Thursday, March 24, 2005

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 24


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? The state of Florida denied its bid to take custody of Terri Schiavo. The Supreme Court of the United States refusing again to intervene in the United States. Is it all finally rapidly coming to a close?

Understanding what happened in Red Lake is only at the beginning. The missed signs about Jeff Weise seemingly too numerous to count, including an online animation he created and posted of murder and suicide.

The running of the bulls in Pamplona. A rules change, covering the streets with nonskid coating. What exactly is the point of trying to make something safer which ends with all the bulls being killed?

And telling the future. Turn out President Nixon took the advice of psychic Jean Dixon. While her forecasts were wildly wrong, today we learn those by Woody Allen were right on the nose.

WOODY ALLEN: What we're dealing basically is a nose. We're going to make an attempt to clone the patient directly into his suit.

All that and more on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: Good evening.

The Supreme Court has spoken or more correctly, it has not spoken. That describes Terri Schiavo's husband Michael as well. In a moment, though, Michael Schiavo's brother, Terri Schiavo's brother-in-law, Brian Schiavo joins us here.

Our fifth story on the Countdown, again the Supreme Court has refused to intervene in the Schiavo case. Issuing this morning a one sentence disposition reading simply that the application for stay of enforcement presented to Justice Kennedy, and by him referred to the court is deny.

And so, once again the legal battle return to lower court levels. Terri Schiavo's parent Robert and Mary Schindler, granted another chance to have their case heard in federal court tonight in Tampa. Federal Judge James Whittemore, now hearing the argument that the evidence Mrs. Schiavo wished to be - avoid being kept alive in a vegetative state was not clear and convincing.

Also introduced, the conjecture of a neurologist from the Mayo Clinic. He claims that Mrs. Schiavo was misdiagnosed when she was described as being in a persist vegetative state. That may actually be "minimally conscious."

Earlier this week Judge Wittemore denied a similar request from the Schindler's. Five years ago the Schindler's attorney told the court, "We do not doubt that she's in a persistent vegetative state. And Terri Schiavo's mother confirmed that she believed her daughter was in that state.

Protesters, nonetheless, today continued across the state of Florida. In Tallahassee, some demonstrators setting up camp in the reception area outside Governor Bush's office. Strangely, inconveniencing someone who is on their side.

The Governor's most recent effort to intervene in the Schiavo case, rejected this afternoon by a state judge who ruled that Governor Bush and Florida's Social Services Agency do not have legal grounds to take custody of Mrs. Schiavo. The governor's request citing new allegations of neglect. Also challenging whether Schiavo is in that persistent vegetative state.

But Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer, not persuaded by the argument. SCHNEIDER:'s food and water tube removed last Friday at Judge Greer's order. Six days plus later, the woman's immediate family says she is fading fast.


RANDALL TERRY, PARENT'S SPOKESMAN: Her voice is very weak. Her breathing appears to be somewhat struggled. And the mother left the room because she became physically ill at the state of her daughter.


OLBERMANN: Seemingly, the only person who has not made a statement, held a news conference or posed in a public stance, has been Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael. In a moment his brother joins us. Michael Schiavo has been vilified in no less an exalted a place, then the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and by no less a prominent figure than the majority leader of that group. He has been called a murderer, and demonized by his parents-in-law. But the court appointed legal representatives for his wife Terri reported about Michael Schiavo, "The evidence is incontrovertible that he gave his heart and soul to her treatment and care."

That representative, Professor Jay Wolfson, went even further on this news hour last night.


JAY WOLFSON, TERRI SCHIAVO'S FMR. GUARDIAN AT LAW: For many years, Michael kept such good care of her, that the nursing home staff tried to get a restraining order against him at one point, because he was demanding so much. I think she's been cared for very much by Michael.


OLBERMANN: Earlier this evening, I spoke with Michael Schiavo's brother Brian.


OLBERMANN: Mr. Schiavo, good evening.


OLBERMANN: I'm well. I mentioned earlier, it seems as if everyone in this country who can get in front of a camera is doing so, and talking about your sister-in-law and talking about your brother. Why is your brother Michael not among them?

SCHIAVO: Well, he's spending his time with Terri. He's at the hospice. There's no secret about that. And he's been there ever since.

OLBERMANN: We're thus somewhat boxed in. I can't ask him this question, so necessarily, I guess I have to ask you. Why has Michael, since so many people are much newer to this story than so many others, why has Michael chosen this path regarding his wife?

SCHIAVO: Because this was his wife's wishes, plain and simple. This is what Terri wanted. They discussed it. In court, there was several other witnesses that these were Terri's witnesses - wishes. And that's why he's doing this.

OLBERMANN: What do you think of the people who have gotten themselves involved in this case outside of the immediate family. The president, the Congress, the governor, various organizations, are they acting in good faith? What is your opinion of them?

SCHIAVO: My opinion is there - again, I'll still say, from Jeb Bush through many of the Congressmen, including to Tom DeLay, Dave Weldon, they really don't care about Terri in the sense that if she lives or dies. My opinion is they care about the votes that Terri represents. And that's my opinion.

OLBERMANN: One of the key themes to the protests that have been lodged and raised by these people, many of whom you named, has centered on the fact that your brother has had a relationship with another woman and had two children with her. I was surprised to find and read a 1993 deposition by Bob Schindler, Terri's father, in which he indicated that he and his wife had encouraged your brother to date other women after what that to Terri happened. Is that correct?

SCHIAVO: That is correct. That's exactly correct. And in fact, I can - I can mention one - it was two weeks after I had come down here, right the day that this happen. And myself, Bob Schindler, and my brother, went to get out of the hospital that first two weeks just to get some air. We went to have a cold beer and a sandwich. My brother left the bar to use the restroom. And Bob Schindler turned to me and said, as a matter of fact like this, I really think Mike should go out and get l-a-i-d. And he says, I'm very serious. I'm truly serious. That's exactly what he said.

OLBERMANN: So where did the Schindler's and the Schiavo's diverge?

Why did the paths go so extraordinarily in different directions?

SCHIAVO: Well, you know, it is really a shame. Because there used to be - I was very close with Terri. Our families were close. We had a lot of fun together, holidays, et cetera, et cetera. There is a problem that Michael had with Mr. Schindler concerning some moneys that he felt that he should be allocated. But you know, my brother mike and I talked, we were just talking last night. And he said to me, says, you know, there is still a spot in my heart that says, you know, especially for Mrs. Schindler, they're going to lose their daughter. And we still talk about that. And he said, I couldn't imagine losing my daughter. But the reality is a lot of this negative, these negative statements my brother has been vilified and demonized, you know, a lot of those statements come directly from the Schindler's.

OLBERMANN: It was interesting, we had Professor Wolfson on the program last night who had acted as the court appointed spokesman for Terri for a time two years ago. And he said that he saw all the principals in this case, your brother and the Schindler's, all those who were directly involved as operating in good faith. Being good people, trying to do good things. And of course, a husband would want to end the purposeless suffering of his wife. And of course two parents could not bare to watch their daughter die. Do you concur with that essential assessment at heart? Are the principals all behaving in good faith?

SCHIAVO: That's a tough question. I know, you know, rationally, I don't think that their side, the Schindlers' side, and their supporters, are thinking and acting rationally. You know, it's not - it's really not what Michael Schiavo wanted. It's really not what Bob and Mary Schindler wanted. It's really not what Terry Randall wants. It's what Terri Schiavo wanted. And that has been adjudicated time and time and time again. And that's what's being overlook. So if you really look at it, they're making all of these accusations and motions about her rights being violate. Well, they are being violate. And they are being violated by this - by our government.

OLBERMANN: Let me ask you a couple of practical question before we let you go with our thanks. We know - you mentioned your brother visited his wife yesterday, has that been the latest visit from your side of the family? Or were there visits today?

SCHIAVO: No, Michael is there constantly. He is there all the time. I have been going and seeing her. I just left her, actually, before I sat in this chair. I just left her. Michael is there all the time.

OLBERMANN: What do you know and what do you want to share with us of the effect of six days without the feeding tube on Terri Schiavo's condition? What can you tell us about how she is now?

SCHIAVO: Do you mean her physical condition?


SCHIAVO: Terri is very peaceful, despite what people say. They say that people in this condition, they suffer. It's painful. It couldn't be farther from the truth. They have religious people on their side saying that they worked in hospices day in and day out.

Well, if they do, they know people die in this fashion every day. It's a part of death. And right now, getting back - she is at peace right now. She is not in any pain. She is not writhing back and further. She is practically the same.

I do believe she is looking a little weary, if that's a good word to use. But I do see the effects of completion of seven days without hydration or food.

But to let people know, she is not in pain.

OLBERMANN: This may - last one may seam an academic question to you, but one of the side effects of Michael's pretty much being publicly silent is that people don't know the answers even to the obvious questions. Can you tell me, is your brother grieving right now?

SCHIAVO: Absolutely.

I was supposed to be in this very studio last night to do two other interviews. And I went to be with my brother. He was very upset. He is extremely upset, because he can't believe he's being vilified in such a way.

He said to me, Brian - with tears in his eyes, he said, I am doing this for Terri. This is what Terri wanted. And people are making me out to be some kind of a murderer. I just can't believe it. I can't believe our president has been involved with this. I only wanted her privacy and dignity and he just can't believe that this has gotten this far.

And you have to understand, he's going through a grieving process. I mean, he is losing his wife, too. He has a significant other with children, you might say, but he is still - it is still his very friend, his very best friend and still legally his wife. And he has hung in there with her, because this is what Terri wanted. And he promised her this is what he would do as she did for him.

I don't know what is so difficult for people to understand about that. I know my wife and I talk about things all the time like that. So I just don't understand how people can't comprehend that that could occur.

OLBERMANN: Brian Schiavo, the brother of Michael Schiavo, brother-in-law of Terri Schiavo, our great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

SCHIAVO: Thank you. I appreciate it.


OLBERMANN: So, they have been turned down by the state Senate, the state judge, the appeals court and the highest court in the land. What, if any, legal options are left for the Schindler family? And what happens legally if and when Terri Schiavo dies?

Plus, he posted his despair and his hatred on the Internet for almost anyone to see. But his own school never saw it, never realized how violent Jeff Weise was until it was too late. You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: The Supreme Court says no, a state judge says no, a

federal judge still pending, but he's already said no once, and all those

answers just came today. The dwindling legal options for Terri Schiavo's

parents next here on Countdown


OLBERMANN: Aside from the hearing in a Tampa federal courtroom this evening, the legal maneuvering in the Terri Schiavo case seemingly out of steam tonight, if not out of options. But for nearly 12 years, the end of the legal saga has appeared and disappeared like a puff of smoke in the middle of a fog.

Our 4th story on the Countdown, what if anything happens next?

Justice correspondent Pete Williams has again been good enough to join us.

Pete, thanks once again for your time.

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think the answer to your question is what next is almost anything. First of all, it is very possible for the lawyers to replow the same ground they've already tried with some variations. And they're in the process of doing that now. They've gone back to the federal court where they started this week. And said to the federal judge, now we have a list of new claims and based on those, we again want to get a restraining order, we again want to get an injunction in this courthouse, to once again order that the feeding and water tubes be restored.

They do have some new claims. This is not exactly going over the same thing all over again. But they do face the same legal hurdle as last time, which is trying to demonstrate a likelihood of success. That's what stopped them in their tracks last time. So they've got to try to overcome that again.

Exactly how they do that, I don't know. But they're certainly giving it another try.

OLBERMANN: Pete, it's bounced up to the Supreme Court and back three times that we can document, and twice more probably. Is there something at this point preventing it from being, as we termed it the other night, laid again at the doorstep of the Supreme Court?

WILLIAMS: Not at all. They still have the option to do that. If the judge says no to the restraining order, they can go to the court of appeals in Atlanta. If the court of appeals in Atlanta says no, they can go again.

There's nothing the Supreme Court can do to say don't darken our doorstep again on this case. They take them as they come. But again, there is no reason to think that they would grant what they've refused to do so far.

OLBERMANN: Something I have not heard discussed. If the feeding tube is not reinserted by the order of some court and Terri Schiavo dies as necessarily will follow, soon or late, it could be tonight, it could be two weeks from now, could the legalities continue even after her death? Could there be continuations of these actions, or wrongful death suits or actions against the hospice or anything?

WILLIAMS: Well, these actions would certainly stop because they would become legally moot. They would be absolutely pointless to litigate whether in the long term Terri Schiavo's care is in the hands of the right person, whether the food and water tubes should be reconnected. Her death, obviously, would render all of those things pointless, and the courts would dismiss them. The lawyers would undoubtedly seek the dismissal.

But on the wrongful death question, I guess what you're asking is, could the parents of Terri Schiavo, could the Schindlers, sue Michael Schiavo, or sue the hospice, for wrongful death. The answer, of course, is, yes, they could, but wrongful death is a negligent act that causes someone's death. The hospice could certainly say, we're acting under court order here, the courts of Florida have said this is the right thing to do. And so, it seems like the only person that could be sued is Michael Schiavo himself.

I actually put this question to Dan Abrams, who is a lawyer. I'm not. And he said that he thinks the only way this would work is, if the parents could somehow prove that Michael Schiavo, when he told the courts that this is what his wife wanted, that he was lying, and then, you could have, perhaps, a wrongful death action. But that has been so thoroughly litigated in the state courts, that I think that would be a very tall order.

And I guess there would be another question, there, Keith, and that is, a lot of the support for these lawsuits is to try to establish the so-called "right-to-life," and would there be support for litigation to go after it on a much more personal basis? And I don't know the answer to that, but it is a whole different set of equities in public policy.

OLBERMANN: But there is still that looming prospect that it might not even be over when it truly is over.

WILLIAMS: That's true.

OLBERMANN: NBC's Pete Williams. As always, sir, great. Thanks for your time.

WILLIAMS: My pleasure.

OLBERMANN: Also tonight, it smells like stem cell success. Doctors, managing to extract the building blocks of life from the human nose. Not making it up.

And isn't trying to make the Pamplona bullrun safer somewhat pointless? The bulls all die, and seeing the drunks fall down is the fun part. Nonetheless, new safety rules for the next running of the bulls.


OLBERMANN: From the public spectacle of the day's real news, we turn now to the public spectacle of public spectacles. Let's play "Oddball."

We begin in Pamplona, Spain, for the granddaddy of them all, the annual running of the bulls. The nine-day event still months away, but officials are already preparing. This week they have announced new technology to make the running safer. Not safer for the bulls; the bulls are still all screwed, slaughtered at the end of the run each day. But, the runners will find the cobblestones less slippery this year, thanks to a new nonstick coating that will be painted on the streets. It's Pamplona turf! The idea is to reduce number of human injuries, which is really too bad, because we only watch for the human injuries. Suggestion? Bring back competitive balance - give the bulls cleats!

Other nature news: say hello to the lion fish. A tropical species native to the South Pacific and Indian Ocean but lately showing up in great numbers along our Atlantic coast, from Florida to North Carolina. Beach-goers have been quite taken with the lionfish's beautiful rainbow colors and spots. But don't kid yourself, Jimmy; if the lionfish got the chance, he would kill you and everyone you care about. Scientists are warning tonight get too close to this fish, because it has a deadly, poisonous stinger and it is not afraid to use it. Researchers advise, if you see one of these in the wild, do not - do not - attempt to store it in your bathing suit. Just run.

If I may suggest a solution to the deadly Pacific lionfish problem:

how about importing some deadly Australian tiger sharks? Dozens off the Gold Coast yesterday showing just how they handle the issue of fishies. They charge to the situation head on and mouth open. Those dark clouds in the water, those are - or were - huge schools of pilchereds (ph). You are looking live at an all-you-can-eat shark feeding-frenzy. That's what they mean when they talk about that. This spectacle kept Australians entertained for hours before they finally lost interest and went back to opening beer cans.

Back to the serious news of the day, and how to deal in the aftermath of a school shooting. Today, a Columbine survivor, sharing her soul with the survivors in Red Lake Minnesota. We will hear from her.

And, bridging the gap between God and science: a professionally trained healer who uses the power of faith to cure his patients. These stories ahead.

Now, though, here are Countdown's top three newsmakers of the day.

Number three, Diane Viza of Albion, New York. Police say she got into an argument with her son over whether or not she had been drinking. Viza decided she would prove she was sober by driving to the police station and requesting a Breathalyzer test. Officers there obliged and then arrested her for D.U.I. Lousy, rotten, know-it-all kids!

Number two, Japan's Amateur Sumo Association. It's got a new idea to help shy youngsters get involved in the great tradition of sumo wrestling: sumo pants. Sumo pants, to be worn instead of those leave-nothing-to-the-imagination muwaki (ph) wrap, cloth things. Unfortunately, sumo's governing body refuses to allow sumo pants, saying, it's been fat guys in diapers for 2,000 years and it ain't going to change now!

Number one, Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University. She's a lead researcher of a group of scientists who recently discovered soft tissue and blood vessels, intact, inside the fossilized bone of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The tissue was well-preserved; it includes full cells, bodily fluids, and probably DNA. No word on when they'll decide to clone T-rex but there's not a thing to worry about when they do. They'll just make a couple and keep them on a jungle island where little kids can come and visit and nothing could ever, ever, ever go wrong!


OLBERMANN: Past the 72-hour mark now after the shooting of the Red Lake High School in Minnesota. The tragedy behind the tragedy is beginning to take shape. The Red Lake band of native-Americans have variously sought to keep the outside world outside its borders, while also blaming that world, particularly the United States government, for having isolated them.

Our third story on the Countdown - Red Lake, day four. Whether it was the result of the tribe's rights, or this country's failures, it appears now the tribal school and government systems were either incapable of, or unwilling to, recognize that they had a monster in their midst. Warning sings of potentially murderous teenagers have been missed everywhere, but with survivors speaking to the media today for the first time, telling of bloody drawings he shared with classmates, of Web sites to which he posted, of suspensions from school which he ignored, it is becoming painfully obvious, that the number of sign missed in the case of Jeff Weise, may have exceeded the number of people he killed and wounded on Monday, 10 dead, himself included. Seven more injured, Cody Thunder included.


CODY THUNDER, RED LAKE SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I just remember shots going off. And I looked at the clock and it was just a little bit before 3:00, and I turned around and there's Jeff Weise. He's pointing a gun at me and he started shooting. I just - the glass shattered and - I don't know, I was just in shock. Then as soon as he shot a couple times I got up and ran. I didn't know I was hit until I looked. I didn't feel anything.

He come to school every day with a different hair style. He came to school with horns, like devil horns or something. It looks like he was trying to be evil. I never thought he would come up and try to shoot up the school. That school will always a fear for me now.


OLBERMANN: Moreover, the supposed isolation of the Red Lake band, whether by its choice or everybody else's fault, appears to have been a self-delusion. Jeff Weise got to the outside world anyway over the Internet. The most easily understood sign should have been Weise's creation last October of an online animation called "Target Practice," which resembles in several ways the carnage he created Monday at Red Lake High School.

Last May, using his own last name, Weise made one of his frequent postings to a Web site called "Above Top Secret," in which he wrote, "They pegged me as a possible school shooter earlier this year. There was a lot of buzz around me, and for good reasons, I guess. I wear combat boots with my pant legs tucked into them, wear a trench coat. I happen to be not-so-popular, gothic in a sense in that I wear nothing but black, spiked my hair in devil horns, and listen to music like Cradle of Filth and Korn, and happen to be an emotionally disturbed person, if you could call me that."

Weise's MSN profile page reads almost like a caricature. He listed his interests as "military," "high schools," and "death and dying." Among his favorite things, he said, "times when maddened psychopaths briefly open the gates to hell, and let chaos flood through," and he listed his hobbies as "planning, waiting, hating."

It is obvious that much of the nightmare of Red Lake duplicates the 1999 nightmare of Littleton, Colorado. It, too, is a place perceived as somehow different. A personal acquaintance of mine chose not to move from Littleton to Los Angeles in 1998 because she felt she could not adjust to what she called L.A.'s "culture of violence." Her store was across the street from Columbine High School. The victims were her employees and her summer customers.

Columbine and Red Lake were brought together in a more practical way today. One of the Littleton survivors, Lauren Bohn, went to the hospital in Minnesota to see if she could help.


LAUREN BOHN: On April 20, 1999, I was a freshman at Columbine. I was in the cafeteria when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold came into the lunch room and opened fire. It's been part of the healing process for me as well, to come and relate with other students and people who have been through that. It has brought back a lot of memories, but it has been awesome to see how we can all relate. It's almost like we're family. We've been through the same thing. I'm able to cry with the students and the faculty, able to offer just hope that there is going to be light at the end of this tunnel.

I wish I had the perfect words to say. All I could really do is, I prayed with them. I prayed that God would just give them peace and comfort them. The healing process is different for everyone. Each student is going to handle this in a different way. Some are going to react with anger. Some are going to be emotional with crying. My word of encouragement to them is, talk about it. Talk to - whether it is counselors or parents or teachers, surround yourself with people who have been through this situation, consistently be in prayer for them, and it going to be - could be a long road, it could be a short road. Each person's going to handle it different.

I think the first day back to school is going to be a tough day coming up, but I know the first day back to school for me was, walking into Columbine for the first time after the shooting and saying, you know what, I'm not going to let what Eric and Dylan ruin my education, I'm going to stay strong and I'm not going to be a victim of that.


OLBERMANN: Also tonight, faith healing is hardly new or news. But a faith healer with a medical degree? That's a different story.

Put down your crystal ball, it turns out the easiest way to predict the future? Carefully watch Hollywood films from the 1970's. Woody Allen today proved prophetic by researchers in Australia. Stand by and bring your nose.


OLBERMANN: The real doctor, healing patients in part through the power of prayer. Faith healing with a big twist, next here on Countdown.


OLBERMANN: It's "Faith in America" week on the various MSNBC news programs. There's faith, belief in things unseen, and then there's faith in big capital letters with neon signs saying faith got me out of this wheelchair.

Our No. 2 story on the Countdown tonight, the latter kind of faith in America, but one with a twist. Yes, there's a faith healer. Yes, there are testimonials from the healed. But guess what? Healer and some of the healed alike are also medical doctors. Countdown's Monica Novotny joins me now with this extraordinary report. Good evening, Monica.

MONICA NOVOTNY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Keith, good evening. When you hear the words "faith healer," they may conjure up images of televangelists with microphones, loudly proclaiming miraculous moments.

But we came across a man in Cleveland, a faith healer, who has very quietly convinced everyone from an oral surgeon to local medical doctors that he is on to something. Perhaps his greatest success so far, one determined young man who desperately needed help.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the point where you're scared that nothing is going to ever come back, you go, you try anything. There's a shot that I had to take.

NOVOTNY (voice-over): Daniel Statue (ph) was desperate, after a car accident four years ago left this then 19-year-old paralyzed from the neck down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To think that I'm not going to be able to get married or have kids or play sports anymore - I was scared that I am going to miss that for the rest of my life.

NOVOTNY: Dr. Olga Kavasovich (ph) remembers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was in a wheelchair. He was immobile.

Chances of him walking are pretty slim.

NOVOTNY: But this is Daniel today. He says it is a miracle.

(on camera): Who healed you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God. Through Dr. Nemeh.

NOVOTNY: Is there any doubt in your mind about that?


NOVOTNY (voice-over): Daniel has spent the last three years working with this man, Dr. Issam Nemeh, a 50-year-old anesthesiologist turned acupuncturist, turned healer - faith healer.

Dr. Nemeh attracts thousands from around the country to Cleveland for his free healing services, where organizers say no one is turned away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it just helps a little, I'll be happy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know that science helps people. But beyond the science, you also have that additional element of believing in prayer.

NOVOTNY: Nemeh also treats patients with acupuncture. Those appointment cost $250.

He will not be interviewed on camera, but he did take me through a portion of a healing session, a quiet, painless process during which Nemeh prays, uses lights, magnets and places his hands on his subject. In my case, he correctly detected recurring neck pain.

As for a healing, so far, no. But oral surgeon Dr. Michael Hudak (ph) says that can take time. Dr. Hudak (ph) believes Nemeh healed his debilitating hand pain, but not instantaneously.

(on camera): Were you skeptical?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. I think so. But two weeks later, my hand was completely fine.

NOVOTNY (voice-over): But not everyone believes. Dr. Gilbert Ross (ph) says while some may be healed, their cures can be explained.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The placebo effect is a real thing. The people to whom a trusted person administers a medication and assures them that this medicine will work, a substantial number of people will feel better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are afraid to attribute anything to a higher power.

NOVOTNY: As for those in the medical field who know the science and still say they see the light?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Contrary to what many of us doctors think, we're just ordinary people, too. Susceptible to the same strong desires and urges to be healed.

NOVOTNY: Medical mystery or act of God? The doctors disagree, but for Daniel, it all comes down to this.

(on camera): Are you healed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside, I am. Physically, you know, I'm almost there.


NOVOTNY: Dr. Ross (ph) does point out, there are controlled clinical studies which have shown that people who are ill who have strong religious beliefs and strong spiritual connections do somewhat better in general than people who do not have such firm beliefs. Though he stresses that if someone is very ill and wants to try something like this, they should not do it in place of standard medical care.

OLBERMANN: I think the phrase, "whatever works," applies here. But you've now been to the teach you how to breathe correctly guy, and this person, who did more for your neck?

NOVOTNY: Well, I think it remains to be seen. I'm actually hopeful. I think that Dr. Nemeh may have done something. I don't feel it yet, but I'm going to give it a few weeks like the other doctor said. We'll see.

OLBERMANN: If it works, we'll make it into a series.

Countdown's Monica Novotny, a "Faith in America" report writ large.

Many thanks.

And we segue into our nightly round-up of celebrity and entertainment news, and you can add a name to the list of those accused of the latest celebrity crime of choice, hit and run. Paula Abdul, the former singer, basketball team dancer and now judge on the TV series "American Idol" has been charged with one count of it by the city attorney in Los Angeles. This according to the syndicated TV series "Celebrity Justice." Reported details: A lane change on a freeway at Christmastime, a fender bender, and Ms. Abdul driving off without so much as a "you're doing a very nice job of driving."

She reportedly told the highway patrol that she doesn't remember any accident on the date, only having hit a pothole. No, no, Simon Cowell was nowhere near the freeway.

And when does it stop being rehab and start becoming your home away from home? Time to ask Whitney Houston. "The New York Daily News" quoting a family source who says the singer is back in the same place in Atlanta, where she spent five days rehabbing a year ago this month. Arrested in 2000 for marijuana possession, admitting in a 2002 interview to pot, alcohol and cocaine use. No details from Houston's spokespeople, other than confirmation that she has re-entered a facility for rehabilitation.

And it's your tax and entertainment dollars in action, day 493 of the Michael Jackson investigations. In the courtroom, a sheriff's technician with the first reported tangible evidence in the case. She said she found the fingerprint of the accuser's brother in an adult magazine seized in Jackson's home.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Jackson himself obviated the need for tonight's edition of "Michael Jackson Puppet Theater." The question was, "how are you?"


MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: Very much the same thing.


MICHAEL JACKSON, KING OF POP: Yes, and my side. I would like to say hello to the people of Santa Maria, my friends and neighbors. Thank you.


OLBERMANN: And Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen.

Also, tonight, the very breath of life itself, through stem cells, picked from a nose. Science finally catches up with the vivid imagination of Woody Allen. Stand by.


OLBERMANN: And now, telling the future. Trying to discern tomorrow's news today as been one of mankind's fundamental endeavors since long before anybody had come up with the concept of "news." Our number one story on the Countdown: more than three decades later, the results are in on who was better at predicting the future, professional psychic Jean Dixon, or professional psychosomatic Woody Allen. In a series of forecasts made at almost exactly the same time, late 1972. Dixon turned out to be wildly wrong, but Woody Allen has just turned out to be almost unbelievably right.

"Newsweek," reporting that on September 19th, 1972, President Richard Nixon was briefed, in the Oval Office, about dire predictions made by Mrs. Dixon. She's almost forgotten today, but in the 70s, Jean Dixon wrote a syndicated newspaper astrology column, and was at least as famous then as that "Other Side" guy John Edward is now. Nixon's trusted private secretary and friend Rosemary Woods met Dixon and was the go-between for Nixon and Dixon.

Among Jean Dixon's 1972 predictions, as related to Nixon by Rose Woods and recorded on Nixon's secret White House taping system, "Harm could come to Kate Graham if she opens some package in her office." Katherine Graham was the publisher of the "Washington Post," and would soon have much more to fear from Nixon than from terrorists. That May and June, 1973 - those would be bad months for Nixon's Watergate scandal, but, quote, "Everything will turn out fine." Not exactly. And wildest of all, there was something about comedian Alan King and terrorists, only she wasn't sure if King was one of the targets, or one of the terrorists.

So, Ms. Dixon was oh-for-three, and we're not even counting her earlier forecasts that world war three would begin in 1958, and that the USSR would beat American to the moon.

Meantime, there was Woody Allen. There is news from Australia today that researchers at Griffith University there have succeeded in growing adult human stem cells without as much as touching an embryo, and with the complete support of the Catholic Church. They think they can make brain cells, blood cells, heart muscle tissue cells, kidney and liver cells, out of stem cells harvested from... the human nose.

Does this sound at all familiar?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our leader's nose.

WOODY ALLEN, "SLEEPERS": What we're dealing with, basically, is a nose. What the doctor's doing here is, placing down the garments, because we're going to clone - we're going to make an attempt to clone the patient directly into his suit.


OLBERMANN: That's right. It's Woody Allen's last daffy comedy, "Sleeper," released in 1973. In it, his character wakes up 200 years in the future and discovers that the head of a totalitarian society has been attacked, that all that is left of him is his nose, and that they intend to restore him to life by cloning the nose.

The professor behind the nasal stem-cell breakthrough, Alan Mackay-Sim, said he saw the movie when it came out. And as for Woody Allen's forecast being right on the nose, quote, "I've been thinking of sending him a copy of this paper." Allen is hardly the first filmmaker to inadvertently predict the future.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Kimberly Wells. I'm speaking to you from the inside of the control room of the Bantana (ph) nuclear power plant.


OLBERMANN: "The China Syndrome," about an accident exposing the reactor core at an American nuclear plant outside Los Angeles, premiered on March 16, 1979; 12 days later, an accident exposed the reactor core at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As a prediction of the future, it was pretty good, but, of course, 12 days was hardly a lot of time to do anything about it.

But on a minute-per-minute basis, perhaps the most visionary film of all time was "Network," the 1976 TV-news movie written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sydney Lumet. It correctly forecasted news, once an independent, sacrosanct part of the television industry, would become merely part of the entertainment industry and the primary goal would become ratings and advertising dollars, something that was unbelievable in 1976.

It envisioned television networks being, not independent, but rather being owned by giant corporations, occasionally by madmen from other countries, and, it, of course, forecast the kind of newscast totally alien to the viewers of news of 29 years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the network news hour, with Sybil the Soothsayer, Tim Robbins and the (UNITELLIGIBLE) Truth Department, Emma Harri, and her skeletons in the closet. Tonight, another segment of Vox Populi, and starring the mad prophet of the airways, Power Felix (ph).


OLBERMANN: Public opinion polls, entertainment news, investigative reporters telling the MS (ph) truth, celebrity scandals, soothsayers predicting the future, all on crazy newscasters, with their hair all messed up, ranting and raving and having on-air visions about America being seen as desiring only to be left alone. Well, I'm not going to leave you alone. I want to you get mad. I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write your Congressman. All I know is that first, you've got to get mad. You've got to say, I'm a human being, damn it, my life has value! So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want to you get up right now and go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell - good night and good luck.