Will the U.S. lead on climate change? Probably not, to the world’s detriment

Plus: Did a U.S. operative hack into a French president's email?

Latitude News staff By Latitude News staff

Protestors attempt to gain access to the plenary session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, December 9, 2011. (Reuters)

Climate change and U.S. politics, Black Friday in Russia, and Nicolas Sarkozy’s email: what do they have in common? All are uniquely American stories that the global press is following more closely than America’s media. Here’s a round-up of stories about the U.S. you many not want to miss this morning.



  • Remember climate change? That global crisis — one among many — that President Obama and the U.S. Congress have been unable to address? Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine is taking the U.S. to task, although writer Oliver Geden isn’t expecting much from the next few years, other than increasingly erratic weather. International climate talks have been shackled by the unwillingness of some of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, countries like the U.S., China and India, to commit to firm targets for reducing emissions. “One of the most serious weaknesses of the negotiation process,” says Geden, “is the overdependence on US domestic politics. Despite President Barack Obama’s re-election, fundamental change is not about to come.” With the next Congress and White House looking much like the current one, Geden predicts that even if the U.S. signs a climate treaty, it would take at least five years for two-thirds of the Senate to ratify it, a must in U.S. domestic politics. “And at that point,” he says, “all the waiting will have been in vain.”


  • According to a report in The Hindu, the French news magazine l’Express has accused the U.S. of hacking into the e-mail of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his staff. Relying on anonymous sources, l’Express wrote that the sophistication of the attack led many experts in France to conclude the hack must have been accomplished using so-called “Flame” malware, which the U.S. and Israel allegedly used to destroy computers in Iran’s nuclear program earlier this year. The U.S. Embassy in Paris denies the charges, saying it “categorically refutes the allegations made by unidentified sources.” The Hindu adds that while even close allies regularly spy on each other, such an attack could be considered a “hostile act” by the French government.


  • Apparently, in Russia, they’re not impressed with America’s obsession for the best possible deal. The Russian state news service RIA Novosti — which has a penchant for pointing out American flaws — has run a feature highlighting six of this year’s worst “Black Friday” stories. As their writer snarkily comments,  “It seems no ‘Black Friday’ shopping weekend is worth a flip these days without some pushing and shoving, insult-hurling and general chaos thrown in to help mark the official start of the US holiday shopping season. And 2012 delivered in multitude, complete with guns, gangs and pepper spray.” Sure, we like to save. But is it worth mass brawls, pistol fights in the checkout line, and “drunk shopping”? Either way, we know there’s equally crazy stuff going on in Russa.