updated 5/19/2005 7:59:34 PM ET 2005-05-19T23:59:34

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Filibuster fight — Make no mistake about it. There is nothing either of Frank Capra or Jimmy Stewart in today's real-life filibuster fight.  It kicked off with the Republican majority moving the first judicial nomination, that of Judge Priscilla Owen, towards a vote next week.  Anyone seeking closure from the filibuster fight may be waiting for quite some time.  But if it's cloture you're after, that is, the parliamentary rule limiting debate — sometimes the process of forcing a vote — then un-interrupted viewing of C-Span is the remedy for you.

Protecting judges — It is hard to believe that just since February 28th.  Congress passed unprecedented legislation to over-ride the judges who had heard the Terry Schiavo case.  The Majority Leader in the House used language that could've been interpreted as a threat against them — and other judges.  Televangelist Pat Robertson said the last century of judicial rulings was probably more serious than the 9/11 attacks.  And we have moved to a political dispute over the judiciary that is summarized by the phrase "nuclear option."  All of this symbolic violence — upheaval and language — since... February 28th.  Why choose that date, as the focus as our number four story on the Countdown?  Because that's the day that the husband and mother of U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow were murdered in her home, in an act of retaliation for one of the Judge's rulings against her.  This morning, 79 days later, Judge Lefkow told a Senate committee that political criticism of judges and physical harm against them may not be unconnected.

Terror summit — It was a secret meeting to talk tactics.  The leader reportedly didn't like the way the war in Iraq was going .  He wanted to step-up efforts against the enemy by using the most effective techniques on a regular basis.  The result?  More than 400 people, mostly civilians, were killed by insurgents over the past three weeks.  A senior U.S. official telling reporters that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi personally ordered the ratcheting up of violence during a meeting with Al Qaeda leaders in Syria last month.

Media mahem — It's the Newsweek Story: the press release and ridiculous legislation edition.  Congressman Randy Neugebauer of Texas today introduced a non-binding resolution condemning the magazine for quote "irresponsible and inaccurate" journalism — a phrase used seven times in the six-paragraph resolution.  Its primary whereas reads: "Whereas the prevalent media culture encourages journalists to 'get the story first' rather than to ensure that reports are accurate and factual."  And  Representative Deborah Price of Ohio, Chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, has urged a Newsweek boycott on the Hill.  Meantime at the White House, Press Secretary Scott McClellan today got a little more specific about what he meant when he said yesterday that Newsweek had to help repair the quote "damage."  He wants its editors to appear on Arab television networks to explain events .

Star Wars freaks — Hordes of Star Wars geeks lined up all day long to get tickets to a film slated to premiere at Midnight Eastern.  They can spend days in on-line chatrooms discussing the merits and fallicies of a character like Jar-Jar Binks but somehow have yet to discover...Movie theater on-line reservation services!  The movie is slated to produce biggest opening weekend ever.  Why, that hasn't happened since that Spider Man flick way back in '02.


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