David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Ground Zero Debate Comes at a Bad Time for Candidates Running in November’s Midterm Election

By: David Shepherd, “The Washington Insider” columnist

Yahoo! News Photo

Professional Politics 101: Don’t get in the middle of a heated political debate in the midst of a crucial midterm election. Unfortunately for the Obama administration, the fight the President has landed in the middle of is between champions for freedom of religion and a nation still scared from the horror that gripped the country on September 11th.

The debate over a controversial plan to build a large Muslim cultural center 2 blocks from New York’s “Ground Zero” could be a perfect storm as an election that could shift the balance of power in Congress looms.

The President drew sharp criticism from Republicans earlier this week after issuing a statement where he seemed to be supportive of the Mosque’s plan to open in a part of town that saw, first hand, the terror of war on September 11, 2001.

This week on Fox News Sunday, Texas Republican John Cornyn said, “This is not about freedom of religion because we all respect the right of anyone to worship according to the dictates of their conscience … but I do think it’s unwise to build a mosque at the site where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as the result of a terrorist attack,”

The day before, on Saturday, Mr. Obama seemed to clarify his earlier statement. He said he supported the right of Muslims to build the center but would not comment on the “wisdom” of deciding its location in Lower Manhattan.

A debate, like this one, is the last thing any politician wants in a crucial election year. It takes attention from the issues the candidates

Yahoo! News Photo

 want to focus on. But it also forces candidates to take a public stance on the issue as public opinion remains sharply divided.

As both sides remain convinced their arguments are firm, politicians are hoping this debate goes away before November’s midterm elections, which are expected to result in big losses for Mr. Obama’s Democrats and a potential power shift in Congress in favor of Republicans.

Supporters of the right to build the center, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, argue that religious tolerance is the best answer to religious extremism, NBC News reported Sunday.

“The fallacy is that Al Qaeda attacked us. Islam did not attack us,” Jerrold Nadler, a Democratic congressman whose district includes the “Ground Zero” site, said on CNN’S “State of the Union.”

It’s unfortunate this argument won’t play out the way it would if it weren’t an election year. In critical election years, like the upcoming Midterm, many politicians are even more on guard than usual. It’s much more difficult to have an open, honest, productive debate as key players are caught up in the glare of media coverage that gets brighter as Election Day approaches.

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August 15, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | Leave a comment

Video Shows Hundreds of Asian Carp in the Wabash River (WTWO – NBC 2)

By David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Sunday, August 15, 2010

WTWO / David Shepherd Video Report (Click Here)

TERRE HAUTE, IN  –  It appears Asian Carp have invaded Valley waterways.  Video shot by an amateur photographer and river enthusiast shows how incredible and dangerous these aquatic nuisances can be.

“They’re strong,” says amateur photographer Brendan Kearns.  “They’re very healthy fish.  When they get on here they’re fighting for their own life.  They want to get off this boat.”

Kearns’ video shows dozens of carp flying through the air, hitting the boat and members of his crew.  While Kearns admits shooting these amazing images was fun, these fish can be very dangerous.

CLICK HERE to see the full video on purplepug.com

“You see fish jumping like that, yeah, it’s neat, but when you feel the energy of them hitting the boat, it sounds like, ‘BANG’ like that.  It scares you.”

As Kearns’ video spreads across the internet and TV,  many are getting an idea of why wildlife experts didn’t want these fish here in the first place.

Kearns explains, “It’s unfortunate we’re seeing it here on the Wabash.”

For tour boat companies, business is booming.  They say everyone wants to see the Asian Carp.

But for those, like Kearns, who fish along the banks of the Wabash, an Asian Carp is far from what they want to see.

Asian Carp

“If they start getting up in Mansfield, Raccoon Lake; If you start seeing these fish in public waters where people go to recreate:  I couldn’t imagine pulling your kids on a tube and these fish jump up and hit them.  It’s going to be bad.”

Kearns continued, “Imagine a 15 – 20 pound bean bag slugging you upside the face going that speed.  You’re going to be hurt.”

The Carp isn’t just dangerous for those who like to relax on the open water.  Kearns explains fish and wildlife can be affected as well.

“They multiply so fast they’re basically taking over the waterways.”

The Asian Carp has been cultivated in Chinese aquaculture for over a thousand years.

But here in the United States, the Carp take over waterways, eating anything it can,  and producing at a rate much higher than other fish.

August 15, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boy, 13, Hit By Lightning At 13:13 on Fri. the 13th

What Are the Chances?

A 13-year-old boy in England was struck by lightning – at 13:13 hours on Friday the 13th.

NBC News is reporting the boy was watching an air show when he was struck.  He’s expected to make a full recovery.  He was treated for burns to his shoulder but, overall, the boy is lucky to be alive.

Rex Clarke, leader of the St. John Ambulance team that treated the child, told the Mirror what happened.

“Suddenly there was this huge crack of lightning really close to the seafront and really loud thunder,” said Clarke. “Seconds later we got a call someone had been hit. The boy was breathing and was conscious.”

“He had a minor burn to his shoulder and was taken to hospital as a precaution. It could have been a lot worse,” he said, adding: “It’s all a bit strange that he was 13, and it happened at 13:13 on Friday the 13th.”

August 15, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment