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.

Congress Mandates New Car Technology to Stop Drunken Driving (Maria)

The author writes, “Congress has created a new requirement for automakers: Find a high-tech way to keep drunken people from driving cars. It’s one of the mandates along with a burst of new spending aimed at improving auto safety amid escalating road fatalities in the $1 trillion infrastructure package that President Joe Biden is expected to sign soon. Under the legislation, monitoring systems to stop intoxicated drivers would roll out in all new vehicles as early as 2026.”

Election Officials Say Youngkin’s Underage Son Tried to Vote (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “A juvenile son of Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin tried twice to cast a ballot in [last] Tuesday’s election, officials said Friday. The 17-year-old son presented an ID but was told he was ineligible to vote due to his age and turned away, according to a statement from Scott Konopasek, Fairfax County’s general registrar. The statement said the teen did not successfully vote, made no false statements, did not disrupt voting and appeared to have committed ‘no election offense.’ The statement mentioned Youngkin’s son by name, saying the identification was based on contemporaneous notes by the chief election officer.”

NY State Democratic Party Did Not Spend Money on Props 1, 3, 4 (Dan)

From the Times Union: “The state Democratic Party spent no money on the three ballot proposals that it unexpectedly lost [last] Tuesday that were intended to expand voting access, according to Chairman Jay Jacobs. The party, he said, was not asked by the political campaign committee and associated groups advocating for the propositions to back their efforts, otherwise it would have supported the cause.”

America Has Lost the Plot on COVID (Sean)

From The Atlantic: “We know how this ends: The coronavirus becomes endemic, and we live with it forever. But what we don’t know — and what the U.S. seems to have no coherent plan for — is how we are supposed to get there. We’ve avoided the hard questions whose answers will determine what life looks like in the next weeks, months, and years: How do we manage the transition to endemicity? When are restrictions lifted? And what long-term measures do we keep, if any, when we reach endemicity? The answers were simpler when we thought we could vaccinate our way to herd immunity. But vaccinations in the U.S. have plateaued. The Delta variant and waning immunity against transmission mean herd immunity may well be impossible even if every single American gets a shot. So when COVID-related restrictions came back with the Delta wave, we no longer had an obvious off-ramp to return to normal.”

A Deadly Parasite That Burrows Into the Body Through Bare Feet Could Be Multiplying in This US Community (Inez)

The author writes, “When the letter arrived with the logo of a noted university in the corner, Veronica Reyes Ibarra expected good news. She called her boyfriend, her mom and her sisters over: ‘You guys, look what I got, I think it’s a scholarship.’ But as she scanned the page, she suddenly wasn’t sure she had the courage to read it out to them. ‘Using a research diagnostic blood test,’ the letter read, ‘we have determined that you may have been infected with a parasite.’ The letter advised Reyes Ibarra to seek medical treatment. Fifteen other residents of the tiny Texas community where Reyes Ibarra lives received the same test result, after dozens gave blood and stool samples for an academic study. They ranged from a woman who was pregnant to a two-year-old child.”

A Water Crisis Reveals You Can’t Recycle in the Arctic (Mili)

The author writes, “A week-long water crisis that has left residents of Nunavut’s capital city Iqaluit without drinking water is also exposing a chronic problem for many northern communities: It’s almost impossible to safely get rid of garbage. Close to 750,000 plastic water bottles have flooded the city in recent days after city staff last week found fuel in Iqaluit’s water supply. While a coalition of businesses has since teamed up to ship the empty bottles back, most of the city’s trash never returns south. Instead, everything from old cars to broken toys remains in the North, clogging up the Iqaluit dump and harming human health, food, and the environment. Nor is the city unique. Most northern communities can’t afford to safely get rid of their waste — a problem observers say is the result of inadequate funding and the legacy of colonization.”

Doug the Ugly Spud Could Be World’s Biggest Potato (Dana)

The author writes, “A New Zealand couple are waiting to hear if a mammoth potato they dug up has been recognised as the biggest in the world. Colin and Donna Craig-Brown were weeding their garden at their small farm near Hamilton when his hoe struck something huge just beneath the soil’s surface. As the couple knelt down and began digging around the object, Mr Craig-Brown wondered if it was some kind of strange fungal growth like a giant puffball. But after prying it out with his garden fork, he scratched away a bit of the skin and tasted it. ‘We couldn’t believe it,’ Mrs Craig-Brown said. ‘It was just huge.’”

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