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.

Better Late: Shoppers Unprepared, but Some Support NJ’s New Plastic Bag Ban (Maria)

The authors write, “As the ban on single-use plastic bags began [yesterday] morning at all New Jersey stores, shoppers had a mixed bag of reactions. Some were relieved New Jersey was taking more steps toward sustainability. Others said they were frustrated by the new rules or confused at what exactly the ban applied to. The law, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Nov. 4, 2020, means grocery stores, restaurants, schools, delis, movie theaters, food trucks, retail stores, and other businesses can no longer hand out or sell single-use plastic bags.”

Where Roe Went Wrong: A Sweeping New Abortion Right Built on a Shaky Legal Foundation (Reader Steve)

From the Los Angeles Times: “Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court’s best-known decision of the last 50 years, is also its most endangered precedent. It gave women nationwide the legal right to choose abortion, but the backlash reshaped the country’s politics. The landmark ruling may well be overturned by conservative justices appointed by Republican presidents to do just that. What went wrong with Roe? Why did the court’s effort to resolve the abortion controversy in 1973 lead instead to decades of division? Legal scholars and political scientists point to major missteps at the start that left the decision vulnerable.”

What China Is Learning From Russia’s Bungled Invasion of Ukraine (Sean)

The author writes, “Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, observers have been scratching their heads over some of the Russian military’s rookie mistakes, such as not securing Ukraine’s airspace or cyberspace; out-stretching its supply lines; and using infantry tactics that your average Call of Duty player could defeat. American and European observers are not the only ones perplexed. One of Russia’s close military partners: the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, is also likely confused by its neighbor’s conduct in the war, according to one analyst and retired U.S. Army officer.”

Ukraine War: The Children Living, Learning, and Growing Up in Kharkiv’s Underground Metro Station (Sean)

From Sky News: “Hundreds of children survive underground in Kharkiv, where they have been sheltering for two months in a city under constant attack. A metro station is now their home, school, playground, and refuge. It is as safe as it gets in Ukraine’s second city just 20 miles from the Russian border, but 12-year-old Nicole Bulizhenko wants to tell us it is no life at all. ‘I can’t express how worried I am. It’s so painful. I worry about everyone I love,’ she says.”

Nordic Diet Lowers Cholesterol and Blood Sugar — Even if You Don’t Lose Weight (Mili)

The author writes, “A healthy Nordic diet can prevent a range of diseases. Until now, the health benefits attributed to a Nordic diet by researchers primarily focused on weight loss. But in a new study, researchers found clear evidence that a Nordic diet can lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels even without weight loss. In particular, they point to the composition of dietary fats as a possible explanation for the diet’s positive effects.”

Is Your Electric Utility Blocking Climate Action? (Laura)

From Grist: “American electric utilities often talk a good game when it comes to climate change. But many are working to keep the country hooked on fossil fuels. A new report from the London-based think tank InfluenceMap finds that nearly half of the U.S.’s 25 largest investor-owned power utilities are working to delay the transition away from coal, oil, and gas — whether through direct lobbying at the state or federal level, public messaging, or their funding of campaigns and political parties. The report brands 11 of the 25 utilities as ‘laggards’ and links many of them to the absence of strong climate legislation in their home states.”

“The People of Rome Are Being Held Hostage by Wild Boar” (Dana)

The author writes, “It was 11 p.m. in Rome and 44-year old psychotherapist Marta Santangelo was walking down her street, a bag full of trash in one hand, her dog’s leash in the other. As she approached the trash cans on the darkened road, she realized she was in danger. She quickly scooped her dog into her arms and took off running, but it was too late. Her attacker leapt from behind, and Santangelo fell to the floor, the latest victim in a series of attacks on the citizens of north Rome. The aggressors: Wild boar.”