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Theranos founder faces court on fraud charges



The trial into the now-defunct blood testing startup Theranos has begun, with founder Elizabeth Holmes facing several charges of criminal fraud.

Prosecutors alleged Holmes “lied and cheated” for money and fame during the first day of one of the most closely watched trials of a U.S corporate executive in years.

The former Silicon Valley star is accused of deceiving investors and patients, by claiming Theranos technology could detect common illnesses using just a few drops of blood from a finger prick.

The company collapsed in 2015 after it emerged the blood-testing devices did not work, and had instead been operating commercially available machines made by other manufacturers.

“Significant problems brewing”

Prosecutors claimed that Holmes and other executives turned to fraud in 2009 after big pharmaceutical firms refused to back Theranos and the company faced bankruptcy.

Holmes lied about tests and exaggerated the company’s performance to secure millions of dollars of investments between 2010 to 2015.

This included false claims that the tests had been processed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and that the technology was being used in the field by the U.S military.

Defence tells court Holmes is “no villain”

At the centre of Holmes’ defence is the argument she never intended to commit fraud.

Instead, they argue, Theranos is a high-profile example of a startup that simply did not work, much like thousands of other failed business ideas.

They told jurors that Holmes is not a villain, but rather a hard-working, young and naive businesswoman, who poured much of her life into the company.

“Failure is not a crime. Trying your hardest and coming up short is not a crime,” defence attorney Lance Wade said.

“In the end, Theranos failed and Ms Holmes walked away with nothing,” he told the jury.

Former executive and romantic partner also charged

Ex-Theranos executive Ramesh Balwani – who was romantically involved with Holmes for years, faces the same charges, but will be tried separately.

He has pleaded not guilty.

According to court documents released to the public, Holmes has accused Balwani of years of emotional and psychological abuse – allegations which Balwani denies.

Holmes’ lawyers have indicated she is highly likely to take the witness stand and testify about the effect her relationship with Balwani had on her mental state.

Court case the culmination of ill-fated saga

Holmes’ story is one which has peaked public interest.

After founding Theranos in 2003, aged 19, Holmes was fast-tracked for Silicon Valley success – she was at one point dubbed the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire and the “next Steve Jobs”.

Theranos “dazzled” large firms such as Walgreens and pharmacy companies into agreeing testing partnerships, as well as securing investments from high-profile figures like media mogul Rupert Murdoch and former U.S secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

Her story has become the subject of documentaries, podcasts and books. A TV miniseries and a film based on her life are in the works.

A tumultuous story will now culminate in a decision made in a California courtroom, with the case expected to last months.

If guilty, Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison.

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“I think there is a great risk”: will AI steal our jobs?



Artificial Intelligence has become an increasingly powerful and pervasive force in our modern world.

Artificial intelligence is not a new concept. However, the growing advancements have the potential to revolutionise industries, improve efficiency, and enhance the quality of life.

Along with its promising advancements, artificial intelligence also brings certain risks and challenges that must be acknowledged and addressed.

It has become the focus of lawmakers, who are working towards greater regulation of the sector.

U.S. and European Union officials recently met in Sweden to weigh up the benefits and challenges of artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies.

“The AI process is creeping up on us,” said Dr Keith Suter, who is a global futurist.

“You’ve got competition between companies.”

It’s almost like some of us can see this raft that’s heading towards the rapids and a disappearance towards the waterfall, and we’re giving a warning but it’s not being heeded because everybody’s in this race to get down to the river,” Dr Suter said.

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The world’s best airline has been named for 2023



A lie-flat seating concept in economy is making waves for the world’s best airline

One of the world’s premiere safety and product rating websites, has announced its 2023 Airline of the Year.

Air New Zealand won the award for its exceptional achievements in in-flight innovations, which include the upcoming Skynest beds in the Economy cabin, its environmental leadership, and the dedication of its staff.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran said the recognition acknowledges his remarkable team.

“We owe our success to the dedication and hard work of our 12,000 Air New Zealanders who wake each morning to connect Kiwis with each other and the world.

“This award belongs to them for their grit, commitment, and the exceptional service they deliver every day.”

Air New Zealand nudged out previous winner Qatar Airways (2021, 2022) Etihad Airways, Korean Air and Singapore Airlines for the top spot.

The Airline Excellence Awards are judged by five editors, who boast decades of industry experience.

Airlines are judged across 11 key criteria including fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment, product offerings, and staff relations.

“It is a sign that we have got our swing back and that our relentless focus on doing the basics brilliantly and delivering our Kia Mau strategy with precision and ambition is working,” Mr Foran said.

However, he explained there are ares for improvement as the global travel sector recovers from the height of the pandemic.

“As with many airlines worldwide, we understand that our fantastic team faces difficulties in providing the service we strive for and that our customers expect. We’re working hard to address these challenges.”

Air New Zealand won Best Economy Class, while Qatar Airways picked up Best Business Class for the fourth-year running and Best Catering.

Singapore Airlines received the Best First Class award, while Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic won Best Cabin Crew.

Best-In-Flight Entertainment and Best Premium Economy went to Emirates, while Qantas was recognised for Best Lounges.

Geoffrey Thomas is the Editor-in-Chief at, who said there was tough competition.

“In our objective analysis Air New Zealand came out number one in many key areas although it was a very close scoring for the top five.”

The awards also recognised the world’s Best Low-Cost Airlines.

Southwest Airlines won in the Americas category; while Fly Dubai (Middle East); AirAsia (Asia); Jetstar (Australia/Pacific) and Ryanair (Europe) all won in their respective regions.

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Deepfakes are taking over Hollywood



Deepfakes are the online phenomenon changing the way in which we consume and trust social media

Have you ever scrolled through social media and found a celebrity selling something a bit left of centre?

Chances are you have fallen victim to a deepfake.

These images and videos are a type of artificial intelligence, which promises to create doctored videos, which are almost impossible to tell apart from the real thing.

They have typically been used in pornographic clips and for celebrity endorsements.

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