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.

Hydra, the World’s Biggest Cybercrime Marketplace, Shut Down in Police Sting (Maria)

The author writes, “Hydra, the world’s biggest cybercrime forum, is no more. Authorities in Germany have seized servers and other infrastructure used by the sprawling, billion-dollar enterprise along with a stash of about $25 million in bitcoin. Hydra had been operating since at least 2015 and had seen a meteoric rise since then. In 2020, it had annual revenue of more than $1.37 billion, according to a 2021 report jointly published by security firm Flashpoint and blockchain analysis company Chainalysis. … Available exclusively through the Tor network, Hydra was a bazaar that brokered sales of narcotics, fake documents, cryptocurrency-laundering services, and other digital goods.”

‘Near the Brink of Collapse’: White House Says Russia’s Financial System Is Close to Default (Sean)

The authors write, “US officials are painting an increasingly dire portrait of Russia’s economic future under the weight of sanctions imposed by the US and EU in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. On Wednesday, the Biden administration unveiled yet another round of financial penalties to be levied against Moscow, which President Joe Biden said would ‘ratchet up the pain’ on Mr Putin, including sanctions against his two adult daughters, the family of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and members of Russia’s security council.

“Dystopian” Loophole for Georgia Judicial Elections Gives Brian Kemp the Last Laugh (Dana)

From Bolts: “Georgia Democrats had an unusually strong candidate for state supreme court two years ago. John Barrow, who had served ten years in Congress and was narrowly defeated in the 2018 secretary of state race, was seeking statewide office again, this time as a high court judge. But Republican officials effectively canceled elections for the two seats he declared for, exploiting a legal loophole to keep those seats off the ballot until 2022. Barrow sued, but courts blessed the delay, allowing Governor Brian Kemp to appoint two new judges, Shawn LaGrua and Carla McMillian, who were gifted two free years on the bench before having to face voters.  Kemp’s win seemed only temporary since these appointees have to face voters in 2022 to keep their jobs. Yet this spring, as the delayed elections finally occur for both high court seats, LaGrua and McMillian will face zero opposition because nobody filed to run against them by the March 11 deadline. They are now guaranteed full six-year terms, on a court that has final say on issues ranging from election law to the death penalty. “

NYC Landlords Filing So Many Eviction Cases That Firms for Low-Income Tenants Have Run Out of Lawyers (Russ)

From the New York Daily News: “A long-dreaded wave of eviction cases has arrived as the city eases out of the pandemic — and public defender groups say they’ve run out of lawyers to represent low-income tenants. After the state’s eviction ban ended on Jan. 15, thousands of landlords’ lawsuits flooded the dockets. More than 6,000 eviction lawsuits were filed in the city in February and 7,000 in March, according to the state Office of Court Administration. That’s in addition to more than 200,000 eviction lawsuits filed during the pandemic, most of which were on pause until the eviction moratorium was lifted.”

$1.29M Grant to Study Lava Tube Biodiversity on Hawai’i Island (Aline)

From the University of Hawai’i News: “A four-year, $1.29-million grant from the National Science Foundation has been awarded to University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers from the School of Life Sciences to study subterranean biodiversity associated with lava tubes in Hawaiʻi. … On Hawaiʻi Island, continuous volcanic activities over hundreds of thousands of years created subterranean habitats, known as lava tubes, that are of different geologic ages. The lava tubes are occupied by communities of cave-adapted arthropod species, such as planthoppers, millipedes and spiders, which are sustained by the roots of the native ʻōhiʻa tree.”

Sickle Cell Disease: How Racism Affects Care (Mili)

From Medical News Today: “Sickle cell disease is a condition that affects millions of people globally. It is particularly common among individuals of African or Caribbean heritage, yet these are the very people who may not always receive the care they need. Part of the reason behind this lack of access to care lies in systemic racism.”

The Jokes That Have Made People Laugh for Thousands of Years (Sean)

The author writes, “The phrase ‘the old ones are the best ones’ might not always be true. But some of the oldest jokes in history are still in use today. What makes a good joke? It’s worth going back a few thousand years to find out.”