Fake News or real? A very special Hurricane Harvey investigation

After Hurricane Harvey swept through Houston, most of the rubbish that lined the streets was rumour, hearsay and outright lies. So, in order to dig up the truth, we’ve brought our sturdiest gumboots.



Direct from the nether regions of the Internet wasteland comes the sparkled brown plinth of pseudo-truth – or, spoken in its native tongue: “fake news”. It’s a journey we’ve resisted undertaking until we could Shanghai a worthy (unpaid) voyager to bring back the most ornate, exotic and off-smelling spices from the far side of the bugle. Yes, we’ve risked extensive malware cancer to deliver pointless snippets of Internet curio, but treat the lack of knowledge within the mystery pages below with due respect and trepidation, for their edges are moist with the blood of perished interns – those befallen by the disclaimer that warned them of the mortal shock that lay in wait, which they sadly ignored. What they look like now will indeed blow your mind, as it did theirs, wallpapering the cavernous interiors of the tomb that echoed their last click.


Curio #1 – Hurricane Harvey gives birth to a completely priceless masterpiece.

Consider the image below as DaVinci’s ‘Touch of God’ retouched for this generation; a masterpiece sans meaning, sans prestige, sans point. It is a work of art.

‘Touch of Dog’ – Pixels on PNG Canvas, Artist Unknown

While you may scoff at the hideous quality of the pixels, the subject, or the lazy hand that grasped the brush tool on photoshop, you should know that the above image shares an aspect with the icons of the Renaissance. This image, once popular, has suddenly disappeared from the walls of thousandfold galleries found online, which suddenly makes the above a future antique. Moreover, the unknown artist in question has won a battle that Leonardo never face, having people you’ve never met, make identical copies of your work and passing it off as their own. By ways of an example, the fate that befelled the author of the Bronwyn Bishop/Mick Fanning/Shark/Helicopter meme did not come to pass in this example.


Curio #2 – Joel Osteen offers to rebuild Houston in Tim Allen’s skin.

To be honest, we’re not entirely sure that voice actor/tool man Tim Allen and uber-deacon/door padlocker Joel Osteen are not the same people. Let’s compare the pair. Neither men believe in the evolutionary process, both men rock the same 90’s throwback barnet, and both men have great wisdom at their doorstep (or back fence), but often they do not elect to use it.

Let’s cause this photo that circulated the electronic desks of CNN as ‘Plausibly Joel’ and move on to the next case, so Joel Allen can feel free to turbocharge his empathetic hyperbole.




Curio #3 – Facebook post points finger at Red Cross spending donations, might have a point.

I’ve often wondered about this point. Say you were rescued, and you couldn’t pay the bill, do they then drop you at the point they found you? I mean it’s a standard repossession. You’re unable to meet the bill for services rendered. In the wake of Harvey, a certain rising tide of rumour washed over the low shores of logic, stating that the Red Cross was charging victims for the privilege of living a bit more.

The current typhoon swirled from a post on the 28th of August, which may have been the c-word (clickbait), stating that you shouldn’t give money to the Red Cross, as the victims don’t see the money, because 9/11:

“When the World Trade Center went down back in 2001, the Red Cross this time raised over a billion dollars in donations. Again, victims of the terrorist attack never saw the money. They opened only a few shelters during the attack and no one came to them. They even handed out coffee and donuts for the rescue workers on site, yet charged them for the food and drinks.”

That being said, The Red Cross does have a less than stellar record when finance meets disaster, as they’ve been long held under suspicion, first by the New York Times in the wake of 9/11, after the Red Cross initially announced that not all of the funds raised for those relief efforts would go to 9/11 related activities:

“The agency’s first efforts to get aid quickly to people were marked by missteps and delays. The Red Cross’s announcement that it intended to withhold some $200 million raised after Sept. 11 for future disasters provoked outrage among victims and donors and angry Congressional hearings. And the agency, under attack, found itself having to name former Senator George J. Mitchell of Maine as special administrator of its Sept. 11 relief program.”

Their response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, similarly, raised questions about what the Red Cross does — and is actually able to do — with funds raised in the wake of humanitarian crises and disasters. A ProPublica and NPR investigation released in 2014 alleged widespread failure to meet the needs of both Hurricane Isaac and Sandy, which both occurred in 2012:

“The Red Cross botched key elements of its mission after Sandy and Isaac, leaving behind a trail of unmet needs and acrimony, according to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR. The charity’s shortcomings were detailed in confidential reports and internal e-mails, as well as accounts from current and former disaster relief specialists. Red Cross officials at national headquarters in Washington, D.C. compounded the charity’s inability to provide relief by “diverting assets for public relations purposes,” as one internal report puts it. Distribution of relief supplies, the report said, was “politically driven.”

That being said, The Red Cross outlined their funding plan for Harvey in the below statement, but again, what you believe is up to you.

“The American Red Cross has been truly humbled by the outpouring of public support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Working around the clock, the Red Cross is making good use of donations and bringing help where it is needed. Each cot holding a sleeping child, each meal served to a family who is hungry and each blanket a disaster worker wraps around someone wet from the floodwaters is a result of a generous donation. As the storm moves north, flash flood emergencies are in effect throughout the Gulf Coast, and the storm may produce as much as a foot of rain through the end of the week.”

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