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Veteran negotiator offers to go to North Korea to free Americans, Canadian

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Veteran former U.S. politician and diplomat Bill Richardson offered on Friday to visit North Korea to secure the release of three detained Americans and a Canadian after U.S. university student Otto Warmbier was brought back in a coma.

Richardson, a former New Mexico governor and congressman who visited North Korea in the 1990s and sought the release of detained Americans, told Reuters he made the proposal in a letter to the North Korean mission to the United Nations.

“I have proposed that as of today,” Richardson said, adding that he argued in the letter it was in North Korea’s interest to free the detainees unconditionally, “in the light of its failure to properly take care and handle” Warmbier’s case.

Doctors say the 22-year-old 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.”

Richardson said he and members of his foundation had met with North Korean diplomats 20 times in the past year to try to secure the release of Warmbier and the others – Korean-Americans Tony Kim, Kim Dong Chul and Kim Hak Song and Korean-Canadian Hyeon Soo Lim.

He said the foundation’s executive director traveled to North Korea in November and proposed that Richardson travel there for the purpose, but the North Koreans did not respond.

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Richardson said he had yet to inform the Trump administration about his letter, but had briefed the State Department and White House in recent weeks on his past efforts.

In 1996, Richardson secured the release of a 26-year-old American, Evan Hunziker, who was held for three months in North Korea on spying charges.

He called on the administration to find a way to ensure Warmbier “gets the best medical care to see if he can be revived”.

“This is going to be a long, protracted convalescence; They should do this as a symbol that the U.S. government will stand behind our citizens who have been violated,” Richardson said.

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Trump said on Friday that what had happened to Warmbier was “a truly terrible thing.”

Richardson, who has been in close contact with the Warmbier family, said he did not believe Pyongyang’s explanation that the student’s condition was the result of botulism and a sleeping pill.

“It could be some kind of stress from the imprisonment; it could be beatings and torture,” he said, adding that North Korea should cooperate with an investigation, perhaps carried out by the United Nations.

“They should have a detailed medical explanation why this happened and why they didn’t disclose this a year ago. This is unconscionable,” he said.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and James Dalgleish)

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Progressive reformer claims victory in fiercely-contested Queens DA race

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Progressive reformer Tiffany Cabán has declared victory in her campaign versus Melinda Katz in the Queens District Attorney race.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Cabán held a lead of 1,090 votes, The New York Times reports.

Cabán was backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Katz was backed by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who chairs the Queens Democratic Party, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)

https://twitter.com/CabanForQueens/status/1143721257353076737

https://twitter.com/CabanForQueens/status/1143721448168710151

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2020 Election

New 2020 poll shows Trump trailing all Democrats — some by double-digits

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President Donald Trump trails all of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups of the 2020 presidential race, according to the result of a new poll released Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Salon.

The survey, conducted by Emerson Polling, found that the president lags behind former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., by 10 points nationally — 45 percent to 55 percent. He also trails Sen. Elizabeth Warren by six points — 47 percent to 53 percent —and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg by four points — 48 percent to 52 percent.

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Beto O’Rourke’s ‘war tax’ policy proposal is straight out of ‘Starship Troopers’

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Amid an overcrowded Democratic presidential candidate field, it's hard to distinguish yourself from the pack if you don't slot easily into the scale that runs from "pro-corporate centrist" to "left-populist." If you're former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke —  who falls somewhere in the middle, politically, and somewhere towards the top, looks-wise — you pull a militaristic policy proposal out of your hat that recalls some of the most campy pseudo-fascist sci-fi ever written.

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 ENOUGH IS ENOUGH 

Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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