Nearly 500,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts were without power early Wednesday as a powerful nor’easter continued to batter the East Coast.
The National Weather Service in Boston warned of a «dangerous situation» near and southeast of I-95, the East Coast’s main highway.
«Winds gusting over hurricane force across southeast Massachusetts. Numerous downed trees,» the service warned on Twitter. «TRAVEL IS NOT RECOMMENDED early this morning in southeast MA.»
The storm has already caused flooding in New York and New Jersey, where emergency services have carried out dozens of rescues.
Coastal areas of Massachusetts are now bearing the brunt of the storm, with reported wind gusts of up to 97 mph that have brought down trees and power lines.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said close to 490,000 customers were without power as of 8:30 a.m. ET
Most of these, almost 300,000, were in Barnstable and Plymouth counties, which cover Cape Cod and an area south of Boston.
All schools on the Cape have been closed, according to the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee. And images and video posted on social media showed downed trees and other debris littering roads.
In Boston, downed trees disrupted parts of the Red Line and Mattapan Trolley service, according to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which deployed replacement shuttle buses.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency warned people to «avoid downed power lines, check on neighbors, and use generators outside away from buildings.»
The Massachusetts Steamship Authority, which runs ferries from the mainland to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, said it was canceling all services until further notice. It warned people not to attempt to get to its terminals and to stay off the “extremely dangerous” roads.
The harbormaster in Plymouth said some boats had broken free from their moorings.
On Tuesday, New York City saw almost 4 inches of rain in lower Manhattan and and Brooklyn in 24 hours — which are amounts approaching the rainfall typically seen in a month.
The weather service said the window for the strongest winds along the coast was between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. local time, «with somewhat lesser winds farther inland.»
It said early Wednesday that the wind would «slowly diminish today but it remains windy» as the storm pushes off the coast.
The Northeast won’t have much time to dry out, as there’s more rain in the forecast for the region on Friday.
Daunte Wright’s mom relives ‘worst day of my life’ at manslaughter trial of ex-Minnesota officer Kim Potter – USA TODAY
MINNEAPOLIS — Jurors in the manslaughter trial of former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter heard emotional testimony Wednesday from Daunte Wright’s mother, who said she spoke to her son moments before Potter shot him while yelling «Taser» in a Minneapolis suburb earlier this year.
Katie Bryant, 43, repeatedly broke down on the witness stand as she told jurors about her 20-year-oldson,describing him as a jokester and loving father. She recounted their final conversation and what she saw at the scene of the shooting.
«I was so confused, angry, scared,» she said as jurors listened intently. «It was the worst day of my life.»
The veteran Brooklyn Center officer is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in Wright’s death during a traffic stop-turned-arrest in April. The incident happened just miles from the ongoing trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, later convicted of murdering George Floyd, and spurred multiple days of protests and looting in the area.
Who’s on the jury? Jury selected in trial of Kim Potter, charged in Daunte Wright’s death
Prosecutors sayPotter, 49, recklessly handled her firearm and caused Wright’s death by her «culpable negligence» – a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk, according to the complaint.
«This case is about the defendant, Kim Potter, betraying her oath, betraying her badge, and betraying her trust,» prosecutor Erin Eldridge said in her opening statement. «She had been trained year after year after year to prevent this kind of thing from happening, but she did it anyway.»
Defense attorneys say Potter intended to fire her Taser at Wright to prevent him from driving away and potentially injuring another officer in the process.
«She made a mistake. This was an accident. She’s a human being. And she had to do what she had to do to prevent a death of a fellow officer,» attorney Paul Engh said in his opening statement.
Engh said Wright should have surrendered to the warrant.He later added, «Over the course of 26 years, she never fired a gun. She never fired one shot. She never fired her Taser. She never had to.»
Bryant, the first witness called by the state, said her son called her shortly after leaving her house to get gas and a car wash. She said Wright told her he was being pulled over and «sounded really nervous, scared» before she heard an officer tell him to step out of the car and the call ended.
Bryant said she panicked and called her son back several times on Facetime. Bryant said the woman in the passenger seat of the car answered the video call,told her Wright had been shot and turned the phone toward the driver’s seat.
«My son was laying there, he was unresponsive,» she said through tears. «He looked dead.»
After learning where the shooting took place, Bryant said she raced to the scene and ran under the yellow crime scene tape, where she saw her son’s body under a white sheet on the ground in front of his crashed car. Bryant said she wasn’t allowed to approach her son but identified him by his shoes and car.
«I wanted to go comfort my baby,» she said. «I wanted to protect him because that’s what mothers do.»
Under cross-examination, Bryant told a defense attorney that, before the shooting, she did not know her son used marijuana or had a warrant for his arrest.
Kim Potter ‘became hysterical’ after shooting, another officer tells jury
Jurors also heard testimony and watched police body and dash camera video from the second witness for the prosecution, Brooklyn Center police officer in training Anthony Luckey, who attempted to arrest Wright before the shooting.Potter was his training officer that day.
Luckey, 31, appeared in court in full uniform. He told jurors he initiated the traffic stop after noticing the car Wright was driving had a right-turn signal on in the left laneand had expired tabs and an air freshener hanging from the review mirror.
Using an aerial photo of the intersection where the shooting took place, Luckey walked jurors through what happened during the stop. He said he smelled marijuana and observed marijuana leaves scattered around the car. Wright did not have a license or insurance, Luckey said.
‘Wrong gun’ or manslaughter? Former Minnesota officer Kim Potter goes on trial for Daunte Wright shooting
Luckey agreed with prosecutors that Wright was respectful and did not give him any reason to believe he was armed. He also agreed the woman in the car did not appear to be in distress.
Luckey said he, Potter and a third officer, a sergeant, attempted to arrest Wright after learning he had a warrant for failing to appear on agross misdemeanor weapons charge and a protection order that barred him from having contact with a woman.
Luckey saidWright initially got out of the car and placed his hands behind his back. Luckey said Wright pulled away as he attempted to handcuff him and got back into the driver’s seat of the car. Luckey said he and Potter attempted to pull Wright out of the car while the thirdofficer tried to restrain him from the passenger side.
On cross-examination, Luckey agreed with an attorney for the defense that, if Wright had been able to drive away, he and the other officer could have been injured or killed. Luckey also told the jury that he would’ve used a Taser if he could have.
Luckey said he heard Potter repeatedly inform Wright she would tase him, so he pulled back. Luckeysaid that’s when he saw a flash and heard the «bang» of a gunshot.
Luckey said he got hit in the face by a projectile and was temporarily unable to hear due to the gun going off at close range. Video from the scene shows Potter shouted several expletives and said she «grabbed the wrong» gun.
Luckey said Wright’s car drove forward, «airborned over the median,» and crashed into another vehicle and a fence.As video of the incident played, the loud subsequent bangs of the crash rang out in the courtroom, and Katie Bryant cried.
Luckey said Potter «became hysterical» after the shooting. His bodycam video shows her sobbing on the ground as officers try to comfort her. In the courtroom, Potter wiped away tears, and her attorney offered her a box of tissues.
«She said I’m going to prison,» Luckey recalled.
Ben Crump, George Floyd’s family among supporters in Minneapolis
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and members of the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake Jr. – all Black people shot by police in high-profile incidents – gathered and prayed outside the Hennepin County Government Center on Wednesday in solidarity with Wright’s family.
George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told USA TODAY he was there to «stand in solidarity with them, the same they honored us and helped us.»
«We’re coming here to show love because everybody needs this,» he said.
After court ended for the day, a couple dozen people marched through the streets near the courthouse in freezing temperatures, chanting Wright’s naming.
Some residents are watching the proceedings closely, said Marcia Howard, a high school teacher who has been occupying the area known as George Floyd Square nearly every day for the past 19 months. A poster bearing Wright’s image was placed beneath the sculpture of a raised fist in the middle of the intersection.
«Our eyes are on this trial,» Howard said Tuesday evening as she stoked a fire in the parking lot of a former Speedway, where the words «Justice for Daunte Wright!» were written on the sign of the old convenience store and gas station. Howard said a group of people that meets at the square each morning and evening have been discussing the trial.
About 10 miles away, in Brooklyn Center, an identical sculpture of a raised fist marks the site where Wright was shot. Candles encircle the sculpture, and photos, posters, flowers and Christmas lights hang from the fence lining the yard of a house. A sign with the words «Daunte Dr» hangs from a telephone pole covered in dozens of tree-shaped air fresheners.
«Even though Kim Potter is on trial, law enforcement is as well, and our judicial system is as well,» Howard said.
How could a gun be mistaken for a Taser? There have been at least 16 incidents of ‘weapon confusion’ since 2001
The trial marks the second time in Minnesota state history that proceedings in a criminal trial are being livestreamed. The first time was earlier this year for the Chauvin trial.
Activists called for Potter to face murder charges after the shooting. The first-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine. The second-degree charge has a maximum sentence of 10 years and/or a $20,000 fine.
Fourteen people – 12 jurors and two alternates – are hearing evidence in the case. The jury, which will remain anonymous until the conclusion of the trial, includes six men and six women whose ages range from 20s to 60s. Nine are white, two are Asian and one is Black, according to how the jurors self-identified to the court. The alternates are a white woman in her 70s and a white man in his 30s.
About 68% of Hennepin County residents are non-Hispanic white, nearly 14% are Black, 7.5% are Asian, and 7% are Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The jury, with nine white panelists, is 75% white.
Elizabeth Holmes’ defense rests its case
As her time on the stand came to a close, Holmes testified that while she wasn’t aware of everything that happened at Theranos, she herself «never» took any steps to try to mislead people who invested in Theranos, or to mislead patients about the accuracy and reliability of its tests.
Holmes was the third and final witness called to the stand by the defense, following a paralegal for the law firm representing Holmes and a former Theranos board member who joined after its downfall had begun.
Holmes, 37, was once upheld as a rare female founder whose startup had skyrocketed to a $9 billion valuation, making herself a billionaire. Now, she’s a rare Silicon Valley entrepreneur on trial for criminal fraud, more than six years after a Wall Street Journal reporter published the first expose about the company. She faces nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Holmes has pleaded not guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for each count of wire fraud and each conspiracy count.
On Wednesday, Holmes testified that her goal in conversations with potential investors was to lay out a broad vision for Theranos.
«They were people who were long-term investors, and I wanted to talk about what this company could do a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now,» she said. «They weren’t interested in today or tomorrow or next month. They were interested in what kind of change we could make.»
In his final question to Holmes Wednesday, her attorney Kevin Downey asked whether she focused her comments to investors on the technology it had invented and its capabilities in the long run? Holmes testified: «I did. I talked about what we’d created and what it could do, what was possible.»
When she got off the stand, Holmes looked at the jury as she slowly walked away. Following the defense resting its case, the government indicated it would not put on a rebuttal case.
After conferring with jurors about any scheduling issues, Judge Edward Davila scheduled closing arguments for December 16 and December 17. Jury deliberations may then begin as soon as December 17.
Holmes’ seven days on the witness stand
During direct questioning by her lawyers, Holmes addressed some key points raised during the prosecution’s 11-week case against her, as it seeks to prove she deliberately deceived investors, patients and doctors in order to take their money and advance her company.
Under oath, Holmes acknowledged the company only ever performed 12 tests on its own devices, that she herself doctored Theranos reports by adding pharmaceutical logos to them, and that Theranos never deployed its devices with the military.
But Holmes, in confronting these points, cited her good faith explanations, which countered what jurors had heard from government witnesses. She repeatedly pointed the finger at others for their representations of the company’s capabilities and steps the company took that are under fire. At times, she expressed some contrition, or completely denied earlier witness testimonies.
She testified that Theranos only ever performed a dozen tests, rather than hundreds, using its proprietary technology, but she said it was largely relying on modified third-party machines to accommodate a key retail partnership with Walgreens. The government’s witnesses had claimed that Theranos’ leaned on machines manufactured by others due to its own technological failings.
Holmes testified that Theranos devices were never deployed in Afghanistan, on military medevacs, or for use by soldiers, despite conversations and aspirations to eventually do so. Numerous witnesses during the government’s case testified that they’d been told some variation of that, and had been impressed by it. When pressed on this point by Leach, who ticked off a list of witnesses who’d testified as such, Holmes, under oath, denied this: «My testimony is that I don’t think I said that.»
Holmes also testified that she herself added logos of pharmaceutical companies to Theranos reports before circulating them to stakeholders as validations of its technology — something numerous government witnesses testified misled them into thinking those companies had prepared the reports. She expressed contrition about this decision, saying that she had heard witness testimony during this case: «I wish I had done it differently.»
According to Jessica Roth, a Cardozo Law School professor and former federal prosecutor, it can be a «credible strategy» for a defendant to acknowledge some things that may be irrefutable because it buys goodwill with the jury when objecting to others.
Jill Huntley Taylor, a jury consultant, similarly told CNN Business this approach could add to Holmes’ credibility with the jury. «It lets her control that narrative.»
An emotionally-charged moment at the trial
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Holmes’ time on the stand came as she fought back tears, testifying that she dropped out of Stanford during her sophomore year — a key part of her well-chronicled origin story — not just to start a company but also because she had been raped and was having trouble attending classes.
«I was questioning what — how I was going to be able to process that experience and what I wanted to do with my life, and I decided that I was going to build a life by building this company,» she said.
Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 at the age of 19 and spent a decade working on the company under the radar in its quest to revolutionize blood testing. By 2005, she started living with Balwani, whom she had met after graduating high school and sought business advice from. Their romantic relationship had largely been kept hidden.
She testified that Balwani’s control over her ranged from forcing her to having sex with him to prescribing her an incredibly restrictive lifestyle that he said would help her succeed in the business world. He allegedly regulated her eating, her voice and her image. He also allegedly isolated her from others. Balwani is facing the same charges as Holmes when his trial kicks off in January. He has also pleaded not guilty.
Holmes testified that Balwani didn’t control her interactions with investors, journalists, retail executives, or board members. But she said she considered him the most important adviser to her at Theranos. She also appeared to cast doubt on her own ability to see her time at the company clearly due to the psychological, emotional and sexual abuse she claims she experienced.
«He impacted everything about who I was, and I don’t fully understand that,» Holmes said in a tearful testimony last week.
She testified that it was Balwani who oversaw key aspects of the company, including its lab operations and its financial projections. Asked by her defense attorney what Balwani told her about the performance of Theranos’ lab prior to the fall of 2015, when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ran an inspection, Holmes testified: «That it was one of the best labs in the world.» (The inspection’s findings would end with the license of Theranos’ California blood-testing facility being revoked and Holmes being banned from running a lab for two years.)
Holmes cited this disconnect between the inspection’s findings and Balwani’s alleged representations to her as what ultimately led to their relationship’s end. He left the company in May 2016, which Holmes positioned as an attempt to right the ship.
The testimony about her alleged abuse «can’t help but to make some jurors sympathetic to her,» Taylor said. «Strategically, it is basically suggesting to the jury that this other person was, sort of, in her head.»
Massive planet 10 times bigger than Jupiter discovered orbiting pair of giant stars
Scientists have discovered a giant planet orbiting a massive pair of extremely hot stars, an environment previously thought too inhospitable for a planet to form.
A research article published Wednesday in the science journal Nature said that the discovery of the planet, named “b Centauri (AB)b” or “b Centauri b,” disproves a widely-held belief among astronomers.
“Until now, no planets had been spotted around a star more than three times as massive as the Sun,” wrote the European Southern Observatory, which photographed the planet from its Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Chilean desert.
Stockholm University Astronomy Prof. Markus Janson, the study leader, said “it completely changes the picture about massive stars as planet hosts.”
The “B-type” dual star, which sits at the center of a solar system in the Centaurus constellation, is extremely massive and hot. It emits large amounts of high-energy ultraviolet and x-ray radiation, which has “a strong impact on the surrounding gas that should work against planet formation,” ESO said.
“B-type stars are generally considered as quite destructive and dangerous environments, so it was believed that it should be exceedingly difficult to form large planets around them,” Janson said in the press release.
“It’s a harsh environment, dominated by extreme radiation, where everything is on a gigantic scale: the stars are bigger, the planet is bigger, the distances are bigger.”
GAYATHRI VISWANATH, PHD STUDENT AT STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY
The planet’s discovery was described in July and formally published in Nature on Wednesday, with researchers saying the “results show that planets can reside in much more massive stellar systems than what would be expected from extrapolation of previous results.”
The newly discovered b Centauri (AB)b is an exoplanet, a planet located outside of our own solar system, and “is 10 times as massive as Jupiter, making it one of the most massive planets ever found,” ESO wrote.
Co-author Gayathri Viswanath, a PhD student at Stockholm University, added in the press release that it is “an alien world in an environment that is completely different from what we experience here on Earth and in our Solar System.”
“It’s a harsh environment, dominated by extreme radiation, where everything is on a gigantic scale: the stars are bigger, the planet is bigger, the distances are bigger,” Viswanath wrote.
Its orbit is “one of the widest yet discovered,” 100 times greater than the distance between Jupiter and the Sun, ESO wrote. «This large distance from the central pair of stars could be key to the planet’s survival.»
While the ESO photograph published this month is the first of the planet since it has been identified, b Centauri (AB)b was imaged but unrecognized in previous telescope captures, researchers said.
In an email to NBC News, Janson said the discovery has motivated him and his colleagues to expand on a survey called BEAST, which is examining 85 similar stars.
«We will be attempting to acquire more telescope time for an extended survey, and we are also scanning all the telescope archives after any individual high-mass stars that might have been observed in the past,” Janson wrote.
“I think in the field altogether there will be an increased search intensity toward high-mass stars, both for the purpose of detecting planets, but also for characterizing them, to find out what they are composed of and try to figure out more in detail how they might have formed.”
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