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NEW DAY

Who's Driving Your Train?; Frequent Flyers Right To Miles?; Nothing But Net; Battle Over Fawcett Portrait

Aired December 4, 2013 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: -- contending she supported her sister, Mary's same-sex relationship.

The capital Christmas tree is shining bright in Washington. The tree was lit for the first time last night. It is decorated with 5,000 handmade ornaments. It's an 88-foot tree, the second tallest ever at the capital. Beautiful.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Beautiful.

PEREIRA: You've seen it in person. It must be really kind of breathtaking.

BOLDUAN: My drive when I was in Washington every morning and evening, I'd drive right past it, especially when I was working in the capital. It's one of the few times you live in Washington when you take a moment to go, that's cool. I live in Washington, D.C., I get to drive by this every day. That's a neat moment. I like that.

All right, let's get back to that deadly train crash to get you an update, the settling administration from the engineer in the New York train derailment that he was nodding off begs the question how often does something like this happen? Here's CNN's Chris Lawrence with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDET (voice-over): A stunning admission from a union rep, the engineer in the Metro North train crash was sleepy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he going to tell everybody today is that he basically nodded -- you nod out and you catch yourself. I think we've all done that.

LAWRENCE: But William Rockefeller was only a few hours into his shift when the train crashed. Rockefeller has ten years' experience and told investigators he was in a daze, a feeling described by other experienced train engineers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just kind of zone out.

LAWRENCE: David Wrangle runs the nation's premiere railroad training school where potential engineers get six months of classroom and hands-on experience. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have seen some railroads that will certify locomotive engineers in as little as 40 hours, which is kind of scary, in my mind.

ANNOUNCER: At 2107.

LAWRENCE: Wrangle says that daze sometimes comes from switching night shifts to day. Like Rockefeller did a few weeks ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So my sleep schedule is thrown off. I have a hard time forcing myself to get to sleep.

LAWRENCE: But Rockefeller's attorney admitted he slept seven hours and was only on the second day of his schedule. Federal regulations mandate engineers cannot work more than 12 hours. They must get a minimum 8 hours off between runs. Engineers are usually alone on their routes, but some say companies should put a co-pilot in the cab of passenger trains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone to help keep the other engineer alert and attentive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could have cameras in the cab on the train.

LAWRENCE: Former Transportation Department Inspector General Mary Schiavo says people work differently when they're being watched with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would be another incentive for the persons in there to look sharp, to stay awake.

LAWRENCE: In this latest crash, new questions are being raids about whether the government and railroads are doing enough to regulate the people who drive our trains. Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: An ugly battle over a Warhol painting. That's the late actress, Farrah Fawcett. We all know her. The painting may be worth $30 million. Long-time boyfriend Ryan O'Neal says it's his. The University of Texas says, nope.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: So the snow is always beautiful, yes, but there's a whole lot of it. Let's get to Indra and find out where it's heading and what you need to prepare for.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Colorado, great for the ski resorts but we have those terrible driving conditions. Of course travel conditions going to be getting worse as we talk about the threat of freezing rain over the next several days. First let's talk about how much snow we are still expecting, 1 to 2 feet of snow still possible. Hot spots around Colorado and Minnesota and the Dakotas today.

Let's take a look at the system and where it is expected to go in through tomorrow. It will start to make its way farther south and push off to the east. Pause this, right here Thursday around noon. This is what we're concerned with. We start talking about that wintry mix, yes, that could be sleet or freezing rain.

It's the freezing rain we're concerned about as we talk about southern portions of Missouri and back in through Texas. We take you further in through Thursday evening. That extends into the Ohio Valley. We'll have huge concerns here as we go forward into time, even as we go through the weekend. We'll still be talking about the system. Here's what we're worried about. It's the freezing rain. I mentioned that. Half an inch is all it takes to bring the power lines down.

Notice the National Weather Service offices, a lot of variety here. Either way, definitely most likely an ice storm is expected. Even once the first passes, another wave going to pass through as we go in through later portions of the weekend. Power outages likely, tree limbs down with this ice storm. Second side of the system, notice Dallas goes from 80 to 30 on Friday.

BOLDUAN: We'll keep watching it. Thank you, Indra.

CUOMO: A rabbi is taking it to the man and the case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg flew an average of 75 flights a year with Northwest Airlines. They're now Delta, right? The airline stripped him of all those miles and benefits saying, and here's why it's interesting, the rabbi complained too much, 24 times in 7 months according to the airline. That's how many there were. The question becomes can the airline really do that?

The rabbi is here to tell us more. Thanks for joining us this morning.

RABBI BINYOMIN GINSBERG, BOOTED FROM FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM: Good morning, Chris, how are you.

CUOMO: I'm a lawyer. I can talk about how this got to the Supreme Court, state versus federal. That's not that interesting, is it? What's interesting is why this happened in the first place. You fly a lot. You're a teacher. You work in Minnesota and you fly around a lot. What got you in trouble?

GINSBERG: I'm really not sure. I must have touched a button. There was speculation that when Northwest was in the process of merging with Delta they had too many people at the higher end.

CUOMO: Meaning you have a lot of miles and status because you fly so much.

GINSBERG: Yes, you get free tickets, upgrades and they're supposed to make your life more comfortable.

CUOMO: You were complaining, you say they asked me for my feedback and I gave it. Anything excessive about what you did?

GINSBERG: I don't believe so at all. I think I did exactly what they wanted. They should have said thank you for giving us this feedback. PEREIRA: After you traveled they'd send a customer survey saying how was your trip? Anything you'd like to change? Is that where the criticism came?

GINSBERG: They basically say give us your feedback. If you go online, for example, they'll have an area where you can do comments, compliments, criticisms, concerns. Now, what one of the things, which is interesting to me is the airline didn't say how many number of compliment cards they got.

PEREIRA: Did you send those as well?

GINSBERG: Again, as a whole, I had great experiences. The flight attendants were very courteous. Some of the things they have to go through with other passengers, obviously not with me, was really something that I considered them heroes. Pilots have a difficult job. It wasn't a broad issue. They were selected incidences that I felt wasn't going to change my situation, I felt the airline should know about.

BALDWIN: After they took aware your status and miles, your original goal was to get that back. I've earned this, racked all of this up. Now you've gone all the way to the Supreme Court. Has your goal here changed?

GINSBERG: My goal has changed in a way. Now I'm not dealing with my own personal issue. They took my miles. I consider that a crime. OK? I had something, I earned it. Give it back to me. When I started getting the reaction from so many citizens, thank you, you're taking this where it has to go. I had no anticipation. I have better things to do with my time than dealing with these legal issues. It's been fascinating, but that's not what I enjoy doing.

CUOMO: What do you say to Northwest, now Delta, or the folks who have labeled you the biggest complainer in America today?

GINSBERG: I guess they are the biggest complainers.

CUOMO: They took it to the Supreme Court, not you, just to be clear. This gets complicated. The airlines lawyers are worried about state regulation and that's where this case started. It was contract law. We had a deal, you're taking my miles. You're breaking the deal. Do you feel they were suspicious of you running a scam on them?

GINSBERG: Not at all. You have to understand, Chris, how these things work. I would never complain on ground. Let's assume there was an issue that was on ground. I know one point I think there was conflict between the baggage handlers and some union issues. And allegedly they specifically delayed when the baggage would come out.

CUOMO: Sure.

GINSBERG: I wouldn't voice that complaint to the baggage handler. OK? But the next day I would politely call up in a calm way and say I want to let you know it was disappointing, I had to wait "x" amount of time. CUOMO: They sent you a letter saying we've giving you "x" amount of dollars, tens of thousands of miles, enough already.

GINSBERG: No, that's not what happened.

CUOMO: What happened?

GINSBERG: If they would have done that, I don't think we'd be talking now. They came and said we took it away. No warning. No indication. Even if they would have said you are obviously not pleased with us, you probably don't want to fly with us anymore. There was no sense of anything.

PEREIRA: Nothing leading up to it to make you sense there was an issue with them at all.

GINSBERG: Not at all.

PEREIRA: It came oust the blue.

GINSBERG: Totally. When I would call to voice an issue, I think they made it appear that I was demanding something for it in return for that issue. When I would call, I would speak to a customer service rep who was probably taught make sure the customer feels good. Usually midsentence they would interrupt me and say as a gesture of good going to we'll give you a couple of miles or voucher for some reduced fare on your next flight. Was I wrong for taking that?

PEREIRA: No.

CUOMO: Rabbi, the Supreme Court going to decide by next spring, it's understood. What is your flying experience like now? Are you flying Delta or are you no Delta?

GINSBERG: I fly -- I fly with any airline that going to take me where I have to go the most convenient way. I live in Duluth, Minnesota, which is a phenomenal experience. I never had to call them with a complaint. I would if I had one.

PEREIRA: It wouldn't change.

GINSBERG: No.

CUOMO: Why does this resonate? The Supreme Court plays gravy on this. It goes to what airlines can do to us. Doesn't it? You work, get this status and it turns out there's fine print somewhere and they're going to yank it all away from you. It goes to heart about what bothers a lot of people.

GINSBERG: I would think the average American had a bad experience with flying. The problem is, most of that is not controlled by the airline. You know, whether there are turbulence or they have to fly around, whatever it is, today was a security issue with waiting in line. Those are not the fault of the airline. But I think people say there are enough that they're doing it wrong and they should be held accountable for this. PEREIRA: You certainly have got a lot of people thinking, you know, I want to stand up for myself, too. It's generated conversation online, I'm sure.

BOLDUAN: We'll check back in with you when the Supreme Court has its say. Thanks so much, Rabbi, great to meet you. >

Coming up on NEW DAY, a legal battle over an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett, why actor, Ryan O'Neal is taking on a university over that piece of art.

CUOMO: An amazing behind the backboard shot at a Celtics game and it was intentional. How did Bradley pull it off? Look at that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back. It was a tough night for sports fans in Boston, but maybe this going to help you. Check out the shot from last night's Celtics game against the bucks. He throws up an air ball with the shot clock running down. Here we go. Air ball, what happens? Avery Bradley didn't give up. Behind the backboard, a wild shot just as the buzzer goes off. Was it planned or was it just happenstance? I don't know.

PEREIRA: I used to practice those.

BOLDUAN: Just so we know, Bradley finished 15 points, Celtics won 108-100.

CUOMO: The key to the shot, looking like it was no big thing.

BOLDUAN: He wasn't like --

CUOMO: You just have to be like I to do it all day.

BOLDUAN: That was good.

PEREIRA: Want to tell you about a courtroom battle that is under way over a multimillion-dollar Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett. The question is who owns it. Actor Ryan O'Neal says it belongs to him, but Fawcett's alma mater says she gave it to them. "EARLY START" anchor, Zoraida Sambolin is here with the story. He said/she said. Who does it come down to? Who had it last?

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": I'm not really sure here. We'll have the lawyer. But it is a feud where both sides are saying there is no room for interpretation here. The University of Texas at Austin is suing O'Neal they say to take back what rightfully belongs to them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): It's a Hollywood custody battle unlike many others, a fight over this portrait, an original Andy Warhol of the late Hollywood actress Farrah Fawcett. Fawcett's former lover actor, Ryan O'Neal who lived with the actress for years says the portrait belongs to him.

The painting at the center of this trial hangs above his bed at his Malibu beach house. As seen here in the reality show "The O'Neals." But Fawcett's alma mater the University of Texas at Austin is suing O'Neal saying the portrait is theirs, that Fawcett left it to them after her death in 2009.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Is his story believable? That's going to be crucial. We're only hearing about this through the experience of Ryan O'Neal. He's the sole survivor. Andy Warhol can't testify, Farrah Fawcett can't testify.

SAMBOLIN: The 72-year-old O'Neal took the stand on Monday saying he, quote, "removed the painting a week or more after she died from her condo." O'Neal says the portrait of the iconic Charlie Angels star was above his bed when Fawcett caught him between the sheets with a 25-year-old woman, which led to hair breakup in 1997.

He says he removed the portrait and returned it to Fawcett because his, quote, "young friend was uncomfortable with Farrah staring at her." The portrait is one of two similar prints Warhol created in 1980. Leading O'Neal's lawyer to believe the suit is financially motivated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The University of Texas that's worth over $50 billion, aren't they happy that they got one portrait? This is what the key thing is.

SAMBOLIN: O'Neal just wants to pass down the heirloom to their son, Redmond, which a Los Angeles jury going to have to decide

HOSTIN: Ryan O'Neal has that argument that this is for their son. And that is powerful. That is priceless motivation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: So O'Neal was the first witness to take the stand Monday morning followed by a high end mover who handled both Warhols. He's a television producer who worked with Fawcett on her reality show. O'Neal is the not expected to at that time the stand good. The portrait could be worth $30 million. Legally does he have a leg to stand on?

CUOMO: This all comes down to why you need writings. You know, as you tell the story, legally does he have a leg to stand on? This all comes down to why you need writings. If the initial painting was gifted from Andy Warhol to both of them, I wonder if they filed --

SAMBOLIN: That's what Ryan O'Neal alleges.

CUOMO: Did you file it in your tax return? But is there any paper, anyway to show that. No. So we move to the next, the giving of the property to the university. Paper usually tells the story. But this gets complicated because what does it mean to whom. The legal right versus what is right do in the situation may enter in.

SAMBOLIN: Interesting.

CUOMO: Once you get to court, it's tough. Interesting story. Boy, do we miss Farrah Fawcett.

Coming up on NEW DAY, a celebrity chef is in court battling it out with two sisters claiming they stole millions from her. We have details from London as the drama unfolds.

BOLDUAN: And a powerful winter storm is dumping snow on parts of the country and millions waking up to frigid temperatures. We'll be tracking all of it for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Happening now, winter coming on strong, a huge snowstorm blanketing the Rockies and upper Midwest now moving south and east toward big cities that aren't used to snow and ice.

BOLDUAN: Highway hypnosis, the engineer behind the deadly train derailment admits to nodding off just moments before the crash. How big of a problem is this?

PEREIRA: Taking the stand, celebrity chef, Nigella Lawson, set to testify this morning defending herself against accusations that she's addicted to cocaine. We're live with the latest.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, December 4. It's 8:00 in the east. New this hour, dangerous weather is gripping the nation's midsection. Extreme temperature swings in Denver and little rock, heavy snow hampering driving conditions and the system is moving. Anna Cabrera is tracking the frigid temperatures from Boulder, Colorado. How is it going there?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. You can see the snow still falling and the temperature continues to drop, as well. We brought out our unofficial temperature gaming and you can see already we're dipping below 20 degrees. Official temperatures in the --