Ask AP: Candidates and Cuba, diesel-electric cars

Ask AP: Candidates and Cuba, diesel-electric cars

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 9:25 pm
By: AP

By The Associated Press U.S. policy toward Cuba hasn’t played a major role in this year’s campaign for the White House. But many voters may be wondering: Will the end of President Bush’s tenure bring changes in the trade embargo? Will travel restrictions be lifted? Will the next president meet with the leader of the communist nation that lies within 90 miles of U.S. shores? Curiosity about the issue inspired one of three questions in this edition of “Ask AP,” a weekly Q&A column where AP journalists respond to readers’ questions about the news. If you have your own news-related question that you’d like to see answered by an AP reporter or editor, send it to newsquestions(at)ap.org, with “Ask AP” in the subject line. And please include your full name and hometown so they can be published with your question. ——— I have wondered, with the high percentage of fuel-efficient diesel cars in Europe, and the push for hybrids, why hasn’t there been a push for diesel-electric hybrids? Wouldn’t that be the best of both worlds? You would think that by combining the two technologies, you could reach upwards of 60 mpg. Erik Bjarling Greenwood Lake, N.Y. ——— Cost is the primary reason. Small diesel engines cost several thousand dollars more than gasoline motors, and U.S. buyers have been reluctant to pay the premium in the past. Also, diesel fuel in the U.S. costs about 60 cents more per gallon than gasoline. Plus, in the U.S., people still perceive diesel cars to be smoky and noisy, even though that’s no longer true. Diesels, however, are 15 to 20 percent more efficient than gasoline engines. So yes, a diesel-electric hybrid might be an efficient option. It just may not be the most cost-effective one. As gas prices rise, though, that could change. Many automakers have diesels and diesel-electric hybrids on their drawing boards along with gas-electric hybrids. Tom Krisher AP Auto Writer Detroit ——— Where do the presidential hopefuls stand on U.S. policies toward Cuba, after a half-century of enforcing a trade embargo and otherwise trying to isolate the country? Jack Kroehnke Albuquerque, N.M. ——— On Cuba, what you see with President Bush is what you get with John McCain. The Republican candidate says Cuba must be in transition to a free and open democracy before he’d negotiate an easing of the trade embargo. He’s not interested in meeting Raul Castro absent marked progress beforehand. So there’s not much question where he stands on Cuba. The same can’t be said about his Democratic rival. Barack Obama is ready to relax restrictions on family travel and on money that Cuban-Americans can send to their families back on the island. Otherwise, he’s been harder to pin down. Earlier in the campaign, he said he’d be open to meeting hostile leaders, including Cuba’s, without setting preconditions. He took a lot of heat for that, and you don’t hear the same from him these days. Now he says he’d engage Cuba in diplomacy “at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people.” Parse those words carefully and you can still see a willingness to get to the negotiating table somewhat faster than McCain. Calvin Woodward Associated Press Writer Washington ——— What has become of the Tom DeLay matter? When will he stand trial? Burton Kaplan Branford, Conn. ——— Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and two associates are still awaiting trial on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money for election spending in 2002 state legislative races. No trial date has been set. Judge Pat Priest has said he is waiting for appeals courts to rule on various legal issues in the case. Last year, the state’s highest criminal appeals court upheld the dismissal of one charge against Delay, an allegation of conspiracy to violate the election code. DeLay’s lawyers successfully argued the law did not take effect until 2003, after the election in question. Kelley Shannon Associated Press Correspondent Austin, Texas ——— Have questions of your own? Send them to newsquestions(at)ap.org. Published in The Messenger 7.15.08

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