Start your day here: Germany's new chancellor, Elizabeth Holmes' last day on the stand, an ex-Saints player dies in police custody

Published December 8, 2021 at 7:57 AM EST
Members of Germany's parliament applaud newly elected Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, on Wednesday in Berlin
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Members of Germany's parliament applaud newly elected Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, on Wednesday in Berlin

Good morning,

Here's what we're following today:

Germany's new chancellor: Olaf Scholz is a career politician in the center-left Social Democratic Party, who is often compared to President Biden. He will need to maintain a coalition government with political differences while tackling the pandemic, the economy and climate change.

Elizabeth Holmes' last day of testimony: The former head of Theranos, the blood-testing startup once valued in the billions, is on trial for allegedly cheating investors and patients before the company collapsed in scandal.

Ex- Saints player Glenn Foster Jr. dies in police custody: The defensive lineman had been arrested following an attempted traffic stop Friday. He died Monday in Alabama while being taken from jail to a hospital.

🎧 Also, on Up First, our daily podcast, the U.S. warns Russia it will face tough sanctions if it invades Ukraine.

— The Morning Edition live blog team

(Carol Ritchie, Rachel Treisman, Nell Clark and Chris Hopkins)

Education

A Texas school district is reviewing some 400 library books after a GOP lawmaker's inquiry

Posted December 8, 2021 at 11:49 AM EST
A side-on view of a man wearing a suit and tie, sitting while reading from a packet of papers.
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AP
Texas Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, looks over the calendar in 2017 in Austin, Texas.

One of Texas' largest school districts is reviewing more than 400 of its library books following a Republican lawmaker's statewide inquiry into school library titles dealing with topics like race, gender and sexuality.

The North East Independent School District in San Antonio says it was already in the process of reviewing its library books when State Rep. Matt Krause, who chairs the Texas House's General Investigating Committee, announced his inquiry in late October.

Krause — who's also a candidate for Texas attorney general — sent schools statewide a 16-page list of roughly 850 books related to gender identity, sexuality, race and sexual health, and asked officials to tell him how many copies of the books their libraries hold and how much the district spent on them.

He said at the time that he was targeting titles that "might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously."

Some school districts, like Austin and Dallas, have said that they won't comply with Krause's request.

North East ISD spokesperson Aubrey Chancellor told NPR over email that the district was reviewing its books when it learned of Krause's request, at which point it determined that its libraries held 414 of the books on his list.

That's out of some 800,000 books across the district, she later clarified, and the breakdown varies across its 67 campus libraries.

Chancellor said district officials asked staff to review those books out of an abundance of caution and to make sure they don't contain any obscene or vulgar material.

"For us, this is not about politics or censorship, but rather about ensuring that parents choose what is appropriate for their minor children," Chancellor wrote.

She said the process is moving quickly, with more than 100 books having been reviewed and deemed age-appropriate in a matter of days.

Most are appropriate and will remain on the shelves, she added, but some may contain content that "needs further review to ensure the books are accessible based on age appropriateness."

Some North East ISD students have already voiced their opposition to the statewide inquiry and review: An online petition titled "Remove the Krause List from all NEISD schools" has accrued nearly 2,000 signatures in about five days.

The petition notes that titles on Krause's list primarily include books about race, resources for safe sex, books about gender identity and stories centering LGBTQ relationships, and said such books offer students important information and a place to see their stories represented.

"Many black and lgbtq students in NEISD are appalled and hurt by NEISD’s decision to comply with Matt Krause and suppress our harmless resources and stories," it reads. "We are asking for NEISD to take action against the suppression of our resources, and we are asking students to help us in advocating against this Krause list."

When asked about the petition, Chancellor characterized the review process as part of a broader effort to determine the age-appropriateness of books and move them around as needed.

"If a book needs to be moved from elementary to the secondary level or whether a book at the high school level needs to be placed in a separate section that requires parental permission," she wrote. "The idea is more of a re-organization and a re-shuffle — the purpose is not to remove books."

The district is also forming a book review committee to determine which books may need to go in a separate section of the library, and launching an electronic tool that parents can use to see which library books their children are checking out.

Krause is one of several Texas Republicans to have recently demanded information about school library books that they deem inappropriate as the highly politicized debate over critical race theory plays out in districts across the country.

Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott asked the state's association of school boards to shield students from library books with "pornographic or obscene material," and then directed state education officials to develop standards for blocking the presence of such books in Texas public schools.

Texas Public Radio has more on Republicans' latest efforts to dictate what can be taught in classrooms.

Space

An astrophotographer captured this highly detailed image of the sun's surface

Posted December 8, 2021 at 11:40 AM EST

Most people avoid looking directly into the sun — but Andrew McCarthy isn’t like most people.

Last week, he digitally stitched together close to 150,000 photos to create an extremely detailed image of the sun.

He’s an astrophotographer who specializes in capturing intricate pictures of space using a camera, advanced software that filters images and a heavily modified telescope.

“Ordinarily, taking a telescope and pointing at the sun would be incredibly dangerous,” McCarthy told NPR’sMorning Edition. “It can lead to blindness and potentially starting a fire.”

“What I've done is I've applied different filters within the telescope that only let in a very narrow portion of that light, and that allows me to capture details on the sun that would be otherwise impossible,” says McCarthy.

The process took about 10hours and the results show swirls of activity on the sun’s surface. Sunspots, bursts of plasma and beautiful swirling patterns are captured in vivid detail.

For McCarthy, capturing the sun in such high fidelity is a technical achievement, but it’s also an existential one.

“We all see the sun every single day you walk outside your house. It's bright, it's blinding, it's hot — but it's incredibly beautiful, and we're incredibly lucky to have it,” he says.

"We have this incredible element of science just floating out there in front of us that's available to be studied in detail," McCarthy says. "And it really helps us understand, I think our place in this universe by looking at it.”

Mental health

Lockdown drills can harm students' mental health. Here's what one expert advises

Posted December 8, 2021 at 10:50 AM EST
A bouquet of red roses is placed on a blue, white and yellow sign with just the word "school" visible.
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Flowers sit a sign outside Oxford High School, a day after a deadly shooting at the school, on Dec. 1 in Oxford, Michigan.

Community members and national onlookers are still reeling from last week's deadly shooting at a high school in Oxford, Mich., for which one student and his parents are facing charges.

Video footage posted to social media showed students rushing out of first-floor windows rather than opening the classroom door to a person claiming to be a police detective, while other classrooms reportedly shoved desks against their doors and grabbed scissors for defense in case the attacker got inside — as they had been trained to do in lockdown drills.

Some students and county officials later credited those drills with saving lives and preventing an even worse outcome. But while active shooter drills have become common practice across much of the country, some experts and parents worry they may do more harm than good.

One of those critics is Dr. David Schonfeld, director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. He spoke to NPR's Steve Inskeep about how high-intensity drills can harm students' mental health, and what alternatives he would propose instead.

Listen to the full conversation here or read on for details. And a note of warning, this story contains content some people may find upsetting.

Most schools have active shooter drills, but specifics vary

Most states require drills related to active shooter situations, Schonfeld says, but how they're carried out varies between individual schools and communities.

The first step is to discuss the drill and make sure students understand what they're supposed to do, he adds. The next phase typically consists of drills or exercises in which students are asked to take action to minimize risk within their classrooms, like locking doors, turning off lights, closing blinds and moving to a less visible area.

Some schools go a step further with what Schonfeld calls high-intensity drills, or those that involve an element of simulation like an actor pretending to be a shooter or sound effects mimicking bullets. Schonfeld says we don't have enough experience to know which particular types of preparation may help the most, but experts do know that high-intensity drills are inevitably going to be upsetting to children and even teens and adults.

High-intensity drills can cause emotional distress

Some schools carry out these drills without informing children — or sometimes staff — that they aren't real, which Schonfeld says can be very realistic and distressing.

He recalls instances of children thinking they might die and scribbling notes to their parents in an effort to say goodbye.

"There was one report of a child who actually wrote with a marker on her body so that when her body was found she would be able to let her parents know that she loved them," he adds.

Such drills can be upsetting for children of any age, Schonfeld explains, as peoples' understanding of risk and skills for coping with distress evolve as they get older. For example, he said a 7-year-old may be capable of understanding what the drill is meant to try toprevent but may be less able to cope with their feelings, while a 17-year-old may have a greater sense of vulnerability and fear.

There are ways to make live drills less potentially damaging

Schonfeld emphasizes that it's important for children to be reasonably prepared to take action if something tragic were to happen, with the goal of helping students learn how they should be moving safely in a crisis situation.

He believes less-intense live drills can help accomplish that. And that's not a totally new phenomenon for most schools, he notes.

"We do fire drills in schools, and those are live drills where children exit schools and quietly," Schonfeld says. "There's no attempt at smoke to make it feel like a fire, there's no necessity to have people screaming in the hallways."

Preparations should involve more than just drills

More broadly, Schonfeld says school shootings are a complicated problem with more than one solution.

"We can't be putting all of our resources in just preparing kids for active shooters," he says. "What we need to do is put a lot of resources, perhaps much more resources, into preventing them in the first place."

That would entail more support for behavioral health in schools, and investment in social-emotional development in children more generally. Schonfeld says that could look like training students to be able to better identify distress among their peers and get them help.

"We have to invest our resources in prevention as well as in what to do when prevention isn't successful," he adds.

Coronavirus

In viral briefing moment, Psaki asked if COVID tests should be free. Public health Twitter says yes

Posted December 8, 2021 at 10:25 AM EST
A QuickVue at-home COVID-19 test kit on a pharmacy shelf, with a $23.99 price label.
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A single at-home COVID-19 test by Quidel sits on a drugstore shelf on September 14, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

If you're not a regular on C-SPAN or Twitter, you may have missed a moment from a recent White House briefing that went — no pun intended — viral.

It was an exchange between White House press secretary Jen Psaki and NPR's own national political correspondent Mara Liasson over the accessibility of rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests.

Monday's briefing came less than a week after the Biden administration announcednew steps it will take to combat the pandemic, including requiring private insurers to reimburse people for at-home tests. A kit with two tests currently goes for around $25, provided pharmacies have them in stock.

At one point, according to the official transcript, Liasson noted that countries like Germany and South Korea "basically have massive testing, free of charge or for a nominal fee." She asked why the U.S. couldn't do something similar.

Psaki pointed to the work the Biden administration has done to increase accessibility and decrease costs, saying it had quadrupled the size of its testing plan, cut the cost significantly over the past few months, and, with the new reimbursement policy, will soon cover the cost of at-home tests for some 150 million Americans.

“That’s kind of complicated, though,” Liasson said. “Why not just make them free and give them out to — and have them available everywhere?”

“Should we just send one to every American?” Psaki replied, sarcastically. "Then what — then what happens if you — if every American has one test? How much does that cost, and then what happens after that?"

Video of the exchange quickly made the rounds on social media, with many policy and public health experts tweeting their own answers to Psaki's question: a resounding yes.

"YES!! We should be sending both rapid tests & N95 masks to every household in the U.S. at regular intervals! Then we keep sending them until the #COVID19 pandemic ends – that's what happens after the first delivery," wrote lawyer Matthew Cortland.

"Of course, we should!" wrote Dr. Oni Blackstock, a physician and director of the health equity consulting practice Health Justice. "That this appears to be some quixotic idea to the administration is incredibly concerning and a reminder of why we have not been able to get control this pandemic here in the US."

"This answer was terrible, flippant, wrong," tweeted Gregg Gonsalves, a Yale School of Public Health professor and global health advocate. "Rapid tests are hard to get, expensive & could be a key intervention in fighting #COVID19. Other countries have figured out better ways to get these tools into the hands of their citizens. Do better."

Many other countries are making COVID-19 tests available at low cost or free of charge. The Washington Post notes some of them:

  • The United Kingdom allows people to order seven tests at a time by mail, free of charge.
  • Singapore has sent six free rapid tests to every household.
  • Canada has sent free rapid tests to businesses.
  • At-home tests cost only up to a few dollars in countries likeGermany, France, Belgium and India.

While at-home tests aren't exactly foolproof, experts say they could be key to stopping the pandemic. Here's why.

Seismology

50 earthquakes hit off of the Oregon coast in just 24 hours

Posted December 8, 2021 at 10:03 AM EST

The Blanco Transform Fault Zone off of Oregon’s coast is famously active, and it has not disappointed in the past 24 hours, generating at least 50 earthquakes, including two at a 5.8 magnitude. That sounds like a lot — but scientists say the fault is virtually incapable of generating a cataclysm, either by a tsunami or a powerful quake.

The flurry of quakes hit around 200 miles from shore, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. As people took notice, they worried that the seismic activity might portend The Big One.

“Is that the Cascadia subduction zone talking?” a Twitter user replied to the USGS alert. “Because that would be all kinds of not good.”

Not to worry, geological Twitter said.

“The Blanco Fracture Zone is not connected directly to the subduction zone so it won’t affect the big fault under land (Cascadia megathrust),” said Eric J. Fielding, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The Blanco Fracture Zone is a transform or strike-slip boundary; that means it’s where tectonic plates slide along each other. The most dangerous and powerful faults are usually seen in subduction zones, where one plate dives beneath another.

Law Enforcement

Former Saints player Glenn Foster Jr. has died while in police custody

Posted December 8, 2021 at 9:49 AM EST
Glenn Foster Jr. gives out high fives during a Saints game on the field.
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AP
New Orleans Saints defensive end Glenn Foster greets fans after practice on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Glenn Foster Jr. died in police custody in Alabama on Monday. A father of four, Foster was a former defensive end for the New Orleans Saints and a Louisiana business owner. He was 31.

The circumstances of his death are under investigation and Foster's family is calling for accountability.

“I can’t get my son back, but we want whoever is responsible to pay for this," said Foster's mother, Sabrina Foster.

Reporter Ramon Antonio Vargas of The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate joined Morning Edition with the latest. You can listen here.

Police in the small town of Reform, Ala., attempted to stop Foster's vehicle on Friday for reported speeding. Police say he led them on a chase and deployed spike strips to stop the vehicle, which caused him to crash. Police then arrested him and took him to the county jail.

Reform Police Chief Richard Black told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate that he became concerned Foster Jr. was behaving erratically. He says he spoke with Foster Jr.'s parents, who told him the former Saints player had bipolar disorder and may have been experiencing a manic episode. Foster Jr.'s parents and Black made arrangements to bail him out of jail on the condition he go to a hospital for evaluation.

But on Sunday, when Foster's parents and Black arrived at the county jail they were told Foster wouldn't be released to them because he had been re-booked on additional counts, including assault, and was being held without bail. Foster's father, Glenn Foster Sr., says he was told by authorities his son had been involved in an altercation with another inmate and was now under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's office.

While waiting at the jail, the elder Foster says he saw an ambulance arrive and was told it wasn't there for his son, but had instead been called for others involved in the altercation, reports The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate.

Vargas reports Foster wasn't initially taken to the hospital after that altercation, despite his family's continued attempts to get him medical treatment for the crash, the fight and for his mental health.

On Monday, a judge granted approval for Foster to be taken to the hospital about 30 minutes from the jail, Foster Sr. told the Washington Post in an interview.

Foster Jr. was taken in a police car rather than an ambulance to the hospital and arrived unresponsive, Vargas reports. He was later pronounced dead and the family is concerned officials delayed potentially life-saving care.

“My son, instead of being dead in a morgue, should have been in a mental facility where they could have treated his mental illness,” Foster Sr. told the Washington Post. “Now the fruit has fallen from the tree. Once it’s on the ground you can’t put it back. That’s what they’ve done. They snatched the life of my son."

State police are investigating his death and an autopsy is pending.

A man is charged with setting fire to a Christmas tree at Fox News HQ

Posted December 8, 2021 at 9:18 AM EST

A 49-year-old man is under arrest after he allegedly set fire to a Christmas tree outside the News Corp building in midtown Manhattan, police say.

The unnamed arsonist allegedly climbed the conifer and set it ablaze, the NYPD said in a tweet Wednesday morning.

Reports on social media showed the pre-dawn fire. WNBC reporter Tracie Strahan tweeted a video of flames bursting from the massive Christmas tree that had been illuminated in multicolored lights, the News Corp sign in the foreground.

The building is home to News Corp outlets such as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.

“What a sad day,” Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean said in a tweet. “Grateful to those who were here to help put the fire out. We'll build it again.”

Police said authorities extinguished the fire and have charged the suspect.

International Dispatch
From Mumbai

India's top military commander has died in a helicopter crash

Posted December 8, 2021 at 9:07 AM EST
Emergency workers wearing yellow hard hats stand on a wooded slope next to a smoking pile of debris.
AFP via Getty Images
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AFP
Responders undertake a rescue operation next to the debris of an IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter crash site in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday.

The Indian Air Force says General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other people died in a helicopter crash in southern India. There was just one survivor — another military official — who is being treated at a hospital.

The helicopter carrying 10 passengers and four crew members was on its way to a defense college in the southern state of Tamil Nadu when it crashed near a hill station. India’s defense minister called it an “extremely unfortunate… accident.”

TV footage from the crash site shows firefighters spraying hoses over the smoldering wreckage in a lush, wooded area. An investigation is underway.

General Rawat was India’s top military official. He was 63. Indian officials, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are offering remembrances and condolences on social media.

International

The UAE is adopting a 4.5-day workweek and a Saturday-Sunday weekend

Posted December 8, 2021 at 8:48 AM EST
An overhead view of the skyscrapers and roads in the city of Dubai, including the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, against a blue sky.
Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images
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AFP
The Gulf emirate of Dubai and its Burj Khalifa skyscraper, photographed from a helicopter on July 8, 2020.

The United Arab Emirates just announced some big changes to its work schedule.

The Gulf nation is transitioning to a four-and-a-half-day working week, with weekends to consist of Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday.

That's significant for two reasons: It likely makes the UAE the first nation to formalize a workweek shorter than five days, and also brings it more in line with Western schedules. Up until now, the UAE has had a Friday-Saturday weekend, which is the standard in many predominantly Muslim countries.

"The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government’s efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the UAE’s economic competitiveness," said state news agency WAM, which announced the move on Tuesday.

The changes apply to federal government entities and will take effect on Jan. 1. After that point, Monday through Thursday workdays will run from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. local time, and Friday hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. local time.

Friday sermons and prayers will be held starting at 1:15 p.m. local time, and WAM said government employees can make arrangements to work from home on Fridays as well as "arrange their working hours on a flexi-time basis."

Schools and private employers may follow suit

The Associated Press reports that private industry will likely follow the government's lead, noting it did so in 2006 when the workweek changed from Saturday to Wednesday.

Dubai's education authorities said in a Tuesday tweet that "the private education sector in Dubai will be open in line with the recent UAE Government decision on the working week."

The English-language Khaleej Times reported on Wednesday that schools and universities will follow the new workweek too, with the country's education ministry to announce new school timings.

The government says the move will carry economic and lifestyle benefits

The UAE is the first country in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week, WAM adds. And Al Jazeera notes that it will become the only Gulf country not to have a Friday-Saturday weekend.

WAM said that the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources proposed the new workweek after "comprehensive benchmarking and feasibility studies" focused on its potential impact on the economy, social and family ties and overall wellbeing.

It explains that the move will facilitate financial and trade transactions with countries that follow a Saturday-Sunday weekend, in turn creating stronger business links and opportunities for UAE-based and multinational companies.

And, WAM added, it is poised to bring the UAE's financial sector into closer alignment with the global real-time trading and communications transactions that drive things like stock markets, banks and financial institutions.

"The move is expected to boost not only trading opportunities but also add to the flexible, secure and enjoyable lifestyle the UAE offers to its citizens and residents," it concludes.

Abdulrahman Al Awar, the UAE’s minister of human resources and emiratisation, told CNBC that the change comes in the context of several reforms aimed at "improving the competitive advantages of the UAE."

Some of those measures from the past year include introducing longer-term visas, loosening regulations on alcohol consumption, decriminalizing the cohabitation of unmarried couples and relaxing punishments for drug offenses.

A federal judge dismisses Rose McGowan’s lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein

Posted December 8, 2021 at 8:12 AM EST
Actress Rose McGowan, who accused Weinstein of raping her more two two decades ago and then of destroying her career, joins other accusers and protesters as Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan court house for the start of his trial on January 06, 2020 in New York City.
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Actress Rose McGowan, who accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her more two decades ago and then of destroying her career, at Weinstein's 2020 trial in New York City.

A federal judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit by the actor Rose McGowan against former media mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The suit, filed in October 2019, was thrown out on Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright, II in Los Angeles.

Wright tossed the case after McGowan reportedly missed a December filing deadline. She had been representing herself in the suit after splitting with her attorneys in November.

The actor — who shot to fame through roles on the TV series Charmed and in the horror film Scream — had previously accused Weinstein of raping her in a hotel room at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997, which he denied. The pair reached a $100,000 settlement over the incident.

McGowan claimed that as she was preparing to publish her memoir with details of the assault, Weinstein hired a team of lawyers and investigators to obtain a copy of the book and publicly discredit her. She filed a racketeering lawsuit against Weinstein, attorneys David Boies and Lisa Bloom and their law firms, as well as the private investigation company Black Cube.

In a statement to NBC News, a spokesperson for Weinstein praised the dismissal of the lawsuit.

“Out of the public glare, with proper time, legal work, evidence and facts, this is the way we believe they ultimately will all go,” the statement read. “A chapter is put behind as Mr. Weinstein keeps going forward to demonstrate the truth.”

The disgraced movie producer is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence after being convicted by a New York City jury last year of raping and sexually assaulting two women. Weinstein is set to face another trial in Los Angeles, where prosecutors have charged him with additional counts of rape and sexual assault.

Law

Elizabeth Holmes will take the stand today as her fraud trial nears an end

Posted December 8, 2021 at 7:56 AM EST
Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes pauses while going through a security checkpoint as she arrives at the court in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday.
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Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes pauses while going through a security checkpoint as she arrives at the court in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday.

Over six days, former tech executive Elizabeth Holmes has testified to the jury deciding her fate in San Jose, Calif. On Wednesday, Holmes will do it once more before stepping down from the witness stand in her federal fraud trial.

Before the end of the week, prosecutors and the defense are poised to deliver closing statements, then the case will be in the hands of the eight men and four women tasked with rendering a verdict on whether Holmes intentionally deceived investors and patients while running Theranos, a onetime multi-billionaire-dollar blood-testing startup that collapsed in scandal.

Prosecutors allege that Holmes lied to investors about a supposed miracle blood-testing technology that barely functioned and concealed the true nature of the company, which the government says was awash with puffery and deception.

Holmes is an idiosyncratic Silicon Valley founder whose precipitous rise and sudden downfall captured the nation’s imagination through a bestselling book, a documentary and a podcast series.

From the witness stand, Holmes has pointed the finger at others at Theranos, including Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and the No. 2 at the company, who is also charged with fraud and will face a separate trial.

She has also admitted to making mistakes, like when she personally affixed the logo of other drug companies on documents affirming Theranos technology, or when she sought to retaliate against two Theranos whistleblowers who were troubled by how Holmes’ statements about the company’s blood analyzers did not match reality. Her behavior in those instances, she has testified from the witness stand, should have been different.

But she is far from confessing to crimes. In fact, it is just the opposite: Holmes testified that she may have made blunders or had lapses in judgment, though she maintains that she never intended to deceive investors and patients.

It may seem like a semantic distinction, but in the eyes of the law it is pivotal. Read below for the legal details.

In order for the jury to convict Holmes of the 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud she has been charged with, prosecutors have to show the jury that she acted with intent, which is a difficult thing to prove. What’s more, the jury must come to that conclusion unanimously.

Prosecutors have argued over the three-month trial that Holmes had a pattern of misleading investors about Theranos’ business partnerships, financial stability, and critically, the capabilities of the Edison, the proprietary blood analyzer that Holmes claimed could detect hundreds of health conditions with just a pinprick of blood. Witnesses in the trial testified that the device could only conduct about a dozen tests, and even those were faulty. Most of the time, prosecutors allege, Holmes secretly relied on modified commercial blood analyzers.

In other words, the government alleges that the invention Holmes held up as a revolutionary product was doing very little work, just as traditional laboratory machines were doing most of the work.

The government says Holmes’ deceptions brought the company a $9 billion valuation, more than the value of Uber and Spotify at the time.

If convicted, Holmes faces a hefty prison sentence.

International

Germany's next leader takes office today. Here's a primer on the new government

Posted December 8, 2021 at 7:45 AM EST
A man wearing a suit and tie stands in front of a microphone with one hand raised, taking an oath of office as a woman in a red jacket stands in front of him holding a book.
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New German Chancellor Olaf Scholz takes his oath of office from Bundestag President Baerbel Bas during a ceremony at the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, on Wednesday in Berlin, Germany.

Olaf Scholz was sworn in as Germany's next chancellor today, marking the end of Angela Merkel's 16-year tenure (more here on her legacy).

Scholz's center-left Social Democratic Party will govern along with the Greens and the libertarian Free Democratic Party.

As NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Berlin, Scholz will likely face challenges in managing a coalition government with political differences, but it has even bigger problems to deal with as a group — like the pandemic, the economy and the fight against climate change.

Germany is Europe's most powerful country and biggest economy, not to mention a vital U.S. ally. So it's worth spending a minute getting to know its new leadership.

Who is Scholz and who has he chosen to lead his administration? Read and listen here for more from Schmitz, and scroll on for details.

Scholz is a career politician who is often compared to President Biden

Scholz, 63, has held a wide range of government positions over the decade: He's been a member of parliament, a popular mayor of Hamburg and both the labor minister and the finance minister in coalition governments under Merkel.

Schmitz says the new chancellor has a deep understanding of the political process, knows how to get things done and is always striving for compromise — and as a result, is often compared to Biden.

While Scholz does govern like Merkel, Schmitz notes some key differences between the two leaders: Scholz grew up in West Germany, so will likely focus more on stronger trans-Atlantic relationships and a more unified European Union.

His cabinet choices reflect changes in how Germany presents itself to the world

Half of Scholz's 16 cabinet members are women, including — for the first time — all of the ministries in charge of domestic and international security.

One of the biggest problems Germany is facing right now is the raging coronavirus pandemic, so Schmitz notes there was considerable interest in who Scholz would pick to be the next health minister.

He went with Karl Lauterbach, an epidemiologist, Social Democratic politician and outspoken critic of Merkel's handling of the pandemic. Lauterbach believes the government needs stricter public health guidelines and advocates for making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory (some 30% of Germans are not vaccinated).

"That tells us that Scholz wants an outspoken leader to be managing this pandemic, not someone who was a politically safe choice," Schmitz says.

The new government has a lengthy to-do list

The pandemic is, of course, just one of the challenges facing Scholz and his administration.

Schmitz notes that one of the new government's biggest goals is to transform Germany's economy into a "greener, more digitized version" without raising taxes.

Plus, there's the rest of the world to worry about.

NPR's Steve Inskeep spoke with Rachel Rizzo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Europe Center, about how Germany's new foreign policy may differ from Merkel's government. Listen to that conversation here.