Posts tagged with "Wall Street Journal"

Theranos whistleblowers launch advisory group on ethical practices for tech startups

April 4, 2019

March seemed to be “Theranos month” on U.S. television, as network, premium cable, and streaming channels ran stories on the stunning rise and fall of the Silicon Valley company helmed by Elizabeth Holmes—who claimed she had found a way to test for a full range of diseases with a small blood sample and a “magic box.”

Now, Erika Cheung and Tyler Shultz—two former employees who blew the whistle on Theranos—have launched a new organization called Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which seeks to help other entrepreneurs from suffering the same fate as Holmes, CNN reports.

Cheung, who lives in Hong Kong, is the former Theranos lab worker who tipped off the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to look into the blood testing startup.

Shultz, who is the grandson of Theranos board member and former Secretary of State George Shultz, was an ex-research engineer instrumental in helping Wall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou expose the company, according to the news outlet..

Theranos had a reported $9 billion valuation and employed hundreds of workers who bought into its mission to create a cheaper and more efficient alternative to traditional blood testing methods. After Carreyrou’s initial investigation into the company in 2015, its technology and testing methods started to unravel.

In March 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled charges against Theranos and Holmes, over “massive fraud “involving more than $700 million raised from investors. In September, Theranos announced plans to dissolve itself. The company remains the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.

Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which is seeking non-profit status in the United States and Hong Kong, according to CNN, wants to make talking about ethical practices the norm in the startup world. The founders plan to help connect early stage entrepreneurs to ethicists, seasoned entrepreneurs, and other relevant industry experts who can guide them on how to make ethical decisions when building a company. It also plans to make available tools and frameworks for ethical decisions that benefit businesses, employees and consumers.

There were so many instances, even for someone like Elizabeth Holmes, to turn back and say, ‘I’m taking things a little too far here,'” Cheung told CNN Business. “She had many opportunities to — even at the very end, she could have said, ‘OK, I’m sorry. I messed up. I’ll stop processing patient samples and I’m going to get my team together, we’re going to work on this and we’re going to make a good product.’ I don’t think she’s ever said that, until she had to go to court and say those things.'”

The organization is accepting donations on its website to help support the development of resources guides and workshops.

“I do think entrepreneurship can empower people and empower society but we also have to not let things escalate to this degree,” Cheung said.

Research contact: @saraashleyo

Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg is granted immunity by federal prosecutors in Cohen probe

August 27, 2018

Just when President Donald Trump might have thought it was safe to look at the news again, Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by New York federal prosecutors in their investigation into the POTUS’s former personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen—in which Trump already has been implicated, The Wall Street Journal  and MSNBC reported on August 24.

Cohen pleaded guilty on August 22 to violating campaign finance laws at Trump’s direction, when he paid hush money to prevent the stories of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who allegedly had extramarital affairs with Trump, from going public during Trump’s 2016 campaign.

According to the Journal’s report, Weisselberg was called to testify before a federal grand jury in the investigation last month—however, the details of that testimony remain unknown. It is unclear whether the CFO knew, or talked about, Trump’s knowledge of the payments.

However, a former Trump organization executive told the news outlet that Trump would sometimes point out to him how loyal Weisselberg had been to him for decades.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment to the Journal about Weisselberg’s  role in the investigation—and a spokesperson for the Trump Organization didn’t respond either.

According to the news outlet, “The subpoena illustrates that investigators are seeking input from Trump’s closest colleagues in the Trump Organization, particularly those with knowledge of the company’s financial dealings.”

The Huffington Post reported on August 24 that “No one knows Trump’s finances better than Weisselberg.” Aside from Trump himself, the HuffPost said, Weisselberg is the longest-serving employee of the Trump Organization. He has worked for the company since the 1970s, beginning as an accountant with Fred Trump, the president’s father, and working his way up to chief financial officer.

A poll of registered voters released by Fox News on August 23 shows approval of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is at 59%, up 11 points from July. What’s more, 40% expect the probe will find President Donald Trump committed criminal or impeachable offenses.

Research contact: @foxnewspoll 

Enquiring minds want to know: Where’s the Trump coverage?

August 6, 2018

Shortly after the feds raided the offices and hotel room of President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen  on April 9, National Enquirer Publisher (and friend of the president) David Pecker made a calculated retreat, according to an August 2 report by The Daily Beast.

Since the start of his presidential campaign, Pecker’s tabloid had helped to engineer Trump’s political rise, by running stories (or not, in the case of Playboy model Karen McDougal) that would polish his image. However, although he reigned as a regular fixture on the cover of the Enquirer for several years, Trump hasn’t appeared on it since an issue dated early May. That high-profile shot was for a cover story on the various scandals swirling around … Cohen, The Daily Beast notes.

And in that same issue detailing Cohen’s dirty work—work in which the Enquireritself, played a key role—there was another story claiming that the Enquirer’slie detector examination” had absolved Trump of any Russia-related collusion.

Since then, The Daily Beast notes, “The tabloid’s approach to the saga has ranged from muted to silent. The most recent issue of the Enquirer, dated July 30, 2018, doesn’t feature a single item on Trump in the entire, 47-page edition—though the issue did have room for a story on how the late James Bond actor Roger Moore “SMELLED BAD!” due to ‘rampant flatulence.’”

According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, Pecker and the top brass of the supermarket scandal sheet made a conscious decision to pull back on their pro-Trump coverage, just as Pecker’s media empire found itself increasingly embroiled in Trump’s legal and public-relations woes.

A month after the Enquirer’s last Trump cover, the Wall Street Journal reported that federal authorities had subpoenaed Pecker and other executives at American Media, which publishes the tabloid. They sought records related to allegations that the company purchased the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story of an affair with Trump, then killed the story for Trump’s benefit, a practice known as “catch and kill.” Prosecutors are exploring whether such an agreement may have constituted an illegal in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign by AMI.

The Daily Beast contends that “the dialing-back of Trump content may have come with a cost.” The tabloid lost about 4,700 paid subscriptions from January through June, about 6% of its total at the beginning of the year.

An AMI spokesperson acknowledged the downturn in an emailed statement to The Daily Beast. “AMI is not immune to the challenges facing the publishing industry, which is why we have continued to diversify and grow our revenue with new channels and acquisitions,” the spokesperson wrote.

The rep also dismissed any implication of its lack of Trump covers or coverage of late, saying, “Any decisions about our covers are driven by proprietary data on what our readers are most interested in and what is most likely [to] perform well at the newsstand, period.”

Research contact: lachlan.markay@thedailybeast.com

White House unveils $12 billion aid plan for farmers impacted by trade war

July 26, 2018

On July 24, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue revealed details of an emergency plan that would extend $12 billion in aid to farmers in ten states hit by retaliatory tariffs caused by the Trump administration’s escalating trade war with China, Axios reported.

However, word has come back from the sector that the farmers “want trade, not aid,” according to a report by Newser.

The funding for the expensive program would come partially from a USDA branch called the Commodity Credit Corporation, which was founded during the Depression to help farmers, according to a July 25 story by The Washington Post. Because this is an existing program, approval by Congress would not be necessary.

Farm groups–including producers of soybeans, corn, and hogs—would begin seeing payments by September. Perdue said the “one-time” program, which would be “short-term,” would help farmers dealing with “illegal retaliation” to U.S. tariffs, The Wall Street Journal noted. The Ag Secretary said that the program would give the administration time to work on a longer-term trade solution.

According to Axios, China recently retaliated against Trump’s tariffs with duties on soybeans and pork—affecting 10 farming states, nine of which voted for Trump in 2016.

According to a poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal—and posted by  CNBC on July 22—voters do not approve of President Donald Trump’s handling of foreign trade policy. Roughly half say Trump’s tariffs will raise consumer prices and hurt the average American, while only one-quarter say they will protect jobs and help the average person.

Research contact: @mmurraypolitics

Workplace equality stalls for women

March 27, 2018

More than half of Americans (52%) say that men still do not accept and treat women as equals in the workplace—a plurality that remains virtually unchanged since the poll asked the same question in 1999, based on findings of an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on March 22.

Women are particularly pessimistic, with 61% of  the 1,100 respondents saying that their male counterparts fail to treat them as equals—again, exactly the same share as 19 years ago. What’s more, the same percentage (44%) say they have personally experienced discrimination because of their gender.

The stagnancy of how women view their treatment in the workplace comes as more of them have taken on a role as their household’s primary wage earner. Nearly half of employed women (49%) say that they work primarily because they are their family’s main breadwinner, up from 37% in 2000. That includes 42% of working women with children.

“While Americans have become less judgmental about working mothers, this is a story about taking one step forward and one step back,” says Corrie Hunt of Hart Research, which conducted the poll along with Public Opinion Strategies. “As Americans, we’ve become more willing to say the right things about women in the workplace, but we haven’t put the supports in place to back it up. Our words have not yet been put into actions.”

Perceptions of working women who also are raising children have, indeed, become far more positive in the last two decades. In 2000, just 46% of Americans called it a positive development that more women are working while raising children, while 38%  called it a negative development. Now? An overwhelming majority, nearly eight in 10 (78%) call it positive, and just 14 percent disagree.

However, the pollsters state, there also is a lingering partisan difference in views of how women overall are accepted in the workplace. While only 28% of Democrats say that women are treated as equals in the workplace and 68% disagree, Republicans say that women are treated equally by almost a 20-point margin. Nearly six in 10 Republicans (58 percent) say women are treated as equals by their male counterparts, while 36% disagree.

And there’s also a notable gender gap when it comes to ways that women experience workplace inequality. Majorities of employed men don’t believe that there’s a significant gap in how women are paid, promoted and valued at their workplaces, while employed women are a bit more divided. Only about one in seven men say male workers get promoted more readily than women and get paid more for doing the same work, while about one in three women say the same.

Research contact: contact.nbcnews@nbcuni.com