December 5th, 2013
09:59 AM ET

Storm Brings Sleet, Freezing Rain, Snow

A particularly brutal batch of Arctic air has taken hold across the center of the country, bringing sub-zero temps to the north and sleet as far south as central Texas, reports CNN's Indra Petersons.

Wednesday's official high in Dallas was 80. Thursday night brings freezing rain, sleet and a low in the 20s, according to the National Weather Service.

Yikes, talk about mood swings.

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December 5th, 2013
09:54 AM ET

Celeb Chef Nigella Lawson Confesses to Drug Use in Court

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson used cocaine during two periods of her life, she admitted Wednesday as she testified in the fraud trial of two former personal assistants in a London court, reports CNN’s Erin McLaughlin.

She told the court she had used the drug about six times with her late husband, John Diamond, when he learned that his cancer was terminal, in order to give him "some escape from his treatment."

She also used cocaine once in July 2010 when she felt subject to "terrorism" by her then-husband Charles Saatchi, she said.

At that point she felt trapped, isolated and unhappy, she said, and a friend offered her the drug.

But, Lawson said, "I've never been a drug addict, I've never been an habitual user. ... I did not have a drug problem, I had a life problem."

Saatchi had claimed in an e-mail that Lawson had used drugs regularly, but in testimony Friday he backed off that claim.

Lawson's admission of cocaine use came after she earlier testified that Saatchi had threatened to "destroy" her if she did not "clear his name."

She had been asked about her reluctance to attend court as a witness in the assistants' trial - a case that has gripped the media as claims emerge about the couple's troubled personal life.

"I have been put on trial here where I am called to answer, and glad to answer the allegations, and the world's press, and it comes after a long summer of bullying and abuse," Lawson said. "I find it's another chapter in that."

Referring to Saatchi's request for her to attend the trial, made in a letter sent by his lawyers, Lawson said: "He had said to me if I didn't get back to him and clear his name he would destroy me."

Lawson said she felt she had to do her civic duty. "It's difficult for me, it's very difficult for my children, but I want to do the right thing," she added.

The former aides, Italian sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, deny embezzling hundreds of thousands of pounds on company credit cards while employed by Lawson and Saatchi.

“For a second day, Nigella Lawson is surrounded by the media in a trial that was not supposed to be about her,”  MgLaughlin says.

“…Lawson claims the case has become a witch hunt, a trial in which she has no counsel and she says no rights.”

December 5th, 2013
09:54 AM ET

Fast Food Workers in 100 Cities Plan Walkouts

Fast food protests aren't going away.

Organizers say fast food restaurant workers in 100 U.S. cities will walk off the job Thursday, as part of a continuing push to raise wages above $15 an hour in the industry and secure the right to unionize.

"Median pay for fast food workers is $9 an hour or $18,720 a year, well below the Census Bureau's poverty line of about $23,000 for a family of four," reports CNN's Alison Kosik.

The movement began with a small walkout in New York City last year and has since gathered momentum. Strikes this past August drew fast food workers in 60 cities, organizers said.

The National Restaurant Association contends that the demonstrations are a "coordinated PR campaign engineered by national labor groups," and that "relatively few restaurant workers have participated" in past demonstrations.

A McDonald's spokeswoman said the events planned for Thursday "are not strikes," and consist only of outside groups "traveling to McDonald's and other outlets to stage rallies."

Industry officials have criticized the campaign, claiming increased starting wages will hold back job growth and increase prices.

The effort has drawn support from the Service Employees International Union, one of the country's largest, as well as activist groups. A MoveOn.org petition that has drawn nearly 50,000 online signatures calls on industry leaders "to pay your workers $15 an hour so they can make ends meet and Americans can stop paying for the hidden costs of poverty wages."

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December 5th, 2013
09:54 AM ET

Funerals Begin for Train Crash Victims as Investigation Continues

Two passengers on the Metro-North train that derailed in New York have filed a notice of claim against the commuter railroad, an initial step in a lawsuit seeking damages in connection with the accident.

Four people died and 67 others were injured in the crash. "The families of those killed in  Sunday's derailment in the Bronx began laying their loved ones to rest today," reports CNN's Nic Robertson.

The NTSB, meanwhile, has booted the rail union from its investigation into the derailment for violating confidentiality rules.

The agency made the announcement late Tuesday night, hours after a union representative told CNN the train engineer apparently "was nodding off and caught himself too late" before the accident.

In its announcement, the NTSB specifically cited those comments as the violation.

Anthony Bottalico, the union representative, told CNN that engineer William Rockefeller Jr. recognizes his responsibility in the incident.

"I think most people are leaning towards human error," Bottalico said.

Rockefeller's lawyer, Jeffrey Chartier, characterized what happened as "highway hypnosis." He said his client had had a full night's sleep before the crash and had no disciplinary record.

On Wednesday, Chartier said his client never blamed the accident on faulty brakes, disputing earlier statements attributed to Rockefeller.

"Prosecutors are not saying whether it could lead to criminal charges, waiting for the NTSB investigation," Robertson says.

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