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UN tells UK: Allow Assange to leave Ecuador embassy freely

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U.N. rights experts called on British authorities on Friday to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the Ecuador embassy in London without fear of arrest or extradition.

The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reiterated its finding published in February 2016 that Assange had been de facto unlawfully held without charge in the embassy, where he has now been holed up for more than six years.

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He initially took asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation. That investigation was dropped.

Assange, whose website published thousands of classified U.S. government documents, denied the Sweden allegations, saying the charge was a ploy that would eventually take him to the United States where a prosecutors are preparing to pursue a criminal case against him.

Britain says Assange will be arrested for skipping bail if he leaves the embassy, but that any sentence would not exceed six months, if convicted. It had no immediate comment on the experts’ call, but in June, foreign office minister Alan Duncan said Assange would be treated humanely and properly.

“… the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than six years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador,” the U.N. experts said in a statement.

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“It is time that Mr. Assange, who has already paid a high price for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information, and to promote the right to truth in the public interest, recovers his freedom,” they said.

Lawyers for Assange and others have said his work with WikiLeaks was critical to a free press and was protected speech.

The experts voiced concern that his “deprivation of liberty” was undermining his health and could “endanger his life” given the disproportionate amount of anxiety that has entailed.

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Ecuador in October imposed new rules requiring him to receive routine medical exams, following concerns he was not getting the medical attention he needed. The rules also ordered him to pay medical and phone bills and clean up after his cat.

Assange has sued Ecuador, arguing the rules violate his rights.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Additional reporting by Alistair Smout in London; Editing by Alison Williams

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Quantum dots that light up TVs could be used for brain research

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While many people love colorful photos of landscapes, flowers or rainbows, some biomedical researchers treasure vivid images on a much smaller scale – as tiny as one-thousandth the width of a human hair.

To study the micro world and help advance medical knowledge and treatments, these scientists use fluorescent nano-sized particles.

Quantum dots are one type of nanoparticle, more commonly known for their use in TV screens. They’re super tiny crystals that can transport electrons. When UV light hits these semiconducting particles, they can emit light of various colors.

That fluorescence allows scientists to use them to study hidden or otherwise cryptic parts of cells, organs and other structures.

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If impeachment comes to the Senate – 5 questions answered

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Editor’s note: If the House of Representatives concludes its impeachment inquiry by passing articles of impeachment of President Donald Trump, attention will turn to the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is known as a master of the Senate’s rules, and has been raising campaign donations with ads touting the power he would have over impeachment proceedings. Constitutional scholar Sarah Burns from the Rochester Institute of Technology answers some crucial questions already arising about what McConnell might be able to do, to either slow down the process or speed things along.

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Andrew Yang’s ‘freedom dividend’ echoes a 1930s basic income proposal that reshaped Social Security

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Entrepreneur and political novice Andrew Yang is hoping a wild gambit will help him win the Democratic presidential nomination: give 10 American families US$1,000 a month.

The announcement of a test run of his signature universal basic income proposal, which Yang argues is necessary to counter automation’s threat to millions of American jobs, garnered cheers from the student audience at the September debate and gave his candidacy a boost. At least half a million people have entered Yang’s basic income raffle.

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