The week at a glance...Americas


Los Cabos, Mexico

G-20 talks economy: Meeting in Mexico this week, leaders from the Group of 20 rich and developing nations said they would launch a coordinated effort to jump-start global economic growth. “Now is the time, as we have discussed, to make sure that all of us join to do what is necessary to stabilize the world financial system,” said President Obama. Analysts did not expect much concrete action to come from the summit. But Obama used the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with foreign leaders, including a somewhat chilly tête-à-tête with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


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American ailing: Cuban officials angrily denied U.S. reports that an American aid worker held in a Cuban prison is in ill health. Alan Gross, 63, was jailed in 2009 for bringing modems to Cuba’s tiny Jewish community as part of a USAID program. Cuban authorities said he was undermining the state by assisting dissidents. After his lawyer said last week that Gross had developed a mass under his shoulder blade and needed medical care, Cuban authorities threatened to move him from the military jail where he has been kept to a regular Cuban jail, where conditions are much worse. Cuba wants to trade Gross for the “Cuban Five,” who infiltrated Cuban-American groups and are serving long jail terms in the U.S. for espionage.

Rio de Janeiro

Try, try again: The U.N. is hosting its biggest conference ever this week, as more than 50,000 people from 191 countries gathered in Rio to discuss how to raise people from poverty without destroying the planet. The U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development comes 20 years after the first Earth Summit, also held in Rio, produced a global pledge to pursue sustainable development and halt desertification. But little has been done. Of the 500-plus goals set 20 years ago, the U.N. reckons that just four have been met: eliminating chlorofluorocarbons that hurt the ozone layer, removing lead from gasoline, improving access to clean water, and increasing research to reduce ocean pollution.

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