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Countdown with 'Countdown'


Jail bird Stewart sprung — Mohandus K. Gandhi and Nelson Mandella were beaten in prison.  They nearly killed the unjustly accused Captain Dreyfus in prison.  Osceola — the chief of the Seminole Tribe — died in prison.
Oscar Wilde might as well have.  Federal Inmate number 55170-054 gets sprung Friday.  And her punishment?  Her stock price is up 170 percent, her personal net worth rose $600 million, she lost 20 pounds, had an entirely new designer wardrobe bought for her in her absence, and she got two new TV shows.  Maybe prison was a good thing for .  Nearly a year to the day after her conviction on obstruction of justice charges — the high doyenne of household hints was to get her walking papers at midnight ET.  She went in to Camp Cupcake — officially Alderson Federal Prison in West Virginia — in the middle of the night to minimize media coverage.  While it was assumed that the made-over Martha would emerge in the day-time, with TV cameras present, fans cheering, dividends piling up, and recipes fluttering in the air like confetti, it looks like she can't wait that long.  Estimated time of departure: 12:30 a.m. ET, and to the airport and back to the wilds of upstate New York.  She will leave jail with one piece of new jewelry to add to the collection: an ankle bracelet monitoring her every move on house arrest….A far more serious story of crime and punishment continues to unfold in Chicago.  There, for the first time, r on Monday.  Describing herself as furious, Lefko told the Chicago Sun-Times, "If someone was angry at me, they should go after me. It's not fair to go after my family.”  She continued, "I don't know whether it has anything to do with Matt Hale," she continued, referring to the White Supremacist convicted of trying to get her murdered. "But I do believe it was a hit — not a random thing, I do... because of circumstances I don't want to talk about.”  She told the paper she planned to return to the bench despite the murders…Speaking out against the crime, another federal judge in Illinois said, “What happened was a September 11 for the judiciary, fortunately on a smaller scale.  The fact that family members were attacked here creates a feeling with the people we live with that they're in jeopardy," District Court Judge Wayne Andersen told the .

Captain Solo — No offense to the high school marching bands of Salina, Kansas.  But one might've thought that the greeting awaiting a guy who flew around the world without stopping for gas might've been a bit more extravagant.  Trust us, it wasn't.  That might say more about the blase' attitude towards stunt-flying than what , the Global Flyer, actually did.  Over 67 hours and 23,000 miles (36,800 kilometers) around the world later, Fossett set a new record by becoming the first man ever to make such a flight solo without refueling.

Intelligence ain’t easy — It was, perhaps, the best piece of political satire in the 2004 campaign..Growing from a frustrated comment by the President in a debate, about how hard the work was…to a “Saturday Night Live” bit that extended the premise through having to work nights and even Saturdays.  The premise returns from comic hyperbole to political reality.  The new Central Intelligence Director Porter Goss said his work might be too hard.  "I'm a little amazed at the workload" — one that is, he added, "too much for this mortal."  Goss's remarks came yesterday in Simi Valley, California — they also included a reference to the "five hats that I wear" and the "huge amount of ambiguity" in the job because of the role of the new director of National Intelligence, John Neggroponte — who will take over briefing the President from Goss.  The White House spoke supportively of Goss and the CIA early today.   Gee, that makes us feel better….As for the man Goss replaced, he is busy with a different task — writing his own memoirs.  But because he said he needs more time to collect his thoughts…. Meanwhile in Iraq, a .  That includes combat fatalities, all accidents and illnesses.  The exact official number is now 1,502.  About 1,364 of those deaths coming after May 1, 2003 when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq were over... Of course, not everything in Washington, D.C., is hard work.  Some of it, you can phone in.  Or, in these internet days — post in...Turns out the infamous Editor & Publisher magazine reports that three weeks after exiting, stage right, after the credentials scandal and the demise of Talon News, Gannon is back, with his own website, complete not with a feature called "Today's Photo" — but rather, one called "Today's Briefing Question."

Botox bonus — Get rid of wrinkles and get more “bo” for your dough.  Cosmetic surgeons in Beverly Hills are now adapting the age-old marketing ploy to clients: "buy nine sandwiches and get the tenth one free."  Now, socialites get more botox for their buck through deals offered by doctors… Good grief, somebody in Southern California is offering volume discounts on cosmetic surgery and Michael Jackson's too busy to take advantage of it?  In Day 472 of the Michael Jackson Investigations, the now 18-year-old .  She told of the trip Jackson sent her family on to Miami in February 2003 in hopes of keeping them from seeing the broadcast of the Martin Bashir documentary.  She also said Jackson personally instructed them not to watch the program and an aide demanded they take part in a "rebuttal" to the broadcasted program — and even handed them a script to read, on-camera.  She also swore she witnessed Jackson drinking alcohol, along with her brother, and another young boy, in a wine cellar beneath the arcade at the Neverland Ranch.

Yelling 101 — At first, it had the makings of a Supreme Court separation of church and state case.  Then it looked like "teachers gone wild."  For a moment, it even evoked Watergate because there was a tape involved, and ten minutes on it, were missing.  Now, it appears to be the , who live in Brick Township New Jersey, an appropriately named place — you know, thick as a brick.  You may have already seen it on the internet; first, the web instant classic: kid won't stand for National Anthem, then teacher goes bonkers.  Electronics teacher Stewart Mantel got all kinds of grief for that.  But it turns out there was ten minutes missing from the original tape — of the students provoking Mantel.  While recording on what was not as first reported, a camera inside a cell phone... but a hidden video recorder.  And it turns out, that the teacher was only the latest victim of a group of Brick Township High students who regularly stage, film, and post images of their merry adventures.  Which police have now discovered included, the destruction using baseball bats of Christmas displays at homes in the neighborhood — drinking, profanity, simulated violence.  As it turns out, the day before the Anthem incident, some of these same students had saran-wrapped a younger kid to a desk.  And that the "Anthem" tape was a set-up.  School senior Corey Zappo told local reporters "we just knew Mr. Mantel was going to flip out because he frequently did and my friends and I thought it would be kind of funny to catch it" — catch it on tape, that is.  Well, guess what? Brick Township police have now "caught" Mr. Zappo.  They arrested him and two other kids on four counts of Criminal Mischief each.  That’s worse than summer school.