Haiti opposition rejects president's assurances he will fight corruption

By Andres Martinez Casares and Andre Paultre

HAVANA (Reuters) – Haitian President Jovenel Moise said on Tuesday he was making moves to end the country’s corrupt political and economic system, acknowledging one of the opposition’s demands yet failing to convince protesters, who again took to the streets.

Moise held a rare news conference at midday, rejecting calls for his resignation amid anger over alleged corruption by public officials, fuel shortages and rampant inflation that has fuelled five straight weeks of protests.

Instead, Moise said he was ending questionable contracts with businesses made under previous administrations, accusing the guardians and beneficiaries of the unfair system of preventing the country from moving forwards, without naming names.

He also said he would work on getting the country back in gear and planned on addressing the nation more frequently.

Haitians have complained of a leadership vacuum given Moise’s rare appearances during a crisis which has shuttered schools, businesses and public offices. The last time Moise spoke publicly was nearly three weeks ago in a pre-recorded 2 a.m. televised address.

“I have heard your cries in the streets,” said Moise, who has survived several waves of protests since taking office two and a half years ago, although this is the longest one.

The president said his resignation would not be the golden ticket to changing the corrupt system.

“Instead, it is necessary to sit down in order to discuss this.”

The opposition rejected his assurances and calls for dialogue.

“Moise does not have the moral authority to attack the guardians of the system of exclusion that we are fighting today as his electoral campaign was financed by these people,” said opposition leader Andre Michel.

“We are all aware of the need to end this system …(but) the solution of the crisis today requires above all the immediate resignation of Jovenel Moise.”

Moise was a businessman with little political experience before becoming president and is one of several officials implicated in the alleged embezzlement of billions of dollars of Venezuela-sponsored Petrocaribe funds.

He denies any wrongdoing, but his government has failed to investigate further.

Protesters on Tuesday afternoon set barricades in the streets of Port-au-Prince and burnt tires in response to the president’s address, although the spontaneous protests paled in comparison to some of the organized ones of recent weeks.

“He is the one who is responsible for the current situation,” said Jean Robinson Casamajor. “It would have been better if he had kept his mouth shut.”

Delince Odeus said his children could not go to school and food products were too expensive in a country where inflation is running around 20 percent.

“I am living in misery,” said Odeus. “ I want the president to leave the country so I can have a better life.”

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Report says women must be offered lunchtime cancer screenings

Breast tests in your lunch hour: Women must be offered mammograms and smear tests close to work, report demands in a bid to halt the collapse in screening rates

  • Report demands women must be offered lunchtime cancer screenings 
  • Comes amid a collapse in screening rates, putting millions of lives in danger
  • Cervical screening attendance is at its worst level in 21 years

Women must be offered lunchtime mammograms or smear tests to halt a collapse in screening rates, a report demands today.

The official review said breast and cervical cancer tests should be made far more convenient. Women would be able to have them carried out at surgeries and clinics near work, instead of at their GP.

Millions of lives are in danger because routine screening is at an all-time low; the latest take-up rate is around just 70 per cent. Commissioned by the NHS, the 136-page report warns that poor leadership has created ‘confusion, delays and risks to patient safety’.

It highlights alarming research suggesting half of those who fail to attend screening appointments did not find the time or simply forgot to go.

Women must be offered lunchtime mammograms or smear tests to halt a collapse in screening rates, a report demands today (stock) 

Sir Mike Richards, the former national clinical director for cancer who wrote the report, called for radical change to address the crisis. ‘Every day of delay is a missed opportunity to catch a person’s cancer or disease at an earlier point, and potentially save their life,’ Sir Mike said.

As well as more convenient sessions, he calls for GPs to be given financial incentives to offer appointments in the evenings and at weekends.

Cervical screening attendance is at its worst level in 21 years – with just 71 per cent of the eligible population up to date on their tests. Breast screening uptake for women aged 50 to 70 is at its lowest since records began in 2003, at just 70 per cent.

The bowel cancer programme for men and women has failed to reach its target of screening 60 per cent of the population, with 1.8million of those eligible missing out. Today’s report, commissioned after a number of screening blunders last year, calls for a wholesale reform of the screening programme. Sir Mike suggests Public Health England is stripped of responsibility for running screening – with all functions to be handed instead to NHS England.

That proposal was last night approved by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Sir Mike also called for the rules that govern screening to be overhauled.

‘People live increasingly busy lives and we need to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to attend these important appointments,’ he added. Women should be able to choose appointments at doctors’ surgeries, health centres or locations close to their work during breaks rather than having to attend their own GP practice, he suggested.

Screening programmes are organised by GP surgeries, which means cervical testing, for example, is done either at the doctors’ practice or at a council-run sexual health clinic.

For breast screening, women will go to a scanning clinic, usually at the hospital nearest their GP surgery.

Women who work in a different area find it very difficult to access screening appointments during the working week – because they can only be tested near home. Sir Mike proposes making the system much more flexible so women can pick and choose where they are tested.

Robert Music, of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: ‘We need to see quick and decisive action as a result of the recommendations before we are confident that the change needed will take place.

‘We have long been calling for more accessible appointments, with women able to book and attend screening at locations other than the GP they are registered with, and are pleased to see this referenced.

‘This is not a simple move and we look forward to seeing a roadmap to making this happen.’

Lynda Thomas, of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘Screening and early detection can improve and even save lives, and we now urgently need the Government to implement the recommendations in this review.’

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U.S. lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Democratic lawmakers, joined by some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, introduced a resolution on Tuesday opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, the latest sign of deep disapproval in Congress of his action.

“We have always maintained that, while certainly needed, a sanctions package alone is insufficient for reversing this humanitarian disaster,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement introducing the resolution.

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Canadian early voting rises, tight race prompts talk of need for partners

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s federal elections watchdog said on Tuesday more Canadians voted early this year compared with four years ago, while on the campaign trail party leaders increasingly discussed the possibility that no party will win a majority in parliament.

In the four days ending on Monday, voters were allowed to cast an advance ballot. During the first two days, some 2 million people voted, an increase of 25% from 2015, Elections Canada said. Election day is Oct. 21.

“The trend has been that more people take advantage of the option of advanced polling … because they like the convenience of it,” said Nick Gamache, director of media relations at Elections Canada.

Though overall numbers for all four days have yet to be tallied, Gamache said it was a “safe assumption” that there was an overall increase in advance voting versus 2015.

Advance voting “has been trending up in every federal election,” Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker said on Twitter. It “doesn’t always mean overall turnout will be higher,” he said.

Polls show the two biggest parties, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, are tied nationally though neither is positioned to win an outright majority in parliament, meaning they may need a partner to govern.

The left-leaning New Democrats (NDP) gained 5 percentage points to 20% over the past week and is in third place nationally, according to an Ipsos poll published on Tuesday, a surge that could hand NDP leader Jagmeet Singh the balance of power.

All the candidates were campaigning on Tuesday after many took a short break for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Speaking in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Trudeau urged voters to choose Liberals not only over Conservatives, but also over the rival, left-leaning NDP and the Green Party.

“If you want progressive action, you need a progressive government, not a progressive opposition,” Trudeau said.

Singh, who himself cast an early ballot over the weekend, said on Sunday that he was open to working with other parties to keep the Conservatives out of power, but on Monday adjusted his message to say his goal was to win, not enter a coalition.

“It’s quite clear the NDP would join a high-deficit, high- tax government, and it’s quite clear Justin Trudeau would pay any price to stay in power,” Scheer said in Quai Saint-Andre, Quebec.

Though leaders are speaking to a smaller audience after millions cast early ballots, one exception may be Manitoba, which was struck by a major storm packing snow and toppling trees over the weekend.

Elections Canada is looking into ways to help those in the areas hardest hit to vote on election day, Gamache said.

“We’re in evaluation mode. We’re already looking at adding resources on the ground so that people can cast a ballot,” he said. “If there’s an influx (on election day), we want people not to have longer lines.”

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Fairground horror as woman, 23, is killed and another seriously hurt when carriage is thrown 33ft to the ground in France – The Sun

A WOMAN has been killed and another seriously injured after being thrown 33 feet to the ground from a fairground ride in France.

The pair were at a funfair in the district of Firminy on Monday night when the pod in which they were seated came lose.



Footage from the scene shows the pod – one of several spinning on the end of a giant mechanical arm – being jettisoned and colliding with a neighbouring attraction.

Emergency services were called and a 23-year-old woman was declared dead.

A second woman, 20, was rushed to hospital.

Local police said that four people, including the owners of the ride and those of another, have been taken into custody.

French outlet La Chaîne Info reported that a "homicide" and "involuntary injuries" investigation had been opened.

Both rides involved in the accident have been shut down, and investigators are reported to be on the scene today attempting to determine the cause.

Accounts of the evening posted to social media suggested there had been strong winds at the time.

Others suggested that the pod had broken away after colliding with another ride, not before.

The funfair in Firminy, held for two weeks every October, is one of the biggest in France.

It has 250 rides and attractions and pulls in 100,000 visitors.

Local media reports that the incident is reminiscent of others to have hit France in recent years.

In March 2018, a 40-year-old man died and another person was seriously injured in the city of Lyon after a fairground ride collapsed.

Four children, including an eight-year-old boy, were also treated for minor injuries.

In January, six adults and two children saw in the New Year stuck 170 feet up in chilling temperatures after a fairground ride came to a halt in the city of Rennes.

Firefighters had to be lowered to the group by helicopter as part of the ten-hour operation to rescue them.


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Turkey's military operation in Syria: All the latest updates

SANA news agency says Syrian army at the city’s main square as Turkish president vows to press ahead with offensive.

    Heavy fighting continues as Turkey presses ahead with its military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria, now in its seventh day.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the offensive aims to remove the Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create a “safe zone” to which millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.

    The move came after the United States announced it was withdrawing its troops from the area, leaving the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group, without US military support.

    More:

    • Trump hits Turkey with sanctions
    • Displaced Arab Syrians want to go home
    • Rouhani says there is footage of attack on Iranian tanker

    Here are the latest updates:

    Tuesday, October 15

    Berlin urges ‘restraint’ after Turkish-Kurdish clashes in Germany

    German authorities called for calm after clashes between Turkish and Kurdish communities in the western city of Herne over Ankara’s offensive in northeastern Syria.    

    Police said at least five people were injured in fights between the two communities late on Monday.

    “We have a responsibility to prevent the conflict in the region becoming a conflict in our society… in Germany,” integration commissioner Annette Widmann-Mauz told the Funke newspaper group. “I expect all sides, especially migrant organisations and religious communities, to take responsibility and contribute to restraint.”    

    Syrian forces in ‘full control’ of Manbij: Russia

    Russia’s defence ministry said Syrian government forces have taken “full control over the city of Manbij and nearby settlements”.

    Russian forces were continuing to patrol border areas along the “line of contact” between Syrian and Turkish forces, it said in a statement. 

    US coalition: ‘We are out’ of Manbij

    The US-led coalition fighting ISIL in Syria said it pulled all of its troops from Manbij, which is now controlled by Syrian government forces.

    “Coalition forces are executing a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria. We are out of Manbij,” a spokesman said on Twitter.

    UK reviewing arms export licences to Turkey: Report

    The United Kingdom is reviewing all arms export licences to Turkey amid mounting concern over Ankara’s cross-border military push, the Financial Times reported, citing unnamed officials.

    British ministers have suspended issuing new licences for weapons sales to Turkey while the review is being conducted, the newspaper added.

    The report came after Italy, the top arms exporter to Turkey last year, joined a ban on selling weapons and ammunition to Ankara after a weekend decision by France and Germany to suspend sales, and Spain signalled it was ready to do so.

    Trump: US to impose sanctions on Turkey

    US President Trump said he would “soon” impose a package of sanctions on Turkey over the latter’s military offensive in Syria.

    “The United States will aggressively use economic sanctions to target those who enable, facilitate and finance these heinous acts in Syria,” Trump said in a statement.

    “I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” he added.

    Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Turkey’s Actions in Northeast Syria pic.twitter.com/ZCQC7nzmME

    Trump also said that US troops coming out of Syria would redeploy and remain in the region to monitor the situation and help prevent the revival of ISIL.

    Read more here.

    Erdogan and Macron discuss Syria on phone

    The Turkish presidency said Erdogan held a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron during which he explained to the French president the goals of Ankara’s operation in northeast Syria.

    Erdogan told his French counterpart the operation would contribute to regional and global peace and stability, according to the presidency.

    European Union countries agreed earlier in the day to limit arms exports to Turkey over its offensive, prompting condemnation from Ankara, even as they stopped short of a bloc-wide embargo against the NATO ally.


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    De Blasio accuses Cuomo of politicizing Mother Cabrini statue

    Mayor de Blasio Monday accused Gov. Cuomo of politicizing Mother Cabrini amidst ongoing local outrage directed at First Lady Chirlane McCray’s decision to not include a Cabrini statue in a project honoring historically significant New York women.

    “God bless him, but again it’s a lot of people out there you know for whatever agendas playing a lot of games,” de Blasio said of Cuomo during a conversation with Fox 5’s Lisa Evers. “It’s not fair to people, it’s not fair to the memory of Mother Cabrini.”

    Cuomo on Monday announced he would devote state funds to a Cabrini statue after McCray did not include the Catholic saint in the “She Built NYC” commemorative program.

    While Catholics and Italian Americans have called out McCray for bias, de Blasio also told Fox 5 he though their anger was “manufactured.”

    “I think it’s a manufactured controversy I think it’s very sad that some people have chosen to do this,” the mayor said.

    De Blasio’s Fox 5 interview followed a day spent marching in the Columbus Day Parade, where he was heckled as the “worst mayor ever.”

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    Cambodia steps up opposition crackdown as Rainsy return nears

    Government of longtime leader Hun Sen claims Rainsy’s return is a “coup”, threatening long jail terms for supporters.

      Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Authorities in Cambodia have labelled opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s plan to return next month from exile a “coup”, and stepped up a crackdown on his supporters.  

      At least 27 members of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have been arrested since the start of the year accused of plotting a coup and many more have faced various other political charges, the party said. 

      “I have serious concerns that other CNRP supporters and I could get arrested,” supporter Mao Chhorn told Al Jazeera. “I myself have often been followed by local authorities and secret police.”

      Most have been arrested for sharing Facebook posts supporting the return of Rainsy, a co-founder of the party, on November 9.

      Officials say that any people they deem to be involved in what they call “the coup” will face five to 10 years in prison – and civil servants will get a life sentence.

      “Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government are cracking down on the CNRP rank and file, the various commune, district and provincial level leaders who are critical for the party to function,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.

      Seng Sokhon, a former commune chief, was charged last week as an accomplice to treason, but allowed to go free after confessing, and condemning Rainsy in a video released by the government. 

      Three former party members were arrested in September, and charged with “public insult” after they discussed Rainsy’s return on the phone. Police read the transcript of the call to them after recording it secretly.

      Chhorn said he had become more careful.

      “I stopped commenting especially on social media about the current situation after so many CNRP members and supporters were threatened and arrested,” he said. 

      Antagonistic history

      The political crisis began in 2017, when CNRP co-founder Kem Sokha was arrested for treason and the party dissolved after a strong showing at the local commune elections. Sokha has been under house arrest since. 

      The dissolution turned Cambodia into a de facto one-party state, and drew serious criticism from Western countries including the European Union. 

      In an apparent bid to preserve Cambodia’s preferential trade deal with the EU, Hun Sen relaxed the situation and released political prisoners.

      But after Rainsy announced in August he would return, the crackdown resumed.

      “There has been far too little reaction to this intensifying crackdown by diplomats and the UN. What’s needed is much higher volume public denunciations in Phnom Penh and foreign capitals of the government’s repressive campaign,” Robertson said.

      Rainsy and Hun Sen have a long, antagonistic history that began when Rainsy served as Minister of Finance in the royalist party Funcinpec in the 1990s, where he built a reputation as a crusader against corruption.

      He formed his own party in 1995, gaining a strong following among factory workers and young people. 

      For the next 20 years, Rainsy engaged in a delicate balancing act, criticising the government, fleeing the country to avoid charges, and then compromising with Hun Sen to secure his return.

      But each time he returned, his party gained steadily in support and representation.

      After founding the CNRP with Sokha, the opposition made massive gains in the 2013 and 2017 elections and Rainsy became a more significant threat to Hun Sen’s decades-long hold on power. 

      ‘Usurper’

      In recent months, Rainsy has stepped up his rhetoric, and Hun Sen has threatened to deploy the armed forces.

      Rainsy denies he is escalating the situation, insisting he is only reacting to Hun Sen’s own unacceptable escalations.

      “It is important to make Hun Sen appear as a usurper who has stolen power from the people through the fake 2018 election held without the participation of the CNRP as the only credible opposition party,” he said in an email to Al Jazeera.

      “This in turn justifies our call for a popular uprising because it is legitimate to seek to topple an illegitimate regime.”

      Still, Rainsy has alienated Phnom Penh’s intelligentsia, even among those critical of the government.

      In recent weeks, speaking to more highly-educated Cambodians, Rainsy has been called a “rabbit” for his tendency to flee, and drawn unfavourable comparisons with Game of Thrones character Littlefinger – a clever but conniving politician mostly defined by his self-interest.

      But Rainsy’s focus has always been elsewhere. 

      “The Cambodian ordinary people’s common sense and heartfelt support is more important than speculations from a few ‘intellectuals’,” Rainsy countered.

      Political analyst Ou Virak said he doubted Rainsy would return, but cautions against the idea that November 9 would “make or break” his career.

      “People already assume that if he promises to come and doesn’t come it will be the end of his political career, but no, it won’t be. He’s done this before,” Virak said.

      Virak said the “best case scenario” for Rainsy would be if he was physically prevented from entering Cambodia in the first place.

      “Then he can claim moral victory and claim that Hun Sen is afraid,” Virak said.

      Indeed, Rainsy already points to the ongoing crackdown as evidence of Hun Sen’s fear, which he has described as a “a victory for the CNRP”. 

      Opportunity for change

      Some have criticised Rainsy for putting his supporters in danger while he lives in safety abroad – he’s been in exile in Paris since 2015.

      But CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua, said it was unfair to blame Rainsy for Hun Sen’s human rights violations.

      “Is it Sam Rainsy or us putting victims in jail? Or are we victims too, direct targets of Hun Sen whose only goal is to stay in power?” she asked.

      Rainsy’s closest political ally, Sochua also began her political career at Funcinpec, serving as Minister for Women’s Affairs from 1998 to 2004. 

      She defected after the assassination of union leader Chea Vichea, inspired by Rainsy’s demands for justice and disappointed by Funcinpec’s silence.

      “I share his ethics, I share his principles for justice, I share his sense of commitment,” Sochua said. 

      Ou Virak, political analyst

      Virak said Cambodia now faced its best opportunity for change in the last 25 or 30 years because of growing strains within society.

      “You have a backlash against Chinese [influence], you have not just a growing economy but growing inequality, you have a population that is mostly 25 years old and younger. All of those ingredients add up to a volatile situation,” he said.

      And as Virak added: “His base still believes in him.”

      A tuk-tuk driver told Al Jazeera he did believe Rainsy would return. 

      “Lots of people expect him to come back and we’re waiting for him,” he said. 

      A youth supporter was less certain, but said he wouldn’t blame Rainsy if he didn’t want to risk it.

      “Right now it’s more and more sensitive. Since he announced the date, the government arrested a lot of his supporters, so I think even if he wanted to come back it would be very challenging,“ he said.

      Both said they had not lost any of their admiration for Rainsy, and refused to choose between him and Sokha.  

      “Both of these opposition leaders need to stand strong together, otherwise they won’t have enough power and supporters to fight the CPP and promote democracy,” the tuk-tuk driver said. referring to the ruling Cambodia People’s Party.


      101 East

      Cambodia’s Election Crackdown

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      Pope's bodyguard resigns over leak in financial probe

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      The Vatican's security chief, who served as Pope Francis' main bodyguard, resigned Monday over leaks related to a financial investigation into alleged wrongdoing in the holy city.

      The departure of Domenico Giani, 57, came after a Vatican police flyer identifying five Vatican employees who were “preventively suspended” as part of the financial probe was published by Italian newsweekly L'Espresso and its daily newspaper, La Repubblica.

      The Vatican said the flyer harmed the employees' dignity and the Vatican gendarmes police.

      Gianni had served three popes, including Pope Benedict XVI, in his 20 years with the Vatican security services. He could often be seen running alongside the "popemobile" during foreign trips and appearances.

      Vatican head of security Domenico Giani, top, looks at Pope Francis at the end of a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

      "Having always said that I would be willing to sacrifice my life to defend the pope, I took the decision to resign with the same spirit, and to not in any way harm the image and activities of the pope," Giani told Vatican media.

      The Oct. 2 flyer was sent to Swiss Guards and members of the gendarmes police force. The five individuals' faces, names and job titles were displayed on the flyer, which resembled a wanted poster.

      Giani didn't take responsibility for the mishap but resigned to avoid disrupting the investigation and "out of love for the church and faithfulness" to the pope.

      His agents raided two Holy See offices – the secretariat of state and the Vatican's financial intelligence unit– as part of a probe into financial irregularities concerning a London real estate deal which resulted in the loss of tens of millions of dollars.

      The raids and suspension were part of efforts to recover some of the lost money. The deal has ignited questions about the Vatican's murky finances and financial mismanagement during Benedict's papacy.

      Pope Francis recently ordered cuts to relieve a $77 million structural deficit. Sources told Reuters Francis was upset over the leak because the five employees had been represented in such a way even though they were not formally suspected of anything.

      Vatican head of security Domenico Giani, right, shares a word with Pope Francis. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

      An investigation into the real estate deal was opened after the Vatican received complaints from the Vatican bank, known as the  Institute for Works of Religion, and the auditor general's office against "unknown persons," Reuters reported.

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      The news agency reported the Secretariat of State had wished to buy a partner out of a London building they purchased years ago as an investment so it could gain full control over the property.

      The secretariat asked the IOR for a short-term loan of around $165 million. The loan request was refused and the IOR and auditor general made complaints to the Vatican's chief prosecutor.

      The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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      California governor demands PG&E accountability for mismanaging power shutoffs

      LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co should be held accountable for mismanaging last week’s widespread power shutoffs and urged the company to provide credits or rebates to affected customers.

      The utility, a unit of PG&E Corp (PCG.N), cut off electricity to more than 730,000 homes and workplaces in northern California last week in a bid to reduce wildfire risks posed by extremely windy, dry weather.

      The precautionary shutdown, unprecedented in its scope, has been widely criticized as being haphazardly conducted on too large a scale with insufficient advance notice to affected customers.

      On Thursday, the governor said the power outage followed years of mismanagement by the utility and branded its handling as “unacceptable.” PG&E Chief Executive Bill Johnson publicly acknowledged that day that his company had fallen short in its preparations for the outage.

      On Monday, Newsom said he had sent a letter to California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer, confirming that the agency will conduct a comprehensive inquiry and review of PG&E’s planning, implementation and decision-making process failures. (here|ze7pzanwmhlzgt|16yyb9u0kwpik66&_ce=1571085648.ee92e440fc7f2af3430833dc25a37ebd)

      “Californians should not pay the price for decades of PG&E’s greed and neglect,” Newsom said. “We will continue to hold PG&E accountable to make radical changes – prioritizing the safety of Californians and modernizing its equipment.”

      Newsom also urged the company to provide affected customers an automatic credit or rebate of $100 per residential customer and $250 per small business as compensation.

      Separately, Batjer sent PG&E executives an eight-page letter on Monday directing the utility outlining seven “major areas where immediate corrective actions are required,” the commission said in a statement.

      “Failures in execution, combined with the magnitude of this (power shutdown) event, created an unacceptable situation that should never be repeated,” Batjer wrote.

      “Loss of power is not a mere inconvenience – it endangers lives and property, especially those individuals who are reliant on power for medical reasons,” the letter said.

      Several of the corrective actions the commission ordered dealt with website crashes and an overwhelming surge in call center activity the utility experienced during the power shutdown.

      PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January 2019, citing potential civil liabilities in excess of $30 billion from major wildfires linked to its transmission wires and other equipment.

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