David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Economy Improves Slowly; Indiana’s Governor Remains Concerned

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

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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.

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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

Powerful Hurricane Earl Has U.S. In His Sight

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

Officials in North Carolina announced an evacuation for the Ocracoke Island beginning at 5 a.m.  NBC News is reporting tourists are being ordered to leave the barrier island which is only accessible by ferry.  At this time, year-round residents on the Ocracoke Island are being urged to evacuate but have the option to stay.  That could change if the powerful storm shifts from its current path.

Hurricane Earl, a powerful Category 4 hurricane is forcing officials up and down the east coast to get a plan ready in case the monster storm makes landfall.

On Tuesday, NBC News reported gusty winds from Earl’s outer fringes are creating waves that are pounding the Grand Turk shore. 

“We can hear the waves crashing against the reef really seriously,” Kirk Graff, owner of the Captain Kirks Flamingo Cove Marina told NBC News, Tuesday.  “Anybody who hasn’t secured their boats by now is going to regret it.”

The hurricane’s wrath is two-fold this go around.  First, the usual damage and risk of injury or death that comes with any powerful hurricane.  But Earl is whipping up a second problem.  His expected arrival comes on the heels of the busy Labor Day Weekend; beach-front businesses usually do a great deal of business on a hot, sunny Labor Day Weekend.  But with a powerful force of nature eyeing North Carolina’s coast, tourists appear to be checking out.

Forecasters say it’s too soon to know exactly what path Earl with take over the next few days.  The likely track would take the storm’s center just along the east coast, possibly making partial landfall somewhere along North Carolina’s coastline.  This storm doesn’t appear to be taking direct aim at the east coast.  But, as it rides north, just barley hugging the coastline by Thursday night, coastal areas can expect hurricane conditions.

But at the same time don’t forget, these storms can, and often do, change paths.  Hurricanes are very unpredictable and can change at any time.  Everyone along the east-coast, including places like North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware should keep a close eye on this storm as it may affect those areas with powerful hurricane-force winds, storm surge and flooding.

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

BREAKING NEWS: Hurricane Earl Forces Evacuations As He Eyes the U.S.

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

Officials in North Carolina announced an evacuation for the Ocracoke Island beginning at 5 a.m.  NBC News is reporting tourists are being ordered to leave the barrier island which is only accessible by ferry.  At this time, year-round residents on the Ocracoke Island are being urged to evacuate but have the option to stay.  That could change if the powerful storm shifts from its current path.

Hurricane Earl, a powerful Category 4 hurricane is forcing officials up and down the east coast to get a plan ready in case the monster storm makes landfall.

I’m getting more information together on this story and will update with developments.

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

Utah Executes Man By Firing Squad; First in 14 Years

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

Witnesses to the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner say it happened very quick as four out of the five marksmen fired .30-caliber bullets into his chest shortly after midnight Friday, marking the first time an inmate has been executed by firing squad in Utah in 14 years.

Four of the guns used live ammo while one shot blanks so none of the marksmen knew who actually fired the fatal shot.  An unidentified journalist who witnessed the execution told NBC News he was expecting Gardner to flinch as he was executed.  Instead, he described the process as so quick that, for a split second, he wondered if it had actually happened.

The first thing witnesses saw when the warden pulled back the curtain of the execution chamber was the 49-year-old Gardner strapped to a metal chair; his head held in place by a strap across his forehead and straps across his chest.  A target was placed over his heart and his hands were handcuffed at his sides.

Moments before the shots were fired, Gardner’s thumbs twitched.  As the bullets pierced his chest, his fist clenched.  His blood pooled through his dark blue prison jumpsuit. At 12:20 a.m, Gardner was pronounced dead.

One witness said, “The silence was deafening.”

A Life Of Crime and Turmoil

Ronnie Lee Gardner’s life was filled with turmoil.  Most of his life was spent behind bars.  Court documents show Gardner became addicted to sniffing gasoline and glue when he was only 6-years-old.  By age 10, he was addicted to LSD and heroin.  Around the same time in his life, court documents revealed his stepfather used him as a lookout on robberies.

Gardner spent much of his teen life in a foster home where he says he was sexually abused.  At age 23, he spent 18 months in a state mental hospital.  Six months after his release, at the age of 24, he shot and killed a bartender.  In 1985, while on trial for the bartender’s murder, Gardner shot and killed attorney Michael Burdell using a gun smuggled to him in an attempt to escape.

O. Wallace Kasteler / AP

In 2004, Utah adopted lethal injection as the default method of execution.  Because Gardner was sentenced before the law changed, he was able to choose being executed by firing squad.  According to NBC News, Gardner told his lawyer he preferred to be executed by firing squad.  Though he made that choice, he spent the following years aggressively fighting his capital sentence.

Sound-Off Web Poll

June 18, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At Least 5 Killed In Midwest Tornado Outbreak

By: David Shepherd [ dshepherd@wtwo.com ] –  Sunday, June 06, 2010

Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes plow through the Midwest overnight killing at least 5 people and leaving a path of destruction 100 yards wide.

In Millbury, Ohio, rescue workers continue their search for victims in the rubble of shattered homes Sunday.  It’s too soon to tell whether anyone else is missing.

The storms hit around 11 p.m. Saturday night with heavy rain, wind, hail and tornadoes.  The storm swept through a small farm town,

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narrowly missing a heavily populated suburb of Toledo.

The violent storms damaged at least 50 homes and another 50 were severely damaged.  School buses and police cars were tossed in a mile long trail of devastation.

5 people, including 1 child, were killed.  Police say, among those killed, a person standing outside of the police department and a motorist.

In Michigan, it was a terrifying night as violent weather ripped off siding on a nuclear plant.

Nuclear Plant Automatically Shut Down as Storms Blew Through

Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant

Severe storms that blew through Michigan caused damage to the Fermi 2 nuclear plant in the southeastern part of the state.  Per design, the plant shut

down as the high winds ripped off siding from one of the buildings there.

Investigators

were called in to inspect the plant to make sure there was no further damage.  A public information officer for Monroe County tells NBC News the plant was expected to go back into operation soon.

Power was knocked out to about 35,000 people nearby during the storms but it’s not clear if it was directly related to the shutdown of the nuclear power plant.

In Dundee, Michigan, 11 people were taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.  Meteorologists with the National Weather Service are looking into reports of a tornado touchdown there.

More than 12 people were hurt in Dwight, Illinois where 10 homes and 40 mobile homes were destroyed.

June 7, 2010 Posted by | Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Estimates Show Much More Oil Gushing Into Gulf Than Once Feared

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

New estimates show 500,000 to 1 million gallons of oil are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico in the worst oil spill in the nation’s history.

BP engineers are using robots to place a cap onto the jagged edge of the oil well.  This is the company’s latest attempt to restrict the flow of oil gushing from the blown out well in the Gulf of Mexico.

5,000 feet below the Gulf’s surface, maintenance efforts are being hampered because the hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil gushing out is reducing visibility.

BP says this is not a fix.  Instead, it is meant to restrict, not cut-off, the flow of oil.  As the work is being done, there is the possibility the oil could flow faster than before for a short time (BP hopes).

A permanent fix won’t be ready until August.  With BP’s failure record, many question whether that fix will actually work.

Until Thursday, BP’s plans to stop the oil have failed time after time.  And while it’s too soon to

MSNBC: BP LIVE Video Feed

know if this plan will work, it’s the closest they’ve come so far.

Fears continue to grow along the Gulf coast where oil continues to spread.  So far, between 21 million and 46 million gallons of oil has spewed out of the blown out well and into the Gulf of Mexico.  As of Thursday, oil was spotted six miles from the white sand beaches along the Florida panhandle.

BP will soon be getting a bill from the federal government.  The White House says BP owes $69 million in costs so far.

What do you think?  Is it time for the federal government to take over the emergency efforts going on in the Gulf?  Leave comments and take my Soundoff news poll.

June 4, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SoundOFF Web Poll: Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration is a hot topic on the minds of many Americans right now.  In the wake of Arizona’s new, “get tough” reform law, state legislators around the country are wondering if they should be next to adopt immigration reform.

As the debate rages on from coast to coast, opponents of Arizona’s law says it’s unconstitutional because immigration is federal jurisdiction.  Those same opponents think the law will be challenged in federal court.  Some think the United States Supreme Court will have the final say.

What do you think about the issue?  Before you answer that question, have YOU read the Arizona Senate Bill 1070?  If not what are you basing your opinions on?  Most people get their opinions based on what they see on television news and in the newspapers.  But remember, the Washington spin machines (both on the left and the right) are in the business of selling their product (in this case public opinion of the Arizona immigration law is the product). 

The republican spinners are great public relations experts.  So are the democratic spinners.  They paint the best picture for the audience and hope it turns the tide of public opinion.  The only way to get PURE facts, without the spin, partisan bitch slapping, and childish he said, she said antics, is to read the bill for yourself. 

CLICK HERE to read the entire bill (It’s not very long).

Now.  What do you think?  Sound off by taking the web poll and commenting on this story.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment