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.

Is the FBI Winning the Cybercrime War? (Maria)

The author writes, “It was quite a week for the FBI. First, it got back a large chunk of the bitcoin paid to the gang behind the Colonial pipeline ransomware attack. Then it led a global operation which saw suspected criminals tricked into using a messaging service operated and monitored by the agency. We explore whether criminals may think twice about using tech.”

Key House Dem Demands Answers About Prominent White Nationalist in the Air Force (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “A well-known white nationalist is still serving in the Air Force, Pentagon officials have confirmed, two months after HuffPost first reported on his enlistment. And on Thursday, the chair of a House Armed Services subcommittee said she will contact Air Force leadership to see why there hasn’t been any action. The inquiry from Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who chairs the military personnel subcommittee, concerns Airman 1st Class Shawn McCaffrey, a well-known white nationalist. McCaffrey graduated from boot camp in March, as HuffPost reported earlier this year, even as the military received a historic stand-down order so it could address the problem of extremism in its ranks.”

She’s Running for New York City Council. But Newspapers Won’t Publish Her Photo. (Dan)

The author writes, “In all but one way, Amber Adler is running a pretty normal campaign for New York city council. She knocks on doors and attends rallies; she campaigns outside of grocery stores and subway stations; she puts posters up across her district and places ads in local newspapers. But look for a picture of her face in one of those local papers, and you’re not likely to find one. Why not? Because most of the magazines and newspapers in her neighborhood refuse to publish her photo. Adler, 37, is the first Orthodox Jewish woman to run for city council in her Brooklyn district, which includes ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods scattered throughout Borough Park and Midwood. And as she heads toward her June 22 primary, she’s a victim of a fairly recent trend among Jewish media outlets in Orthodox neighborhoods in the United States: a refusal to publish photographs of women and girls for religious reasons. Which means if Adler wants campaign ads printed in the Jewish news, she can’t be in most of them.”

Why Buffalo Is a Hub for Illegal Debt Collectors Who Scam Thousands Across the Country (Reader Steve)

From the Buffalo News: “At Joseph A. Ciffa’s offices in Niagara Falls and Kenmore, debt collectors intimidated their victims with illegal threats of arrests and lawsuits.  According to federal prosecutors, an elderly cancer patient in Texas was so rattled by the threats that she borrowed $500 from her sister to help pay off a debt of $1,285. That payment helped keep the profits rolling in for Ciffa and his company. ‘We did 370 grand the month of March,’ Ciffa told one of his supervisors in a phone call that Ciffa recorded and federal agents later obtained. ‘We’re on a $300,000-a-month pace right now.’ Welcome to the world of illegal debt collections.”

El Salvador Plans to Use Electricity Generated From Volcanoes to Mine Bitcoin (Reader Jim)

From NPR: “The president of El Salvador announced Wednesday that the country’s state-run geothermal energy utility would begin using power derived from volcanoes for Bitcoin mining. The announcement on social media came just hours after the Central American nation’s congress voted to make the cryptocurrency an acceptable legal tender. … Bitcoin mining has taken a lot of heat for being harmful to the environment, since it requires massive amounts of electricity to power the computers that generate the invisible currency.”

Why Taking Short Breaks Might Help Our Brain Learn Skills (Mili)

The author writes, “In a study of healthy volunteers, National Institutes of Health researchers have mapped out the brain activity that flows when we learn a new skill, such as playing a new song on the piano, and discovered why taking short breaks from practice is a key to learning. The researchers found that during rest the volunteers’ brains rapidly and repeatedly replayed faster versions of the activity seen while they practiced typing a code. The more a volunteer replayed the activity the better they performed during subsequent practice sessions, suggesting rest strengthened memories.”

McDonald’s BTS Meals: Indonesia Branches Forced to Shut Due to High Orders (Dana)

The author writes, “What happens when you combine the world’s biggest boyband with one of the world’s most popular burger chains? Complete and utter chaos, it seems. Or at least that was the experience of a number of Indonesian branches of McDonald’s, which found themselves so swamped with demand for the newly launched BTS Meal they had to close. Indeed, so many people ordered the meal inspired by the Korean boyband that there were fears it could cause a new Covid hotspot.”

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