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updated 3/31/2005 9:11:05 PM ET 2005-04-01T02:11:05
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!

Pope’s health worsens — They are interwined by more than just a coincidence of timing.  The death of an ordinary and until recently, an almost anonymous woman, in an obscure place called Pinellas Park, Florida and the endangered life of a most extraordinary, an almost universally identifiable man, in a hallowed and legendary place called the Vatican.  Tonight, the controversy may continue, but if nothing else — at least Terry Schiavo’s suffering, is at an end… Pope John Paul II's condition changed sharply in the early hours of the Italian morning — by 11 p.m. there, 4 p.m. ET here.  The Vatican confirmed that he had a very "high fever."  By 2 a.m., though, Italian news agencies were reporting "a first positive reaction" to antibiotics, and a Pope whose condition was "stable."  The Vatican says the cause of that fever is a urinary tract infection.  One Italian news agency reported that John Paul's blood pressure had also fallen.  Other news organizations there, and here, are reporting that he has been "given the last rites" — not explaining that they are now called "the sacrament for the sick," and, in and of themselves, no longer carry the implication of imminent death.  This turn for the worse in his condition comes one day after he began receiving nutrition via a feeding tube through his nose.

Schiavo battle continues — The health of the Pope converges in a remarkable way for a second straight day with the health of a Florida woman some 5,200 miles away.  After exactly 15 years, one month and six days of hospitalization, just shy of two weeks since her feeding tube was removed, Teresa Marie Schindler Schiavo died around 9 a.m.  As the time, she was in her hospice bed, with her husband at her bedside.  None of her blood relatives were at her side at the time of death — the reason of which is in dispute.  The controversy over Schiavo will not end with her death.  Advisors for her parents complained that her brother and sister were not there at the moment of her death because Michael Schiavo would not let them in the room.  Mr. Schiavo's lawyer disputed that account, saying that after Terri's brother began arguing with a law-enforcement official his client became concerned a "potentially explosive" situation would not allow his wife to die in peace.  But is there any reason to believe that Terri Schiavo's death will bring those legal battles to an end?  Some may be moot; others may be just beginning. This case could play out in civil court for years.  Also, today Scott Schiavo, Michael Schiavo's brother, played for reporters what to some would sound like a death threat.  The caller even identified himself by name and Michael Schiavo has provided that information to authorities.  Terri may finally be at peace.  Yet peace seems to be the last thing being granted these two families right now.

Pope's medical condition — One of our caveman ancestors probably figured this out, first: existence boils down to life and death.  Today, a remarkable convergence of news events — the death of Terryi Schiavo, and of course, again, on the sudden worsening of the health of Pope John Paul II.  Until sunrise in Italy, we may not know anything more.  Despite his UTI, the Vatican says they are treating the Pope there — there are no plans to hospitalize him again. Antibiotics are being prescribed.  For more information on the condition of the Pope’s medical condition , click here.

Schiavo political battle — It was at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s urging that Congress convened, in emergency session, earlier this month, to produce a bill designed to allow a federal court to immediately review Florida Judge George Greer's order to remove Schiavo’s feeding tube.  Today came the remark that will no doubt haunt him, "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."  Despite the President cutting short a trip to Crawford to sign the legislation — the federal court in question didn't quite see things Congress's way — a move that today, DeLay and congressional leaders said they'd work to rectify...This happened against the backdrop of a majority of Americans opposed to government intervention in this case. And yet, as we've seen, it's not over.

Due process — Terri Schiavo's death spread this morning, a flurry of statements were released by politicians who have largely succeeded in transforming her from ordinary woman to issue-martyr.  One statement in particular caught our attention.  That of Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who was in Pinellas Park earlier this week thanking protesters there.  Here, an excerpt:

"In California, Scott Peterson, a convicted murderer, was sentenced to death, yet his constitutional rights were upheld to ensure that he received due process and fair consideration in court.  Terri Schiavo was given a death sentence, and passed away without the right to due process."

It is a dramatic and compelling charge.  But factually, it does not seem to hold any water.  It seems almost like an endless process of due process.  Terri Schiavo's case passed before more than 20 judges, and at different times, three court-appointed guardians served as advocates on her behalf, including Jay Wolfson, who appeared on this program earlier this evening. Mr. Wolfson said, on this topic, “honest people are going to differ about their opinions... you`re either going to believe the facts that have been accepted by the courts, or you're not.” 

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