NewsFix: Monday August 30, 2021
Highly consequential events dominate today’s NewsFix - the downfall of Theranos, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the assassination of Robert F Kennedy.
ON TODAY’S AGENDA…
The landmark trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO of Theranos, begins in California today.
Holmes faces a possible 20 years in jail, on charges of defrauding both investors and patients.
Background: When Holmes was 19, she dropped out of Stanford and set up a company called Theranos - which she claimed had the potential to revolutionise how blood testing was carried out. The company attracted $400 million in investment from some of the world’s most well known public figures and entrepreneurs.
At this point, Holmes was pinned as the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, and the darling of Silicon Valley.
Fast forward to 2015, and it all began to unravel. In a series of damning articles, The Wall Street Journal exposed Theranos - claiming many of its tests were actually being carried out elsewhere, and those that were carried out with Theranos machines were often inaccurate.
*Below is a very helpful explainer of this fascinating case, well worth a watch.
The US conducted a drone strike in Kabul on Sunday, saying it targeted IS-K members intending to carry out an “imminent” second attack on Kabul airport. Hours before, President Biden had warned another terror attack was likely.
Worth noting:CNN is reporting that nine members of a family - including six children - were killed by this drone strike. The US military acknowledged the reports of civilian casualties, and are said to be “investigating further”.
Retaliation for last week’s attack: On Friday, the US carried out another drone strike in the eastern part of the country. The strike is said to have killed two high profile IS-K members. According to BBC News, “most of IS-K's several thousand extremists are believed to be in hiding in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, east of Kabul”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested the Taliban could gain diplomatic recognition, if they prevent Afghanistan from being used as a safe haven for terrorists.
“If the new regime in Kabul wants diplomatic recognition . . . they will have to ensure safe passage for those who wish to leave the country, to respect the rights of women and girls, to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming an incubator for global terror.” - Prime Minister Johnson
President Biden stood as the remains of 13 US service members - who were killed in last week’s attack near Kabul airport - returned to the US. It is currently believed that up to 170 people were killed in that attack.
- TV under the Taliban: The BBC’s Talda Hakim posted this clip of a political debate in Afghanistan. As you can see, the anchor is flanked by armed Taliban soldiers.
KENNEDY CATCH UP
The man who shot and killed Robert F Kennedyback in 1968 has been granted parole, a decision dividing the former Senator’s children.
Remember: Robert F Kennedy was the younger brother of JFK, and served as Attorney General during his brother’s presidency. Five years after JFK’s assassination, Robert was a senator and running for president. Moments after delivering a victory speech following a successful primary, Kennedy was shot and killed by Sirhan Sirhan.
Sirhan - a Palestinian refugee - has now faced the parole board 16 times, and is 77. Following the assassination, he was sentenced to death, but it was later changed to life in prison. Two of Kennedy’s sons, RFK Jr and Douglas Kennedy, support the decision to grant Sirhan parole.
Kennedy’s other children, including Rory, Kerry and Maxwell, vehemently oppose the decision. They have called on California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, to reject the decision. Maxwell, in a recent op-ed, said Sirhan killed his father because of his support of Israel.
“The mere thought of Sirhan returning to Palestine, where he may be cheered for his crime, is sickening.” - Maxwell Kennedy
- BBC News: New Orleans loses power as Hurricane Ida strikes
- The Guardian: Afghanistan live news: anti-missile system intercepts rockets fired at Kabul airport
- The Financial Times: Kabul airport faces new threat as US withdrawal deadline nears
- Al Jazeera: Children among civilians killed in US drone attack in Kabul
- RTÉ News: Museum housing large Irish famine collection to close
- The Irish Times: Can I share my inheritance with brother left out of the will?
- Global overview: More than 4.5 million people have now died from coronavirus around the world. Meanwhile, more than 216 million cases have been recorded, and 5.2 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally.
In Ireland, public transport will return to 100% capacity from Wednesday.
Also, the role of NPHET - the country’s National Public Health Emergency Team amid the pandemic - is expected to disband in October. Dr Tony Holohan, Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, will then return to normal duties at the Department of Health.
- Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is isolating after becoming a close contact.
- Australia has recorded its 1,000th Covid death. Reuters described it as a “a grim toll but modest by global standards”.
On the lookout today: Reuters had a report over the weekend, suggesting the EU could be adding the US to a list of countries who will be subject to new travel restrictions. Worth noting: The US still does not allow European passengers to travel to the US.
According to the Reuters report, there has been some division among EU countries - some want to continue benefiting from tourism from the US, others want to be treated equally, and have travel rights reciprocated.
Hurricane Ida has left one person dead and nearly a million people in the southern US state of Louisiana without power.
Worth noting: Today marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
The clip below of broadcaster Al Roker battling the wind and waves in New Orleans has gone viral, and been viewed more than 2.2 million times.
Harvard University has elected a new chief chaplain - and he is an atheist.
Greg Epstein was unanimously elected by his peers to lead the group of chaplains who represent more than 20 faiths.
The Boston Globe described Epstein as “an atheist and humanist” who believes “humans can be moral and ethical without the guide of religion”.
He has written a book called “Good Without God”.
Kanye West’s highly anticipated new album, Donda, has just been released. There are 27 songs listed on Spotify. As CNN mentions, the album features collaborations with “Jay-Z, The Weeknd, Young Thug, Jay Electronica, The Lox, Travis Scott and others”.
British politician Michael Gove was trending online over the weekend, after video emerged of the 54-year-old politician dancing in a Scottish nightclub over the weekend. According to The Mirror, Gove allegedly showed up alone, and tried to refuse to pay the £5 entry fee, because he is the “Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster”.
Reaction to the videos: Alastair Campbell - who worked for Tony Blair - tweeted; “please tell me this is a deep fake done by the Russians to undermine credibility in our government, our politics and our way of life”.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE…
Eyes bigger than your stomach, pal?