David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

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

WTWO Special Report: Inside the K2 Craze, Part 2

By: DAVID SHEPHERD [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Monday, August 16, 2010

David Shepherd's Video Report (Click Here)


TERRE HAUTE, IN – In part one of our special report on K-2,  we introduced you to a new craze that is sweeping the nation; using a chemically altered herb to get high and in some states, like Indiana, it’s legal.  Or is it?

More on that in a moment.  As I researched this story, I met some K-2 users who say they love the herb.

One marijuana smoker even told me he prefers the high he gets off of K-2 but without knowing what company is manufacturing it and exactly what’s in it, health officials say the risk greatly outweighs the reward.

Clay County’s Chief Deputy, Rob Gambill says, “There’s already been hundreds of cases of ER visits, calls to poison control and so fourth.”

On streets and in towns across Indiana, those who make the laws and those who enforce the laws are warning people about the effects of K-2.

“It’s also more dangerous than marijuana apparently so I imagine it’s going to be vigorously pursued,” explains Gambill.

State Representative Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute) says, “K-2, as I understand it, is a chemical that was developed in a lab.  It’s a synthetic marijuana and yet it’s legal to buy across the counter and teenagers have access to it.”

Stores and gas stations that sell K-2 say they don’t sell the herb to anyone under 18-years-old but Kersey says, just like cigarettes, the K-2 is getting into the hands of kids much younger.  “There’ve been young people as young as 14 that have been admitted to the hospital with the affects of K-2.”

And the warning from police:  before you spend your money on the chemically altered herbs, know that it may already be illegal.

“According to one of the Controlled Substances Acts in Indiana, any drug that mimics the effects of another drug is an illegal drug,” explains Gambill.  “This mimics the effects of marijuana which is already illegal.”

So if it may already be illegal, why don’t the police arrest the users and the sellers?

Some cops say, they don’t know if they can but they warn if you get caught smoking K-2, they will investigate it.

Gambill says, “[We’ll] make the report, let the prosecutor make that decision since it’s kind of a murky area right now.  We want to be more cleared up before we take somebody to jail.”

But those who enjoy smoking K-2 are happy it’s so easy to get their hands on and they’re giving it rave reviews on the internet, where blog post after blog post pour in from people who’ve tried the synthetic marijuana; and who like it.

But the easy access they welcome may not be around very long.  Lawmakers in Indiana are already talking about actions they can take to make K-2 illegal in the next legislative session.

Kersey says, “It should be banned at least until we know what the effects are and whether we want this drug on the market.”

This herb is sprayed with a chemical and there is not one source that can tell us what it actually is and while users may enjoy the high, without knowing what you’re putting in your body, it can be a dangerous gamble.  It’s definitely something law enforcement and legislators are trying to get a better understanding of.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WTWO Special Report: Inside the K2 Craze Part 1

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

David Shepherd's Video Report CLICK HERE

Police and lawmakers in Indiana are struggling with how to handle a new craze; a legal way to get high.

Law enforcement’s fight gets harder as a new herb’s popularity continues to spread.

K-2 is a blend of herbs and chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana but it’s so easy to get your hands on, all you have to do is go to your neighborhood gas station.

It’s that easy access officials in Indiana fear, as more and more people start lighting up the so-called synthetic marijuana.

At first glance, it looks like, smokes like and gets users high like marijuana.   But it’s legal and easily available and it’s growing more popular each day.

Chief Deputy Ron Gambill of the Clay County Sheriff’s Department says, “[Users] think they may be doing something legal and something that may not be as dangerous but, in fact, their exposing themselves to more danger.”

Opponents say there are more questions than answers.  For one, no one really knows what’s in it.

State Representative Clyde Kersey, (D-Terre Haute) says, “There’s been no human testing on it and so, no one really knows what the effect of it is.”

Police fear people will try the herbs because they are legal.  But being legal doesn’t mean it doesn’t have side effects. “People expect this to mimic marijuana, but it’s sometimes 10 times more potent than marijuana,” says Gambill.

With it’s affects possibly more potent than marijuana, why is it legal?

For one, it says right on the label the product is not for consumption.  Plus, Indiana lawmakers haven’t yet acted to make the chemically altered herbs illegal, at least not yet.

Kersey says, “I think there will probably be some bills that will be offered in the legislature in the next session and, if they’re not, I’d be happy to offer one because I think it’s something that should be addressed.”

But without more evidence that the legal weed contains something illegal, all law enforcement can do is investigate the craze and hope lawmakers don’t act too late.

“The professor that developed this from Clemson University said using this is like playing Russian Roulette,” explains Gambill.  “It was never designed to be in the public.”

Illinois recently passed a law making using and selling K-2 illegal and while it appears to be legal in Indiana for the moment, some in law enforcement say, “not so fast.”  It may be illegal already.

More Tomorrow As I Conclude My Special Report:  Inside The K-2 Craze.

August 16, 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

al-Qaida Leader’s Death Severe Setback For Terror Group

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

The killing of al-Qaida’s “number three” leader, Mustafa al-Yazid (also known as Sheik Saeed al-Marsi) is being seen as a severe setback for the terror network, U.S. officials told NBC News Tuesday.

While it is a setback, officials say al-Yazid’s killing will likely be a short term blow as the group has multiple off-shoots continuing the fight.

Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Saban Center and a former CIA officer, told NBC News al-Qaida is rapidly inspiring new recruits who are just as eager to attack and kill Americans.

“While we’re having some success in putting pressure on them, they’re also having a great deal of success radicalizing other parts of the global Islamic jihadist movement to join them in attacking the United States,” said Riedel.

Mustafa al-Yazid’s Role in al-Qaida

al-Yazid was al-Qaida’s top commander in Afghanistan.  Running the terror group’s day-to-day operations, he played a role in financing and is described as their prime conduit to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Al-Yazid’s death leaves a large hole in the terror network.  Men who’ve held that position in the past have all been key players in al-Qaida’s command, strategy, and execution.

  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – Reputed mastermind of the September 11th terror attacks. [Being held at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center]
  • Mohammad Atef – Killed in U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan. [2001]
  • Abu Laith al-Libi – Killed in drone strike [Jan. 2008]
  • Abu Farraj al-Libbi – Captured and detained in Pakistan

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

al-Qaida Co-Founder and Network’s #3 Killed

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

Courtesy: MSNBC

One of al-Qaida’s co-founders, and the number 3 in the terror group, was killed in a border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to NBC News.  A senior official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told NBC News that Egyptian-born Sheikh Saeed was killed in an attack by a missile-carrying Predator Drone aircraft.

Intelligence officials say, in terms of counterterrorism this would be a “big victory.”  One official says Saeed was al-Qaida’s chief operating officer, playing a role in financial and operational planning,

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

The White House and BP Telling Different Stories

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

As frustration grows over the handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, questions are surfacing about who fumbled the initial estimates of the size of the spill.

BP’s managing director, Robert Dudley, told CNN’s “State of the Union” the federal government was the first to estimate the amount of oil leaking into the ocean each day.  Dudley insists government satellite imaging of the spill site led to early estimates that 210,000 gallons were leaking into the ocean every day.  Last week, new estimates put the leak at 504,000 to 798,000 gallons a day, that’s more than double the early figures.

President Obama’s assistant on energy and climate change, Carol Browner, told NBC’s Meet the Press that early estimates were offered by BP using their internal figures.  Browner has noted that BP has a “vested financial interest” in downplaying the leak’s size.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

The Immigration Debate

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

The nation is divided on the idea of states adopting newer, tougher anti-illegal immigration laws.  Spearheaded by Arizona’s controversial law, states across the country are looking in to following their lead.

In Indiana, state senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) wants to pass an, “Arizona-like” law giving law enforcement across the state the authority to stop and question any individual about their status in the United States as long as the officer has “reasonable suspicion” they are here illegally.

Arizona Senate Bill 1070 Sec. 2. Title 11, chapter 7 (Section B):








CLICK HERE to read the entire bill.

During a recent interview on WTWO (NBC 2 – Terre Haute), state representative Clyde Kersey said, “I think the law is unconstitutional and the reason I believe that is because immigration is a federal responsility.”

Delph says he agrees with democratic critics who say immigration policy is federal jurisdiction.  But Delph remains doubtful that a democratic president and congress will pass a federal policy strong enough to get the problem of immigration under control.

During a recent interview on WTWO, Delph told me he, and many republicans, are frustrated with Washington and ready to take matters in to their own hands.

Delph’s interest in illegal immigration reform is not new.  For the past three years, Delph has proposed legislation in the State House that addresses illegal immigration.  It has been defeated every time.  This upcoming legislative session could be the fourth consecutive year Delph tries to tackle Indiana’s immigration problem.  He says if congress doesn’t act, he will.

But is illegal immigration in Indiana really a big problem worthy of a new, tough immigration policy?  Obviously, it depends on where you go.  In smaller towns like Terre Haute, immigration doesn’t seem like a big problem.  But go to Indianapolis, Fort Wayne or Bloomington and you might see a much more diverse population.  Granted, Indiana, unlike Arizona, isn’t a boarder state but reports show at least 85-thousand illegal immigrants live in the Hoosier State.

I’ve spoken to state lawmakers on both sides and they seem to agree something must be done about Indiana’s immigration problem.  The debate boils down to how exactly the reform should be implemnted.

CLICK HERE to view my story on mywabashvalley.com (NBC WTWO 2 / FOX 38 WFXW).

So, what is all of this about?  I think a lot of the nation’s problems right now make the issue of illegal immigration important to many citizens.

First, take national security.  How can we possibly protect ourselves from terrorist attack if we don’t even know who is in the country?  I’m a moderate thinker (who leans a bit more left than anything) but I want every person in this country accounted for.

I am not calling illegal immigrants terrorists but if we are serious about the security of our nation, we have to look at all illegal immigrants (not just from Mexico but from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.).

Secondly, the job market is still struggling.  People aren’t getting jobs as quick as they lost them during the recession.  For a long time, Americans have debated if illegal immigrants take jobs that, “Americans don’t want.”  To be honest, I don’t know the answer.  I don’t know who is right in that argument.  But either way, jobs are a big reason many people are looking at immigration more than usual right now.

With health care reform being unrolled as we speak, many fear that non-tax paying illegal immigrants will show up at hospitals looking for care with no money to pay the bill.  Usually, when someone can’t pay a hospital, and they show a financial need, they can get financial assistance which is funded, in part, with federal tax dollars.

When reporting the story for WTWO, I asked viewers to write in and let us know what they think about illegal immigration.  Out of all of the responses I received, not ONE wrote in opposition of immigration reform.  It seems most people want something to be done but don’t know how to execute it.  Is it possible citizens want some kind of action so any law cracking down on illegal immigration sounds better than nothing?  Or do people really believe the particular details of the Arizona law are the best way to handle the immigration problem?

Honestly, how many people have actually read the actual transcript of the bill?  You can’t take the national media’s word for it.  If you turn on Fox News Channel, most of their on-air talent are more politically right thinkers and personal opinion too many times lead to viewers mistaking fact for opinion.  It’s the opposite side of the spectrum when you turn on more liberal leaning CNN or MSNBC.

The sad truth is, the national media (along with some local media around the nation) are filled with people with a human instinct to analyze a problem and think of a best solution.  So when you hear “facts” on television or in the papers, are you really hearing facts or are you hearing opinions being twisted slightly to sound factual?  What’s the point you ask?  If you want to really know what the law will and will not do, print off a copy and read it for yourselves.

At the same time, one could ask if the law is really needed.  As I mentioned earlier, the Arizona law gives police the authority to stop an individual and question them about their status in the United States if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is here illegally.  Isn’t reasonable suspicion just another name for probable cause?  If a cop believed someone was here illegally before, do you think they didn’t investigate it before the new law took effect?  All police need to investigate a crime (being in the country illegally is a crime, that’s not opinion, that is fact) is probable cause or “reasonable suspicion.”

Is this law nothing more than just a political bargaining chip months before a crucial national mid-term election?  Do the framers of this bill think the law really changes things or is it just a way to re-write the current law in a more intimidating and frightening way?  Could go either way.

One thing is for sure.  The issue of illegal immigration is not going anywhere anytime soon.  I think it’s going to be a hot mid-term election issue that will energize both sides.  For some Americans, how a candidate views illegal immigration will determine how they vote.

Many legal scholars are already predicting a legal challenge in federal court.  They say the law is unconstitutional and encourages law enforcement to use racial profiling as a tool in the war against illegal immigration.  Some have predicted the issue of illegal immigration will be settled in the United States Supreme Court.

The high court has two fresh faces on the bench, both appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the senate.  These two, Judge Sonia Sotomayor and United States Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, could be key in the opposition of the law, if it makes it to the Supreme Court.  President Obama has said he is opposed to Arizona’s new law.

So, what will the next few months bring for immigration reform?  I think we will be seeing a lot of federal legal challenges, an increase in racial tensions in some areas of the United States, and a real debate on the future of immigration reform.

Let’s not assume that real debate is a bad thing.  Some of the nation’s most defining moments came out of great debate and a clear vision for change.  It’s how things are supposed to work in a democracy.  Liberals and conservatives are supposed to argue and lay out their positions.  It’s the only way to ensure the minority voices are being heard.  The Executive Branch is supposed to butt heads with the Legislative and Judicial Branches.  That’s why we have separation of power.

Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke believed, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, have faith that good men and women will stand up, debate the issue, and put together immigration reform that is fair to all it affects.

Let me know what you think!  Please comment and cast your vote on my SOUNDOFF Web Blog below.

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