A gossip column in the New York Daily News isn’t the best source I could hope for, so take this with a large grain of salt:

NY Daily News | Lavish tastes of card-carrying lowlifes
Profiteering ghouls have been using debit cards distributed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina – intended to buy essentials for evacuated families – in luxury-goods stores as far away as Atlanta.

“We’ve seen three of the cards,” said a senior employee of the Louis Vuitton store at the Lenox Square Mall in affluent Buckhead, who asked not to be named. “Two I’m certain have purchased; one actually asked if she could use it in the store. This has been since Saturday.”

The distinctive white cards were distributed by the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and carry a value of up to $2,000.

“It doesn’t say anything on the card other than alcohol, tobacco and firearms cannot be purchased with it,” the store employee told me. “There’s nothing legally that prevents us from taking it, unfortunately. Other than morally, it’s wrong.”

The source told me that the two women who had made purchases with the card each bought a signature monogrammed Louis Vuitton handbag in the $800 range.

“They didn’t look destitute by any stretch. You would never have said, ‘They must be one of the evacuees.’ … The one that I dealt with yesterday was 20. She’ll be 21 next month.” The source described the reaction of other store-keepers in the mall – which includes luxury brands Ferragamo, Burberry, Judith Leiber and Neiman Marcus – as “outrage.”

“It doesn’t say anywhere on there, but it would have to be a good amount to be shopping in here,” the source said with a dark chuckle.

“Lowlifes”. Hm. I’ll file it with this one, which I also find myself doubting:

Yahoo News UK (Sky News) | Storm Survivors Told To ‘Expose Themselves’
A group of female hurricane survivors were told to show their breasts if they wanted to be rescued, a British holidaymaker has revealed. Ged Scott watched as American rescuers turned their boat around and sped off when the the women refused.

The account was just another example of the horror stories emerging from the hurricane disaster zone.

Mr Scott, 36, of Liverpool, was with his wife and seven-year-old daughter in the Ramada Hotel when the flood waters started rising.

“At one point, there were a load of girls on the roof of the hotel saying ‘Can you help us?’ and the policemen said ‘Show us what you’ve got’ and made signs for them to lift their T-shirts,” he told the Liverpool Evening Echo.

“When the girls refused, they said ‘Fine’ and motored off down the road in their boat.”

That almost sounds like it could have happened: “Show us what you’ve got” is the unofficial motto of New Orleans (“Laissez les bon temps roulez” being, I think, the official one). I remain skeptical.

I need a palate cleanser.

Boston Globe | Katrina’s real name
THE HURRICANE that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming.

…Unfortunately, very few people in America know the real name of Hurricane Katrina because the coal and oil industries have spent millions of dollars to keep the public in doubt about the issue.

The reason is simple: To allow the climate to stabilize requires humanity to cut its use of coal and oil by 70 percent. That, of course, threatens the survival of one of the largest commercial enterprises in history.

…In 2000, big oil and big coal scored their biggest electoral victory yet when President George W. Bush was elected president — and subsequently took suggestions from the industry for his climate and energy policies.

Ah, there it is. The President really does control the weather.

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