California regulator approves PG&E's Chapter 11 reorganization plan

(Reuters) – PG&E Corp said on Thursday its Chapter 11 reorganization plan has been confirmed by a California power regulator, bringing the power provider one step closer to emerge from bankruptcy and participate in a state-backed wildfire fund.

The decision by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) also approved the company’s request to issue new debt and securities to finance its exit from bankruptcy, PG&E said in a statement.

The San Francisco-based utility had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January last year, citing potential liabilities exceeding $30 billion from major wildfires sparked by its equipment in 2017 and 2018. The company needs to exit bankruptcy by June 30 to participate in a state-backed wildfire fund that would help reduce the threat to utilities from wildfires.

The power provider has had a tumultuous phase since the filing, with CPUC having asked the company in April for governance and oversight changes to its reorganization plan. Governor Gavin Newsom too had previously raised concerns about the plan.

PG&E said the California power regulator has now approved a number of measures to improve its governance process, operational structure, and safety performance.

The regulatory approval came hours after a federal judge blasted the company for engaging in behavior that he believed is endangering lives.

Earlier in the day, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said power regulators in California have not done enough to hold the company accountable.

The November 2018 wildfire destroyed much of the town of Paradise, which had about 26,000 people, and nearby Concow. More than 18,000 buildings were affected.

PG&E also agreed to put itself up for sale if it cannot emerge from Chapter 11 by a state-imposed June 30 deadline, before the next wildfire season begins.

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Bolsonaro says in video he tried to change police to prevent family being 'screwed'

RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he was unwilling to see his family get “screwed” because of his inability to change law enforcement officials, according to a video released on Friday set to deepen the political crisis surrounding the president.

In the recording of an April 22 ministerial meeting, which forms part of a criminal investigation and was released by a Supreme Court justice on Friday, Bolsonaro said it was his prerogative to change security officials, their bosses or even a minister.

“I’ve tried to change our security people in Rio de Janeiro officially, and I wasn’t able to. That’s over. I won’t wait for my family or my friends to get screwed,” Bolsonaro said.

“If you can’t change (the official), change his boss. You can’t change the boss? Change the minister. End of story. We’re not kidding around,” he added.

Writing on Facebook after the release of the video, Bolsonaro said there was “no indication of interference in the federal police.”

In a radio interview with Jovem Pan, he said he had been talking about his own personal security and not senior members of the federal police.

The public airing of the video comes at a bad time for Bolsonaro. His political woes have led to rumblings about impeachment.

Bolsonaro has been criticized for his handling of Brazil’s worsening coronavirus outbreak. Brazil now has the second highest number of infections, behind the United States.

Supreme Court Justice Celso de Mello ordered the partial release of the video. It is one component of a criminal investigation over allegations by former Justice Minister Sergio Moro that Bolsonaro leaned on him to change senior members of the federal police in Rio. Moro quit last month.

Before becoming president, Bolsonaro represented Rio state as a federal lawmaker for nearly 30 years. His son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, also got his start there, and is under investigation over allegations of corruption.

Kim Kataguiri, a member of congress and one-time Bolsonaro ally, said on Twitter the video “proves” Bolsonaro had interfered in the federal police to protect his children.

Brazilian political parties are also investigating the president’s conduct. In one of those probes, the parties have asked for the seizure of Bolsonaro’s cell phone.

The national security adviser, former General Augusto Heleno, said in a statement he was outraged by the “inconceivable” request for the president’s phone. It could “have unpredictable consequences for the stability of the country,” he said.

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Newmarket man convicted in fatal crash that killed young father denied day parole

A Newmarket man who was sentenced to five years in prison for killing a young father in a 2017 crash was denied day parole on Friday.

On Nov. 13, 2017, Tyler Nielsen was driving impaired on Highway 48 near Davis Drive when he struck another vehicle head-on.

Stuart Ellis, a 28-year-old father whose wife was pregnant with their second child at the time of the incident, was killed.

Nielsen plead guilty to criminal negligence causing death in January 2019 and was sentenced to five years in prison and an eight-year driving ban in March 2019.

He has served over 14 months in prison and was denied day parole in a virtual hearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ellis’ widow, Justine Ellis, attended the virtual hearing and gave an impact statement.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Nielsen was under the influence of alcohol and a cocktail of three drugs including one that would put him to sleep. He was also driving a car that he had stolen from his cousin in the wrong lane of traffic at a speed in excess of 200 km/h and there was no evidence he braked.

Nielsen also lost his licence four months earlier after being charged with impaired driving and pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act.

He apologized to the Ellis family at his sentencing.

“I can’t imagine the pain and the suffering I have brought into your lives. I’m so sorry,” Nielsen said.

“The worst part is that I took a father away from his children. I am deeply sorry for my actions and I am ready to accept the court’s punishment.”

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Khashoggi family forgive killers, clearing way to legal reprieve

RIYADH (Reuters) – The family of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said on Friday that they had forgiven the men who murdered their father, paving the way for a legal reprieve for five defendants sentenced to death for the October 2018 killing.

“If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah,” Khashoggi’s son Salah tweeted. “Therefore, we the sons of the martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce that we pardon those who killed our father”.

In Saudi Arabia, which lacks a codified legal system and follows Islamic law, forgiveness from a victim’s family in cases of murder can allow for a formal pardon.

The Saudi court which issued the five death sentences in December said the killing was not premeditated, a ruling which backed assertions by Saudi officials but which contradicted the findings of a U.N.-led inquiry into Khashoggi’s killing.

However, Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz said on Friday that no one could pardon his killers. “Nobody has the right to pardon the killers. We will not pardon the killers nor those who ordered the killing,” she said in a tweet.

Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, where he had gone to obtain documents for his impending wedding. His body was reportedly dismembered and removed from the building, and his remains have not been found.

The murder caused a global uproar and tarnished the image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed he had ordered the killing.

Saudi officials denied he played a role, though in September 2019 the prince indicated some personal accountability, saying “it happened under my watch”.

Eleven suspects in all were put on trial in secretive proceedings in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Three were jailed and another three had the charges against them dismissed.

The trial was condemned by the United Nations and rights groups. Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur for extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, accused Saudi Arabia of making a “mockery” of justice by allowing the masterminds of the 2018 killing to go free.

Khashoggi’s son Salah said at the time of the December verdict that “it has been fair to us and that justice has been achieved.”

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'So much I want to say,' Trump's ex-lawyer Cohen says as he exits prison early

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, returned to his New York home on Thursday after being released early from a federal prison due to concerns of possible coronavirus exposure.

“There is so much I want to say and intend to say. But now is not the right time. Soon,” Cohen said on Twitter after walking into his Manhattan apartment building, wearing a white surgical mask, blue jeans and a dark blazer.

Cohen, 53, had completed about a year of a three-year sentence for his role paying hush money to two women – pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual relationships with Trump, as well as for financial crimes and lying to Congress.

Trump has denied relationships with either woman.

He is expected to serve the rest of his sentence in home confinement, two sources familiar with the case said on condition of anonymity. Cohen had been eligible for release from prison in November 2021.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was released from a federal prison in Pennsylvania last week to finish his sentence at home due to similar concerns.

A Cohen lawyer in March said the federal Bureau of Prisons has been “demonstrably incapable of safeguarding and treating BOP inmates who are obliged to live in close quarters and are at an enhanced risk of catching coronavirus.”

Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, later turned on his former boss and cooperated with Democratic-led congressional inquiries. Trump has called Cohen a “rat.” Cohen has called Trump a “racist,” a “con man” and “a cheat.”

Cohen pleaded guilty to the charges that led to his imprisonment. They also included lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

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Third man charged in 2019 Surrey slaying of Andrew Baldwin

Prosecutors have laid charges against a third man in connection with the 2019 homicide of Andrew Baldwin in Surrey.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) says 21-year-old Jasman Basram of Surrey has been arrested and charged as an accessory after the fact to murder.

“The evidence trail that our investigators have been following for the past several months has led to another arrest and a third man charged in the case,” IHIT Sgt. Frank Jang said in a media release on Wednesday.

In January, Jordan Bottomley and Jagpal Hothi were arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the killing.

Baldwin, 30, was found unresponsive and with critical injuries when Surrey RCMP responded to a report of a disturbance in the 10700 block of 124 Street on Nov. 11, 2019.

Three weeks earlier, his brother, 27-year-old Keith Matthew Baldwin, was shot in downtown Chilliwack. He later died in hospital.

Basram is due in court on Thursday.

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American fugitive wanted for murder ordered deported in immigration board hearing

An Immigration and Refugee Board member has ruled that an American fugitive wanted for murder in Texas will be deported, with a wide publication ban on details of his case.

Board member Diane Tordorf issued a deportation order against Derek Cameron Whisenand in her April 30 decision, which was sent to The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

In her reasoning, Tordorf notes she hasn’t concluded Whisenand committed the Texas murder, but rather there is reasonable grounds to believe an offence was committed.

The American had been detained at a Halifax provincial jail since his Dec. 30 arrest, which came after police responded to a call about the shoplifting of work boots at a Walmart in the Bayers Lake area of Halifax.

The 28-year-old is a suspect in the June 2019 death of a 78-year-old man in Eastland County, Texas, about 170 kilometres southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The fugitive hasn’t explained how he got to Nova Scotia, but he was found living in a tent near the commercial area in Halifax where he was arrested. The CBSA said he has no family or friends in Canada.

In March, Dianne Tordorf, a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, ordered Whisenand to remain detained at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility on the basis he was a flight risk and a danger to the Canadian public.

She allowed media to attend the detention review hearing but imposed a sweeping publication ban on many of the details of Whisenand’s case, as well as most aspects of his hearings going forward.

Whisenand has told previous immigration hearings he fears for his safety if returned to the United States.

An admissibility hearing is a hearing to determine if a person is allowed to remain in Canada, and can include determining factors such as whether the person is a security threat or was involved in a crime.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2020.

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Rwandan genocide fugitive Kabuga due before French court

PARIS (Reuters) – Rwandan genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga is due to appear before a Paris court on Tuesday, three days after French police swooped on his hideout in a Paris suburb, ending a 26-year manhunt.

The 84-year-old is accused of funding militias that massacred around 800,000 people. He was indicted in 1997 on seven criminal counts including genocide, all in relation to the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

At Tuesday’s hearing, which is procedural, the court will set out the legal process before passing the case to investigative judges who will decide whether to hand Kabuga to a U.N. court handling alleged crimes against humanity.

At least one France-based genocide victim support group said it was considering legal action to unearth how Kabuga was able to go underground in France and what help he had received.

“He was our Klaus Barbie, our (Adolf) Eichmann,” said Etienne Nsanzimana, president of support group Ibuka France, referring to two prominent Nazi war criminals.

“How did he stay on the run for 26 years? For how many years was he in France and receiving help to live comfortably. I don’t think it was just his family,” Nsanzimana added.

Reuters has not been able to find any public comment made by Kabuga over the years about the charges. French lawyer Emmanuel Altit, who will be defending Kabuga, did not respond to a request seeking comment from his client.

Rwanda’s two main ethnic groups are the Hutus and Tutsis, who have historically had an antagonistic relationship and fought a civil war in the early 1990s.

Kabuga, a Hutu businessman, is accused of funding the militias that massacred some 800,000 Tutsis and their moderate Hutu allies over a span of 100 days in 1994.

It is not known when or how Kabuga, who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, entered France.

France’s justice ministry has said he lived under a false identity in Asnieres-sur-Seine on the outskirts of Paris.

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Obama, Biden not targeted in U.S. review of Russia probe, Barr says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Monday he does not expect a Justice Department review of the FBI’s handling of 2016 election interference to lead to criminal investigation of former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden.

“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said.

Federal prosecutor John Durham is reviewing the origins of the investigation of Russia’s 2016 election interference.

President Donald Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly referred to a scandal he calls “Obamagate,” saying without evidence that Obama was tied to “the biggest political crime in American history.”

Trump stepped up those claims as he faced criticism for the administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 88,000 Americans, and prepares to face Biden in the November election.

Barr added that the election should be decided strictly on policy debates, and that any investigation of a political candidate would need to be approved by him personally.

“We cannot allow this process to be hijacked by efforts to drum up criminal investigations of either candidate,” Barr said.

Barr did not rule out the possibility of others being criminally investigated, without offering specifics.

Trump has not made clear what he is accusing Obama of doing, but the allegations appear to focus on law enforcement actions taken at the end of Obama’s presidency.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded in March 2019 that Russians had actively tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, both through the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email system and through propaganda.

While his report documented numerous contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia, he said there was not sufficient evidence to prove there was a criminal conspiracy.

Russia has repeatedly denied trying to influence the election and Trump has dismissed the idea as a hoax.

Barr has faced scathing criticism from Democrats and former career prosecutors in recent months who say he is the one who has politicized the justice system in favor of allies of Trump.

Earlier this month, Barr moved to dismiss the criminal charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

In February he intervened to recommend a lighter sentence for Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone.

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Man dead after being found with ‘significant injuries’ in downtown Toronto building

Toronto police say a man is dead after he was found with “significant injuries” at a building in the downtown core on Saturday.

Police said officers were called to the area of Richmond and John streets at 11:47 a.m.

Officers said there was a man found in the common area and reports he had been stabbed.

The man was initially found without vital signs and was later pronounced dead at the scene.

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