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.

In Early Primaries, Voters Favor Polling Sites Over Mail (Maria)

The author writes, “The great vote-by-mail wave appears to be receding just as quickly as it arrived. After tens of millions of people in the US opted for mail ballots during the pandemic election of 2020, voters in early primary states are returning in droves to in-person voting this year. In Georgia, one of the most hotly contested states, about 85,000 voters had requested mail ballots for the May 24 primary, as of [last] Thursday. That is a dramatic decrease from the nearly 1 million who cast mail ballots in the state’s 2020 primary at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The trend was similar in Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia, which held primaries this month; comparisons were not available for Nebraska, another early primary state.”

PODCAST: Ukraine Attracts Fighters From the Middle East (Mili)

From Al Jazeera: “The war in Ukraine has attracted thousands of foreign fighters battling on both sides from around the world including the Middle East. Some call them mercenaries, while others call them volunteers. So why are they joining the fight?”

Why Finland, Sweden Joining Nato Will Be Big Deal (Sean)

The author writes, “It’s likely to be the quickest NATO enlargement ever and one that would redraw Europe’s security map. Finnish leaders announced Thursday their belief that Finland should join the world’s biggest military organization because of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Sweden could soon follow suit. Should they apply for membership, the move would have far-reaching ramifications for Northern Europe and trans-Atlantic security. No doubt, it will also anger their large neighbor Russia, which blames, at least in part, its war in Ukraine on NATO’s continued expansion closer to its borders. It’s unclear how Russian President Vladimir Putin might retaliate. The Kremlin said Thursday that it certainly won’t improve European security.”

Homework at Christian Academy of Louisville: Persuade Your Friend to Stop Being Gay (Reader Steve)

From the Louisville Courier Journal: “A homework assignment given to several middle-schoolers at Christian Academy of Louisville encourages students to persuade an imaginary friend to reject homosexuality. And parents, members of the LGBTQ community and others aren’t pleased. The assignment, which was due [last] Thursday, came to the light Friday, when JP Davis, a Kentucky-based business owner, posted screenshots of the assignment on social media. CAL officials confirmed the assignment late Friday afternoon.”

Chemical Industry Fights US Government Move to Ban Asbestos (Laura)

The authors write, “A groundbreaking move by the Biden administration to ban a key form of asbestos in the United States would close factories and affect thousands of workers, say industry groups and a chemical company pushing for continued use of the cancer-causing mineral. In a major step in a years-long push, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [last] month formally proposed banning chrysotile asbestos, the sole known form of the mineral imported into the United States today.”

‘Lost’ Picasso Spotted in Imelda Marcos’s Home After Son’s Election Win (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “The glimpse of a possible Picasso in the home of Imelda Marcos seen during a visit by her son, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., after his election win has set off a flurry of speculation in the Philippines, where the family that once plundered billions is set to return to power. Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late dictator, won a landslide victory in Monday’s presidential election, an outcome that has appalled those who survived his father’s regime. Images released by the family showed Marcos Jr. visiting the home of his mother, Imelda, who had displayed Picasso’s Femme Couchée VI (Reclining Woman VI), or a replica, above the sofa.”

Robots Are Writing Poetry, and Many People Can’t Tell the Difference (Dana)

The author writes, “Machines are putting out astonishingly human writing. What does that mean for the future of art?”