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The real stinger for Brazil is not that they screwed up in front of the whole world, it's that they paid $14 billion for the honor of screwing up in front of their own fans. Maybe they should have let someone else get that particular honor ...
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For those of you who haven't been keeping track, John McAfee has finally been arrested in Guatemala, after sneaking over the border and applying for political asylum.

It's not really clear what a man who claimed that he hung around in order to investigate the scene and find the real murderer (through such detective tricks as blackening his teeth and speaking German) was doing applying for asylum in Guatemala. After all the effort he went through to make it seem like he was going to fight it out in Belize, running to Guatemala seems like, well, running away.

It's also not clear what Guatemala can do with him besides arrest him for illegal immigration. Belize hasn't even bothered to put out an arrest warrant, McAfee is just a "person of interest", they've got bigger fish to fry these days.

And, of course, the irony of all this is that while McAfee has consistently said that he is being pursued because he tried to stand up to the corrupt local police force, Belize has one of the most trusted police forces in Latin America. Guatemala ... not so much. If Belize is feeling really nasty they may just leave him there.
danalwyn: (Default)
A lot of computer people have long suspected that anti-virus software was essentially a kind of elaborate scam, not just the pop-up window viruses that promise you 'virus protection' after they've infected your computer, but the kind of anti-virus programs that they sell in reputable stores. Even when they work, they're essentially attempts to fix problems they already know about, when your biggest problem is ones that you don't.

So it comes as no surprise that John McAfee, creator of the company that is probably second- or third-most likely to install their software alongside something entirely unrelated, is a bit of a snake oil salesman in real life. But we were surprised to find out from Gizmodo that McAfee has entered a lifestyle involving 17-year old girlfriends, an arsenal of guns, and a descent full-blown paranoia.

That was then, of course, November 8th. Now the neighbor that McAfee had disputes with, American expatriate Gregory Faull, is dead. McAfee himself, wanted for questioning regarding the incident, is on the run.

The affair has turned into a full-blown internet sensation. McAfee is making regular phone calls to Wired reporter Joshua Davis, claiming that he is now in disguise, and is evading the police. He's already compared the rounding up of his various employees for questioning to Stalin's detentions, has claimed the police are out to kill him, and is presumably doing some wacky stunt right now, probably involving driving an ATV off a cliff. What's drawn people here is not so much the celebrity factor, but the continual amount of crazy that McAfee continues to deliver live through the internet.

If this was the US, this would be pretty cut and dry. The kind of person who has to give live updates on his escape on twitter is not the kind who can stay out of police sight for long. If he managed to escape here he would rightly raise all manner of conspiracy theories. But McAfee has been living in Belize, that small country in South America that doesn't quite fit in.

No Conspiracy Theories Necessary )
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In other news that you might have missed, what with Gaddafi getting killed, Turkey getting hit by an earthquake, Kenya invading Somalia, and everything else that's happened this month, Michel Martelly, current president of the battered nation of Haiti, is considering rebuilding Haiti's military.

Haiti hasn't had a military since their last military went spectacularly insane some time ago, but they have two problems: they have a lot of veterans from that era who are owed a pension, and they have a lot of people without jobs. Martelly clearly thinks that he can kill two birds with one stone, and is budgeting US $95 million for the project (Fr), $15 million for pensions, $30 million for the joint civil service, and about $50 million over two years for paying for this new 3500 man force.

The first thought a lot of people have when seeing this is that $50 million is a lot of money, especially for Haiti where manpower is dirt cheap. I mean, in a country where a lot of the populace lives on $1 a day, it seems like you could spend a lot less on what is basically hiring 3500 men to go drive back and forth along a border in jeeps, and still have a lot left over to pay people to do something useful, like try to put the capital back together. I mean, if I just stick to the basics and avoid any frills, even I, who knows nothing about anything involved, could plan a military budget better then this, couldn't I?

No, but I can fail spectacularly in the process.

This Stuff Is Surprisingly Expensive )
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News Summary Time:

I've been avoiding the Middle East like the plague ever since it became impossible to get anything concrete out of it, but there's a bunch of other things (some outdated since it took me so long to write this) that have been running around the headlines. So here they are:

But First, Here's Johnny With the News )
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Questions that most Americans should know the answers to, but probably don't (those of you who don't live in the area can safely plead ignorance):
  • So, today's Cinco de Mayo which, to be honest, isn't that big a deal in Mexico. You should know, of course, that this is not Mexican Independence Day, which happens later in the year. It is, however, the commemoration of a famous battle. What battle is that?

  • It's pretty obvious that one side of the battle consisted of the Mexicans. Who were they fighting against?

  • What conflict was this part of, and what was the eventual outcome?

To be honest, it's probably not that important to know. I wouldn't know the answers to most of them if it didn't have something to do with the dissolution of the Hapsburgs (note - if this helps you answer the above questions, then you already know far too much) and I still got the battle's name wrong by making it masculine.

But seeing as how a great many Americans (United States Americans at least) will be taking this as an excuse to go out and drink beer and tequila until they have to be mopped off the floors, you think they would at least know something about the excuse they were using. Maybe they should require a quiz at the door to get you into the bar.

(As usual, Wikipedia has the answers to everything)
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Microsoft may be a monster when it comes to shady business practices, but I think Google is the first of the big American software companies to be blamed for creating an incident that could be considered an act of war. Granted, it was most probably an accident, but getting Nicaragua to invade Costa Rica has to put them pretty high up on the corporate mojo scale.

(Thanks to Foreign Policy for this one)
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Some good news from the morning round-up. Several web sites, including BBC, are reporting that, damage to the port aside, a freighter ship has finally managed to dock at Port-au-Prince. It's unclear how fast they can unload her cargo of bananas, but if they can get her up to the dock they can find enough hands to unload her one container at a time if necessary.

So far the relief effort has been going almost entirely through the airport, which has been so busy that they've had to put a stop order on it for non-registered flights. For reference, the largest US transport planes in common usage, the C-17s, with no passenger cargo, can carry 77.5 metric tonnes. A heavy Panamax freighter can carry up to 50,000 tonnes, and the largest freighters carry over 100,000. This could make up the difference between the 180 tons that the BBC is reporting having landed so far, and the 5-10,000 tons per day that Haiti probably needs. Every jetty they open will be more lives saved in the coming weeks, and if they've already managed to tie one ship to the docks, they're way ahead of where the pessimists thought we would be.

We'll know more about getting supplies to land once the amphibious ships are in place. They have the well decks, the helicopters, the landing craft, and the vehicles to get supplies ashore, so we're basically waiting for them and hoping.
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Earlier I linked to a David Brooks column in the NYTimes of Jan 15, 2010 as a direct part of this post. However, it's been pointed out to me that even though we start at the same point, his final conclusions are sufficiently objectionable that attempting to relate the two arguments causes confusion. To that end, I have removed the reference, since it is irrelevant to the final post I made. I am leaving the rest of the post as-is to preserve the original source of the argument, although I am putting it under an LJ-cut since this is getting long. I should repeat that this affray was entirely my fault for not making myself clear.

To preserve your friends-page )
danalwyn: (Default)
A quick rundown of what I've dug out of the news on Haiti:

From Good to Depressing )
danalwyn: (Default)
The situation in Honduras is increasingly confusing, and most of us have better things to do then spend time learning about it, like mowing the lawn, or sanding bricks, or shoveling gravel, or basically anything. So, just for your convenience, I have written down a timeline of how the whole mess started, so that you don't have to sort through all those annoying "facts" in news broadcasts.

1) Everything starts when one morning Manuel Zelaya woke up and suddenly realized that, not only was he not a rich and successful millionaire playboy who took his battle against crime to the streets in honor of his murdered parents, but that he was actually President of the Honduras, which, in the international scheme of things is sort of like being kneecapped by athletes at the Special Olympics.

And that's how it went down... )
danalwyn: (Default)
Someone at the Latin America desk owes me a dollar over the Honduras. In Soviet Honduras, General fire YOU.

Then they owe me a contingency plan. Chavez is probably just talking out of his ass, but there's no point in taking chances.

Between this and the mess in Peru, it's going to be a messy week for the Latin America desk. I would predict what was going to happen in the Honduras, but all my Magic 8-ball is saying is "Answer hazy. Try again later."

ETA: Okay fine, it may or may not technically be a coup, but I'm still claiming that I was right.


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