DC police, ransomware gang, data leak, dark web
The author writes, “The police department in the nation’s capital has suffered a massive leak of internal information after refusing to meet the blackmail demands of a Russian-speaking ransomware syndicate. Experts say it’s the worst known ransomware attack ever to hit a US police department. An Associated Press review found ... intelligence reports that include feeds from other agencies, including the FBI and the Secret Service.” Photo credit: Victoria Pickering / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Does Absentee Voting Increase Turnout? ; Weird-Looking Deep-Sea Fish Washes Ashore ; and More Picks 5/14

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

Does Absentee Voting Increase Turnout? There’s No Easy Answer (Gerry)

From the Connecticut Mirror: “Do more people vote if they have the option to cast an absentee ballot? That’s one of the issues in the current debates in the Connecticut General Assembly over whether to allow no-excuse absentee ballots in the fall and whether to send a constitutional amendment to voters that would give everyone the option to vote via absentee ballot. A look at the last two presidential elections suggests that while people who voted in 2020 but opted not to in 2016 were more likely to use the absentee ballot, the overall effect on turnout may not be substantial. A Connecticut Mirror analysis of voting data from 2016 and 2020 shows that among all residents who were eligible to vote in both of those presidential elections, over 400,000 more cast ballots in 2020, boosting the state’s turnout rate to 79.7%, about three percentage points higher than in 2016.”

Can New York’s Next Mayor Fix the City’s Broken Property Tax System? (Reader Jim)

From Bloomberg: “Two candidates hoping to be New York City’s next mayor stepped in it this week by flubbing a question about the price of housing in Brooklyn in interviews with the New York Times editorial board. One of those candidates, Shaun Donovan, who guesstimated that the median sales price in Brooklyn is $100,000, is the former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He and former Citigroup exec Ray McGuire ought to know better. The era of modest home sales for New York’s largest borough are as distant as the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Other candidates at least got within the ballpark (the correct answer is $900,000), including Andrew Yang, and Kathryn Garcia, who won the Times’ endorsement and whose guess ($800,000) was the same amount by which Donovan’s answer was wrong.”

Bill Seeks to Make Louisiana ‘Fossil Fuel Sanctuary’ in Bid Against Biden’s Climate Plans (Russ)

The author writes, “Just south of Oil City, where Louisiana representative Danny McCormick is from, is the predominantly Black city of Shreveport. Residents there breathe some of the most toxic air in the country. Oil refineries owned by UOP and Calumet contribute to the town’s toxic emissions, according to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. But McCormick, a Republican, introduced a bill at the Louisiana capitol last week that would protect oil companies and not residents in his district who have to breathe in that air. The bill would establish Louisiana as a ‘fossil fuel sanctuary state’ and ban local and state employees from enforcing federal laws and regulations that negatively impact petrochemical companies.”

Hindu Sect Is Accused of Using Forced Labor to Build NJ Temple (Sue)

The author writes, “Federal law enforcement agents descended on a massive temple in New Jersey on Tuesday after workers accused a prominent Hindu sect of luring them from India, confining them to the temple grounds and paying them the equivalent of about $1 an hour to perform grueling labor in near servitude. In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, lawyers for the laborers said Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Hindu sect known as BAPS that has close ties to India’s ruling party and has built temples around the world, had exploited possibly hundreds of low-caste men in the yearslong construction project.”

Trading Up: One Woman’s Quest to Swap a Hairpin for a House (Nick)

The author writes, “While many of us were still finding novelty in group Zoom calls last May, Demi Skipper decided she was going to get a house. But not using money. Instead, she was going to trade items. Now the owner of one of only a few Chipotle celebrity cards in the world, and hoping to reach a house by the end of summer, the 29-year-old’s journey started where many voyages do: in a YouTube hole.”

Weird-Looking Deep-Sea Fish Washes Ashore in Newport Beach (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “In the animated film ‘Finding Nemo,’ a stealthy anglerfish gaped silently at passing fish, its lightbulb-like antennae hovering in front of its head and its jagged jaws spread wide as it worked to lure unsuspecting prey into its mouth. In modern day Newport Beach [CA], a cousin to the deep-sea creature washed ashore last week, far from its normal clime.”


Comments are closed.