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updated 3/9/2005 8:59:07 PM ET 2005-03-10T01:59:07
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 Countdown.msnbc.com.  Click and let the fun begin!

Jacko, Jay & Dan — Juries are said to dislike two things: seeing a lawyer beat up an old witness and seeing a lawyer beat up a young witness.  Evidently Michael Jackson's lawyer doesn't have much choice in this case — and, at minimum, he seems to be doing it pretty well.  Ladies and gentlemen, it's your entertainment and tax dollars in action: Day 478 of the Michael Jackson investigations.  Today’s highlights include the continuing attempt to turn the accuser's brother into swiss cheese and the arrival of the accuser himself, on the stand.   The accuser, now 15-years-old, was not asked for details about his alleged molestation, but rather about how Jackson “coached” him before his participation in the Martin Bashir documentary.  The younger boy has told the court that he twice walked upstairs into Jackson's bedroom and found the singer, both times, molesting his brother.  But defense attorney Thomas Mesereau produced a statement made by the witness, contradicting the claims… In order to better explain the trial, Countdown has been relying on stick puppets to re-create the courtroom drama.  Following our lead, perhaps, Jay Leno has turned to Mr. Potato Head and friends for dramatic reenactments…. Our friend Mr. Leno is, of course, operating with at least one hand tied behind his back: going for a gag, after having been given one...There is, of course, another television story tonight.  At 6:55 p.m. ET tonight, 24 years after taking over the anchor chair from Walter Cronkite, and after weeks of newspaper articles nearly all titled "Weighing Anchor" or "Anchor Away,” Dan Rather gave his official, 90-second, farewell .  While the long-time ‘CBS Evening News’ star stepped down, he will continue to report for the network.

Letters from lockup — It’s a total film cliché: a letter arrives from a prisoner, full of cross-outs in big black ink.  Or, in comedies, individual words are cut out with scissors.  Evidently, that cliché is anything but the truth — especially when it comes to terrorists inside U.S. Prisons.  That thought had apparently not occurred to those supervising Matthew Hale, convicted of trying to get a Judge .S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow killed for sentencing him to prison.  This is the same judge that found the murdered bodies husband and mother inside her home last week.  One of Hale's attorney says that last year, his client tried to get him to relay a secret message .  Hale's lawyer Glenn Greenwald told the Associated Press that several months ago, the mother of the white supremacist came to him.  He says, "I don't know what this message means, but Matt made me write it down verbatim so I could read it to you.  He said it is an emergency, that you communicate this as quickly as possible."  Mr. Greenwald says he doesn't recall what the message was, nor to whom it was to be delivered.  Though, he did describe it as a "cartoonish" attempt at a coded message.  Greenwald says he talked to the FBI last week after the murders of the husband and mother of the judge whose death Hale tried to arrange.

Health hazards — It would be tasteless to the extreme.  Suggesting that former President Bill Clinton — playing golf today, and scheduled for more heart surgery tomorrow — would be going from slicing to being sliced.  But he'd probably laugh at the bad pun.  President Clinton fit in a round with his predecessor, President Bush, just hours before heart surgery.  The event, hosted by golfer Greg Norman, is expected to raise around $ 2 million dollars for tsunami relief.  The last time he visited to Norman's Florida home in 1997, the then-President stumbled on some steps and ended up in the hospital with a knee injury.  Clinton joked, “At least I get to play before I go to the hospital this time."  Once he gets there, doctors will perform w a de-cortication to remove scar tissue that is pressing down on his left lung...The link between smoking and heart problems is well established;  The link between second-hand smoke and heart problems is universally agreed upon (unless you ask the tobacco industry).  But tonight there’s a major controversy in science, over a California agency's impending declaration that second-hand smoke causes breast cancer.  It's not "linked to.”  It's not "contributing to.”  Causes.  The Air Resources Board is supposed to finalize its report next week, as reported by the USA Today.

Steroid subpoenas — And here come the subpoenas.  The House Committee on Government Reform today transmitted the summonses to five current and two former baseball stars, to testify next Thursday about steroids in the sport .  But the baseball folks don't seem to perceive the seriousness of being subpoenaed to testify, under oath, about the use of drugs that are illegal without a doctor's prescription.  Last Friday on this broadcast, Jack Curry of the New York Times said that if the committee's "invitations" to the seven players were not accepted, subpoenas would follow.  The recipients have had varied responses:

  • Jose Canseco said he was going voluntarily
  • Frank Thomas of the White Sox — not accused by Canseco of steroid use — said he'd be happy to testify.  He got a subpoena.
  • A spokesman for Mark McGwire — who admitted to using a steroid pre-cursor during his record-setting home run season of 1998 — told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today that McGwire had "respectfully declined" an invitation to talk. Subpoena.
  • Rafael Palmeiro said the date of the hearings, March 17, is his wife's birthday, so, sorry, he can't go.  Subpoena.
  • Pitcher Curt Schilling said he worried that the hearing could turn into a "witch hunt". Subpoena.
  • Jason Giambi was reportedly "going back and forth" with the committee over his possible appearance. Subpoena.
  • There's been no reported reaction from Sammy Sosa.  Subpoena.
  • And a lawyer for the baseball players' union said its leaders would attend only "to address the current and prospective application of the industry's new drug testing policy."  No subpoena.      

Up-skirting — Up-skirting.  No, it's not a process by which women climb the corporate ladder.  Nor a hem-stitch supported by Martha Stewart.  It is — unfortunately — exactly what it sounds like.  Taking a camera and pointing it up skirts.  Perverts are taking peeps in public places with small hand-held cameras and cell phones.  While it is outrageous, it is also apparently legal — or, at least, not very illegal.  Correspondent Carl Quintanilla reports on the ugly picture

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