Saturday, July 14, 2018

Accused road rage killer, Jalen Vaden, Rosenschein among top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts

For those of you who read the Joplin Globe, as well as the Turner Report/Inside Joplin, I am sure you are not surprise to see that this week's list of most visited posts includes many news stories that either have never made it to the Globe or which only reached there long after they were first seen here.

This week featured some types of stories that have become staples of this blog since it started 14 years ago, including an investigation into the circumstances that led convicted killer Bobby Bourne to be free instead of behind bars when he murdered 12-year-old Adriaunna Horton of Golden City, the federal grand jury indictment of former Joplin pediatric surgeon Dr. Guy Rosenschein (a year and a half the Turner Report has covered this and as far as I can tell not one word has appeared in the Globe) and updates on the court cases of Jalen Vaden, Chris Montz and Edward Meerwald.

The Globe reported today on the filing of charges against Meerwald after the Turner Report had carried three posts in the two weeks since Meerwald's arrest.

As you can tell by looking at the list, this news operation is firmly focused on bringing you news that you will not get elsewhere, an interesting mixture of news and commentary and last, but not least, free obituaries.

As always, thanks to those of you who subscribed or made contributions this week. I will continue to do my best to live up to your faith in me.

If you have not contributed and you value the news and commentary in the Turner Report, Inside Joplin and Inside Joplin Obituaries, you can subscribe or make a contribution at the PayPal buttons below the links or send your contribution to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO 64801.

The Turner Report

1. Accused road rage killer to wear civilian clothes, no shackles during preliminary hearing

2. Federal grand jury indicts former Joplin pediatric surgeon on 16 counts of distributing, possessing child porn

3. New motions in Jayda Kyle murder case ask for mother's phone, Facebook records, bond reduction for accused killer

4. Adriaunna Horton killer pleads guilty to escape death penalty, sentenced to life without parole

5. Only charge McDonald County prosecutor filed against Meerwald is misdemeanor speeding

6. New Cecil Floyd assistant principal is Lamar native, former Carl Junction teacher

7. Trump bypasses Janet Kavandi, nominates former lobbyist for NASA deputy administrator

8. Mueller witch hunt strikes again- 12 Russian military officers indicted for interfering with 2016 presidential election

9. McDonald County prosecuting attorney files felony DWI charge against Meerwald

10. Despite special prosecutor circling in, Seventh District Congressman completely supports the president

Inside Joplin

1. Search warrant leads to drug confiscation, arrest of Galena man and Large woman

2. Suspect hospitalized, charged with felony stealing after confrontation with Joplin police at 7th Street Wal-Mart

3. Autopsy determines no foul play in death of man found at I-44/49 interchange, body identified

4. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

5. Nine people, including seven Carthage residents injured in five-vehicle crash

6. Highway Patrol Arrests July 10-11

7. MODOT workers find body at I-44/49 interchange, Joplin Police, Highway Patrol investigating

8. Newton County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

9. Autopsy scheduled for body found by MODOT workers at I-44/49 interchange

10. Joplin Police Department Arrests July 12-13

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Noah Donahue

2. Elaine Shewmake

3. Deborah Howard

4. Katrina Barnes

5. Jeff Doty

6. Timothy Smith

7. Charles Byrd

8. Theodore Tatman

9. Charlotte Scheurich

10. Hippie Murphy

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Remembering Elaine Shewmake

You would think that when someone only has a birthday once every four years the real birthdays would remain fixed in the memory, but it has never been that way for me.

I remember my second birthday when Mom and Dad introduced me to the Sporting News and Baseball Digest, both of which remained on my required reading list for years and other than that, none of them really stand out.

Except for my 10th birthday on February 29, 1996 and that had nothing to do with any celebration- at least not of my birthday.

I was at Joplin High School covering the class 3A Regional girls basketball game between Webb City and Republic for the Carthage Press.

The top scorer on the Webb City team that year was Kasey Doss, if memory serves me correctly and the star in waiting was guard Hailey Stanley. Hailey's backcourt partner, both of whom entered the starting lineup as freshmen and made Webb City a team to reckon with was Robyn Fokken.

With Webb City down by two points, it was Rockyn Robyn who shot a desperation shot as time expired that drew nothing but net and turned certain defeat into a one-point victory and a trip to the state tournament.

Among those taking part in the bedlam that gripped the Webb City crowd after Robyn's shot was an assistant coach I had known for two decades, Elaine Shewmake. Elaine, like the rest of the local contingent leaped from her seat when Robyn hit her game-winner.

After that, she watched and soaked in the atmosphere as the young ladies she had worked with all year celebrated their accomplishment. This was their moment and she wanted nothing more than to allow them to enjoy their celebration.

For more than two decades, Elaine was a fixture in Webb City High School girls basketball, a calming presence who always kept her dignity, but always maintained her sense of humor even in the midst of the chaos that high school can sometimes be.

That ability came as no surprise since she was following in the footsteps of her mother, who was also a coach and physical education teacher.

I had seen her put her skills to use even before she became a teacher and before she became a Shewmake.

I first met Elaine when she was dating her future husband Buck Shewmake, a fellow East Newton High School graduate who was playing first base on our men's baseball team, the Aroma Express, which played its home games at Granby.

Elaine attended most of the games, home and away, that year and somehow was able to retain her composure even when dealing with Letts brothers, redheaded Judd brothers, Steve Ray (Elaine's future brother-in-law), me, and of course, Buck.

Dealing with characters like that had to have helped prepare Elaine for the challenges of teaching.

After Buck left the team a couple of years later and eventually the Aroma Express went the way of the Edsel, I did not see Elaine or Buck until I started covering area basketball for the Press in the early '90s.

She was always helpful, always professional, and above all, she always put the students first.

Seeing Elaine Shewmake on the sideline was a sign that all was right in the world of Webb City girls basketball.

Though she seldom allowed herself to get caught up in emotion while on the sidelines, that serene presence masked a fighting spirit that those who were close to her came to know as she successfully battled cancers twice.

Sadly, she lost the third battle this week.

Tributes have been pouring in from her former players and physical education students on Facebook after they heard of her death at age 61. Seeing her face once more, even as it graced an obituary, conjured precious memories and somehow brought smiles to accompany the tears.

The best teachers live on in the lessons they impart to their students. That should keep Elaine Shewmake with us for eternity.

Nancy Hughes: The Trap

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world,
and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
Luke 9:25 (NIV)

An article detailing a unique way to capture monkeys alive and unharmed in the jungle to deliver to zoos captured my attention. Trappers had tried a number of different devices, including nets. But their concern that the small animals could be hurt if they became entangled in the webbing resulted in a clever solution.

Trappers built several small boxes and inside each one placed a banana. Each box was nailed shut but not before a hole was drilled on one side, just large enough for a monkey to reach in with its hand. The boxes were left on the ground around trees.

The monkeys quickly converged to examine the boxes. Finding a banana in each one, they immediately reached in to pull it out. They tugged and pulled on the banana but it wouldn’t budge. The opening was just big enough for a little hand to reach in but not for a little hand clinging tightly to a banana to come out.

As soon as the trappers returned, the monkeys immediately tried to flee but could not. The reason? They would not let go of the bananas! They would scream and screech and twist and pull as they attempted to escape. All they had to do was let go of the banana…. but they refused to and were captured.

I see myself in that article. That box represents this world that we live in. And while it is not a banana that I want to hold on to with all my strength it’s much worse: it is a hunger for happiness.

Happiness that I think I will only have if I am wealthy or have a bigger home or newer car or maybe even a more important career. It’s power and prestige and prominence in the community. THAT’S what will make me happy I shout!

And all the while Jesus is calling to me “Let go. It is nothing compared to what I have to offer you. It’s a trap!” but I keep holding on and pulling and tugging as I convince myself that happiness exists when I have a firm grip on all those earthly things.

Consider this: if the trappers did not come back and the monkey continued to hold on to the banana, he would soon find that it would begin to spoil and rot and would not be anything that he would even consider eating. That is, unless he is eaten by the wild animals around him as he holds on to nothing. So it is with me and my grip on all the empty promises of this world

Holding on to the temporary as if it is priceless will never have a good outcome. Just as there is a part of us that wants to yell “Let go of the banana!” after reading the article, even more so the Lord is prompting us to let go of the fake possessions here on earth and focus on the priceless treasures He has prepared for us in heaven.

Father, forgive me for focusing on the temporary things of this world instead of what you are offering me: life for eternity with you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .

What are you holding on to in your life because you consider it to be important to your happiness?

How does it compare to what Jesus is offering you?


Make a list of everything in this world that you consider most important in your life.

Next to each entry, journal what Jesus offers you instead and a Scripture that speaks to His offer.

Power Verses

Luke 9:25 (NIV) “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”

I John 2:15 (NIV) “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Colossians 3:2 (NIV) “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

Matthew 6:33 (NIV) “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NIV) “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)

Kim Frencken: Do teachers take time for themselves?

Do teachers take time for themselves?

Typically no. Not hardly, if ever. Nope. Teachers are wired to care for others first. That doesn't mean that we are all completely selfless wonders. We are human. But teachers have an instinct that calls them to be nurturing, considerate, thoughtful, caring, forgiving individuals. At least until it comes to themselves. Who is a teacher's worst enemy? Herself.

Kids and parents may disagree, but a teacher will usually go out of their way to make sure that they have done their best. A child that is disciplined will not think so much of that statement, but it is true. I'm sure I spent more sleepless nights worrying over kids that I had corrected than they did worrying about their behavior. I spent hours trying to figure out ways to reach them where they were and help them. I wasn't so worried about my health or lack of sleep. All that mattered was how could I turn things around for the student.

I can't even count how many late night emails or week-end phone calls or after school conferences I've written, made, and attended. Long after my work day officially ended, I was contacting parents. For anyone who thinks a teacher's day ends at 3:30 they are wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Never does it end when the kids leave. That is when the second phase begins. Planning, parent contacts, meetings, collaboration time, conferences. For the parent that thinks that all a teacher cares about is getting out to the parking lot, jumping in their car, and heading home, think again. That is not the case. If we're in a parking lot right after school it is because we are heading to a meeting across town or a night class.

And then there's summer. Teachers and summer are the butt of numerous jokes. Just a word to the wise... teachers don't find them amusing. And, no, we're not laying by the pool sipping on lemonade. We're spending quality time with our families, planning lessons, purchasing materials for our classroom, writing lessons, printing name cards, organizing our classrooms, taking classes, and catching up on our educational reading lists. Not much down time.

You see a teacher, who is a teacher by birth, doesn't ever stop teaching. Or learning. We live and breath the classroom. Our thoughts are about improving our lessons, our classroom management or our relationships with colleagues. If we have a random thought about reading the newest novel by our favorite author, we immediately feel guilty for using that time on ourselves instead of our kids or our classroom. Our personal lives are centered around our professional lives. Actually, our professional lives control our personal lives. I even planned my wedding and honeymoon around a school break. Let that sink in. Who wants to get married in the middle of March? Exactly. But we do it because it is what is best for our kids. For our schools. For our professional lives.

After years of living like this, here's my advice to all the teachers out there. Slow down and give yourself a break. Take some "me" time this summer and on week-ends. Read that book. Sneak in a movie. Sleep in. You're going to need fully charged batteries when your feet hit the floor running this fall.
(For more of Kim Frencken's writing, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)

Jason Smith on Kavanaugh choice: President Trump made an outstanding selection

(From 8th District Congressman Jason Smith)

One of the most important decisions a president will ever make is who to nominate to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of the United States. Our country places a tremendous amount of responsibility on the nine men and women of the Court, and these justices shape the direction of the country for decades after their confirmation. Retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, and he served on the bench for 29 years after President Reagan left the White House. This week President Trump announced his highly anticipated nomination to replace Justice Kennedy on the Court: Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most qualified and solidly conservative judges who President Donald Trump could have chosen to be the next Supreme Court justice. When the president promised the country he would nominate “someone with impeccable credentials, great intellect, unbiased judgment, and deep reverence for the laws and Constitution of the United States,” he could have been describing Judge Kavanaugh directly. Judge Kavanaugh has a proven track record of interpreting the Constitution as written and upholding the rule of law. He currently sits on the most consequential appeals court in the country and has decided hundreds of cases on difficult issues. The Supreme Court has endorsed his opinions more than a dozen times, and his writings are regularly cited by judges across the country. He is “a true judge’s judge,” to borrow a phrase from our president.

In his introduction speech to the country, Judge Kavanaugh promised that “if confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.” Judge Kavanaugh understands that the judicial branch’s job is to interpret the law as written, not to be activist judges who legislate from the bench. He has stressed that it isn’t the role of the judiciary to make up new rights in the Constitution and that the courts shouldn’t shy away from enforcing the rights clearly stated in the text of the Constitution.

In a landmark case determining Second Amendment rights, Judge Kavanaugh was the dissenting voice of reason arguing the Second Amendment clearly guarantees law-abiding citizens the right to arm and defend themselves. Even though he was in the minority, his clear reasoning helped pave the way for the biggest Supreme Court win for firearm owners since the Second Amendment was written. And in the hundreds of cases he has decided, he has developed a track record of taking away power from unelected government bureaucrats and returning it to the people.

Despite Judge Kavanaugh’s outstanding qualifications and firm commitment to our nation’s founding document, the resistance to his nomination mobilized instantly. A flood of liberal Senators publicly committed to obstructing Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination within the hour of President Trump’s announcement. Mainstream media outlets blasted his pick as controversial before the announcement was even made. Protestors at the Supreme Court were seen filling in the blanks on their pre-made signs with Kavanaugh’s name. And fewer than twelve hours after Judge Kavanaugh was introduced as President Trump’s nominee, Senator Chuck Schumer announced he will oppose Kavanaugh with “everything he’s got.”

Judge Kavanaugh strikes me as a good and decent family man, and it’s a shame so many obstructionists have committed to opposing him without even sitting down with him. I will be praying for him and his family as they go through the Senate confirmation process, which history tells us will be the absolute ugliest of politics. President Trump has made an outstanding selection with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a man who will uphold the rule of law and interpret the Constitution as written. He deserves a swift confirmation to be the next associate justice on the United States Supreme Court.

Bill White loans $100,000 to campaign as State Senate race heats up

Spending in the hotly-contested 32nd District State Senate race is heating up, as the quarterly financial statement filed Friday with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, has $216,226.34 in his campaign account- with $100,000 of that coming from his own bank account.

White received $117,290, including the loan, during the last three months. Other than the loan, the biggest contributions to the White campaign, both $2,500, came from the Missouri Growth PAC and Missouri Majority PAC, both connected to lobbyist and former Speaker of the House Steve Tilley, R-Perryville.

As he has with his runs for his House seat, White has received heavy backing from the medical community with individual Joplin doctors and people connected to Freeman and Mercy accounting for a large percentage of his contributors.

White spent $75,997.86 for the three-month-period ending June 30.

White's chief Republican competitor, former Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian, has yet to file his quarterly report, which is due Monday, but the report will include a $23,000 personal loan he made to his campaign as noted in the July 5 Turner Report.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Despite special prosecutor circling in, Seventh District Congressman completely supports the president

The indictment of top aides and a persistent special prosecutor did nothing to dampen our Seventh District Congressman's full and complete support of the president.

In a letter obtained by the Turner Report, the congressman reminded a constituent that most of the people working for the special prosecutor were Democrats.

"He has made it clear that he intends to stay in business all during the (president's) administration and will investigate whatever he pleases, all the while answerable to no man."

The Congressman wrote a letter to the president letting him know he has his back. "I would like to take this opportunity of expressing to you my heartfelt and sincere appreciation for the leadership that you have provided for this nation during your administration.

"I realize the past few days have been trying ones for you, but I want you to know that it is my sincere belief that a vast majority of the American people have full confidence in your integrity, your dedication to purpose and are most appreciate of the courageous manner in which you conduct the office of the presidency."

The Congressman has noted that letters to his office run eight to one in the president's favor.

"I firmly believe the president had no knowledge (of this)." the Congressman said.

No matter how much things change, they remain the same. The president who had full and complete support of the Seventh District Congressman and his constituents was not Donald Trump, but Richard Nixon. The Congressman was Sarcoxie Republican Gene Taylor and this took place during Taylor's first term in office.

Twenty-five years ago, I interviewed Congressman Taylor for a five-part series I did for the Carthage Press called "Presidents I Have Known." Taylor was president while Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were in the White House and knew George H. W. Bush.

In addition to interviewing Congressman Taylor, I researched his papers, which are housed at Missouri Southern State University, getting a feel for that era through the words of Congressman Taylor, the newsletters he wrote to his constituents, letters he received and copies of the letters he wrote back to those who were caught up in the unfolding saga of Watergate.

In February 1974, Taylor joined other congressmen signing a letter urging Nixon not to quit. Nixon wrote Taylor on February 20, "It is my intention to remain on the job and perform my duties in the best fashion possible. As I endeavor to fulfill my responsibilities, it is reassuring to know that I have your support.

A few months later, Nixon called Taylor and one of Taylor's predecessors as Seventh District Congressman Dewey Short to the White House.

After the two Missourians were ushered in to see the president, Nixon began talking about Watergate and the House Judiciary Committee's ongoing impeachment hearings.

"To go through what he had to go through," Taylor said, "he had to have nerves of steel. He said he didn't plan to resign, but even then I thought he would. The end was at hand. He had let Haldeman and Ehrlichmann (chief of staff and chief domestic policy adviser) go. Something was going to have to give. It wasn't a good thing and it wasn't necessary.'

Nixon asked Taylor and Short for advice. "Dewey gave him some good advice. He told him to be completely truthful. President Nixon said he had been.

"The problem was he hadn't been. The next week more tapes came out." Two weeks after that, Richard Nixon resigned.

"When he resigned," Taylor said, "it was a pitiful thing. A lot of great accomplishments were buriedin the rubble of Watergate. He was one of the smartest presidents we've ever had. He was an expert in foreign affairs. He knew every country and its leader like the back of his hand. He was a brilliant man.

"But those tapes became the issue. His work in international affairs, opening channels to the Soviet Union and China, they were great things.

"Hell, if the tapes had been mine, I would taken them and burned them."

Adriaunna Horton killer pleads guilty to escape death penalty, sentenced to life without parole

Just short of five years after he murdered 12-year-old Adriaunna Horton, Bobby Bourne, 39, Lockwood, pleaded guilty to first degree murder and kidnapping to escape the death penalty.

As part of a plea agreement that was approved by the victim's family, Bourne was sentenced to life imprisonment on both charges with the charges to run consecutively.

Adriaunna Horton's death and the hunt for Bourne was detailed in a news release issued by the Barton County Prosecuting Attorney's office:

On August 19, 2013, at 4:55 p.m, 12-year-old Adriaunna Horton was playing in Hazel's Park in Golden City with her two sisters. Adriaunna was observed by two other children playing in the park at the time getting into the front passenger door of a blue Ford Expedition driven by Bourne.

Adriaunna's sisters ran to their grandparents' residence and reported that Adriaunna had left the park with Bourne. The family began a search of the area for her and then reported her missing to Barton County 911 at approximately 5:22 p.m.

At approximately 7:05 p.m., Trooper Justin Leemasters observed a blue Ford Expedition traveling on Mill Street in Golden City and conducted a traffic stop. Bourne was the driver of the vehicle and he was arrested at that time for child kidnapping.

During post-Miranda interviews, Bourne admitted to picking Adriaunna up near Hazel's Park. Bourne later led investigators to the general area where her buried body was subsequently discovered. In a recorded telephone call with his wife, Bourne admitted that he was responsible for Adriaunna's death.

The case was investigated by the Barton County Sheriff's Department, Missouri Highway Patrol, Lamar Police Department, multiple law enforcement member agencies of the Southwest Missouri Major Case Squad, Jasper County Sheriff's Department, and with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Kevin Zoellner and Barton County Prosecuting Attorney Steven H. Kaderly.

How Bobby Bourne was free to commit the murder is a question that has never been answered.

At the time of his sentencing Bourne was already serving a 15-year term in the state prison since murder and kidnapping are considered good reasons to revoke probation.

The Turner Report detailed Bourne's extensive problems with the law in a June 23, 2014 post that has never been followed up on by any area media:

Evidence that Bourne was capable of this kind of violence can be found in an October 2012 probable cause statement filed by Lockwood Police Officer Ruth Cottingham.

It told of Bourne assaulting another young girl, who yelled at him to get off her after the two had an argument and he followed her into a bedroom. The girl's mother rushed to the room and was frightened by what she saw. Bourne, a man in his 30s, was hitting her daughter, who was lying on her back on the bed.

Shawnee Bench yelled at Bourne, her brother-in-law, to get off the girl. When he did not, she tried to grab his arm and pull him off, but he was too strong. Bourne grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a violent shove.

"Get out of my "f------g house," Bourne shouted.

Bourne's lengthy record, including arrests for domestic assault, unlawful use of a weapon, tampering, and driving while intoxicated, were enough to put him behind bars, but Officer Cottingham was also convinced by the savage nature of the incidents involved in that October 2012 arrest that Bobby Dale Bourne posed a threat to the community.

The assault on the Lockwood child occurred only a month after Bourne admitted in Polk County Circuit Court he had assaulted a law enforcement officer and had been intoxicated, violating the terms of his probation on a 2006 felony tampering charge.

A motion to revoke Bourne's probation and send him to prison for five years was filed, but no hearing was ever held. Polk County records show that during an October 1 hearing, Judge John Sims ruled that Bourne's probation would be continued with the same conditions.

Before the month was out, court records indicate, Bourne violated his probation two more times. Though there is no mention in the Polk County online records of what the violations were, it would appear that at least one of the violations occurred just one week after Judge Sims' decision when Bourne was charged with two counts of domestic assault.

The charges that Officer Cottingham filed against Bourne in Lockwood included one felony assault, one misdemeanor assault, and endangering the welfare of a child.

On Nov. 5, 2012, a warrant was issued for Bourne's arrest and his bond was set at $60,000. Three times revocation hearings were scheduled and three times they were postponed. In the middle of that period, Judge Sims retired, complicating the situation even more.

The motion to revoke Bourne's probation was withdrawn and on Feb. 8, the $60,000 bond was posted. His probation ended March 4, 2013.

Shortly after that, the assault charges against Bourne were reduced from felony to misdemeanor; he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 days in jail on each count with the sentences to run concurrently.

It was shortly after Bourne was released that authorities say he ended Adriaunna Horton's life.

It took the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a 12-year-old girl to finally convince a judge that it was time to revoke Bobby Bourne's probation.

Billy Long: it's time to reauthorize agency that oversees telecommunications policy

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

Before President Trump there were Presidents Obama, Bush 43, Clinton, Bush 41, Reagan and Carter. During President Carter’s administration, in 1978, Congress created the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to streamline telecommunications policy that was once overseen by an array of agencies. 

Under its current jurisdiction, NTIA oversees the administration and implementation of broadband grants, management over federal spectrum and the development of telecommunications policy in areas relating to privacy, copyright and cybersecurity. It also has authority over public safety communications, such as FirstNet, which is the broadband network that connects our nation’s first responders during crises.

Since its inception, NTIA has been a driving force behind policy solutions that expand access to broadband internet while also acting as both the domestic and international face for telecommunications policy. With rapid advancements in technology, it is crucial that Congress reauthorizes NTIA that dates all the way back to President Carter’s administration.

I am a member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which has held nine hearings regarding NTIA and its reauthorization. After months of these hearings, the Subcommittee is examining legislation that would finally reauthorize and update NTIA.

The draft legislation focuses on closing the digital divide by creating an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth, which would expand access to broadband internet in underserved areas. It also requires NTIA to conduct a study to improve 9-1-1 services for mobile phones and addresses ways to combat growing cybersecurity threats by increasing coordination between other federal agencies.

As our efforts continue, I will work with my colleagues to ensure NTIA is once again reauthorized. Like Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn said, NTIA has a critical role in our 21st century economy. This draft legislation ensures NTIA has the authority and funding it needs to tackle 21st century problems facing our communities, especially in rural areas.

Missouri man pleads guilty to armed takeover of Amtrak train, says he did it to "save the train from the black people"

(From the U. S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska)

United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced today that Taylor Michael Wilson, 25, of St. Charles, Missouri, pleaded guilty in federal court in Lincoln, Nebraska, to one count of violence against a mass transportation system. Because there were passengers on board the train at the time of the offense, the charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison. 

 Wilson also pleaded guilty in the District of Nebraska to a charge from the Eastern District of Missouri for possessing an unregistered short barrel rifle in violation of federal firearms law. This charge carries a penalty of up to ten years in federal prison. The pleas were entered before Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart. Sentencing was scheduled for October 5, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. before the Honorable John M. Gerrard, United States District Court Judge.

According to admissions made in his plea, Wilson admitted that on October 19, 2017, he boarded an Amtrak train in California. He remained on the train until it crossed into Nebraska on October 21, 2017. 

 As the train neared the Furnas County line in Nebraska, Wilson, armed with a concealed .380 caliber handgun, broke into a secured engine compartment of the train, disabling the train and cutting the lights to the passenger compartment. His actions brought the train to a screeching halt in a remote area. Some passengers tried to escape through windows of the train as word reached their compartments that another passenger had accessed the secured engine compartment. 

 Amtrak conductors immediately made their way to the engine compartment. Several conductors, working together, were able to subdue Wilson, who declared that he was now the conductor of the train. 

 As he resisted them, one conductor saw him reach for his waistband, where deputies responding to the scene would later find Wilson had concealed the handgun. 

 Conductors were able to get Wilson off the train and hold him in custody until deputies from two counties reached the location of the train. Wilson carried calling cards of the National Socialist Movement, one of which read, “Conquer we must, for our cause is just!” Wilson stated that he was “trying to save the train from the black people.”

The FBI conducted a search of Wilson’s residence in St. Charles, Missouri. They found hidden journals and propaganda about the National Socialist Movement, as well as a copy of Mein Kampf and a pressure plate of the kind used to build an explosive device. The FBI also recovered his weapons collection, which included illegal unregistered firearms – to include a short barrel rifle and a submachine gun. Also found was a play that Wilson wrote about taking over America, and numerous derogatory writings about the American government and the American media.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.