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.

Bitcoin-Mining Power Plant Draws Ire of Environmentalists (Maria)

The author writes, “An obstacle to large-scale bitcoin mining is finding cheap energy to run the huge, power-gobbling computer arrays that create and transact cryptocurrency. One mining operation in central New York came up with a novel solution that has alarmed environmentalists: It uses its own power plant. Proponents call it a competitive way to mine cryptocurrencies without putting a drain on the power grid. Environmentalists see it as a climate threat and fear a wave of resurrected fossil-fuel plants pumping out greenhouse gasses.”

January 6 Committee Exposes a Dark Truth in Going After Bannon (Russ)

The author writes, “The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is sending an aggressive message to Donald Trump’s onetime political guru — and to the former President himself. But by moving forward to hold Steve Bannon, the architect of Trump’s nationalist populism, in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena, the panel may be providing the mastermind of Trump’s blow-it-all-up strategy yet another platform to try to tear down America’s institutions.”

Tear Gas Unregulated by US Government, Safety Studies Lacking Despite Widespread Use: House Panels (Reader Pat)

The author writes, “The federal government does not regulate the safety of tear gas and has not conducted an epidemiological study of its health effects despite its widespread use by law enforcement agencies for riot control, House lawmakers said in a memo released Thursday. Manufacturers of tear gas, meanwhile, acknowledge that their product is dangerous and ‘injury and/or damage can be expected’ when it is used, the memo said. It added that limited studies have shown the risks from exposure include ‘acute respiratory illness and gastrointestinal and menstrual effects.’”

Native American Woman in Oklahoma Convicted of Manslaughter Over Miscarriage (DonkeyHotey)

From Oxygen: “Prosectors in Oklahoma successfully argued to a jury this month that a woman who had a miscarriage was guilty of the manslaughter of her non-viable fetus. Brittney Poolaw, 21, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter by a Comanche County jury on Oct. 5 for the death of her fetus that had a gestational age of 15 to 17 weeks, reported ABC affiliate KSWO in Lawton, Oklahoma. She was charged in the case on Mar. 16, 2020 after a miscarriage that occurred on Jan. 4, 2020.”

We Kayaked to Joe Manchin’s Yacht, and We’d Do It Again (Inez)

The authors write, “For most people, kayaking on the Potomac is a leisure activity. For us, it was a desperate attempt to have our voices heard. We left our families and jobs in West Virginia to travel to DC in order to make sure Senator Manchin heard loud and clear from his constituents: it’s time to pass the Build Back Better Act. It just so happens that one of the only ways to get Senator Manchin’s attention is to launch a flotilla of boats around his yacht, where he lives when in DC. We’re proud to be West Virginians, and we’re proud to be ‘kayaktavists,’ as our effort was called. What we’re not proud of is how Senator Manchin is putting big money interests over the needs of West Virginians and working-class people across the country.”

The Kyrie Conundrum (Sean)

From The Ringer: “Kyrie Irving’s stance on the vaccine is a complicated and not very fun thing to talk about, because it’s a story in which two individually messy subjects intersect in compoundingly messy ways.”   

Great Wall of Lights: China’s Sea Power on Darwin’s Doorstep (Dan)

The author writes, “It’s 3 a.m., and after five days plying through the high seas, the Ocean Warrior is surrounded by an atoll of blazing lights that overtakes the nighttime sky. ‘Welcome to the party!’ says third officer Filippo Marini as the spectacle floods the ship’s bridge and interrupts his overnight watch. It’s the conservationists’ first glimpse of the world’s largest fishing fleet: an armada of nearly 300 Chinese vessels that have sailed halfway across the globe to lure the elusive Humboldt squid from the Pacific Ocean’s inky depths.”

Reptile Rescuer Finds Over 90 Venomous Snakes in Den Underneath Northern California Home (Dana)

The author writes, “Al Wolf, director of Sonoma County Reptile Rescue, found his hands full of scales during a recent call. On October 2, Wolf responded to a call from someone who said ‘they had snakes under their house,’ Sonoma County Reptile Rescue — a nonprofit offering rattlesnake rescue and relocation free of charge — shared on Facebook. After arriving at the home in Santa Rosa, California, Wolf climbed underneath the house to look at the issue. ‘Three hours and 45 minutes later,’ he had pulled 81 Northern Pacific rattlesnakes, 59 babies and 22 adults, out from under the Bay Area home.”

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