Hurricane

New Bitcoin Scam Targets Hurricane Irma Anxiety

New Bitcoin Scam Targets Hurricane Irma Anxiety

Scams that convince people to give away their bitcoins by entering information into a legitimate-seeming (but fake) website are on the rise. But a new phishing campaign that targets people worried about the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which tore across parts of Caribbean and Florida this week, might just be a new low.

The scam, which appears to be an evolution of an existing phishing campaign, was publicized in a Reddit post on Tuesday by Chicago-based Bitcoin ATM company Athena Bitcoin. According to the company, it received a phishing email purporting to be from Blockchain, a popular blockchain explorer and digital wallet service, warning them that Hurricane Irma had damaged the company’s servers in Florida and that their bitcoins may be at risk of becoming irretrievable. As a result, the scam email instructs, the victim must transfer their bitcoins to a new address and server located in Ontario, Canada.

The address in the email is presumably controlled by the scammers, although it isn’t clear who they are, and sending bitcoins to it would result in the permanent loss of funds.

The scam address currently contains no funds, meaning that nobody took the bait. But it’s possible or even likely, given the personalized nature of the scam, that the address is single-use and intended for the email recipient only. According to Athena Bitcoin spokesperson Patrick Patton, who contacted me via email, the company believes it is just one of many organizations and individuals targeted by the scam.

“We understand that digital currency has a significant learning curve and losses to scams can be significant,” Patton wrote me in an email. “Unfortunately, major disasters often coincide with reprehensible attempts to defraud victims using any and all payment methods.”

This isn’t the first time that scammers have tried to turn Blockchain’s clout into a weapon in order to fleece unsuspecting victims. Last year, a similar phishing scam made the rounds, and there are stories of losing funds to such schemes going back three years on Reddit.

“We ask that users bookmark our link [www.blockchain.info/wallet/#/login] and alert us to any phishing emails or spam they receive,” a Blockchain spokesperson wrote me in an email. “We have a team that is extremely diligent, but it’s always helpful when the community gives us a heads up.”

If you’re out there on the wild web holding bitcoins, keep your head on a swivel.

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Bitcoin Scammers Are Targeting Hurricane Irma Victims: Beware

Bitcoin Scammers Are Targeting Hurricane Irma Victims: Beware

Reports have started to come in of scammers attempting to steal from Bitcoiners that were possibly affected by Hurricane Irma.

Also read: Bitcoin Cash Holding Steady Against Attacks From Chinese Gov’t

Bitcoin Put in Danger by Hurricane Irma? Unlikely

Earlier today, a representative from Athena Bitcoin posted on Reddit that the company had received an email from a phisher attempting to trick people into giving up their bitcoins.

The Athena representative said:

Below is an email received into Athena Bitcoin from yet another Blockchain.info phishing attempt. DO NOT follow the directions of this email and make sure everyone you know who uses Blockchain is aware of phishing attempts like this!

On Mon, 11 Sep at 6:05 PM , No-reply no-reply@blockchain.info wrote:

“As Hurricane Irma moved towards Tampa, Florida, our servers in Tampa were directly in the path of the eye of Hurricane Irma. The storm heavily damaged our servers and we are experiencing massive loss of data. This loss of data will lead to loss of bitcoins and private keys stored on these servers. There is a temporary backup of this data in the same location. This temporary backup will soon go offline and all data completely lost.

“Blockchain has servers located in different countries. Only accounts whose private keys and bitcoins are stored in Tampa Florida are affected by this loss. If you are getting this email from us, it means your bitcoins and private keys are stored on our servers in Tampa, Florida. Immediate action is needed from you, now, before the temporary backup goes completely offline.

“All your old bitcoin addresses are stored in Tampa. We have created a new bitcoin address for you on our servers located in Ontario, Canada. You are required to move all your bitcoins now to this new address.

“Your new bitcoin address is [removed for safety purposes]

“After moving your bitcoins to this address, your account balance will remain the same because the address is already part of your account. You will get an email from us notifying you of the successful move of your bitcoins from Tampa, Florida to Ontario, Canada. Please move your bitcoins now to avoid a complete loss of all your bitcoins.

“Disclaimer: By sending this email to you ahead of the impending disaster, we will not be responsible for any loss of bitcoins you may encounter if you do not move your bitcoins to your new address provided in this email.

“Please move your bitcoins now to your new bitcoin address [removed for safety purposes]

Bitsonline has redacted the bitcoin address stated in the email for safety purposes. We advise our readers to not send bitcoin to any addresses that were sent to you unsolicited.

The Athena representative posted this warning in both r/Bitcoin and r/BTC.

Reminder: Blockchain.info Is Non-Custodial

Blockchain WalletAccording to the phishing email, the alleged scammers are posing as Blockchain.info, one of the most popular bitcoin wallets in the world. As the email states, they tell people Hurricane Irma has damaged the company’s Tampa servers, and all the bitcoins stored there will be lost if immediate action is not taken.

The fact that the alleged scammers have posed as Bitcoin.info may be cause for concern, since the wallet is a popular choice for those new to Bitcoin, who may not have a full understanding of how wallets work.

It is important to note the Blockchain.info wallets are non-custodial, meaning the company has no control over its users’ bitcoin or private keys. Therefore, any damage done to company servers should only affect users access to the wallet during the outage. As long as users have their backup phrases stored in a safe place, they can recover their funds onto another bitcoin wallet.

At press time, no one has sent any money to the bitcoin address provided in the email. However, several Reddit users have noted that the addresses are likely randomized, with each recipient receiving a different one. Therefore, it is currently unknown if anyone has fallen victim to this scam.

At press time, Blockchain has not made any announcements regarding this phishing attempt on their website or social media channels. Bitsonline will continue monitoring this story and will update this article as new developments arise.

Have you received this email in recent days? Let us know in the comments below. 


Images via Getty Images, Blockchain

The post Bitcoin Scammers Are Targeting Hurricane Irma Victims: Beware appeared first on Bitsonline.

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Bitcoin, Cherch of Blerk, and Brave Volunteers Connect During the Destruction of Hurricane Harvey

Bitcoin, Cherch of Blerk, and Brave Volunteers Connect During the Destruction of Hurricane Harvey

The International Cherch of Blerk (IOCB) is a fully registered crypto-based 501c3 and recognized religion. It is a revolution in peer-to-peer charitable giving and volunteer work using cryptocurrency to give aid where needed during times of crisis.

CoinIdol interviewed Cherch of Blerk Founder and Executive Director, who is also an Attorney, Jason Seibert along with Dr. Rhiana Ireland, an Emergency doctor with an emphasis on EMS and Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Jason Seibert describes how the organization emerged and why Bitcoin is an integral part of its operation. 

“This organization was formed at the beginning of August, but it has been in the planning phase for over a year. There are many people that want to do good, but they don’t want to be affiliated with traditional systems – they wanted something that fit them. People want to know that their charitable giving is going to those that need it – what we call Boots on the Ground giving. We don’t do anything without having eyes on the scene to determine the most impact we can make for the situation. For those that like that kind of thinking, BLERK fits them as a charity. If you wish to believe in our religion, Blockchain, great, if not – it doesn’t matter, those that receive the help don’t care if you believe or not. 

Blerk’s model, as an actual religion and registered 501c3 means that the activities of the organization, donations to it, and the eventual mining and currency activities, will all benefit the users of the network as a vehicle for doing good, but will also provide those incentives to give that traditional organizations like the Red Cross enjoy. 

We had a man two days ago that made a large cash donation, but he wanted to make certain that we were truly a real organization (funny name, serious works). I delivered our Texas formation documents and the IRS letter with our Tax ID number on it, and he handed over cash for us to deploy to Port Aransas and Rockport. This is real. 

Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency adds a unique layer of flexibility, speed, and accountability that traditional FIAT systems just can’t provide. With Crypto, we can put boots on the ground without having to ship anything but a human being and a cell phone. Once that point person is on the ground, they survey the scene, make a wish list, and crypto pours into their phone. Working with local exchangers, that crypto can be quickly converted to local FIAT for supplies, services, and goods to get things moving as quickly as possible without the need for lengthy customs checks at the docks, or paperwork that prevents action from happening in the disaster phase.” 

Jason Seibert

International Cherch of Blerk Delivers 

CoinIdol asked Dr. Rhiana Ireland how long she’s been an Emergency physician, what her role is within the ICOB, and how this organization was vital during the Hurricane Harvey crisis and its aftermath. 

“I have been in Emergency Medicine for 11 years. I trained in South Central Los Angeles with a heavy emphasis on EMS and Pediatric Emergency Medicine. From there I was the Pediatric ER attending in East Los Angeles, prior to moving to Texas. I have worked for various agencies here in Texas responsible for disaster response and Ebola readiness for East Texas. I currently work at St Michaels ER in Sugarland, Texas. 

I work with ICOB as the Medical Director and Disaster Coordinator. Each disaster is different, sometimes my work involved being the medical director at the shelter clinics directly treating patients, other times I have been meeting with city and county leadership at the Emergency Operations Center. 

ICOB was vital during Hurricane Harvey. League City Texas had only one shelter for over 100,000 residents and it quickly became overwhelmed with evacuees. The Red Cross had only 3 volunteers in the shelter none of which had any management experience in mass casualty situations. The shelter took all evacuees, many of which had major medical conditions that required immediate medical assistance. There were two pregnant patients both of which due to deliver in less than two weeks, postoperative patients with surgical wounds contaminated by flood waters, and asthmatics who needed immediate breathing treatment. Ambulances were unable to respond due to high call volume and unable to transport patients due to flood water causing hospital evacuations. Without ICOB and the medical supplies we brought, these patients could have died. 

One of the reasons I became involved with Cherch of Blerk is because they believe in having ‘boots on the ground’ during disasters. This means that our members are at the disaster site determining actual needs rather than depending on second or third-hand information. One of the difficulties in Hurricane Harvey was the multiple rumors that spread throughout the shelters, inciting panic. Evacuees heard that levees had been breached and that the water had been tainted. By being there with city leaders we were able to get accurate information and then dispel those rumors.” 

Dr. Rhiana Ireland

Coordinating Disaster Relief 

CoinIdol inquired about his role as the Cherch of Blerk Executive Director and Bitcoin Attorney during the Hurricane Harvey crisis and its aftermath. Surprisingly candid, Seibert explains that he wore many hats during this emergency crisis. 

“Nobody wants an attorney when their house is flooded, they are cold and wet, and don’t know where they are going to sleep. I wore multiple hats. For the most part, I was in the kitchen! I worked with local leadership to let them know I was available, but they didn’t have anyone during the disaster that could coordinate the acquisition, logistics, and protocols to run a disaster kitchen. Dr. Ireland ran the medical and EMS services side; I ran the food and logistics side. I did have to be a lawyer from time to time to resolve conflicts between the Red Cross and local nurses, as well as the Red Cross and shelter leadership, which is unfortunate. The Red Cross has their way of doing things that may be good for a single-family house fire, but as for huge disasters – they really don’t have the training on the ground and in place to handle the situation. It’s been a real eye opener at just how unorganized and incapable the Red Cross is.” 

When CoinIdol asked about how challenging it was to coordinate and create several shelters in Galveston County, Texas along with producing nearly 12,000 meals for four shelters, Seibert shares how the community collaborated by volunteering in the midst of this tragedy. 

“The volunteer effort in the community was amazing. There is a time in any massive effort where you really have to step back and let others serve. For example, T-Bone Tom’s, a local BBQ place made famous by the Food Network, showed up and cooked outside in the storm for 13 hours to make chicken and sausage. A local seafood supplier provided a refrigerated truck so we could keep all the food cold until it was time to prep for meals, members of the community poured in dried goods and supplies. We never had a shortage of volunteers. 

As for victims of the flood – they absolutely wanted to help, but we had enough volunteers that were not impacted so there was no need, and frankly, that was ideal. Flood victims are exposed to all kinds of bacteria and contaminants. We ran a full infectious disease and contamination protocol out of the kitchen. It would be hard to keep those protocols if Uncle Harvey walked into the kitchen to help, covered in raw sewage.” 

Dr. Ireland adds, “The community was amazing. I began posting live feeds from the shelter and as soon as people became aware they showed up to help. People put their entire lives on hold to bring in supplies, dry off hypothermic patients and began pushing out hot meals for hungry evacuees. Money is important in a disaster, but so is someone being there for you, getting you out of wet clothes and bringing you a hot meal. Our community was lucky however, we took primarily flood damage and retained city services. ICOB went to the eye of the storm in Rockport, Texas and no part of the town remained unscathed. The city has no working sewage, power, or cell phone communications which create so many hardships for the citizens who are trying to bounce back.” 

Red Cross Falls Short 

Seibert shared with CoinIdol the effort of Blerk’s volunteers and Dr. Ireland as they assisted in advising local officials on how to proceed during the crisis. Seibert explains that the lack of experienced help from the Red Cross was glaring at this crucial time during which Houston was being inundated by flooding and disastrous winds from Hurricane Harvey. 

“Dr. Ireland is a fully trained Emergency Room Doctor who trains EMS on situations just like this. She was instrumental in getting facilities open, maintaining calm in leadership by having a structured plan to open and close shelters, getting families the help they needed, and, when necessary, being the bad guy by telling shelter residents it was time to leave for their next destination. As a lawyer, when I wasn’t cooking, I advised leadership on their liability in the numerous facilities, best practices under good Samaritan laws, and how to proceed in a humane way while still accomplishing the mission. 

The Red Cross claims they were cut off by the storm. As a fraud lawyer, I’m not sure I’m inclined to believe them; however, that’s really not for us to decide. The truth is the young man from the Red Cross that was running the Bay Harbor Shelter, the only ‘Red Cross’ shelter in the area, was untrained, overwhelmed and completely unprepared. There were two other volunteers from the Red Cross that tried to step up, but they had little experience as well. Bay Harbor is a church, and through Blerk’s advice and strategies, they quickly took back control of their facility and flourished while serving the community. They did a great job.” 

Dr. Ireland explained her first-hand experience with the initial Red Cross response. “The initial Red Cross response was inadequate to the scale of the disaster and I cannot say exactly why that was. We know that the Bay Harbor United Methodist Church initially was told they would have 16 volunteers and only take in 100 evacuees. On day one of the disaster only 3 volunteers came to the shelter and the church took in over 700 evacuees. The Red Cross has been plagued with scandals in recent years regarding their handling of disasters and the ProPublica and NPR series on them from a few years ago may give more detail as to the problems with the institution. 

We had well over 50 volunteers between the 4 shelters I helped manage. Some people provided direct care, some donated medical equipment from their own practices and medical supplies.

The HEB in League City, before being flooded out, was able to get us medications free of charge from their pharmacy. I am indebted to them for all of their help.” 

Bitcoin To The Rescue 

Seibert disclosed to CoinIdol how difficult it was to get supplies during the crisis and what challenges the team faced after Blerk’s truck died. 

“Scrounging for supplies was tough at first, but the community response was amazing. We quickly figured out that there was no magic truck of food and supplies coming from the government or the Red Cross. A local grocer was still open. With the limited funds Blerk had (we just opened!) and with community volunteers, we rounded up ‘high profile’ vehicles and made a grocery run after grocery run and filled the refrigerated truck with as many supplies as we could, knowing we were going to have to hang on for at least five days. Also, members of the community made direct donations by purchasing thousands of dollars of food as well. Tookies Seafood and T-Bone Toms were great examples of that. 

As for Blerk’s truck, it was a true champion. It crossed many flooded roads and access ways to get medical supplies, food, and personnel to multiple needed destinations. After it suffered damage from debris, and water in the systems while making one last crossing, our ability to keep medical supplies and food moving was severely limited.” 

Seibert reveals to CoinIdol how Bitcoin played a major role in the solution. 

“We needed another truck. The supply of trucks in the Houston area after the flooding was pretty limited. I put out a call on social media for anyone that knew of an available truck. After calling around, we found the perfect vehicle, a diesel 4×4 chevy truck with a crew cab. It was 70 miles away on the north side of Houston and we were on the south side. After working with the dealer to secure the truck, I realized we didn’t have enough funds in the Blerk coffers to make it happen, I had to make another donation from my own funds. 

I contacted Rob Gonzalez in Dallas (registered FinCEN MSB), and asked him if he could liquidate my assets and wire transfer those funds to the dealer. Rob said, ‘No problem. Oh – wait… it’s after 3 pm on Friday and the banks won’t be open until Tuesday because of the holiday.’ Okay – we switched to cash. Rob worked with another FinCEN broker, Jesse Wilkinson, to get cash on the road and in the dealer’s hands in under four hours. I drove the truck off the lot that night – of course, I had to ride my motorcycle through an awkward route through Houston (flooding), and then load the bike in the back of the truck for the return trip to League City, but it all worked out. If I had to rely on a bank, we would have been shut down for the entire weekend. As a result, we were able to get over to Port Aransas and Rockport (ground zero) and deliver direct aid to the front lines in the form of monetary support and supplies.

Dr. Ireland continues, “Bitcoin has helped the relief efforts by allowing us to rapidly scale up as the disaster presented itself. We lost equipment during the hurricane and were not nimble enough to allow us to buy things late at night and during the weekend. Banking hours are fixed but a hurricane doesn’t care about that. Bitcoin is a 24-hour currency for a 24-hour disaster.” 

How Boots on the Ground, Cherch of Blerk, and Responsive Bitcoin in Crisis Mode Saved People 

Discussing the challenges of this flooding disaster, Seibert explains how each crisis is different and how innovation and personal effort are key as the government and Red Cross did not save them. Lessons learned will be used for future experiences such as another disastrous hurricane. 

“Each disaster is different. Each situation is different. That’s why boots on the ground and targeted efforts are so important. We’ve already been asked to try to find medical supplies and sleeping cots (of all things) in advance of Hurricane Irma.” 

As the Cherch of Blerk founder, Seibert reflects on what he has learned from their first disaster. “I formed the Cherch of Blerk, so I guess it makes sense that I’m the Executive Director. I’ve learned that if you are going to wait around for the government to save you, that’s a long wait for something that’s not going to happen.” 

The coordination success of Blerk’s efforts differs from other crises Seibert has been involved in. “It took folks a bit to get used to the idea that someone, where a shirt said “Cherch of Blerk” on it, was an expert on anything. After that barrier was gone, everyone got down to work.” Though the Cherch of Blerk is a registered religion, the word “Cherch” is spelled this way out of respect for more traditional faiths that use “church.” Blerk is at the core of how this religion is defined: BeLiEve in Random Kindness. 

Dr. Ireland also reflects on the inspiration of volunteering during this crisis and people helping each other during a momentous time of need. “I will never forget the enormity of this disaster. It is awe inspiring to see a helicopter, the national guard Humvees and giant dump trucks filled with people just trying to escape from the storm. I remember standing in the rain as a city dump truck arrived with the back loaded with people and pets soaked to the bone in the rain. People were handing us all their worldly possessions, their entire lives in trash bags, passing us their children just needing someone to shelter them from the storm. 

Without Bay Harbor Church, people would have died. It was able to withstand the flood and was the staging ground for food, warmth, and medicine. The volunteers’ generosity prevented the church leaders from getting overwhelmed and allowed them to continue working problems in real time to allow us to scale up to meet the needs of the disaster. Government is good at handling many parts of national disasters but in the beginning, it is volunteers and the community who puts itself in harms’ way to take care of each other.
As a result of this experience, Seibert respects the power of Bitcoin even more and realizes how it can benefit future charitable organizations and causes during times of crisis. 

“We didn’t fully use the power of Bitcoin in this disaster response. We only scratched the surface. We hope to get the token launched (which we delayed so we could focus on Harvey efforts) so we can get our software and services ramped up and out the door. We have so many great ideas based on the lessons learned from this and other disasters. 

But our uses are not limited to just the software side, we are using innovations in hardware as well. We are using lessons in high-density rack design, based on mining equipment, to recalculate power consumption to configure lithium batteries more efficiently to power field refrigerators for medical supplies. Yep – read that last sentence again. Just awesome. Bitcoin mining tech revolutionizes medical delivery. It’s awesome.” 

Hurricane Harvey

Value of the Human Spirit and Lessons Learned from Collective Collaborative Creativity 

CoinIdol asks Jason Seibert and Dr. Rhiana Ireland what lessons they learned from collaborating and operating during a real-time disaster such as Hurricane Harvey. 

“The biggest lesson I learned was that ‘ignorance is the demon.’ There was a time when I was really tired. I think I had been up for 3 days, we were slammed, nobody knew if or when the flooding would stop. I got word that a man on dialysis had been discharged from a hospital and was at the front of the shelter. The shelter had to turn him away and they had no idea where to send him. It was only a matter of time before he would die. 

We always had hot chicken and rice soup on the stove for anyone that walked in the door. I grabbed a bowl and a slice of bread, a few bottles of water and walked it up front myself. The man was frail and hunched over in his wheelchair. I placed the bowl in front of him and he looked up at me and smiled. I shook his hand. I walked back into the kitchen and went to the sink to wash my hands, but just shut down. I couldn’t move. ‘Did I just give that man his last meal?’ I was overwhelmed with the disaster and the tragedy. I started to sob. Bay Harbor is a Methodist Church, and its leader, Pastor Paul, saw me and asked me how I was doing. ‘I just need to reset,’ I said. He invited me to visit the Church’s sanctuary. I did. 

In that moment, I realized that I could not know or own what happens to every person that walks through the door. We can only serve those that are right in front of us the best we can, and then allow them to be served by the next. If we focus on the thought of ‘what will happen to that person next?’ we will never be able to help the person that is right in front of us. It took me a few minutes to resolve, reset, and get back in the game. 

As for human spirit, creativity, and inspiration, it thrived for four days as the community fixed its own issues. League City is in the phase called, ‘return to normal.’ That means that the disaster is over, recovery is nearly complete, and folks are getting back to their lives. But just a few miles away, there are houses still under water. We have a lot of work to do.” 

Dr. Ireland shares the lesson she learned by being a witness, volunteer, and Emergency doctor when people were in desperate need of help during a grand scale crisis. 

“The most important thing I realized from this was that people are the most important resource in a disaster. Some people truly rise to the occasion in stressful situations and those people become indispensable in an emergency.”

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How Bitcoin Rescued Victims of Hurricane Harvey

How Bitcoin Rescued Victims of Hurricane Harvey

The International Cherch of Blerk, a registered crypto-based 501(c)(3), and recognized religion, is revolutionizing peer to peer charitable works. They are using crypto currency to target aid where it’s needed most.

Hurricane Harvey

After Huricane Harvey struck South Texas, Cherch of Blerk Executive Director Jason Seibert, along with Blerk Medical Director, Dr. Rhiana Ireland, loaded up a truck with a chainsaw, generator, fuel, water and coffee and drove as far into the storm as they could. They finally arrived in Bay City, Texas in the heart of hard-hit Matagorda County after dodging tornadoes and plowing through pouring rain.

In the following days, Seibert and Ireland coordinated the creation of several shelters in the Galveston County area.

Dr. Ireland was recognized nationally for her life saving efforts in JEMS (the Journal of Emergency Medicine). Seibert implemented infectious disease control protocols in food service and meal plans, ran a makeshift kitchen, and produced nearly 12,000 meals for four shelters. Blerk ran all the efforts, advising local officials on how to proceed and how to create new shelters. Blerk even ran medical supplies between shelters as the Red Cross was nowhere to be found.

Bitcoin to the rescue

While running supplies, Blerk’s trucks died. With only a few hours’ notice, Blerk found a truck on the north side of Houston, however, wire transfer of funds was not possible due to the limitations of banks and the time of day. Relying on banks would mean that Blerk would have no transportation for five days..

Jason Seibert contacted Robert Gonzalez, founder of the over the counter (OTC) trading company UTXO, LLC. Gonzalez collaborated with Jesse Wilkinson, a well-known OTC trader in Dallas/Fort Worth area, for a solution. Jason liquidated personal crypto assets through Rob and Jesse, who are registered with FinCEN, and had cash in the dealer’s hand in less than four hours.

Apparently, when banks fail, crypto wins. Blerk made peer-to-peer aid happen when traditional financial institutions failed.



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Dash News Weekly Recap – Max Keiser, Tristar Gym, Hurricane Harvey, Venezuela & More!

Dash News Weekly Recap – Max Keiser, Tristar Gym, Hurricane Harvey, Venezuela & More!

Mark Mason is the Director of PR / Media & Webmaster of Dash Force News. He is a long standing member of the Dash community and is mostly involved in international outreach. Most known for his Dash activism, moderator role on Dash Nation Slack and as loyal Dash Force team member. Earned the nickname “Mr Hustle” by Amanda B. Johnson for his media and public relation skills.

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Red Cross Admits It Doesn’t Know How Hurricane Harvey Donation Money Is Spent

Authored by Carey Wedler via TheAntiMedia.org,

Though the Red Cross has a historical reputation for providing relief to victims of natural disasters and other emergencies, the organization’s practices have tarnished its name over the last few years.

Amid the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the Red Cross reportedly accepted nearly $500 million in relief money but built only six homes with the funds even though they claimed they had provided homes to 130,000 people. These failures prompted some Haitians to advise the world against donating funds to the Red Cross.

The organization was accused of diverting resources and supplies to bolster its public image during Hurricane Sandy. As an investigation by NPR and ProPublica found:

The Red Cross national headquarters in Washington ‘diverted assets for public relations purposes.’  

 

A former Red Cross official managing the Sandy effort says 40 percent of available trucks were assigned to serve as backdrops for news conferences.

The outlets reported that [d]istribution of relief was ‘politically driven instead of [Red Cross] planned,’” noting many organizational failures.

Further, a report released last year by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley found that 25% of funds donated to aid in relief for victims of the earthquake was actually spent on internal costs. That amounted to roughly $124 million.

Now, amid the hurricane in Texas, the Red Cross is admitting it currently doesn’t know how the funds it’s receiving are being spent.

NPR’s Morning Edition interviewed Red Cross executive Brad Kieserman to ask how the funds will be distributed.  Kieserman said that as of Wednesday morning, “had spent $50 million on Harvey relief, mainly on 232 shelters for 66,000 people.”

Through donations, how much of every dollar goes to relief? NPR’s Ailsa Chang asked him.

But he responded without actually providing an answer to her question:

Yeah, I don’t think I know the answer to that any better than the chief fundraiser knows how many, how much it costs to put a volunteer downrange for a week and how many emergency response vehicles I have on the road today. So I think if he was on this interview and you were asking how many relief vehicles in Texas, I don’t think he’d know the answer and I don’t know the answer to the financial question I’m afraid.”

She pressed him about the Red Cross’ previous failures and misallocation of resources. According to NPR’s transcript:

Is that still happening? Such a substantial percentage of donations going to internal administrative costs, rather than to relief?

 

“Kieserman: It’s not something I would have any visibility on. I can talk about what it costs to deliver certain relief services.

 

“Chang: Yeah.

 

“Kieserman: But the way the internal revenue stream works, uhh …

 

“Chang: You don’t know what portion of that amount.

 

“Kieserman: Not really.

 

“Chang: You don’t know what portion of that total amount is for relief.

 

“Kieserman: No, I really don’t. I wish I could answer your question, but it’s not something I have visibility on in the role that I play in this organization.

The executive ultimately claimed that “The folks I work for are very, very attentive to cost effectiveness and cost efficiencies in making sure that as much as every dollar that we spend on an operation is client-facing.”

Slate reporter Jonathan Katz also reported the organization declined to disclose how much money they had spent or raised so far. Katz ultimately urged readers not to contribute to the Red Cross.

The Red Cross continues to face criticism and urgings for individuals who want to help to take their donations elsewhere. The Independent reports that over the weekend, Dan Gillmor, author and professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, advised against donating to the Red Cross. Many other social media users have expressed similar sentiments.

Despite the Red Cross’ failings, however, there are still many organizations doing important work.

The group A Just Harvey Recovery lists a number of local efforts accepting contributions. The Cajun Navy, a volunteer effort that previously rescued victims of Hurricane Katrina and the Louisiana floods last year, has also been working round the clock in Texas and is accepting donationsThere are many organizations and shelters working locally to provide relief and essential services. If you would like to contribute or volunteer, you can find some of them herehere and here.

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Dash Leads Texas Hurricane Relief With Crypto Donation Drive, Dash Rescue Boat

Dash Leads Texas Hurricane Relief With Crypto Donation Drive, Dash Rescue Boat

Danny Sessoms, co-host of the Crypto Show, which is sponsored by the Dash network, is leading a relief operation for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Port Aransas, Texas. As part of this effort, Sessoms deployed a flat-bottomed boat for water rescue, including prominent Dash branding. According to Sessoms, this came together spontaneously on Wednesday:

“This happened yesterday afternoon Harlan called me and with looking for a trailer to haul his old boat with because it was too heavy for a truck. Harlan said “Hey, let’s use some of the Dash proposal money and buy a flat-bottom boat at Academy, we already have a motor.” I said “Hell yeah, let’s do it.” I called our printer and within an hour he had the emblems ready to go. Harlan went and picked up the boat and by 1 a.m. They were in Houston getting ready to go out this morning. I think that kind of demonstrates that not only is cryptocurrency fast, but so are the plans of action they can be implemented with them. The printer did not charge us for the emblems either.”

Part of a much larger cryptocurrency-driven relief operation

This boat is just the latest part of a much wider relief effort funded by cryptocurrency donations. Spearheaded by Sessoms and the Crypto Show, over $50,000 worth of Dash and Bitcoin donations were raised to help the flood’s victims. Sessoms himself loaded up his RV with supplies for the victims such as food and water, and headed to the disaster area.

In addition to Dash funding, Sessoms received Bitcoin donations, including a 10-Bitcoin donation from a single listener to his show, Bill Kline. He also received assistance from Roger Ver and Bitcoin.com.

Dash’s longtime charity sponsorship through Unsung

A longtime fan of Dash, the Crypto Show has long engaged in charity work for the local community with assistance from the Dash network. An integral part of the ongoing sponsorship the Crypto Show has with Dash has been a partnership with Unsung, a charity organization dedicated to feeding the homeless.:

“Unsung is the brain child of popular cryptocurrency activist and philanthropist Jason King. Unsung.org is an application that feeds the hungry by delivering unwanted food from local caterers and restaurant and rewards its drivers with bitcoin. The Crypto Show helped make Unsung a reality by creating a partnership with another decentralized organization here in Austin, Arcade City. Both organizations give credit to the show for making this effort come to life.”

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Charlie Hebdo cover characterizes Hurricane Harvey victims as neo-Nazis

Charlie Hebdo cover characterizes Hurricane Harvey victims as neo-Nazis

A French satirical magazine famous for its provocative and
inflammatory cartoons was met with backlash on Thursday
after it released a cover that characterized Hurricane
Harvey victims as neo-Nazis.

The cover for its Friday magazine showed an image of drowning
limbs saluting Nazi flags, accompanied by the text, “God
exists. He drowned all the neo-Nazis of Texas.”



Charlie Hebdo
cover.

Charlie
Hebdo


Predictably, the cartoon provoked some —
occasionally misguided —
backlash on social media.

The French publication has long courted and embraced controversy
over its topical cartoons. After publishing images that some
Muslims found offensive, the publication was the
target of a terrorist attack in 2015 which left 12 people
dead at its Paris office.

It has continued its anti-left and anti-institutional
cartoons since the attack, garnering negative
news coverage for its depiction of
Italian earthquake victims as pasta
 and a
series of cartoons
 mocking the symbolic value of a
dead Syrian refugee that went viral in 2015.  

Charlie Hebdo wasn’t the only publication to face criticism for
its cartoonists’ commentary on the hurricane. 

After an outcry on Wednesday, Politico deleted a tweet with a
cartoon depicting a person in a Confederate flag shirt being
rescued from a flooded house with a secessionist sign, which
critics said was insensitive to flood victims.

The cartoonist, Matt Wuerker, defended his cartoon, saying
it skewered secessionists and those who disparage the federal
government writ large while taking its services for granted.

“As a political cartoonist, I try to get people to think — to
consider the ironies and subtleties of the world we live in,”
Wuerker said in an email to Business Insider.

“This cartoon went with an extreme example of anti-government
types — Texas secessionists — benefitting from the heroism of
federal government rescuers,” Wuerker continued. “It of course
was not aimed at Texans in general, any more than a cartoon about
extremists marching in Charlottesville could be construed as a
poke at all Virginians. My heart is with all the victims of
Hurricane Harvey’s destruction and those risking their lives to
save others.”



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Radio Host Raises $50k in Dash and Bitcoin to Help Hurricane Victims

Radio Host Raises $50k in Dash and Bitcoin to Help Hurricane Victims

Hurricane Harvey pummelled the State of Texas and the Gulf Coast, causing massive damage and displacing hundreds of thousands. It will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst hurricanes to hit the United States in decades.

Thomas B. Shea/AFP/Getty Images

Danny Sessoms, host of a cryptocurrency-themed radio show based in Austin, teamed up with Unsung.org to hold a fundraiser for the Hurricane Harvey victims. On his radio show, Sessoms announced that he would be accepting donations via the digital currencies Bitcoin and Dash, and would use those funds to buy basic necessities for the victims.

This effort raised about $50,000, and Sessoms stocked up his RV with goods purchased at Wal-Mart, and hit the road..

As Sessoms explains

“Moments like these show the real power of this technology and what cryptocurrency holds for the future.” 

Cryptocurrencies have sometimes received a bad reputation because criminals can use them for money laundering and illegal drug purchases. Fundraising drives like this go a long way toward rehabilitating Bitcoin’s image. Digital currency can, in fact, be used for good.

Many storm victims still need your help. To donate, please visit here.

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Habitat For Humanity Texas Accepting Donations Of Ether To Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

Habitat For Humanity Texas Accepting Donations Of Ether To Help Hurricane Harvey Victims




Habitat for Humanity is accepting Ether donations to help those displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

On August 29, 2017, in response to the overwhelming humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Texas-based office of Habitat for Humanity has opted to accept donations in the form of Ether.

The charitable organization tweeted that it would provide relief for Hurricane Harvey victims, and directed holders of Ether to visit a website where donations could be sent to an Ethereum address. At time of press, a little over 14.8 Ether, worth approximately $5,572 at a $375.03 valuation, has been donated to the cause. According to its website, “100% of the proceeds are donated directly to Habitat for Humanity Texas to fund their long term disaster relief efforts in Harvey’s aftermath.”

Habitat for Humanity encourages anyone with means to contribute either Ether or fiat currencies to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Visit the Habitat for Humanity website or, to donate Ether, visit ETH4Harvey.com.

Jeremy Nation is a writer living in Los Angeles with interests in technology, human rights, and cuisine. He is a full time staff writer for ETHNews and holds value in Ether.



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