Seeing Rachel zoom in on In Amenas, Algeria on the map last night made me realize I've been looking at Africa a lot lately on Google Earth.
In case you don't recognize the name, In Amenas is the town/oil facility the al Qaeda-linked militants took hostages, including 3 Americans, reportedly in retaliation for the French involvement in Mali.
Mali, Nigeria and Botswana after the jump...
On the subject of the French actions in Mali, the overnight article from the Washington Post describes them as being focused on a city called Diabaly. I think Google calls it Diabal. The Post explains that it was the Islamic rebels taking Konna that drew the French in in the first place. Also mentioned are airstikes on a city called Gao. To the extent that those points can be connected (and not by Google's purple line driving directions), I imagine that's the line northern rebels have reached. I look forward to Richard bringing his map to make that all a little more clear.
Speaking of oil facilities, I lost some time yesterday trying to track down the locations of these photos of oil hacking in Nigeria. I think most of the illegal refineries are too small to show up on satellite, particularly with the cover of trees. The closest I could find were these spots near Bodo (see 16 and 17 in the slide show), which appear to be real oil operations, not hacked pipelines, but still pretty messy-looking:
The last time I spent this much time floating over Nigeria was last month when there was a story about Monopoly adding a Lagos version. The article mentions that "Makoko, the slum on stilts over the city's lagoon, is the cheapest property for sale on the Lagos board." Slum on stilts? Makoko is another one of those places that is well known but I'd never heard of. But even after looking at the photos, I wasn't prepared for the scope revealed by the the sky view. You might have to view larger to realize what you're looking at:
Moving on to lighter subject matter, Google was pleased to report yesterday that its street view vehicle did not run over a donkey in Botswana. The donkey appears to have been taking a dust bath on the dirt road when the truck arrived. I'm not sure where exactly the donkey images are on the map. If you zoom out over the area and then grab the street view guy you can see the roads that run through the game preserve. I did find some cows.