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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Gas Station in Space’: New Plan to Make Rocket Fuel From Junk in Earth’s Orbit (Maria)
The author writes, “An Australian company is part of an international effort to recycle dangerous space junk into rocket fuel — in space. The orbit our planet depends on is getting clogged with debris from old spacecraft. Dead satellites and spent rocket parts are whizzing around at speeds of up to 28,000 kilometres an hour, posing a threat to communications satellites and the International Space Station. At those speeds, even a small screw or a fleck of paint poses a risk to facilities such as the ISS, as well as the humans in them. … South Australian company Neumann Space has developed an ‘in-space electric propulsion system’ that can be used in low Earth orbit to extend the missions of spacecraft, move satellites, or de-orbit them. Now Neumann is working on a plan with three other companies to turn space junk into fuel for that propulsion system.”
Will Rittenhouse Acquittal Lead to More Armed Confrontations at Protests? (Reader Steve)
The author writes, “The acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse on murder charges has raised the specter, legal experts say, that armed vigilantes may descend on social justice protests at a time of deepening bitterness between America’s conservatives and progressives. ‘I find this so troubling. We’re at a point where a person with a plastic bag who has an encounter with someone with an AR-15 where we say it’s the person with a plastic bag who is a deadly threat,’ said Ion Meyn, an assistant professor of law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. ‘How does someone recognize if we have an active shooter or not? What do we do now going forward?’”
The Trump Admin Gave an Agency $100 Million to Fight COVID. It Spent $1 Million. (Dana)
From NBC News: “A federal agency that was run by a college friend of Jared Kushner and assigned $100 million to spend on fixing the Covid supply chain crunch has so far failed to invest a single dime, according to a new government watchdog report. In 2020, the Trump administration directed the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to loan out $100 million in Pentagon funds through the CARES Act to ‘finance the domestic production of strategic resources needed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, and to strengthen any relevant domestic medical supply chains.’ Companies were encouraged to apply for financial backing to help increase U.S. distribution of ventilators, vaccines, medical testing supplies, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other relevant products. According to a new Government Accountability Office report, 178 applications flooded into the agency’s downtown Washington office but no money flowed out.”
‘The Great Resignation’ Misses the Point (Sean)
From Wired: “In early May, Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, did an interview with Bloomberg about a possible spike in job turnover. ‘The Great Resignation is coming,’ he warned. A few weeks later, the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed a record 4 million Americans had left their jobs in April. Suddenly, people were reaching for ways to refer to the phenomenon unfolding before them — to brand it, to make sense of it. Klotz’s catchy off-the-cuff terminology, now printed on Bloomberg’s pages, seemed to fit the bill. And just like that, a name was born. We are in a moment of pervasive change across American life, and in turn there are many new things we must now put into words. One of these has been a radical shift in Americans’ relationship with work.”
A 20-Year Truck-Driving Veteran Explains Why the Solution to the Supply-Chain Crisis Is in Sight But Greed Is Getting in the Way (Reader Jim)
The author writes, “Companies know how to solve the supply-chain crisis, a truck-driving veteran said, but they just don’t want to pony up the cash. Nearly every element of the US supply chain is stretched too thin. Key ports are badly congested, with a historic number of cargo ships waiting to unload containers. The mess boils down to ‘pure supply and demand economics,’ Ryan Johnson, who has been a truck driver for 20 years, said. … At this stage, Johnson said he didn’t see any immediate solutions because trucking companies would rather wait out the supply-chain crisis than rethink their wage structure and profit margins. He said they could fix it but wouldn’t.”
Honeybees Socially Distance When Their Hive Is Under Threat From Parasites, Study Finds (Mili)
The author writes, “Honeybees use social distancing when their hive comes under threat from parasites, researchers have discovered. A study, led by an international team involving ethologists from UCL, found that honeybee colonies respond to an infestation from a harmful mite by modifying the use of space and the interactions between nestmates to increase the social distance between young and old bees. Researchers said they believed the bees had evolved to socially distance to reduce the risk of infection spreading within their colony.
Body Donated to Science Dissected in Front of Paying Audience at Portland Hotel (Reader Steve)
From The Oregonian: “The body of a 98-year-old man who died of COVID-19 was dissected in front of a paying audience inside a downtown Portland hotel last month — after his wife thought she donated his body to science. Seventy people gathered inside a meeting room at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront — some paying up to $500 a ticket — to watch the autopsy of David Saunders, who lived in Louisiana with his 92-year-old wife until he died from the coronavirus.”