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Colombian Hooker Scandal Widens; Fake Parts In U.S. Military Equipment; Historic Flight Of Spacex Lifts off; Governor Christie Appears With Romney; Colin Powell Doesn't Endorse Obama; Candidate Poses Topless For Campaign; Son Stuck With Mom's Nursing Home Bill; Senators Review JPMorgan Losses; SpaceX Rocket Launch Makes History; Free Wi-Fi Across the Country; Prostate Screening Test Acquired
Aired May 22, 2012 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I never caught a ball at a baseball gape and I have been to a million baseball games.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember I was expressing my depression after that.
COSTELLO: We'll have a drink after the show. Thanks, Jeff. Next, our CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
Good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Just ahead in the NEWSROOM, a terrifying plunge, a man falls 200 feet over Niagara Falls. It's all caught on tape. The death-defying efforts to rescue him from the rocks below.
What would you do if you got smacked with a $93,000 bill and what if the bill wasn't even for you? We'll talk to one man who is on the hook for his mother's nursing home bill. His mother is still alive, and the obscure law that's being used to make sure families pay up.
And this woman is running for Congress in her country, and she's got nothing to hide. In fact, she's ordering voters to wake up and she is willing to bare it all to get their attention.
Beam me up Scotty, the first private space launch is in the history books with some special cargo.
Also new today, more U.S. federal agents are accused of hiring prostitutes in Colombia. This newest scandal involves three agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and it, too, is based in Cartagena.
But it's apparently unrelated to the Secret Service agents who were providing security ahead of President Obama's trip to the Summit of Americas.
Joining me on the phone is Tom Fuentes. He's a former FBI assistant director and a CNN contributor. Good morning, Tom.
TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (via telephone): Good morning, Carol. COSTELLO: So now it's the Drug Enforcement Administration. I mean, who doesn't hire prostitutes overseas when they're supposed to be working?
FUENTES: Right. It's another disturbing story, but we don't know all the facts about this one yet either, and apparently, it's coming out as information is emerging from the Secret Service investigation.
So we don't know if someone at one of the hotels or a Secret Service agent or someone in the embassy or a consulate in Colombia made the referral back saying that the DEA agents had allegedly done the same thing.
So it's been referred to the Department of Justice, Inspector General's Office, and that's where the inquiry is now.
COSTELLO: So now it's the DEA, The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, and some members of the military accused of buying prostitutes in Colombia. One lawmaker said it was part of this seamy under culture in Colombia. What do you make of this?
FUENTES: Well, this culture like in the several parts of the world. Federal agents are under strict guidelines as well as other government officials to not engage in that practice even if it's legal in a particular city or a particular country.
There are also internal guidelines within each agency to not do it. So that's what we're looking at here. Obviously, it wouldn't be a violation of Cartagena or Colombian laws, but it could be a violation and most certainly if it's true would be a violation of DEA's particular laws.
And especially when it comes to individuals in the agencies who have top secret clearances or higher that puts them in jeopardy. If they're getting the services of foreign nationals and engaging in that kind of behavior, it's problematic from a security standpoint.
COSTELLO: We'll see --
FUENTES: As well as --
COSTELLO: Yes, we'll see what eventually will be done about it. We'll continue to follow the story. Tom Fuentes, thanks so much.
Also this morning, lawmakers in Washington say there's a new threat to national security and it's coming from China. A year- long Senate investigation has found that at least 1 million counterfeit parts have been used in U.S. military equipment.
The products are typically electronics and come overwhelmingly from China. Senate investigators say the parts are often faulty and can actually compromise the safety of U.S. troops.
And what's more, their production overseas takes away jobs from working Americans. Earlier on CNN "STARTING POINT," the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee outlined the concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR CARL LEVIN (D), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The potential is interest for espionage, for both reasons, the safety of our troops and the safety of our country as well as jobs, by the way. The industry here estimates we lose about 11,000 jobs a year to just these counterfeit electronic parts. So there's a jobs issue here as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Critics say China is not solely to blame. They say budget cuts have forced the Pentagon to bargain shop and the military's buying process did not assure enough scrutiny of the equipment's quality.
OK, our next stop, a launch pad at Cape Canaveral? Remember Scotty from "Star Trek"? Well, right now, he's on his way to his own final frontier. And his rocket ride is ushering in a new era in the nation's space program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, zero. And launch of the Spacex Falcon Nine Rocket as NASA turns to the private sector to resupply the International Space Station.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: John Zarrella has been watching all of this from Miami. He joins us live now, and it was an incredible sight.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really was, Carol. Just a spectacular launch this morning, and, you know, maybe for a couple reasons as you pointed out.
James Duhan, who became popular as Scotty on the "Star Trek" series, one of apparently up to 300 people whose remains were encapsulated on the second stage of the rocket, of the Falcon Nine rocket that lifted off this morning.
Now the dragon capsule, which is on top of that second stage, is now on its way to the International Space Station, and for a rendezvous and ultimately a birthing with the space station.
Spacex, the company that built Dragon and built the Falcon Nine, clearly about to make history, and for NASA this is a huge, huge moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES BOLDEN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: To be quite honest, we have a significant amount of control over the Russians. They are part of the partnership, but what's really important is not control as much as it is the fact that the United States will once again be in the lead, will be providing our own vehicles to take our own astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.
It's fine to rely on partners, but that's not where the greatest nation in the world wants to be. We want to be taking astronauts and cargo on our own vehicles. Today was a huge day in the step to getting there. So, you know, we're on the way, and people should hang with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: Now, as Bolden pointed out there, it was a step, and that's clearly what it was, Carol, because Thursday they're going to be rendezvousing with the International Space Station. They will fly around the station with that Dragon capsule, fully autonomous capsule.
And they will do some tests and check out the systems before Friday when they actually will attempt to berth with the International Space Station where Astronaut Don Pettit on the station will reach out with the robotic arm, grab Dragon, and pull it on in for -- and that will be truly a historic event.
COSTELLO: Yes, so this is a joint project between this private company and NASA.
COSTELLO: Right. What happens to ashes in space?
ZARRELLA: Well, it depends on how far they go. If this company, which apparently has put this canister on that second stage, if you're in orbit, eventually the orbits decay and whatever -- it will burn up re-entering the atmosphere.
Otherwise, some others send astronaut ashes to the moon and out into deep space. If you're on one of those flights, which cost a little more, $10,000 to $13,000, your ashes will just live on forever and ever apparently out there in deep space.
COSTELLO: But if you go the cheaper route, I guess they just burn up in space.
COSTELLO: OK, this is morbid. John Zarrella, thanks so much.
Mitt Romney's bringing out the big campaign guns today. Governor Chris Christie will help drum up support and cash at a fundraiser in New York. Romney's national finance chairman believes today's event along with a few others this week, in New York and Connecticut, will bring in at least $10 million.
Colin Powell, a Republican who took a lot of heat for endorsing Barack Obama for president in 2008, is not quite ready to do it again.
Back in the day the former secretary of state called Mr. Obama a transformational figure and was upset at Republican attacks on Obama's character. This time around Powell says he's not ready to endorse Obama. Listen to what he said on the "Today" show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I always keep my powder dry as we say in the military. I feel as a private citizen I ought to listen to what the president says and what the president has been doing.
But I also have to listen to what the other fellow is saying. I have known Mitt Romney for many years, good man, and it's not just a matter of whether you support Obama or Romney, it's who they have coming in with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: OK, so how do you think this would play in the world of U.S. politics? A woman running for Mexico's Congress taking off her shirt for the campaign, and I mean that in the literal sense. She's not the top candidate. She's the topless candidate. CNN's Rafael Romo has the story.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice- over): It's a campaign with nothing to hide. When Natalia Juarez realized her bid for Congress was off to a slow start, the 34-year-old quickly realized she was going to be transparent with voters in a way they didn't expect.
Juarez appears topless in a billboard surrounded by half a dozen supporters of her party, the PRD. The candidate, a philosophy professor, says it's her way of giving voters in Mexico a wake-up call.
NATALIA JUAREZ, MEXICAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE (through translator): Society is lethargic. We don't seem to be aware of our role. We need to get energized. We need to tell people, hey, wake up, because if you don't, sharks are going to eat you up. Wake up you citizen and politician.
ROMO: Her billboard says I dare you to build a new project for a nation with no prejudices. So far Juarez has posted two billboards in Mexico's second largest city and also one of the most conservative.
JUAREZ (through translator): Conservative people are never going to vote for me, never. Even if I dressed as a nun and carried a rosary and said that my party was going to give away bibles and rosaries, they wouldn't. Conservatives are never going to vote for me.
ROMO (on camera): Juarez says she has the full backing of her family, including her elderly more who she describes as a small town conservative woman. If you were shocked by the first round of campaign publicity, Juarez says, this is nothing compared with the second one she will unveil in the next few weeks. (voice-over): In the meantime, she has been targeted on social media. Who needs brains when you have these reads one comment on Twitter. Juarez says that won't deter her from advancing her political platform.
JUAREZ (through translator): When it comes to drugs and the violence generated by drug trafficking, we need to start thinking in a radical way. What do I mean by that? Well, we need to start a debate. Let's legalize drugs, tax them, and use the money for other things.
ROMO: The bottom line Juarez says is that she's a radical candidate with radical ideas for a better Mexico.
COSTELLO: At least she's passionate. Rafael Romo is here. So has this improved her chances?
ROMO: It's really too early to tell. Elections are July 1st, but one thing I can tell you for sure, she's now the best-known candidate for the Mexican Congress.
And it is a very politically active year in Mexico with almost 630 candidates for Congress, the president, six governorships, 641 mayors, so she's definitely doing something to stand out by doing this.
COSTELLO: I was going to say maybe the others should follow suit, but I don't think they will. Rafael Romo, thank you.
It's hard enough to send your mom or dad to a nursing home, but here is the question. Are you responsible for paying their bill even if your mom or dad are still alive? The answer is yes. We'll tell you one family's story next.
COSTELLO: It's 15 minutes past the hour. Some stories we're following in the NEWSROOM.
This unmanned Spacex rocket launched into history just hours ago. It's on its way to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. It is the first private craft to do so. On board the cremated remains of James Doohan, the original Scotty from "Star Trek."
A top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan is stepping this summer. One official familiar with the situation told us Ryan Crocker has serious health issues and just reached his limit. His exit comes just after the conclusion of the NATO Summit in Chicago. He's been on the job less than a year.
Ramped up activity at North Korea's nuclear test site is raising concerns the country is getting ready for yet another test. Analysis of satellite images by the defense publication HIS James show earthen debris being removed from a tunnel in the largest quantities seen so far. Over the weekend, G8 leaders agreed that North Korea faces further isolation if they continue to pursue a nuclear program.
It is sadly a story many of us can relate to, an aging parent, nursing home care, and a bill too big to manage. For John Pittas, it's more than a sad story. It's killing him financially.
His mother went into a nursing home for rehabilitation after a car crash. The bill came to $93,000. His mother could not pay the bill so she applied for Medicaid, and then she moved to Greece still owing the nursing home big time.
The nursing home was not happy, but instead of suing the mom, it sued her son and won. John Pittas now has to pay his mom's bill and fork over $93,000. So how is that possible? John Pittas and his attorney are here to explain. Welcome, gentlemen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, Carol.
COSTELLO: First off, John, when you found out you would have to pay this bill, what was your reaction?
JOHN PITTAS, RESPONSIBLE FOR MOTHER'S $93K NURSING HOME BILL: I was basically in shock. I did not expect to be handed a bill for my mother's care, basically caught off guard.
COSTELLO: Can you afford to pay $93,000?
PITTAS: Definitely not.
COSTELLO: Mr. Karoly, John lives in Pennsylvania which is one of 30 states, which has something called a familial responsibility law and that law requires a child to provide support for an indigent parent. Most of us have never heard of this law, where did it come from?
JOHN KAROLY, ATTORNEY FOR JOHN PITTAS: It's a law that has recent application. The nursing homes have been fighting this for a while and we're attempting to seek monies from elderly people and decided to have this application for children and daughters or sons.
COSTELLO: And so, as I said, this law is in 30 states. We don't hear of it being applied so often. Is it being applied more so today?
KAROLY: Well, certainly after this decision the nursing homes will be a lot more aggressive. The superior court in Pennsylvania basically broadened the interpretation of this law in that never before has a son or daughter been liable for a mother's or father's nursing home debts where there's no what I call mischief.
Meaning that the son or daughter didn't dissipate the mother or father's assets selling a home, sells cars, selling assets they had to afford the nursing home care originally. Here Mr. Pittas didn't do that and yet they're still going after him.
It's broadened in that it's never been applied in retrospective. It's always been prospective, meaning when they file these kinds of actions saying we want you to now, son or daughter, take on some of the responsibility for your mother's care going forward.
Here Mr. Pittas after his mother's care was done and she went back to Greece was slapped with $93,000 worth of bills that he simply can't afford.
COSTELLO: So, John, back to you, your mom did apply for Medicaid. There's no resolution on her claim. It's still out there. So why did the nursing home sue you instead of waiting for Medicaid to come through?
PITTAS: That we still don't understand. It's just disturbing that they're after their money, and they don't want to wait to solve this with Medicare or Medicaid, and in the meantime, they just want to tag this on somebody, and namely I was the winner of this --
COSTELLO: Right, because you have other siblings. Why did the nursing home decide to sue you?
PITTAS: Well, I have a brother and a sister. They both reside in Greece, but because I am here living in the United States with my family, basically I was the person to go to because my brother and sister and their families both live in Greece.
COSTELLO: OK, we did get a statement from the nursing home and I'm going to read it. This is part of it. It says, quote, "family members are responsible to gather needed documents per state guidelines for their loved one's care. We as well as the state rely on those family members to provide this information for timely and accurate filing."
And, Mr. Karoly, a final question to you. The nursing home makes it sounds like John is to blame for not getting the needed documents to them. I know what you're going to say. I think our viewers would rather you tell them how they can protect themselves from this kind of thing.
KAROLY: Well, I think it's very difficult now in Pennsylvania with this ruling, but to go back more to the statement that was said, Mr. Pittas provided what information he had and his mother had other health care needs that were met by other facilities.
And that paperwork was the exact same as this nursing home got. You know, this spotlights in your open about a very fundamentally unfair situation where Mr. Pittas is hit with a $93,000 bill he can't afford simply through biology.
COSTELLO: Mr. Karoly, John Pittas, thank you for joining us this morning.
PITTAS: Thank you.
COSTELLO: You may be used to your cable company charging for everything from remote controls to premium channels. Now five of the nation's largest cable companies are giving something to their customers for free.
COSTELLO: It's 24 minutes past the hour. Right now on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are taking a closer look at JPMorgan's staggering losses and the shudder it sent through Wall Street.
They first estimated they lost about $2 billion on risky investments. Experts say the losses could be closer to $7 billion. So members of the Senate Banking Committee want to know what went wrong and what can be done to prevent a repeat.
CNN's Lizzie O'Leary is in Washington. What do you expect to hear today?
LIZZIE O'LEARY, CNN AVIATION AND REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of this, Carol, is about whose responsibility it is to watch the store, whether it was JPMorgan's alone or also the regulators who are supposed to be looking into what they do all the time.
You're seeing one of the regulators there on the screen testifying about what exactly happened at JPMorgan and how they could lose that much money. We now know that three different agencies are investigating that big loss at JPMorgan.
So that's the Securities and Exchange Commission, and they regulate investment banks, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, it's a mouthful, but they look at complex financial products like derivatives, bets on the price of other products, and then the FBI, they're looking into seeing whether there was any criminal wrongdoing that happened at JPMorgan.
So here is what they're looking at. First and foremost, did the bank break the law? And this is important. It's not illegal to screw up and lose a lot of money. It is illegal if you made misleading statements about it to the public.
Remember, Jamie Dimon called this a tempest in a teapot. So there are questions about whether they were being fully transparent about what was going on at the bank. Then will the new banking rules that were voted on, are in place by the Senate and the House of Representatives, will they help this at all?
Remember, they're not actually fully in place yet. They're still fine tuning them a little bit. That's one of the things the lawmakers want to help. And could this have been prevented? And that's the big question.
So one of the things going on right now is a debate about whether big banks like JPMorgan should be able to take in customer deposits and also make risky trades for themselves at the same time. And that's really what we're getting at, at the heart of this today. Will those new rules help, could they have prevented this?
COSTELLO: OK, we'll check back with you. Lizzie O'Leary reporting live from Washington. Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, are 30 days in prison enough for a hate crime?
Neither side is happy with the judge's decision to sentence Dharun Ravi to 30 days in prison plus probation, a fine, and community service. Ravi was the Rutgers student who used a web cam to record his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having sex with a man and then tweeted about it to his friends.
The case renewed debate about anti-gay bullying and the internet. In court, Tyler's mother spoke of her son's pain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE CLEMENTI, TYLER CLEMENTI'S MOTHER: Even I had no idea of the despair and torment Tyler must have been feeling, and I thought I knew him. Tyler and I had been very connected, so much so that I felt like a piece of me died in September of 2010.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Yet Ravi never apologized to the Clementis or the court for what he did. The "New York Daily News" was furious saying 30 days is what you get for petty larceny. Thirty days is what you get for spray painting graffiti.
Thirty days is what Dharun Ravi got for spying on a gay college roommate's sexual encounter and posting the news on the internet. Thirty days was not enough.
Ravi was convicted of bias intimidation, which most people think of as a hate crime, yet the judge said he did not believe Ravi hated Tyler Clementi.
Emily Basilen who writes extensively on bullying says the Ravi case is an example of how civil rights laws are being stretched to go after teenagers who acted meanly, but not violently.
Still if Ravi's actions don't constitute a hate crime, then what does? And if they don't, why convict him of a hate crime? So the "Talk Back" question, are 30 days in prison enough for a hate crime? Facebook.com/carolcnn. I'll read your comments later this hour.
We got a big heaping helping of deja vu coming right at you. More government employees are taking an uber expensive trip. This one to lovely Hawaii possibly on the taxpayer dime, really? Did no one learn anything from the GSA's Vegas debacle? Our "Political Buzz" panel weighs in.
COSTELLO: Thirty-one minutes past the hour. Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And launch of the SpaceX Falcon Nine rocket as NASA turns to the private sector to resupply the International Space Station.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: And that would be a bit of history. For the first time a private company is officially in the space race launching an unmanned cargo ship into orbit just hours ago. Its mission, to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. The original launch three days ago was scrubbed by a last-minute engine problem.
The question this morning is what caused this small plane to crash in Glendale, California overnight. The pilot was taken to the hospital but apparently with only minor injuries. Witnesses say the plane hit some power lines and then flipped over and landed in the front yard of this home. No one was hurt. Pretty much of a miracle there.
It's a tense waiting game for one-time presidential candidate John Edwards. The jury is now in the third day of deliberations at his corruption trial. Edwards is accused of accepting illegal campaign contributions to cover up his affair with his -- with a campaign staffer named Rielle Hunter.
"Political Buzz" is your rapid fire look at the best political topics of the day. Three questions, 30 seconds on the clock. Playing with us today, Boris Epshteyn, he's a Republican strategist and opinion columnist for U.S. News. Boris represents the right for us today. And representative on the left, we've got Sirius XM Radio host and pretty insanely hilarious comedian. Do you like that, Pete? Insanely hilarious comedian.
PETE DOMINICK, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: Well, that's a little bit of an overstatement but thank you very much, Carol.
BORIS EPSHTEYN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The insane part is 100 percent correct.
DOMINICK: He is right.
COSTELLO: Thanks to both of you for being here. First question deja vu time. Your tax dollars could be paying for another sweet government trip. According to its Web site judges and staffers from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will take a Hawaiian getaway this August for their Annual Judicial Conference. The resort offers sport fishing, snorkeling, zumba dance classes and something called the aloha experience. It could cost more than half a million dollars for accommodations alone.
No word if there will be any the team building clowns at this one. A spokesperson from the Ninth -- Ninth Circuit Court says tax dollars will not pay for any recreational activities but two top lawmakers want a breakdown of expenses. So finally to the question. Is this a good idea -- Boris?
EPSHTEYN: Well, it would be a good idea if they invited me, but in reality it is not a good idea. It's an awful idea by the Ninth Circuit. Especially that it's on the heels of the awful disaster that the GSA is still dealing with. And it's representative of an epidemic that we have in government of overspending, of not caring that the taxpayer dollars are going to awful things like this.
Listen if they need to team build, why not do it somewhere in California, the Ninth Circuit is based in California. California is not a bad place to do it. Why do you have to go all the way to Hawaii? It makes no sense. And it's a $500,000 itself (inaudible) -- no, it's bigger picture that's the problem.
DOMINICK: I don't think anybody is really going to defend this, Carol, but government should pay for reasonable expenses for reasonable retreats. You want to attract the best and the brightest. Hawaii is part of the Ninth Circuit. Nobody is including that.
But this is clearly a politically motivated attack because the Ninth Circuit is a liberal circuit court. But, you know, there are so many more examples of waste that we should be focused on. Congress just approved $88 billion for Afghanistan for next year. "The New York Times" had an article about a $17,000 drip tray for Blackhawk helicopters that they could get $6.5 million they ordered. And there's another company that makes it for $2,500. Now that is waste that we should be focused on where it really is.
COSTELLO: Ok second question, Arizona's Republican Secretary of State stirring up the birther pot. He is demanding that Hawaii provide him with verification of President Obama's birth certificate.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KEN BENNETT, SECRETARY OF STATE: And we simply ask them to confirm or verify that they have a birth certificate for the person in question, Barack Hussein Obama II on August 4th, 1961. The other option would be I would ask all of the candidates, including the president, maybe to submit a certified copy of their birth certificate.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Ken Bennett says if he doesn't get proof, he might strike Mr. Obama's name from the state's ballot this fall. You know, the presidential ballot.
So my question to you, will this birther thing ever, ever, ever, ever go away? Pete?
DOMINICK: Maybe the Ninth Circuit should hire Ken Bennett as a team building clown for their retreat. Maybe -- that way he could ask them when they go to Hawaii, they can bring back a copy of his birth certificate. As long as the president's name is Barack Hussein Obama it's not going to go away because there's a sliver of bigoted racist Americans like this gentleman. That's what this is, birtherism is racism and this question is would be like the equivalent of me asking the lab that created Mitt Romney to show us the blueprints. It's ridiculous.
The guy went to Columbia, Harvard, he's a three-term state senator, a U.S. Senator, he's the President of the United States, he's an American. This has to end.
EPSHTEYN: It doesn't get us anywhere as Republicans. That's the problem with it from my point of view. We can win this election in November on the merits. We should win on the merits, there have been three years of eight percent or higher unemployment. GDP is absolutely crawling and getting worse and worse.
So we don't need to talk about this right now. We should be talking about the economy. That's Mitt Romney's strength. That's Barack Obama's weakness. That's what Americans care about and also let's stop talking about Hawaii so much today. It makes me want to go over there.
COSTELLO: Me, too. Except I'd have to pay for it myself.
DOMINICK: Boris, you agree he's an American? Right.
EPSHTEYN: Yes, he's American, absolutely.
COSTELLO: Ok third question, your "Buzzer Beater", 20 seconds each. A new study by a group called the Sunlight Foundation shows Congress speaks at a tenth grade level. It says that's actually down one grade level from 2005. So they're actually going backwards. So the question, "What grade level should Congress be speaking at?" Boris?
EPSHTEYN: You know, I think senior level in college would be nice, but probably that's too much so ask for. So let's just call it everyone and say sophomore year in college. It's before you're really thinking about working but it's after you're already getting -- you know getting your full college experience out of the way.
So that would be nice. You know, tenth grade is a little low for my liking, but you know what? If we can get one year higher next year and the year after that, we'll be on our way somewhere.
COSTELLO: I like how Boris took this question very seriously -- Pete.
DOMINICK: Hey, all I have really was jokes on this. I mean, you know, the American people --
EPSHTEYN: I didn't mean to throw you off, Pete. DOMINICK: Well -- the American people -- I mean, listen, we understand things at a fifth grade level. We only understand things if they're told us -- to us in an "American Idol" fashion, a reality through -- through a reality show.
Congress should speak to us at the level that they're funding our public education. We're getting dumber and dumber in this country. That's why people believe the President wasn't born in America. Maybe compromise is an 11th grade word though that they haven't learned yet.
EPSHTEYN: That is serious, too. Carol, for the -- for the record, that was also serious.
DOMINICK: That -- now, let me make it even funnier, Boris, we're -- I'm getting buzzed, I have so many different ways to make fun of this, but we really are getting stupider. I guess that's not funny, you're right.
COSTELLO: Oh no, that's not funny. Pete, Boris, thanks for playing today.
EPSHTEYN: Have a great day.
DOMINICK: Thanks Carol.
COSTELLO: Scary, frightening. It doesn't even begin to describe. A man plunges nearly 200 feet over Niagara Falls and survives. Video of the dramatic rescue next.
COSTELLO: A suicidal man is in the hospital this morning after jumping over Niagara Falls. He plunged nearly 200 feet into the frigid waters below. Took rescuers nearly an hour to reach him. Look at that. When they tried to rescue him, the man refused to grab onto the harness because he was suicidal. They eventually got close enough to the man to physically grab him. Witnesses watched it all unfold in disbelief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He went over the falls. I assumed that he was on the back of the falls tour and just left the group and slipped on the rocks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: He did it on purpose. That man is now recovering from hypothermia, a fractured ribs and a few cuts from his head and face. He's believed to be only the third person to survive a plunge over Niagara Falls. Some of the nation's biggest cable companies teaming up to offer you free Wi-Fi. Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. So I pay 20 bucks a month for my cable. So I'm ready for this.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So it's not really free. You still have to pay your cable bill, but the idea behind this is that you get that free Wi-Fi wherever you are. So let's say you're a ComCast, Cablevision, Bright House, and our corporate Time Warner cable, member -- all of these cable companies are teaming up. If you're a customer of one of the companies, you will be able to tap into each other's Wi-Fi hotspots for free.
To give you an example, let's say you're a Cox customer. You're in cleveland but you're traveling to Philadelphia. Guess what, Now, you can use Comcast's Wi-Fi hot spots in Philadelphia for free. So this is going to be rolling out over the next few months. About 50,000 hot spots are going to pop up across the country at parks, beaches walls. Yes, you got the picture -- Carol
COSTELLO: Does this take care of the dreaded data limit?
It does help. It gives you more flexibility because instead of using your data plan, you can actually tap into these hot spots for free and this is a great way for cable companies to try to attract your business and keep your business.
You know, they're dealing with tough competition at this point as more and more people watch TV and Movies on the Internet or they rent movies through Netflix. There's less of a need for traditional cable service because this kind of makes the cable companies mo43 relevant. They're boosting their Wi-Fi offers to woo you and me, Carol.
COSTELLO: got it. Alison Kosik thanks.
Will Smith is out promoting his new movie, but he's already talking about his next one. He might get the chance to be a U.S. President in this one.
COSTELLO: British Vogue is doing everything it can to get the duchess, Duchess Catherine, you know, the princess, on its cover but the queen may be derailing the idea. The U.K.'s mirror reports Vogue has approached Kate Middleton on various occasions but she has declined in order not to upset the queen.
Princess Diana graced the cover of British Vogue four times before her death in 1997.
You can catch celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee right here on CNN. We'll have special coverage Sunday June 3rd. Piers Morgan and will be live from London for the royal extravaganza. CNN Sunday June 3rd starts at eleven a.m. Eastern.
LeadingCool.com (ph) has comic blogs in a frenzy. They are recording a major iconic DC comics character. He's going to come out of the closet. Let's go to New York and check in with A.J. Hammer. Hi, A.J.
A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST: Hey Carol. Yes, that Web site is getting credit for breaking this news. The co-publisher of D.C. Comics announced during a panel discussion that D.C. will reintroduce an existing character who was previously straight and reportedly turned him or her into their most prominent gay character.
Don't expect it to be Wonder Woman or Batman or Superman coming out of the closet here. It's more likely to be a slightly less famous character. I never thought I'd have the opportunity to say this. But in other gay comic hero news this morning, Marvel is going to have a same sex wedding in a comic next month.
The character North Star is credited as the first mainstream gay super hero. He came out in the comic book back in 1992. He's expected to marry his boyfriend in the pages of an X-Men comic. It might be easy Carol, to look to President Obama's support of gay marriage announcement as opening the door for these story lines but they have likely been in the works for some time now.
COSTELLO: Probably so. But speaking of President Obama, there's going to be a movie about him and maybe Will Smith will play the president?
HAMMER: Yes. We don't know when the movie might happen. If it's going to happen. But Will Smith told the BBC he is the natural choice to play our president in a movie. And listen to this, Smith says, it's because of the ears, which are shall we say, similarly noticeable on both the President and the actor, something not lost on Will Smith.
There doesn't seem to be a movie in the works at this point precisely, but Smith says he told the President himself finish the ending and that ending obviously has yet to be written and then they'll do a wedding -- a movie, rather. For now Carol, he'll be in "Men In Black 3" which opens this is weekend.
I can only envision Morgan Freeman as president. He plays a good president, doesn't he?
HAMMER: He sure does.
COSTELLO: Thanks, A.J.
COSTELLO: Want information on everything breaking in the entertainment world, A.J has it tonight on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT at 11:00 Eastern on HLN.
COSTELLO: In today's "Daily Dose" here is some health news that really surprised a lot of men and confused them frankly. What many consider a routine test for prostate cancer is now being called an unnecessary risk. A federal task force is making that claim and creating a lot of confusion in the process.
Alina Cho is in New York to help us understand this. What's going on, Alina.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Or try, Carol. You know, this is something really that is affecting a lot of people. We're talking about at least 44 million men, and if you think about it, the reason why it's so confusing is it goes against everything that we know about cancer. Get screened, early detection can save your life.
Well, not so fast. You know, because this latest news for many people is really just incomprehensible. Why wouldn't you get tested for prostate cancer? Well, the United States Preventative Services Task Force is now recommending against that, against what's commonly referred to as the PSA test. It's really a simple blood test. The task force is saying now that at best PSA screening may just help 1 in 1,000 men avoid death from prostate cancer.
And the recommendation is that the test may do more harm than good because -- and this is important -- most prostate cancers that are found by screening are slow growing. They're not life threatening and will not cause a man any harm during his lifetime. Essentially you would remain what's called asymptomatic. What can be harmful actually is that treatment if you don't need it. Most men who are, in the words of some doctors over-diagnosed and treated can suffer serious side effects from that treatment like impotence, incontinence, and possibly Carol even early death.
COSTELLO: This is the same panel -- this panel has weighed in on a couple of controversial things right?.
CHO: They have. You know, we remember this story very closely, very well, of course. This is the same panel that made waves when it recommended that women in their 40s should skip routine mammograms. That was something that really got my attention I can tell you.
As for the PSA test, while the American cancer society has not recommended routine PSA screenings since the late '90s. The American Urological Association is still recommending that men get this screenings saying that if these are caught early, you still in the end will save likes.
I think the bottom line Carol is that it is confusing for a lot of people when they hear it. Go to your doctor and see what they have to say.
COSTELLO: What else can you do? Thanks so much.
CHO: You bet.
COSTELLO: We asked you to "Talk Back" on one of the big stories of the day. The question is about Dharun Ravi. Are 30 days in prison enough for a hate crime? Your responses next.
COSTELLO: We asked you to "Talk Back" on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: are 30 days in prison enough for a hate crime.
This from Bob, "30 days is not enough for a hate crime but was this a hate crime? If Clementi had been recorded in a heterosexual act would it have been the same thing? Clementi's person should take civil action against this unapologetic bully."
And this from Roslyn, "The Ravi sentence was just. He's a young guy that made a really silly mistake. It's unfortunate that a young man took his own life over a ridiculous college prank."
Keep the conversation going. Facebook.com/Carolcnn.
Thanks, as always, for your comments.
And that does it for me. I'm Carol Costello. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Martin Savidge, in for Kyra Phillips.