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E.U. Fines Banks in Anti-Trust Case; Survey Reveals Most and Least Corrupt Countries; Lawson Testifies, Admits Cocaine Use; Union Official Says Bronx Train Engineer "Probably Nodded Off"; Pope Was Nightclub Bouncer; NASA Plans Moon Garden

Aired December 4, 2013 - 12:30   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CO-ANCHOR: The European Union put the hammer down on six major banks today, slapping them with billions of dollars in fines.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CO-ANCHOR: This is how the E.U. is settling the anti-trust case involving giant banks accused of trying to manipulate interest rates. Heaven forbid.

It's a record fine. Nearly $2.5 billion and it's going to be shared by six financial institutions and, guess what, two of them are American.

WHITFIELD: Deutsche Bank has to pay the biggest slice of the fines, more than 700 million euros.

But American firms JPMorgan Chase and Citibank having to shoulder a healthy chunk of the penalty, as well. Big numbers.

HOLMES: Yeah, really. What would you guess when it comes to countries which are the worst and the least corrupt? Guess what. There is a list. Of course, there is.

WHITFIELD: There's a list for everything.

HOLMES: There's a list for everything. There's a group called the Transparency International. They do this every year or two. They survey professionals in the public sector about corruption and they cover 177 countries.

WHITFIELD: And they found that Somalia and North Korea ranked highest or worst on the list for corruption. Afghanistan, Sudan and South Sudan round out the worst five.

As for the five least corrupt countries in the world --

HOLMES: Denmark and New Zealand tied for first place, friendly places. And, while you can't see it here, Australia is at nine, the U.S. 19th. But that's the 19th least corrupt.

WHITFIELD: You had to get that in there, huh?

HOLMES: Yeah. We got beat by New Zealand. Jeez. That's like you losing to Canada. I mean, you know, it's like -- whoa.

WHITFIELD: Just as there is a list for everything, there's a group for everything.

HOLMES: There is indeed.

WHITFIELD: Let's move on to another high-profile case involving a high-profile celebrity chef.

HOLMES: Exactly. Her name is Nigella Lawson. She's big in the cooking world. She took the stand in a London courtroom today, made a rather startling confession. This has been all about airing dirty laundry at the moment. She testified in a fraud and embezzlement case against two women who once worked for her and her now ex-husband.

Now, prosecutors say the two women used Lawson's credit cards and spent more than a million dollars on themselves.

WHITFIELD: But then, wow, what a case of turning the tables. Nothing involving celebrities is ever simple, you know. And this case has become more about Nigella Lawson's personal life, which is also topsy- turvy right now.

HOLMES: Yeah, Erin McLaughlin in London, been covering this from gavel to gavel.

Erin, it is about the assistants, but, of course, as we say, this has become rather tawdry and it's as much about the broken marriage of Nigella Lawson and her new ex-husband. She admits to using cocaine. How does that even come up in a court case about fraud?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michael. Today, Nigella Lawson addressed allegations that have come up through the course of this trial that she's a habitual drug user. She said that she is not a habitual drug user, that she does not have a drug problem, she's not a drug addict. She says, though, in her words, that she thinks she has a life problem.

She did, however, acknowledge using the drug cocaine on two separate occasions. The first occasion, during a time, a tough time in her marriage to the late John Diamond when they both had found out that he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She said they took the drug to, in her words, "escape from treatment."

She says she didn't use cocaine again until July 2010 in her marriage it Charles Saatchi. She described that marriage in which she felt subject to, quote, "intimate terrorism" from Saatchi. She said she felt totally chained, isolated and unhappy, and a friend gave her the cocaine. She also acknowledged marijuana use, but says that currently she is drug-free.

Now, she also said that she never expected to be at the center of this trial. After all, the defendants in this case are her former assistants, two former assistants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo.

The prosecution says that the two women charged over a million dollars fraudulently to Saatchi company credit cards, the women, saying that Lawson knew of these expenses and that she was a habitual drug user.

It wasn't until today, of course, that Lawson has had a chance to respond to those allegations in court.


HOLMES: Had her say in court. Yeah, and the trial does continue.

Erin, thanks so much, Erin McLaughlin there.

WHITFIELD: Nasty now, only likely to get even nastier.

HOLMES: Exactly.

And she is seen here on some of the food networks with her show, but she's huge in Europe. Huge in Europe.

And, of course, her father, Nigel Lawson, he was a former chancellor of the exchequer, a very well-known figure political in the U.K., like treasurer, if you like, of the finance system.

WHITFIELD: Very well-known.

Let's talk about how a union official is telling CNN now that the man driving the train that derailed Sunday in the Bronx had probably nodded off.

HOLMES: We're going to have the latest on that deadly train crash, next.


HOLMES: Welcome back.

In New York City, a union official has been telling CNN that the man driving the train that derailed on Sunday was such tragic results had probably nodded off.

WHITFIELD: Because that official talked to the media, the rail union has been kicked off the NTSB investigation, which has strict confidentiality rules. Four people died Sunday, more than 65 others hurt when the Metro-North train jumped the tracks while going three times the safe speed for the curve it was on.

HOLMES: Nic Robertson has been following the developments in this investigation from the time that it happened.

Nic, before we talk about the accident itself, tell us about the union getting kicked off the investigation. How big a deal is that?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It may not be too big a deal in and of itself. The NTSB has a lot of people giving it advice and information. The union was one of those groups. So it's one of a number of groups that could give its expert information and advice. So there are others at the NTSB can call upon.

What the NTSB is saying this union representative when talking to the media broke the confidentiality agreement that all these different organizations enter into with the NTSB for this investigation. And they're saying for that reason, they've now had to exclude that the particular union from the investigation. But we're not hearing that it's going to cause problems in terms of the investigation, Michael.

WHITFIELD: OK. And then, Nic, of course, some of the information that was revealed by that entity was that he may have dozed off or was in a zone or -- there are so many different ways in which to phrase it. So let's talk about the real realities of what that means. Was it that he fell asleep potentially? Was it that he was just kind of hypnotized by the rails? What?

ROBERTSON: Yeah, when we were talking to his lawyer last night, his lawyer told us he had had a good night's sleep the night before, gone to bed at 8:30, got up at 3:30 in the morning, clocked on for his shift just after 5:00 in the morning.

So he should have been in a good position, at least the driver not nod off as the representative was describing it, but even the lawyer said to us, he finds it hard to put it into precise words, highway hypnosis, lapse of concentration, nodding off, coming to before the moment when it was too late to do anything about it.

His union rep said, look, who hasn't, when they've been driving down the highway, who hasn't in their car had that momentary lapse where they've come to a few seconds later and said, I don't remember those last few seconds, I don't remember that part of the highway. So that's the comparison that he makes.

The union rep also saying that the train engineer very, very emotional, upset about what's happened here.


WHITFIELD: Nic Robertson, thank you so much for that update. Appreciate that.


Pope Francis has revealed that he was once a nightclub bouncer.

WHITFIELD: Talk about a man of the people. He's done it all.

HOLMES: It could be good practice for helping out at the pearly gates. He could stand there, man the gates and deal with that.

We're going to have a live report, coming up.

WHITFIELD: All right.


WHITFIELD: In Canada, lottery officials have name an Ontario woman as the winner of a $50 million jackpot nearly a year after she lost the winning ticket.

HOLMES: She didn't even know. She says she feels lucky not just for winning but also because officials tracked her down. WHITFIELD: Yes, she's lucky.

HOLMES: Yes. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation launched an investigation after the prize went unclaimed for almost a year.

WHITFIELD: When does that happen?

HOLMES: Yes, who does that?

WHITFIELD: Where? And who does that? OK, well, they -- it happened in this case. And boy is she lucky. They found her by looking at credit card records and surveillance video from the store where she actually bought the ticket.

HOLMES: That's nice of them.

WHITFIELD: That wouldn't work in the U.S. Those tickets, don't you have to use cash to buy those tickets?

HOLMES: Oh, I don't know. I'm never going to win anyway.

WHITFIELD: Yes, do you. You know.

HOLMES: Yes, you do.

WHITFIELD: You know you've purchased one or two.

HOLMES: All right. True. Yes.


HOLMES: All right, well, who could have imagined the man who now presides over the world's 1.2 billion Catholics is the same man who once watched over the entrance of a nightclub, true (ph), very politely.

WHITFIELD: Gosh, if only there was a little video snippet or a picture of that because you -


WHITFIELD: Yes, of course he was very polite.


WHITFIELD: New revelations now from Pope Francis himself have people once again relating to him as the pope of the people.

HOLMES: Daniel Burke is co-editor of CNN Belief Blog on, joins us now from Washington.

I suppose it says a lot about this pope that we're getting you guys on here all the time regularly to talk about some new interesting thing about this pope. A bouncer at a bar in Argentina, though. Tell us.

DANIEL BURKE, CNN BELIEF BLOG: Yes, can you believe it? WHITFIELD: No.

BURKE: I mean this is a pope that said he wants a church that is bruised and hurting. We didn't know this week - until this week that this is a pope who's prepared to do some of the bruising himself. He told a group of Italian Catholics earlier this week that among the other jobs that he's held in his life was, as you said, a bouncer in a nightclub in Argentina. And as you said, I think the point of this message, he also told them that he was a janitor, that he worked in a chemical factory for a while running laboratory experiments. So the point that I think to show these people that he is a man of the people, that he's not just some guy on an pedestal and that he's a real guy and that they too can kind of lead holy lives.

WHITFIELD: So, wait a minute, all of this taking place when he was a teenager or in his early 20s or something?


HOLMES: Last year, right?

BURKE: That's right. He was only elected in March, so he could have been doing it at any time. But, no, he's talking about his -- when he's studying to become a priest. So it would have been his late teens, early 20s.



WHITFIELD: OK. OK. That's fair enough. Still being (ph) admirable (ph).

HOLMES: And what sort of correlation does he draw between that experience and the other experiences, as well, and now the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, other than, you know, it sort of makes him more sound like a man of the people?

BURKE: Sure. So what's funny is, if we can imagine Pope Francis back being a bouncer, he was probably a pretty terrible bouncer because this is a guy who really wants to embrace everybody. He would have let everybody pass the velvet rope, maybe bought them a drink. But he said he doesn't talk much about his bouncer past and how that relates, but he says his career as a teacher of literature and psychology really helped prepare him for the papacy. And you can see that in his writings. This is a guy who's really an astute writer. He's really good at connecting with people. So I think those may play into what he's doing now more so than the bouncer career.

WHITFIELD: And what you mentioned was interesting from, you know, the research and being a bouncer. But there were other jobs that he's done, as well. And even you said a janitor. There were other jobs as well that were just as magnificent in a very interesting kind of way?

BURKE: Sure. Yes. One of the - the interesting stories about the pope is that he led a Jesuit community down in Argentina. And one of the things that even though he was the leader of this group of 30 or 40 men, he would get up every morning at 5:30 to do the laundry for the entire community, 30 or 40 men. So it's a guy who - he likes to get his hands dirty, you could say.

HOLMES: Yes, he really does define the word humble. I mean what's been the public reaction to this latest revelation, if you like?

BURKE: Yes. I mean this is a pope who knows how to get people talking and they're certainly talking about this bouncer revelation. There is -- people calling him the velvet rope pope.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's cute.

BURKE: A former spokes - a former speech writer for President Obama suggested that we write a sitcom about the pope's experience and call it "heaven can wait and so can you." And then there are some people who on our blog and other places are saying, you know, we get it, Pope Francis, you're cool. Now we need to know whether he can translate that coolness factor into what is really his primary job, getting people to take a second or third look at the Catholic Church.


HOLMES: Right.

WHITFIELD: All right. And that is going to be the mammoth task in some circles for sure.

HOLMES: Yes. Daniel Burke will be appearing here all week other analogies.

WHITFIELD: That's right, with all these nice little drippings of more goodness.

BURKE: Happy to be here.

HOLMES: I mean we were saying, we can imagine him at the pearly gates just sort of standing there and going, yes, no, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. You can't come in.

WHITFIELD: You're not getting in. And I know good.

HOLMES: Daniel, great to see you. It is great. We've got all our belief blog guys popping up here and having chats about this pontiff. You can check out the belief blog. A great read there,

WHITFIELD: Uh-huh, very good.

All right. We all know that the U.S. was the first to make it to the moon.

HOLMES: Or did they?

WHITFIELD: That's how the history books --

HOLMES: Yes, that one small step for man moment. WHITFIELD: Have documented it.

HOLMES: But now a space race to be the first to farm the lunar surface. What?

WHITFIELD: You'll want to hear about these plans to put down some roots on it.



And we might go a little bit outside of the world in a minute. Word --


HOLMES: Yes, word that water has been found in the atmosphere of five planets outside our solar system. The Hubble space telescope has picked up traces of water.

WHITFIELD: But before you start thinking about life as we know it, scientists say these planets are huge swirling gas giants. But down the road, with the launch of more powerful telescopes perhaps, we might be able to pick up whether small rockier planets, kind of like earth, may actually have water on them.

HOLMES: Now staying in space and going where no plants have gone before, let's talk to Chad, who's here to tell us about growing plants on space. What is going on?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, when I first heard about this story, I thought, we're just going to shoot a bunch of seeds into the moon and see if they grow. Not quite. We're going to take a little pod like a terrarium -

HOLMES: I recognize that.

MYERS: That's completely self-contained with seeds on it. Kind of think of a coffee filter with seeds implanted there. Then all of a sudden we're going to shoot it to the moon. No water in it yet. But when it gets to the moon, they're going to put the water in the can and then allow it to grow and see if it grows in the lunar gravity in the lunar radiation and see compared to the same plants that they're growing and they water at the exact same time on earth, what these plants look like. Basil, a little bit of rock cress, we -- and turnips. We're going to have to see, though, if we can grow food on the moon if we can actually live there.


MYERS: We can't just keep shooting food all the way up there. We're going to have to see if it will grow.

HOLMES: So that's the idea to see if we can sustain ourselves up there -


HOLMES: If we decide to move up and (INAUDIBLE) some condos (ph).

MYERS: We're not going to have Ronald McDonald holding the ground and then seeds -


MYERS: We are going to take our own dirt, we're going to take our own water, we're going to take our own atmosphere, the own oxygen, because there's not enough there, not CO2 to get these plants to grow.

WHITFIELD: How long does this experiment encompass?

MYERS: Well, it's kind of a little anti-climactic.


MYERS: Five to 10 days.

WHITFIELD: Oh, really?

HOLMES: Really?

WHITFIELD: I thought maybe you were going to tell me years.

HOLMES: I thought he was going to say 50 years.

WHITFIELD: (INAUDIBLE), yes, that's what I'm waiting for.

MYERS: That's all they hope to get out of this.

HOLMES: Right.

MYERS: There will be more experiments later and later and later, but this terrarium will only be self-contained for (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: Cha-ching. That's a very expensive -

HOLMES: And one imagines, because it is a terrarium like that -

WHITFIELD: Short experiment.

HOLMES: The lunar soil isn't going to support growth.

MYERS: Just because we, you know, the soil -


MYERS: Really won't grow much because it has never had any real organics in it that we know.

HOLMES: Right.


HOLMES: Right.

MYERS: So there's no real nutrients in the lunar. So we have to bring our own soil.

HOLMES: Take a few bags of Miracle Grow, start to, sort of, you know, work on the soil slowly over time.

MYERS: You know, sure. And we've heard about hydroponics.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes.

MYERS: People have hydroponic gardens. If you bring a liquid that has the hydroponic nutrients, you can grow it in a rock.


MYERS: And so - and that's what the lunar soil is.

HOLMES: And, of course, the Chinese are planning to head up there and see if they can build a factory one day, which is maybe not pie in the sky. We'll see what happens. If they do, they might be able to get some - what was it, basil, turnips, might be (INAUDIBLE) up there.

MYERS: Yes. And, you know, lunar rocks are worth more than diamonds. So bring them back.

HOLMES: Yes. All right.


HOLMES: Good. Excellent.

WHITFIELD: This is quite - OK, so now it's paying for itself after all.

HOLMES: Wait -- fascinating stuff. Thank you, Chad.


MYERS: You're welcome.

HOLMES: Chad Myers and we'll -- can you get our trash can back -

WHITFIELD: This a nice little terrarium there. That was cool.

All right. Hey, today, let's look at some pictures. We haven't done this in a while, right? Taken by our CNN teams around the world.

This is from Pairs. CNN's Nick Wrenn captured this photo -

HOLMES: Ah, (INAUDIBLE), well he works for us.

WHITFIELD: Yes, of love padlocks. Can you see them, love padlocks, wow, on the Pont de Art (ph) bridge.

HOLMES: Yes, they do that in Florence as well. WHITFIELD: How nice.

HOLMES: Literally couples write their name on the padlocks. They hang them on the railing. Then they throw the keys in the river showing their unbreakable love for each other.

WHITFIELD: Love (ph).

HOLMES: I'd love to go back and review how many of them are together today. I try (ph) -

But actually on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence now they stopped you doing it.


Hey, there's more. Marcy Hines (ph) is a producer here. She was in Kenya recently and she took these pictures. It was taken at what's called My Brother's Keeper Ministry, which helps people living with AIDS and HIV.

HOLMES: Yes, fantastic stuff. Showing one of the helpers at the ministry showing off her children to the camera. Lovely stuff.


OK. That's going to do it for us. There were more pictures, but another day.

HOLMES: NEWSROOM starts now. That's why.


HOLMES: See you tomorrow.

WHITFIELD: Bye, bye.