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.

End of the Pandemic Could Usher in Spike of Uninsured (Maria)

The author writes, “Democrats who hoped they’d have transformational new health legislation in place by next year could instead be facing one of the largest increases in the U.S. uninsured rate in recent history. Temporary pandemic-era reforms to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act marketplaces caused enrollment in each to swell, but these policy changes are due to end soon, and millions of people could lose their health coverage. The massive drop in the insured rate that was feared early on in the pandemic never materialized, thanks to Medicaid and enhanced ACA subsidies. Congress in 2020 included measures in pandemic relief legislation that increased the share of federal Medicaid spending if states offered continuous coverage to enrollees.”

How Could the Russia-Ukraine War End? Experts Point to a Number of Possibilities. (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “As the fighting continues, it’s still unclear how the war will evolve and eventually conclude. Experts pointed to a number of possibilities that range from a long-term Ukrainian insurgency, Russia conquering only part of Ukraine in an agreement with the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin being replaced, or the possibility for escalation with members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. How long the war will continue depends on whether Russia decides to pull back or if it continues to push into Ukraine and escalates the use of force. … If Russia intensifies its military operation into Kyiv and Kharkiv and defeats the Ukrainian military, it then has to face the question of how it will control Ukraine.”

While the Russian Army Invades Ukraine, Putin Has Already Quietly Taken Over Another European Country (Sean)

From Fortune: “Even as the world condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for his decision to invade Ukraine, the country still has allies elsewhere. Some of these allies are housing thousands of Russian troops. Last Thursday, Russian forces poured into Ukraine from three directions. From the east and south, they entered from Russia itself, or Russian-claimed territory. But from the north, the Russian army came through Belarus. Russian troops and military hardware have been trickling into Belarus since Jan. 17, for what were called joint military drills. By February, NATO officials estimated that Russian forces in the country numbered as high as 30,000. Now some officials are warning that the troops may never leave.”

Ukraine War: ‘My City’s Being Shelled, But Mum Won’t Believe Me’ (Aline)

The authors write, “Oleksandra and her four rescue dogs have been sheltering in the bathroom of her flat in Kharkiv since the shelling began. ‘When I heard the first explosions, I ran out of the house to get my dogs from their enclosures outside. People were panicking, abandoning their cars. I was so scared,’ she says. The 25-year-old has been speaking regularly to her mother, who lives in Moscow. But in these conversations, and even after sending videos from her heavily bombarded hometown, Oleksandra is unable to convince her mother about the danger she is in.”

The Puzzling Virus That Infects Almost Everyone (Reader Jim)

From The Atlantic: “Statistically speaking, the virus known as Epstein-Barr is inside you right now. It is inside 95 percent of us. It spreads through saliva, so perhaps you first caught the virus as a baby from your mother, who caught it as a baby from her mother. Or you picked it up at day care. Or perhaps from a friend with whom you shared a Coke. … Once inside the body, the virus hides inside your cells for the rest of your life, but it seems mostly benign. Except, except. In the decades since its discovery by the virologists Anthony Epstein and Yvonne Barr in 1964, the virus has been linked not only to mono but also quite definitively to cancers in the head and neck, blood, and stomach. It’s also been linked, more controversially, to several autoimmune disorders. Recently, the link to one autoimmune disorder got a lot stronger: Two separate studies published this year make the case — convincingly, experts say — that Epstein-Barr virus is a cause of multiple sclerosis, in which the body mistakenly attacks the nervous system.” 

Texas Is the Country’s Clean Energy Leader, Almost in Spite of Itself (Laura)

From Inside Climate News: “In the race to build renewable energy projects in 2021, Texas lapped the competition. The state had 7,352 megawatts of new wind, solar and energy storage projects come online during the year, according to a report …. by the American Clean Power Association, a trade group. The runner-up, California, brought 2,697 megawatts online. But what got my attention wasn’t Texas’ dominance in 2021. It was that Texas also is the leader when ranking the states on how much wind, solar and storage they have under construction or in advanced development; Texas has 19,918 megawatts, followed in the distance by California, with 13,663 megawatts.”

Sneaky Magpies Outwit Scientists by Removing Tracking Devices (Mili)

The author writes, “When researchers placed small GPS tracking devices on Australian magpies (Gymnorhina tibicen), they intended to learn more about the birds’ movements and social dynamics. Instead, the crafty magpies teamed up to outsmart the scientists and helped each other dismantle and remove their trackers. The collaboration was an example of altruistic behavior rarely observed in birds. It provides strong evidence of problem-solving and cooperation among the social species.”