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Bomb Threat at San Antonio Airport; Rebels Lead Their Prisoners to Execution; Postal Service Default Expected Tonight; Power Grid Back Up In India; Current Drought One of The Worst; GOP Questions White House Transparency; Olympic Scandal; Robot Boot Camp; Screening of Airline Food; Professor Accused of Plotting Attack

Aired August 1, 2012 - 17:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Happening now, the battle raging for Syria's commercial stronghold hits a gruesome turning point. CNN's Ivan Watson is inside Syria, where rebels are beating and executing their prisoners, all on tape.

Plus, the Olympics are about playing to win, but eight badminton players have been disqualified from the Summer Games for allegedly playing to lose. We'll go to London for the very latest.

And a needle turns up in a seventh airline sandwich in just a matter of weeks.

Is it a prank or serious cause for concern?

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Candy Crowley.


First to some breaking news out of Texas -- a bomb threat at San Antonio International Airport. Planes are being kept away from the terminal and passengers have been evacuated. We want to go straight to CNN's Ed Lavandera, with the very latest -- hey, Ed.


Well, this has now been going on for a little more than an hour-and-a- half. A spokesman with the airport says that Terminal A has been swept and no explosive devices found there. So people are being allowed to return into that area. Terminal A is still being evacuated -- is still evacuated. That's the much larger terminal, Candy. That is the terminal that is host to the Southwest Airline gates, as well as Delta Airlines' gates. That is the -- the much more used terminal there at the San Antonio Airport.

This is an airport that's also in the midst of a massive construction project that has been going on for several years. But what we've learned from San Antonio police officers here is that they have bomb technicians and they appear to be focusing on a -- in a garage area -- a parking garage, the short-term parking garage, where authorities there say that a -- a specific bomb threat was called in, that dogs inside that garage had been alerted to several vehicles in that parking garage. And that appears to where -- where -- appears to be where they're focusing the majority of their attention right now. So it's still a very volatile situation. We're making a lot of calls to try to get to the bottom of what's going on.

But, clearly, the investigators there, and teams and bomb technicians on the ground, taking this threat very seriously. Those terminals still -- still evacuated. Airplanes landing, but not being allowed to approach or get close to the terminal. So there are still also, you know, hundreds of passengers on planes waiting to just figure out what will happen. And as I mentioned, this has been going on now for a little more than an hour-and-a-half -- Candy.

CROWLEY: All right. Ed Lavandera with the very latest from San Antonio International Airport, still evacuated at this point.

Thank you, Ed.

Now to the scores of deaths in Syria's bloody streets. More than 100 people have reportedly been killed just today. And there are new indications the civil war is far from over.

Embattled Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is imploring his military to restore stability, as a surging opposition movement takes off across the country and the battle for Syria's most important commercial city rages on.

CNN's Ivan Watson is inside Syria, where the fight for Aleppo has turned very ugly.

We want to warn you, what you are about to see is graphic and very disturbing.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The battle for Aleppo is turning uglier and more vicious by the day, with both sides apparently oblivious to the laws of war.

On Monday, rebels and government security forces clashed around the Bab al-Nayrab police station in Eastern Aleppo. Rebels told CNN they were then attacked by members of the Bedi clan, a pro-government militia. At least 11 rebel fighters were killed. The next day, their comrades went looking for revenge.

Capturing several members of the Bedi family, the rebels filmed and distributed video of their fighters kicking and beating two men.


WATSON: The cameraman identifies one of them as a man he calls Zano Bedi. We next see Bedi bloody and almost naked in a room full of prisoners.

"These are the Bedi Shabiha," says a voice off-camera. "They attacked the people of Aleppo and they killed 11 Free Syrian Army members."


WATSON: One by one, the captives mumble their names to the camera.


WATSON: The next rebel video shows Zano Bedi and several other prisoners being led outside.


WATSON: "Don't shoot, nobody shoot," someone says. But that's not enough to stop what can only be described as a summary execution.


WATSON: Intense gunfire continues for almost a minute.

An official with the Tawhid Brigade, a large rebel group that operates in Northern Syria, claimed responsibility for these extrajudicial killings. In a phone call with CNN, he said the executions were carried out in retaliation for the rebels killed by the Bedi clan.

"We conducted an investigation, judged them guilty and then took them outside and carried out the execution at approximately 12:00 noon on Tuesday," said the spokesman, who asked only to be called Abu Ahmed.

For the last 17 months, international organizations have denounced the Syrian government for committing atrocities unarmed against civilians. The Free Syrian Army has often promised that its men will fight by the rules of war and treat prisoners humanely. But this week's rebel killings in Aleppo suggest the start of a bloody cycle of revenge.

Ivan Watson, CNN, reporting from Northern Syria.


CROWLEY: Joining me now on the phone, our Ivan Watson -- you know, Ivan, the first thing that occurs to me is we cannot exactly expect that, at this point, in this war, that there would be a Geneva Convention sort of agreement as to how to treat prisoners.

How is it seen in Aleppo?

Is it seen as harshly as it looks to us as we look at those pictures?

WATSON: You know, some residents that I've talked to, some inhabitants here in the north of the country have said we think that the rebels are trying to send a message to the Shabiha militias, you know, that they are not invincible, that we can come and hunt them down and -- and kill them. We've gotten mixed responses from some of the rebel commanders that we know. Of course, a spokesman for this Tawhid Brigade that has claimed responsibility for the executions said, well, we -- we investigated these guys and we judged them. And we decided they should be executed. He was completely unapologetic about that.

Another commander we talked to said, I would have preferred if there was a court of law that we could have judged these guys in, but we didn't have one.

So this appears to be accepted by the handful of people I've talked to And perhaps that's because of the incredible loss of life and suffering that they've seen inflicted by Syrian security forces over the last 17 months.


And -- and, in some ways, this was reminiscent to me of what we saw in Libya and Moammar Gadhafi, where we literally saw him sort of beaten to death by enraged folks after he was toppled.

But let me ask you if you have any sense of how widespread this is?

Do you think it's confined to this one place that you saw or do you think there are prisoners in -- in other cities or even in Aleppo?

WATSON: I don't have any conclusive evidence that there have been other extrajudicial killings like this. But when you talk to the rebels who are carrying out the fighting -- and if they're -- they have a pair of boots that they've confiscated from an army soldier after a battle or a flak jacket and you ask them, well, what happened to the guy who used to wear that helmet, inevitably they will say he's dead. And whether or not that happened in the battle itself or immediately afterwards, after somebody had been taken captive, I don't know. But it -- it's going to be a real concern.

The fact is, is that the international community, the international human rights groups have been condemning the Damascus regime for unspeakable atrocities committed against unarmed civilians for the better part of 17 months. Now many of those civilians are armed and many of them want revenge.

CROWLEY: Moving forward, what does this bode for the battlefield and for international acceptance of the community -- of the rebel community?

WATSON: Well, there are deep concerns already from -- from some governments about the makeup of the rebels. There's been a lot of talk about infiltration of Al Qaeda and jihadists. And if -- if you see extrajudicial killings taking place, that will only amplify those concerns.

The rebels are very conscious of their image. They want to present a positive face to the outside world. The rebel brigades that I've seen, nearly everyone we've met, they have media officers, guys whose jobs are just to follow the fighters and film and get that video online. And in this case, of these killings in Eastern Aleppo on Tuesday, those guys were doing their job. There was an element of transparency there. It's just -- it revealed a very ugly side of the conflict.

CROWLEY: That it did.

Ivan Watson reporting for us from Northern Syria tonight.

Thanks, Ivan.

WATSON: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: Ahead, Republicans raise new questions about transparency, or lack thereof, at the White House. They claim Obama administration officials used their personal e-mails for work.

Just ahead,

I'll ask President Obama's deputy campaign manager to respond.

Plus, the U.S. Postal Service set to default on a $5.5 billion payment to the federal government -- what it could mean for your mail delivery.


CROWLEY: The troubles at the U.S. Postal Service are about to get much worse. Everyone, from Congressional aides to lobbyists to Postal Service officials, expect it will default tonight. Even worse, there may not be enough cash to pay for normal operations as of mid-October.

For more on what's wrong with the mail, CNN's Athena Jones -- so is normal operation delivering the mail to houses?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes. For the first time in its more than 200 year history, the Postal Service is defaulting on a payment to the government. And this is really just the latest sign of the Service's increasing financial problems.


JONES (voice-over): The U.S. Postal Service defaulted on a $5.5 billion payment to the federal government today.

JENNIFER LIBERTO, CNNMONEY: And it's a big deal to the Postal Service because they've never missed a payment on anything before.

JONES: What was the money for?

To cover health benefits for future retirees, prepayments that are required under a 2006 law.

NICOLE RHINE, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS: We're putting money into that account for employees that don't work for the Post Office yet. Some of them aren't even born yet. But that was the mandate that the law did. JONES: It's an added strain for an already burdened agency. A sluggish economy and the growing number of people paying their bills online have meant multi-billion dollar quarterly losses.

So what does that mean for your mail delivery?

In a statement, the service said operations wouldn't be affected. "We will continue to deliver the mail, pay our employees and suppliers and meet other financial obligations. Postal Service retirees and employees will also continue to receive their health benefits."

But they still must address operational losses. There are plans to cut costs by $22.5 billion by 2016 and return the agency to profitability. It's already shutting down some processing plants and has offered retirement packages to thousands of employees. It's also cutting hours at some post offices and wants to end Saturday service.

Unions want to reduce the money set aside for health benefits and don't want to see services cut.

CLIFF GUFFEY, PRES. AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION: What we're really asking is to slow down the rate of the prepayments. I think these got to be some closings and consolidations. That's modernization. It just doesn't need to be as draconian and as quickly done as what is necessary right now.

JONES: Ultimately, new legislation will be needed to help put the organization on a solid long-term fiscal footing. The Senate has passed legislation to help shore up the services finances, but the House has yet to act.

NICOLE SHRINE, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS: Congress created the situation that the postal service is in right now, and Congress can fix it.

JONES: The postal service and postal workers hope Congress is listening.


JONES (on-camera): Now, Candy, all this comes, as you mentioned, as a new memo from the postal service's inspector general says the service could begin experiencing serious cash flow problems as soon as this October in the form of $100 million shortfall.

If Congress doesn't act, they have a backup plan to try to continue operations, continue dealing with the mail, but the irony in all this, Candy, is that the payment that was due today -- that's due today, was delayed a year ago to give Congress time to deal with this issue. And here we are a year later.

CROWLEY: They must not know the first rule of Congress, which is they expand whatever time they're given to do something and then take another couple months. So, I imagine if people's mail stops showing up, Congress might hear about it.

JONES: They're (ph) going to do everything they can to make sure the mail keeps going.

CROWLEY: Thanks so much, Athena Jones, appreciate it.

JONES: Thanks.

CROWLEY: Now, you know that the TSA, the agents at our airport security gates, get a lot of grief. So, we want you to stay with us for a story that's a big change. How agents rescued a kidnapped woman.

Also, the latest scandal at the Olympics. It's in badminton. And even Olympic veteran, Carl Lewis, agrees it's a whopper.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like fixing. It's like fixing a game. And, as you know, anywhere in the world, no one likes that, no one respects that.


CROWLEY: Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Mary, I hear the power's up and running in India.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, Candy, that hopefully brings the worst blackout in history to an end. Half the country lost power after two consecutive days of blackouts that affected an estimated 600 million people. Although, backup generators kept airports and hospitals running, the crisis is said to have revealed India's struggle to upgrade the country's power grid to meet the demands of an ever-growing population.

Legendary author, playwright and actor, Gore Vidal, has died. His family says the 86-year-old died of complications from pneumonia and suffered from heart problem. The often outspoken Vidal penned more than 20 novels and 200 essays. He tried unsuccessfully to run for public office twice. And he fiercely opposed the war in Iraq.

To Miami International Airport, TSA agents trained to spot terrorists save a kidnapping victim. The behavior detection officer saw a young woman trembling and trying to hide her battered face as she stood at the ticket counter. Two New Jersey women were arrested for beating the 25-year-old holding her against her will and forcing her to take money out of her bank account.

And the UC-Davis police officer seen dousing seated protesters with pepper spray no longer works for the university. The lieutenant was put on paid administrative leave after the scandal last November, but he continued to collect a six-figure salary despite intense criticism, that is until yesterday -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Wow. Another big story out there, Mary.

Today, U.S. agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, designated an additional 218 counties in 12 states as primary natural disaster areas because of the drought. Now, understand this, more than half of all U.S. counties now are designated as disaster zones. CNN's Christine Romans is talking to farmers in Iowa.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Candy, I'm here in LeClaire, Iowa, at Argo General Store. This is a popular breakfast and lunch spot for farmers. And here, they're talking about the drought. Will it be worse than 1988? How bad will the corn crop be? And is there any chance at all for the soybean crop?

And while we're all talking about 1988 perspective, I met a farmer this morning who has more perspective than anybody else on this crop and what's happening here in the fields. Ninety-two-year-old Harry Van Horst (ph).


ROMANS: Farming, has it changed a lot since when you started?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I walked behind a team of horses. At that time, we elevated cord. Now, they don't even elevate it. At that time, we planted about 18,000 or 20,000 kernels of plants an acre, now they plant 35,000, 38,000 plants an acre. That's about as bad as it was in 1936.

ROMANS: In 1936.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1936 it was real bad.

ROMANS: Wow! I know it was bad in 1956, it was bad in 1988. There were some bad patches in 2005.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They weren't as bad like it is this year. This year, I think, is worse.


ROMANS: No one here has more perspective than Harry Van Horst (ph), 92 years old. He was farming full-time until just two years ago, Candy. And, for the record, the first time he voted in a presidential election, he voted for Herbert Hoover. So, there you go. One thing they're talking about here, the soybeans.

August is bean month. If they could get some rain, you would see soybeans do a little bit better. On the optimistic side for Iowans as well, they keep pointing out that they will go on. They will farm again next year. And since1988, one of the big differences, Candy, is that most of these farmers do have crop insurance.

They do have crop insurance. That will prevent them from losing everything, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're going to run out and buy a new truck. So, that's why the economy here will suffer no matter what -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Christine Romans covering the drought for us in Iowa today. Congressional Republicans say they've discovered another problem at the Obama White House that has to do with the campaign promise and e- mail. Standby for details.

Also ahead, an Olympic-size scandal. The spectators are buzzing about accusations some badminton teams actually played to lose.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to win a gold. And they thought by losing a certain match was going to help them win overall, no problem with it.



CROWLEY: Here in Washington, Republicans are raising new questions about transparency at the White House after a new report from a Republican-led Congressional committee revealed the Obama administration has used -- some members of the Obama administration have used their personal e-mail accounts while working inside the White House and met with lobbyists offsite to avoid disclosure rules.

Now, the White House is firing back, which is why we have CNN White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, joining us now with some of the details.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Candy. The Romney campaign and the RNC are seizing on this report that's been put out by a House committee -- a Republican house committee important to note. It shows that personal e-mails were used and that meetings were scheduled offsite to avoid there being a record in the White House visitors log.

Five days before healthcare reform passed the House, Jim Messina who is then the president's deputy chief of staff, now the head of the Obama campaign, e-mailed a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry, and he said in part, "I will roll Pelosi to get the $4 billion," talking about the funding for the deal that got pharma on board with the president's healthcare reform bill.

Now, here's the thing. It is OK for a White House official to use a personal e-mail account for official business, but only if they C.C. or forward that e-mail from their personal account and they loop it into their official White House account. This is a legal issue. White House officials receive briefings on how to comply with the law.

But, Candy, on this particular e-mail -- and I've asked the White House repeatedly on this, they won't say if Messina looped in his White House account. A spokesman for the White House, Eric Schultz saying, "Mr. Messina occasionally received and sent e-mail on a long standing personal account.

When some of those e-mails contained information relating to official communications, he took steps to preserve such e-mails by forwarding them to his White House e-mail account or copying his White House e- mail account as a recipient."

CROWLEY: So let's face it, Mitt Romney, I mean it's the political season.


CROWLEY: It is about politics. Mitt Romney is being hit very hard on not being transparent about his tax returns.


CROWLEY: Can we draw some lines here?

KEILAR: Oh, sure. This is about deflection. As you know, Mitt Romney has a huge problem with openness himself. He's only released his 2010 tax returns so far. He says he will release his 2011 tax return which he got an extension on before the election. And the Obama campaign has made a big deal out of this. They've called on Romney to release more. They've run ads on this issue.

So the Romney camp is looking here to deflect some of this focus by tarnishing President Obama's claim of having the most transparent administration in history. And the Obama administration has done a lot on transparency. For instance, they make White House visitor logs public, which is a reversal of a long standing practice of presidents, Democrats and Republicans. But this report though no doubt politically motivated does raise some questions that the White House is not answering.

CROWLEY: And I bet Nancy Pelosi will have a couple of them actually.

KEILAR: Yes, right. Sure.

CROWLEY: That's quite an e-mail.


CROWLEY: Brianna, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

KEILAR: Of course.

CROWLEY: Joining us now to talk about this and more, Obama deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter. Stephanie, it's good to see you. The White House has said whatever was White House business Jim Messina forwarded those personal e-mails. What I'm trying to get at is do you think this -- you worked at the White House -- was this a common practice? Did you all sort of integrate personal and official e- mails? The point being of course that White House e-mails are put into the record whereas personal e-mails are not.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Right. You know, for details on this I'm going to have to defer to my friends at the White House who are handling this issue. But I can tell you that you know for everybody working in the White House and everybody all across this country, we all have personal e-mail addresses. And for our long standing relationships, they often use those personal e-mail addresses. But at the White House we were all instructed for official business to just forward those e-mails into the White House system. And so that's what we've all done.

And you know I agree with -- I was listening to you talk with Brianna earlier, and I agree with you. This is a politically-charged attack to try to deflect from Mitt Romney's transparency problems, which are enormous compared to this one issue. Whether it's not releasing his bundlers, not releasing his tax returns, taking the hard drives with him from Massachusetts, all of these things -- trying to close his fundraisers even on the European trip -- all of these things prevent enormous transparency problems for Mitt Romney.


CUTTER: So this is a politically charged attack and I don't think it will change anything -- do anything to distract from his problem.

CROWLEY: Right. Even if the folks on the House side saw a way this might help Mitt Romney, it doesn't mean that what they're looking at isn't true and that's what I was just trying to get at was is it a fairly common practice to end up doing business on personal e-mail accounts --

CUTTER: It's not a common practice to do business on personal e-mail accounts. But if you have a friend on the outside who is used to corresponding with you on your personal e-mail address, every now and then it does happen. And as I said, we are instructed to forward that into the White House system if it's official business and that's what we do.

CROWLEY: Let me turn you to some polls that came out today in Ohio and Florida, it's a Quinnipiac (ph) poll which largely show the president ahead both in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania I should add. But inside the polls there is this number. Who do you think would do a better job on the economy? In Florida, the president 45, Mitt Romney 47, Ohio, the president 46, Mitt Romney 45. Essentially that's a tie. Why do you think that is?

CUTTER: Why do I think it's a tie between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and who would be better on the economy?

CROWLEY: Why do you think -- yes -- why do you think when voters say -- when voters are asked who would do better on the economy that basically they see very little difference between the two of them?

CUTTER: Well, I think for several reasons. And as you know, that's been Mitt Romney's advantage in this race for a very long time because of central premise of his candidacy has been his business experience and how that would qualify him to turn around the economy. I think voters are waking up and realizing that's not true. They're realizing what that business experience was about. It wasn't about creating jobs. It was about creating wealth for himself and other investors and that came with real consequences for working people and for communities.

So I think voters are starting to become more aware of what that experience is. And I also think the other thing in those polls, Candy that I found interesting was that, you know, a majority in both states that you mentioned believe that the president's policies either are working to improve the economy or will work in the future. And, you know, they also are becoming more aware of what's actually happening, what programs are in place. Key investments in education and clean energy are making a real difference. And the president's fight to protect the middle class from tax increases and to ensure that everybody pays their fair share as part of deficit reduction is something that people are paying attention to and they're liking it.

CROWLEY: But you know Stephanie, if I'm looking at those poll numbers in you know who would do a better job on the economy and I know that we're looking at an election that's going to be on the economy and the president is below 50 percent, I think that's worrisome.

CUTTER: Well, I think that this is going to be a close election and it's going to continue being a close election. And let's face it. Over the past three and a half years the country has gone through a significant economic crisis, the worst economic crisis since the great depression. And it's going to take us a while to dig out. But in Ohio specifically, you know, with the auto bailout, they've had tremendous growth as a result of what the president did to save the auto industry.

CROWLEY: So shouldn't he be doing better?

CUTTER: And there are stories like that in all of these states.

CROWLEY: Yes. Shouldn't he be doing better than 46 --

CUTTER: The president is not going to -- the president is going to continue fighting every single day throughout the course of this election to talk about his vision for improving the economy. And he's going to continue laying out the choice because voters do have a choice here. Whether we want to build the economy from the middle out which is what voters are responding to in these polls or if they want to build the economy from the top down, which is what Mitt Romney wants to do. And again, those same policies are what crashed the economy in the first place.

So we're going to continue laying out the choice. This is going to continue being a very close election. You know those polls were great for us today. But it's not always going to be like that. Everybody's going to go up and down. It's going to remain close, which is why we are working every single day to get people organized on the ground, communicate our message. The president had a great event today and that's what we're going to keep on doing.

CROWLEY: Stephanie, in the brief time we have left, yesterday the Senate majority leader (INAUDIBLE) obviously of the president said that someone at Bain told him that Mitt Romney didn't pay any taxes for 10 years. We saw Ted Strickland (ph), former governor of Ohio, clearly a strong supporter and out there campaigning for President Obama indicate much the same thing today. Does the Obama campaign have any proof that Mitt Romney didn't pay any taxes or that something illegal has been done? CUTTER: No, we don't have any proof and that's not what we're saying. But what we are saying is that we don't have any information. Mitt Romney's asking voters -- the American people, to take his word for it. And he's running for president of the United States. And he's breaking a long standing tradition that's been in place since his father ran for president by keeping his tax returns secret.

And that's a problem. And I think that lots of people are suspecting a variety of things that are in those taxes. You know he clearly doesn't want to release them. So what's in them that he doesn't want people to know? And those are the questions that people are asking.

CROWLEY: OK. Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, thanks for joining us today.

CUTTER: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Could robots one day replace human troops on the battlefield? Just ahead we'll take you to a pretend battlefield where that's already happening. Plus another needle found in an airline passenger sandwich. Are these growing number of cases connected and just how concerned should you be as a traveler?


CROWLEY: We wanted to let you know that a law enforcement official has told CNN's Ed Lavandera that the all-clear has been given at San Antonio International Airport. These are pictures from previously. But we are told now that after more than two hours of a search of the airport no explosive device was found. As you may recall, a threat was called into the airport. It was specific enough, serious enough.

They also had some bomb sniffing dogs that seemed to signal something was going on at the parking lot. They closed down the place. They sent incoming airplanes as far away as they could. They pulled all the airplanes out of their spots. But right now, again, a law enforcement source tells CNN's Ed Lavandera the all-clear has been given at the San Antonio International Airport. No explosive device found. It probably will take them a couple of hours to get back up to speed.

Now, the story of the day at the Olympics is the scandal involving four badminton doubles teams that apparently played to lose in order to face easier opponents later on. In the end they all lost, officials disqualified them. CNN's Zain Verjee has the latest.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Candy, South Korea, Indonesia and China really put the bad in badminton today. Here in London the Olympics is all about winning but eight players decided that they actually wanted to lose their matches. Now why would you want to do that? Well, all of them had apparently qualified to the next round in the quarter finals, but they wanted to lose their games so that they would be up against a weaker team.

It wasn't just about the badminton; it was also about the strategy. But everybody knew what was going on. They totally missed easy shots. They failed in some of the serves that just landed up in the net. Now, the IOC spokesman has come out and said it's not acceptable. The Olympics chief here, Sebastian Coe (ph) added it's depressing and also unacceptable. The president of the Badminton World Federation says they're going to investigate and make sure something like this never happens again. All those eight players were booed by the fans there. Listen to what the fans thought.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not just to do with winning. It's the taking part and what the community gets out of it. Not just two athletes wanting to get gold and China wants all the glory. It's a bit selfish. It's ruining the Olympic spirit. It's not taking part. It's ruining it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh I think it's a shame that they do the sport like that they don't play like they should play. And, yes, it's a shame for the sport. And in my eyes they should be stopped or be thrown out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's appalling and if I'd been here watching that I would be really disappointed to pay all that money to come and watch that would have been really disappointing and it's really lets the sports down really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The former (ph) allowed them to do it, but I'm appalled that they wanted to play it that way. But I would like to know who gave them the instructions to play it like that. And if it was senior in their squads, then maybe they should be kicked out.


VERJEE: The fans are angry. They want their money back. Some paid more than $100 to watch some of these matches that were supposed to be the best the world has to offer in badminton. Now, none of the players it seems are going to be able to play because their appeals have been rejected for South Korea. For Indonesia they've withdrawn their appeal and the Chinese say they're going to launch an internal investigation -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Zain Verjee in London for us. Now imagine a day when robots replace human troops in combat. It may sound like a science fiction movie, but Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence shows us.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to robot boot camp.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is the Desert High Bay. On the floor we have sand. It's about 2.5 feet deep.

LAWRENCE: Where robots dig for bombs in bone dry deserts or endure the heat of a human rain forest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are places where you'll sink into the mud three or four feet.

LAWRENCE: They learn to block out battlefield sounds.



LAWRENCE (on camera): Yes, and there's gunfire there, gunfire there.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Or dive under water to detect mines all under one roof in the nation's capital.

(on camera): In other words, what looks and honestly feels like a humid dense rain forest somewhere deep in Southeast Asia is really just the other side of an air-conditioned lab right here in Washington, D.C.



LAWRENCE (voice-over): Remember, Navy SEALs aren't built in air- conditioned labs. So why should its robots get a pass? At the Naval Research Lab's newest center, they can tweak the temperature from nearly 400 degrees to 50 below.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Computers have perfect memories. People do not.

LAWRENCE: So they're starting to develop robots that can respond to real troops, the kind that get exhausted or anxious and make mistakes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fire is in the center on the floor.

LAWRENCE: Meet Lucas who is training to fight fires on board a Navy ship.


ROBOT: Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fire in compartment three has been contained.

LAWRENCE: He tells Lucas there is a fire in compartment five.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait for Laura then follow me there.


LAWRENCE: But look what happens when Laura gets mixed up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's head to compartment three.

ROBOT: There must be a misunderstanding. You think that compartment three is not under control, but it has been contained. GREG TRAFTON, COGNITIVE SCIENTIST: You want the robot to understand that people can make those mistakes.

LAWRENCE: The military wants robots that don't have to be commanded every step of the way.

ROBOT: Fire extinguished.

LAWRENCE: That can take at least some initiative in battle.

ALAN SCHULTZ, NAVAL RESEARCH LABORATORY: I used to joke around that if a robot were 100 percent autonomous, it would be in Miami sipping motor oil on the beach.


LAWRENCE: Maybe 50 percent autonomous is plenty.

Chris Lawrence, CNN.


CROWLEY: A needle turns up in a seventh airline sandwich. Is it a prank or a serious cause for concern? And a California professor behind bars accused of a lethal plot at the school his son attended.


CROWLEY: A passenger on an Air Canada flight says he found a sewing needle in a sandwich. That sounds frighteningly similar to recent reports of needles in food on Delta flights. CNN's Brian Todd is looking into this.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy whether this latest incident is part of a serious prank or something else isn't quite clear right now, but what is clear is that there is a pattern now that's causing concern among experts about the screening of airline food.


TODD (voice-over): Two airlines, seven sandwiches, heightened anxiety. A passenger found a sewing needle in a catered sandwich onboard an Air Canada flight on Monday from Victoria, British Columbia to Toronto. Canadian police say the passenger suffered a minor injury. The airline says it is investigating and working with its caterers to tighten security. This follows reports of needles found in six sandwiches on Delta Airlines flights from Amsterdam to the U.S. two weeks ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I felt to see what that was, I pulled it out and here it was a needle about one inch long with -- it looked just like a sewing needle, but it was sharp on both ends. It didn't have an eye on one end.

TODD: The FBI and Dutch authorities are investigating that case. Dutch officials tell CNN some of those sandwiches, including one seen in an "ABC News" photo have just arrived at Amsterdam's airport where they're being forensically examined. CNN contributor Tom Fuentes believes these are likely serious pranks, not terrorist plots.

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIR.: I just don't see why they would settle for needles, which would bring pain and suffering to a passenger biting into one, but not likely to be lethal in the long run, and it would be detectible.

TODD: Canadian and Dutch officials say there is nothing at this point suggesting a link between the Delta and Air Canada incidents, but there is one connection.

(on camera): Gate Gourmet (ph) is a catering company that serves Delta Airlines. It has acknowledged that the sandwiches in the Delta incidents came from one of its facilities. Gate Gourmet (ph) says is also serves Air Canada but says it was not the catering provider out of Victoria.

(voice-over): A Gate Gourmet (ph) spokeswoman says the company is working with the airlines to enhance screening of its food. I asked Rafi Ron, former top Israeli airline security official about that process.

(on camera): With everything being loaded onto a plane like that how do you screen all of those items for something that may be in here?

RAFI RON, NEW AGE SECURITY SOLUTIONS: Well not everything has to be screened, and not necessarily screening is the best solution to prevent forbidden items from getting aboard. In the case of catering, obviously catering is being prepared in a specific location, and this is the place where the security procedures need to take place.

TODD (voice-over): Ron says airline caterers have to start by vetting their employees better.


TODD: The security concerns go way beyond just sandwiches and other prepackaged food. To give you an idea of just how tough it is to screen all this stuff, one expert on the hospitality industry tells us that between food, knives, forks, spoons, blankets and things like that there are an average of 40,000 small items loaded onto one jumbo jet for one long haul flight -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Brian.

A respected California professor appears to lose it after his son commits suicide -- details ahead.


CROWLEY: A California professor is behind bars this hour accused of plotting a lethal attack at a high school. Here is CNN's Casey Wian.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You see Irvine Professor Rainer Reinshide (ph) is jailed without bail after police allegedly caught him last week, crouched down in bushes at this park with lighter fluid and a pile of paper. He quickly made bail, but was rearrested after a police investigation officers say tied him to five arson fires and one attempted arson last month in neighborhoods near University High where his son went to school.

ANDREW KATZ, ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTY DA: All the fires happened at something connected to his son, whether it was his high school where he attended, the home of the administrator who was responsible for disciplining the child, or the park itself.

WIAN (on camera): Authorities say the professor's arson spree was predicated by the suicide death of his 14-year-old son in March. The boy hung himself from a tree in this park, located just outside his high school campus.

(voice-over): Officials say the boy killed himself after being forced to pick up trash on campus, punishment for theft.

TERRY WALKER, SUPT., IRVINE UNIFIED SCHOOL DIST.: The student was engaged in stealing something from the local student store, but it was a minor event. It didn't lead to a suspension even.

WIAN: According to prosecutors, Reinshide (ph) blamed school officials for his son's suicide. They say the 48-year-old professor who lives in this neighborhood near campus plotted a massacre at the high school, then his own suicide.

TONY RACKAUCKAS, ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: He was clearly starting fires and working on burning the school down. In his e-mails to his wife, he indicated that he wanted to acquire some firearms and go to the school and just do a great deal of violence at the school, including sexual assaults and then random violence against the kids, so I think it was serious.

JIM BELLUZZI, U.C. IRVINE PHARMACOLOGY PROF.: I couldn't be more shocked. He was an excellent scientist, very hard working.

WIAN: His work was groundbreaking, including the discovery of a memory boosting protein considered a potential Alzheimer's treatment. Chillingly, Reinshide (ph) wrote in 2010 defined quote "may help us better understand post traumatic stress disorder, which involves exaggerated memories of traumatic events." It is hard to imagine an event more traumatic than the suicide of a child.


WIAN: Our calls to Reinshide's (ph) attorney were not returned. The professor is convicted of arson and mayhem. He could face 12 years in prison -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Our Casey Wian. We have to run.

Thank you so much for joining us today. THE SITUATION ROOM continues now with Kate Bolduan.