His victims’ families agreed to the deal — until his release date arrived

Convicted killer Nathaniel Cook, March 2018. (Dave Zapotosky/The Blade via AP, File)

Convicted killer Nathaniel Cook, March 2018. (Dave Zapotosky/The Blade via AP, File)

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — One of two brothers who carried out Toledo’s most notorious string of killings was in court Thursday, pushing to be released under a deal he made almost 20 years ago. The victims’ families, who signed off on the deal, are now opposing it.

Attorneys for Nathaniel Cook, 58, say the court is bound by the agreement to order his release this year.

The deal came about in 2000. Nathaniel and his older brother, Anthony — who was already convicted of one murder — were suspected of seven other murders committed in 1980 and 1981. Prosecutors were not sure they could prove those cases, and they wanted to give the victims’ families the assurance that the killers were in prison.

Anthony Cook made an offer: The brothers would confess to the seven murders — three of which they said Nathaniel had participated in — if the younger brother would be freed after 20 years of imprisonment. That put his release date in February 2018.

Lucas County prosecutor Julia Bates told the Toledo Blade: “It was closure, and that’s so trite, but it was closure for those people that didn’t know that maybe the person that killed their loved one was standing next to them in the grocery store.”

The families of the three victims agreed to the deal. Now they’ve written letters asking for Cook to stay in prison or be under strict controls if he’s released.

“Everyone thought 20 years was a long, long time,” Rodney Thompson, brother of murder victim Connie Sue Thompson, told the Blade.

Steve Moulton, brother of murder victim Scott Moulton, told the Blade that he thought that in the two decades enough evidence would be found to convict Nathaniel Cook of another crime to keep him …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


Judge finds Kansas official Kobach in contempt of court

By Margaret Stafford | Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach violated a court order that required his office to inform certain people that they were eligible to cast a ballot while a lawsuit challenging a state law requiring proof of U.S. citizenship worked its way through the courts, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found Kobach, a conservative Republican running for Kansas governor, in contempt of court. She did not fine Kobach but ordered him to pay court costs, including attorney fees for the American Civil Liberties Union, which sought the contempt ruling.

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Moriah Day, a spokeswoman for Kobach’s campaign for governor, said the secretary of state’s office would appeal the decision and would have no other comment.

The ACLU sought the contempt ruling after Kobach refused to update the state’s election guide or ensure that county officials sent postcards to residents who registered at driver licensing offices without providing citizenship documents. The postcards contain basic voting information such as a voter’s polling place.

“The judge found that Kris Kobach disobeyed the court’s orders by failing to provide registered voters with consistent information, that he willfully failed to ensure that county elections officials were properly trained, and that he has a ‘history of noncompliance and disrespect for the court’s decisions,’” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement Wednesday. “Secretary Kobach likes to talk about the rule of law. Talk is cheap, and his actions speak louder than his words.”

Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU’s chapter in Kansas, said Robinson’s ruling clearly lays out that Kobach “has shown disregard for the court’s orders.”

“That …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


Analysis: Is Sean Hannity a journalist or not?

By Paul Farhi | Washington Post

Sean Hannity is one of America’s most famous TV personalities, a conservative opinion-slinger who regularly attracts more than 3 million viewers to his nightly prime-time Fox News show while also hosting a daily syndicated radio program.

But lately a kind of Talmudic question has swirled around Hannity: Is he a journalist? And if not, what is he?

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The question is probably irrelevant to Hannity’s loyal fans, who tune in for his reliably fierce defense of President Donald Trump. But its importance rose anew on Monday when attorneys for Michael Cohen, the president’s beleaguered lawyer, revealed that Hannity was also one of Cohen’s clients, a fact Hannity never mentioned to his audience while denouncing a federal investigation into Cohen. (Hannity says he merely consulted Cohen and was never a client.)

This news caused the old journalist-or-not? question to resurface because of the implications for Hannity’s ethical obligations. Journalists are bound to recuse themselves from a story in which they have a personal stake, or at least to disclose their relationship with a person they’re covering or commenting about. Even Fox acknowledged it was blindsided by Hannity’s Cohen connection.

The ethical obligations of a talk-show host, however, are considerably less fixed.

Fox News often says there is a clear line between its news side – the province of journalists such as Shepard Smith and Bret Baier – and its opinion side, represented by Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro. Its representatives bristle when the distinction isn’t made clear.

But Fox isn’t keen on declaring the latter group to be “journalists.” Asked repeatedly on Wednesday whether Fox considered Hannity a journalist, a network spokesman declined to …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


Fact check: No, McDonald’s isn’t replacing play areas with pot lounges

Associated Press

DENVER — McDonald’s PlayPlaces aren’t becoming pot places, not even in Colorado, the first state with legal recreational marijuana sales.

The fast-food company said there is no truth to a report on social media that 15 restaurants in the state have transformed or plan to transform play areas into pot-smoking centers.

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The Now 8 News site claimed each restaurant would have 15 pods where customers can smoke marijuana-filled joints, bongs or pipes without bothering others.

McDonald’s spokesman Khim Aday says he “can confirm 100 percent that this is not true.”

He said the false story has circulated since 2015. The story said two Denver restaurants had completed the conversion, while the other 13 were planning completion renovations by the end of 2015. Legal recreational pot sales in Colorado began in 2014.

This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


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