World

President Bush's speech on Iraq before the UN General Assembly drew a scathing reaction by that nation's ambassador. Mohamad Al-Douri told journalists immediately afterward that the president's remarks had no credibility because it was motivated by revenge and political ambition. But British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said no one who heard the speech "could be in any doubt whatsoever" about the urgency of dealing with the Iraqi threat.

Fifteen suspected members of Al Qaeda have been charged with conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, Italian authorities announced. A police spokes-man said "interesting documents that would prove the accusations" had been seized from the men, all Pakistanis, who were arrested last month aboard a cargo ship in a Sicilian port. The spokesman said it appeared they were preparing for an attack in Europe, although not on Italian soil.

Tougher new penalties for whites who defy orders to surrender their farms to landless black peasants were proposed by Zimbabwe's government. Reports said parliament is considering amendments to the land laws that would cancel the reprieves farmers have won from the courts and that would make the fines imposed on resisters five times more severe. The High Court has ruled about 60 eviction orders invalid and has granted at least one farmer an exemption because the government hadn't properly notified his mortgage lender of the intent to evict.

A new state of emergency won't be imposed by Nepal's government after all – at least not right away – according to a media-rights group visiting with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. A resumption had appeared likely after massacres this week by communist insurgents that killed more than 350 people. But that is staunchly objected to by opposition parties, who say it would undercut the national election scheduled in November. Meanwhile, the rebels said they were ready "to declare a cease-fire" and wanted new negotiations with the government.

In a surprisingly conciliatory rebuttal to Parliament, embattled Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo offered a detailed defense of his record in office against impeachment charges. He insisted he has acted within his powers on such issues as federal spending for controversial building projects. He blamed the impeachment fervor on a breakdown in communication and said he had "absolute confidence in your integrity and objectivity." Apparently unconvinced, lawmakers said they needed only 100 more signatures on a bill of particulars to advance the impeachment procedure to the next step.

The long tradition of high taxes and lavish welfare benefits is on the line in Sweden, as voters prepare for Sunday's national election, which no longer appears headed for easy victory by the ruling Social Democrats. Late opinion polls showed center-right opponents in a tie with the Social Democrats, at 49 percent. Unlike past elections, voting is expected to turn on immigration, especially by asylum-seekers, which has propelled foreign-born residents to 12 percent of the population.

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