Perhaps Washington’s top priority on Cuba is winning the release of Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor sentenced to 15 years in prison after he imported sensitive communications equipment. Gross and U.S. officials say he was only setting up Internet connections for the island’s Jewish community.
Cuba has demanded the return of five Cuban intelligence agents serving long sentences in the United States. Washington rejected that idea.
Those calling for stronger action on climate change were thrilled that Obama made a reference to the ‘‘destructive power of a warming planet’’ in his victory speech in a reference that clearly included the devastation by superstorm Sandy on the U.S. East Coast. Now comes the hard part: doing something about it.
Many countries are still frustrated by what’s seen as a lack of ambition from the U.S. in global efforts to curb greenhouse emissions.
The Bush administration pulled out of a U.N. pact to curb emissions from industrialized countries, saying it was unfair because it didn’t include major developing economies such as China
The U.S. hasn’t really shifted that stance under Obama, insisting it won’t be part of any global climate pact unless it also imposes binding commitments on China, which views global warming as a problem mainly caused by the West.
That issue is likely to remain a stumbling block during Obama’s second term. Sweeping climate action, including international commitments, needs approval from Congress, where many Republicans don’t accept the mainstream science on global warming.
Associated Press writers contributing to this report: Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Beirut, Lebanon; Deb Riechmann in Kabul, Afghanistan; Amy Teibel in Jerusalem; Matthew Pennington and Desmond Butler in Washington; Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden; and Peter Orsi in Havana, Cuba.