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US student freed from North Korea has severe brain injury

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An American university student who was returned to the United States this week after being held in North Korea for 17 months has a severe brain injury and is in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness,” doctors said on Thursday.

Otto Warmbier, 22, who arrived in the United States on Tuesday, is stable but “shows no sign of understanding language, responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surrounding,” said Dr. Daniel Kanter, medical director of the neuroscience intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati.

“He has not spoken,” Kanter said at a press conference. “He has not engaged in any purposeful movements or behaviors.” He said Warmbier was breathing on his own.

Warmbier, from Wyoming, Ohio, has been in a coma since March 2016, shortly after he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea, his family said on Tuesday.

He was arrested for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan, North Korean media reported. He was visiting North Korea with a tour group.

On Thursday, North Korea said that it had released Warmbier “on humanitarian grounds.”

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The University of Virginia student’s father Fred Warmbier said at an earlier news conference that his son had been “brutalized and terrorized” by the North Korean government.

He said the family did not believe North Korea’s story that his son had fallen into a coma after contracting botulism and being given a sleeping pill.

Doctors said on Thursday that there was no sign of botulism in Otto Warmbier’s system.

Kanter said that Warmbier had suffered “extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain, but he declined to discuss Warmbier’s prognosis at the request of his family.

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On Thursday, the State Department said that U.S. diplomat Joseph Yun, who negotiated Warmbier’s release, had also met with three other U.S. citizens being held in North Korea.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have been heightened by North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests. Pyongyang has vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

Fred Warmbier said he was stunned when told of his son’s condition one week ago.

“I don’t know what being in shock is, but I’m pretty sure I was,” he said.

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“There is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long.”

He said his wife, Cindy, had not left their son’s side since his return to the United States and that he had spoken with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday night.

In Wyoming, a northern Cincinnati suburb of about 8,000 people, Warmbier’s return to the United States was marked by blue and white ribbons, representing the colors of the local high school, tied around trees and telephone polls.

(Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Toni Reinhold)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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John Dean explains the big mistake Hope Hicks made by stonewalling Congress

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Former White House counsel John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal, said Wednesday on CNN that there was a serious flaw in the attempt to prevent longtime Trump confidant Hope Hicks from testifying to Congress.

White House lawyers have asserted that Hicks has absolute immunity and is not legally required to testify about her time as Trump's director of communications. Hicks testified Wednesday during a closed-door hearing before the House Judiciary Committee — where she reportedly refused to answer questions about her White House job.

"Privilege is not being asserted here. Instead, the White House says that Hicks has absolute immunity regarding the time that she spent at 1600 Pennsylvania. Does absolute immunity even exist? And if so, can you explain to me the difference between the two?" CNN host Brooke Baldwin asked Dean.

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GOP gangs up on AOC: Top Republican demands Ocasio-Cortez apologize to the entire world – she refuses

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The Republican machine is in fifth gear right now, speeding to attack one of their top Democratic targets: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

At issue, a video the New York Democrat recorded in which she calls the migrant detention camps on the U.S. Southern border "concentration camps."

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Economist mocks GOP for trying to pin racism on Democrats — after telling a harrowing story about anti-black economic envy

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Economist Julianne Malveaux explained to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that there was a time in the United States where black Americans were actually closing the wealth gap with white Americans -- until white Americans rioted and burned their property.

During her testimony at a hearing on reparations, Malveaux recounted the horrific story of the destruction of "Black Wall Street," which was a location in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was known for its high concentration of black-owned businesses and black wealth.

The area's prosperity came to an end in 1921 when white Tulsa residents used baseless accusation of a black man sexually assaulting a white woman as a justification to chase out all black residents and set fire to their neighborhoods. Hundreds of black residents were killed in the riots and the majority fled the city.

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