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.

Electric Plane Flight in New Zealand Sets Record During Pivotal Climate Summit (Maria)

The author writes, “As he made history by becoming the first person to fly across New Zealand’s Cook Strait in an electric plane, Gary Freedman thought it only fitting that the first thing he saw when approaching the Wellington coastline was the rotating blade of a wind turbine producing renewable energy. Freedman’s 40-minute solo flight in the small two-seater came 101 years after the first person flew a conventional aircraft over the body of water. … Monday’s flight was aimed at drawing attention to the possibilities of greener flying and timed to coincide with the opening of a pivotal UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.”

Poor Neighborhoods Bear the Brunt of Extreme Heat, ‘Legacies of Racist Decision-Making’ (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “It was a typical summer day in Los Angeles, but a satellite orbiting hundreds of miles above the Earth could detect that it was getting much hotter in some neighborhoods than others. In a majority-white area of Silver Lake — where median household income is more than $98,000 a year and mature trees dapple the hilly streets with shade — the surface temperature was 96.4 degrees. Less than a mile away, in a corner of East Hollywood, it was 102.7 degrees. The predominantly Latino and Asian area, where median household income is less than $27,000 a year, is packed with older, two- and three-story apartment buildings. It has few trees big enough to provide shade, and less than one-third the canopy of Silver Lake, ranking it among the lowest coverage areas in the city.”

The University of Florida Bars Professors From Testifying in a Voting Rights Case (Dana)

From NPR: “Three University of Florida professors were denied permission from the school to testify in a major voting rights case against the state, documents filed in federal court show. The plaintiffs in the case, which was filed in May, are a coalition of voting rights organizations that are suing Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee. The groups argue that a new state law, which severely limits the ability to vote through a drop box or vote by mail in the state, discriminates against voters of color and violates the Voting Rights Act.”

Arpaio Legal Tab Hits $100M as Taxpayers Foot His Last Bills (Dan)

The author writes, “Nearly five years after Joe Arpaio was voted out as sheriff of Arizona’s most populous county, taxpayers have covered one of the last major bills from the thousands of lawsuits the lawman’s headline-grabbing tactics inspired — and the overall legal tab has hit $100 million. Officials in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, agreed last week to pay $3.1 million to cover the county’s portion of a settlement with a restaurant owner who alleged Arpaio defamed him and violated his rights when raiding his businesses.”

One-Time $6B Donation From Billionaires Could Save 42M People From Starvation, World Food Programme Director Says (Russ)

From Insider: “The director of the UN’s food-assistance branch called on the billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to chip in a one-time payment that he said could help save millions of people around the world at risk of starvation. ‘The governments are tapped out,’ David Beasley, the executive director for the UN’s World Food Programme, told CNN. … ‘This is why and this is when the billionaires need to step up now on a one-time basis. Six billion dollars to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them.’”

French President Says Australian PM Lied Over Submarine Deal (Mili)

The author writes, “French President Emmanuel Macron has said Australia’s PM Scott Morrison lied to him about a scrapped submarine deal. Asked whether he thinks Mr Morrison was untruthful, the president replied: ‘I don’t think, I know.’ Mr Macron was furious after Australia cancelled a $37bn (£27bn) deal to build 12 submarines, and instead negotiated a new defence pact with the US and the UK — the so-called Aukus. Mr Morrison denies that he was dishonest.”

Earth May Be Trapped Inside a Giant Magnetic Tunnel (Sean)

From Live Science: “Our planet, along with the rest of the solar system and some nearby stars, may be trapped inside a giant magnetic tunnel — and astronomers don’t know why.  A tube of vast magnetized tendrils, 1,000 light-years long and invisible to the naked eye, may encircle the solar system, astronomers propose in a new paper. Jennifer West, an astronomer at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, made the proposal after an investigation into the North Polar Spur and the Fan Region — two of the brightest radio-emitting gas structures in our galactic neighborhood — revealed that the two structures might be linked even though they are located on different sides of the sky.”

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