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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.

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“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”.

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“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.

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.

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“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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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump lies to the press about his massive tax increasing while departing to France for the G7 Summit

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President Donald Trump was caught repeating inaccurate claims when he spoke to reporters before boarding Marine One for his trip to France for the G7 Summit.

"I think our tariffs are very good for us. We're taking in tens of billions of dollars, China is paying for it," Trump argued.

In reality, China is not paying for the tariffs, which are paid by American importers and passed on to consumers, making the announcement a massive tax increase on Americans.

"Our tariffs are working out very well for us, people don't understand that yet," Trump argued.

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Bill Maher presents ’25 things you don’t know about Stephen Miller’ on Real Time

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The host of HBO's "Real Time" presented "25 things you don’t know about Stephen Miller" on Friday.

"In high school, I was voted 'Most Likely to Comb My Mummified Mother's Hair,'" was one item.

"I think tacos are stealing jobs from hamburgers," was another.

"I'm a Cancer. I don't know my astrological sign," was a third.

"The worst part about my car smelling like wet dogs, is that I don't own dogs," was a fourth.

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Bill Maher dances on David Koch’s grave: ‘I’m glad he’s dead and I hope the end was painful’

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HBO "Real Time" host Bill Maher celebrated the death of right-wing billionaire David Koch, who died of prostate cancer.

"I guess I'm going to have to reevaluate my low opinion of prostate cancer," Maher said.

"Condolences poured in from all the politicians he owned and mourners are being asked, in lieu of flowers, to just leave their car engine running," he said.

"I know these seem like harsh words and harsh jokes, and I'm sure I will be condemned for them on Fox News, which will portray Mr. Koch as a principled libertarian who believed in the free market," Maher said. "He and his brother have done more than anybody to fund climate science deniers -- for decades."

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