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.

Inside the Controversial Gunshot-Detection Firm ShotSpotter (Maria)

The author writes, “ShotSpotter’s incident-review room is like any other call center. Analysts wearing headsets sit by computer screens, listening intently. Yet the people working here have an extraordinary responsibility. They make the final decision on whether a computer algorithm has correctly identified a gunshot — and whether to dispatch the police. … ‘What makes the system so compelling, we believe, is a full 80-95% of gunfire goes unreported,’ chief executive Ralph Clark says.”

Texas Effectively Banned Abortion. Now It’s Targeting Same-Sex Marriage. (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “The devil stays busy in Texas. Nearly two months ago, that state enacted the nation’s most draconian abortion law, which bans the procedure after six weeks, even in cases of rape or incest. That was just the floor for Texas Republicans. Now they may be looking to do to same-sex marriage what they’ve done to reproductive rights — effectively abolish it. In a letter sent to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton last week, James White, a state representative, asked if state statutes have precedence over federal laws. Or, as White put it, ‘Whether Obergefell v. Hodges … requires private citizens to recognize homosexual marriages when the law of Texas continues to define marriage exclusively as the union of one man and one woman.’”

The Super-Rich Are Forming a New Exclusive Club (Sean)

From Bloomberg: “To show how exclusive you are, there’s nothing like turning away a billionaire. Two members of the three comma club were among those nominated to join R360, a new, invitation-only investment and networking group for people with net worth of $100 million or more. Neither billionaire made it past the membership committee, according to Charles Garcia, one of the group’s managing partners.”

New Recording Creates New Troubles for Liberty University (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Liberty University, a Virginia school founded by the late Jerry Falwell, a controversial televangelist, is no stranger to controversy. Just this week, ProPublica published a brutal report on the evangelical school and how it’s allegedly ‘discouraged and dismissed’ students’ reports of sexual assaults. A year earlier, Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned as Liberty’s president following a highly tumultuous tenure, which included awkward questions about his personal life. But his successor appears to be at the center of a new controversy that’s likely to create fresh difficulties for the school.” 

Thanks to Big Oil, Your Tax Dollars Are Spent Ruining the Climate (Laura)

From Rolling Stone: “About $11 million a minute. That’s the amount of direct and indirect subsidies the International Monetary Fund calculates the global fossil fuel industry receives to ensure that cooking the planet remains profitable for them. If you do the math, it comes to about $5.9 trillion a year. As The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer has pointed out, only $826 billion of that comes from actual price cuts or tax breaks. The rest is calculated from damages caused from the environmental and health costs of carbon pollution. But that’s sorta the point. This is an antiquated industry that is knowingly and willfully poisoning the planet and killing millions of people every year. And governments of the world — which ultimately means you and me and everyone else who pays taxes — are essentially paying them to do it.”

Trader Joe Wrote a Memoir (Russ)

From The New Yorker: “In the sixties, a thirty-two-year-old entrepreneur named Joe Coulombe presided over a midsize chain of California convenience stores called Pronto Markets. The company, which lived in the shadows of 7-Eleven, was nearly bankrupt. One afternoon, a desperate egg supplier paid Coulombe a visit. He had a major problem: he had far too many extra-large eggs. In order to off-load them promptly, he offered them to Coulombe at the same price as the plain old large eggs. This meant that Pronto Markets could sell extra-large eggs — which were twelve per cent per dozen larger than the large eggs, a meaningful difference to customers — at a discounted price, undercutting other chains.”

UK Escape Artist Micro Pig Fathers 71 Piglets (Dana)

The author writes, “A persistent pig took to climbing on a bench and launching himself over a fence in order to mate with the sows in the next enclosure. The boar, named Blanket, has fathered 71 piglets so far this year at Kew Little Pigs, a micro pig petting farm in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. His escape artist tactics came to light when he broke the bench, leapt the fence and mated with two sows in full view of a group of visitors. Blanket’s benches have now been moved.”

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