May 19, 2022

PG&E is ‘Criminally Liable’ Over Deadly California Fire; Scarlett Johansson’s Suit Over ‘Black Widow’ Streaming Release Has ‘No Merit’, Disney Hits Back; ‘Know Your Facts’: Madonna Chides DaBaby for His Offensive HIV Remarks; Russell Westbrook Joins LA Lakers; McCormick Recalls Four Seasonings for Possible Salmonella Contamination

PG&E is ‘Criminally Liable’ Over Deadly California Fire, Says Prosecutor

Stephanie Bridgett, Shasta County District Attorney, declared on Facebook that her office has found that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was “criminally culpable” for the Zogg Fire.

PG&E might face criminal prosecution in connection with a devastating wildfire in Northern California that destroyed hundreds of houses. A Northern California prosecutor stated Thursday that the company’s equipment was to blame for a fire that killed four people last year.

Although the specific charges have not been determined, Bridgett said prosecutors intend to file them before the September anniversary of the fire.

This would be the latest legal action against the country’s largest utility, which was forced into bankruptcy following the outbreak of disastrous wildfires caused by its long-neglected electrical grid.

PG&E described the death toll and devastation caused by the fire as “heartbreaking” but added that it had settled civil claims with Shasta County and is continuing to reach out to the victims’ families “in an effort to make things right.”

“We do not, however, agree with the district attorney’s conclusion that criminal charges are warranted given the facts of this case,” the utility stated in a statement.

State fire investigators determined in March that the fire was started when a gray pine tree fell onto a PG&E transmission wire. Shasta and Tehama counties have sued PG&E for negligence, alleging that the utility failed to remove the tree although it had been marked for removal two years prior.

PG&E, which serves an estimated 16 million customers in central and northern California, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019 following a series of fires, including the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and damaged 10,000 houses.

Last July, the company emerged from bankruptcy and reached a $13.5 billion settlement with many wildfire victims. However, it continues to face legal and criminal lawsuits.

PG&E revealed plans last week to bury 10,000 miles of its power lines in an attempt to avert wildfires caused by electrical equipment colliding with millions of trees and other plants throughout the drought-stricken state. The cost has been estimated at $15 billion, with the majority expected to be financed by customers.

Scarlett Johansson’s Suit Over ‘Black Widow’ Streaming Release Has ‘No Merit’, Disney Hits Back

Scarlett Johansson, the star of “Black Widow,” is suing Disney, alleging that her contract was violated when Disney put the superhero film on its Disney+ streaming service concurrently with its theatrical release. Disney’s dual-release approach is expected to cost Johansson more than $50 million, prompting her attorneys to seek a contract renegotiation.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the complaint says that Johansson’s contract with Disney’s Marvel Entertainment guaranteed that the film would premiere solely in theaters and that her salary was heavily contingent on the film’s box office performance.

“Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

In a statement late Thursday, Disney hit back, saying there was “no merit” to Johansson’s lawsuit, and that it “is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract, and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date,” the company noted.

Johansson’s legal battle may be a precursor to broader concerns in Hollywood, as more studios elect to put their films on streaming services around the time they are shown in theaters.

Throughout the epidemic, media conglomerates such as Comcast’s NBCUniversal and AT&T’s WarnerMedia began favoring streaming services above theaters, releasing some of their most anticipated new movies exclusively on their streaming platforms.

The shift has significant financial ramifications for actresses, producers, directors, and anyone who wants to ensure that streaming growth does not come at their price, according to Johansson’s attorney, John Berlinski of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.

“This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts,” Berlinski added.

‘Know Your Facts’: Madonna Chides DaBaby for His Offensive Remarks About HIV

Madonna criticized DaBaby for spreading disinformation about AIDS and the LGBTQ community on stage and during his Rolling Loud concert earlier this week. The 29-year-old DaBaby has now apologized for his “insensitive” outburst.

The 62-year-old musician has a “message” for DaBaby in response to his homophobic remarks concerning HIV.

“If you’re going to make hateful remarks to the LGBTQ+ community about HIV/AIDS, then know your facts,” Madonna commented alongside a video of DaBaby’s remarks.

Additionally, she stated, “After decades of hard-won scientific research— there are life-saving medicines available to children born with HIV, to people who contract HIV through blood transfusions, dirty needles, or exchange of bodily fluids. These new ARV’s can keep a person with AIDS alive for the rest of their lives!!! AIDS is not transmitted by standing next to someone in a crowd.”

“I want to put my cellphone lighter up and pray for your ignorance; No one dies of AIDS in 2 or 3 weeks anymore. Thank God,” she continued.

Madonna also highlighted DaBaby’s “sexist remarks about Ladies who’s p—— need to smell like water” during his speech, saying that those remarks “only encourage more discrimination against women who fight daily against the oppression of living under the constraints of the Male Gaze.”

“People like you are the reason we are still living in a world divided by fear,” she concluded. “All Human beings should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, or religious beliefs. AMEN.”

On Wednesday, DaBaby apologized for his remarks, stating that “y’all digested that wrong” and asked those speaking against his speech to “show this same amount of support when a racist cop kills one of our black ass.”

“Anybody who done ever been affected by AIDS/HIV y’all got the right to be upset, what I said was insensitive even though I have no intentions on offending anybody,” he tweeted. “So my apologies. But the LGBT community… I ain’t trippin on y’all, do you? y’all business is y’all business.”

In the promotion of a new song, DaBaby also used the incident, saying, “Bitch, we like AIDS, I’m on your ass, we on your ass, bitch, we won’t go ‘way.'”

Russell Westbrook Joins LeBron James in Mega Trade Acquired by LA Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are making changes following a dismal first-round performance in the 2021 playoffs. Numerous sources indicate that the Lakers have acquired Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and the 22nd overall selection in the 2021 Draft.

The trade cannot be made public until Aug. 6, when the salary cap becomes official, and teams can begin making offseason moves. Lakers will also receive second-round picks in 2024 and 2028 from the Wizards. The deal will serve as a sort of homecoming for Westbrook, a Los Angeles native who helped UCLA to two Final Four appearances.

“Thank you, DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one,” Westbrook wrote in his social media post. “Everyone from the front office, to the training staff, the coaches, my teammates, and the fans. I’m grateful y’all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way. I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand-up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you!”

LA Lakers have made a considerable offseason trade twice in the last three years. They acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019 in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks.

Dennis Schroder averaged 15.4 points per game as a point guard for the Lakers last season, but he declined an extension during the regular season to test free agency.

Lakers would be Westbrook’s fourth team in his career history. The 32-year-old player is coming off his fourth career season, averaging a triple-double, a mark previously accomplished by only Hall of Fame guard Oscar Robertson.

Oklahoma City drafted Westbrook, 32, in 2008, and he spent his first 11 seasons with the Thunder. In 2019, he was traded to Houston and subsequently to Washington last season.

McCormick Recalls Four Seasonings for Possible Salmonella Contamination

McCormick has voluntarily recalled four products due to the possibility of Salmonella contamination. In an announcement by The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the four McCormick & Company, Inc. seasonings being recalled are: McCormick Culinary Italian Seasoning (1.75 lb. bottle), McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning (1.31 oz and 2.25 oz bottles), and the 153g bottle of Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Ranch Seasoning.

The FDA brought the potential risk to McCormick’s attention during routine testing. This recall is limited to cases shipped with the relevant date codes. Between June 20 and July 21, the potentially tainted products were sent to more than two dozen states, as well as Bermuda and Canada.

“McCormick has alerted customers and grocery outlets to remove the product with the affected date codes from store shelves and distribution centers immediately, and to destroy this product in a manner that would prevent any further consumption,” the FDA stated in its announcement.

“Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses,” the statement said.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause severe and occasionally deadly infections in infants, the elderly, and others with compromised immune systems. Salmonella infection in healthy individuals frequently results in fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can spread to the bloodstream and cause more serious ailments such as arterial infections, endocarditis, and arthritis.

McCormick has notified customers and grocery stores to immediately remove products with the impacted date codes from store shelves and distribution centers and to properly dispose of them. There have been no documented illnesses associated with the seasonings.

Consumers are not required to return products to the retailer from where the items were purchased. It is advised to discard the recalled product and its packaging. To obtain a replacement or a complete refund, or general inquiries, contact McCormick Consumer Affairs at 1-833-776-7606, weekdays from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM (Eastern Time).