World and Nation

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After a Delicately Worded Pitch, Clinton Draws Cheers

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told an audience of black voters on Monday that they would be “breaking barriers” if they supported her for president in 2008 — deliberately signaling that they could still take pride in making history if they chose a woman over one of their own, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

It was a delicately worded pitch — she did not mention Obama by name — and it drew applause. Another remark, that “anyone can be president,” set off an ecstatic standing ovation.

Afterward, several black voters said they would support Clinton on the merits, and postpone a vote for Obama until a future presidential election, once he had more experience.

The two Democrats, rivals for the party’s presidential nomination, were both in South Carolina this holiday weekend competing for the support of blacks, who cast almost half of the votes in the Democratic primary here in 2004.

South Carolina is scheduled to be fourth in the string of nominating primaries and caucuses for the 2008 race.

Clinton’s task here became more complicated last week when one of her prominent black supporters, state Sen. Robert Ford of South Carolina, said that nominating Obama would be a disaster.

“Every Democrat running on that ticket next year would lose because he’s black and he’s top of the ticket,” said Ford, who is black.

Italy Won’t Block Spanish Bid For a Stake in Telecom Italia

Just months after the Italian infrastructure minister, Antonio Di Pietro, blocked a Spanish company seeking to buy the largest toll road company in Italy, he indicated Monday that he would not block Spanish acquisition of a large stake in Telecom Italia.

Pirelli, which controls Telecom Italia through a holding company, Olimpia, said last week that it had held talks with Telefonica of Spain and that the Spanish company might buy a significant stake in Olimpia.

Di Pietro, with the backing of the government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi, succeeded last year in keeping Abertis Infraestructuras of Spain from buying Autostrade, which controls the majority of Italy’s toll roads.

“We are European and as such we don’t impose any limits on the ownership of the telephone company by Italians or foreigners,” Di Pietro said.

“The issue is that a foreigner can’t just come to Italy and start buying up companies,” he added. “One must consider industrial plans, proposed investments and the trustworthiness of the investors.”

While Di Pietro’s comments might leave the door ajar for Telefonica and other potential foreign investors looking to make acquisitions in Italy, it is likely to be years before foreigners have a free hand in buying what are considered to be strategic Italian companies, according to financial experts.

Spitzer Puts Stamp on a Casino In the Catskills Run by Tribe

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has approved plans for a $600 million Las Vegas-style casino in the Catskill Mountains for the St. Regis Mohawk tribe and agreed to lead the effort to gain federal approval — the biggest leap yet in a 30-year struggle to bring gambling to the faded resort area.

The governor signed a letter on Sunday concurring with an initial federal determination made in 2000 that the proposed casino at the Monticello Raceway would benefit the Mohawks and the residents of Sullivan County. He and the three governing chiefs of the Mohawks also signed a gambling compact that would provide the New York state government with up to 25 percent of the annual revenues from 3,500 slot machines at the casino, an amount estimated at well more than $100 million a year.

Proponents contend that the casino would revive the economy of the old Borscht Belt, attracting 6 million visitors a year and generating 3,000 jobs and tens of millions of dollars in revenue. In a series of concessions by the tribe, the Mohawks have agreed to provide $20 million a year to the county and to Monticello to offset the impact of the casino and to collect and remit taxes from sales of liquor, cigarettes and other retail items at the casino.

Employment Worries in Europe Slow Airbus Streamlining Plan

Mounting pressure from European governments has blocked a long-awaited restructuring plan for the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. that is expected to result in thousands of lost jobs at the company’s troubled Airbus unit.

The latest standoff comes after politicians in Germany, France and Britain all lobbied to preserve jobs in their countries.

The EADS board said on Monday that it had failed to reach an agreement on the revamping plan, which the company had intended to announce this week.

In a terse statement issued from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, the Airbus chief executive, Louis Gallois, stressed “the need to very quickly find a solution that overcomes national issues.”

“I made proposals which I deem balanced, both from an industrial and a technological point of view, and which serve our objective of economic competitiveness,” Gallois said.

Gallois had planned to meet with leaders of the company’s European works councils on Tuesday to present details of the plan, which seeks to save billions of dollars over the next several years through reductions in staffing and procurement costs, as well as increased outsourcing of aircraft production and assembly to contractors, both in Europe and overseas.