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The beginning of change

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 @ 01:03 PM

Global 16 by 9

The Internet is the new Wild West and at end of February Global TV’s award winning public affairs show 16 by 9, hosted by veteran TV correspondent Carolyn Jarvis aired an episode specifically about the scams perpetrated on the internet and as a result, the victimization of innocent individuals including Eric Cunningham, former MPP and businessman.

The show focused on the tactics of former police officer and purported hired “private investigator” Cullen Johnson, who with his also disgraced girlfriend Elaine White an unlicensed private investigator, sought systematically to destroy the character of people like Eric Cunningham by falsely suggesting (during his divorce proceedings with his first wife) that he was a part owner of a multi-million dollar company whose blue-chip Board (which included – also falsely- John N. Turner, Mike Harris and David Peterson among others) was in the business, again falsely, of funneling millions of dollars out of Canada. None of the allegations were/are, in fact, true yet the fact that allegations were written and posted on the internet had the effect, at the time, of creating doubt in public (and among those in the legal system) about his integrity and his reputation. The net result was that the falsehoods created animus all around. Thankfully for Eric Cunningham he is a cool customer and because he has integrity dripping from his pores, he used his own network of supporters and the legal system to go after the perpetrators.

As for the stories by Johnson and White – they didn’t stop at Cunningham! Johnson and White created a web of fantastic and false stories on the Internet hurting so many people along the way that they eventually fled the country when they were charged criminally. They fled Canada to the Caribbean when they were out on bail. The two are now imprisoned in the Caribbean for a fraud they alleged to have perpetrated there and are presently awaiting deportation to Canada. When they return to Canada, they will likely be met on arrival by authorities that will, yet again, charge them with several more counts of fraud and they both may face prison sentences here.

This Global TV story is seemingly meant to teach a lesson. It more attempts to highlight the issue of the lack of control on the internet and how the power of words can and do have an affect on any individual’s personal space and an audience the information strives to impact. When people see information on the web, experts say that there is a tendency to actually believe it because it’s written. Couple that with the fact that the “posts” on the web may have a name or a “by-line” attached to it– when, in fact, the real author could be hiding behind an alias from a internet service provider (ISP) in another part of the world, or at a local Starbucks in their home community where the perpetrator of the “post” hides behind Starbuck’s host internet site. As a victim myself of a deliberate attempt to discredit my reputation by “phantoms” claiming to be foreign business people, former colleagues, “private investigators” and other aliases, alleging falsehoods of a libelous and slanderous nature (all of which would be subject to criminal mischief and civil remedies IF a real person alleged same using their true identity on the internet) I believe that change for these kinds of nefarious activities is needed in Canada. I’m fortunate that I have many friends who are helping to “out” these internet predators and that will help more Canadians realize that much of the information on the internet is not as accurate as they would believe. It used to be that we gleaned our information in the “media” through qualified and accurate sources like a newspaper or encyclopedia. Today, anyone can post information on the Internet whether it is accurate or not and hide behind antiquated “broadcast laws” in Canada

Enforcement authorities working with us to identify the “phantoms” posting slanderous and libelous information on the internet using phony names, information and aliases, believe that until and unless Canada as a nation wakes up to the fact that there need to be stiffer laws to protect the public from internet phantoms and predators who use aliases and phony websites, addresses and identities and who maliciously attack and create mayhem for innocent Canadians such as the likes of Johnson and White will continue with impunity. Change has to start now and we have begun the process.

In Canada, like some states in the United States, there needs to be awareness that the Internet is NOT an accurate media to the degree people might believe. That information on “search engines” may not be reliable and the authors, in fact, may not be a real person OR, if they are they may post information that can actually hurt an individual and cause great harm to them (even in some publicized cases cause the victim to end their life). In some southern US states there is pending legislation to amend the criminal code so that law enforcement agencies will charge criminally those who create aliases on the Internet. The intent is to ensure that the address, the name, the posts and the site being used belong to a real person with a real name and real address thereby protecting an individual from cyber-attack from phantoms or phony people. In the United States there seems to be greater protection for reputations of an individual and civil remedies reflect that in past case law – the criminal system is now hoping to catch up.

The days of the internet being the wild west may soon be coming to an end in the US and more and more victims of the kind of malicious and outrageous acts of crime like Eric Cunningham will be vindicated while the spineless internet hacks like the Johnsons and the Whites and others who knowingly perpetrate slander, libel and criminal mischief may find themselves pay heaps of damages in civil courts or wallow in jail – where they belong.

- Marc Kealey

Jamaica Prepares for Disaster

Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 07:03 AM

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a storm that ravaged the east coast of the United States in the latter part of 2012, the country of Jamaica has braced itself for any potential disaster through the creation of the Jamaican Diaspora Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Response.  This unique entity, confirmed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson early this year attempts to provide emergency response ahead of any disaster that may befall the island nation.

Jamaican Diaspora

Some of the members of the Jamaican Diaspora Initiative for Disaster Resilience and response include from left to right: Marc Kelley, Dr. Franklin McDonnell, Rt. Hon. John N. Turner, Consul General of Jamaica, Howard Shearer, Bishop Audley James

At the launch of the initiative, it was pointed out that global trends suggest that natural and man-made induced catastrophes are increasing in frequency and magnitude, impacting many nations whether developed, developing or less developed.

The implications are that more countries are facing extreme challenges recovering from these events. It also means that more countries are competing for aide to support recovery and reconstruction efforts.

The Haiti earthquake of 2010 for example exposed many of the challenges that are often experienced by less developed countries which depend heavily on external aide to recover after a catastrophe and frankly, where the logistical infrastructure does not and did not exist previously to ease the process of recovery from that earthquake.  Haiti is still struggling three years later, moreover, Haiti has not fully realized the pledged funding and a significant portion of the reconstruction work is yet to begin.

Jamaica has similar vulnerabilities to Haiti, given its location in the hurricane alley, its geography, its geology and its heavy dependence on coastal resources.  However, the government and its Diaspora have responded in advance.

The traditional approach has been for Diasporas to contribute primarily to emergency response or early recovery operations after they have occurred.

The situation in Jamaica post Hurrican Sandy, however, requires a novel approach for engagement of the Jamaican Diaspora and its partners to support national initiatives for Disaster Resilience and Response.   It was in this light that the Consulate General of Jamaica in Toronto  launched the Jamaican Diaspora Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Response  in late 2012 confirmed this year by its Prime Minister.

Former Prime Minister of Canada, the Rt. Hon. John Turner, has consented to be the Patron for this initiative.  Mr. Turner has strong linkages with Jamaica dating back 60 years and was and is close friends with many government and business officials in and from Jamaica.  Other patrons named are prominent Jamaican Canadians, and other Canadians including the deputy chief of police in Toronto, Deputy Crown Attorney for the province of Ontario and prominent business people in Canada.

The advisory group will meet soon to ratify a Board of Directors to carry out the work identified in the Diaspora Relief initaitive’s terms of reference.  This is the first such initiative to be announced for a Caribbean nation and other Caribbean countries are following suit.

- Marc Kealey

PURA Trust Awards

Friday, March 8, 2013 @ 05:03 PM

An evening in honour of Dr. Lucky Lakshmanan for his outstanding contribution to the PURA Mission.

Taken at The Westin Bristol Place Toronto Airport

The Story of PURA

PURA (“Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas”) is an initiative founded in 2004 by His Excellency, Dr. Abdul Kalam, former President of India. More than half of all communities in India are rural or remote. As India rapidly moves to first world status, the goal of making basic amenities like good roads, drinking water and healthcare available and accessible is what PURA aspires to provide.

In establishing the PURA Trust, Dr. Kalam believes that a fully developed India can be realized by empowering rural communities and the people who live there. He believes that the establishment and development of physical, electronic and knowledge connections will lead to economic connections among rural villages thereby accelerating rural development.

The PURA Trust In Canada

Dr. Kalam shares a special relationship with Canada borne from the support of governments, academic institutions, business relationships and individuals throughout Canada all of whom recognize that improving the social and economic standing of people in both countries serves to bolster the future development of both.

Canada is well known for expertise in the management of its natural resources and its unique healthcare system. India recognizes the value of this expertise and initiatives like the PURA Trust lean on Canada for its expertise in designing processes and systems to better the economic aspirations and healthcare for developing areas throughout India. The mobile hospital design for PURA is being developed from Canada. The PURA Trust in Canada strives to raise funds and awareness of this initiative.

The PURA Trust Award

Founded in 2012 by Daniela and Marc Kealey, and inspired by the vision of Dr. Kalam transcending boundaries from India to Canada, the PURA Trust Award recognizes the achievements of individuals who have inspired the establishment of physical, electronic or knowledge connections between Canada and India. The Award is granted on an annual basis.

Canada and India share a unique relationship. Both were founded on the principle that hard work and success should be shared. Canada and India have given much of each other to the world. The PURA Trust Award recognizes the achievements of Canadians who have given their talents, energy and resources to further those links between these two great nations and, more importantly, to ensure the sustainability of rural development in India.

- Marc Kealey