Crime — This is not a newscast in which you will nightly hear the words "Michael" and "Jackson" in the opening twenty minutes. But a California . They claim the hospital big-footed 74-year-old Manuela Gomez Ruiz — rushing her out of its primary trauma room even though she had just suffered what would prove to be the first in a series of fatal heart attacks. The hospital moved her out of the facility, the family says, so that Michael Jackson and his flu could be treated there. Her family claims that when Jackson walked in to the hospital on February 15 —vomiting, and with a temperature of 96.9 degrees — Ms. Ruiz was disconnected from the machine ventilator in the primary trauma room and moved to a smaller room nearby, her breathing aided, in the interim, by only a hand pump. Manuela Gomez Ruiz suffered two subsequent heart attacks, and died later that day....A different kind of family tragedy is playing out tonight in Florida. Mark Lunsford returned home yesterday morning to find his . Her school clothes were still neatly layed out from the evening before, there was no sign of forced entry into the home, and nothing seemed out of place. Authorities issued a national missing-child alert for her, exonerated the father and the estranged mother, and continued to search the home in Homosassa, Florida.
Politics abroad — Today marks seventeen days since the informal cease-fire was declared between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And it has been weeks longer since the last . That truce seems to end tonight, in Tel Aviv. Along the beachfront promenade, just past 11 p.m. local time, as the clubs were opening, a suicide bomber blew himself up, as he stood alongside at least 20 young people in line to get inside the "Stage" nightclub. There are reports of 30 to 50 casaulties and at least four confirmed deaths...Also on the international front, President Bush is back from his European charm offensive. If it is true that a President's journey abroad can boost his approval at home, Mr. Bush must be hoping to see better poll numbers next week: , completed largely before the President's trip, shows a drop in his approval rating to 46%, down from 50% in early January. The explanation may be found, in part, in the mixed message the public is delivering on Iraq...Though, most people can aggree on one thing: .
Life support — Inside one of the largest cathedrals in Rome stands a monument to Sylvester the Second, Pope from the year 999 through the year 1,003. Legend has it that whenever one of his successors is about to die, the carving in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran will start to sweat or "cry". Today, with Pope John Paul II still hospitalized after a tracheotomy last night, a priest identified by Reuters only as Father Edoardo pressed his palm to the carving, and declared, quote, "The stone feels cold, but dry. So the will live." The Vatican says, this morning the Pontiff had a latte', some yogurt, and some biscuits. Spokesmen insist that John-Paul did not undergo an "emergency" procedure and is breathing on his own without a respirator. He was writing jokes long-hand within moments of coming out of anesthesia last night as well. The Pope has been advised not to speak for the next few days. The question still looms on what to do if the Pope ever becomes permanently disabled or incapacitated...A Florida court faced the same issue today in the , who collapsed exactly 15 years ago today. A judge gave Terri Schiavo's husband permission to remove her feeding tube in three weeks, which keeps the brain-damaged woman alive. This is a big victory for him in this bitter, right-to-die case against her parents which has lasted for over seven years. The parents say they will appeal the ruling.
It seems as if every other week, at least, we fill part of this news hour with the inexplicable, but inevitable, decisions by criminals and sometimes people with neither records nor good sense, to try to out-race the police. Often this ends in tragedy — but the cops have now gotten this down to such a science that usually it's just low comedy. What happens, as the old-time song asked, "After The Ball Is Over?" When the helicopters leave and the cameras are turned off — what do the courts do about these madmen with licenses? Answers tonight from our correspondent George Lewis in the birthplace of the high-speed chase: Los Angeles.
Road kill — The British have a saying about kids wanting pets: "It's not just for Christmas, it's for life." Remember that, the next time you try to domesticate a tiger, or a turkey…Sadly, it proves there was indeed a , outside of the Reagan Library. Largely because of the insensitivity of its owner, the big cat is now dead....And then there is the death of a not-so beautiful, not-so exotic animal, who is nonetheless . Constant viewers will recognize this at an instant. Last Friday's video of a state trooper in Findlay, Ohio showed him on the run with a wild beast at his heels. Then, the bird stared him down through the car window like a character from "Night Of The Living Dead." Two days later, one of his colleagues was similarly stalked. Today, Countdown learned the turkey that terrorized troopers has been euthanized.