Closing arguments are set to conclude in the Elizabeth Holmes trial.

On Thursday, prosecutors summarized more than three months of testimony in their closing arguments while rebutting some points made by Ms. Holmes’s lawyers.,

ImageElizabeth Holmes leaving court on Thursday. Ms. Holmes is on trial for fleecing investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and misleading patients and doctors.
Elizabeth Holmes leaving court on Thursday. Ms. Holmes is on trial for fleecing investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and misleading patients and doctors.Credit…Nic Coury/Associated Press

Closing arguments in the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes were expected to finish on Friday, inching the monthslong saga closer to a verdict.

Ms. Holmes, who founded the blood testing start-up Theranos, is on trial for fleecing investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and misleading patients and doctors. Theranos rose to prominence, hitting a $9 billion valuation, before collapsing in 2018 after it was revealed that the company’s blood tests did not work as Ms. Holmes had claimed.

After closing arguments are completed and jury instructions are given, jurors — eight men and four women — will begin deliberating whether Ms. Holmes committed 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Ms. Holmes has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in jail, which could send shock waves through the freewheeling world of Silicon Valley start-ups.

On Thursday, prosecutors summarized more than three months of testimony in their closing arguments while rebutting some points made by Ms. Holmes’s lawyers. The government did not disagree with Ms. Holmes’s point that business failure, on its own, was not a crime, said Jeffrey Schenk, an assistant U.S. attorney and a lead prosecutor on the case. But when Theranos was running out of money in 2009 and 2010, “she chose fraud over business failure,” he said.

Mr. Schenk also addressed Ms. Holmes’s accusations of abuse against her former business partner and boyfriend, Ramesh Balwani, known as Sunny. Ms. Holmes’s emotional testimony about the abusive and domineering nature of their relationship was a separate issue from the fraud case, Ms. Schenk said.

“The case is about false statements made to investors and false statements made to patients,” he said. “You do not need to question whether that abuse happened.”

Kevin Downey, a lawyer for Ms. Holmes, also delivered the first two hours of her final defense by reiterating a key point her camp has repeatedly made: The situation is far more complicated than prosecutors have made it out to be.

Mr. Downey gave examples of instances where, he argued, the government’s evidence did not present the full story. Multiple slides referred to “missing witnesses” who were not called by the government and others parsed the intricacies of Ms. Holmes’s understanding of the word “accuracy.”

“The government is showing an event that looks bad, but at the end of the day, when all the evidence flows together, it isn’t so bad,” Mr. Downey said.

While injecting a level of confusion into the government’s narrative, Mr. Downey also stressed that jurors must be certain to convict. He showed an image of a staircase with eight steps leading up to “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which jurors must reach to deliver a guilty verdict. The top step, which represented guilt, was not labeled.

The proceedings on Friday were expected to begin with further statements from Mr. Downey, followed by detailed jury instructions delivered by Judge Edward Davila of the Northern District of California.

Lawmakers are still active buyers and sellers of equities, and they are dabbling in options and cryptocurrencies.Credit…Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock

Lawmakers traded fewer company stocks this year compared with last, perhaps because of the increased scrutiny that the questionable practice brings.

But they are still active buyers and sellers, courting controversy over potential conflicts of interest between their private financial dealings and public influence over rules and regulation.

They are also dabbling more than ever in options and cryptocurrencies, based on estimates provided in official disclosures, compiled by researchers at Capitol Trades for the DealBook newsletter.

Politicians and their immediate families bought $267 million and sold $364 million worth of assets this year, both down on levels in 2020 despite rising markets. About 60 percent of these trades were in company stocks, with the rest split among funds, bonds and other assets. Republicans bought $100 million worth of stocks this year, versus $75 million for Democrats, according to the average of ranges that lawmakers provide in filings.

Democrats were really into tech stocks, while Republicans were more about energy companies (and crypto).

JPMorgan is fined after staff used personal chats for company business.Credit…Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase was fined $125 million by a regulator on Friday for failing to track work-related communication on employees’ personal cellphones and email.
Staff members in the bank’s securities division avoided oversight by discussing company business on their personal devices via text messages, the messaging service WhatsApp and personal email accounts, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement. The bank’s “widespread and longstanding failures” spanned from January 2018 to November 2020, the S.E.C. said.

JPMorgan admitted that its conduct violated federal securities laws, which are aimed at protecting investors and maintaining fair markets. It also agreed to hire a compliance consultant to review its policies and procedures for retaining electronic communications.

Record-keeping is “an essential part of market integrity and a foundational component of the S.E.C.’s ability to be an effective cop on the beat,” Gary Gensler, the S.E.C. chairman, said in the statement. “As technology changes, it’s even more important that registrants ensure that their communications are appropriately recorded and are not conducted outside of official channels.”

A spokesman for the bank declined to comment.

JPMorgan’s fine is the largest relating to record-keeping since 2006, when Morgan Stanley got a $15 million penalty for failing to produce emails during investigations on initial public offerings and research produced by analysts.

The S.E.C. has not yet closed its investigation into JPMorgan, which found that more than 100 people, including senior managers, used personal communications to send tens of thousands of messages that were not properly retained in the bank’s systems, according to an S.E.C. official briefed on the matter who declined to be identified discussing a still-open inquiry. The messages covered a wide range of topics, from investment strategy to client meetings, and involved various teams, including parts of the investment bank, the person said.

The regulator only learned about the unapproved communications through third parties, including in one instance in which it was investigating JPMorgan’s role as an underwriter, the S.E.C. said in enforcement order. Employees including desk heads, managing directors and other senior executives sent more than 21,000 texts and emails relating to work for an investment-banking client from January 2018 to November 2019. The bank did not keep records of those communications, according to the order.

The JPMorgan inquiry has also prompted investigations into other financial firms’ records, the regulator said on Friday. It encouraged companies to come forward to report any similar issues. That is because firms that voluntarily report lapses in compliance to the authorities typically receive less severe punishments.

Union members and supporters at a rally outside Kellogg’s headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., in October.Credit…Alyssa Keown/Battle Creek Enquirer, via Associated Press

Kellogg said on Thursday that it had reached a second tentative agreement with a union representing about 1,400 workers at four U.S. cereal plants who have been on strike since early October.

The accord, which would cover five years, was announced about a week and a half after workers voted down an earlier agreement, prompting the company to announce that it would move ahead with hiring permanent replacements for the workers on strike.

Last week, President Biden weighed in on the standoff, saying in a statement that he was “deeply troubled” by the plan for permanent replacement workers, which he called “an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods.”

The strike has partly revolved around the company’s two-tier compensation system, in which workers hired after 2015 typically receive lower wages and benefits than longer-tenured workers. The company has said that its veteran workers make more than $35 an hour on average, while the newer workers make almost $22 an hour on average.

Veteran workers have expressed concern that adding lower-paid workers will ultimately drag down their wages and benefits as well.

Under the agreement that was voted down last week, the company would have immediately converted all employees with four or more years at Kellogg to veteran status, then converted an amount equivalent to 3 percent of a plant’s head count in each year of the five-year contract.

The rejected agreement would have also given veteran workers a 3 percent wage increase in the first year of the contract and cost-of-living adjustments over the course of the contract. It offered newer hires a progression from the low $20s per hour to just over $28 after their sixth year.

A company spokeswoman said by email on Thursday that the new tentative agreement did not alter the process for converting newer hires to veteran status but that it “addresses the union’s request” for cost-of-living adjustments for all employees in each year of the contract.

The spokeswoman did not say whether Kellogg had hired permanent replacement workers.

“We value all of our employees. They have enabled Kellogg to provide food to Americans for more than 115 years,” Steve Cahillane, the chief executive, said in a statement. “We are hopeful our employees will vote to ratify this contract and return to work.”

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents the workers, declined to comment on the details of the agreement but said that the union would present the proposal to members over the weekend and that votes would be counted by Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. senator from Vermont, announced plans to hold a rally Friday on behalf of Kellogg workers in Battle Creek, Mich., the location of the company’s headquarters and one of the striking cereal plants. A spokesman for Mr. Sanders said the trip was still on.

Dan Ammann announcing the Cruise Origin electric driverless shuttle at an event in San Francisco last year.Credit…David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The high-profile head of Cruise, General Motors’ autonomous-driving unit, is leaving the company, the carmaker said Thursday.

The executive, Dan Ammann, a former investment banker who is from New Zealand, gave up his job as G.M.’s president to take over Cruise at the beginning of 2019. Since then, expectations for autonomous driving have cooled as the magnitude of the technical challenge has become clear and as serious accidents have highlighted the risks.

Although G.M. did not provide an explanation for Mr. Ammann’s unexpected departure, the terseness of the company’s statement — lacking even perfunctory praise for his work — hinted at tension between him and top management.

Cruise, which G.M. bought in 2016 for $1 billion, is based in San Francisco. It is testing a fleet of more than 300 self-driving vehicles there and in Phoenix, according to its website. But a driverless ride service, which G.M. said would be available in 2019, has not materialized.

Less than nine months ago, John Krafcik stepped down as chief executive of Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous-driving unit.

In both cases, executives “had promised road maps with different milestones and those milestones were not being met,” said Raj Rajkumar, who leads the autonomous driving program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “Eventually that takes a toll.”

Like Mr. Ammann, Mr. Krafcik, the former head of Hyundai’s North American unit, came from a management background at a time when the challenges for autonomous driving are mostly technical, requiring chief executives with deep knowledge of the technology.

G.M. said a Cruise co-founder, Kyle Vogt, currently the president and chief technical officer, would serve as interim chief executive — a change reflected almost immediately on Cruise’s website. Wesley Bush, a member of G.M.’s board who is a former chief executive of the aerospace company Northrop Grumman, will become a member of Cruise’s board.

Cruise has shown prototypes of an electric passenger vehicle called the Origin that has no pedals or steering wheel. The vehicle is “nearly ready to roll off the assembly line,” Cruise says on its website.

At an investor presentation in October, G.M. executives said they believed that an autonomous taxi service could eventually grow into a $50 billion business.

“We expect to be able to scale this business very rapidly,” said Mr. Ammann told investors during the event.

But robo-taxis like the Origin are among the most difficult types of autonomous vehicles to deploy. “The robo-taxi market is a hard sell given the current state of autonomous technology,” said Mr. Rajkumar, who previously received research funding from G.M.

Recently Cruise and G.M. have emphasized the role that autonomous driving technology can play in making cars safer. Cruise “will play an integral role” in helping G.M. pursue markets “beyond ride-share and delivery,” the automaker said in a statement Thursday.

Mr. Ammann did not respond to an email requesting comment. A spokesman for Cruise declined to comment.

Credit…Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Airplane travel. Mailing a package. Renting a car. Waiting for a Covid test. Talking to the cable company. In the second winter of this pandemic-altered world, all of it seems harder than ever. Workers and customers alike are growing increasingly weary and impatient.

The New York Times is working on an article about customer service during the pandemic: the challenges, the bursts of rage, the confusion — and the moments of connection and humanity. What is going on? We want to hear it all.

Please share your experiences using the form below. A reporter or editor might contact you to hear more. We will not publish your name or comments without contacting you first.

Credit…George Wylesol

Employers relied on jargon more than ever during the pandemic, according to Andr? Spicer, a professor at Bayes Business School, City, University of London, because the usual tools they had for building workplace community had disappeared.

That meant inventing fresh terms as well as leaning on the classics, like disruption and road map. Then there were oldies that got an update. “I hope this finds you well” gained the addendum, “in these trying and unprecedented times.”

Emma Goldberg, The New York Times’s future of work reporter, compiled some of newest office lingo.

Al Desko Dining

Remember the dash outside to buy a prepackaged sandwich, whose contents would end up nestled in the crevices of your laptop keyboard? Or the icy gazes directed toward colleagues who dared to bring in tuna? “Nostalgia about the office seems to have popped up in the hybrid age,” Mr. Spicer said. “What was ever so good about Lunch al Desko?”

Bookcase credibility

Some have a copy of Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker” on display for video calls. Others opt for something subtler — maybe “Jude the Obscure,” which the actor Paul Rudd chose, or Thomas Piketty’s “Capital,” featured behind Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Seeing into every person’s home, no matter how well you knew them, felt intrusive,” Ms. Nancherla said. “But it was also bonding in that you’re like, ‘You’re stuck at home like me.'” Stars: They’re quarantined just like us.

Polywork, commuter’s delight, mask-issist and more: READ THE FULL ARTICLE ->

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