Listen To This Story
Voiced by Amazon Polly

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.

How Heatwaves Are Creating a Pollen Crisis (Maria)

The author writes, “Even with adequate water, heat can damage pollen and prevent fertilization in canola and many other crops, including corn, peanuts, and rice. … Faced with a warmer future, researchers are looking for ways to help pollen beat the heat. They’re uncovering genes that could lead to more heat-tolerant varieties and breeding cultivars that can survive winter and flower before heat strikes. They’re probing pollen’s precise limits and even harvesting pollen at large scales to spray directly onto crops when weather improves. At stake is much of our diet. Every seed, grain, and fruit that we eat is a direct product of pollination, explains biochemist Gloria Muday of North Carolina’s Wake Forest University. ‘The critical parameter is the maximum temperature during reproduction,’ she says.”

DeSantis Signs Bill Requiring Florida Students, Professors to Register Political Views With State (Sean)

The author writes, “Public universities in Florida will be required to survey both faculty and students on their political beliefs and viewpoints, with the institutions at risk of losing their funding if the responses are not satisfactory to the state’s Republican-led legislature. The unprecedented project, which was tucked into a law signed Tuesday by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, is part of a long-running, nationwide right-wing push to promote ‘intellectual diversity’ on campuses — though worries over a lack of details on the survey’s privacy protections, and questions over what the results may ultimately be used for, hover over the venture. Based on the bill’s language, survey responses will not necessarily be anonymous — sparking worries among many professors and other university staff that they may be targeted, held back in their careers or even fired for their beliefs.” 

Arizona Election Officials Are Being Hounded Out of Office With Ugly Threats (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “An increasing number of Arizona election officials are leaving their positions because of threats and hostility. ‘The rhetoric and the climate of elections has got really, really hot. We’ve been under a lot of pressure,’ recorder Leslie Hoffman, one of Yavapai County’s top election officials, told ABC-15. ‘The sheriff patrols my house periodically’ because of threats, she added. ‘It’s getting to be a lot.’”

Massachusetts’s Restrictive Gun Laws Are Working. The Supreme Court May Have Just Upended That. (Reader Steve)

From The Boston Globe: “The ripple effects of the Supreme Court decision … striking down New York’s restrictions on carrying concealed handguns could pose a particular threat in Boston, which, while far from immune from gun violence, has fared much better than other cities its size at keeping shootings down. With the year half over, 67 people were shot in Boston, seven fatally, according to the city’s Police Department. Four cities with populations comparable to Boston’s — Louisville, Ky.; Nashville; Las Vegas; and Portland, Ore. — had two to four times as many shootings, and six to 10 times as many fatalities, a Globe analysis found.”

Police Department Used Images of Black Men Holding Guns as Target Practice (Sean)

From Vice: “A police department just outside of Detroit uses images of Black men in hoodies and backwards caps holding guns as shooting practice targets, a group of Boy Scouts discovered. The troop spotted the targets, some of them pierced with bullet holes, when it was touring the headquarters of Farmington Hills Police Department in April.” 

A Study Gave Cash and Therapy to Men at Risk of Criminal Behavior. 10 Years Later, the Results Are In. (Dana)

From Vox: “What if someone told you that you could dramatically reduce the crime rate without resorting to coercive policing or incarceration? In fact, what if they said you could avert a serious crime — a robbery, say, or maybe even a murder — just by shelling out $1.50? That’s such an incredibly good deal that it sounds too good to be true. But it’s been borne out by the research of Chris Blattman, Margaret Sheridan, Julian Jamison, and Sebastian Chaskel. Their new study provides experimental evidence that offering at-risk men a few weeks of behavioral therapy plus a bit of cash reduces the future risk of crime and violence, even 10 years after the intervention.”

Scientists Discover New Giant Water Lily Species (Mili)

The author writes, “A new species of giant water lily has been discovered — and it’s been hiding in plain sight for 177 years. The huge plant had been in the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and was growing in a number of aquatic collections but it was mistakenly identified as another species. Now a detailed scientific study has revealed that it is new to science.”