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PAULA ZAHN NOW

London Terror Arrests; Karl Rove Under Fire; Food Allergies

Aired July 12, 2005 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Thanks so much for being with us tonight.
A sudden turnabout in the London terror investigation tonight, new information and pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): A break in the case, suspects caught on tape.

PETER CLARKE, DEPUTY ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, METROPOLITAN POLICE: We have identified CCTV footage showing the four men at King's Cross Station.

ZAHN: Has Scotland Yard cracked the London bombings?

And under pressure. A powerful man in the White House revealed sensitive secrets.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't want to get into commenting on things in the context of an ongoing investigation.

ZAHN: Should the president dump Karl Rove?

Plus, a parent's worst fear. With allergies on the rise, keeping kids safe at school.

SARA SHANNON, SABRINA'S MOTHER: We received a phone call from Bishop Smith. And Sabrina had collapsed at school. I knew immediately it was food- related.

ZAHN: What this family learned could save your child's life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: We start off tonight with some breaking news, a scare involving the Space Shuttle Discovery. Late this afternoon, they discovered an accident on the shuttle's launch pad. There was lots of anxiety, lots of uncertainty, as we waited to find out exactly what would happen to tomorrow's planned blastoff.

NASA officials have just given us the answer.

Let's go straight to Miles O'Brien at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with more.

Is it a go? MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: It's a go, Paula.

But it's been kind of a wild two hours here, especially when you consider the nature of this problem. There's a cover, a plastic cover, that is on all the windows here on the Space Shuttle Discovery on that launch pad three-and-a-half miles behind me.

One of the covers fell off. There was nobody up there. It was just the wind or something. Down it went, 100 feet, and hit this bumpy thing here, which is an important rocket used in orbit, damaged two tiles. And those tiles, as you well know, from two-and-a-half years ago with Columbia, are what protect the orbiter, which is made of aluminum after all, from the 3,000-degree heat of reentry. So, any time you start talking about damage to tiles, that's a big problem, apparently.

Well, what happened was, the team went out there, the so-called pad rats out here. They took a look at it. And it turns out that the tiles weren't the sort of tiles that are actually glued on to the orbiter. That would have been a harder fix.

They were actually on a tray, an aluminum tray, that bolts into the orbiter. So, they were able to pull it out, put a replacement in. It was a good fit. And they say they're now go to launch.

But I got to tell you, it sure hearkens back to two-and-a-half years ago, when a piece of foam fell off the tank attached to Columbia, hit the leading edge of the wing. And, as you know, 16 days later, we lost that crew.

Anyway, good to go for now, 20 hours away. The big concern now, Paula, is the weather.

ZAHN: Yes. That's always a concern this close to launch.

But quickly, in closing, in spite of the repairs that were made here this evening, there has been a lot of concern from some of the folks with an independent board urging safety recommendations who say that, yes, NASA's adopted some of the recommendations, but they have fallen short in two specific areas, preventing launching debris in some way from harming the shuttle and, secondarily, the ability to repair the ship in space.

O'BRIEN: Those are big ones. And as a matter of fact, the independent board that told NASA to do those things set the bar pretty high. You're never going to be able to stop debris from coming off this big orange external fuel tank. It's just the way it's designed. The idea is to minimize the size of the pieces so they don't cause harm, and come up with a way of looking at the orbiter while it's in space and getting a good, solid photographic inspection.

NASA has done those two things. They say that's enough. Let's hope so.

ZAHN: Well, if all things go as planned, you will be our man on the ground there tomorrow. The exact time again, Miles O'Brien? O'BRIEN: It's 3:51 Eastern, about 20 hours from now.

ZAHN: We'll be there with you. Miles O'Brien, thanks so much for the update.

O'BRIEN: All right.

ZAHN: There are also some dramatic developments in London to talk about tonight, in regards to the terror bombings. Investigators have made several breakthroughs, and they have actually found a vehicle with explosives inside.

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is in Leeds, England, where police have carried out several raids.

Good evening, Nic. Tell us about the four men investigators are focused in on tonight.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, this is where perhaps the real breakthrough came for the police.

In one of the houses behind me, the family in that house realized their elder son was missing the same day the bombs went off, called the police. That triggered alarm bells with the police. They followed up on an investigation on him. They came here, raided the four houses, raided a number of houses, six different locations altogether in and around the Leeds area.

They have pieced together what happened to Shahzad Tanweer, the young man for -- who lived at the house behind us here.

He met up with three other accomplices, traveled to London, was spotted on CCTV camera about 20 minutes before the bombs went off going into that King's Cross Station in Central London, the area very close to where all those bombs went off.

The police, today, have found a car full of explosives close to that mainline railway line about 30 miles north of London. They shut down the station. They used explosives to get into the vehicle. They removed some explosives from that vehicle. We also understand from the police now that at least one of those four men believed to be the bombers is confirmed dead, the police saying they have found documents and belongings belonging to the other men in and around the bomb -- in and around those bomb scenes. They're not saying that they are dead, but it's sounding very possibly at this time that all four of the bombers may in fact be dead, Paula.

ZAHN: We had heard the British foreign minister originally say that these bombings had the earmarks and the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack. Are they standing by that?

ROBERTSON: They seem to be. The young man from this family here -- this family traces their roots back to Pakistan. He had been living in England many years. The family had been in this area for 20 years.

However, according to one of his neighbors this evening, speaking with a British broadcasting organization, told -- told that television company that he knew this young man had been to Afghanistan for several months with some of his friends from this area. The police haven't confirmed that at this time. His family haven't confirmed it at this time.

Other neighbors describe him as a nice young man, say that he used to like to play cricket, that he did go and pray at the mosque five times a day, that the family were well-liked. They were doing well in business in the local community. A lot of people here very shocked about what they heard. But there does seem to be that sort of connection here, Paula.

ZAHN: And I guess, Nic, as I'm wondering tonight, if that al Qaeda connection is true, it makes you wonder about the level of sophistication of these guys. Everybody seemed to be aware of the fact these cameras were in these tube stations all over the city. And how they would allowed themselves to be photographed like that I think is a bit of mystery, isn't it?

ROBERTSON: At this stage, it still is, although some of the ways they appeared to have piece together what they have done, they didn't travel -- they didn't take the mainline train all the way from Leeds. That would have been easy. Apparently, they met up and got on the train somewhere else on the track.

But they all came in together, giving themselves away, perhaps that again part of an important breakthrough for the police. But the sophistication of the bombs -- this is something police have yet to disclose, but using high explosives, that's not necessarily that easy to get. It can be bought here on the black market. But, again, the sophistication of the bombs perhaps giving an indication of how sophisticated they were, Paula.

ZAHN: Nic Robertson, thanks so much for the update from Leeds tonight.

Right now, we move on to a very questionable and possibly criminal act, exposing the identity of the CIA agent. Was it done simply for petty political revenge? And just how deeply is one of President Bush's very top advisers involved? You may not know Karl Rove's name, but it's time to sit up and pay attention. He is at the center of political firestorm that's getting hotter every day.

Here's senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): He's been called "Bush's brain". President Bush called him the architect of his reelection strategy.

But Tuesday, President Bush avoided answering questions about his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, and Rove's involvement in a growing White House controversy.

The controversy goes back to January 2003, two months before the Iraq war, when the president made this statement in his State of the Union speech.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

SCHNEIDER: Uranium could be used in a nuclear weapons program, the ultimate weapons of mass destruction.

Enter Joseph Wilson. It was six months later. Saddam Hussein had fallen. The former ambassador wrote an op-ed piece revealing that he had gone to Africa in 2002 at the CIA's request. He said he found no evidence to support the president's claim.

Enter Robert Novak. A week after Wilson's op-ed, the syndicated columnist called Wilson's credibility into question, saying the CIA regarded Wilson's report as less than definitive. Wilson never worked for the CIA, Novak wrote, citing two senior administration officials. But his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction.

It's a crime to identify someone intentionally as a covert agent if the government is trying to conceal that agent's identity. Wilson charges it was political retribution by Karl Rove.

In September 2003, the CIA asked the Justice Department to investigate the leak. The president's response:

BUSH: And if there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of.

SCHNEIDER: In December 2003, the attorney general appointed a special prosecutor. Throughout 2004, the prosecutor subpoenaed White House officials and reporters to probe for leaks. Karl Rove's name came up. The White House dismissed the charge. Rove himself offered a carefully worded denial.

KARL ROVE, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH: I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name.

SCHNEIDER: It's now 18 months into the investigation. "New York Times" reporter Judith Miller refuses to testify about her sources. She goes to jail. "Time" magazine reporter Matthew Cooper does agree to testify after getting permission from his source. "Newsweek" identifies the source as Karl Rove. Rove's attorney confirms it.

The White House press corps turns up the heat. Did Rove commit a crime, a reporter asks?

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a question related to an ongoing investigation. And you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it, other than we're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.

SCHNEIDER: So, where are we? Three unresolved issues. Was there a crime? That could be hard to prove given the specific requirements of the law. Did the White House deliberately mislead the public for the past two years? And why wasn't Rove fired if the president knew he was involved?

Last but not least, it is appropriate for a White House official to try to discredit a critic of the president, in this case Joseph Wilson, by leaking inside information on what the reporter called double super secret background?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And that was CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

This story is not going away any time soon. CNN has just learned that "Time" magazine reporter Matthew Cooper is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the federal grand jury. He undoubtedly will be asked about his sources.

So, is Karl Rove a goner?

Joining me now, Katrina Vanden Heuvel. She is the editor of "The Nation." And the Reverend Joe Watkins, pastor of the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Philadelphia.

Great to have both of you with us tonight.

Now, Reverend, I have heard all the Republican talking points today.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Everybody has essentially said this is nothing more than a smear campaign against Karl Rove. But now you have his own attorney admitted that he leaked this information to "Time" magazine reporter Matt Cooper. Will you concede, at a minimum, this is not good news for a president who said he would fire someone in the White House if they were found to be leaking inside information, privileged information?

(CROSSTALK)

REVEREND JOE WATKINS, CHRIST EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH: This is a political smear operation here.

ZAHN: Come back to the question, though.

WATKINS: Well, the question is, is...

ZAHN: This doesn't look good for the president, does it?

WATKINS: Well, think about this.The truth of the matter is, there is an investigation going on. But Karl Rove is not the target of the investigation. Karl Rove hasn't committed any crime. He hasn't done anything wrong.

ZAHN: Karl Rove went on camera. And you heard exactly what he said: I didn't know her name. I didn't leak her name. Now his attorney has admitted that he in fact shared this identity with a reporter.

WATKINS: Well, he said Wilson's wife.

ZAHN: Her identity. Right.

WATKINS: He didn't call her by name. And he was correcting a story that would have been erroneous otherwise. That is what he was doing.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, "THE NATION": There was a political smear. It was in smearing Joe Wilson's wife.

Listen, this is not about Republicans and Democrats. This is about the condition of our democracy. There should be zero tolerance on the part of any White House in which a chief aide is leaking classified information, which undermines American security, to target and discredit political opinion of that administration.

This is a White House which campaigned on restoring honor, integrity to the White House, a president who last year was campaigning on character and security. This White House's credibility is shredded, Paula. And we see indisputable evidence that the chief architect of this White House has misled the president.

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL: I would like to know what Bush knew and when did he know it.

ZAHN: All right. But let me ask you this. Does it make any difference whether to you, because this -- none of us really know that -- this is why an investigation is going on -- that he specifically leaked her name?

VANDEN HEUVEL: But that is parsing. That's nitpicking. Whether he's legally culpable, let's think about the larger issue of the political damage this has done to our security and our democracy.

WATKINS: None. None. What political damage?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, this goes back to the poison...

WATKINS: Staff people talk to reporters all the time. I worked in the White House. We talked to reporters all the time.

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL: We don't know the full extent.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Is it appropriate for a chief White House aide to be involved in an alleged vindictive act against a man who wrote an excoriating piece in the "New York Times"? (CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: He was correcting a story, so that it wouldn't be false, it wouldn't be erroneous. That is what he was doing. It was a helpful act, more than anything else.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Joe, don't you think it was a campaign, though, on the part of this White House -- we've seen this before -- to chill, to intimidate others who might come forward?

WATKINS: No, not at all, not at all.

VANDEN HEUVEL: To question? Let's not forget the original sin and the poison of this. This was an attack on the wife of a man, a former diplomat in George Herbert Walker Bush's administration who was saying, this nation is being misled into a war which has now killed close to 1,700 Americans. I think that is disastrous for our democracy.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS: We know that Joe Wilson was working with the Kerry campaign. That is OK. That is what America is about. People can choose whatever side they want to be on. At the end of the day, what Karl Rove did was right.

ZAHN: But you still haven't answered the question. It was right? How do you justify someone having classified information...

WATKINS: He was correcting a story.

ZAHN: .. and sharing it with a reporter?

WATKINS: Well, no. He didn't -- now, let's face it. Again, it would be against the law if he knew that she was a covert operative of the CIA and then leaked her name to the press. That's against the law. You can't do that, especially if you know that the CIA doesn't want her name leaked. That's why he's not under criminal investigation.

ZAHN: You get 10 seconds. You get the last word tonight.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Let's not forget that the CIA asked the Justice Department to investigate this. There was an astonishing attack on the CIA because the CIA was criticizing this administration for misleading the nation into war. We still don't know the full story. Let's hope the truth comes out and justice prevails.

ZAHN: Well, the investigation has been started. And we no doubt will see both of you again as we learn more details.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you.

WATKINS: Thank you.

ZAHN: About some of these allegations.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Reverend Joe Watkins, always good to see both of you.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Still ahead, is there a killer in your neighborhood or even in your own home?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL FRIEDMAN, SORT OF ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL: Pit bulls are a problem. Let's not shy away from that. Let's not put our heads in the sand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Are they really a problem or just nice dogs with bad owners?

And if your dog won't kill your children, how about a sandwich or even their school cafeteria?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: In Britain today, a toddler died after being mauled by a pit bull. The 1-year-old was attacked at home, like so many other pit bull victims. One study shows over half of fatal dog attacks involve unrestrained dogs on their owner's property.

And the number of attacks on children and adults that cause devastating injuries or even death is alarming, about 300 a year alone in the United States. As public fears about pit bulls grow, more and more U.S. cities are trying to ban the breed altogether. And pit bull defenders are gearing up for a ferocious fight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): This is undercover video of a horrible blood sport in America's darkest corners, pit bulls fighting to the death. It's gruesome, shocking, frightening. But a growing number of city officials believe that scenes like these reveal the potentially vicious and unpredictable nature of pit bulls in the wrong hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get him!

ZAHN (voice-over): The Humane Society estimates that 40,000 people in the U.S. stage animal fights for sport and profit. Among them are drug dealers, backyard breeders and gangs, who abuse pit bulls to create fierce, aggressive dogs, prone to attack.

WAYNE PACELLE, HUMAN SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: Pit bulls are the dogs of choice for dog fighters. And the combination of a strong dog and a person with the wrong ideas and wrong attitude makes for a combustible situation.

ZAHN: But the problem with pit bulls goes way beyond dark alleys. The family dog can also turn deadly. In San Francisco, little Nicky Faibish just 12 years old, was mauled to death by at least one of his family's two pet pit bulls. His mom was running errands, leaving Nicky alone with the dogs, and returned to discover the grisly scene. Now Maureen Faibish faces felony charges, including child endangerment. And San Francisco officials are considering an extreme and controversial measure, rewriting state law to allow for a breed- specific band on pit bulls altogether.

GAVIN NEWSOM (D), MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO: I think it's time that we get serious about pit bulls in this city, we get serious about pit bulls in this state, we get serious about pit bulls across the United States of America.

ZAHN: Fueling the debate, the fact that Nicky's tragedy wasn't an isolated attack. The Bay Area has seen a number of pit bull attacks in the past few years, with children like 8-year-old Annette Rojas and 14-year-old Shawn Jones among the worst casualties.

CARL FRIEDMAN, SORT OF ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL: Pit bulls are a problem. Let's not shy away from that. Let's not put our heads in the sand.

ZAHN: A 20-year study by the Centers For Disease Control shows that, in a country with more 4.5 million dog bites every year, children are most often the victims and pit bulls most often the perpetrators, causing more fatalities than any other breed.

SONYA DIAS, DENVER PIT BULL OWNER: Gryffy, come see momma. Come here.

ZAHN: Despite all that, many people still see pit bulls as gentle, obedient pets. Sonya Dias lives in Denver, where a total ban on pit bulls was reinstated on May 9, after 16 years of legal wrangling. Her pit bull, Gryffindor, was condemned by the ban. And Sonya was forced to place her in foster care outside city limits.

DIAS: I feel like my family has been broken up. It would be the equivalent of someone saying, well, you've got to give up one of your children. And I know children and dogs are very different, but to me it feels the same.

Yes, I brought you a treat.

ZAHN: For now, Gryffindor has escaped Denver's animal control officers.

But here on death row, less fortunate pit bulls cling to life, their fate sealed by color dots, which signify how many days each dog has left.

DOUG KELLEY, DENVER DIRECTOR OF ANIMAL CONTROL: The majority of the pit bulls that we pick up come as a result of people calling us, because they're concerned about the pit bull living next dog.

ZAHN: And Denver's Director of Animal Control Doug Kelley's job is to see that the city's ordinance is strictly enforced, despite some harsh criticism.

KELLEY: Well, they have called us a lot of things, including Nazis and ethnic cleansing and different things like that.

ZAHN: With more than 200 of Denver's pit bulls euthanized so far, owners are now faced with an excruciating decision, give their dogs up for adoption, leave town, or face heavy fines and possible jail time.

ADOLFO MEDINA, DENVER PIT BULL OWNER: So, I have got to lose time at work and now I've got to find somewhere to put him and then I got to move.

ZAHN: Sonya believes that it's unfair to punish all pit bulls for the action of a few. So, she has been circulating a petition, lobbying city officials and leading protests.

DIAS: I have found that the law doesn't differentiate between dogs that are aggressive to humans and those that are not.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ZAHN: At the crux of her argument, the belief that people, not pit bulls, are the source of the problem.

DIAS: What happened in San Francisco is a tragedy. The mother knew that the dog was acting aggressively with that boy. And she locked him in a basement. He got out and was attacked and killed by that dog. What was that dog doing in the house? I don't understand that. That dog needed to be removed from the home, end of story.

RITA ANDERSON, DENVER CITY COUNCIL: OK. And what's your address? Thirty.

ZAHN: Rita Anderson has joined Sonya in her fight to save Denver's pit bulls. She heads up a network of volunteers that local newspapers call the pit bull underground highway, transporting well- trained pit bulls like Xena to an animal sanctuary just south of the city.

ANDERSON: It's just the best feeling in the world to know that you're taking a dog out of dog jail to safety.

Hi, Toni.

TONI PHILLIPS, MARIAH'S PROMISE: Hi.

ZAHN: Toni Phillips provides safe haven free of charge.

PHILLIPS: To know them is to love them. Really and truly, to know them is to love them. But you have to pay attention to them. But they're not all loaded guns. They're very sweet.

ZAHN: Denver officials, however, say they're not willing to take any more chances.

ROSEMARY RODRIGUEZ, DENVER CITY COUNCIL: It's safer, I believe, for the city just to not let them in our boundaries.

ANDERSON: I think the Denver City Council is trying to make it appear as though they're doing something. They need to go after those drug dealers, those gang members and the people who fight the dogs. That's where your problem is.

ZAHN: The Humane Society of the U.S. also opposes Denver's breed- specific ban.

PACELLE: Legislation that says every pit bull is dangerous is simply false and inaccurate. Pit bulls can be aggressive and they can be dangerous, but their genetic makeup doesn't predestine them to aggressive action.

ZAHN: So, while San Francisco considers banning pit bulls, and people like Sonya defend them as loving, obedient pets...

DIAS: I love you. You're a good boy.

ZAHN: ... hanging over the debate are the tragedies of children like Annette, Shawn and Nicky, all attacked by one breed of dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The anguish and pain of his loss and the tragic circumstances of that loss cannot be calculated.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And, in addition to San Francisco, cities in North Carolina and Oklahoma are also considering pit bull bans. Meanwhile, Sonya Dias has actually put her home on the market and plans to leave Denver altogether, so she can be reunited with her pit bull.

Coming up, maybe you or someone you know has food allergies. The problem is now, though, more widespread than ever, much more dangerous. On the other side, you're going to meet a family that might help all of us save another child's life.

Stay with us for their story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Still to come, a deadly threat to your family. The hidden dangers facing your kids or their friends, right in their school cafeteria.

First, though, just about 31 minutes past the hour, time for Erica Hill of HEADLINE NEWS to update the top stories.

ERICA HILL, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks, Paula.

Parts of the South are still without power after Hurricane Dennis. And now, Tropical Storm Emily, on the lower right, swirling toward the Caribbean's Windward Islands with 50-mile-an-hour winds. Expected, though, to reach hurricane status late tomorrow. That means it could enter the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.

Meantime, at Disneyworld in Florida, a British teenager suffered cardiac arrest on the Terror Tower ride. She's in critical condition. Investigators say there's no evidence here that the ride is to blame. Last month, a 4-year-old Pennsylvania boy died after a space ride at Disneyworld.

Driving and talking on your cell phone still doesn't mix, even with a headset. A study in A British medical journal says you're actually likely four times more likely to have a serious accident even if you're using a hands-free phone.

And in the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong finishing as the overall leader in the 10th stage of the 2,200-mile race, and he did it as the race enters the first Alpine stage -- On his way, of course, to what could be an unprecedented seventh straight win. Pretty amazing.

That's the latest from HEADLINE NEWS, Paula. Back over to you.

ZAHN: Thanks, Erica. And of course, we're making no secret of who we're rooting for. Go, Lance, go!

Coming up, you can teach your kids to keep away from strangers and from things that could injure them. But how about from a peanut butter sandwich?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARA SHANNON: She had this continuous sneeze. And I lifted up her dress, and there was big welts on her back. And at that point, I called 911.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: She could have been one of your children, or your children's friends. What precautions should you take?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Imagine your child in the school cafeteria eating a tiny morsel of peanut butter or cheese, and dying. Well, it has happened before. A dangerous allergic reaction caused by certain foods. These allergies are skyrocketing in the U.S., now causing about 30,000 emergency room visits a year and up to 200 deaths.

Senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells us about a girl named Sabrina. Her story is tonight's "People in the News" profile. It could save your child's life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SHANNON: Sabrina Shannon was very intelligent, vibrant, creative, artistic.

MICHAEL SHANNON, SABRINA'S FATHER: Sabrina was happy. She was full of life. She always -- she lived for the moment.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everything changed September 29, 2003, because of an ailment you'd never even know Sabrina had if you met her.

SARA SHANNON: I discovered that Sabrina had food allergies before she was a year old.

I thought, well, I'll try her on a false (ph) milk, to see what would happen. Upon giving it to her, she went into a reaction. She got hives all over her body, and she had trouble breathing. So you know, after that, I kept her completely away from all dairy, whether it be butter, yogurt, whatever.

GUPTA: Soon, Sara and Mike Shannon learned their daughter was allergic not only to milk, but to peanuts and soy as well. Even a small amount could cause a life-threatening reaction.

SARA SHANNON: We've had two separate cutting boards.

GUPTA (on camera): Always had two cutting boards.

SARA SHANNON: Yes, exactly.

GUPTA: Because even a minuscule amount...

SARA SHANNON: Yes. Oh, yes. And we had cheese in the house. So -- and then also, two in the pots and pans. We always had to make sure they were very, very clean.

M. SHANNON: It was very rare, very, very rare that we would actually stop in a restaurant and eat. Actually, we hardly ever did.

GUPTA (voice-over): Sara and Mike separated when Sabrina was 2, which meant long rides to visit dad. And as they would learn, living with deadly food allergies required lots and lots of planning. It was hard to be spontaneous.

M. SHANNON: One trip we took out west, I had to plan it all out so we were close to hospitals all the way around, just on the off chance that something happened.

GUPTA: Some children outgrow their food allergies, so Sara was thrilled to learn from a doctor that Sabrina was no longer allergic to peanuts.

SARA SHANNON: I made her a peanut butter sandwich, and she went around the house and went around the neighborhood, and said, mom, I love this peanut butter.

GUPTA: But the doctor, it turned out, was wrong. She was still allergic to peanuts.

SARA SHANNON: She had this continuous sneeze. And I lifted up her dress, and there was big welts on her back. And at that point, I called 911, and we gave her the EpiPen.

GUPTA: Sabrina was having a dangerous reaction called anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock. Only epineprin, injected quickly in the thigh with an EpiPen could buy the time needed to get Sabrina to the hospital.

(on camera): What's going through your mind each time when one of these anaphylactic reactions occur?

SARA SHANNON: What's going through my mind is the need for fast action. I have to give the EpiPen right away. You see this healthy child, running around, being so vibrant and full of energy, yet an anaphylactic reaction could bring her to the brinks of death. And then, after she would recover, she'd be back to being a healthy child and full of life. So, it was hard to -- it was hard for people to believe. I remember saying to someone, you know, my daughter almost died yesterday, and they would look at me in disbelief.

GUPTA (voice-over): Sabrina refused to sit and worry, instead decided to act, teaching others how to keep children like herself safe.

When she was 10, she even produced a radio report, with her friends, on food allergies for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you didn't have allergies, would you be more happier or would you be more sadder?

SABRINA SHANNON, FOOD ALLERGY SUFFERER: Happier, of course, because you have a choice. If you want to eat something, you eat it. If you don't want to eat something, you don't have to. But with allergies, if you want to eat something, it's no, or you die.

GUPTA: Sabrina also interviewed her mother.

SABRINA SHANNON: Mom, did anyone think you were a little pervert when I had the reaction to the toast and you pulled down my pants completely in public?

SARA SHANNON: No, Sabrina, I did what was necessary to save your life.

GUPTA: Like any other kid in Pembroke, Ontario, she spent hours with her friends. Her group liked to make music videos.

Most kids growing up with restrictions could become jaded. Not Sabrina.

Another thing Sabrina loved to do was draw. This drawing by Sabrina urged others to help someone in need, an appeal that would have more meaning for her than she would ever know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So as you can see, Sabrina had learned to cope with her allergy, which isn't easy at that age. But was it enough to keep her safe?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARA SHANNON: They were bringing Sabrina out of the school, and her arm was dangling, and her head was slanted back.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: Sabrina's story continues with crucial information every parent should know, next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: We continue now with Sabrina's story: Her battle with food allergies that can be fatal. More and more people suffer from dangerous allergic conditions. For Sabrina's family, the condition brought tragedy, but also inspired a mission.

Once again, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): Pembroke is typical of the small towns along the Ottawa River. Sabrina lived here for most of her 13 years.

(on camera): In elementary school, Sabrina would make a short walk home every day for a safe lunch guaranteed. But in September 2003, she and her friends graduated to high school, a bus ride away. Being a teenager meant more autonomy and more danger.

(voice-over): Ordering cafeteria food was a huge deal. She'd never done it before. On her fourth Monday at Bishop Smith Catholic High School, Sabrina surprised her mom.

SARA SHANNON, SABRINA'S MOTHER: And she said, "I'm not eating another sandwich, mom. I can eat the French fries. That's something I ate just this Friday and they're fine, mom. There's no peanut or soy or dairy in these French fries. It's fine."

GUPTA: On this particular day, Sara decided to drive Sabrina to school.

SARA SHANNON: It was like a beautiful blue, crisp September day. Everything seemed so perfect. I remember that $5 bill that I gave her for her French fries. And to this day, I can still see the $5 bill in my hand. I said, you know, I love you, Sabrina and you know, I may have thrown her a kiss good bye. And I watched her run up the hill. I can still see her running up the hill and opening the door to go into the school.

GUPTA: Then, at 11:40: Lunch. Sabrina met her cousin Anna Woollam.

ANNA WOOLLAM, SABRINA'S COUSIN: We were in the lunch line and she ordered French fries and I ordered poutine.

GUPTA: Common in Canada, poutine is French fries covered with gravy and cheese. Lunch ended and in geography class, Sabrina complained she wasn't feeling well. A classmate, Selena Scott, walked her to the office.

SELENA SCOTT, SABRINA'S CLASSMATE: And I'm like: OK. Well, can you walk and everything? She's like: Yes, I can walk.

I had to grab her, link arms, and hold her up. And then, she kind like, you know, started to fall a little bit.

GUPTA: The girls went to Vice Principal Clint Young's office, who knew Sabrina was one of a dozen students with food allergies.

CLINT YOUNG, BISHOP SMITH CATHOLIC HS: She became unconscious right there and was taken down to the floor by one of the staff members. CPR was quickly started.

SCOTT: Like, Sabrina didn't have a lock, so we were lucky because...

GUPTA: Selena and the teacher went to get Sabrina's EpiPen from her locker.

YOUNG: I administered the EpiPen in thigh, but the unfortunate part -- it was too late. She was already unconscious.

GUPTA: Sabrina's mother was out. When she got home, she had a message. Sara raced to the high school.

SARA SHANNON: They were bringing Sabrina out of the school and her arm was dangling and her head was slanted back.

GUPTA (on camera): When the ambulance arrived here, Sabrina wasn't breathing and had no pulse. Too many crucial minutes had already passed and there was still a ride to the hospital.

M. SHANNON: I had gotten a call to call the Pembroke hospital. There was a nurse on the other end and I said, "I'm Mike Shannon," and she just burst out into tears. That's when my heart just sank. I knew it was something bad.

GUPTA: Sabrina was raced by ambulance to a more specialized hospital in Ottawa, but by the next day it was clear the damage was too severe.

M. SHANNON: They unplugged her from the life support and within a few minutes, she passed away. It was very peaceful. We were all there, all around her.

GUPTA: Sara Shannon visited her daughter's grave every day for a year, until one day she decided it was time to do something else. On the one-year anniversary of her death, Sabrina's parents returned to the hospital were their only child died, with a message to the public.

SARA SHANNON: This didn't really have to happen. Sabrina should be alive and healthy and well today.

GUPTA: A coroner's investigation found that the cafeteria fries Sabrina ate were most likely contaminated by tongs that had also served poutine, the cheese-covered fries.

Sabrina's story became a rallying cry for improved school safety and allergy awareness.

Peter Adam is principal for Bishop Smith Catholic High School.

PETER ADAM, BISHOP SMITH CATHOLIC HS: We thought we were prepared. We though we were prepared for everything. We had a policy in place. We had an anaphylaxis policy for years here and we knew Sabrina and we knew her condition. It's just that a number of circumstances took place that just did not seem to get us to where we wanted to be.

GUPTA: With food allergies on the rise in Ontario, as they are across North America, the province proposed legislation requiring schools to reduce the risk of allergic students being exposed to foods that could be deadly.

It would also allow teachers to administer the EpiPen with out fear of legal action. Ontario law makers invited Sara Shannon to testify.

SARA SHANNON: I promised Sabrina, while she was dying on her death bed, I'd do everything possible to prevent this tragedy from happening again to another family or another child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

GUPTA: The bill sponsor, Dave Levac, was speechless.

DAVE LEVAC, ONTARIO PARLIAMENT MEMBER: You've said enough, thank you.

GUPTA: Two weeks later: A vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are at 75. The nays are at zero.

GUPTA: And the ultimate honor for the Shannon's -- the new measure was renamed Sabrina's Law.

LEVAC: All members of this house understand how important that this law, Sabrina's Law, is. It will go a long way for the safety of our children. We will save a life. Thank you.

GUPTA (on camera): Do think that you and Sabrina together have saved lives?

SARA SHANNON: We'll never know how many lives it will save, but at least with Sabrina's Law in place, I know that everything's being done to prevent this tragedy from happening to another child.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And what a powerful legacy for all of us to learn by, Sanjay. So, I guess what the Shannon's want us all to understand is these allergies are becoming more common. And they want us as parents, and they want these communities to put things in place that will better protect our children.

But is it realistic that you can really make a difference here?

GUPTA: Well, I think it is. I mean, it's not to say that there is a cure for food allergies; there isn't. And that's an important message to get across. Strict avoidance does remain the message.

But it also means that kids are going to be kids. They're going to want to go out to eat. Communicating to chefs and waiters at restaurants; being really careful in terms of reading labels and also carrying an EpiPen. An EpiPen can save a life.

You know, Paula, once they know they have food allergies, if they're ever exposed, it's an accidental exposure, meaning no one expected it in any way, so carrying that EpiPen is really crucial. It could potentially save a child's life.

ZAHN: Very quickly in closing, Doctor, is there anything we can do as parents to help prevent our children from developing food allergies.

GUPTA: There's a couple of theories out there. One is that if a mother has food allergies themselves, they might actually be more likely -- the children might be more likely to have them. If both the mother and father have them, even more likely. No one is really sure why food allergies are on the rise. It's believed that we live maybe in too clean a society, the hygiene hypothesis, it's called. So exposing your child earlier, that might be of some benefit as well, Paula.

ZAHN: Don't you think, as a brand new father, we have enough maternal and paternal guilt already?

GUPTA: Well, it's funny that you say that. I didn't know a lot about these sorts of food allergies, and I think doing the investigating for this piece and having my own daughter, who is a month old tomorrow, I have learned a lot about that, for sure.

ZAHN: Well, you look like you're getting a lot more sleep than I did those first few weeks of brand new life. Sanjay, thanks so much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ZAHN: For more on the dangers of food allergies, log on to our Web site, at CNN.com/Paula.

Coming up, a newborn that's so precious, humans aren't even allowed in the same room. It's the size of a stick of a butter. Can you find it? Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: With all the pressing news of the day, we thought we'd close with a sweet story. One of the rarest animals on Earth has just had a baby, but the worries are far from over. As Jeanne Moos shows us, the brand new panda is fragile and so tiny, it's almost impossible to see.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do pandas and dairy products have in common? At least newborns pandas?

JO GAYLE HOWARD, NATIONAL ZOO: We always refer to it like a stick of butter, because it's about the same size, about the same weight.

MOOS: And that makes finding the National Zoo's newborn panda on their Panda Cam like trying to find a stick of butter in a bamboo stack.

(on camera): Where's the baby?

(voice-over): Sure, you can see mom, and hear the baby's squealing. But we dare you.

(on camera): Find the panda baby.

(voice-over): While I can look at the infant panda through two grainy webcams trained on the cubbing den...

(on camera): No one, no one, not even the zoo staff has seen the baby in person. They've only seen it through the monitor.

(voice-over): That's to avoid disturbing mother and child during the first few weeks of the baby's life.

(on camera): I hope it's not sitting on the baby.

(voice-over): After all, mom weighs 240 pounds. The baby is only three or four ounces.

The best place to watch Panda Cam is at AnimalPlanet.com, though mom is always hogging the picture.

(on camera): It seems almost like an invasion of privacy.

(voice-over): Watching Panda Cam isn't always spellbinding, but it sure beats other web cams. Like the once-famous coffee pot cam at a computer lab. Then there's B-cam, the Hog's Breath bar cam, jail cam. And of course, corn cam, where you can watch corn grow. Makes Panda Cam seem bearable.

(on camera): It's taking a nap. Wake up! Come on! Action!

(voice-over): We in the media and movies spoofing us use pandas to pander to our audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mood is tense. Hey, you're making me look stupid! Get out here. Panda jerk!

MOOS: On the National Zoo Web site, they offer everything from pandas on credit cards, to panda hotel packages.

(on camera): Panda package with free breakfast. What do you get, bamboo? (voice-over): Room service. Since you can only catch a glimpse of the real baby panda, the zoo's expert uses a fake baby panda for show- and-tell. Here's what another baby panda looked like. They've been compared to bald gophers, and since they're calling it a stick of butter -- got milk?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Very cute. Bald gophers. Jeanne Moos reporting. By the way, only two cubs born in the U.S. have actually lived to adulthood. Both were born at the San Diego Zoo.

Coming up next, this afternoon's scare for the space shuttle. We'll go back to the Kennedy Space Center for an update on Discovery's launch tomorrow. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Well, with some luck, the Space Shuttle Discovery won't be on the launch pad at this time tomorrow, but NASA did get a scare earlier today. Let's get a quick update now from Miles O'Brien.

Hi, Miles. Anything new?

O'BRIEN: Paula, nothing new, except everything is all systems go. If you look behind me, it says T-11 hours. That's a little bit of NASA math. It's more like 19 hours. But as you might know, there is a whole bunch of holds that are built into it, about eight hours of hold. And so that's the reason you see it minus-11 hours there.

Nevertheless, they fixed those tiles that were damaged by a protective cover which fell off. The countdown continues. The flight crew has been practicing approaches and landings all night. And weather permitting, tomorrow they'll be in space.

Paula.

ZAHN: Well, that's good news indeed. Miles O'Brien, reporting from the Kennedy Space Center. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. We'll be looking for you tomorrow. Miles will be there for the liftoff of Discovery. Complete coverage gets under way at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Scheduled liftoff, 3:51 p.m.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. LARRY KING LIVE is next with the very latest on the search for Natalee Holloway. Thanks for joining us tonight. Good night.

END

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