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Plea deal for woman behind ricin letters

– A Texas woman accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan added into the case docket for Shannon Guess Richardson a one-line entry that states “notice of plea agreement,” the Texarkana Gazette reported.

Authorities say the New Boston, Texas, actress mailed ricin-laced letters to Obama, Bloomberg and a leader of the mayor’s gun-control group. Court documents state the then-pregnant Richardson tried to frame her husband for the crime.

The terms of the deal have not yet been made public, and a pretrial hearing for Dec. 2 has been canceled.

Richardson, 35, has been charged with two counts of threat by mail and one of threatening the president. She remains jailed.

Hate crime alleged for assault in NYC

New York City police have arrested a man on charges of assault as a hate crime after a 24-year-old says he was punched in the face.

Police on Saturday were investigating whether it was part of a so-called “knockout” assault, in which the object is to knock out an unsuspecting person with one punch. The man says he overheard a group talking about it before he was hit.

Amrit Marajh, 28, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime because the victim is Jewish.

At least 44 killed in Syrian airstrikes

A string of government airstrikes on rebel-held areas in northern Syria killed at least 44 people Saturday, activists said, as al-Qaida-linked rebels captured one of the country’s major oil fields in the east.

An attack on the rebel-held town of al-Bab near the northern city of Aleppo was the deadliest of the three raids, killing 22 people, said Rami Abdurrahman, the director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Fighter jets also bombed two rebel-held districts of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Government warplanes missed their target in the Halwaniyeh neighborhood and sent bombs into a crowded vegetable market, killing 15 people, Abdurrahman said.

Protesters block streets in Pakistan

Thousands of people protesting U.S. drone strikes blocked a road in northwest Pakistan on Saturday used to truck NATO troop supplies and equipment in and out of Afghanistan, the latest sign of rising tension caused by the attacks.

The protest, led by Pakistani politician and cricket star Imran Khan, had more symbolic value than practical impact as there is normally little NATO supply traffic on the road on Saturdays. The blocked route in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province leads to one of two border crossings used to send supplies overland from Pakistan to neighboring Afghanistan.

Khan, whose Tehreek-e-Insaf party runs the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, called on federal officials to take a firmer stance to force the U.S. to end drone attacks and block NATO supplies across the country.

“We will put pressure on America, and our protest will continue if drone attacks are not stopped,” Khan said.

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