PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

How 165 Words Could Make Mass Environmental Destruction an International Crime (Maria)

The author writes, “Mass environmental destruction, known as ecocide, would become an international crime similar to genocide and war crimes under a proposed new legal definition. The definition’s unveiling last week by a panel of 12 lawyers from around the world marks a big first step in the global campaign’s efforts to prevent future environmental disasters like the deforestation of the Amazon or actions that contribute to climate change.”

The Last — and Only — Foreign Scientist in the Wuhan Lab Speaks Out (Dana)

From Bloomberg: “Danielle Anderson was working in what has become the world’s most notorious laboratory just weeks before the first known cases of Covid-19 emerged in central China. Yet, the Australian virologist still wonders what she missed. An expert in bat-borne viruses, Anderson is the only foreign scientist to have undertaken research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s BSL-4 lab, the first in mainland China equipped to handle the planet’s deadliest pathogens. Her most recent stint ended in November 2019, giving Anderson an insider’s perspective on a place that’s become a flashpoint in the search for what caused the worst pandemic in a century.”

‘Castrate, Kill, Remove Voting Rights’: Ex-Marine, Georgia Deputy Was in Extremist Cell, Feds Say (DonkeyHotey)

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “When FBI agents in San Diego seized the cell phone of a suspected white supremacist last year, they discovered text messages with a Georgia sheriff’s deputy boasting of racial violence and preparations for a civil war. The text message chain, called ‘Shadow Moses,’ between San Diego plumber Grey Zamudio, 33, and 28-year-old Cody Griggers, a former Marine and sheriff’s deputy in Wilkinson County, revealed plans to steal explosives, dry runs with illegal silencers and boasts of racial violence. In one text, Griggers said he hoped law enforcement and the military would join their side in the coming conflict.”

Scientists Develop Wireless Pacemaker That Dissolves in Body (Dan)

The author writes, “A wireless pacemaker that can dissolve in the body has been created for patients who need only temporary help to regulate their heartbeat. … While pacemakers can already be used for temporary periods, experts say there are problems, including that leads placed through the skin can pose an infection risk. The external power supply and control system can become accidentally dislodged, and heart tissue can be damaged when the device is removed. Now researchers say they have developed a battery-free pacemaker that can be implanted directly on to the surface of the heart and absorbed by the body when no longer needed.”

Why People Fall for Conspiracy Theories (Sean)

The authors write, “Conspiracy theories have long been part of American life, but they feel more urgent than ever. Innocuous notions like whether the moon landing was a hoax feel like child’s play compared to more impactful beliefs like whether vaccines are safe (they are) or the 2020 election was stolen (it wasn’t). It can be easy to write off our conspiracy theorist friends and relatives as crackpots, but science shows things are far more nuanced than that. There are traits that likely prime people to be more prone to holding these beliefs, and you may find that when you take stock of these traits, you aren’t far removed from your cousin who is convinced the world is run by lizard people.”

Iowa Man Calls in Bomb Threat Because He Didn’t Get Sauce for Chicken McNuggets (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Police say an Iowa man attempted to get revenge on his local McDonald’s after he was shafted out of sauce for his Chicken McNuggets ― but things blew up in his face. Ankeny police arrested Robert Golwitzer Jr. on Saturday night after he allegedly threatened to blow up the restaurant and punch an employee over missing condiments, according to ABC affiliate WHO.”

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