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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a May byelection in British Columbia to fill a seat vacated by a former New Democrat.

The Prime Minister’s Office has set May 6 as the date for the ballot for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

The riding opened up when former New Democrat member of Parliament Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January to run successfully for the provincial New Democrats.

Malcolmson was one of several NDP MPs who decided not to run again in October’s federal election.

The list includes B.C. MP Murray Rankin, Alberta MP Linda Duncan, Ontario MPs Irene Mathyssen and David Christopherson, Quebec’s Helene Laverdiere, Romeo Saganash, Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet and Anne Minh-Thu Quach and B.C.’s Fin Donnelly.

Bob Chamberlin, a long-serving chief counsellor of a First Nation based on Gilford Island in the Broughton Archipelago off northeastern Vancouver Island, has said he intends to seek the NDP candidacy in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

Some 30 percent of Russia-based companies are employing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, leaving European and US firms behind, according to the results of a Microsoft survey of business leaders.

Russian executives are at least 7.7 percent ahead when it comes to adopting the technology, Microsoft said, adding that in France, for example, the level of AI use amounts to 10 percent.

The corporation unveiled the research titled “Business Leaders in the Age of AI” earlier this week. Some 800 executives from eight countries – France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, the UK and the US – took part in the survey, which was conducted back in January among companies with more than 250 employees.

“We see that the interest to solutions based on artificial intelligence from businesses in Russia has increased significantly over the past year,” ABBYY Russia CEO Dmitry Shushkin said. He revealed that the software company’s revenues from AI-based projects rose 63 percent in 2018.

Russian executives are among those who appreciate AI in their business activities the most, saying that it helps them with company management. The businessmen also demonstrated huge interest in working with the technology more effectively, according to the Microsoft poll. To do that, 90 percent of Russian respondents were willing to consult professionals on the matter, while the average figure around the world is around 67 percent.

However, the research did not include one of the potential leaders of the AI race, China, which has been pouring money into many innovative fields, especially AI. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for increased development and use of the technology to secure the country’s future in “a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 2018 Easton/NFCA Assistant Coach of the Year recipients were announced on Wednesday afternoon. Garnering honors this year are Paige Cassady (DI / Liberty University), Jessica McIntyre (DII / Lee University), Robin Baker (DIII / Wisconsin-Eau Claire), Kayla Adams (NAIA / University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma), Shelby Shelton (NJCAA DI / Howard College), DJ Johnson (NJCAA DIII / Rock Valley College), Alex Mascarenas (Cal JC / Mt. San Antonio College), Taylor Gould (Mt. Hood CC / NWAC) and Alyssa Dillard (High School / New Palestine HS [Ind.]).

These awards salute the efforts of coaches from the various NFCA membership categories for their tireless dedication to the sport of softball and to the continued education, growth and development of young women, both on and off the playing field.

The winners were nominated by NFCA member coaches and selected by a panel of their peers on the NFCA Awards Committee.

NCAA Division I: Paige Cassady, Liberty University

In five seasons with the Flames, Cassady has been an integral part of coaching staff which has steered Liberty to 155 victories in the past four seasons, the winningest four-year span in program history. The hard work was rewarded in 2018 with a Big South regular season and tournament titles and a NCAA Regional finals appearance. As the Flames’ pitching and catching coach, Cassady has been the force behind the turn-around of the LU pitching staff. Liberty hurlers have recorded more wins and posted a lower ERA in each of her five seasons. Recently promoted to associate head coach, Cassady has shown a tireless commitment and dedication to the student-athletes and the program, along with her success impacting their lives both on and off the field.

“She is truly amazing at what she does and who she is,” said Liberty head coach Dot Richardson. “Without a doubt, she is one of the best pitching and assistant coaches in the game. I can say this with confidence because of working beside her over the past five year and seeing who and how she empowers our student-athletes to reach their full potential.”

NCAA Division II: Jessica McIntyre, Lee University

McIntyre will be entering her sixth year with the program in 2019. Battling through Hodgkin’s Lymphoma from August through February last season, McIntyre continued to be involved with the team throughout her treatment. Along with her coaching responsibilities, the University of Mobile graduate has implemented a book club program, which involves the coaches meeting weekly with each class to discuss the book they are reading. According to head coach Emily Russell, the book club is good for not only developing relationships with the players outside of softball, but also helping them understand the importance of being a lifelong learner. Additionally, she is instrumental in the Flames making big strides as they transitioned from NAIA to NCAA Division II, while also mentoring 2018 NFCA All-American Taylor Moran.

“Jessica has done so much for this program,” said Russell. “During her fight with cancer, she showed up even on days when that was all she could do. Showing strength and resiliency, Jessica is dedicated to our program and players despite how difficult her treatments were. We are lucky to have a person like Jessica associated with our program.”

NCAA Division III: Robin Baker, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Baker, a 17-year veteran on the Blugold coaching staff, works with catchers, calls pitches and is integral in the defense, all while serving as the athletic department’s associate athletic director. Her pitch calling, according to head coach Leslie Huntington, is masterful. She is heavily involved in practice planning and logistics, freshman study tables and budget management, while adding efficiency to recruiting when evaluating recruits.

“Robin has been with me my entire tenure as head coach and I couldn’t do this without her,” said Huntington. “She is stability in an unstable game and has helped me grow into a more patient, compassionate person and coach. She always treats our players like family, which plays an integral part in our relationships with alumni.”

NAIA: Kayla Adams, University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma

In her third season with USAO, Adams helped the Drovers to their first-ever NAIA national title and a school-record 57 victories. Adams focuses on recruiting, game preparation, player evaluation and academic coordination. With her guidance, seven student-athletes were named all-conference, two earned NFCA All-America honors and Emily Cerny was named the 2018 Schutt Sports/NFCA NAIA National Player of the Year. Adams was responsible for creating a positive and productive environment for the student-athletes, while charting and monitoring the academic progress of each player. Her hard work paid off as USAO finished with a 3.12 GPA and four student-athletes earned Easton / NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete honors.

NJCAA DI: Shelby Shelton, Howard College

A member of the Howard coaching staff the past three seasons, Shelton helped her alma mater to WJCAC and Region V West titles, along with three appearances in the NJCAA DI national tournament.  As a member of a two-person coaching staff, Shelton is involved in all aspects of the program, including recruiting, infield and outfield play, study hall monitoring and field work. Under her guidance, two Hawks earned 2018 NFCA All-America honors, including outfielder Madoline Seumalo, five garnered NFCA All-Region recognition and six all-conference selections.

NJCAA DIII: DJ Johnson, Rock Valley College

Johnson joined the Rock Valley coaching staff in 2014 and has played a key role in the Eagles’ five consecutive NJCAA DIII national titles. Instrumental in all aspects of the program, Johnson works primarily with outfielders. Three position players flourished under Johnson’s tutelage in 2018 earning first-team NFCA All-America honors. In addition to his on-field coaching duties, Johnson recruits, monitors study hall and lines up fundraising opportunities.

Cal JC: Alex Mascarenas, Mt. San Antonio College

Mascarenas, the program’s lead hitting and infield coach, played an integral role in Mt. SAC winning the 2018 CCCAA Softball State Championship, one year after a runner-up finish. His expertise has influenced the Mt. SAC program to top-three rankings in offensive and fielding categories. Under his tutelage, several student-athletes have garnered NFCA All-America honors, player/pitcher of the year recognition and all-state plaudits, while 20 have gone on to top NCAA Division I and II universities. Additionally, Mascarenas, is a part-time Kinesiology adjunct instructor and also conducts youth field and hitting clinics.

NWAC: Taylor Gould, Mt. Hood CC

Gould has spent the last two years on the Mt. Hood coaching staff, mentoring the outfielders, who have been a stalwart defensively. Under her guidance, Makiah Johnson was named a 2018 NFCA All-American. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer after the 2018 NWAC championships, Gould went through several treatments, but never skipped a beat as a coach, attending open practices and hitting the recruiting trail.

“Taylor’s work ethic and passion for the program are always on display,” said Mt. Hood head coach Brittany Hendrickson. “Taylor is the type of assistant that head coaches dream about having. She is devoted, passionate and knowledgeable about the game. She is a great example to student-athletes about overcoming adversity.

High School: Alyssa Dillard, New Palestine HS (Ind.)

In 10 years as the varsity assistant, Dillard has helped New Palestine to three state championships. The former high school catcher handles pitch-calling duties and works with pitchers, while providing her collegiate third base experience to the infielders during practice. Dillard, a fourth-grade teacher and mother of two young boys, gives willingly and tirelessly to our players, passing up several head coach positions the last several years to stay with the program.

“Alyssa is a terrific role model and gives our players a person to talk to and emulate,” said head coach Ed Marcum. “We would not have been nearly as successful without her!”

WHITEHORSE — The federal government has announced $20 million in funding aimed at reducing diesel reliance in Canada’s rural and remote Indigenous communities but experts say challenges remain.

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the money will help ensure isolated communities have the capacity to develop their own solutions led by local people as they move toward renewable sources of energy.

“Once they have their plans they can apply for funding,” Sohi said Wednesday.

An all-Indigenous panel will select up to 15 communities to receive support and develop their own energy plans over the next three years, the department says in a release.

Watch: N.W.T. community is solar-powered in the summer

Nicholas Mercer, a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo and an expert on remote off-grid communities throughout Canada, said developing local expertise to transition off the fuel used for electricity and heating is the way to go.

“I just think there has not been enough money put into the program to get the communities off diesel,”‘ he said.

In 2015, a Senate committee said the northern electricity systems are “aging, under performing and at capacity” but getting off diesel is not quick or easy.

Mercer said installing a diesel generator costs about $1,500 per kilowatt but a wind turbine or a solar panel may cost anywhere from $7,000 to $8,000.

He said the diesel-produced cost is 90 cents per kilowatt hour in Newfoundland and Labrador but wind energy would cost less than 25 cents a kilowatt hour.

‘Diesel is deeply embedded in the communities’

“The problem is the upfront costs for diesel are significantly less expensive than the upfront costs for renewable energy technologies,” Mercer said. “So, renewables are cost competitive in the long term, you’re not buying any more fuel but it’s still really difficult to come up with upfront capital.”

There’s also a historical dependence on diesel because it’s the only form of power source many of the communities have known and jobs are linked to it, he said.

“Diesel is deeply embedded in the communities. It’s been around for about 50 or 60 or 70 years,” he said.

Dylan Heerema, a member of the Pembina Institute’s remote communities team, said providing energy in the region comes with lots of challenges.

“The biggest one is the remoteness and construction and everything is more expensive. It’s difficult to step projects off the ground,” he said.

Some communities have managed a partial transition using both diesel and a form of renewable energy, which produces less pollution.

Great Bear Lake leading the way

Three years ago, the Dene hamlet of about 150 people north of Great Bear Lake became the first in the North to replace its near-derelict diesel generator with a combination of diesel, batteries and a solar array capable of generating 160 kilowatts.

Heerema said those communities had local as well federal support.

Even as diesel generators grow old, Heerema said they will continue to be an important source of backup power in many communities.

“It’s definitely going to take a number of years for all of Canada’s communities to transition off of diesel,” Heerema said. “We’re talking about a multi-year effort and it will require both public and private investment.”

By Hina Alam in Vancouver

The changes to the gas contract between Argentina and Bolivia will allow Buenos Aires to save some $460 million, but the deal has one curious detail on what happens if Argentina needs more supplies.

Bolivia agreed to export less gas to its South American neighbor during a low demand period, the country’s summer, relieving Argentina from paying any penalties that an earlier version of the deal included. According to the renewed agreement signed on Thursday, Argentina will import 11 million cubic meters of gas per day from January through April.

During the higher consumption period the country’s import will rise to 16 million in May and October and to 18 million from June until August.

However, if Buenos Aires needs more energy during the highest demand period, it offered to throw in an airplane with the deal to pay off the costs, according to Argentina’s Ministry of the Treasury.

The country will deliver a Pampa 3 advanced jet trainer aircraft to Bolivia if its gas imports exceed the agreed threshold by 45 million cubic meters during winter months from May to September.

Argentina’s Secretary of Energy Gustavo Lopetegui explained that thanks to the recent discovery and development of the country’s own resources of natural gas, domestic production has significantly increased, and the country had oversupplies during the summer period.

The introduction of such seasonal supplies allows Argentina to save $460 million in 2019-2020, according to the official.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —Mississippi 5A state champion Neshoba Central remained atop the USA Today Sports/NFCA High School Super 25 poll.

The (34-0) Rockets wrapped a perfect season with their 39th-straight win, beating Pearl River Center, 6-2, back on May 11 to claim a sixth-straight state crown. They have won 55 of their last 56 games.

The three teams immediately below them — Madison (22-0) at No. 2, third-ranked Katy (38-1) and No. 4 Keller (31-2-1) — also remained the same, while Los Alamitos (25-2), Hamilton (33-2) and Keystone (30-0) jumped up a spot apiece this week. Meanwhile, Hurricane (18-1), Tualatin (25-0) and East Carter (34-0) each moved up two places to round out the top 10.

Shawnee Heights (22-0), Scott County (30-2) and Smyrna (17-1) joined the lower third of the rankings this week at Nos. 19, 20 and 24, respectively.

State rankings submitted by NFCA member coaches are used to compile the USA Today Sports/NFCA High School Super 25.

USA Today Sports/NFCA High School Super 25 Poll – May 24, 2018



2018 Record



Neshoba Central (Miss.)




Madison (Va.)




Katy (Texas)




Keller (Texas)




Los Alamitos (Calif.)




Hamilton (Ariz.)




Keystone (Ohio)




Hurricane (W. Va.)




Tualatin (Ore.)




East Carter (Ky.)




Donovan Catholic (N.J.)




Center Grove (Ind.)




Eagle (Idaho)




Norco (Calif.)




Freedom (Calif.)




Clovis (Calif.)




Huntingtown (Md.)




Milford (Mass.)




Shawnee Heights (Kan.)




Scott County (Ky.)




New Palestine (Ind.)




Orange Lutheran (Calif.)




Jackson (Wash.)




Smyrna (Del.)




Male (Ky.)



Dropped out: Hoover (Ala.), Marist (Ill.), Spanish Fork (Utah),

TORONTO — Ontario’s social services minister opened the door Thursday to giving more funding to children with more severe autism, which an advocacy group described as a “huge concession” in the province’s controversial plan.

The new program announced last month by Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod sparked waves of protests by parents, who said the fact that the funding wouldn’t be needs based — instead, dependent only on age and family income — would mean kids would be left without access to the levels of therapy they need.

MacLeod said Thursday that the past month has been “incredibly emotional” for families, and she has heard their concerns.

“Parents were right when they said that autism is a spectrum and that there are different needs for children on the spectrum,” she said. “So for the next few months I’ll take their input to best assess how we better support those with complex needs and provide additional supports for them.”

Laura Kirby-McIntosh, the president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, said the devil will be in the details, but called the news a very positive development.

“Oh my God, she heard us,” Kirby-McIntosh said. “I heard a commitment to move to a system that is needs-based and that doesn’t simply give everybody the same amount regardless of need, so that’s a huge concession.”

After a month of sustained protests, emotional outbursts from parents observing question period, and the minister receiving threats — one person was charged by Ottawa police — this announcement takes the temperature down, Kirby-McIntosh said.

MacLeod, until now, had been firm in her message that the plan would go ahead as is, and that there was no room to provide additional funding. Next year’s budget will be at least $331 million, and she said Thursday that she was prepared to put more money into the program to provide the new needs-based supports, but couldn’t say yet how much more.

“We’re prepared to go further to support those enhancements,” she said.

MacLeod also announced she is eliminating income testing for the program, so all kids under six diagnosed as on the spectrum will receive $20,000 and kids over six will receive $5,000. The plan as originally designed would only give those maximum amounts to families making under $55,000.

Intensive therapy can cost up to $80,000 a year and many parents with kids already in government-funded therapy have said they will be unable to cover the difference to keep their kids in full-time therapy.

Kids currently receiving government-funded therapy will have their contracts extended by six months, MacLeod said.

“While we empathize with them, our priority has been and always will be to eliminate the wait list,” she said. The government has said there are 23,000 kids on the wait list.

Families had also been asking for more services to qualify under the program and MacLeod said Thursday that speech language pathology, physiotherapy and occupational therapy will now be included.

NDP critic Monique Taylor criticized the announcement of new consultations with parents less than two weeks before the plan starts April 1.

“They should have done the work before they made the announcement and put the policy in place,” she said. “They’ve put families in chaos for the last month and a half for no reason.”

Michelle Costa has been paying out of pocket for therapy for her five-year-old son, who has been on the waiting list for nearly two years. She said she is “cautiously optimistic” about the changes, but giving kids over six a smaller amount of money than younger children still amounts to an age cut-off.

“Until that major issue is addressed I think people will still remain worried,” she said.

Kristen Ellison, whose eight-year-old son is currently in government-funded therapy, said the additional six months is a relief. She said she still isn’t sure she trusts MacLeod to introduce needs-based changes, but wants to work with her on them.

“If she were to respond to my email or take my call and say, ‘Kristen, I’d love to have you come to the table. I want to understand families better,’ I would be there in a heartbeat,” Ellison said.

Earlier On HuffPost:

REGINA — Saskatchewan’s coroner’s service has released its report into the Humboldt Broncos bus crash and it calls for tougher enforcement of trucking rules and mandatory seatbelts on highway buses.

The office has made recommendations to six different government agencies after reviewing the crash.

The coroner also says the Ministry of Highways should review its policy on signs at intersections and Saskatchewan Government Insurance should implement mandatory truck-driver training.

There is a recommendation that the chief coroner create a mass fatality plan and that the Saskatchewan Health Authority review how it identifies the dead and injured in such an event.

Watch: Bus crash victim’s father’s biggest hope is to change attitudes. Story continues below.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 others were injured in last April’s collision.

A semi-truck barrelled through a stop sign at a rural intersection and was struck by the Broncos hockey bus.

The report lists the deaths as accidental and the chief coroner is not calling for an public inquest.

In December, the Saskatchewan government announced it will make training mandatory for semi-truck drivers starting in March. Drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial licence will have to undergo at least 121 1/2 hours of training.

Transport Canada announced in June that the department will require all newly built highway buses to have seatbelts by September 2020. Some charter bus companies say many new vehicles already have seatbelts, although there is no way to ensure passengers are wearing them

The founder and senior partner of Baring Vostok private equity fund, Michael Calvey, will be detained in Moscow for two months after his bail got rejected. The US citizen is accused of a large-scale fraud involving a Russian bank.

The investor was put in pre-trial custody by a Moscow court on Saturday. The court rejected the request of Calvey’s defense to release him on 5 million rubles ($75.5 thousand) bail. The prosecution, on its part, insisted that the detention was an absolute necessity, as the US citizen might try and flee the country.

Calvey’s defense has already vowed to challenge the detention order.

“We do not agree with the court’s ruling and we will challenge it at the Moscow city court. We’ll request either home arrest or bail,” Calvey’s attorney, Dmitry Kletochkin told TASS.

Several other suspects, including partners of the Baring Vostok fund, namely Philippe Delpal, Vagan Abgaryan and Ivan Zyuzin – were ordered to remain in pretrial custody earlier on Friday. All individuals are suspected of taking part in a fraud, which involved Russia’s Vostochny Bank.

The investigators believe that Calvey embezzled 2.5 billion rubles ($37.5 million) from Vostochny Bank via a fraudulent scheme. The investor and his associates have allegedly persuaded the bank’s board to accept a package of shares of an enterprise instead of paying off a debt. While the shares were said to be worth over 3 billion rubles (some $45 million), their real cost was merely 600,000 rubles ($9,000).

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OKLAHOMA CITY — All-Tournament Team selection Madison Glaubke hit a booming two-run homer and Most Outstanding Player Hanna Hull took things from there, as Virginia Wesleyan University captured its second-straight NCAA Division III national championship on Monday at OGE Energy Field at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex.

Glaubke had two hits, and two-time NFCA All-American Hull pitched an one-hitter, to fuel the Marlins’ 3-1 victory over Illinois Wesleyan in the decisive third game of the best-of-three championship series.

Hull, who also won Most Outstanding Player honors last season, finished the finals in Oklahoma City with 60 strikeouts over just 41 innings and six starts. She threw 418 of her 643 pitches at the tournament for strikes, and recorded a no-hitter, two one-hitters and a three-hitter. Hull allowed just four hits over her first three starts and 21 innings for the (55-3) Marlins at the eight-team event.

The win broke Virginia Wesleyan’s own NCAA Division III record for wins in a season, after the Marlins posted 54 victories during last year’s title run.

Glaubke’s blast to left in the bottom of the first scored Kiersten Richardson, who had led off the inning with a walk. Three-time All-American and fellow All-Tournament Team selection Cassetty Howerin added an insurance run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly that scored Richardson, who had walked, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Glaubke’s single to center.

But it was Illinois Wesleyan (39-13-1) who jumped in front first, getting on the scoreboard in the top of the first without the benefit of a hit. All-Tournament Team selection Jillian Runyon was hit by a pitch, stole second, and took third on Sydney Alery’s groundout. She scored on a wild pitch following All-American and fellow All-Tournament Team choice Sam Berghoff’s walk.

The Titans’ Bree Walker earned All-Tournament Team honors after scattering six hits over the first five innings of Tuesday’s finale, which followed up a stellar Monday, in which she pitched all eight innings of game two for Illinois Wesleyan and came on in relief of All-American Ally Wiegand in the first contest.

After dropping the opening game of the best-of-three championship series, 6-1, on Monday, the Titans forced a winner-take-all third contest by winning game two, 5-4 in eight innings, later in the day.