Alberta hires energy executive as point person for plan to transition off coal

EDMONTON – Alberta has hired a retired U.S. electricity executive to work with industry to draw up a plan to move the province off coal-fired electricity generation.

Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous announced Wednesday that Terry Boston will be paid up to $600,000 and will report by September.

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    “I’m confident that Mr. Boston will be tough but fair, recognizing the need to protect consumers, taxpayers, workers, and communities while respecting the need to provide certainty and fairness to both companies and their investors,” Bilous told reporters at the legislature.

    Boston, who is from Tennessee, recently retired as the head of PJM Interconnection, which is the second largest, centrally-dispatched power system in the world.

    “He is the best in the business and this is why we wanted to bring him on as a facilitator,” said Bilous.

    Boston was not at the news conference and was not immediately available for comment.

    As part of its climate change plan, Alberta is shutting down coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

    Twelve of Alberta’s 18 coal-fired generating units are already expected to be shut down by then, so the focus of Boston’s work will be on the remaining six.

    By 2030, the plan is to have two-thirds of Alberta’s coal generation capacity replaced by renewable energy. One third will be replaced by natural gas.

    READ MORE: 30 Alberta municipalities sound alarm over NDP plan to phase out coal power

    There are eight coal mines operating in Alberta. Five mines produce coal for the province’s electricity sector.

    Bilous said at the same time he will be working and meeting with people in the communities affected when the transition from coal happens.

    “(We’re) looking at different options, whether that’s through potential training or retraining (of workers) but also looking at opportunities within existing communities,” said Bilous.

    In 2013 the electricity sector accounted for 17 per cent of Alberta’s total GHG emissions. Most of that came from coal-fired generation.

    The opposition Wildrose party is calling for the province to complete a full economic analysis to make sure that the grid changes don’t send power prices soaring or lead to massive job losses.

    Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said he is skeptical of the outcome.

    “No matter what happens, no matter who is directing traffic as far as what amount is going to be paid, we know that consumers are ultimately going to have it all downloaded on them,” said Jean.

    “(That) means our power costs are going to be significantly higher than what they are right now.”

Wildrose blames centralized dispatch for EMS Code Reds

Alberta’s opposition says it believes centralizing EMS dispatch has led to more ambulance code red alerts in Edmonton and will lead to more code reds in Calgary if dispatch services are taken away from the city’s control.

A red alert is triggered when there are no metro ambulances available to respond to 911 calls.

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“Ever since AHS began its centralization experiments with EMS services, Albertans have watched services decline across the province,” Wildrose health critic Drew Barnes said in a release.”The numbers show that centralization results in a 3,000 per cent increase in code reds.”

The Wildrose pointed to a document it accessed under the Freedom of Information Act that showed the Edmonton zone experienced 888 code red events during the first 11 months of 2015. According to the document, some of these events lasted for as little as a single second. The longest event occurred on Feb. 18, 2015 and lasted just over 16 minutes.

“In contrast, over the entirety of 2015, Calgary experienced just 39 (red alerts),” the Wildrose press release said.

READ MORE: EMS red alerts down in Alberta but problems still remain

Last week, AHS responded to a request from Global News for 2015 code red data. AHS confirmed that Calgary had experienced 39 code reds in 2015, down from 60 in 2014. It reported Edmonton’s code red numbers as an accumulated total time. In 2015, AHS says Edmonton EMS was in a state of red alert for a total of 27 hours, down from 49 hours in 2014.

According to Nick Thain, executive director for EMS South Sector for Alberta Health Services, code reds are tracked differently between Alberta’s two major cities because in Calgary, dispatch services are still managed by the City of Calgary. “In Calgary, red alerts are tracked manually, so a dispatcher will go in and report that the system has either entered or ended a red alert.”

In Edmonton, Thain says red alerts are tracked with computer software so the information around how long red alerts last is more precise.

Alberta had planned to move to one province-wide dispatch system in 2009 but that plan was put on hold before the provincial election last year.  Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says she’s still reviewing the issue and hasn’t decided if the province should proceed with a fully centralized dispatch service.

“I want to make sure that I make the right decision,” Hoffman said in an interview with Global News.  “We’re going to keep working with AHS, the Health Quality Council of Alberta and local leaders like (Calgary’s) Mayor Nenshi to make sure we’re doing what’s best for Albertans.”

In 2013, a report from the HQCA recommended the province expedite work to complete plans to consolidate EMS dispatch in order to improve ambulance service across the province. But critics, including Calgary’s mayor, have said they believe that would be a mistake.

Muslim man claims alleged attacker chanted ‘Trump, Trump, Trump’

A Muslim man says he and a Hispanic friend were randomly attacked by a man who chanted “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “make America great again”, GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s popular tagline.

At a press conference in Wichita, Kansas Monday, Khondoker Usama, 23, gave his account of what happened early Saturday morning as he and his friend stopped at a convenience store to get fuel and some drinks.

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Usama, who is student body vice president at Wichita State University (WSU), said they were going about their business when a man approached and confronted them.

“He was yelling at my friend, calling him ‘brown trash’ and telling him, ‘you wanna live in this country? You gotta leave this country!’,” Usama said.

“Things escalated really quick.”

In a security camera video of the incident released by police, Usama and his friend can be seen standing outside the car at the gas pump when a man pulls up on a motorcycle.

While there is no audio on the video, the man is seen exchanging words with Usama’s friend. The man then starts swinging.

Usama appears to try to calm the situation, and the man then pushes Usama. The altercation continues for a few more minutes.

“The person kept kicking my friend, it was a gut-wrenching scene,” Usama said.

“That person was shouting and screaming, chanting like ‘Trump, Trump, Trump, we’ll make America great again, we’ll throw you out of the wall.’”

Despite having no political experience, Trump has charged to the front of the GOP pack in his bid for the Republican nomination and a shot at the White House. He has said he supports building a wall spanning the United States-Mexico border, deporting undocumented immigrants, and banning all Muslims from entering the U.S.

READ MORE: Trump blames opponents for violence at his rallies: ‘My people are nice’

Recently Trump’s rallies have become increasing heated as protesters and his supporters clash; last week a Chicago rally was cancelled due to the violence.

WATCH: Donald Trump rally cancelled after protesters and supporters fight

In the video Usama is seen on the phone with 9-1-1 as the man gets back on his motorcycle.

Before the man drives away, he circles the men on his motorcycle while yelling out that Trump is winning, chanting Trump’s name and calling them losers, according to Usama.

“There is nothing else to say other than it was a hate crime,” Usama says.

The Kansas chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) says it wants Trump to denounce the alleged attacker’s actions and statements.

WATCH: Donald Trump supporter sucker-punches protester at rally

Wichita police say they are investigating the incident and are looking at it as a hate crime.

Usama says he is grateful for the support he has received after deciding to go public. He’s asking others to denounce the “bigotry and hatred” he faced that night.

“If we allow this kind of hatred towards each other, then we can’t make America great again.”

In a statement WSU president John Bardo condemned “all acts of anger and violence motivated by racism and intolerance.”

“At WSU, we constantly strive to build an environment where a diversity of culture, thought, experience and opinion can coexist in harmony. This core value is vital to the success of the university and to the nation as a whole,” Bardo said.

“We would ask that the community keep this in mind as debate and discussion continue during a heated presidential election season.”

Trump maintains a commanding lead in the race for the Republican nomination. On Wednesday, he stated that if the party tries to block the nomination there would be “riots.”

50-year-old political ad goes viral after it seemingly describes Donald Trump

For something produced over 50 years ago to “go viral” today seems a little strange.

But that’s exactly the case for one political ad from the 1964, which has seen a resurgence online after people began noticing the almost eerie parallels between the ad’s target, and Republican front runner Donald Trump.

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    Titled Confessions of a Republican, the ad is a black-and-white, single-camera shot without background music or cuts of any kind, featuring a man talking into the camera lens while smoking a cigarette – meaning it’s as much a relic of 1960’s television as you’re likely to find.

    The premise is simple: a Republican voter is “confessing” his concern for his party’s nominee for President.

    “I’ve always been a Republican,” the man begins. “My father is, his father was, the whole family is a Republican family.”

    But quickly, the confession begins: the unknown man admits the party’s current nominee “scares” him. He “seems to be against just about everything.”

    “When I read some of these things he says… I get a little worried,” the man admits.

    Of course, the candidate in question isn’t Donald Trump – it’s Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee for President in the 1964 general election.

    READ MORE: 5 things Donald Trump was for, then against (or against, then for)

    Like Trump, Goldwater was seen as a bold candidate who was unafraid to speak his mind on the issues. Also like Trump, some of Goldwater’s ultra-Conservative positions and inflammatory statements worried left-leaning Republicans and moderate voters.

    This allowed his political opponents – namely President Lyndon B. Johnson, the incumbent in the 1964 election – to paint him as a dangerous reactionary.

    Such is the case here: Confessions of a Republican was an attack ad put out by the Johnson campaign. And yes, the man giving the “confession” is actor Bill Bogert. It was a requirement when casting the ad that the actor actually be a Republican.

    As the advertisement goes on, the parallels to the modern-day Trump campaign become even starker.

    “A reporter will go to Senator Goldwater and he’ll say, ‘Senator, on such and such a day, you said, and I quote, blah blah blah whatever it is, end quote,’” Bogert says. “And then Goldwater says, ‘Well, I wouldn’t put it that way.’ I can’t follow that.”

    “Was he serious when he did put it that way? Is he serious when he says I wouldn’t put it that way? I just don’t get it.”

    READ MORE: Saskatchewan voters looking for NDP leader online sent to Trump’s website

    Then Bogert makes a statement that could have been pulled right from the headlines in 2016.

    “I [don’t worry] so much about party unity because if you unite behind a man you don’t believe in, it’s a lie,” Bogert says. “I tell you, those people who got control of [the Republican] convention: Who are they?”

    “I mean, when the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups come out in favor of the candidate of my party — either they’re not Republicans or I’m not.”

    Of course, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorsement of Trump’s campaign made waves around the world, especially when Trump initially didn’t denounce him.

    “Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK?” Trump said at the time. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”

    Trump would eventually denounce the KKK leader in later statements.

    The Johnson/Goldwater campaign is viewed as an important moment in US Presidential politics. Thanks to political ads like this and the infamous “Daisy” commercial, Johnson soundly defeated Goldwater in the 1964 election.

    However, the election signaled a shift in US presidential politics: Johnson became the first Democrat to win in Maine, and Vermont, while Goldwater became the first Republican to win Georgia, signaling the start a geo-political shift in where the two parties would draw their support in the coming decades.

    READ MORE: Donald Trump wins Florida but loses Ohio, Marco Rubio drops out

    The election also signaled a shift within the ranks of the Republican Party, with many longtime Republicans losing their seats. This had the effect of “clearing the way” for a new breed of Republican politicians to bring about the “Reagan Revolution” of the 1980’s, and the birth of the modern American Conservative ideology based on religious values, low taxes, and an aggressive foreign policy.

    And there’s one more interesting tidbit from the 1964 campaign: it represented the first foray into politics, on the side of Barry Goldwater, of a young girl named Hillary Rodham.

    “I was also an active Young Republican and, later, a Goldwater girl, right down to my cowgirl outfit and straw cowboy hat,” Hillary Rodham, now Hillary Clinton, wrote in her autobiography Living History. “I liked Senator Goldwater because he was a rugged individualist who swam against the political tide.”

    Remind you of anyone?

    Meanwhile, following more gains in Tuesday’s primaries, Donald Trump has begun to present himself as the inevitable Republican presidential nominee, warning that if party leaders try to deny him the nomination at a contested convention when he is leading the delegate count, “You’d have riots.”

    The brash billionaire, who won at least three more states Tuesday but doesn’t yet have the needed majority of delegates to secure the nomination, predicted he’d collect enough support to win the nomination outright before the Republican convention this summer.

    -With files from the Associated Press