updated 3/2/2005 4:06:40 PM ET 2005-03-02T21:06:40
Live blogging

Did you lose the remote again?  If you can't watch Keith Olbermann — voted Playgirl's Sexiest Anchorman — at 8 p.m. ET, get your fill online. Live blogs of 'Countdown' are available exclusively at  Click and let the fun begin!

Crime and punishment — His profile is chillingly un-chilling: he was the president of his church's congregation, a Cub Scout leader, a family man with two children, the community dog-catcher, and a man who read the newspapers, and watched local TV news.  Dennis Rader, the alleged BTK serial killer, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder today .  Authorities are diving into stacks of cold-case files to see if the number of murders could be higher...If BTK is a story of a seemingly average man doing unspeakable things, the Michael Jackson case continues to be some kind of polar opposite.  In the second day of his trial, the defense concluded its opening statements, in which attorney Thomas Mesereau depicted Jackson as a mark for those who would take advantage of him financially and legally.  He said Jackson will most likely testify…Tonight a judge is also at the center of a ghastly story.  A year ago, a white supremacist was convicted of trying to have a U.S. District Judge in Illinois murdered after she had found him in contempt of court.  Last night, the judge discovered her mother and husband murdered in the basement of her home .  Judge Joan H. Lefkow found the bodies of her 64-year-old husband Michael, and her 90-year-old mother Donna Grace Humphrey, according to sources quoted by the Chicago Tribune.  Police cautioned against the presumption that the deaths had anything to do with the case of Matthew Hale, the 33-year old founder of the so-called "World Church of the Creator"... There was an unexpected ruling today from the Supreme Court banning the death penalty for juveniles as unconstitutional and removing 72 people from Death Row.  In nineteen states, murderers who were 18-years-old or younger when they committed their crimes are subject to capital punishment.  But in a 5-to-4 vote today, the Court said American society considers juveniles — in the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy — "less culpable than the average criminal" and that to execute them would be a violation of constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

Stem cell success — It was the first controversy of the Bush administration.  It flared anew as the former first lady, Nancy Reagan, broke with Republican policy opposing it — and after the death of one of its greatest proponents, the actor Christopher Reeve.  But opponents always had one unanswerable argument on their side: that Stem Cell research, whether necessary or immoral, had never produced anything resembling a cure, for any of the afflictions for which it was said to be essential.  But that all changed today.  Researchers at the University of Miami say embryonic stem cells can create an endless supply of "eye-lets," which can cure diabetes.

Middle East — What the Bush Administration is calling a march towards freedom in the region is gathering momentum in Egypt.  President Hosni Mubarak unexpectedly announcing that his regime will allow that country's first direct, multi-party elections this fall...The news out of Syria is harder to define.  U.S. officials confirmed for the first time today that Syria played a 'helpful role' in the recent arrest of Saddam Hussein's half-brother.  At the same time, those officials are now linking Syria to Friday's bombing in Tel Aviv.  NBC News has learned that the U.S. not only has firm new evidence Islamic Jihad was behind the explosion, but officials now say the Syrians were aware the Damascus-based terror group was planning the attack...Back at home, the prison abuse scandal is still getting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in trouble of his own.  Rumsfeld was sued today on charges that he, and other government officials, were at least partially responsible for the torture of eight detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq.   The suit was filed by the ACLU and another group called Human Rights First.

WTC terrorists advocating terror behind bars— Convicted terrorists are held under the tightest possible security in U.S. prisons with communications and every little movement monitored — at least, that's what we thought.  NBC’s Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers reported this unbelievable security lapse with the people who first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993 .  The criminals were somehow permitted to write what amounted to guest editorials in Arabic newspapers, encouraging more terrorism, and praising Osama Bin Laden... to say nothing of being allowed to correspond with would-be suicide bombers around the world.

Flick the bics — It was in retrospect so naive as to seem almost sweet.  Until 1988, every hour, every day, every month — airline passengers were permitted to (carry) small, easily concealed, incendiary devices with them on board.  And moreover, if they had neglected to bring with them the equivalent of the fuses for those devices, flight attendants were happy to provide them at no cost.  The devices were called cigarettes.  The "fuses" were called lighters — and matches.  Smoking has long since been banned, and, in the age of terrorism, as of April 14th, so too will lighters .  But you may bring four books of matches with you.  The Transportation Security Administration has now spoken, which, apparently, doesn't say much.


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