Foreign News: Precarious Balancing Act

Once, years ago, when he still indulged in his favorite sport of mountain climbing, Alcide de Gasperi careered downward when his rope jammed. "I found myself dangling over the void," he said later. "For 20 minutes I could not move. People in the valley could see me just hanging there. Then I swung over to a ridge and I was safe." Italy's 71-year-old Prime Minister no longer climbs mountains, but his talent for hanging on has become one of the most awesome political feats of the postwar era.

He has survived six overturns of...

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