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NATION / WORLD Briefs: Report: Pakistan secretly backed drone use

– Despite repeatedly denouncing the CIA’s drone campaign, top officials in Pakistan’s government have for years secretly endorsed the program and routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts, according to top-secret CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos obtained by the Washington Post.

The files describe dozens of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal region and include maps as well as before-and-after aerial photos of targeted compounds over a four-year stretch from 2008 to 2011 in which the campaign intensified dramatically.

Markings on the documents indicate that many of them were prepared by the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center specifically to be shared with Pakistan’s government.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the issue of the drone campaign in a meeting Wednesday with President Barack Obama, “emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes.”

Skakel to get new trial in 1975 killing

Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was granted a new trial on Wednesday by a Connecticut judge who ruled his attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was convicted in 2002 of killing his neighbor in 1975.

The ruling by Judge Thomas Bishop marked a dramatic reversal after years of unsuccessful appeals by Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy. Skakel is serving 20 years to life.

Skakel’s current attorney, Hubert Santos, said he expects to file a motion for bail today. If a judge approves it, Skakel could then post bond and be released from prison.

Indian posts hit in disputed Kashmir

India on Wednesday accused Pakistani troops of firing guns and mortars on at least 50 Indian border posts overnight in disputed Kashmir, calling it the most serious cease-fire violation between the nuclear-armed neighbors in a decade.

The attacks began Tuesday night in southern Kashmir after India’s home minister visited the region to review security, Border Security Force spokesman Vinod Yadav said. Indian troops returned fire, but one Indian guard was killed and six were injured by a shell fired at the Arnia post in the Jammu region, he said.

700 IRS employees owe back taxes

Nearly 700 employees of Internal Revenue Service contractors owe $5.4 million in back taxes, said a report Wednesday by the agency’s inspector general.

More than half of those workers are supposed to be ineligible to do work for the IRS because they are not enrolled in installment plans to pay the taxes they owe.

The IRS requires employees to comply with federal tax laws. That means they have to file returns on time and either pay all the taxes they owe or enroll in a payment plan.

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