Man pleads guilty
in poison-letter case

A former martial arts instructor pleaded guilty Friday to sending poison-laced letters to President 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 in Oxford, James Everett Dutschke, 42, would serve 25 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock did not immediately set a sentencing date.

Dutschke has been jailed since April on charges of sending the ricin-laced letters to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and a Mississippi judge. The judge was the only one to receive a letter, though she was not harmed.

— Associated Press

New test could help
diagnose disabilities

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday cleared a first-of-a-kind blood test that can help diagnose mental disabilities in babies by analyzing their genetic code.

The laboratory test from Affymetrix detects variations in patients’ chromosomes that are linked to Down syndrome, DiGeorge syndrome and other developmental disorders. About 2 to 3 percent of U.S. children have some sort of intellectual disability, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The test, known as the CytoScan Dx Assay, is designed to help doctors diagnose children’s disabilities earlier and get them appropriate care and support. It is not intended for prenatal screening or for predicting other genetically acquired diseases and conditions, such as cancer.

— Associated Press

Calif. governor declares drought emergency: California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declared a drought emergency Friday, a move that will allow the parched state to seek federal aid as it grapples with what could turn out to be the driest year in recorded state history for many areas.

Judge rules N.C. abortion law violates free speech: A North Carolina law requiring women who want an abortion to have an ultrasound and then have a medical provider describe the image to them is a violation of constitutional free-speech rights, a federal judge ruled Friday.

— From news services