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.

Ivory Trade Accelerated Evolution of Tuskless Elephants: Study (Maria)

The author writes, “Ivory poaching in Mozambique led to a ‘rapid evolution’ of tuskless African elephants, according to a study published  … [last week] in Science magazine. Years of poaching in Mozambique has led to a greater proportion of elephants that will never develop tusks, which are used by the animals to dig for water and strip bark for food, according to the Associated Press.”

Death Threats Are Creating a Mass Exodus of Election Officials (DonkeyHotey)

From Vice: “‘Hey, Rick,’ the voicemail said. ‘Two hundred and thirty-four years ago, the founding caucasian fathers of America gave us the Second Amendment. Time’s running out, Richard. We’re coming after you and every motherfucker that stole this election with our Second Amendment, subpoenas be damned, you’re going to be served lead, you fucking enemy enemy communist cocksucker. You will be served lead.’ This was just one of the nearly 150 voicemails that were left for Richard Barron, elections director of Georgia’s Fulton County, an area that includes Atlanta, during the week from Christmas to New Year’s Day 2021.”

How America’s Broken Democracy Led to Our Abortion Crisis (Inez)

The author writes, “America is at a crossroads when it comes to abortion. In 2021, state legislatures have passed an unprecedented 106 anti-abortion bills. State lawmakers in five states are preparing legislation similar to Texas’s SB 8, an effective total abortion ban that enshrines a new kind of vigilantism directed at medical providers and private citizens. In this dangerous moment, supporters of legal abortion must understand that raising our voices is not going to change anything unless we also push for major, immediate democratic reforms including ending the filibuster, enshrining federal voting rights, expanding the supreme court and establishing fair redistricting.”

42 Seconds After This Photo Was Taken, Police Shot Peyton Ham Dead (Dana)

From Defector: “Peyton Ham’s family wants the world to see the last photograph of him alive. Keith Raley calls it the saddest picture he’s ever seen. It’s a photo of his grandson, Peyton Ham, taken moments before the 16-year-old was killed by a Maryland State Police officer in April. That’s why I’m meeting with Raley and several members of his family in an otherwise empty parking lot outside the home stadium of the Bowie Baysox, a minor league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, Peyton’s favorite baseball team throughout his short and shortened life.”

Google Maps Rolls Out ‘Eco-Friendly’ Routes (Laura)

The author writes, “If you’re a regular Google Maps user, you might be able to use the app to make less emissions-intensive choices in the future. Google announced … that it is adding options to show drivers less carbon-intensive routes on the Maps app, along with a slew of other individual-focused tools like showing the carbon footprint of flights. The new feature is available in the U.S. now and will become an option in Europe next year. The service is powered by Google’s own AI and data from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Google said that it estimates the feature could avoid more than 1 million tons of carbon emissions per year, or the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars from the road.”

Roxane Gay on How Artist Calida Rawles Shows Us a New, and More Humane, Way of Bearing Witness (Dan)

From Artnet News: “On September 23rd, 2020, Kurt Reinhold was stopped by police for jaywalking in San Clemente, California. As is all too often the case when Black people deal with law enforcement, Reinhold did not survive what should have been a routine encounter. And by that, I mean he was murdered by two police officers whose greatest fears are, seemingly, embodied by Blackness. It is important to be clear about this kind of atrocity, to use language plainly and directly, to place culpability where it belongs — in the bloodied hands of people who were supposed to serve and protect.”

DNA Has Finally Revealed the Mysterious Origins of the Ancient Etruscans (Mili)

The author writes, “DNA evidence has finally ended the debate about where the ancient Etruscans — an ancient civilization whose remains are found in Italy — came from. According to almost 2,000 years worth of genomic data, collected from 12 sites across Italy, these enigmatic people did not emigrate from Anatolia (a region that’s now part of Turkey), but shared genetic heritage with people who lived nearby in ancient Rome.”