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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Popular Sleeping Pill May Cause Problems; Federal Government Goes After Internet Child Pornography Ring; Helpful Dashboard Cameras; Controversial Debate on Child Support and Parenthood

Aired March 17, 2006 - 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. Thank you so much for joining us.
Tonight, the latest developments in a global high-tech pornography ring that has shattered many young lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): "Beyond the Headlines" -- Internet outrage. The government starts to prosecute a case almost too shocking to believe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What bothers me is it's sometimes the people you least expect that may be involved in this type of thing.

ZAHN: Tonight, who would abuse very young children on demand on the Web?

On the CNN "Security Watch," could the people who drive school buses really be a new line of defense in the war on terror?

JOE VAN AKEN, TRAINING INSTRUCTOR: We're going to teach you how to identify, evaluate, and report unusual activity.

ZAHN: But what about the kids?

NANCY LOEBER, MOTHER OF 8-YEAR-OLD: Our kids are on those buses. That -- that's kind of scary.

ZAHN: And the "Eye Opener" -- dashboard cams capturing the moment of impact, the moment of terror. How can these amazing videos help you avoid danger?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: We are starting tonight with what seemed like a routine event in Chicago courtrooms, something you would hardly even notice if you didn't know it could be only the tip of the iceberg.

In the space of about 10 minutes, two men came in, waived their right to have the charges against them read aloud, entered pleas of not guilty, and left. What isn't routine in all of this is the reason we all need to sit up and take notice. It is the nature of the charges. They are disgusting. They are graphic, involving what the attorney general of this country calls the worst forms of child pornography.

Justice correspondent Kelli Arena takes us "Beyond the Headlines" tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They came from different places, different backgrounds, brought together by an alleged interest in the most sordid pornography imaginable.

Brian Annoreno is 29 years old, unemployed, father of an 18- month-old girl. Arrested in Bartlett, Illinois, he's accused of molesting an infant live on the Internet. Friday, in a Chicago court, he pled not guilty.

MICHAEL FALCONER, ATTORNEY FOR BRIAN A. ANNORENO: On its face, it looks bad. Every case does at the beginning. You know, I can't say a lot.

ARENA: Gregory Sweezer also pled not guilty on Friday. Forty- eight years old, a mailman for half his life, he's charged with possessing and distributing child porn. Federal and state authorities say the two men belonged to an Internet pornography ring that showed graphic images and live molestations of young children.

But that's where the similarities between them end.

Michelle Collins has tracked child exploitation for eight years.

MICHELLE COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN'S EXPLOITED CHILD UNIT: I can't summarize the motivations of the individuals who fall -- fall into this particular web, particularly with child pornography in the last few year. They come from all socioeconomic levels. They're all education levels. They come from different genders. They come from different races.

ARENA: In general, Collins says offenders are male and white.

(on camera): Most are caught with pornographic images of children between the ages of 6 and 12. But law enforcement officials are worried, because both victims and offenders are getting younger.

(voice-over): The people who sexually exploit children generally know the victims.

COLLINS: Of the cases that we know where the children have been identified, it is predominantly a family member or a parent or somebody who -- a family friend or somebody who has legitimate access to that child.

ARENA: The suspects recently taken into custody range in age from 19 to 51. The oldest, David Perozzi, is a Sunday school teacher from Oakfield, New York. He also pled not guilty. His neighbors were shocked at the charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What bothers me is it's sometimes people you least expect that may be involved in this type of thing.

ARENA: The same was said about Royal Weller from Tennessee, a 49-year-old appliance repairman who never married. As the alleged host of the "Kiddypics" and "Kiddyvids" Web site, federal officials say he called himself "G.O.D.," and allegedly used the biblical name online "Devil666" to share his child porn files. His lawyer has not returned calls. His neighbors were also shocked to hear about the charges against him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quiet guy. I mean, he's like, what, in his 50s? Never caused no trouble.

ARENA: One defendant is a woman, Lisa Winebrenner, who lived at this trailer park in Iowa with her husband and two daughters.

JANICE LONG, NEIGHBOR OF LISA WINEBRENNER: I have been sick ever since I found out about it.

ARENA: The one thing that tied all the suspects together is the Internet. Experts like Collins say the ability to produce, share and view material in private has made it easier to victimize children in the most abhorrent ways possible.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: We have been very careful tonight not to show this terrible exploitation of children.

But Julie Myers has seen it. She's with the Department of Homeland Security, and took part in the investigation. She was with the attorney general when the case was made public this week.

Thanks for joining us tonight, Julie.

JULIE MYERS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY FOR U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: Oh, thanks for having me.

ZAHN: So, as I watched you in the courtroom, as the charges were read, I could see that you were visibly shaken. You have seen this kind of material for years. What is different about this latest stuff that is surfacing?

MYERS: Well, what is troubling in this case, and what we're starting to see in a number of cases is -- are two things. One, the victims are getting younger and younger. As the attorney general said, one of the victims was under 18 months old. And that is...

ZAHN: That is so sick.

MYERS: So sick, so disturbing.

The other thing that is very disturbing is, we're starting to see more homegrown or self-produced pornography. It -- it used to be, in child porn, you would see the same images over and over again. And they would be -- quote, unquote -- "known victims."

Now we're seeing a demand for new material and new victims. And, in this case, we had really molestation on demand. People would request that certain acts be performed. And that certainly elevates this to a new level and greatly disturbed us.

ZAHN: But I understand you're also very disturbed that this stuff appears to be, not only more extreme, but much more violent. What does that tell us about us as a society? We're a whole lot sicker than we were 20 years ago?

MYERS: It's certainly not a good sign for our society. And, as your reporter pointed out, the Internet has made the individuals who find pleasure in this sick activity, made it easier for them.

We are -- we are on the case. And we're using every tool we can. But the fact that it is getting more violent, more graphic, and that children are younger is very, very disturbing to us.

ZAHN: Julie, given the fact this is a multibillion-dollar business, and it is so difficult to find who is logging on to these Web sites and who isn't, do we have any idea the extent of the power of this awful stuff that is going on out there?

MYERS: Well, we're certainly tracking it, trying to find out. But, in this case, actually, there was no profit motive.

The individuals were on the chat room. It didn't cost anybody anything, except to trade pictures and to trade videos. We are working with the credit card companies. We're tracking violations for commercial Web sites, though. And, sometimes, the number of transactions that we see on these child pornography sites could be as high as in the hundreds of thousands. And that's very, very disturbing to us.

ZAHN: Once again, you have had to look at some pretty unfathomable stuff over the years. On a personal level, why is this so jarring to you?

MYERS: Well, you think, this could be my child. This could be my sister or my brother.

And it is so troubling when you hear these victims and their stories and how they are scarred for many, many years. And -- and you want to prevent them -- and you want give the kids a hug and prevent it from happening to any other children. And that -- that is why it is so troubling to me.

ZAHN: And, of course, those of us that haven't been exposed as much as you have can -- can -- can't even understand why anybody would ever hurt an 18-month-old baby. It is just really, really sick.

Well, good luck with your investigation. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

MYERS: Oh, thanks for having me. ZAHN: Julie Myers.

Well, tiny cameras aren't always a bad thing. We are going to show you some amazing proof in just a couple of minutes. Can a little camera actually stop crimes from happening?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jason Carroll.

A program to teach school bus drivers how to be on the lookout for terrorists? I will have that story coming up on PAULA ZAHN NOW.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Also, a woman's incredible story -- wait until you hear this one tonight. Did the nation's most popular sleeping pill cause her to put on 50 pounds, 50 pounds she claims she put on because she ate in her sleep almost every single night, almost cleaning out the refrigerator, raw eggs and all. You got to -- you got to see it to believe it.

But, first, more than 17 million of you visited our Web site.

Our countdown of the top 10 most popular stories on CNN.com begins in London tonight, with closing arguments in the copyright suit against the publisher of "The Da Vinci Code." Two British historians claim author Dan Brown stole ideas from their 1982 book. A decision could come down next week.

Number nine -- in Dublin, more than half-a-million people celebrated a very chilly Saint Patrick's Day, and a pretty chilly one here in New York City today as well. It was fun -- numbers eight and seven right out of the break.

Well, I'm not being perfectly honest. There was a lot of traffic. But, if you got to see the parade, at least it was fun.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So, he told her he didn't want to have children. Well, she had the baby anyway. So, now, should he be forced to pay child support? -- that debate coming up.

This Sunday marks the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. And opinion polls show that Americans are increasingly worried about when the war will end. President Bush says our troops will start coming home as soon as enough Iraqi forces are trained to defeat the insurgency and restore peace.

Well, right now, some of the newly trained Iraqi forces are doing most of the grunt work in a major offensive called Operation Swarmer. The campaign is supposed to root out insurgents and seize weapons.

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is the only TV reporter embedded with the coalition forces. And he's getting a very good look at just how the Iraqi forces are doing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): An Iraqi soldier shows a U.S. soldier a suspect vehicle in the distance and calls for a U.S. helicopter to check it out, exactly the type of cooperation both armies want to spotlight.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL SKIP JOHNSON, U.S. BRIGADE COMMANDER: And Iraqis have had the lead. And I think that's important, as we transition.

ROBERTSON: Operation Swarmer, highly publicized as the biggest air assault since the invasion of Iraq three years ago, is revealing as much about boosting the image of the Iraqi security forces, as it is about catching the 100 insurgents Iraqi officials say are in the area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is truly a joint effort. They have the lead. We're here in a support role. And -- and they execute. So, they have done a remarkable job.

ROBERTSON: The job, in this case, chasing down insurgents over a large rural area of scattered farms, as directed by Iraqi intelligence. But how remarkable were the Iraqi troops compared with their past performances?

LIEUTENANT COLONEL LOU LARTIGUE, 101ST AIRBORNE: Today, they have put together, you know, company and battalion-size operations, participating in a large air assault, linking up on the ground with coalition forces, and putting that together. I think it was a great display.

ROBERTSON: Another ringing endorsement.

But when we were choppered around, what did we see? Iraqi troops, better equipped than last year, armored Humvees in place of civilian pickups, villagers apparently so relaxed about having their farm searched, they were cooking bread for troops and journalists alike.

But it is what we didn't see that is perhaps most revealing. We deposit see a raid actually taking place. So, we're relying on the military's own assessment. We asked to stay overnight to see more, but were told that wasn't possible; it was too short notice to arrange.

By the time we left, more than 50 of the 150 households in the target area had been searched, six moderate to small weapons caches discovered, and about 50 people taken into detention. Of those, at least 17 were later released.

But officials say they also developed possible leads in the recent attack on the nearby Samarra shrine that triggered a massive wave of sectarian violence. COLONEL ALI, IRAQI BRIGADE COMMANDER (through translator): And we found some detainees. They provide us with good information about Golden Mosque -- Golden Mosque attack.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The hope is that, even if Operation Swarmer doesn't catch all the insurgents, that it sends a message to other insurgents that Iraqi forces, with U.S. support, are now capable of launching large, fast-moving operations.

Nic Robertson, CNN, north of Samarra, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So far, there have been no casualties for coalition forces in Operation Swarmer. But one U.S. soldier was killed today while actually manning an observation post in an area close to the operation, bringing the number of U.S. deaths in the war to 2,314.

Helicopters and Humvees are extremely important in Iraq, but have you ever thought that a school bus could also be on the front lines in the war on terrorism? Stand by for a very surprising stop on the CNN "Security Watch."

And did the nation's most popular sleeping pills cause a woman to do more than just sleep in her own bed, like eat and eat and eat, and gain 50 pounds, she claims, while she was sleeping? Her story is absolutely amazing. She will be joining us in just a little bit.

But now let's go number eight in our CNN.com countdown.

In Florida, Kennedy Space Center employees have been ordered to be more careful, after a series of recent accidents. Workers had been under pressure to get ready for a May launch of Discovery. That has now been put off until July.

Number seven -- in New Mexico, look at these pictures -- three people killed today when a truck crashed through the window of a clinic in Santa Fe. Police say at least eight people, including the driver, were hurt. Based on the pictures we are looking at here, it seems they were, well, lucky that it wasn't a whole lot worse.

We are going to have numbers six and five right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Terrorists have vowed to strike the United States again. Experts seem to agree, the next target may not be a government building or a military installation, but places like shopping malls, resorts or even schools.

On tonight's "Security Watch," we are going to show you the newest weapon in the war on terror.

As Jason Carroll reports, it is the bus driver who picks up your kids and takes them to school every morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): Donald Stuart has been driving a school bus for the past six years. Most of that time has been fairly routine -- not anymore.

Before Stuart finishes his route on this day, he must first learn about something he never imagined he would be doing: fighting the war on terrorism.

DONALD STUART, SCHOOL BUS DRIVER: With this new thing going on with this terrorist stuff, it is all new to me, too. So, I like to find out anything I possibly can.

JOE VAN AKEN, TRAINING INSTRUCTOR: Identify yourself.

CARROLL: This classroom is where Stuart and more than a dozen other New York City bus drivers learn their new responsibilities.

VAN AKEN: We're going to teach you how to identify, evaluate, and report unusual activity.

CARROLL: Classes like this are popping up all over the country, now that the Department of Homeland Security has financed a program called School Bus Watch.

VAN AKEN: We're looking for things that don't look right.

CARROLL: The goal, turn 600,000 school bus drivers into observers.

VAN AKEN: The yellow school bus is an American icon. It gives everybody that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. What does it take to get into a school bus?

CARROLL: Instructor Joseph Van Aken understands the need for the new curriculum on terrorism. He says, school buses are unprotected targets, so he teaches drivers how to inspect them for tampering. And because they're on the road so much, drivers learn how to spot suspicious activity.

VAN AKEN: In my seven years of training, I have never found a program that has captivated the drivers in attendance as well as this -- this program has.

CARROLL: It certainly captured Donald Stuart's attention.

(on camera): What did you find to be the most helpful part of what you heard?

STUART: The most helpful? Mainly the observing. I didn't, you know, particularly look for certain things, like, you know, packages or trucks on the side. Those used to all be automatic to us. You know, we see them sitting every day.

CARROLL (voice-over): Here is how the program works. If a driver spots anything suspicious, he or she can call into this federal center, where Homeland Security analysts check out the information.

DON RONDEAU, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: If you're a bad guy, broadly defined, you have to do more than look for the police officer in your rear-view mirror. You have to do more than wait for the knock of the FBI agent. You have to look at that school bus or the truck and know that you have to contend with -- with that -- with that American behind the wheel of that vehicle.

CARROLL: The program has its critics. Nancy Loeber doesn't like the idea her 8-year-old daughter's bus driver will have to take the class.

NANCY LOEBER, MOTHER OF 8-YEAR-OLD: It kind of surprises me. It makes me nervous, that they think that the bus drivers should be on the front line, because, of course, our kids are on those buses. That -- that's kind of scary. I would rather see them, you know, someone -- somewhere else being on the front line, like the borders or ports.

CARROLL: But security experts say the deadly terrorist attack at a school in Beslan, Russia, in 2004 shows, children aren't targets. Bus drivers like Donald Stuart say, looking out for terrorists shouldn't be restricted to chosen professions.

STUART: I think it is something we all should do, honestly. You know, I mean, I never done it before. But, you know, now is the time to do it.

CARROLL: So, Stuart says he will proudly do his part, grateful for the training he hopes he will never have to use.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And we change our focus to a story I think you're going find absolutely fascinating. You're going to meet a woman who blames the most popular sleeping pill around for nearly ruining her life. And she isn't the only one. How could a sleeping pill make you gain weight? Well, according to our next guest, she ate and ate in the middle of the night, while she was asleep. She will tell us her story in a minute or two.

Also, how has Las Vegas cut way down on crimes in taxicabs?

And, when baby makes three, should the father be forced to be a parent, when he never wanted the baby in the first place?

First, though, number six in our CNN.com countdown -- the execution in North Carolina today of a man who confessed to killing the husband of his then girlfriend in 1994, so they could try to collect a $5,000 life insurance policy.

Five is a story we brought you just a little bit ago, the joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive against insurgents north of Baghdad. Troops detained 31 people and found several caches of weapons.

Number four is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Coming up in this half-hour, how did Las Vegas cut down on crime? Let's try putting cameras in cabs. You could see a lot of stuff in those cabs you don't want to see.

When a baby is on the way and the father didn't want children in the first place, should he be able to walk away without being forced to pay child support? We will debate that tonight.

And what would you ask "American Idol"'s most outrageous judge? Well, you got your chance tonight. Simon Cowell joins "LARRY KING LIVE" at the top of the hour.

In tonight's "Vital Signs," we dig deeper into an amazing story we reported on earlier this week. I am going to introduce you now to a woman who has quite a story of her own to tell. Her name is Janet Makinen. And she's part of a multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit against the maker of Ambien, the most popular sleeping pill in the country right now.

Makinen claims it caused her to stuff herself with food while she was completely asleep, sleep-eating, believe it or not. She says she gained 50 pounds before she even realized what was happening to her, and that it almost destroyed her life.

Earlier, I spoke with her and her attorney, Susan Chana Lask, for tonight's "Vital Signs."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Thank you both for joining us.

JANET MAKINEN, SUFFERED FROM SLEEP-EATING: Thank you.

ZAHN: So, Janet, how bad was your insomnia?

MAKINEN: Very bad. I would not sleep for a week, week-and-a- half at a time.

ZAHN: So, you were prescribed Ambien, and what happened?

MAKINEN: At first, I got a really good night's sleep. And several weeks after starting to take it, I began to walk and eat in my sleep.

ZAHN: How many pounds did you gain?

MAKINEN: Fifty.

ZAHN: During the course of time? Fifty pounds?

MAKINEN: Yes.

ZAHN: What the heck were you eating during the middle of the night that made you gain all that weight?

MAKINEN: I would eat anything that was available to me. Bags of candy, loaves of bread, uncooked Spanish rice, bags of potato chips. If there was no bags of anything I would open up cans of soup or vegetables or...

ZAHN: And eat it cold.

MAKINEN: ... Eat it cold, yes.

ZAHN: And when you'd wake up in the morning, and see this mess that you left behind, either in the kitchen or in bed, what did you think?

MAKINEN: The first time it happened, I thought it was my husband. I thought my husband had come home from work and cooked, made something to eat before he went to bed. Flipped on the bedroom light to scream at him and I saw barbecue sauce all over the side of my bed. I was like, my God. And I realized that it wasn't him, it was me. And I was frightened. I didn't know what to do. I never once associated it with my sleeping pill.

ZAHN: And yet this went on, year after year, up to six years.

MAKINEN: Yes.

ZAHN: So a lot of people were scratching their heads saying I don't quite buy that. How could you not begin to think there was some sort of association between Ambien and your sleep eating?

MAKINEN: I never did, I thought that I was going crazy.

ZAHN: Is it true that it got so bad at one point that your husband actually was trying to get food out of your mouth while you were sleeping and eating.

MAKINEN: Yes, he would come home and sometimes find me in bed with food in my mouth and he would have to take it out of my mouth, he was so afraid that I would choke to death.

ZAHN: Would he say anything to you or would you say anything to him?

MAKINEN: He would just plead with me, can't you stop doing this? Can't you stop walking in your sleep and eating in your sleep? He would try to guide me back to bed when he was there and it was happening. And he would try to fool me and trick me and say, "Oh, honey, I'll get it for you. You go on back to bed," thinking I would go back to bed and forget about the food.

ZAHN: Did he describe to you how out of it you were?

MAKINEN: He actually would say, "it was like you were in a trance, like I couldn't connect with you. Your eyes -- you were looking at me but it was like your eyes were dead. They had no emotion to them." ZAHN: How sick did you get, Janet, from this excessive eating?

MAKINEN: Sometimes I would eat so much that when I went back to bed and laid down, it would just all come up on me. I would vomit it up and it would be everywhere on the bed.

ZAHN: But what is so hard to understand about your story is if this had gone on for a couple of months, you could kind of understand why you wouldn't call a doctor. But after six years of this, of consistently getting sick, you still didn't see a doctor.

MAKINEN: I thought that they would think I was nuts.

ZAHN: So Susan, does that weaken the case here? During the process of getting up and eating while you were sleeping, you developed an ulcer, and this regurgitation problem and yet you still didn't seek any medical help?

SUSAN CHANA LASK, ATTORNEY: Well, it doesn't weaken the case at all. It's -- the case is all about the company not putting out the warnings. They knew about this. They knew about this in the research and development before it was put out. And there is hundreds of people that have the same exact story as Janet, that they think they're going crazy. They're afraid to tell anybody about it.

ZAHN: I want to read part of the statement from the company who makes Ambien about warnings that accompany the pill.

Quote, "when taken as prescribed, Ambien is a safe and effective treatment for insomnia. Sleep-related eating disorder is included in the prescribing information as a possible rare sleepwalking event."

LASK: That is something that they're putting out there now. It just wasn't happening possibly last year and definitely years before.

ZAHN: So you maintain that the people involved in this class action suit never had any warning, that there could potentially be any linkage at all between the taking of Ambien and sleep eating or sleepwalking?

LASK: From the research I've done and from all of the people I've spoken to, everybody has told me there was no warning and I haven't found a warning yet and I've seen past pharmacy labels and there was absolutely no warning that said sleepwalking or sleep eating could be an adverse side effect.

ZAHN: What have those six years cost you?

MAKINEN: Wow, I've never been asked that before. It cost me my peace of mind for six years. Is cost me, you know, thinking there was something mentally wrong with me, that you know, fear. Constantly afraid to reach out to the people who loved me, who were standing beside me now. That I couldn't think that I could tell them.

ZAHN: Why are you so convinced even after this information came out that it in fact was Ambien that caused your problem? MAKINEN: Why am I so convinced that it was Ambien? Because I never walked or ate in my sleep in my whole life. And I took Ambien and did it. I got off the Ambien, I've never done it since.

ZAHN: Janet, thanks so much for sharing your story with us tonight. Susan, appreciate you dropping by as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So here now is the response from the maker of Ambien. "It is difficult to determine with certainty where a particular instance of sleepwalking is drug induced, spontaneous in origin, or result of an underlying disorder." The case, we'll keep on watching from here.

You're not going to be able to take your eyes off our next report. Can pictures of criminals caught in the act convince potential crooks not to try anything at all? Maybe after seeing what unfolds in this cab, it might knock some sense into them.

And later, should a father to be who didn't want children be forced to pay for his brand-new daughter? We're going to debate that tonight.

Now, though, No. 4 on our CNN.com countdown. A manhunt ends in South Carolina for a registered sex offender. Police say they caught Kenneth Hinson, who is accused of raping two 17-year-old girls in an underground home behind his home, actually it was a room behind his home. No. 3 coming right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Tonight's "Eye Opener" begins with some unbelievable video. Just take a look, right now.

A horrendous crash on New York's Long Island Expressway captured by a dashboard-mounted camera on a bus. And notice the black car being crushed between the bus and the truck, completely underneath it. There were some injuries, but amazingly, no one was killed.

More than ever, dashboard cameras are helping sort out accidents, and in Las Vegas, they've actually even helped catching criminals and helping to save lives. Consumer correspondent Greg Hunter has tonight's "Eye Opener."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREG HUNTER, CNN CONSUMER CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Las Vegas. This city truly never sleeps. It is a playground for adults. Thousands of tourists come here to have fun, hoping to strike gold.

But when night falls, it can be a dangerous place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop me off!

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTER: This is not a scene from an episode of the HBO television show "Taxicab Confessions."

Watch again. The cab driver is being attacked. The crime was caught on camera. And the police have a warrant against the attacker, thanks to a new technology that keeps drivers a little safer.

A camera is mounted right by the rearview mirror. It provides a wide angle view inside the vehicle.

Michael Taylor has one in his taxi. Just months ago, he was a victim of crime.

MICHAEL TAYLOR, TAXI DRIVER: And it was a good ride. It would have been a good ride, so you know, I took him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) 3,700 East (INAUDIBLE) Road.

TAYLOR: We had some great conversation on the way there.

HUNTER: Only three months on the job, he stopped for what he initially thought was just another night fare. But when they reached the destination and Michael asked for his fare, the ride turned ugly.

TAYLOR: I turned around, he's like, no, give me the money. And that's when I turned around, looked back at him, and he had a knife in his hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just give me the money. (INAUDIBLE), all of it.

HUNTER: Take a look at his left hand. It's a knife.

(on camera): What went through your mind?

TAYLOR: First thing that ran through my mind was like, oh, God, this can't be happening to me. I'm never going to see my twins again. I am not going to see my kids get to grow up.

HUNTER: Michael was unhurt. But the camera captured it all.

(on camera): One of the features of this video system, is every single time a person opens the door, a camera automatically goes on inside. And that way each and every person is on video.

(voice-over): The robber realized that. At knife point, he told Michael to rip the camera off the windshield.

TAYLOR: I'm trying to pull it -- you see, I'm trying to pull it off, man, all right?

HUNTER: He tried, but it didn't budge. The robber got away with $300, but without the camera.

Now police have his picture and are looking for him.

While it may not stop a determined criminal, drivers say cameras serve as a deterrent. TAYLOR: He knew it was there, but he was desperate enough to do it anyway. And not too many people are going to take that chance when they know they're caught. I mean, if you're caught, you're convicted.

HUNTER: And cameras aren't capturing crime just in Vegas.

When this young group got into a cab in West Virginia, it seemed like they were just having a fun night out. But take a look at what happens next. The girl in the middle of the back seat pulls out a gun, right there, and starts firing.

Look at the cab driver. He is terrified.

Nobody was hurt, but the gunslinging woman was convicted of carrying a dangerous weapon, and she served time in jail.

Driving a cab is one of the most dangerous jobs in America, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Drivers work alone. They deal in cash. And they often work at night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chavez (ph) was shot while working as a taxi driver...

HUNTER: So it's no surprise that violence against cab drivers is a common event, especially where there are no safety measures like cameras.

Only weeks ago, a driver in Palm Beach, Florida was robbed and fatally shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shots rung out.

HUNTER: In Jacksonville, Florida, a taxi driver was killed. Her body was later discovered in the trunk of her car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... people who committed this crime to be brought to justice.

HUNTER: In Seattle, the brutal murder of a taxi driver changed the law there, to require cameras in cabs.

But in cities with little or no safety measure, taxi drivers remain vulnerable.

(on camera): You think he was going to kill you?

SYLVANA SANDRI, RAPE VICTIM: Yes.

HUNTER (voice-over): Sylvana Sandri, a former cab driver from Orlando, Florida, was working the night shift on her wedding anniversary in 2004. She thinks a camera could have prevented what happened to her.

He opened the door, but he still had the knife on my throat. And he push me out of the car then with his other hand once he got out. He grabbed me by the hair and pulled me out of the car. Then he sexually assaulted me outside of the car.

HUNTER: She is now suing the cab company she used to work for, for not providing safety measures.

(on camera): So far he's gotten away with it?

SANDRI: Yes.

HUNTER: You think they would be able to find him quicker with a photo?

SANDRI: Absolutely.

HUNTER: So why aren't there more cameras in cabs? Well, there are a couple of reasons for the delay. In Las Vegas, for instance, the American Civil Liberties Union is raising privacy concerns, and another one is just plain old cash. It can cost as much as $1,000 to put a video system in a cab.

(voice-over): Back in Las Vegas, authorities say cameras are effective in fighting crime. Since they were installed in more than half the taxis in the city, cab robberies have dropped almost 70 percent.

(on camera): You think you can attribute that to cameras in cabs?

BOB STEWART, NEVADA TAXICAB AUTHORITY: I think so. I think among the factors, cameras absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut your mouth.

HUNTER (voice-over): Just like this man. He tried to open the cab's door while it was moving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touch me once...

HUNTER: When the driver told him to close it, he punched him. Because of this video, police found out who he was. He later pled guilty to battery.

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But now, if you commit a crime in a cab, don't bet on it.

Greg Hunter, CNN, Las Vegas, Nevada.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And we move on to the story of a woman who thought she couldn't get pregnant. Well, guess what, she did. And she has a brand new daughter. Should the guy you're seeing right here who never wanted to be a father in the first place be forced to support the baby he didn't want?

First, let's turn to Virginia Cha, who has a HEADLINE NEWS business break. (NEWSBREAK)

ZAHN: Learn something new every night. Virginia Cha, thanks so much.

"LARRY KING LIVE" begins at the top of the hour. Larry, I'm very jealous of you tonight. You have Simon Cowell for the whole hour?

LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Yeah, I do. Why are you jealous?

ZAHN: Because I've been reading so much about this business empire of his that keeps on growing and growing and growing. So forget the "American Idol" part of the puzzle. That is all his representation of musicians, it's just fascinating.

KING: You're saying he's a good catch.

ZAHN: Well, I'm sure he is, and a lot of women out there who are single who think that. He's a smart guy.

KING: But he has a girlfriend.

ZAHN: Oh, you just broke many hearts out there tonight, Larry.

KING: That's my role in life.

ZAHN: Well, have fun with Simon tonight.

KING: He's with us for the full hour. We'll take calls. We'll have a lot of fun. Simon Cowell, the whole story, next at the top of the hour, Paula.

ZAHN: Hey, happy St. Patrick's Day. You missed a really good parade here today.

KING: Same to you, dear. Nice sweater?

ZAHN: It was cold. Does it look green? Yeah.

KING: Yeah, of course.

ZAHN: We're matching again tonight.

All right, well, enjoy the rest of the holiday. You really would have felt like you had celebrated if you had been here.

KING: I'll be in New York next week. See you.

ZAHN: See you then, come visit us.

KING: OK.

ZAHN: Bye, Larry, have a good show.

KING: Bye. ZAHN: Coming up, should a guy who didn't want a baby and didn't think his girlfriend could get pregnant be forced to pay for their child, like monthly child support payments?

Now number three in our cnn.com countdown. The judge in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial allows prosecutors to call untainted witnesses not handled by the government lawyer who violated court instructions about coaching witnesses.

Number two right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Well, we move on to a pretty fierce debate tonight. Here is the latest skirmish in the eternal battle between men and women. And it is sparking a lot of arguments around the country, even a big lawsuit. Who is right in this case?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Meet Matt, he's 25 and used to have a girlfriend. Her name is Lauren, she's 20. But a younger woman came between them. That would be Elisabeth who is eight-months-old now. She's their daughter.

Back when they were a couple, Matt says he and Lauren thought she couldn't conceive children, which was perfectly fine with Matt, who didn't want any children. When it turned out that Lauren was not infertile, she had the baby, sued Matt for child support, and won. He says that isn't fair. So he is suing back, saying men should have the right to choose whether or not to accept the responsibilities of parenthood. He says that's a right women already have.

MATT DUBAY, FATHER: She was given the right to, you know have an abortion, keep the child, put the child up for adoption. And whatever she chooses, I have to go along with. You know, under our laws, our Constitution, that doesn't seem right to me.

ZAHN: In a written statement, Lauren says, "My focus is on providing a nurturing home for our baby. I'm disappointed that Matt has decided not to participate in Elisabeth's life so far."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So the question tonight is, that is getting a lot of men and women to the boiling point, do men really have the right to reject parenthood after they head out of the bedroom?

Here to represent the respect genders are Mel Feit, executive director of the National Center for Men and now president, Kim Gandy. Thank you both for joining us.

So Mel, I'm going to start with you tonight. Matt didn't seem to have any problem at all making a baby. Isn't it easy way out just to say he has -- should have absolutely no responsibility for this child? MEL FEIT, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MEN: He did not make a baby. He made a collection of cells. He did not intend that collection of cells to become a baby.

I do not consider him to be a father. And I will tell you, what I want is for men to have what women have had since Roe v. Wade, and that is the right to have intimacy in their life without giving up reproductive choice.

And that means as equal sexual partners, the man and woman have to know after they love each other, the next day, neither one will have disproportionate power over the other. They both have to know that in the event of a contraceptive failure, no one else can make decisions for them that will affect the rest of their lives.

ZAHN: Kim, what about that? Shouldn't men have the same right as women here?

KIM GANDY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: Well this is an interesting proposal. He'd like for men to be able to say, "If there is an unplanned pregnancy, either you have an abortion or I have no responsibility."

Well, the result of that is if she has an abortion, he has no responsibility. If she has the baby, he has no responsibility. Either way, if he says this magic phrase, he has no responsibility.

Well, men have been trying to get out of responsibility for their children for years. This one shouldn't get away with it.

ZAHN: All right, but Kim, come on, let's put this in the context. He dated her for what, three months? He made it very clear he didn't want to have a baby. She said she couldn't get pregnant. And then she did.

GANDY: And apparently she didn't think that she could. This is a miracle baby. If I were her and thought I couldn't get pregnant and had the opportunity, I imagine that most women would.

ZAHN: But you get that Matt's pretty ticked, don't you?

GANDY: Most women wouldn't pass that up. But, of course, women have been told for years by men, I've had a vasectomy. But if she didn't want to get pregnant, she probably took the pill and didn't take his word for it.

FEIT: Well of course this is not about responsibility. This is about choice. And how strange...

GANDY: ... But it about responsibility.

FEIT: Wait a second, how strange is this. The president of the National Organization for Women comes on CNN and makes what amounts to an anti-choice statement. Anti-choice for men, but still anti-choice and opportunity is missed.

GANDY: That's not he case at all.

FEIT: An opportunity, Kim, is missed. We could now, the two of us, define reproductive choice as a fundamental human right to be shared by men and women. I think men and women have the right to make love without forced procreation. Can you join with me on that?

GANDY: You would like for men to be able to control women's bodies, to be able to force her to have an abortion if he doesn't want a baby, or to be able to force her to have a baby if he would like to be a father and wants her to force her to have one.

ZAHN: All right, so Kim, are you saying they shouldn't have had sex in the first place?

GANDY: Obviously sometimes there's an unplanned pregnancy and there is a responsibility when there's a child in the world. And right now, we have a little girl named Elisabeth who deserves both parents.

ZAHN: All right you two, we're going to see this hashed out in the courts. Mel Feit, Kim Gandy, thank you for both of your perspectives tonight. We'll be watching from here.

Coming up on "LARRY KING LIVE," "American Idol's" Simon Cowell will take your calls tonight. You better be nice to him. Then again, he probably will be expecting anything you head his way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And that is it for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us tonight, Happy St. Patrick's Day. It's all green in New York City tonight, check out the Empire State Building. Have a good weekend.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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