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.

‘Nowhere Is Safe’: Heat Shatters Vision of Pacific Northwest as Climate Change Refuge (Maria)

The author writes, “The recent heatwave that broiled the US Pacific Northwest not only obliterated temperature records in cities such as Seattle and Portland — it also put a torch to a comforting bromide that the region would be a mild, safe haven from the ravages of the climate crisis. … The conditions in a corner of the US known for its moderate, often lukewarm, summers bewildered residents. ‘You see the heatwaves hit other places and you know it’s bad, but there’s not the sense of urgency until it hits you,’ said Kristie Ebi, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington.”

Majority of COVID Misinformation Came From 12 People, Report Finds (Dan)

The author writes, “The vast majority of Covid-19 anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories originated from just 12 people, a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) cited by the White House [last] week found. CCDH, a UK/US non-profit and non-governmental organization, found in March that these 12 online personalities they dubbed the ‘disinformation dozen’ have a combined following of 59 million people across multiple social media platforms, with Facebook having the largest impact. CCDH analyzed 812,000 Facebook posts and tweets and found 65% came from the disinformation dozen.”

New Incentive for Colorado Vaccinations: $100 Walmart Gift Cards (Doug)

From Colorado Politics: “Coloradans vaccinated at certain sites across the state will receive $100 Walmart gift cards starting Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday. Sixty-seven community college students will also win scholarships as part of the state’s latest push to improve its vaccination rate. Both programs are the second effort to provide cash benefits and scholarships to nudge the ‘wait-and-see’ crowd, as Polis has described the dwindling share of the state who are neither opposed nor enthusiastic about vaccinations, toward inoculation.”

CIA Officer From Bin Laden Hunt to Join Search for Cause of Mysterious ‘Havana Syndrome’ (Sean)

From The Independent: “A task force aimed at finding the cause of the mysterious ‘Havana Syndrome’ that has plagued numerous agency personnel and US government diplomats around the world will be led by a senior CIA officer who played a key role in locating Osama bin Laden. CIA director William J Burns has selected the officer, who is undercover and a veteran of counterterrorism and counternarcotics operations, US media organisations reported, quoting unnamed sources within the agency. The officer has spent more than a decade on intelligence analysis and targeting focused on Bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.”

Tom Barrack’s Willing Enabler — TV News (Russ)

The author writes, “What most intrigued me about the federal indictment of Trump ally Thomas J. Barrack Jr. for acting as an unregistered agent of Arab regimes wasn’t the accusation itself. If one takes federal prosecutors at their word, after all, the Los Angeles real estate investor comes off as just the sort of casual grifter and scofflaw that seemed to be hip-deep in Trump’s inner circle. Barrack, 74, is charged with violating a law requiring agents of foreign governments — in this case, the United Arab Emirates — to register with the Justice Department, and with lying to the FBI about his business arrangements.”

Maine Passes Nation’s First Law to Make Big Companies Pay for the Cost of Recycling Their Packaging (Reader Steve)

From The Boston Globe: “When Scott Cassel looks back on his career, the great milk jug crisis of 1997 stands as a pivotal moment. In the 90s, Cassel ran Massachusetts’ recycling and waste management programs, and one day local recycling officials began calling him in a frenzy. The HP Hood milk company had ditched its translucent gallon jugs for new opaque ‘LightBlock’ bottles. Panic ensued. Clear plastic could be easily melted down and reused, and fetched 23 cents a pound from big recyclers. These new white jugs were worth far less, and were poised to upend carefully constructed municipal waste budgets. All because one company had changed its packaging.”

Thousands of Flamingos Die as Lake in Turkey Dries Up in Drought (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “A drought-stricken lake bed in Turkey is strewn with thousands of dead baby and adult flamingos, alarming environmentalists shocked by the continuing ravages of climate change, reckless agricultural irrigation and callous government policies. Lake Tuz is usually a draw for tourists delighted by the stunning views and huge flocks of the brightly colored birds who travel there each year. But a vast stretch of the huge cracked and dried lake bed in the central province of Konya is now an animal killing field.”

Historians Identify 14 Living Relatives of Leonardo da Vinci (Mili)

The author writes, “Fourteen people alive today can now boast a direct genetic link to the famed Italian Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci, reports Italian wire service Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA). Writing in the journal Human Evolution earlier this month, researchers Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato revealed a reconstructed da Vinci family tree that spans 690 years and 21 generations, from 1331 to the present day.”

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