Italy Defends Spy Chief

As Iraq Claim Is Probed

ROME -- The Italian government rallied Sunday to the defense of Gen. Nicolo Pollari, head of Sismi, Italy's military intelligence agency, which is accused of passing bad intelligence to the United States, helping bolster claims about Iraq's prewar nuclear ambitions.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, on the eve of a Monday meeting with President Bush in Washington, said he respected Pollari and trusted and appreciated his work.

Pollari is to address a parliamentary committee on Nov. 3 about allegations in Rome's La Repubblica newspaper that the agency passed off fake documents showing that Iraq had sought to obtain uranium from Niger.

The CIA sent former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV to Niger in February 2002 after Vice President Cheney requested elaboration on a Pengaton report, based on erroneous information originating from the Italian security service, that Iraq had an agreement to buy processed uranium ore.

Wilson reported that he found no support for the allegation and had reasons to believe it was untrue.

Bush nonetheless cited the claim that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium in Africa during his 2003 State of the Union speech as part of an effort to build support for war.

Subsequent White House efforts to counter public criticism by Wilson led to the indictment last week of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. The indictment prompted Libby's resignation.


* TOKYO -- Plans to realign U.S. military forces in Japan triggered protest rallies and drew opposition from local officials and citizen groups who say more troops should leave the country and complained that the burden of hosting them is just being shifted from one community to another.

On Japan's southern island of Okinawa -- which hosts most of the 14,460 U.S. Marines in the country -- about 5,000 activists protested crimes, noise and pollution long associated with the Marine bases.

Rallies also took place in Yokosuka, outside Tokyo, where the United States plans to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, as well as in western Japan.


* BOGOTA, Colombia -- A top cocaine trafficker wanted for extradition by the United States was captured in a jungle commando raid after a firefight with his bodyguards, who were members of a right-wing paramilitary force, police said.

John Eidelber Cano, a leader of the violent Norte del Valle cartel, was arrested near the town of Caucasia in Antioquia province, Colombia's national police said in a statement. Members of the cartel have been accused of smuggling thousands of pounds of cocaine to the United States.


* ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Security forces in Ivory Coast fired into the air and threw tear gas canisters at thousands of unarmed opposition activists protesting a bitterly disputed one-year extension of President Laurent Gbagbo's mandate.

Elections were to be held Sunday, but Gbagbo canceled the vote, saying the civil war-riven country wasn't ready.

* ZANZIBAR, Tanzania -- Crucial regional elections turned violent as police and the ruling party's militia engaged in running clashes with opposition supporters in the streets of the main town in semi-autonomous Zanzibar.

The violence came as voters turned out in large numbers to choose between the socialists who have ruled the Indian Ocean archipelago for nearly 40 years and an opposition group promising economic reforms.


* LONDON -- Prince Charles expressed alarm at the pace of climate change and said people were becoming too dependent on technology.

"You know, if you look at the latest figures on climate change and global warming . . . they're terrifying, terrifying," Charles told the CBS show "60 Minutes" in an interview aired Sunday.

The prince's office has declined to say whether Charles will raise the issue of climate change when he dines with President Bush at the White House this week.

In the past, Bush has questioned the reality of global warming and refused to sign the Kyoto protocol on global climate change.

-- From News Services

South African schoolchildren Pontso Motaung, left, and Alinah Letsoalo, of Johannesburg's Alexandra township, read the first of a nine-part comic book series on Nelson Mandela's life. Mandela, 87, launched the Madiba Legacy Series in Johannesburg on Friday. The series portrays the former president as a precocious young man bent on rebellion.