Today is Phil Donahue’s birthday. Donahue's talk show career came to an abrupt end on February 25, 2003 when MSNBC (owned by major military contractors General Electric and Microsoft) canceled his show because he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Read more about this failure of the mainstream media. Photo credit: Drama League / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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.

Putin Quietly Seeks to Expand Influence in Africa (Klaus)

Through trade and based on existing ties dating back to the era of the Soviet Union, Russia is trying to expand its influence in Africa.

Thinly Disguised Surveillance Measure Passes (Russ)

Supposedly to ward off cyber attacks, but actually gives gov’t more spy authority and cuts corporations slack on bad cyber practices.

“We Are All Martin Shkreli” (Gerry)

You don’t believe it? Read on.

Freddie Gray: A Life Worth Examining (Klaus)

A look at the life of Freddie Gray and the city of Baltimore tells a shocking tale of what things are like, increasingly, for a large group of us.

US Agency Almost Never Intervenes to Help Endangered Species (Russ)

Fish and Wildlife Service took action in two out of 88,000 cases (!)

Why are there Colombian Troops in Yemen’s bloody conflict?  (Ben)

The United Arab Emirates has secretly sent some 300 Colombian mercenaries to fight in Yemen.

Some Muslim Women Are Taking Self-Defense Into Their Own Hands  (Ben)

High Islamophobia in the U.S. prompts some Muslim women to initiate self-defense classes.

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WhoWhatWhy Laughs:

Americans Support Magic Carpet Bombing (Klaus)

This article once again exposes the paradox of the unprecedented access Americans have to information and the level of their ignorance that seems to be growing at the same time. In this case, 30% of Republicans (among them 41% of Trump supporters) and 19% of Democrats support the bombing of the fictional kingdom of Agrabah.