Tuesday, September 19, 2017

President Trump to U. N.: U. S. may have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea

In his first speech to the United Nations this morning, President Donald Trump warned of the danger of North Korea, repeated his earlier "Rocket Man" nickname for North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un and stated, "The U. S. may have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

Trump said he would continue to put America first and suggested that each of the other nations put their own nations first.

His warnings were not limited to North Korea. The president also leveled accusations at Iran, referring to it as a "murderous regime."

Was it true love? Meth-soaked greeting card leads to prison time for couple

My latest article for the Blasting News website tells the story of a Texas woman who loved her boyfriend so much and worried that he wasn't able to get high while he was in jail awaiting trial on a theft charge.

When she sent her boyfriend a greeting card soaked with meth, the authorities decided to make a federal case out of it.

You can read the story at this link.

Support the Turner Report/Inside Joplin by checking out the link and if you find the article interesting, please feel free to share it.

Turner book signing scheduled at Pat's Books in Carthage

My next book signing will be held 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, September 30, at Pat's Books, 1250 S. Garrison, Carthage.

The signing will be my first in Carthage since a multi-author signing in December 2015 at the Carthage Public Library.

Copies of my new books, Sports Talk Memories, which includes many sports stories from my days as reporter and later managing editor at the Carthage Press, and Classroom Confidential, a collection of essays and stories about education.

Copies of my older books will be available as will the new Turner Report t-shirts.

As with my signing last Saturday at Always Buying Books, anyone who buys two books from among the ones listed above or Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud, Scars from the Tornado, No Child Left Alive, 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, Let Teachers Teach, Spirit of Hope, and Devil's Messenger, or two t-shirts or one shirt and one of those books, will receive a free copy of one of my early books, Small Town News, The Turner Report, or Newspaper Days.

See you there.

For those who can't make the signing, all of my books are available at Amazon.com

Toys R Us files for bankruptcy

Toys R Us, which has a store on Joplin's Range Line, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.

The Joplin store and other Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores in the U. S. appear to be in no danger of closing, according to a news release from the store.

The news release is printed below:

Toys"R"Us, Inc. ("the Company") today announced that the Company and certain of its U.S. subsidiaries and its Canadian subsidiary have voluntarily filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond, VA. In addition, the Company's Canadian subsidiary today intends to seek protection in parallel proceedings under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act ("CCAA") in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The Company intends to use these court-supervised proceedings to restructure its outstanding debt and establish a sustainable capital structure that will enable it to invest in long-term growth and fuel its aspirations to bring play to kids everywhere and be a best friend to parents.

The Company's operations outside of the U.S. and Canada, including its approximately 255 licensed stores and joint venture partnership in Asia, which are separate entities, are not part of the Chapter 11 filing and CCAA proceedings.

The Company's approximately 1,600 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores around the world – the vast majority of which are profitable – are continuing to operate as usual, providing customers with great service and a curated assortment of merchandise in the toy and baby categories. Customers can also continue to shop for the toy and baby products they are looking for online on the Company's newly launched www.toysrus.com and www.babiesrus.com web stores. Customers should expect the Company's loyalty programs, including its Rewards"R"Us, Geoffrey's Birthday List and Babies"R"Us Registry, to continue as normal.

"Today marks the dawn of a new era at Toys"R"Us where we expect that the financial constraints that have held us back will be addressed in a lasting and effective way," said Dave Brandon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Together with our investors, our objective is to work with our debtholders and other creditors to restructure the $5 billion of long-term debt on our balance sheet, which will provide us with greater financial flexibility to invest in our business, continue to improve the customer experience in our physical stores and online, and strengthen our competitive position in an increasingly challenging and rapidly changing retail marketplace worldwide. We are confident that these are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us brands live on for many generations."

Mr. Brandon continued, "As the holiday season ramps up, our physical and web stores are open for business, and our team members around the world look forward to continuing to put huge smiles on children's faces. We thank our vendors for their ongoing support through this important season and beyond. We also appreciate the strong support our investors have provided over time and the constructive role they are playing in this process that will allow us to create a brighter future for our company. And as importantly, we thank our team members in advance for their hard work and dedication to serving the millions of customers who will shop with us this holiday."

The Company has received a commitment for over $3.0 billion in debtor-in-possession ("DIP") financing from various lenders, including a JPMorgan-led bank syndicate and certain of the Company's existing lenders, which, subject to Court approval, is expected to immediately improve the Company's financial health and support its ongoing operations during the court-supervised process. Toys"R"Us is committed to working with its vendors to help ensure that inventory levels are maintained and products continue to be delivered in a timely fashion.

In conjunction with the Chapter 11 process in the U.S., the Company has filed a number of customary motions with the bankruptcy court seeking authorization to support its operations during the restructuring process and ensure a smooth transition into Chapter 11 without disruption, including authority to continue payment of employee wages and benefits, honor customer programs, and pay vendors and suppliers in the ordinary course for all goods provided on or after the filing date.

Additional information can be accessed by visiting the Company's restructuring website at www.toysrusinc.com/restructuring, calling the Company's Information Hotline, toll-free in the U.S. and Canada at (844) 794-3476, or sending an email to toysrusinfo@PrimeClerk.com. Court filings and other documents related to the court-supervised process in the U.S. are available on a separate website administered by the Company's claims agent, Prime Clerk, at https://cases.primeclerk.com/toysrus. Information about the CCAA proceedings will be available on a separate site maintained by an independent monitor. The appointment of the monitor and address of the monitor website are expected to be announced later today.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as principal legal counsel to Toys"R"Us, Alvarez & Marsal is serving as restructuring advisor and Lazard is serving as financial advisor.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Carthage man charged with manslaughter in Joplin DWI case, blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit

A Carthage man faces one count of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of second degree assault in connection with a Saturday night accident at Lone Elm Road and Murphy Boulevard that caused the death of a Webb City woman and hospitalized three other people.

Bond for James Schrader, 26, Carthage, has been set at $40,000 cash only.

The probable cause statement indicates Schrader's blood alcohol content was 0.177, more than twice the legal limit.

Killed in the accident was Nicole L. Sawyer, 27, Webb City.

The probable cause statement is printed below:

On September 16, 2017, Officer K. Jones responded to an injury crash in the west of the intersection of Lone Elm Road and Murphy Boulevard, Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri 64801.

Officer B. Davis was with the driver identified as James Schrader of a white 2011 GMC Sierra that was involved in the crash.

It was determined that Schrader was westbound on Murphy Boulevard and crossed over the center line causing a head-on crash with another vehicle operated by Genesis Shank.

Officer K. Jones administered standardized field sobriety tests on a well-lit, flat surface, free and clear of debris.

Due to Officer K. Jones' observations, she placed Schrader under arrest for driving while intoxicated. 

Schrader gave a breath sample that registered at 0.177.

There were four people in the vehicle who were involved in the crash. All four people were injured and transported by medical personnel. One subject was unable to walk away from the scene and suffered severe whiplash. The second and third subject both had multiple leg fractures, including broken femurs. They both will require surgery.

The fourth subject, Nichole Sawyer, sustained a traumatic brain bleed that the doctor stated would be unrecoverable. Sawyer died as a result of the sustained injuries at 10:39 a.m. on September 17, 2017. The other victims involved are Genesis Shank, Chrisyan Coy and Blake Everitt.

Auditor: Lawsuit settlements cost Missouri taxpayers $115 million

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

As part of her Budget Integrity Series of audits, Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released an audit of the state's Legal Expense Fund, which is the pool of money used to make payments stemming from lawsuits against the state. The report highlights how millions in taxpayer dollars are being spent on legal expenses with no system in place to track the amount and nature of payments.

The Office of Administration, which administers the fund in partnership with the Attorney General's Office, relies on an outdated system that lacks the ability to produce basic electronic reports. This makes it difficult to monitor the nature of the cases and identify if an agency is experiencing an unusually high volume of a particular type of claim.

"A culture of workplace discrimination does not pop up overnight, but the current system makes it hard to track and then address these types of problems," Auditor Galloway said. "With proper tools in place, the state would have the ability to identify and intervene, instead of blindly shelling out millions in taxpayer dollars and allowing inappropriate conduct to continue."

Last winter, media reports brought to light a series of sexual harassment and discrimination claims involving Department of Corrections employees. Reporting at the time highlighted a significant increase in payments and judgments related to employee discrimination between 2012 and 2016. The audit examined $4.2 million in Department of Corrections legal expenses, 75 percent of which involved claims of employment discrimination.

The audit also found payments out of the Legal Expense Fund were consistently higher than budgeted amounts. In fiscal year 2017, for example, the actual amount spent was more than $17 million higher than what was budgeted. These payments are funded by general revenue, which also funds essential services, such as K-12 and higher education. Over a six year period, expenditures from the Legal Expense Fund totaled more than $79 million.

"The legislature is essentially budgeting by guesswork, often using the same figure year after year, ignoring a history of high legal expenses," Auditor Galloway said. "Because schools and other state services compete for the same scarce state dollars, we must bring more integrity to the budgeting process."

Auditor Galloway also examined settlements and payments outside of the Legal Expense Fund. In less than three years, these payments totaled another $36 million of taxpayer money by 13 entities including state universities, the Department of Transportation and Department of Conservation.

The complete report is available here. Additional information about settlements outside of the Legal Expense Fund can be found here.

Neosho man "electrocuted" by mobility scooter sues Wal-Mart

A Neosho man who claims he was electrocuted when he attempted to plug the mobility scooter he had been using into an outlet to recharge is suing Wal-Mart Stores.

The incident took place November 5, 2016, at the Neosho Wal-Mart, according to the petition, which was originally filed in Newton County Circuit Court, but has been removed to U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

According to the petition, Fred Cobb "suffered serious and permanent injury, to among other things, his dominant right upper extremity.

Cobb and his wife, Wanda Cobb, are also suing for loss of companionship and services due to the incident.

In a response filed in Newton County Circuit Court, Wal-Mart says Cobb "voluntarily and unreasonably exposed himself to an open and obvious danger in that Plaintiff knew, or by the use of ordinary care could have known, there was a reasonable likelihood of injury.

"Any injury or damage allegedly sustained by Plaintiffs was the result of Plaintiff Fred Cobb’s own comparative fault and/or negligence, and the negligence of Defendant, if any, should be reduced by the comparative negligence of the plaintiff, and any recovery should be denied or reduced by the percentage of Plaintiff Fred Cobb comparative fault."

Sunday, September 17, 2017

City of Springfield, Free the Nipple lawsuit petitioners reach agreement on portion of federal lawsuit

On Friday, a federal court judge signed off on a partial settlement of a lawsuit filed by two Springfield women and the Free the Nipple organization against the City of Springfield.

Details of the settlement, which include payments to the two women can be found at my latest Blasting News article, "Federal order in Free the Nipple case a win for women's breasts."

The lawsuit was filed in 2015 after Springfield enacted a new law further restricting the portion of a woman's breasts that could be visible, carving out exceptions only for breastfeeding and adult entertainment.

Court order: Jarub Baird, meth conspiracy co-defendants ordered to forfeit property to cover $1,060,070 judgment

A federal court judge has ordered Jarub Baird, 27, Carthage, and seven co-defendants to forfeit property to pay a $1,060,070 judgment in their meth conspiracy and money laundering case.

The eight have pleaded guilty, with Baird's plea coming last month in U. S. District Court in Kansas City. No date has been scheduled for Baird's sentencing.

Judge Greg Kays, in his September 6 order, authorized the federal government to do whatever was necessary to "identify, locate, or dispose of property subject to forfeiture, or substitute assets for such property" to satisfy the judgment.

In addition to Baird, the order covers Kenneth Bryant Lake, Scott Bryan Sands, Jerry Lee Brown, Travis Lee Bethel, Lanny Eugene Ham, Jake Ian Nixon and Aaron Randall Stull.

Baird's role in the meth conspiracy was spelled out in his plea agreement:

The Buchanan County Drug Strike Force (BCDSF), Springfield, Missouri Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration developed a methamphetamine drug conspiracy in 2015 involving the following people; Kenneth Bryant Lake, Michael Ryan Nevatt, Scott Bryan Sands, Jerry Lee Brown and Travis Lee Bethel.

Investigators identified Kenneth Lake as the original head of the organization coordinating vehicle transport shipments of methamphetamine to Springfield, Missouri, for later distribution and drug proceeds (United States Currency) shipments out of Springfield, Missouri, for payment of the delivered or ordered methamphetamine.

Subsequently, Michael Ryan Nevatt became the head of an organization involving all those listed above and Kara Renee Baze, Breanna Nicole Hall, Autumn Sky Provience, Lanny Eugene Ham, Jarub Ray Baird, Cindy Ann Nevatt, Tara L. Harken, and Jake Ian Nixon.

This organization also obtained methamphetamine elsewhere and got it delivered to the Springfield, Missouri, area for later distribution, along with sending drug proceeds out of the area for payment of methamphetamine ordered or delivered.

Lake, Sands, and Aaron Randall Stull, coordinated shipments of methamphetamine by United States Postal Service parcels to the Springfield, Missouri, residence of Michelle Vanne Gray where it was stored then retrieved for later distribution.

On 08/28/2015, Kenny Lake and Kara Baze are arrested during a search warrant at a hotel room in Springfield, Missouri. Officers recovered $102,787 in United States currency, a loaded handgun and a small amount of methamphetamine.

Michael Nevatt and BAIRD arrived in a black Corvette and after a brief chase were apprehended. In 2016, multiple witnesses gave statements to investigators in this case about BAIRD’s involvement.

In summary, those witnesses link BAIRD with Michael Nevatt and Nevatt’s methamphetamine distribution activities. Those witnesses describe BAIRD’s activities in assisting Nevatt with obtaining and distributing more than five kilograms of methamphetamine and with collecting drug proceeds for methamphetamine distributed.

Defendant acknowledges that while the information set out herein may not allege exact amounts of methamphetamine associated with the defendant, the amounts alleged herein, along with other statements and evidence in the case, total more than five-hundred (500) grams of methamphetamine for which the defendant is responsible.

The defendant further acknowledges the substances with which defendant was involved were in fact methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance.

Finally, defendant acknowledges that at least some acts committed in furtherance of this distribution conspiracy were committed within the Western District of Missouri, during the dates alleged in the indictment.

Defendant additionally acknowledges that during the dates charged in the superseding indictment, and at least partially within the Western District of Missouri, the defendant used or knew at least some of the proceeds obtained from defendant’s methamphetamine distribution, and the distribution of others in the conspiracy, were used to pay living expenses, buy assets, and to purchase additional methamphetamine for distribution.

Defendant also acknowledges that he and other co-conspirators used cash during the conspiracy to conceal the nature of their illegal activities.

Additional evidence exists that may further implicate the defendant in these conspiracies. The defendant acknowledges that evidence was provided to defendant’s attorney via discovery and the defendant has had an opportunity to review it with the attorney prior to signing this plea agreement and further acknowledges that evidence, and any additional evidence obtained prior to sentencing, may affect the ultimately determined drug responsibility level and sentence of the defendant.

The parties have agreed to a drug level not less than a drug level 30, and have agreed to a a guidelines enhancement of two (2) levels as a result of defendant’s guilty plea to the money laundering conspiracy.

However, it is understood by the parties that the pre-sentence investigation or the Court at sentencing could assess a higher drug level of responsibility, and other enhancements, for the defendant based on the evidence in the case to date or that becomes known later.

In the event a higher drug level, or other enhancements, are determined by the pre-sentence investigation or the Court at sentencing, the parties are free to express their respective positions about that higher drug level, or other enhancements, at sentencing.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Jasper County man who broke into girlfriend's home, threatened her with AR-15, knife sentenced to 22 years

A Jasper County man who broke into his ex-girlfriend's home in Gentry, Arkansas, attacked her and threatened her with an AR-15 was sentenced to 22 years in prison earlier this week.

Jason Allen Farmer, 34, Reeds, was convicted at a jury trial in Benton County District Court of three felonies- aggravated robbery, aggravated residential burglary, and first degree terroristic threatening, along with misdemeanor domestic battery.

During the trial, Farmer's former girlfriend Darcy Fisher said in addition to the AR-15, Farmer held a knife to her face and threatened her.

The prosecution presented evidence that Farmer had sent threatening text messages and voice mails to Fisher.

Farmer's mother and former wife testified against him during the penalty phase.

Joseph Nelson, who served with Farmer in the U. S. Marine Corps testified on his behalf, saying he was a leader during his time serving in Iraq. Medical testimony was given that Farmer was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.