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.

Justice Department Sues Missouri Over Federal Gun Laws (Maria) 

The author writes, “The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Missouri Wednesday in an attempt to stop officials from enforcing a bill that would ban local police from following federal gun laws that the state declared ‘invalid.’ It alleges that Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act is unconstitutional and hindering law enforcement efforts in a state where ‘nearly 80% of violent crimes are committed with firearms,’ per a Justice Department statement. Missouri officials vowed to fight the suit, which they say attacks Second Amendment rights. The bill, which was signed into law last June, penalizes federal, state and local law enforcement officers from enforcing federal laws, according to the Department of Justice.”

Educational Gag Orders Target Speech About LGBTQ+ Identities With New Prohibitions and Punishments (Dana)

From PEN America: “Last month PEN America reported that 2022 had seen a steep rise in the introduction of educational gag orders. So far this year, 103 different bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, many of which target higher education and feature severe punishments. Cumulatively, they represent a national assault on our education system, censoring both what teachers can say and what students may learn.”

A Stunning Fall for Ex-Honduran President Wanted in US (Dan)

The authors write, “The arrest of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and the images that followed — a leader shackled and paraded before the cameras like a common criminal — were a stunning reversal for a man who for years seemed impervious to growing allegations of corruption. While president from 2014 until last month, he had the support of U.S. officials waging the war on drugs and some diplomats who did not see a better option. But less than three weeks out of office, his utility exhausted, the U.S. government moved for his extradition and the chance to make him an example in a region wracked by corruption.”

Amazon Deforestation: Record High Destruction of Trees in January (Aline)

The author writes, “The number of trees cut down in the Brazilian Amazon in January far exceeded deforestation for the same month last year, according to government satellite data. The area destroyed was five times larger than 2021, the highest January total since records began in 2015. Environmentalists accuse Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro of allowing deforestation to accelerate.”

An Undiscovered Coronavirus? The Mystery of the ‘Russian Flu’ (Reader Jim)

From The New York Times: “In May 1889, people living in Bukhara, a city that was then part of the Russian Empire, began sickening and dying. The respiratory virus that killed them became known as the Russian flu. It swept the world, overwhelming hospitals and killing the old with special ferocity. Schools and factories were forced to close because so many students and workers were sick. Some of the infected described an odd symptom: a loss of smell and taste. And some of those who recovered reported a lingering exhaustion. The Russian flu finally ended a few years later, after at least three waves of infection. Its patterns of infection and symptoms have led some virologists and historians of medicine to now wonder: Might the Russian flu actually have been a pandemic driven by a coronavirus? And could its course give us clues about how our pandemic will play out and wind down?”

Dried Goji Berries May Provide Protection Against Age-Related Vision Loss (Mili)

The author writes, “Regularly eating a small serving of dried goji berries may help prevent or delay the development of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, in healthy middle-aged people, according to a small, randomized trial conducted at the University of California, Davis. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in older people, and is estimated to affect more than 11 million in the United States and 170 million globally.”

Typo Sends Drivers in Florida to Trump 2024 Merch Website (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “An apparent typo was sending motorists in South Florida seeking to resolve their traffic citations to a website selling 2024 merchandise for former President Donald Trump, officials said. Miami Beach police had been handing out the erroneous fliers until last week, police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez told the Miami Herald on Monday. He did not know how long they had been in circulation.”