Thursday, February 26, 2009

Google / Feedburner Mess, Please Update Your RSS Readers

As you probably know, Google bought Feedburner back in 2007. Recently Google "offered" to move my Feedburner account and feeds to the new Google / Feedburner. Since eventually everyone will have to move or their RSS feeds will stop working it seemed like a good idea. I pushed the button and all appeared to go smoothly and automatic. But it didn't. It broke all of my blog feeds, and since I maintain nine different blogs, it's a significant problem. Some feeds stopped updating, some began pointing to the wrong things, feeding comments out instead of posts, and other nonsense. It's a mess that I'm still cleaning up.

The Maya Paradise blog is now fixed, I think. The feed buttons on the Maya Paradise News Blog are updated and if you are a subscriber, please re-subscribe to the new feed before Google shuts down the previous feed system entirely on March 16th.

NOTE: If you are subscribed through an Atom feed, you should not have to change anything.

Guatemala: A nation easy to get around and with an easygoing people

A travel article in the American Statesman

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

In a cool mist one early afternoon last summer, I made my way, along with my friend Nathaniel Mendelsohn, a guide and a dozen other hikers, up a lush mountain trail, scrambled across a saddleback and set out, gingerly, across the forbidding, utterly black volcano known as Picaya. It was like making your way from the land of Man into the land of Mordor.

Guatemala is like a poor man's Costa Rica. There are fewer resorts and fewer tourists. But organizing day trips like the Picaya hike, or bargaining for huipils, the embroidered, attractive ponchos sported by indigenous people, was no problem. To get from town to town, we popped into one of the many little tourist agencies to schedule transportation or we hopped on one of the many punctual little vans, Greyhound-like buses, or colorful, converted school buses known as chicken buses, for a ride along vertigo-inducing roads cut into mountainsides. (Unfortunately, with only six days, we didn't have time to reach the supposedly magnificent Mayan ruins of Tikal, in the north of Guatemala.) Lodging in a clean room with cable television and hot water cost only about $25 a night.

Read the whole article here

Dollar Rises to Highest Level Since 2004

The quetzal exchange rate reached the highest level in four and a half years, reaching Q7.98 to the U.S. dollar, according to figures from Banguat. In the financial markets, the quetzal is trading slightly above 8.

The last recorded high occurred on August 2, 2004, when the exchange rate of Central Bank reached Q8.01 to the dollar.

Business sectors such as importers, retailers, and housing said that this high figure affects them. Inputs are expensive to buy which depresses consumption.

Comparing the rate to a year ago, the quetzal was at Q7.70 per dollar, an increase of 3.6 percent.

"We are hit hard because in addition to the cost of goods we buy, we also pay more to in duties and VAT," said the president of the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce, Jorge Briz.

He added that the increase in the exchange rate affects imports. February 12 showed a drop of -28.9 per cent over the same period last year, which means that U.S. $395.7 million less goods were imported than in 2007.

Thomas Dougherty, president of the Chamber of Industry, said that the high rate impact imports of raw materials, but also provides a benefit to exporters.

Housing is also affected. A house that a year ago cost Q770,000 now costs Q798,000 an increase of Q28,000.

Latin American Drug Gangs Use GPS to Outwit Police

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Drug smugglers are using sophisticated devices like satellite positioning systems to outwit police and move more South American cocaine by sea, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

Traffickers who used to fill speedboats with tanks of fuel to power long, clandestine sea journeys, leaving less room for drugs, are now fitting them with Global Positioning Systems so they can meet up with refueling ships at sea.

Using GPS devices to hook up with a waiting ship loaded with fuel means a much bigger stash of drugs can be packed on the boats, said Perry Holloway, director of anti-drug operations at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia.

Read the whole story here.