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Newsbytes: PG&E, Obama’s Farewell Address, Volkswagon Executive Arrested, Easter Eggs on German Shore

By Staff Writers Evangeline Chang & Helen Wang

Local — PG&E Found Guilty: Set to Pay $3 Million Fine
The court will decide Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) penalty for six federal infractions on January 23. The penalty is related to the San Bruno fire on September 9, 2010. Though the federal probation department report recommends a five year probation, $3 million fine, and federal monitoring for safety, PG&E firm’s lawyers said they will only agree to pay the $3 million fine. PG&E was previously found guilty for five pipeline safety infringements. 


National — President Obama Gives Inspiring Farewell Address
President Barack Obama, soon to leave the White House after two full terms, gave a heartfelt farewell address on January 10 from his hometown of Chicago. During the speech, he asked the country to be brave towards upcoming challenges in the future and to remain united as one. Obama expressed that he believed the greatest divides within the country could be overcome by a diligent population. Towards the end of the address, the 44th president thanked his family, Vice President Joe Biden, and others for being with him the past eight years.


International — Volkswagon Executive Arrested for Alleged Conspiracy Involvement
Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt was taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Florida for his alleged involvement in a scandal surrounding a program installed in Volkswagen diesel vehicles. The program illegally helps cars defeat emissions tests by deceiving emissions regulators. Lawsuits were filed against Schmidt for helping Volkswagen conceal their emissions and cheating the regulators. James Liang, a previous engineer for the company, pleaded guilty to charges including the conspiracy in September, but Schmidt’s arrest brought the case to an executive level. Volkswagen and the Justice Department is close to settling the case, and the car company has agreed to pay almost $16 million to rectify civil claims.


Quirky — Easter Eggs Wash Up on German Shore
 Thousands of easter eggs filled with small toys washed up on the shores of Germany’s Langeoog Island on January 5. A cargo ship set for Bremerhaven port in Germany lost the egg cargo in addition to four other storage containers during Storm Axel, a strong storm off the Baltic coast, giving the island children an early Easter gift with the “Überraschungs-Eier,” or surprise eggs in German. However, the island authorities have warned residents about the harsh environmental effects of plastic litter, and they have organized cleanup teams to collect the unexpected gifts.


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