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Nation/World

Poison letter scheme ends with guilty plea

– A former martial arts instructor pleaded guilty Friday to sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other officials in a bizarre case in which authorities say he tried to frame a longtime enemy and Elvis impersonator who was briefly jailed in the case.

Under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, James Everett Dutschke would serve 25 years in prison.

Dutschke has been jailed since April on charges of sending the letters to Obama, Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, and a Mississippi judge. The judge was the only one to receive a letter, though she was not harmed. The letters to Obama and Wicker were intercepted.

Cancer faker gets prison for rape lie

A judge sentenced a “tormented and disturbed” Michigan woman to at least five years in prison Friday for falsely accusing two men of rape, a punishment that came just days after she pleaded no contest to a cancer scam.

Sara Ylen, 38, accepted thousands of dollars from supporters and was treated by a hospice service for two years after claiming to have end-stage cervical cancer that had spread throughout her body. But state police found no evidence confirming a cancer diagnosis, and Ylen on Monday pleaded no contest to fraud in Sanilac County.

UN staffers among dead in Kabul attack

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Kabul restaurant filled with foreigners and affluent Afghans, while two gunmen snuck in through the back door and opened fire Friday in a brazen dinnertime attack that killed 16 people, officials said. The fatalities included four U.N. personnel.

The Taliban claimed responsibility within an hour of the attack against La Taverna du Liban, part of a stepped-up campaign of violence against foreign and government interests to send a message that the militants are not going anywhere as the U.S.-led coalition winds down its combat mission at the end of the year.

Doubts meet Syria’s cease-fire proposal

Syria’s government Friday proposed a cease-fire in the embattled city of Aleppo and a prisoner exchange with the opposition, a move that appeared aimed at presenting President Bashar Assad as a responsible partner less than a week before an international peace conference.

A member of the main Western-backed opposition dismissed the government overture as “last-minute maneuvering” to please Damascus’ Russian allies, while a rebel commander in Aleppo described such a truce in the civil war as nearly impossible.

Grenade kills 1 at Thailand protest

A grenade thrown into a crowd of marching anti-government demonstrators in Thailand’s capital killed one man and wounded dozens of people, an ominous development that raises tensions in the country’s political crisis and the specter of more bloodshed to come.

Protesters vowed to continue their marches in the city over the weekend despite the violence.

Hollande visits anguished first lady

President Francois Hollande has visited France’s first lady for the first time since she was hospitalized late last week after a gossip magazine reported he was having an affair with an actress.

An official at the presidential palace said Friday that Hollande visited Valerie Trierweiler the previous evening. He and the first lady are not married.

The 48-year-old journalist experienced a “crisis of nerves” upon learning of the report in Closer magazine last week that the 59-year-old president has been having an affair with Julie Gayet, 41.

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