Category Archives: editorial

G20 Coming to Toronto in July

The G20 summit will take place in Toronto July 26 and 27, 2010. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the location for the meeting Monday morning.
The Group of Eight meeting was to take place in Huntsville, Ontario. That has been canceled over lack of hotel rooms. To host the G20 summits a venue requires at lest 10,000 hotel rooms. The city of Huntsville has around 1,000 rooms. Toronto can easily accommodate the international visitors.
Huntsville is in the District of Muskoka, in the heart of cottage county. While it is an upscale location for tourists there simply is not enough space to hold the international event. The international summits also require air-tight security for the international delegations that come into a city.
The second G20 summit meeting of 2010 will take place in Seoul, Korea in November.

Artists’ Alliance for Mental Health Canada Breaks Down Barriers

The Artists’ Alliance for Mental Health Canada is a group in Canada that brings together artists with mental health issues. Their goal is to break down the barriers of stigma and discrimination when it comes to mental illness.
The goal of the group is to sign up at least 1,000 artists across Canada to be part of this initiative. By gathering those who live with mental illness on a day in and day out basis the group hopes to be able to change the society within Canada on this issue. Patrick John Timothy Connors is a Leadership Team Member with the group. He spoke to Digital Journal about what his hopes for this group are. The group was launched by the founder Greg ‘Ritallin’ Frankson, a poet in Ottawa, this week. At this stage the group is brainstorming on ways to help break down the barriers that those with mental illnesses face and recruiting more volunteers.
“There will be events held in 2010 in Ontario,” Connors promised during a telephone interview with Digital Journal. Connors himself is a spoken word artist in Toronto. He leans towards the academic side of poetry performing his art on open mike nights.
“I’m a middle-aged White guy,” Connors laughed when I asked if he goes to the local Poetry Slams to perform.
Connors told me that this group is close to his heart. He has suffered from depression form time to time and understands the problems that face those with mental health issues.
“Mental health is a huge part of Canada. It’s seen everywhere, from the homeless to the family home. It tears apart the fabric of Canadian family life.”
Connors said that The Artists’ Alliance for Mental Health Canada main goal is to promote awareness about mental health and to help those dealing with mental illness to be welcomed and embraced in society. “By helping one another we help ourselves. We’re making our society stronger.”

Associated Press to drive traffic to new AP-hosted website

The Associated Press (AP) is planning to prevent members and customers from publishing some of the AP’s news content on their websites. AP will instead have other news sites link directly to the main AP website for that content.
The Associated Press has put together a briefing of their plans sent to AP members late in July. The document labeled “AP CONFIDENTIAL — NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION” was sent to Nieman Journalism Lab, a project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. Titled “Protect, Point, Pay — An Associated Press Plan for Reclaiming News Content Online,” the document outlines a tracking device that will be attached to future AP content. The Protect, Point and Pay directive will put a copyright on AP content. Nieman Lab reports:

“So a headline item that says, ‘Mid-air collision outside of New York and tourists die,’ let’s say. You can imagine, in the New York area, there are lots of media covering that story.” Kasi, the AP’s general counsel, “it’s not to suggest that there’s a legal distinction.”

The newswire coverage would remain in place, but at a lesser degree than the more complex and unique materials. In easy-to-understand terms, the AP wants users to pay for the content and to drive additional traffic to their site. That move could put bloggers and smaller journalism sites at risk if they use AP content. It could also have those users refusing to take a chance with AP content, thus reducing traffic to AP’s site. AP will be using a microformat called hNews, Ars Technica reports. The program annotates news stories with information about the author, dateline and other key meta targeting aspects. It is open-source software. That software is already in use by some other media outlets in an effort to ensure users tag all sources used. It remains to be seen if AP’s plans will strengthen their hold on news content or if it will have news media sites turn away to other sources.

Opinion: Let’s All Get A Kenyan Birth Certificate

Do you have a Kenyan birth certificate? It’s not hard to get one with the Kenyan Birth Certificate Generator. All it takes is a few minutes to fill out the details and you can be Kenyan or make a Birther’s version of President Obama’s birth document.
This past weekend ‘Birther’ Orly Taitz said she had the real birth certificate of President Obama showing Kenya as the nation he was born in. It was a forgery. The real document that she was using was for David Jeffrey Bomford who was born in April 1959 in Australia. Salon reports:

“That is ridiculous. Little old person in Adelaide, the President of the United States. I don’t know whether to laugh about it or not, be worried about it,” Bomford said. “It is interesting, someone from here being involved in a conspiracy — that is so funny …. It’s definitely a copy of my certificate. It’s so laughable it’s ridiculous.”

There is plenty of software on the Internet to produce fake documents. Of course Taitz is not admitting to committing the crime of fraud when it comes to the fake documents that she paraded over the Internet early this week. President Obama’s birth certificate has been public since June 2008. That hasn’t stopped the Birthers from looking into any dark corner to find something that will prove their claims. Each claim gets wilder. Obama is a closet Muslim. Obama is Kenyan. Obama runs with scissors. One day we may even hear a rumor that Obama plays with dolls. Perhaps we should all make our own Kenyan birth certificates and be part of the Birthers’ 15 minutes of fame.



BNO News covers breaking news via Twitter

BNO News is a news source that targets breaking and developing stories world-wide. Using the Twitter phenomenon this group of journalists and news hounds are bringing breaking news to the masses with amazing speed.
BNO News is a popular Twitter resource for journalists. They have a knack of getting the newest information much sooner than many other sources on the Internet. By following their twitter feed, journalists have the beginnings of breaking news stories to be on the look out for, often hours before press releases have been distributed to news agencies.
Many people are flocking to BNO’s Twitter feed; at last count, it enjoys 905,399 followers. CNN’s Breaking News feed is still more popular, at 2.4 million followers.
BNO can thank Osama bin Ladin for jumpstarting their service. In September 2007 founder Michael van Poppel got an unpublished videotape of bin Laden which he sold to Reuters. He realized he was sitting on a gold mine and started structuring a breaking news service using his Twitter account. Within months, BNO was providing 24/7 news updates.
Using a very efficient system to process breaking news, Van Popple and his staff are able to get the freshest news, sometimes within minutes of the event.
In 2009 Van Popple founded bnonews.com with more than 16,500 members. Michael van Poppel, from the Netherlands is just 20 years old.
BNO News’s editors are journalists from the Netherlands, Mexico and the United States.
Theeditors get the news they send out in Tweets from news wires like AP, Reuters, AFP and other reputable sources. They also do their own research.
By not waiting for official confirmation, they pass on the information allowing journalists and news hounds to do further investigations on their own. While this method can be a risk, BNO News is often the first source of breaking news for journalists.
While Van Poppel did not study journalism, his staff have.
At this time BNO is not making any money providing their source. The company does plan on using advertising in the future though in order to support the site.


Opinion: Social Networking and the non tech girl

What’s a girl to do with all the social networking places littering the Internet Highway? Should I tweet or bare my soul on LiveJournal? If I go to Facebook will they sell my soul or am I too old to MySpace and all that Indie music?
Should I set my life to video and have my own channel at YouTube?
For those of us who aren’t the web monkey type which areas on the web are safe or which ones will come back to destroy my chances of future employment?
Because I report at times on social media junkets it doesn’t mean I am up-to-date on the behind the scene action. I know what I like and what is easiest to navigate though.
The best advice for anyone hopping down the social networking jungle trails is to be cautious. Your future bank account could depend on it. Employers and the police are now tiptoeing around checking people out using the Internet. While posting that cute picture of you flashing the party during the weekend may seem like a great idea realize that not only your friends but your co-workers and future employers may question your off time ventures.
That advice is good for anywhere you travel on the web. While you may feel like it’s the best place to express all of your inner secrets because no one can ‘see’ you in reality those secrets can be exposed rather easily.
Social networking is a wonderful tool to keep up-to-date with friends, family and co-workers. You can use the sites as tools to further your career and stay connected to those that live far away.
Understand though that for all the positive activities that there rules of engagement. Don’t post anything that would cause you to question employing someone else about yourself and if you do something a bit rash like smoking marijuana it’s not in your best interest to broadcast it to the world.


Kindness Is Not A Photo Op

Celebs are often treated like teenagers in the press, the only time they make the wires is from something they have done that is wrong. Good news doesn’t bring in money. Sometimes though the good guys do good deeds that isn’t for the public display.
Actors are generally good people with creative energy flowing through their souls. They will do as much as they can do for others. Sometimes it’s visible and sometimes it is hidden away. Kindness is not a photo op.

It’s not often written about the good works of celebs. The public would rather hear about who’s doing who and who is a total goon. Those are the stories that sell papers.

Some stars like Ashton Kutcher use social networking in order to gather support for their causes. Kutcher is currently working to end hunger in the United States and using Twitter as a means to get the message across.

Others lend their names to causes to help the donations come in. Some celebs like Michael J. Fox use a condition they have to help others have hope. Michael J. Fox’s foundation is behind many medical breakthroughs for Parkinson’s Disease.

Alyssa Milano has been a huge supporter of the Twitter movement for Eric De La Cruz to get a heart transplant.

There are others though in the world of celebrity that do good works without the need for the media.

As a journalist it’s hard to be silent when the feel good story of the day falls in your lap. I made a promise though to a Hollywood agent. I promised not to reveal the man who brightened the day for a very sick little girl in Toronto. This man’s movies make my little friend laugh. As she battles serious medical issues a laugh is important. Her home for the past two months has been a Canadian hospital. Yesterday was a bad day. When I asked her mother what would make this strong and beautiful child smile she told me an actor’s name. It was an impossible dream.

I don’t believe in the word impossible.

A phone call here, a phone call there. I talked to the man’s agent and told her of a child who was sick. She told me she would talk to the man. She did. My friend talked this evening to her favorite actor.

There was a condition. No media involvement.

This story is real. No names are allowed.

A hero gave a child a giggle tonight.

Miracles do happen.


Opinion: Maybe It’s Time For The Truth About Death And Insurance In Obits

John Doe, 35, died from lack of funds. Cancer treatments that would have saved his life were not affordable. Donations to help bury Mr. Doe are being accepted by his family.

“I’m sorry but there’s nothing we can do. While the cancer is treatable we can’t work with you. You don’t have insurance and that’s just unforgivable. Have a nice day.”

This obituary will not appear in the local paper nor did the doctor’s conversation take place but maybe they should. In Ohio alone two people a day between the ages of 25 and 64 die because they do not have health insurance.

We can’t imagine those words being said to a cancer patient but the reality is people without insurance are routinely given a death sentence. They don’t have the means to pay for the operation, drugs or hospital stay. Without the money to afford the keys to life they die.

The Dayton OS reports:

U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Chardon) said the study underscores the need for Democrats’ national health care reform proposals.

“It is incomprehensible that in the most advanced nation in the world, so many Americans are priced out of a healthy life, and in some cases are being priced out of life at all,” she said.

Col Owens, representing Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage, said the report disproves a common misconception.

“It is clear that too many Ohioans believe that because hospital emergency rooms must accept everyone, that people in Ohio don’t die for lack of health care coverage,” he said. “The problem doesn’t start in the emergency room. It starts invisibly and silently.”


People
without insurance often believe if they get sick enough they can go to the emergency room and be treated. There is only so much the average emergency room can do. They can’t treat cancer, they can’t give a person a heart operation. They can only treat what they can treat. From that point on a patient has to deal with the admitting department.

Some of the best doctors in the world practice in the United States. There are 47 million Americans who do not have a chance for that excellent care because they don’t have the means to pay for it.

Perhaps Dr. Sanjay Gupta says it best on his blog:

I think it’s safe to say that no one thinks our health care system works well. I haven’t thought so, almost from the moment I entered it. Simplifying a bit, for the purposes of this blog, the two issues on the table are cost and access – and probably in that order. Having sat down with President Obama, I know he believes we should build on the current system. That is, people who have health insurance they like should be able to keep the same coverage. People who can’t afford it would be eligible for subsidies to help defray the costs. I have not heard anyone from the administration talk about completely overhauling the system or having it completely run by the government.

So perhaps it is time for newspapers to print the real cause of death in the newspapers obit section. Those death notices could help really bring about change.


Opinion: Inside Toronto’s Gun Violence, No Excuse When Kids Are Dying

hen I moved to Toronto it was during the summer of gun violence. To someone from the States it really didn’t seem so bad, after all it was handguns. It’s amazing how much an attitude can change in just a few years. Today violence shocks me, as it should.

Toronto is now dealing with a spat of gun deaths in the West Side. Senseless murders, young lives lost. When 14-year-olds are gunned down in a field and left to die something is indeed wrong.

These gun wars have nothing to do with the recession. They are a sign of the times though, desperate acts from desperate people. There is no justification. Drugs could be the motive but that can’t be the entire answer. What has happened to our youth that makes pulling the trigger even be in their thought process?

When Basil Bryan, 23, was shot in the chest, laying on the sidewalk there is footage of someone just walking on by. Has the city become that callous?

How many times will words of shock and grief be printed in newspapers like City News after Daniel Da Silva died.

“I’ve known him since he was a little kid,” said Will Roque. “What are you going to say? (His mother) is hysterical, crying, I don’t even think she’s going to the coroner’s office.”

“That’s one of the best kids in the world,” adds family friend Vitalina Rolo. “I can’t say anything bad about him, nothing.”

Kids standing at bus stops aren’t even safe.Jarvis St. Remy, 18, was gunned down in the street waiting for a bus.

City News quotes Mayor David Miller:

“Imagine being a mom, your son being gunned down like this, it’s just heartbreaking for everybody,” he said. “We just simply have to get at the guns and get them off the street.”

So what can be done to stop this violence? One answer is education. In Toronto there is one program that started in 2004 called Inner City Advisory Committee (ICCA).

Digital Journal spoke to Cassie Bell, Inner City Project Coordinator about what her program does for the youth in at-risk areas. The group works with 7 elementary schools with a total of 50 schools being touched by the program to bring a more level playing field to the early educational game. With hard fought for grant money the program last year was able to have hearing and vision tests given to students at the model schools. What they found was confounding. There were children who were in need of vision surgery, children who were deaf. Working with partnerships those children were able to be treated. Once treated, kids who had been behaviour problems in school started to be star students according to Ms. Bell.

“At what point do we stop yakking and get to work. We have to deal with the problems now.”

The program is showing results. It also like many programs that work has to fight each year for the funding to continue.

MP Mario Silva sent Digital Journal the following statement:

Of course I am concerned about gun crime in my city. Our police service works very hard to keep the streets safe and I have always been fully committed to giving them the tools they need to do their jobs properly.

More than that, along with my colleagues in the Liberal Party, I have stood up against any attempts to weaken our current gun legislation.”/quote]
In September it was announced that Toronto was taking action to prevent crime in Toronto to the tune of more than $4.9 million in funding for a project that is aimed at preventing and reducing street gang activity.

Public Safety quotes Toronto Police Chief William Blair:

“A meaningful approach to prevent and reduce crime must start with an intelligence-based, targeted enforcement approach, along with a strong community mobilization component, such as our effective Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, but it must build on TAVIS, to encompass government and community initiatives and involvement to be truly effective,” said Toronto Police Chief William Blair. “Today’s announcement furthers the process of keeping Toronto a safe, vibrant, and diverse city.”

The money will to go to:

* addressing early risk factors among vulnerable children and youth;
* preventing youth gang and drug-related crime;
* preventing recidivism among high-risk groups; and
* fostering crime prevention in Aboriginal communities.

Yet the crimes are getting worse, the deaths more frequent. With the millions being tossed around what is being done at the street level? One program that has gotten funding is the TAVIS program. The program partners the communities at risk with Toronto police officers. The Toronto Police web site states the goal of the program:

We expect that TAVIS will reduce crime, particularly violent crime, in neighbourhoods across Toronto. It will also help the community to take charge of their own neighbourhoods; you and your neighbours will have the primary role in solving problems and preventing crime.

In the next few weeks look for more in-depth articles about school programs that work in Toronto and the TAVIS program in Toronto.



Opinion: Is Waterboarding Part of Loving Your Neighbour?

Love your neighbour, treat him as you would want to be treated. That’s one of the backbones of the Christian faith. So why hasn’t there been a loud Christian voice when it comes to torture on American shores?
Surveys from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press believe that the use of torture when it comes to terrorist suspects is justified. Those who attend church regularly are the staunchest supporters of this type of torture.

Isn’t that against the belief system though? I seem to recall a tale of cast the first stone, but I could be wrong. It must of been if you cast the first stone I will scream loud and hard, but if I throw it there was a reason for it.

When did it become okay for the American government to do onto others what they would have killed others to do unto them?

If another country tortured suspected Americans on mass to get out a ‘confession’ they would be considered the enemy. Remember the Vietnam War? Korea?

Guess what America, there’s a reason that America is now considered the enemy by other countries.

Do unto others and all that jazz.

Christianity Today
reported in 2007:

“Terrorism may be perceived as a genuine threat to American society and its families,” said John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum. “In the 1980s, Christian conservatives were also strong opponents of Communism and the Soviet Union.”

Breaking down the Pew Study it wasn’t just religion that was on the side of torture, political views were another factor. It’s not that surprising that more Republicans say that torture can be justified than Democrats. Education also plays a part, the less education a person has ramps up the chances that they will be in favor of waterboarding as a justified means to an end.

But it’s the Christian voice that contradicts a belief system with the realities that concerns me the most. Peace is another word for torture? Treating your brother to humiliation is fine if they are thought to be on the wrong side?

Maybe, it’s even simpler for me. The theory that I was taught long ago in Sunday School was that two wrongs never make a right.

Somehow I don’t believe that ideal has changed.