Possibly the least surprising news yet in the Hurricane Katrina story.
The Missouri attorney general, Jay Nixon, filed a lawsuit this afternoon against InternetDonations.org, the hub for a constellation of Web sites erected over the last several days purporting to collect donations for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Also named in the lawsuit, Mr. Nixon said, is the apparent operator of the donation sites, Frank Weltner, a St. Louis resident and radio talk show personality with ties to neo-Nazi organizations and the notorious Web site JewWatch.com.
The Missouri lawsuit seeks to freeze the assets of Internet Donations Inc., a nonprofit entity registered with the Missouri secretary of state's office by Mr. Weltner on Sept. 2, and to shut down the dozen or so Web sites with names like KatrinaFamilies.com, Katrina-Donations.com and NewOrleansCharities.com. Those sites appear to have been hastily registered and mounted since Hurricane Katrina devastated large swaths of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi last week.
Reports from volunteer duty: Eileen, the Chron's Ken Hoffman, and Lou Negretti, who's curiously uninformed about Austin's evacuee efforts. For the record, some 6000 evacuees were expected in Austin, with the first wave arriving on Sunday. As of Wednesday, there were about 4200 in the capital city.
Speculation on what the future of New Orleans and the evacuee host cities may look like: from Tory, Ray in Austin, Mike Fjetland, and Laurence. On a more sobering note, Amanda passes along word about disease and contamination from a doctor currently in New Orleans.
Latinos for Texas notes that many people displaced by Katrina are Mexican nationals, and they may be reluctant to ask for help.
RED CROSS FUNDRAISER AT SAINT ARNOLD'S ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 The only way to celebrate New Orleans is to have some good drink, good food and good music. We're going to supply two of the three: drink and music. You are welcome to bring your own tasty food. Music will be courtesy of the Zydeco Dots. Laissez les bon temps rouler! Admission will be $12 per person in advance, $15 at the door. 100% of the proceeds from this evening will go to the Red Cross. We will also be donating all the profits from any glass and shirt sales that night. So be charitable and have a good time! Here are the details:
Red Cross Benefit at Saint Arnold Brewery
Tuesday, September 13
6 PM to 9 PM
Admission: $12 in advance, $15 at the door
For advance reservations, call or email Ann (email@example.com or 713-686-9494). She will accept cash, credit cards, checks and flattery (while appreciated, the flattery will not go towards the admission). Advance reservations must be made by noon on Tuesday.
My name is Susan Wade, and my brother is an Austin firefighter. He was in touch with the local Veterans for Peace group, and heard of a VfP group that drove from California to Louisiana last week and set up an aid station. They're in Covington, LA and were the first relief on the ground there. We organized supplies (they had only the first load they brought with them), and Daryl loaded his truck (camper shell and a huge luggage rack) and drove to Covington last Saturday night. He and a friend have been volunteering there ever since. VfP has collected supplies and sent more pickups to Covington from Central Texas.
I was able to talk with Daryl by cell phone (his service is spotty, of course) on Monday night. They're working with the Red Cross now. That day, re-supply had improved dramatically, and they're starting to feel like they're making headway.
Tonight, when I got home, there was a message from Daryl saying they've had word of a small town in Mississippi (Laurel) that's received no assistance yet at all. We're organizing supplies and drivers again. If any of your readers want to make a donation that they can be certain will go right now to people in desperate need because of Katrina, I know for a fact the VfP is doing that. They have a PayPal and credit card site set up. Here's the link.
If anyone else wants to go do unglamorous relief work, it sounds as if rural Mississippi is the place to go. I'll serve as a contact for direct info from Covington for any who are interested. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org