David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Former President Jimmy Carter Hospitalized

By: David Shepherd & News Sources – Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Photo: Getty Images

Former President Jimmy Carter has been hospitalized in Cleveland.

NBC News has learned the former President fell ill on a flight to Cleveland while on his way to a book signing.

The White House said this afternoon that President Barack Obama called Carter from Air Force One.  White House Spokesman Bill Burton said Carter was feeling great and planned to resume his book tour Wednesday.

MSNBC is reporting a Carter Center official told NBC News that Carter became airsick while on a Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta and vomited.

“While on a flight to Cleveland, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter developed an upset stomach, and, upon arrival, was taken to Metro Health Hospital for observation,” according to a statement from the center. “He is resting comfortably and is expected to resume his book tour this week.”



September 28, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Details: Gunman Kills Himself on Campus; Search For a Second “Suspect”

 By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Tuesday, September 28, 2010


NEW DETAILS:  The first gunman is dead and a possible second “suspect” is at large, according to NBC affiliate KXAN – TV in Austin, Texas.  Police are looking for possible explosives that may have been left behind.Civil Defense sirens can be heard going off all over campus alerting students of the potential danger. 

We are learning more about the shots fired inside the library.  KXAN is reporting the gun used was an AK-47.  Reports say the gunman wore a suit and a ski mask.  The name of the gunman has not been released as police focus on the possibility of a second suspect and possible explosives.

First News Update:  NBC News has learned a suspected gunman fired shots in the library at the University of Texas in Austin before fatally shooting himself.

 The campus remains on lockdown and classes have been cancelled as police search for a possible second gunman on the campus,


 according to a post on the university police department’s Facebook page.

 The university says no one else has been hurt.

 An alert message was sent out to students and staff at 9:48 a.m. (local time) saying, “A suspected shooter in PCL library is dead.  Law enforcement are searching for a second suspect.  If you are off campus, STAY AWAY.  If you are on campus, lock doors, do not leave your building.”

 I’m getting new information in and will update the story as those details become available.

September 28, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Economy Improves Slowly; Indiana’s Governor Remains Concerned

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CLICK HERE for Video

TERRE HAUTE, IN — The Obama administration is claiming economic progress, but not everyone is so sure our worst times are behind us. 

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said Sunday he remains concerned about the economy and says Washington needs to get it in gear.

Earlier this week, there was good news on the housing market.  Housing starts surged last month well beyond what economists had forecast, but it’s still not enough to stifle talk of a double-dip recession.

The governor says, “I’ve been worried for some time that the economy still looks fragile to me and I don’t think we could rule out the possibility that it slumps again.  Let’s just hope not.”

While hoping for the best, Daniels says he’s planning for the worst as the job market continues it’s long struggle.  “Indiana is adding jobs at 3 and a half times the national rate.  But the national rate is so darn slow that it’s not getting us nearly where we need to be.”

Part of the governor’s plan is to continue a push to draw more people to the state.

“Keeping taxes down, keeping Indiana an attractive place for the jobs that are being created is number one,” explained the governor.

Gov. Mitch Daniels - (R) Indiana

As Daniels continues his plans to jump-start the state’s still slumping economy, he’s calling on lawmakers in Washington to do their part.

“Let’s just hope that Washington begins to take pro growth, pro jobs policies.”

This, as the Obama administration admits progress is coming in slow increments.

The President said last week,  “We stopped the bleeding, stabilized the economy, but, the fact of the matter is, the pace of improvement has not been where it needs to be.”

Another key to Daniel’s economic plan is finding a way to keep the state’s budget in the black without raising taxes for already struggling Hoosiers.  It’s a task that gets more difficult the longer the job market remains fragile.

September 28, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Management Apologizes to Users for Massive Outage

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Friday, September 24, 2010

Facebook issued an apology Friday for an error that left millions of users without service this week.

In a blog post, Facebook’s Robert Johnson said, “This is the worst outage we’ve had in our four years, and we wanted to first of all apologize for it.”

The outage lasted for close to 3 hours, starting about 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday.  It is unrelated to an outage Wednesday, when  a third-party network provider shut the site down.  Users reported slow service or no service at all for several hours.

“We had entered a feedback loop that didn’t allow the databases to recover,” Johnson wrote. “The way to stop the feedback cycle was quite painful — we had to stop all traffic to this database cluster, which meant turning off the site.

“Once the databases had recovered and the root cause had been fixed, we slowly allowed more people back onto the site.”

The outage is being described as larger than the massive outage that hit the site nearly 5 years ago.  When that happened, the site had about 1.4 percent of the users it has now.

“We want you to know that we take the performance and reliability of Facebook very seriously,” Johnson wrote Thursday.

Facebook’s outage sent many users to Twitter who “tweeted” about the outage; many outraged over the service being down.

September 24, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BREAKING NEWS: Judge Orders Air Force to Reinstate Discharged Lesbian

A U.S. District Judge entered a ruling Friday ordering the Air Force to reinstate former Maj. Margaret Witt, who was discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bars gays from serving openly in the military.

 Witt filed a lawsuit to get her job back. 

NBC News is reporting, in 2008, a federal appeals court panel ruled in her case that the military can’t discharge people for being gay unless it proves their firing furthered military goals.

After a six-day trial, the judge said testimony proved Witt was an outstanding nurse and her reinstatement would do nothing to hurt unit morale.

September 24, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

State of Emergency! Floods Submerge Midwest Towns

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Friday, September 24, 2010

Photo from CNN.COM

Severe flooding is gripping parts of the Midwest as torrential rains force rivers to overflow, submerging entire towns.

The worst of the weather stretches from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, where flood warnings continue to be in effect.  Evacuations are still going on in several towns as forecasters predict flooding could be a problem through the weekend.  Water from swollen rivers and streams will continue to push southward, pushing rivers over their banks.

Governors in Minnesota and Wisconsin have declared a state of emergency for areas affected by the flooding.

Schools remained closed in many flooded-out towns in the Midwest Today.

In Black River Falls, Wisconsin, a Red Cross shelter has been set up at a local church to house the evacuees.  KARE-TV reports 11 inches of rain fell there as 18 counties in Minnesota continue under the flood warnings.

September 24, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WALK OUT! Ahmadinejad’s U.N. Speech

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Friday, September 24, 2010

Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, addressed the United Nations Thursday. His remarks prompted a walkout.

United States diplomats walked out of the United Nations Thursday as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to the General Assembly. 

Sources tell NBC News Ahmadinejad’s remarks, in which he said most people in the world believe the United States was behind the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, prompted the walkout.

27 European Union delegations followed along with diplomats from Canada, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Australia.

Friday, Ahmadinejad held a press conference to defend his remarks.  During that conference in New York, the Iranian President asked the U.N. to set up a commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks.

“I did not pass judgment, but don’t you feel that the time has come to have a fact finding committee,” Ahmadinejad told reporters earlier today.

NBC News reports he also lashed out at the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as an overreaction to the attacks. The Americans should “not occupy the entire Middle East…bomb wedding parties…annihilate an entire village just because one terrorist is hiding there.”

President Barack Obama responded to Ahmadinejad in a BBC Persian service interview Friday saying: “Well, it was offensive. It was hateful.”

September 24, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BREAKING NEWS: Another Oil Rig Explosion In the Gulf of Mexico

(From MSNBC) An offshore oil rig exploded Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Coast Guard was responding to reports of people in the water.

The explosion sparked a fire aboard the oil rig, owned by Mariner Energy. It occurred west of the site of the April blast that caused the massive BP oil spill.

A commercial helicopter company reported the blast around 9:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, Coast Guard Petty Officer Casey Ranel said. Seven helicopters, two airplanes and four boats were en route to the site, about 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay along the central Louisiana coast.

The Coast Guard said initial reports indicated all 13 crew members from the rig were in the water. One was injured, but the others were said to be OK and awaiting rescue.

The platform is in about 2,500 feet of water, the Coast Guard said, and was not currently producing.

Roughly 206 million gallons of oil from an undersea well spilled into the Gulf after BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. That was the biggest maritime oil spill in history.

September 2, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | Leave a comment

Earl Re-Strengthens Back to CAT 4, Warnings Issued Up and Down the Coast

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, September 1, 2010

PHOTO: Gerry Broome / AP

Hurricane Earl re-strengthened Wednesday back to a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“Tropical storm-force winds are expected to reach the North Carolina coast within the warning area by Thursday afternoon with hurricane-force winds occurring by late Thursday,” the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. ET advisory. “Tropical storm-force winds will likely reach the coast from Virginia northward to New Jersey by early Friday.”

North Carolina’s governor declared a state of emergency Wednesday as the forecast track of hurricane Earl pushes the storm very close to the east-coast of the United States.

Residents and visitors are on high alert on North Carolina’s Ocracoke and Hatteras islands after the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for most of the state’s eastern coastline Wednesday morning.

[NOTE:  A hurricane WARNING means hurricane conditions are expected within the next 36-hours.]

Both islands are now under an evacuation order as more than 5-thousand tourists, and some year-round residents, pack-up and get out of the massive storm’s path.  While residents there are being urged to leave, only visitors are being required to evacuate.

The bridge leading from Hatteras to the mainland has been packed with west-bound cars, some pulling campers and trailers, as a mass exodus continues as Earl continues to pack a powerful punch, churning toward the United States with maximum sustained winds of 125 MPH.

On Ocracoke Island, the only passage to the mainland is by ferry.  Evacuees began lining up early Wednesday morning, trying to get on the first ferry off the island.

Dare County, N.C., issued a statement saying the evacuation of visitors to Hatteras was ordered “before high seas produce over-wash on N.C. Highway 12 which will impede safe travel.”

By early Wednesday afternoon, cars were backed up on N.C. Highway 12.  It’s the only way to get from the Outer Bank’s barrier islands to the mainland.

“Our two biggest concerns,” National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read told NBC’s “TODAY” show, are “the coast of North Carolina and extreme southeast Virginia on early Friday morning, late Thursday night, and then on Friday into Saturday for southeastern New England. Just a small change in the direction of the storm could raise an impact, and the large waves, beach erosion and rip currents will be a problem along the East Coast.”

 While the North Carolina coastline is often subject to hurricane conditions, some officials say there has not been an evacuation, on this scale, for a very long time.

“I don’t remember the last time there was a mandatory evacuation order for the island,” Hyde County Commissioner Kenneth Collier told NBC News Wednesday.

Current Track

Photo: Gerry Broome / AP

 The current track has Earl nearing the eastern United States sometime late Thursday – early Friday morning.  As we’ve seen with other hurricanes, the track can change at any minute.  Right now, it appears Earl with just hug the coast as it heads north past the Carolinas, up toward the Delmarva, eventually possibly making landfall on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

Even a slight westward shift in the track of this powerful category 3 hurricane could dramatically change the potential damage the storm could cause.  Residents up and down the east-coast are being urged by local officials to continually monitor the situation for any late-breaking developments.  Officials warn more evacuations could be ordered if the storm changes its current track.

The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday Earl’s hurricane-force winds extend 90 miles from the center of circulation, and tropical storm force winds extend out more than 200 miles.  Even if Earl doesn’t make landfall, the storm’s center is expected to hug the coastline as it moves north, circulating those hurricane force winds inland.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BREAKING: Gunman is Dead, According to Police



 Just before 5:30 PM, a police source told NBC News that the Discovery Channel gunman, James Lee, 42, is dead.  Just before 5:00 PM,

Photo: NBC News

 Montogmery County, MD police say they shot Lee.  Police say a “device went off” and there was fire and smoke.  Other witnesses say they heard a loud pop.

Police also said it’s possible there are other explosives through-out the building. 

WJLA is reporting the man was shot when he came outside for an unknown reason. 

It all started just after 1:00 Wednesday afternoon when James Lee allegedly entered the Discovery Channel building in downtown Silver Spring, fired at least one shot, and took 3 hostages.

Now, more than 4 hours later, the incident appears to be over.  But because police believe more explosives are inside the building, they are going to be sweeping the building and rendering those devices safe.

Earlier Reports:

At 3:15 PM, Montgomery County police chief  Tom Manger, told the media this is an “on-going hostage situation” with multiple hostages. 

Manger said he is under the impression that there are explosives inside but could not confirm how many people were taken hostage.

Earlier, news media speculated there was only one hostage.  But now, it appears, there are a number of hostages.

The Discovery Channel building in Montgomery County, Maryland is home to a number of TV stations and employees close to 2-thousand people.  Earlier this afternoon, sources say a man, they believe to be James Jay Lee, entered the building, fired an undisclosed number of shots, and took a small number of hostages.

Sources say Lee has history of protesting outside building and runs an on-line website that rants against the Discovery Channel.

Previous Post as the details unfolded this afternoon:


At 2:37 PM, NBC News Alert:  Alleged Discovery Channel HQ gunman ID’d as James Jay Lee; has history of protesting outside building

At 2:24 PM , a reporter with WJLA reported he just witnessed medics entering the Discovery Channel building with a stretcher.  Police appear to be moving toward the building.

UPDATE: 2:02 p.m.: The Discovery Channel day care has been evacuated to the nearby McDonald’s. The day care had about 100 kids. They are reported to be safe.

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.: According to Cpl. Dan Friz, a Montgomery County police spokesman, a tactical team is trying to get in touch with the gunman, who is being monitored on closed circuit TV. The “tactical team has put together a plan for dealing with this individual,” Friz told ABC 7 News.

 Friz was unable to confirm reports that multiple shots have been fired, but he said no shots had been fired by police as of 1:40 p.m.

 Police were initially dispatched to the building for the report of shots fired at about 1 p.m. Police are reporting the suspect is an Asian male.

 “Some sort of device on him that may be explosive in nature…” Friz said.


Montgomery County police have confirmed the Discovery Communications headquarters on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring

PHOTO: WJLA - TV Washington DC

 has been evacuated after the report of a man possibly with explosives inside the building.

 A man entered the lobby and may have fired a weapon and declared, “Nobody is going anywhere,” Montgomery County police said.

In a phone interview on ABC 7 News and TBD TV, Discovery Communication employee Lisa Lucas said the building is in lockdown, with an unknown number of employees sheltering in offices. Police have established a cordon around the building.

 She said that about 1:20 p.m., “we heard, Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.” 

Police have not confirmed that multiple shots were fired.

WJLA reports an Asian male is holding at least one hostage in the lobby of the Discovery Channel headquarters in Montgomery County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. 

It’s also reported the man has explosives.Story from CNN and confirmed by several other news agencies.  More details to follow

> > >From CNN.com – A police emergency response team was responding to reports of a man with a gun and possible explosives at the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland, a police spokeswoman said.

Photo: WTTG Fox 5 Washington, D.C.

Montgomery County police received the call at about 1 p.m., said Angela Cruz. The call came from One Discovery Place, the channel’s headquarters.

The area has been evacuated, Cruz said. No further information was immediately available.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | Leave a comment