Following Up and Following Down: December 2022

December is done. 2022 is done. It’s time to pick through the rubble and snowdrifts to see at least part of what WC may have missed. As always the Magpie Principle applies and absolutely no journalism has been committed in writing this blog post.

WC has written earlier about Juli Mazi, who was indicted by the USDOJ for selling sugar pills to prevent COVID and forging immunization cards. She copped a plea to a single felony count, then fired her lawyer, then tried to withdraw the guilty plea. Among other things, she claimed “sovereign immunity” arguing that, as a Native American, she was “immune to legal action.” U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer denied her motion to withdraw the guilty plea, noting that she did not contest any facts. And sentenced her to 33 months in prison followed by three years of probation. She was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons by January 6. Despite Mazi’s making $221,000 selling lies, the trial judge did not impose a restitution obligation.

Elizabeth Holmes’ co-defendant, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was convicted in July of defrauding investors and patients. Holmes’ conviction on four counts of fraud only related to defrauding investors; she was acquitted of counts related to defrauding patients. The more serious crimes got Balwani a slightly heavier sentence: U.S. District Judge Edward Davila sentenced Balwani to 155 months—12 years and 11 months—in federal prison with three years of probation. He is ordered to surrender to the US Bureau of Prisons on March 15, 2023. And he is ordered to pay more than $800 million in restitution. Homes got 11 years and three months, and has announced she is appealing her conviction. Balwani, of course, would not have been pregnant at the time of sentencing; perhaps that explains the difference.

Of course the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee in North (not “Northern”) Idaho has invited U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Wing Nuts) to be the keynote speaker for its Lincoln Day Dinner in February, The QAnon conspiracy enthusiast, election denying promoter of violent rhetoric, who has said the Republican Party should be the party of Christian nationalists is a near perfect fit for the neo-Nazi-loving white nationalists that afflict Idaho’s Panhandle. The dinner will take place Feb. 11 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, and single tickets cost $175 each, with sponsor options of silver and gold at $5,000 and $10,000 each, respectively. Tell them Adolf sent you.

The 2021 Hypocrite of the Year, Kevin McCarthy, threatened senators voting in favor of not shutting down the government with killing any and all of their bills. “When I’m Speaker,” bills from any senator who votes for the spending package will be “dead on arrival” in the House of Representatives. Those threats were made in an effort gain power for himself, to find conservative votes to get himself elected Speaker of the House in the next Congress. Let’s be completely clear about this: McCarthy is threatening people in the pursuit of his personal power. If you don’t find that despicable, if you don’t think elevation of self above all other considerations, is utterly wrong, you are reading the wrong blog.

The sanctification of the late U.S. Rep. Don Young (R, Neanderthals) continues apace. Mt. Cerberus, a frequently active volcano on Semisopochonoi Island, part of the Aleutian Chain, will be officially re-named Mt. Young.1 Cerberus, of course, was the monstrous watchdog of Hades. Dante describes visiting Cerberus in his Divine Comedy in the Third Circle of Hell. Perhaps, as the bill renaming his namesake mountain is signed into law, Cerberus will be greeting Young, because it’s pretty doubtful that, despite all the post-mortem sanctification, Don Young is heaven-bound.

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R, Who Knows?) objected to the confirmation of Laura Taylor-Kale to be assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy. He admitted she is fully qualified. But Sullivan is unhappy about the absolutely unrelated Biden Interior Department’s decision to reconsider approval of the Ambler Road, a pet project of Sullivan’s. So Sullivan held national security hostage to a speculative mining road in northwestern Alaska. It doesn’t matter to Sullivan that the road endangers his constituents’ environment and subsistence resources. It doesn’t matter that leaving important Pentagon positions vacant is dangerous to national security. It doesn’t matter that Sullivan is acting like a little kid threatening to hold his breath if he doesn’t get his way. To quote Bugs Bunny, “What a maroon.”

Meta Corporation, the company that owns Facebook, let a British company called Cambridge Analytics use Facebook customer private information to support Cambridge Analytics electioneering work for Donald Trump. Cambridge Analytics conveniently filed bankruptcy a year later. Facebook customers filed a class action lawsuit against Meta. That lawsuit has been settled, pending court approval, for $725 million. That sounds like a lot of money, but Meta’ gross profit for the corporate year ending September 30, 2022 ws $94.6 billion. So the settlement was about three-quarters of one percent of Meta’s gross profit for one year. Less than a mosquito bite on a Saltasaurus. The thing about fines and civil penalties against giant corporations is that they are consistently too small in relation to the size of the mega-corporation that they have little deterrent value.

A new glacier has been discovered, the northernmost glacier in the United States. It’s in a mountain range you’ve never heard of, the Shublik Mountains, north of the Brooks Range. The unnamed glacier is in a north-facing cirque, sheltered from the weak sunlight of those latitudes, and might cover 70 acres. You can find it in Google Earth by searching for 69.50912° N, 145.51683° W. It’s about ten miles north of the eastern end of the Brooks Range, about 30 miles from the Arctic Ocean. Glaciologists are a little surprised. The area doesn’t get that much snowfall. It’s melting. See it soon or miss it entirely.2

This is the 5000th post to Wickersham’s Conscience. Yes, really. WC has long since lost track of everything written about across all those posts, but they are there to browse through if you are really, really bored. The one thing – the only thing – all of those blog posts have in common is that they each involve something that interested WC at the time. A review of the many topics probably wouldn’t speak well for WC’s attention span. But there you have it.

Thanks for reading this post and all those other blog posts. We’ll just have to see where the Magpie Principle leads us next.

1 A favorite Alaska factoid: What is the easternmost point in the United States? It’s Pochnoi Point, on Semisopochnoi Island, at 198°30′ East longitude.

2 WC has a birding buddy who is a professional geologist, specializing in pre-Mississippian limestones and dolomites, the kind of rocks that compose much of the Shublik Mountains. He’s a great guy, but the kind of geologist who in his field work could walk across the glacier and not notice it, because it is completely irrelevant to his speciality.

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