Start Your Day Here: What Elizabeth Holmes' guilty verdict could mean for Silicon Valley

Published January 4, 2022 at 8:08 AM EST
Elizabeth Holmes leaves federal court after the verdict in San Jose, Calif., on Monday.
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Elizabeth Holmes leaves federal court after the verdict in San Jose, Calif., on Monday.

Good morning,

Here are some of the top stories we're watching today:

Elizabeth Holmes: A jury agreed that the Theranos founder intentionally defrauded investors out of millions of dollars, but many doubt it will change Silicon Valley's fake-it-till-you-make-it culture.

More than 1 million new COVID-19 cases: To be exact, new cases in the U.S. reached a staggering 1,082,549 Monday — a milestone fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant.

Bye-bye, BlackBerry: The company ends legacy service today on the once-ubiquitous phones with their classic, tiny keyboards. Some hearts will be broken.

🎧 Also on Up First, our daily podcast, the Marines are probing what went wrong with an amphibious assault vehicle.

— The Morning Edition live blog team

(Carol Ritchie, Rachel Treisman, Nell Clark and Danielle Nett)

Making history

Preet Chandi just became the first woman of color to complete a solo expedition in Antarctica

Posted January 4, 2022 at 11:43 AM EST

Preet Chandi has made a habit of pushing herself, tackling increasingly challenging endurance events over the years from ultra-marathons to mountaineering.

And, fresh off a grueling ski expedition in Antarctica, the 32-year-old has now made history. "Polar Preet" is believed to be the first woman of color to complete an unsupported expedition to the South Pole.

The British-born Indian Sikh Army officer and physiotherapist completed the 700-mile trip in just 40 days, according to a Monday blog post. She documented her journey online and on Instagram, posting daily updates with shoutouts to those who supported and inspired her.

"This expedition was always about so much more than me," Chandi wrote on Day 40. "I want to encourage people to push their boundaries and to believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do it without being labelled a rebel ... I dont want to just break the glass ceiling, I want to smash it into a million pieces."

Chandi wrote on her website that she didn't know much about Antarctica — other than its status as "the coldest, highest, driest and windiest continent on Earth" — when she started planning her expedition more than two years ago, which is why she wanted to go there.

Only a few female adventures have completed solo, unsupported treks on the continent, starting with Norway's Liv Arnesen in 1994. Chandi said she wanted to add more names and diversity to that list, in the hopes of inspiring future generations to pursue their goals and push boundaries.

"By promoting and completing this challenge, it allows me to act as a role model to young people, women and those from ethnic backgrounds," she wrote.

Chandi is also on a financial mission to help women embark on adventures of their own. She set up an online fundraiser for the expedition, saying she would use half of the funds to cover her (medical, training and logistical) expenses and the other half to set up a yearly adventure grant for women.

The grant doesn't have to involve trips to Antarctica, Chandi explained in a mid-December post, as long as it enables people to "conduct unique adventures" and "push their boundaries." She is also raising money for Khalsa Aid, an international NGO that works to provide humanitarian aid in disaster areas and civil conflict zones.

Chandi said she was especially proud to embark on her mission as a woman of color. She recalled in one of her updates that people spat at her and threw eggs at her when she was a teenager because she looked different, and said it took her a long time to embrace her skin color, culture and roots.

"Having been told on many occasions that I don’t look like a polar explorer… lets change the image you expect to see," she added.

She braved intense conditions solo, but wasn't alone on the journey

Chandi's journey to the South Pole — and the history books — began years before she set out with her sled (she had originally estimated the trek itself would take 45-47 days).

She documented it all on her website, which bears the name "Polar Preet." A peek behind the curtain: She recorded daily voicemails from the ice, which her family members posted to social media on her behalf. The website also tracked her location.

First, there were the years of training and preparation. Already no stranger to endurance events and international climbing trips, Chandi did polar training expeditions in Greenland and Norway and says she spent months dragging tires everywhere she went.

As her start date approached, Chandi put together her supply of food and equipment, containing freeze-dried meals, trail mix bags, a daily hot chocolate ration, and a communications kit with Satellite phones, a GPS and a compass. She mailed it off to Punta Arenas, Chile.

A pile of paperwork and several COVID tests later, Chandi arrived in Chile in mid-November. She flew from there to Antarctica's Union Glacier, and then another 30 minutes to her starting point of Hercules Inlet. The first official day of her expedition was Nov. 24.

Chandi skied uphill while pulling her sled — which she first weighed at 87 kilograms, or roughly 191 pounds — for hours every day, stopping at night to pitch a tent, do her check-in calls and sleep. She put in up to 11 hours on certain days.

Her blog posts describe the intense conditions, with temperatures down to -50 Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit) and wind speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. There were days of good visibility and complete whiteouts, smooth snow and icy terrain.

Chandi listened to music (including Bhangra) and audiobooks by Will Smith, Amy Poehler, British broadcaster Anita Rani, adventurer Ben Fogle and others. She remarked on various freeze-dried meals and reflected on how she would be spending the holiday season in a typical year. On tough days, she listened to voice notes left by her friends.

Each post was dedicated to a loved one or sponsor, with a note of gratitude or favorite memory. She mentioned that she had gotten engaged a few weeks before her trip, and used her second-to-last post to ask several friends to be her bridesmaids.

"I read somewhere that when you ask people to be your bridesmaids its nice to do it in a special way," she wrote.

Chandi arrived in the South Pole on Monday, where it was snowing.

"Feeling so many emotions right now," reads her blog post. "I knew nothing about the polar world three years ago and it feels so surreal to finally be here. It was tough getting here and I want to thank everybody for their support."

Space

James Webb Space Telescope has started unfurling its mission-critical sun shield, NASA say

Posted January 4, 2022 at 11:20 AM EST

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is expected to complete a vital maneuver today to unfurl the layers of its massive sun shield — designed to protect the observatory's delicate instruments from intense solar radiation.

The space agency says three of the five tennis-court-sized layers of reflective material have been successfully tensioned already and that it expects the remaining two layers will go into place just as smoothly. Each of the kite-like layers measures 47 feet across and 70 feet long.

The deployment of the sun shield, which began last week, is mission-critical. Without it, Webb’s cameras would be useless.

“With three layers of Webb’s sunshield fully deployed, the team commenced tensioning — that is, pulling each layer fully taut — of the final two layers this morning,” NASA said in a blog following the telescopes mission highlights.

The telescope, which launched on Christmas Day from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, is en route to a spot in space where gravitational forces from the moon and Earth are in balance, giving it a stable platform from which to begin observing. Scientists hope Webb will be able to peer back in space and time to the point after the Big Bang when stars and galaxies were first formed.

Among dozens of other maneuvers that lie ahead for the telescope before it can begin taking pictures will be the unfolding and locking in place of its giant primary mirror. That is expected later this week. Like the sun shield, it had to be folded up, origami-style, to fit into the rocket for launch. The primary mirror is made up of 18 smaller gold-coated hexagonal mirrors, which will work in concert to focus light from the edge of the visible universe. The $10 billion JWST is the long-awaited successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope, launched more than three decades ago.

Compared to Hubble, though, the Webb’s larger mirror has six times the light-gathering capability and will be able to see much more distant objects. Whereas Hubble worked in the visible light portion of the spectrum, the JWST will “see” in infrared, allowing Earth-bound astronomers a unique glimpse of the cosmos that will help them unravel the mysteries of the early universe.

Music

A lawsuit over Nirvana's 'Nevermind' baby album cover has been dismissed

Posted January 4, 2022 at 11:15 AM EST
Nirvana artifacts and exhibits are seen at the opening of "In Bloom: The Nirvana Exhibition," marking the 20th Anniversary of the release of Nirvana's Nevermind album, at the Loading Bay Gallery on Sept. 13, 2011 in London.
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Nirvana artifacts and exhibits are seen at the opening of "In Bloom: The Nirvana Exhibition," marking the 20th Anniversary of the release of Nirvana's Nevermind album, at the Loading Bay Gallery on Sept. 13, 2011 in London.

A judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit filed against former band members of Nirvana for their iconic Nevermind album cover.

Spencer Elden sued former members of the band in August 2021 for child exploitation and pornography, saying the band knowingly distributed a naked photo of him as a baby on the 1991 album cover and profited from it. Elden was just four months old when he was photographed for the cover. Now 30, he was seeking $150,000 in damages.

The defendants in the case — which included former band members, as well as Kurt Cobain's estate, photographer Kirk Weddle, Universal Music, Geffen Records, Warner Records and MCA Music — filed a motion to dismiss the case last month.

Elden had until Dec. 30 to respond to the motion, but his legal team missed the deadline, and so the case was dismissed.

Judge Fernando M. Olguin of the Central District Court in California said Elden and his legal team have until Jan. 13 to re-up the case. If the defendants file another motion to dismiss, both sides will meet on Jan. 20.

“In accordance with the court's order we will be filing a Second Amended Complaint very soon. We are confident that Spencer will be allowed to move forward with the case," Marsh Law, the firm that represents Elden, said in a statement.

In their motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the defendants say Elden profited from being on the album cover as a baby and has benefited from it as an adult.

"Elden has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed "Nirvana Baby." He has re-enacted the photograph in exchange for a fee, many times; he has had the album title "Nevermind" tattooed across his chest; he has appeared on a talk show wearing a self-parodying, nude-colored onesie; he has autographed copies of the album cover for sale on eBay; and he has used the connection to try to pick up women," the defendants say.

In November, Elden's legal team released a statement in response to the album's 30th anniversary, when the cover was re-released.

"It's past time to finally put an end to the child exploitation and violation of privacy our client has endured for his entire life," they wrote.

Tech

After today, old BlackBerry phones won't work, even to call 911

Posted January 4, 2022 at 11:10 AM EST
A BlackBerry phone sits on a stand. It is black with a small keyboard and a screen above.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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Getty Images North America
A Blackberry cell phone.

BlackBerry phones, ubiquitous among Washington insiders and business professionals during the early 2000s, will stop reliably functioning after today as the company ends support for them.

BlackBerry announced in 2020 plans to end services for BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier phones as the company transitions into a software security firm. After today, BlackBerry phones from that era won't reliably send messages, use data or let users dial 911.

Before Apple's iPhone dominated the market, BlackBerry phones were a symbol of a certain class of American consumers and professionals. In the early 2000s, if you looked down a busy commuter train car, you were likely to see travelers tapping away on the device's QWERTY keyboard or scrolling through emails using the trackball. Now obsolete, the phones were exciting at their height, promising easy communication with friends and colleagues from anywhere at a time when constant virtual connection didn't exist like it does today.

Although BlackBerry phones will go dark after today, there's always room on the internet for reminiscing:

Just In
Coronavirus

The CDC recommends Pfizer-BioNTech booster interval be shortened to five months from six

Posted January 4, 2022 at 10:56 AM EST
FILE - Dr. Manjul Shukla transfers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at a mobile vaccination clinic in Worcester, Mass. Pfizer said Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may protect against the new omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Steven Senne/AP
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AP
The CDC is shortening the recommended period between the first two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to five months instead of six

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that people who were initially immunized with two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 baccine get a booster shot after five months instead of six. The recommended booster interval hasn’t changed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (two months) or the Moderna vaccine (six months).

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the change in the Pfizer booster interval, the use of a third shot in immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11 and a booster for kids 12 to 15.

The FDA said that a booster “at five months rather than six months may … provide better protection sooner for individuals against the highly transmissible omicron variant.”

CDC also recommends that moderately or severely immunocompromised 5- to 11-year-olds get a third vaccine dose 28 days after their second shot. This recommendation only applies to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine because it’s the only one authorized and recommended for children in that age range. (The third dose isn’t considered a booster because in these people, an additional shot is needed to get the immune response up to the recommended level.)

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to update our recommendations to ensure the best possible protection for the American people,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Today’s recommendations ensure people are able to get a boost of protection in the face of omicron and increasing cases across the country, and ensure that the most vulnerable children can get an additional dose to optimize protection against COVID-19. If you or your children are eligible for a third dose or a booster, please go out and get one as soon as you can.”

The CDC didn’t make a recommendation on a booster for children ages 12 to 15. A committee of advisers to the CDC will meet Wednesday afternoon to deliberate and vote on whether the agency should go ahead with a recommendation on a booster for kids in that group. A decision by the CDC director is expected soon after the advisers conclude their meeting.

Novak Djokovic isn’t vaccinated, but he’ll play in the Australian Open anyway

Posted January 4, 2022 at 9:49 AM EST

Novak Djokovic, the top-ranked men’s tennis player who is also famously unvaccinated, will play in the Australian Open later this month after receiving a special exemption from COVID-19 requirements.

“I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!” Djokovic announced on several social media platforms Tuesday.

The tournament’s defending champion posted a photo of himself smiling, next to his luggage. But some of the top responses to his Twitter post were not happy ones.

“The news has just broken here in Melbourne and it’s fair to say NoVax is going to get a hot reception,” one commenter wrote. “We’ve done it hard here in recent times and ordinary people think this decision is a joke. He’s got no idea what he’s in for.”

Victoria, the state where the tournament is played, currently has 48,297 active COVID-19 cases, according to the latest information from the Victorian Department of Health. The state’s vaccination program has been very effective: 94.5% of residents ages 12 and up have gotten at least one vaccine dose, and roughly 93% have gotten two doses.

News of the exemption ends weeks of speculation about whether Djokovic, 34, would be allowed to compete in Melbourne despite strict rules on COVID-19 and vaccination. In November, the state government of Victoria stated that all players and others participating in the Australian Open must be vaccinated. In response, Djokovic’s father said his son would not travel to the tournament "under these blackmails and conditions.”

Djokovic has previously refused to say whether he’s been vaccinated. But he’s also registered his skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccine from early on, saying in April of 2020, “I wouldn't want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.”

The Australian Open says the decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption was made after "a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” including those from the state government, according to Australia’s ABC network.

In December, the Victorian government and Tennis Australia said they would form an independent panel to review requests for medical exemptions.

"Any player who is granted a medical exemption will have gone through a two-stage, independent process to verify they have a genuine medical condition that meets the criteria for an exemption,” the Victorian government said, according to ABC.

Djokovic has won the past three editions of the Australian Open. Play in the 2022 tournament begins on Jan. 17 and runs through Jan. 30.

Law

A federal judge rules that Navy SEALs can’t be punished for refusing vaccine

Posted January 4, 2022 at 9:40 AM EST
An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle assigned to the Black Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22 conducts flight operations during an underway with the USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) on June 27, 2019 in the Atlantic Ocean. The ship remains in port at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, with about two dozen sailors, or nearly a quarter of its crew, testing positive for COVID-19, according to U.S. defense officials.(Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anderson W. Branch/U.S. Navy via AP)
Anderson W Branch/AP
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U.S. Navy
The USS Milwaukee, pictured in 2019 in the Atlantic Ocean, has returned to sea after extending a port call at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba after crew members tested positive for COVID-19.

The Department of Defense cannot punish a group of U.S. Navy SEALs who claimed a religious exemption in refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor issued a preliminary injunction on Monday. The case involved 35 Navy SEALs who had refused to get vaccinated despite a Defense Department mandate.

"The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect,” the Northern District of Texas judge wrote in a 26-page ruling. “The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms.”

O’Connor, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, is considered a conservative favorite and is best known for a 2018 ruling invalidating the Affordable Care Act.

Last month, the military branches began dismissing service members who refused to comply with the vaccine mandate.

In December, the Associated Press reported that 98.4% of Navy service members had been fully vaccinated, with similar percentages for the other branches.

The ruling came on the same day that the U.S. reached a record 1 million coronavirus cases in a single 24-hour period according to Johns Hopkins University, amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

It also comes as the littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee, which experienced a COVID-19 outbreak last month while on deployment and was forced to extend a port stay at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was finally put back out to sea. The Navy declined to make public how many sailors were infected, according to theNavy Times, but said that the entire crew was fully vaccinated and infected sailors “exhibited mild or no symptoms.”

Coronavirus

More school districts are weighing the risks of in-person learning as omicron continues to spread

Posted January 4, 2022 at 9:26 AM EST
A dark classroom with desks but empty of students.
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A classroom in New York City sits empty on November 19, 2020.

Today is the first day back in school after winter break for many American students, but thousands of learners will be back in front of a camera due to omicron's surge.

As the highly contagious omicron variant fuels staff shortages and poses health threats, school districts in cities such as Atlanta, Milwaukee and Cleveland are temporarily moving instruction online.

Also on that list: Philadelphia. Families got the news Monday that 81 Philadelphia area schools will shift to virtual classes all this week to manage staff shortages caused by the pandemic's rising case count.

WHYY's Mallory Falk reports the district had repeatedly insisted it would come back from winter break with in-person classes as case numbers climbed over the holidays. But now, more than a third of schools in the district will be online instead to start the new year.

The district says the shift to virtual learning will continue until at least Friday, but staff at those schools are still required to report to work in person "unless they are self-isolating or quarantining due to COVID testing or exposure, have COVID-like symptoms and are awaiting test results, or have an approved leave."

The head of the city's teacher's union had called for schools to go remote temporarily and up safety measures in schools, but as Falk reports, the last-minute switch has still frustrated many parents.

Teachers in Chicago are also voicing concerns about in-person instruction as the number of omicron cases continues to skyrocket. Sarah Karp of member station WBEZ reports public school teachers in Chicago may vote today to refuse to teach in-person, setting up a potential showdown with the mayor and school leaders.

The Chicago Teachers Union says it has planned a vote for Tuesday where it will ask its more than 25,000 members if they support refusing in-person work starting Wednesday. The members would push to work virtually instead. Following the members' vote, the union’s elected House of Delegates would vote on the step as well.

Karp reports the district's teachers can only work remotely if allowed by the Chicago Board of Education, meaning the school district could prevent teachers from accessing their remote classrooms and effectively trigger a shutdown of the school district.

For more on the situation in Chicago and how the union members may vote, read more from WBEZ.

Coronavirus

New model predicts omicron surge will peak at record levels by the end of January

Posted January 4, 2022 at 9:08 AM EST
A white van reading "COVID-19 TESTING" sits against a fence under a blue sky with white clouds, near bare trees.
Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images
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AFP
People self administer Covid-19 tests at a mobile site in the Elmhurst section of Queens on December 23, 2021 in New York.

The omicron surge will probably peak by the end of the month at levels that dwarf any earlier surges, according to new estimates from researchers advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub released an “emergency” update because of the surge in cases due to the omicron variant.

The update estimates the surge will peak by the end of January and then rapidly recede. But the most likely scenario estimates the number of people catching the virus every day will far exceed any previous peak.

And between 750,000 and 822,000 more people will be hospitalized with COVID-19 by the middle of March. Additionally, between 83,000 and 104,000 more people will die from the disease by then.

Coronavirus

More than 1 million Americans were diagnosed with COVID on Monday, a new global record

Posted January 4, 2022 at 9:03 AM EST
People line up on the sidewalk in a city, looking at their phones and wearing masks.
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AFP
People line up to get tested for COVID-19 at a testing site in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

The U.S. reported a record 1,082,549 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It's the latest in a series of staggering milestones brought on by the highly transmissible omicron variant, which is sweeping across the U.S. and around the world.

The U.S. has broken several of its own COVID-19 records in recent days. Last week Johns Hopkins reported more than 480,000 new cases in a single day, more than double the number of daily cases reported during the peak of the delta surge. The seven-day average topped 280,000.

For reference: The country was averaging about 70,000 cases a day in early November.

The milestone is more than twice the case count seen anywhere else in the world since the start of the pandemic, according to Bloomberg, which says the highest number outside of the U.S. was when more than 414,00 people were diagnosed on a single day in May during India's delta surge.

Monday's rising rates could be due to delays in reporting over the holidays.

As public health experts have noted, the numbers we're seeing could also be a undercount. With so many people testing themselves at home, it's hard to capture the true number of cases, as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told NPR last week.

Experts also caution about putting too much stock solely in case counts, focusing instead on metrics like hospitalizations and deaths, which reflect the severity of illness. Those numbers are also rising, but not at nearly the same rate.

And Johns Hopkins counted 1,688 new deaths on Monday, down from a record 4,442 last January — before COVID-19 vaccines were widely available.

Still, the number of hospitalizations is noteworthy. More than 103,000 Americans are now in the hospital for COVID-19, NPR's Will Stone reports. Only two other times during the pandemic have hospitalizations surpassed 100,000 in the U.S. The first time was a year ago — when hospitalizations exceeded 120,000. And the second time was this past summer, when the delta variant hit.

Technology

NPR's reporter covering the Holmes trial says the verdict probably won't change Silicon Valley

Posted January 4, 2022 at 8:07 AM EST
A blonde woman wearing a dark jacket and blue face mask holds her purse  while standing in front of a wood-paneled wall.
Nic Coury/AP
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FR171100 AP
Elizabeth Holmes walks into federal court in San Jose, Calif., on Monday.

After a monthslong trial and a week of deliberations, a jury has found onetime billionaire and Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes guilty on four of 11 charges of defrauding company investors and patients.

Holmes founded the biotech startup when she was just 19, claiming she had invented a way to scan for hundreds of diseases with just a drop or two of blood from a single finger prick. Her investors and board members included big names, like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and retired four-star general and former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

NPR's Bobby Allyn, who has been covering the case, offered some insight into how Holmes was able to convince such accomplished people to back her company, calling her "famously charismatic" and noting that many people found her "downright entrancing." She wore a black turtleneck like her idol Steve Jobs, spoke confidently, surrounded herself with credible people and refused to answer probing questions about how her technology worked under the guise of protecting trade secrets.

"I saw her every day for many weeks, and she has an aura about her," he told Morning Edition. "Every time she would walk by I would feel it."

Holmes raised billions of dollars for the devices, which produced flawed or false results for patients. Investigations into the company by the Wall Street Journal and the federal government led to its collapse in 2018, and the government argued during the trial that when Theranos' technology failed, Holmes covered it up.

The jury's verdict was mixed.

Holmes was convicted of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for lying to investors about devices developed by Theranos.

She was found not guilty on four other fraud-related charges connected to allegations that she intentionally deceived patients who received faulty results from Theranos tests offered at Walgreens locations in California and Arizona. The jury could not unanimously agree on three additional fraud charges, which are likely to be cast aside.

Holmes' sentencing date hasn't been set yet. While she faces the maximum penalty of 20 years behind bars, legal experts tell Allyn she will likely face a lesser punishment.

Allyn spoke to Morning Edition about how the verdict came about and why it matters. Listen here or read Allyn's story (he also live-tweeted proceedings from the courtroom, which you can find here). Click below to read interview highlights.

On whether the jury's verdict was a surprise:

Allyn said some had speculated that the jury would not be able to agree on any of the charges facing Holmes, since they had been deliberating for a long time — 50 hours over seven days. And that's not its only significance.

"The fact that they unanimously agreed that she knowingly and intentionally scammed investors by making exaggerated claims and sometimes making outright lies about what her startup's technology could do was pretty stunning," he said. "It's almost unheard of in Silicon Valley to see a tech startup CEO be convicted in a criminal trial in the wake of a business collapsing, so this is a pretty big deal."

On what the case could mean for Silicon Valley, where exaggeration and self-promotion are key:

That's the big question, Allyn acknowledged. He said many people see Theranos as a one-off, or too specific of a case to draw any broad conclusions. Others disagree, seeing it as a symptom of a larger problem in Silicon Valley — which he describes as the "fake-it-til-you-make-it culture that is based on exaggerations."

Allyn says most of the "long-timers" he's talked to have said Holmes' conviction and possible prison sentence are not going to change the culture of that industry.

"People are looking at this and have already learned lessons, and the go-go-go culture in Silicon Valley is just going to keep chugging along," he said.

Drivers are stuck on I-95 for hours in freezing temperatures after crashes block the road

Posted January 4, 2022 at 8:03 AM EST
This image provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation shows a closed section of Interstate 95 near Fredericksburg, Va., early Tuesday. Both northbound and southbound sections of the highway were closed due to snow and ice.
Virginia Department of Transportation via AP
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Virginia Department of Transportstion
This image provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation shows a closed section of Interstate 95 near Fredericksburg, Va., early Tuesday. Both northbound and southbound sections of the highway were closed due to snow and ice.

Drivers along a stretch of I-95 in Virginia have been trapped for hours in freezing temperatures after heavy snowfall contributed to a series of spinouts and crashes. Traffic on the interstate is blocked in both directions.

WTOP reports that hundreds of drivers are still stranded Tuesday morning after the previous evening's rush hour, with some at a standstill that has lasted more than 12 hours.

Accidents involving several tractor-trailers reportedly caused the massive backup.

“Some people were seen abandoning their vehicles in snow-covered travel lanes, walking down I-95 to parts unknown,” according to WTOP traffic reporter Dave Dildine. “Some callers were sobbing and scared.”

Despite the below-freezing temperatures overnight, many drivers reportedly shut off their engines to conserve gas.

In a live report from his car stuck on the highway, NBC reporter Josh Lederman on Morning Joe described the situation as “insane and a fairly dystopian experience.”

He said motorists were monitoring Twitter in hopes of getting some indication of when things would start moving again. “There was one point where they briefly opened one lane overnight and we got to move about a quarter of a mile down the road. Then it crashed again.”

Tuesday at 5:18 a.m. ET, the Virginia Department of Transportation tweeted that “I-95 remains closed in the Fredericksburg area. Snow plows & tow trucks are on the scene. Motorists should plan to avoid travel on I-95 in this area until lanes reopen and significant congestion clears the area.”

The Virginia State Police said that in an effort to “safely reach stranded motorists & get traffic moving once again,” that incoming traffic at some exits was being restricted.