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.


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

Alex Strikes Land; Pushed Oil on Beaches, Spawns Tornadoes

— By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] Thursday, July 1, 2010


Weather Channel Iwitness Photo

Hurricane Alex made landfall as a Category 2 storm along the Gulf of Mexico’s coastline in northern Mexico, very close to the border with Texas.

Neighboring states’ residents had their worst fears confirmed as the powerful storm managed to push thick crude oil onto nearby beaches; kicked up by the high waves Alex has whipped up along most of the Gulf coast.

Heavy rains and maximum winds of 110 mph slammed into Mexico’s northern Tamaulipas state; approximately 110 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.

Residents in the Mexican fishing villages and marketplaces packed onto buses to move inland in the hopes of dodging Alex’s potentially deadly wrath.  Emergency shelters have been set up at several locations in San Fernando.

At least 3 people have been killed by Alex’s furry in Mexico.  No reports of deaths in the United States so far.

Texas Tornadoes

Alex’s fierce rotation spawned at least two tornadoes near Brownsville, TX.  One tornado is being blamed for flipping over a trailer and causing other damage nearby.

The National Weather Service downgraded its storm warning for the Texas coast from hurricane to tropical storm strength.

Photo: Weather Channel Coverage

The Gulf coast has been feeling the effects of Alex’s outer bands for hours.  Two tornadoes were reported near Brownsville, Texas.  No immediate report of injuries but damage reports are coming in from around that area.

KRGV – TV in Rio Grande Valley, Texas reports, on the breaking news, SAN PEDRO – ”

The river level is rising near the Arroyo Colorado river.

It appears a tornado touched down in the San Pedro community. A water station flipped over, a semi-trailer tipped over and tree limbs are scattered everywhere.

The twister jumped the road and headed south, missing some home.”

Mandatory evacuations tonight in Cameron County, Texas, southward to the nearby South Padre Island as Hurricane Alex continues to gain strength in the Gulf of Mexico.  As we’ve been telling you, Alex is taking aim at the coastal areas of south Texas, near the border with Mexico.

Officials in southern Texas have been preparing throughout the day for Alex’s arrival.  They’ve readied rescue vehicles set up emergency shelters in San Antonio and Laredo.

Tourists on South Padre Island left the white sand beaches and heeded official’s evacuation warnings to get out of town.  Hotels and restaurants, usually packed this time of year, have been deserted with very few wanting to tempt the wrath of the year’s first Atlantic hurricane.

Doctor Tells NBC “Oil Spray” Could Be Harmful

Dr. Michio Kaku, host of TV’s “Sci-Fi Science” says “oil spray” could cause negative health effects for many Gulf coast residents during an interview on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon.

Kaku says winds, rotating counter-clockwise miles from the storm’s center, are “churning up a tremendous amount of activity.”

Those who have lived through a hurricane know the mist, or spray, that fills the air from the water being blown onshore at upwards of 100 MPH or more.  Kaku believes that spray will contain crude oil particles which could be harmful if inhaled.

In 1999, researcher Craig F. Stead submitted a study to the CDC Conference on the Health Impacts of Chemical Exposures during the Gulf war.  That study was talking about a much higher rate of exposure than would be experienced in a weather event like Hurricane Alex.  Stead’s study shows even petroleum exposure on a smaller scale can cause life threatening symptoms.

Stead’s study indicates petroleum exposure presented symptoms such as “fatigue, breathlessness, cough, skin rash, headache, diarrhea, and memory loss.”  In extreme cases, it can also cause cancer, according to Stead.

Image: The Weather ChannelIf Kaku’s prediction is correct, it could expose Gulf coast residents to potentially toxic particles.  Kaku told MSNBC, “Emulsified oil coming down in people’s hair from rooftops, it’s going to be a mess…even with a near miss.”

He also thinks tar balls, the size of apples could be “launched through the air in people’s yards, pools, and streets” in the storm’s fierce winds.

Many experts admit they don’t know what will happen since a hurricane has never hit near the site of a major oil spill.  Kaku’s forecast

Image: The Weather Channel

may be a worst-case scenario, but, at the very least, Alex will come as a dress rehearsal for future hurricanes this season.

Either way, it’s just another concern for residents already devastated by the effects of the BP oil spill; which seems to be getting worse every day.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment