Criminal charges are filed against PG&E in a fatal California wildfire.

Charges including manslaughter arise from a blaze that killed four last year. A state inquiry said the utility’s power lines were involved.

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The Zogg fire in Shasta County, Calif., burned more than 56,000 acres last year.Credit…Ethan Swope/Associated Press

Prosecutors in Northern California filed criminal charges against Pacific Gas & Electric on Friday in connection with the deaths of four people last year in a wildfire that was linked to the utility’s equipment.

The Shasta County district attorney brought the charges — including manslaughter, along with other felonies and misdemeanors — in connection with the Zogg fire, which burned more than 56,000 acres and destroyed 204 buildings near Redding.

An investigation by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection determined that the fire was caused when a pine tree came into contact with electrical lines owned and operated by PG&E. PG&E said it had cooperated with the investigation.

“While criminal prosecutions of corporations is rare, one of the primary reasons to charge a corporation criminally is a finding that illegal behavior is widespread, it’s serious, it’s offensive and it’s so persuasive that the only appropriate action is criminal charges,” Stephanie A. Bridgett, district attorney for Shasta County, said at a news conference on Friday. “My office has made such findings.”

“PG&E as a utility has both statutory and regulatory duties to mitigate fire risks by removing hazardous trees from around their electrical lines,” she added. “In this case they failed to perform their legal duties. Their failure was reckless and was criminally negligent, and it resulted in the deaths of four people.”

Ms. Bridgett said the case against PG&E included felony arson charges in three other fires last year and this year. She said her office would seek penalties that could include fines, fees and remedial and corrective action.

Patricia K. Poppe, PG&E’s chief executive, who joined the company in January, said in a statement on Friday that the utility disputed the charges. “It may feel satisfying for the company of PG&E to be charged with a crime,” she said, but “we welcome our day in court.”

Last year, PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2018 Camp fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise, and was fined $3.5 million, the maximum penalty allowed under state law. The fire led the utility, which had amassed $30 billion in liability related to wildfires caused by its equipment, to file for bankruptcy protection in January 2019.

The Zogg fire was ignited two months after PG&E exited bankruptcy in July of last year. PG&E is suspected of causing three fires this year, including the Dixie fire — the second-largest blaze in California history — in July.

PG&E has been on probation since its first criminal conviction, in 2016, for a gas pipeline explosion six years earlier in the Bay Area city of San Bruno. The blast killed eight people.

In April, Sonoma County’s district attorney charged PG&E with five felonies and 28 misdemeanors, including recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, in connection with the Kincade fire, which damaged or destroyed more than 400 buildings and seriously injured six firefighters in 2019.

The utility has been working to rebuild its image — upgrading equipment, developing wildfire prevention programs and providing increased tree trimming — but many government leaders and residents argue that the company has fallen short. The utility has resorted to shutting off power during extreme weather, at times leaving millions of people without power for as long as a week, to prevent its equipment from causing fires.

Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose and others have urged the state to turn PG&E into a customer-owned utility. Others, like the City of San Francisco, have pressed for a government-run operation.

To help resolve some of the concerns, California created a wildfire fund last year, which has provided a backup funding source for PG&E and the state’s two other investor-owned utilities, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. The fund was designed to cover wildfire liabilities that exceed the ability of the utilities to pay for damage and to help prevent them from going into bankruptcy.

The California Public Utilities Commission is reviewing the circumstances of the Zogg fire and what responsibility PG&E had. The commission could impose fines in addition to any court penalties. Regulators fined PG&E almost $2 billion for causing wildfires in 2017 and 2018, including the Camp fire.

Utilities have been required to pay criminal penalties and fines by state regulators using money from their shareholders.

Renters living in apartment buildings with federally backed mortgages may get an eviction reprieve — even though a broad federal moratorium on evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic expired last month.

The federal agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the two big government-controlled mortgage finance firms — on Friday extended the time period for those firms to grant mortgage relief to apartment owners. Landlords that accept the relief cannot evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent.

Sandra L. Thompson, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Authority, said the extension was needed given the “uncertain nature of this pandemic.” The forbearance period for apartment owners with federally backed mortgages was set to expire this month; it also includes an eviction ban.

The F.H.F.A. did not put an end date on the program, which is available to landlords showing a financial hardship because of the pandemic.

It is unclear how many owners would accept the forbearance offer and how many renters would be covered. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late August that the Biden administration could not extend the federal eviction moratorium without congressional approval, it was estimated that hundreds of thousands of people were in immediate danger of eviction.

The extension comes as the federal government and states are struggling to deliver $46 billion in emergency rental assistance approved earlier this year as part the administration’s pandemic relief package. The Treasury Department on Friday said that as of the end of August, it had distributed $7.7 billion in aid to more than one million households.

Fannie and Freddie do not make home loans but instead buy mortgages and package them into government-backed securities that are guaranteed in the event of default.

Erin Griffith (@eringriffith) and Erin Woo (@erinkwoo), two of our tech reporters, are covering the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, who dropped out of Stanford University to create the blood testing start-up Theranos at age 19 and built it to a $9 billion valuation and herself into the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire — only to flame out in disgrace after Theranos’s technology was revealed to have problems.

Follow along here or on Twitter as she is tried on 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The trial is generally held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Erin Woo

We’re now getting into Rosendorff’s decision to leave. He forwarded work emails with issues of concern to his Gmail account in 2014, testifying that “I wanted to protect myself.” He also says he started looking for another job in mid-2013, shortly after joining Theranos.

Erin Woo

Today’s theme seems to be a) Rosendorff was concerned about faulty tests, b) Rosendorff recommended the company stop using those tests and c) Holmes/Balwani were aware but declined to change course.

Erin Woo

We’re now on issues with Theranos’s HDL (cholesterol) tests. Rosendorff says he “suspected” Theranos’ HDL was no longer working as of Feb. 2014 and suggested reverting to FDA-approved devices, but received pushback from Balwani, Holmes and Theranos VP Daniel Young.

Erin Woo

We’ve now seen two email chains including Holmes/Balwani about complaints/issues that Rosendorff wasn’t included on. Rosendorff says he “absolutely” should have been included on the emails.

Erin Woo

Rosendorff is testifying about issues with the hCG tests, which detect pregnancy. In June 2014, Christian Holmes wrote to Elizabeth: “Just fyi-hCG right now causing some serious issues and patient complaints.”

The Treasury Department building. The federal government could run out of cash next month.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The federal government could run out of cash and start missing payments on things as diverse as Social Security and military pay sometime between Oct. 15 and Nov. 4, according to a new analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center.

That analysis, released on Friday as Congress is debating whether to lift America’s borrowing cap, showed a narrower window during which the United States could default on its debt if the limit on what the United States can borrow is not raised.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have shown no signs of progress at breaking a stalemate over raising or suspending the debt limit — which restricts the government’s ability to borrow money to pay its bills. The congressional dysfunction leaves the United States potentially less than a month away from what economists warn would be a catastrophic economic shock.

“New data demonstrate that Congress has only weeks to address the debt limit,” Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said in a statement. “If they don’t, the U.S. government risks missing or delaying critical bills that will come due in mid-October that millions of Americans rely on, from military paychecks and retirement benefits to advanced child tax credit payments.”

The United States officially hit its statutory debt limit in late July, but the Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures” to curb or delay investments and stave off a default. Predicting the true deadline is harder this year because government payments related to the pandemic have reduced clarity about when certain taxes will be collected and when federal money is flowing out the door.

If Congress fails to act, the United States will be in uncharted territory.

In its analysis, the policy center said that if the true deadline for breaching the debt limit was Oct. 15, the earliest end of its projected range, the Treasury Department would be about $265 billion short of paying all its bills through mid-November. About 40 percent of the money that is owed would go unpaid.

“Realistically, on a day-to-day basis, fulfilling all payments for important and popular programs would quickly become impossible,” the report said, pointing to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and military active-duty pay.

The Treasury Department has said it has no official contingency plan if the debt limit is breached. However, in previous standoffs, Treasury officials have contemplated what they would do.

The Bipartisan Policy Center notes that the Treasury could try to prioritize payments, which essentially means paying some bills and not others. It could also choose to delay all bills and then make payments once enough revenue had been received to cover the payments due for an entire day.

However, either of these situations would present legal and logistical problems and probably shake up the markets as the Treasury Department struggled to pick winners and losers.

“The reality would inevitably be chaotic,” the report said.

Sunny Hostin, left, and Ana Navarro, both hosts of “The View,” were directed to leave the set live on the air after they had apparently tested positive for the coronavirus.Credit…via ABC

A dramatic scene played out on “The View” on Friday morning when two of the show’s hosts, Ana Navarro and Sunny Hostin, were directed to leave the set live on the air after both had apparently tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The View” had just returned from a commercial break about 15 minutes into the show and the four hosts of were on the verge of introducing Vice President Kamala Harris for an in-person interview. ABC News had been billing it as Ms. Harris’ first in-studio interview since taking office.

Then the mayhem began.

“OK, we’re back, there seems to be something happening here that I’m not 100 percent aware of,” said Joy Behar, one of the hosts, as she glanced around the set, looking perplexed. “Can someone please apprise me of the situation?”

In the background, a producer was overheard saying, “I need the two of you to step off for a second,” apparently gesturing to Ms. Navarro and Ms. Hostin. Both came off the set.

“So shall I introduce the vice president?” Ms. Behar said, looking over to a producer.

“Yes,” the producer replied, before another person off screen barked, “No!”

“As we always do in television when we’re in a tight spot, we’ll be right back,” Ms. Behar said, before the show abruptly went into a commercial break.

When “The View” returned after a five-minute break, Ms. Behar told viewers what happened.

“OK, so since this is going to be a major news story any minute now, what happened is Sunny and Ana apparently tested positive for Covid,” Ms. Behar said. “No matter how hard we try, these things happen, they probably have a breakthrough case. They’ll be OK, I’m sure, because they are both vaccinated up the wazoo.”

ABC News did not return requests for comment. Whoopi Goldberg, the show’s fifth host, was not on set on Friday.

For the next half-hour, Ms. Behar and her remaining co-host, Sara Haines, scrambled and took questions from the studio audience as they tried to, as Ms. Behar put it, “tap dance” their way through what would have been an interview with the vice president.

Ms. Harris was ushered to a remote location and joined the show for a brief interview via satellite in the final 10 minutes of the show.


Senate vote on the debt limit: The Senate is expected to vote on legislation to keep the government funded through early December and lift the limit on federal borrowing through the end of 2022 before a Thursday deadline. The United States could default on its debt sometime in October if Congress does not take action to raise or suspend the debt limit, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned.


Consumer confidence: The Conference Board is set to report its consumer confidence index for September. The results last month showed the index’s sharpest decline since February, but preliminary data from the University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment showed a modest gain for September.

Senate Banking Committee hearing: Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, and Ms. Yellen will testify at the Senate Banking Committee hearing on their agencies’ oversight of the CARES Act. Economists are expecting the officials to be quizzed about inflation, a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the debt ceiling.

NABE Conference: Ms. Yellen is set to speak at a virtual event hosted by the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association for Business Economics. Her address will be followed by a moderated conversation with Constance Hunter, the chief economist for KMPG.


Personal Consumption Expenditures: The inflation gauge will provide insight on how much and how quickly rising prices will fade. The data comes after an update from the Fed about its plans to “taper” bond purchases that the central bank is making to support the economy.

Stock on Wall Street rose on Friday after major indexes managed to recuperate some of the losses they posted earlier in the week.

The S&P 500 ticked up 0.2 percent, ending the week half a percent higher with its third straight day of gains. Markets had started to recover on Wednesday after the S&P 500 had its sharpest daily decline since May on Monday, prompted by worries about China Evergrande, the real estate company struggling to pay its debts.

Shares of China Evergrande Group fell more than 11 percent in Hong Kong trading on Friday, as a deadline to make an $83 million interest payment passed without an announcement from the company about whether it had met its commitments. China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dipped 1.3 percent.

Cryptocurrencies fell on Friday after China intensified its crackdown on cryptocurrency, calling all crypto mining activities “illegal.” Bitcoin fell 5.2 percent to $42,435.50, according to CoinDesk. Ethereum fell more than 7 percent to $2,914.91. Robinhood, the stock trading app, and Coinbase, the cryptocurrency trading platform, each fell more than 2 percent.

Nike fell 6.2 percent after the sportswear company reported on Thursday it would lower its sales forecast as it continues to experience supply chain disruptions.

Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren were scheduled to participate in panels on Wednesday as part of a conference titled Globe Summit 2021: The Great Recovery.Credit…Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, Democrats from Massachusetts, said Friday that they had backed out of a virtual conference hosted by The Boston Globe earlier in the week in solidarity with the journalists’ union there, which is in a yearslong dispute over a new labor contract.

Mr. Markey and Ms. Warren were scheduled to participate in panels on Wednesday as part of their home-state newspaper’s conference, titled Globe Summit 2021: The Great Recovery, according to an archived schedule.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Warren said Friday that her team had informed The Globe that she no longer wished to be in the conference, which was to have featured a discussion of corporate activism between Ms. Warren and the chief executive of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company.

“Senator Warren has never crossed a picket line and has stood with the Boston Newspaper Guild in their fight,” the spokeswoman, Nora Keefe, said. “We are hopeful that a fair contract with better wages and stronger workplace protections can be reached and urge both sides to continue negotiating in good faith.”

In a guild news release on Friday, Mr. Markey said, “I urge The Boston Globe management to negotiate and settle a fair contract with workplace protections for these workers without further delay.” The senator, a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal legislation, was to have sat on a panel about “a greener, more equitable economy” with the Globe reporter Sabrina Shankman.

Heidi Flood, a Globe spokeswoman, declined to comment on the senators’ absence. “The Globe summit has been an incredible opportunity for us to showcase our journalism with a national audience,” she said.

The last contract between the Boston Newspaper Guild and The Globe expired at the end of 2018. A significant sticking point in negotiations over a new contract, according to the guild, is The Globe’s desire to codify its ability to outsource journalistic functions.

“We’re so grateful that our elected leaders see the importance of keeping The Boston Globe’s reporting local — and not outsourcing these jobs to faraway locations,” Scott Steeves, the president of the guild, said in a statement.

The Globe is one of the last major metropolitan dailies with independent local ownership. John W. Henry, who also owns the Boston Red Sox and the English soccer team Liverpool, bought the newspaper in 2013 from The New York Times Company as part of a $70 million deal. Last year, Mr. Henry’s wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, a co-owner of The Globe, became chief executive of Boston Globe Media Partners, which also publishes the health news website Stat.

The Globe Summit was scheduled to conclude Friday afternoon with a panel about the newspaper’s Spotlight team, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The investigative group famously won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for public service for uncovering sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, an effort depicted in the 2015 film “Spotlight.”

WPP, which is based in London, is the world’s largest advertising agency.Credit…Toby Melville/Reuters

WPP, the world’s largest advertising group, has agreed to pay more than $19 million to settle charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission that it allowed bribery and problematic accounting practices at subsidiaries in Brazil, China, India and Peru.

The S.E.C. charged WPP, which is based in London, with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by aggressively taking control of smaller firms in high-risk markets and then allowing the leaders of the new subsidiaries to flout WPP’s internal accounting and compliance rules. When faced with repeated warning signs of corruption or loss of control, WPP did not properly respond, according to regulators.

The S.E.C. pointed to one example in India, where a WPP subsidiary bribed Indian government officials for advertising contracts even after the parent company received seven anonymous complaints.

“A company cannot allow a focus on profitability or market share to come at the expense of appropriate controls,” Charles E. Cain, chief of the S.E.C.’s Foreign Corrupt Practices unit, said in a statement on Friday. “Further, it is essential for companies to identify the root cause of problems when red flags emerge to prevent a pattern of corrupt behavior from taking hold.”

WPP did not admit or deny the findings but agreed to stop violating the regulations and pay $19.2 million in fines, according to regulators. The company said in a statement that the charges related to activities that took place until 2018 and that “new leadership has put in place robust new compliance measures and controls, fundamentally changed its approach to acquisitions, cooperated fully with the commission and terminated those involved in misconduct.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that Campbell Soup had to allow a shareholder vote on whether the remote option for meetings would continue. Credit…Chris Helgren/Reuters

Last year, roughly 2,000 public companies in the United States held their annual shareholders meetings virtually, according to Broadridge Financial Solutions. That was up from about 300 in 2019.

Now, a group of shareholder activists are pushing companies to keep those meetings virtual, or add a remote option, permanently. They are having some success, the DealBook newsletter reports.

This week, the S.E.C. ruled that two companies, Brinker International and Campbell Soup, had to allow a shareholder vote on whether the remote option for meetings would continue. The companies had asked the S.E.C. to allow them to exclude the proposals at their upcoming meetings. After the ruling, Brinker decided to make its meeting open to remote attendees. Campbell will hold a vote on the matter at its next meeting.

Shareholder meetings have traditionally been in-person affairs. Companies generally prefer that format because it limits attendees — and with it questions that board members might face. Shareholder advocates have long said that virtual meetings level the playing field for smaller investors who might not have the resources to travel to a meeting.

Virtual meetings “fundamentally change the scope of shareholder engagement and accessibility,” said Matthew Prescott, a shareholder advocate and senior director at the Humane Society. His group sponsored the proposals about virtual meetings at Brinker and Campbell.

Shareholders have long had the ability to vote remotely before a meeting. A study this year found that meetings held virtually did not tend to generate significantly more shareholder engagement than in-person meetings.

“These shareholder proposals will not garner any meaningful support,” said Douglas Chia, a corporate governance expert and the author of the study. “My prediction: The S.E.C. has now opened the door for proposals to do away with virtual-only annual meetings, so we’ll see a lot of those being submitted soon.”

New York City is home to the largest food delivery market in the country. The slate of legislation would set minimum pay for workers and enable them to set limits on how far they are willing to travel.Credit…David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

New York became the first city in the nation to take aggressive steps to improve conditions for food delivery workers, approving on Thursday a groundbreaking package of legislation that will set minimum pay and address the plight of couriers employed by app-based services like Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats.

The legislation prevents the food delivery apps and courier services from charging workers fees to receive their pay; makes the apps disclose their gratuity policies; prohibits the apps from charging delivery workers for insulated food bags, which can cost up to $50; and requires restaurant owners to make bathrooms available to delivery workers.

Other cities have taken steps to restrict the food delivery apps, but no city has gone as far as New York, which is home to the largest and most competitive food delivery market in the country, Jeffery C. Mays reports for The New York Times.

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