updated 5/12/2005 2:55:21 PM ET 2005-05-12T18:55:21

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Capitol evacuation — Spain has the annual running of the bulls at Pamplona.  We now apparently have the annual running of the evacuees around the Capitol.  In a virtual of the scare of last June 9th, the White House, Supreme Court, and Capitol buildings emptied at mid-day today as security officers shouted about "imminent airplane threats" .  Just like last June, it was a false alarm — this time, a mid-air showdown between two F-16 fighter jets and what turned out to be a pilot and a student, out of Smoketown, Pennsylvania, on their way to a North Carolina air-show.  Nancy Reagan was even affected again — last time, it was the Wednesday before her husband's funeral — today she was staying at the White House in advance of a dinner in her honor.  Of course it was not the airplane itself, a 35-year-old Cessna 150, that precipitated the White House red alert.  After all, a similar Cessna slammed into the White House eleven years ago and barely dented the plaster.  It was what might have been in the aircraft that set off the panic.  And that it got to within four miles — a minute and a half or two minutes away — from the White House itself — although officials insist they had engaged the plane when it was still 21 miles, and at least 17 minutes, away.  All this started at 11:28 a.m. ET, when the plane was spotted approaching the restricted area and not responding to radio contact.  By 11:59 a.m., the two F-16's had intercepted the jet, circled it, fired four warning flares, and got the pilot Jim Sheaffer and trainee Troy Martin to change course, which pretty much ended the incident as of 12:14 p.m. — not counting, of course, however long it took to get hearts back to normal speed on the ground.  Sheaffer and Martin, who were released by authorities, not charged with any crime, around 5 p.m.

Iraq suicide attacks — Imagine the toll if it had been in American lives.  And it becomes almost incomprehensible: Nearly 400 dead in Iraq in less than two weeks.  The swell of violence has claimed at least 67 Iraqi lives — just today.  Measured by its ability to kill the citizens of a new democracy, the insurgency is experiencing unarguable success.  But, it’s much harder to quantify is what the insurgency really wants, and where it might be planning to strike next.

Crime — The crime itself seemed horrific enough: two young girls, butchered on Mother's Day - by one of their fathers .  But we must warn you in advance that exactly how and why Jerry Hobbs allegedly murdered his eight-year-old daughter, Laura, and her nine-year-old best friend, Krystal Tobias is the stuff of nightmares.  Police in Zion, Illinois say Hobbs confessed to the brutal crimes in oral, written and videotaped statements.  And for good or for ill, the prosecutors shared the details today the media.  But went straight through the spinal cord as well…Prosecutors say they don't believe that Krystal Tobias was carrying the murder weapon, or that either girl posed a physical threat to Mr. Hobbs.

Bewitched in Salem — They do not usually get 50 citizens to show up for a meeting of the Redevelopment Authority of the city of Salem, Massachusetts.  Come to think of it, no towns usually get fifty citizens to show up for their Redevelopment Authority meetings either.  Then again, they don't vote on whether or not to put up a TV network sponsored statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha from "Bewitched" in the middle of the town still notorious for its 1692 witch trials.  The Salem News reports about a 50-50 split in public support.  One opponent, as we quoted yesterday, likened the idea to that network, "TV Land," putting up a statue of Colonel Klink from "Hogan's Heroes" at Auschwitz.  But the redevelopment authority listened for 90 minutes, then voted 4-nothing in favor of putting up the statue of the late actress, complete with broom and hat.  It will stand directly across the street from the site of the church in which some of the 19 victims of the witch-hunt were excommunicated 313 years ago.

Florida cat-napping — We’ve heard of some pretty dumb things before.  But our number one story on the Countdown may take the putrid cake.  It may be the equivalent of hijacking a garbage truck.  Two guys in Florida — one wearing heavy work gloves — breaking into an animal shelter.... and kidnapping two cats.  Two cats — regarding whom they could have come in, at any time during business hours, and simply adopted.  Now sheriff's deputies are investigating.  Because even if they had something unhappy planned for the cats, adopting them would've been legal, but cat-napping, is a crime.


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