Michael Liedtke And Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
Published Friday, November 19, 2021 6:28PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 19, 2021 9:55PM EST
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Fallen Silicon Valley star Elizabeth Holmes, accused of bamboozling investors and patients about her startup Theranos and its medical device that she said would reshape health care, took the witness stand late Friday in her trial for criminal fraud.
The surprise decision to have Holmes testify so early in her defense came as a bombshell and carries considerable risk. Federal prosecutors, who rested their months-long case earlier on Friday, have made it clear that they’re eager to grill Holmes under oath.
Prosecutors aren’t likely to get that chance until after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Holmes attorney Kevin Downey told U.S. District Judge Edward Davila that he expects to continue steering her through her story when she returns to the stand Monday and again Tuesday in a San Jose, California, courtroom before the trial breaks until Nov. 29.
Prosecutors called 29 witnesses to support their contention that Holmes endangered patients’ lives while also duping investors and customers about Theranos’ technology. Among them was Gen. James Mattis, a former U.S. defense secretary and former Theranos board member, who explained how he was first impressed and ultimately disillusioned by Holmes.
They also presented internal documents and sometimes salacious texts between Holmes and her former lover, Sunny Bulwani, who also served as Theranos’ chief operating officer. In court documents, Holmes’ attorneys have asserted she was manipulated by Balwani through “intimate partner abuse” – an issue that is expected to come up during her ongoing testimony next week.
Until she took the stand Friday, Holmes had sat bolt upright in her chair to the far right of the jury through the trial, impassive even when one-time supporters testified to their misgivings about Theranos.
That combination of compelling testimony and documentary evidence apparently proved effective at convincing Holmes to tell her side of the story to the jury of 10 men and four women (including two alternates) who will ultimately decide her fate. If convicted, Holmes — now 37 and mother to a recently born son — could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
Shortly after 3 p.m., Holmes walked slowly to the stand before a rapt courtroom filled with spectators and jurors, all wearing masks.
Maskless behind a transparent barrier, Holmes recounted her early years as a student at Stanford University and her interest in disease detection. That culminated in her decision to drop out of school in 2003 at the age of 19 to found the startup that eventually became Theranos. Holmes said the name was derived from the words “therapy” and “diagnosis”.
Holmes said she convinced her parents to let her use her college savings to finance her ambitions to shake up the health care industry. “I started working all the time … trying to meet people who could help me could build this,” Holmes said in a husky voice that became one of her trademarks during Theranos’ rise.
As the company took shape, so did its vision. Ultimately Theranos developed a device it called the Edison that could allegedly scan for hundreds of health problems with a few drops of blood. Current tests generally each require a vial of blood, making it both slow and impractical to run more than a handful of patient tests at a time.
Had it worked as promised, the Edison could have revolutionized health care by making it easier and cheaper to scan for early signs of disease and other health issues. Instead, jurors heard recordings of Holmes boasting to investors about purported breakthroughs that later proved to be untrue.
Witness testimony and other evidence presented in the trial strongly suggested that Holmes misrepresented purported deals with major pharmaceutical firms such as Pfizer and the U.S. military while also concealing recurring problems with the Edison.
But the Edison problems didn’t become public knowledge until The Wall Street Journal published the first in a series of explosive articles in October 2015. An audit by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed those problems the following year.
By then, Holmes and Balwani had raised hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaire investors such as media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family of Walmart and struck deals with Walgreens and Safeway to conduct blood tests in their pharmacies. Those investments at one point valued Theranos at $9 billion, giving Holmes a $4.5 billion fortune – on paper – in 2014.
Evidence presented at trial also revealed that Holmes had distributed financial projections calling for privately held Theranos to generate $140 million in revenue in 2014 and $990 million in revenue in 2015 while also turning a profit. A copy of Theranos’ 2015 tax return presented as part of the trial evidence showed the company had revenues of less than $500,000 that year while reporting accumulated losses of $585 million.
Ellen Kreitzberg, a Santa Clara University law professor who has been attending the trial, said she thought the government had made a strong case.
“There’s nothing sort of fancy or sexy about this testimony,” she said. “The witnesses were very careful in their testimony. None of the witnesses seemed to harbor anger or a grudge against her. And so because of that, they were very powerful witnesses.”
Other witnesses called by the government included two former Theranos lab directors who repeatedly warned Holmes that the blood-testing technology was wildly unreliable. Prosecutors also questioned two part-time lab directors, including Balwani’s dermatologist, who spent only a few hours scrutinizing Theranos’ blood-testing technology during late 2014 and most of 2015. Holmes’ lawyers noted that part-time lab directors were allowed under government regulations.
Other key witnesses included former employees of Pfizer, former Safeway CEO Steve Burd and a litany of Theranos investors, including a representative for the family investment firm of former education secretary Betsy DeVos. The DeVos family wound up investing $100 million.
Ontario man who accidentally transferred $19000 to stranger's account left for weeks without solution – CTV Toronto
An Ontario man says he has been fighting to get back $19,000 for months after making a “simple mistake” while trying to transfer money between two of his bank accounts.
Milton, Ont. man Roberto Guardado said he had just purchased a new home and in September was trying to transfer money from his Bank of Montreal (BMO) account to his CIBC account so that he could make the down payment.
He said he called BMO to arrange the wire transfer, figuring it would be the easiest way to move the funds to CIBC.
Guardado said he has two bank accounts with CIBC, one for his personal savings and one for business. He was trying to transfer the money into the savings account.
He said while making the transfer, he correctly read out his CIBC savings account number, but mistakenly gave the transit number of his CIBC business account.
The five-digit transit number helps the bank identify which branch the money is being sent to.
The mistake resulted in Guardado’s money being sent to a stranger’s CIBC account, he said.
“I noticed the money went out but it didn’t go into my CIBC account,” Guardado told CTV News Toronto. “So I went home that day and I started looking on my computer and then I realized I gave the wrong transit number.”
He said he immediately called BMO, who told him they would launch an investigation.
Despite calling the bank every few days for an update, he said it took five weeks before he got any answers.
Guardado said he was told that his $19,000 was deposited into someone else’s account and the person had withdrawn it.
He said both BMO and CIBC told him nothing further could be done to retrieve his money.
“I couldn’t believe I made the mistake,” Guardado said.
Guardado said he called the police, but was also told that because he initiated the transfer there was nothing to investigate.
“The police told me that because it’s not considered fraud they can’t do anything about it,” he said.
‘JUST A SIMPLE MISTAKE’
Guardado said that while he fully admits the error was his fault, he doesn’t understand why the bank couldn’t help him quickly reverse the transfer.
“It was just a simple mistake and my money ended in someone else’s account,” Guardado said.
Because of the lost money, Guardado said he had no choice but to back out of the sale of his new home.
Shortly after CTV News Toronto contacted CIBC and BMO about Guardado’s situation, he said he received a call from the banks telling him his $19,000 would be returned to his account.
CIBC spokesperson Trish Tervit confirmed on Saturday they had resolved the issue with Guardado.
“It’s important that when transferring funds between financial institutions that the sender ensures the recipient account number is correct as misdirected funds may be difficult to recover,” Tervit added.
Guardado said CIBC told him this is a “unique situation” that is being resolved on a one-time basis.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from BMO said they had a “good conversation” with Guardado, but couldn’t comment further for privacy reasons.
While this stressful two-month chapter is now over for Guardado, he said banks “have to come up with a better system” for when people make mistakes.
“It was a stupid mistake on my part, but the process to fix it has to be easier,” he said. “I was so stressed that I lost weight and I couldn’t sleep. It was bothering me so much.”
Cargill beef-processing plant in High River, Alta. narrowly avoids strike action – CBC.ca
Employees at Cargill’s beef-processing plant in High River, Alta., have voted in favour of a new labour contract, narrowly avoiding strike action and a possible lockout.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 (UFCW), which represents workers at the plant, said Saturday that workers chose to accept the new contract offer, with 71 per cent voting in favour.
In a statement, UFCW said it was not an easy decision for staff at the plant, and called the contract vote a “bittersweet victory.”
Workers had raised safety concerns after a COVID-19 outbreak at the plant in 2020 affected more than 900 people. The outbreak, which forced Cargill to temporarily close the plant — one of Canada’s largest — is linked to three deaths.
The union says the new contract includes procedures to ensure worker health and safety, benefits, and new rights for sick employees.
After the two sides held talks on Tuesday, UFCW’s bargaining committee agreed to recommend the new offer to its members, Cargill spokesperson Daniel Sullivan said. Workers voted between Thursday and Saturday.
The union released parts of the proposed offer to CBC earlier in the week. The contract included $4,200 in retroactive pay for many Cargill union members; signing, holiday and COVID-19 bonuses; and a $5 wage increase.
UFCW had said the plant’s roughly 2,000 workers would strike Monday unless an agreement was reached.
The union also they brought in tents, floodlights and heaters for the possible strike, while nearby fields were levelled to provide parking.
Cargill had also planned to lock out all UFCW union staff as of 12:01 a.m. Monday, according to a statement from the company’s vice-president of labour relations, Tanya Teeter, which was obtained and made public by the union.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that is comprehensive, fair, and reflective of their commitment to excellence at Cargill and the critical role they play in feeding families across Canada,” Jarrod Gillig, the company’s president of business operations and supply chain for North America protein, wrote in a statement to CBC Saturday.
“As an organization that leads with our value to put people first, we truly believe this ratification is in the best interests of our employees and we are eager to move forward to build a stronger future – together.”
Reforms still needed: Union
“We also look forward to the citizens of Alberta joining with us in calling for reforms and restructuring in the meatpacking industry,” UFCW President Thomas Hesse wrote in a statement Saturday.
“Workers have been ripped off. Ranchers have been ripped off. And we’ve all been ripped off at the supermarket counter. Government failed to protect these workers, as well as failing to protect Alberta ranchers and consumers. Change must occur.”
The Cargill plant processes up to 4,500 head of cattle per day, accounting for about one-third of Canada’s beef.
Job growth in Canada exceeded expectations in November – Canada Immigration News
With employment soaring beyond predictions and unemployment dropping to near pre-pandemic levels, new labour force data suggest that Canada is on its way to a full economic recovery.
This past November, Canadian employers added 154,000 jobs to the economy. Last month’s growth exceeded analysts’ predictions of 38,000, which was closer to October levels. The gains pushed employment a full percentage point higher than pre-pandemic levels. Also, unemployment dropped to 6%, which is within 0.3 percentage points of what it was in February 2020.
Data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey reflect labour market conditions during the week of November 7 to 13. Proof-of-vaccination policies and other public health measures were largely similar to those in October.
Labour shortages persist despite employment gains
Hiring in November was driven by the private sector both in full-time and part-time positions. Even so, Canada is still experiencing labour shortages across sectors like hospitality, retail, and health care. In September, there were roughly one million job vacancies across the country.
Most government COVID-19 financial assistance measures ended in late October. Some analysts say it may have pushed people to accept job offers. Among these measures was the Canadian Recovery Benefit for individuals, which had been accused of discouraging people from returning to work. The Conference Board of Canada says the lack of wage growth was an even greater disincentive, especially in low-wage service industries.
“November’s job growth suggests the withdrawal of the [Canadian Recovery Benefit] may have pushed some workers back into employment though alone this will not be sufficient to address the significant labour shortages affecting several industries,” writes economist Liam Daly.
RBC economist Nathan Janzen wrote that despite the surge in employment there were still “exceptionally low” levels of workers in the service sectors.
“Employment in accommodation & food services edged up 5k from October but is still more than 200k below pre-shock levels,” Janzen wrote. “Travel and hospitality spending has been rebounding, but with the unemployment rate now substantially lower, it is increasingly clear that there are not enough remaining unemployed workers out there to re-fill all of those jobs any time soon.”
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