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.

AI May Be Searching You for Guns the Next Time You Go Out in Public (Maria)

The author writes, “When Peter George saw news of the racially motivated mass shooting at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo May 14, he had a thought he’s often had after such tragedies. ‘Could our system have stopped it?’ he said. ‘I don’t know. But I think we could democratize security so that someone planning on hurting people can’t easily go into an unsuspecting place.’ George is chief executive of Evolv Technology, an AI-based system meant to flag weapons … so that [they] can be kept out of public places without elaborate checkpoints. As US gun violence like the kind seen in Buffalo and now Uvalde, Tex., increases — firearms sales reached record heights in 2020 and 2021 while the Gun Violence Archive reports at least 198 mass shootings since January — Evolv has become increasingly popular, used at schools, stadiums, stores, and other gathering spots.”

Putin’s Own Men Are Already Discussing Who Will Replace Him (Sean)

The author writes, “Three months into Vladimir Putin’s bloody ‘special operation’ in Ukraine, his own men in the Kremlin are reportedly discussing who will replace him. That’s according to new reporting by the independent news outlet Meduza, which cited several sources close to the Russian presidential administration who said officials are increasingly fed up with Putin personally.”

Michigan Governor Candidates Face Elimination After Alleged Signature Fraud (DonkeyHotey)

From The Hill: “Five candidates vying for the right to challenge Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) are facing the possibility of being eliminated even before the primary election after a state board found their campaigns filed thousands of fraudulent signatures. Michigan’s Bureau of Elections issued a formal recommendation late Monday that the five candidates — including two leading contenders — be removed from the August primary ballot.”

States Are Hoarding $5.2 Billion in Welfare Funds Even as the Need for Aid Grows (Dana)

The author writes, “When Congress passed welfare reform in 1996, states were given more autonomy over how they could use federal funding for aid to the poor. They could demand welfare recipients find work before receiving cash assistance. They could also use their federal ‘block grants’ to fund employment and parenting courses or to subsidize childcare. Twenty-five years later, however, states are using this freedom to do nothing at all with large sums of the money. According to recently released federal data, states are sitting on $5.2 billion in unspent funds from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF. Nearly $700 million was added to the total during the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years, with Hawaii, Tennessee and Maine hoarding the most cash per person living at or below the federal poverty line.”

California’s Electrical Grid Has an EV Problem (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “California energy officials issued a sobering warning this month, telling residents to brace for potential blackouts as the state’s energy grid faces capacity constraints heading into the summer months. In Sacramento, officials said California’s grid could face a potential shortfall of roughly 1,700 megawatts, which would affect the power supply of between 1 million and 4 million people this summer. That number would likely be exacerbated by an additional shortfall of 5,000 megawatts in the case of extreme heat and further fire damage to existing power lines. And since the state has committed to phase out all new gas-powered vehicles by 2035 — well ahead of federal targets — the additional load from electric vehicle (EV) charging could add more strain to the electric grid.”

Elon Musk Claims Neuralink Could ‘Cure’ Tinnitus… Don’t Get Too Excited (Mili)

The author writes, “The human brain is said to be the most complex biological structure ever to have existed. And while science doesn’t fully understand the brain yet, researchers in the expanding field of neuroscience have been making progress. Neuroscientists have made substantial inroads towards mapping the complex functions of the brain’s 85 billion or so neurons and the 100 trillion connections between them. … Enter Neuralink, a Silicon Valley start-up backed by Elon Musk that has developed a neuroprosthetic device known as a brain-computer interface.”

The Amazing Story of Reggie, L.A.’s Celebrity Alligator (Reader Steve)

From the Los Angeles Times: “Reggie, the most famous alligator in Los Angeles, lives in a beautifully landscaped midcentury dwelling just outside Los Feliz. When it’s sunny, he swims in his pool. When it’s chilly, he doesn’t do much of anything. He lives companionably with a female named Tina, and if you think it’s easy for two alligators to pair up later in life without trying to bite each other’s limbs off, well, you don’t know a lot about alligators. Between the two fences that separate Reggie’s enclosure from the public is a sign with the thumbnail version of his remarkable journey to the Los Angeles Zoo 15 years ago today. Some visitors stop to read it; a lot of them don’t. But once upon a time — before P-22, before Grumpy Cat and Doug the Pug — people gathered by the hundreds just to catch a glimpse of the celebrity gator.”