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The Baltimore Sun

Palins' income tax returns released


WASHINGTON: The McCain campaign released financial documents yesterday showing that Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska had assets of over $1 million, consisting largely of an ample retirement portfolio, real estate and her husband's commercial fishing business. Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, kept her tax rate low by putting all of her investments in tax-deferred accounts. In addition, she did not report as income the $17,000 that she received in per diem payments from the state while she remained at her home in Wasilla, a position debated by tax experts. Tax returns for the years 2007 and 2006 show that Palin and her husband, Todd, had diverse sources of income, including capital gains from the sale of a snowmobile and income from Todd Palin's winnings in the Iron Dog snowmobile race.

Jury deliberates in Simpson robbery trial


LAS VEGAS: Jurors in the O.J. Simpson trial had dinner delivered yesterday so they could continue deliberating the fate of the former football star and a co-defendant, accused of robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a casino hotel room. The 61-year-old former football star and a golfing buddy, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, could face five years to life in prison if convicted of kidnapping, and mandatory prison time if convicted of armed robbery. They've pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including conspiracy, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon.

U.S. aims to sell Taiwan $6.5 billion in arms


WASHINGTON: The Bush administration announced plans yesterday to sell up to $6.5 billion in arms to Taiwan, a decision sure to anger Taiwan's rival China and one that could complicate stalled North Korean disarmament efforts. The announcement of the package, which includes Apache helicopters and Patriot III missiles, came in a notification to Congress posted on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency Web site. The State Department said lawmakers, who were expected to leave Washington yesterday to campaign for November elections, have 30 days to comment on the proposed sale. Without objections, the deal would proceed. The arms package enjoys support among senior lawmakers, who were briefed on the deal by administration officials. China, however, vehemently opposes the provision of weapons to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory and has threatened to invade should the self-governing island ever formalize its de facto independence.

Law clears way for Iraq provincial elections


BAGHDAD: Iraq's presidential council ratified a law yesterday that paves the way for the first provincial elections in four years, officials said. U.S. officials hope the election will give greater representation to minority Sunni Arabs and disaffected members of the Shiite majority. Yesterday's ratification will allow preparations to go ahead for the vote, which must be held by Jan. 31. But it came only after Iraqi lawmakers agreed to set aside the divisive issues of power-sharing in an oil-rich northern region and the representation of minorities.

At least 21 killed in U.S. airstrikes in Pakistan


PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Amid an intensifying campaign of U.S. airstrikes aimed at Taliban and al-Qaida figures, a missile attack in Pakistan's tribal areas killed at least 21 people yesterday, local and intelligence officials said. At least two-thirds of the people killed in the strike in North Waziristan were believed to be Islamic militants, but it was not immediately clear whether any senior figures were among the dead. Residents said they believed the attack was launched from a U.S. Predator drone. The unmanned aircraft have long been used against targets in the tribal areas, but such strikes have become much more frequent during the past two months.

7-year-old boy breaks into zoo, kills animals


SYDNEY, Australia: A 7-year-old boy broke into a popular Outback zoo, fed a string of animals to the resident crocodile and bashed several lizards to death with a rock, the zoo's director said yesterday. The 30-minute rampage, caught on the zoo's security camera, occurred early Wednesday after the boy jumped a security fence at the Alice Springs Reptile Center in central Australia, said zoo director Rex Neindorf. Alice Springs police said they are unable to press charges against the boy because of his age. Neindorf said he plans to sue the child's parents.

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