U.S. cell phone users give $5M
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. cell phone users have contributed more than $5 million in $10 increments to the Red Cross for Haiti disaster relief, by far the largest outpouring of support via mobile devices in history.
The response to the devastating earthquake produced the highest amount of mobile donations "that we have ever seen," said Jenifer Snyder, executive director of mGive Foundation, the nonprofit group that is working with the Red Cross and wireless carriers to channel the donations.
To donate to the Red Cross, mobile users are texting the word "Haiti" to the number 90999. Snyder said the money is coming in at a rate of roughly $200,000 an hour.
Scammers going after donor dollars
CHICAGO (AP) — Scammers emerge as predictably as earthquake aftershocks following natural disasters, making it imperative for consumers to be wary of unsolicited appeals to aid victims in Haiti.
Key advice from the FBI and security experts: Look carefully before you give money or personal information, and contribute to a known organization.
Evidence of potential fraud already has surfaced. More than 400 Internet addresses related to Haiti have been registered since Monday's devastating quake, Internet security expert Joel Esler said.
Many will likely prove legitimate, Esler said. But many more will be bogus and associated with Web sites that host malicious software, spyware or other hazardous content.
White House slams Robertson remark
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A White House spokesman on Thursday slammed evangelist broadcaster Pat Robertson's remark that Haiti has been cursed.
"It never ceases to amaze me that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that can be so utterly stupid," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
The day after the earthquake, Robertson said Haiti has been "cursed" because of what he called a "pact with the devil" in its history. His spokesman said the comments were based on Voodoo rituals carried out before a slave rebellion against French colonists in 1791.
Spokesman Chris Roslan says Robertson never said the earthquake was God's wrath.
Haiti striving to get communications up
USA TODAYComment on this story
Telecommunications providers in Haiti will continue through the weekend to try to accommodate the enormous demand for phone and broadband services as they struggle to overcome massive damage to the island's infrastructure from Tuesday's 7.0 earthquake.
"The logistics and the security situation are really bad," says Paul Margie, U.S. representative for international relief organization Telecoms Sans Frontieres (Telecommunications Without Borders). "There's so much rubble in the street, it's hard to drive places."
The group plans to set up a site in Port-au-Prince where people can make free, two-minute phone calls via satellite to anywhere. It also will offer broadband service to relief workers.
The island's leading wireless phone provider, Jamaica-based Digicel Group, wants to send technicians to the island to work on its network, which is damaged but still operational.