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    February 05, 2008

    Super Duper Fat Tuesday

    Posted by: Chris

    Theweekrio By an accident of the calendar, the last few days leading up to Super Tuesday have coincided with Carnaval here in Rio De Janeiro, and today is Fat Tuesday, the climax of celebrations. And as much as this political junkie is loving the neck-and-neck Democratic primary and the historic movement behind Barack Obama, the pull of the samba is also very, very strong.

    Compounding the competing time commitments has been a bit of personal drama brought on by my being victimized by high-tech highway robbery. Soon after we arrived back in Rio several weeks ago, I went to the HSBC across the street from our apartment to withdraw cash. Someone had used a lighter to melt the plastic opening closed on two of the three ATMs there, so like everyone else I used the remaining machine.

    It turned out that apparently the ATM had been tampered with, and my card was "cloned" and over the following days, the bandidos withdrew more than $6,000 from my checking account. I even received a phone call from my bank warning me of unusual activity on the card, something I deal with almost on a weekly basis from my bank and Visa cards -- since I am traveling abroad. But it just so happened that the only two transactions I was asked to verify were, in fact, my transactions, so the fraud continued. I would normally check my account online anytime I get a call like that, but we are still waiting for the Internet to be installed in our new apartment so this one time I did not.

    The days following have been a nightmare of international phone calls and bank bureaucracy here in Brazil. Happily, however, the money has finally been returned to my account and the fees refunded. Tomorrow, supposedly, I'll even get my new bank card.

    So between the financial drama and the exhilirating but exhausting schedule of Carnaval, my blogging has been minimal. My thanks to Andoni and Kevin both for keeping things going.

    As for what happens today on Super Tuesday, I'm betting on a very good day for Obama. There is some indication that Hillary succeeded in halting the remarkable Obamomentum that closed a 20-percentage point gap within a matter of days. But he will win states beyond Illinois and Georgia, and Hillary will do much much worse than she long anticipated in the mega-states of California, New Jersey and (yes, even) New York.

    Either way, there's almost no chance that the Democratic contest will be effectively wrapped up today, as is likely on the GOP side and for weeks the Clinton camp had expected for their race. And Obama's incredible January fund-raising total ($32 million vs. Hillary's $13.5 million) puts him in a great position to compete in the states that follow Super Duper Fat Tuesday, including Ohio and Texas.

    Photo from The Week/Rio on Saturday night via Made in Brazil.



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    1. Andoni on Feb 5, 2008 7:47:47 PM:

      OMG! That's the exact same thing that happened to my partner with his card....and that was here in the USA.

      Glad you got your money back too.

    1. Double T on Feb 6, 2008 1:26:42 AM:

      I'm glad and surprised you got your money back.
      I've had problems and the bank was across the street from me, forget about across the globe.

      I can't imagine the nightmare.

      Best of Luck

    1. Kevin on Feb 6, 2008 7:08:31 AM:

      Wow you've got me all paranoid now - but that's a good thing. Always good to keep on alert. I'm so sorry to hear about the incident, but amazed and glad you got your money back. (Go HSBC! I'm so glad I switched from Shitibank...)

    1. Dcjrb on Feb 6, 2008 11:12:17 AM:

      Yipes! Someone did the same thing to an ATM in my bank in PA. They just switched my card automatically. Scary how good theives are getting.

      As for race far from over...time will tell. I have discovered that I really find Oprah loud, braying and annoying.

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