. Anybody that saw that, have the nerve to write what you say it. Write it and say something once in a while. Have the nerve to say something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Ok. I'm a Tigers fan and I agree with you, Jim Leyland. A happier story now from the ballpark. The family of Master Sergeant Dave Simms watching a video tribute to him at Turner Field when they got to see -- there he is. Dave Simms, he ran on to the field. The Afghanistan war vet was not home in six months. Oh. Simms said he's no proud of what his wife has done, taking care of the kids while he's been away. Simms calls her "My Hero". That' right.

That's a look at sports today.

Can you spell precocious? Six-year-old Lori Anne Madison can and she is. The Virginia girl is the youngest person ever to qualify for the National Spelling Bee. She'll be going up against kids twice her age. But to her, it's no big deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORI ANNE MADISON, SIX-YEAR-OLD NATIONAL SPELLING BEE QUALIFIER: Honestly, it's not as big and I'm not really excited like -- I'm going to the National Spelling Bee. I'm more like, it's fine.

I want to be an astro biologist because I like astronomy and biology. I also am aiming to be in the swimming part of the Olympics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Wow. First things first, though. The Spelling Bee begins today.

What's on your bucket list? For an 81-year-old, it's achieving great heights but she sure got a major scare. Here's CNN's Mary Snow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laverne Everett's (ph) skydiving adventure started off with smiles.

LAVERNE EVERETT: I just turned 80.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy birthday.

EVERETT: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this something you always wanted to do?

EVERETT: 30 years.

SNOW: But things took a dramatic turn after that and Laverne is shrugging off terrifying moments of her skydive that was videotaped. When it was time to jump, she looks like she doesn't want to get out of the plane but she told station KOVR that wasn't the case. That her bad knees gave out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people look at the video think she's being forced out of that plane.

EVERETT: No. No. I don't look at it this way. He knew how bad I wanted to jump.

SNOW: Once Lavern and an instructor did jump, it was clear something went very wrong.

EVERETT: The upper harness came off, you know. It was slipped down. I didn't know anything. Only to hold on. That's all.

SNOW: the parachute opened and she landed safely. But that video has taken off. Going viral.

This is a couple of seconds?

KENNY PEW, OWNS SKYDIVING COMPANY: This is a matter of seconds, yes.

SNOW: This probably felt like a lifetime?

PEW: It absolutely did.

SNOW: Kenny Pew a skydiving company in New Jersey. As an outsider, he says it's hard to know exactly what went wrong but it appears he says from the start that the harness wasn't secured properly and he says while scary, this kind of thing happening is rare.

PEW: As you exit the plane, it is in a stable manner. You know? Per what we're trained and the manufacturer recommends and requires, you know, we are stable within five seconds and the (inaudible) parachute is out. So he was obviously having a little bit of difficulty.

SNOW: We contacted the company where Laverne did her skydive. A representative told us that the video is over a year old and would only say no one got hurt and the landing was fine. As for Laverne, she says at the time of the dive, she didn't even know exactly what happened because her shirt had covered her face. And now she's seeking another adventure.

LAVERNE: Well, I never have ridden in a race car.

SNOW: While Laverne may have moved on, the FAA is now looking into the dive and the California company behind it since learning about the video late last week. Separately, the FAA says that it's already proposed $900,000 in civil penalties against the parachute center for violations unrelated to the dive. When asked about those fines, the company said it had no comment.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: I like her style. What a brave and courageous woman. Wow.