David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Elizabeth Edwards Dies After Battle With Cancer

By: David Shepherd (dshepherd@wtwo.com) Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former North Carolina senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, died Tuesday morning after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was 61.

NBC News is reporting, gravely ill with cancer that no longer responded to treatment, Elizabeth Edwards was reportedly not in any pain and was surrounded at home in North Carolina by family and friends, including her estranged husband John Edwards, a former Democratic presidential candidate.

(msnbc.com) — Her death came at 10:15 Tuesday morning, according to a family friend. The scene was described as “very peaceful.”

The friend said, “Elizabeth did not want people to say she lost her battle with cancer.  The battle was about living a good life and that she won.”

Family friends provided to NBC News this statement from the Edwards Family.

“Elizabeth Anania Edwards, mother, author, advocate died today at her home in Chapel Hill, surrounded by her family.

“Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth’s presence but she remains the heart of this family.

NEW INFORMATION:  The White House released a statement Tuesday night on behalf of the President.  It read…

“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Elizabeth Edwards.  This afternoon I spoke to Cate Edwards and John Edwards, and offered our family’s condolences.  I came to know and admire Elizabeth over the course of the presidential campaign.  She was a tenacious advocate for fixing our health care system and fighting poverty, and our country has benefited from the voice she gave to the cause of building a society that lifts up all those left behind. 

In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain.  Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up.  But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration.  Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”  – President Obama’s Statement on the death of Edwards.

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December 7, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

UPDATE: Official Says South Korea Attack One Step Closer to Brink of War

By: David Shepherd & News Sources [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Photo: MSNBC

UPDATE: South Korea’s President, Lee Myung-bak, says “enormous retaliation should be made to the extent that [North Korea] cannot make provocations again,” after Tuesday’s military attack on the South. He said that an “indiscriminate attack on civilians can never be tolerated.”

Myung-bak called an emergency security meeting shortly after the initial shelling that killed 2 South Korean soldiers and wounded others and the death toll may climb, according to NBC News.

The White House said Tuesday, President Barrack Obama was awakened in the early morning hours and given an emergency briefing on the situation. A spokesman for the President says Mr. Obama plans to speak with the South Korean President.

The White House is strongly condemning the attack saying the United States will honor its alliance obligations to the South.

Peter Beck, a research fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations told NBC News, “[the attack] brings us one step closer to the brink of

South Korean TV showing images of homes burning in the wake of the most aggressive military action against the South since the Korean War ended in the 1950's

 war because I don’t think the North would seek war by intention, but war by accident, something spiraling out of control has always been my fear.”

ORIGIONAL STORY: The South Korean island was attacked Tuesday by North Korean artillery shells in one of the most aggressive attacks on the country since the Korean War, NBC News is reporting. The North’s military attack killed 2 South Korean soldiers, wounded 15 others, and set up to 70 houses ablaze, according to South Korean TV YTN.

The news agency is reporting at least 200 shells hit the island of Yeonpyeong. Most of the shells landed on a South Korean military base there. Now, both countries are ready for whatever may come next, vowing to continue to fight if the other doesn’t back down. In Seoul, the South Korean government called the action an “indisputable armed provocation against the Republic of Korea.  Making matters worse, it even indiscriminately fired against civilians. Such actions will never be tolerated.”

The statement says the country “immediately and strongly responded to the provocation in accordance with the rules of engagement”and vowed to “retaliate against any additional acts of provocation in a resolute manner.”

North Korea also issued a statement saying the attacks were in response to an incident that stemmed from South Korean military drills, calling them “war maneuvers for a war of aggression.”

AP / Tentions mounting in South Korea after the attack from the North, which claims to have a strong and growing nuclear weapons program.

In Washington, there are fears of escalation with a U.S. Defense official telling CNN that the “hope is that this is just one isolated incident, not an escalation into a different military posture.”

For decades, North Korea has been a concern on the global front for their nuclear program. North Korea possesses nuclear weapons that may be able to reach as far as the United States. Many fear escalation could bring the two nations closer to the brink of nuclear war.

November 23, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Long Road to Recovery: A Special Report Part 1

A SPECIAL REPORT By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TERRE HAUTE — Reports show Vigo County is in the top 3 counties in Indiana with meth problems.  It’s 6 in the state for alcohol abuse.

But some people no longer want to be part of that statistic. 

We see time and time again the effects drugs and alcohol can have on individuals, their families and their communities.

Some people are getting a new lease on life.  It’s all thanks to the Freebirds residential treatment center in Terre Haute.

Some residents are sentenced to recovery here, others go by choice.  But the outcome and the goal is the same.

“I’ve totally changed,” says resident Scott Williams,  “and as far as I’m concerned, this place has saved my life.”

Freebirds houses, educates and treats people addicted to drugs or alcohol.

“I got out of jail and I just realized I was done with this and I went through rehab,” Williams said.

While in rehab, Williams found out about Freebirds.  His battle with alcohol abuse put a strain on his health and his relationship with his family.

He says, “They want me to come home for visits now.  I just went home last weekend and me and my dad went up to the cabin.  We never did father / son stuff.  I’ve totally changed.”

Stacy Basham discovered she needed a change after years of drug use and jail time.  She got help and now works at the facility, helping others with their battles.

“Because of someone believing in what I had to say this time, instead of going back to the Rockville Correctional Facility, I was sentenced to Freebird.”

Now, Stacy credits God, and help from the Freebirds, for her remarkable recovery.

“[God] knew when I was ready and he put this place right here when I needed it.”

Wiping tears of joy from her face, she added, “Is every day great?  Yeah, it is!”

Now that you’ve read how successful the program is, how do they do it?

Find out Thursday night on NBC 2 News at 11 and right here on the David Shepherd Newsblog.

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

Half of the Chilean Miners Have Been Rescued; Effort Continues

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Photo: AP

COPIAPO, CHILE – – It’s been a long, tough road for 33 trapped miners and their families.  Wednesday, after being buried 2,300 feet below the surface in a refuge chamber for 70 days, more than half of the miners have been reunited with their families.

The reunion is emotional, celebratory, and brief.  In moments, they are put on a stretcher and rushed to an on-site medical facility where they are examined by a team of doctors.

As of 1:00 ET, 17 miners had been lifted through the narrow opening and brought to safety.

CNN is reporting President Barack Obama watched television news coverage of the operation to rescue the miners.  Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary said Mr. Obama saw it as a “tremendously inspirational story.”

The rescue operation started Tuesday night.

Underground camera shows rescue workers placing a trapped miner in the capsule that will lift him 2,300 feet to the surface.

10:57 ET – – – The first miner entered the rescue capsule and began the process of being lifted to safety.  The family of 31-year-old miner Florencio Avalos anxiously waited at the top of the rescue shaft for him to be lifted the 2,300 feet from the refuge chamber to the surface.

11:11 ET – – – The first of the rescued miners made it to the surface.  Chile’s President and the family of Florencio Avalos briefly greeted him before he was rushed to the on-site medical facility to be seen by a doctor.

The rescue workers, family and friends cheered and exchanged hugs moments after Avalos was freed.  Moments later, another rescue worker headed down to continue with the long rescue process.

11:30 ET – – – Chile’s President made an official announcement to that the first trapped miner has been rescued.  He thanked the rescue workers and says he hopes the rescue efforts will continue to show what the engineers and the people of Chile are capable of.  He wished the miners a full and happy life.  He calls the operation emotional and clean.

“In this operation, the Chileans have shown the best of themselves.”

Chile’s President acknowledges the mine has a long history of problems and vows to build a memorial at “Camp Hope” as a tribute to the miners and the families for all of the turmoil they’ve been through these past months.

This crisis began on August 5 when 700,000 tons of rock collapsed and trapped the 33 miners more than 2,000 feet underground.

October 13, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 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

KXAN - TV

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,

LOCKDOWN! Photo From KXAN - TV

 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

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

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