wildlife, Kenya, census, climate change, wildlife population
The author writes, “Kenya began its first national wildlife census on Friday, aiming to aid conservation and identify threats to its vast but threatened wildlife populations. The census will run until July, with rangers, researchers and community members counting animals on land and from helicopters. It will focus on counting rare species such as the pangolin, which has been identified as a potential intermediary species for COVID-19, and the Sable antelope, of which fewer than 100 remain in Kenya. Expanding human settlements, a changing climate, and poaching have contributed to declining wildlife populations.” Photo credit: Bernard Dupont / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.

The Origin of COVID: Did People or Nature Open Pandora’s Box at Wuhan? (Bethany)

From the Bulletin: “The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives the world over for more than a year. Its death toll will soon reach three million people. Yet the origin of pandemic remains uncertain: The political agendas of governments and scientists have generated thick clouds of obfuscation, which the mainstream press seems helpless to dispel. In what follows I will sort through the available scientific facts, which hold many clues as to what happened, and provide readers with the evidence to make their own judgments. I will then try to assess the complex issue of blame, which starts with, but extends far beyond, the government of China.”

The FBI Is Breaking Into Corporate Computers to Remove Malicious Code (Sean)

From Salon: “The FBI has the authority right now to access privately owned computers without their owners’ knowledge or consent, and to delete software. It’s part of a government effort to contain the continuing attacks on corporate networks running Microsoft Exchange software, and it’s an unprecedented intrusion that’s raising legal questions about just how far the government can go.”

LA County Sheriff Refuses to Name Deputies Who Open Fire, Defying State’s High Court (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “After his son was shot and killed in October, Fred Williams Jr. asked the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for the name of the deputy who pulled the trigger. But sheriff’s officials refused to identify the deputy, making it nearly impossible for Williams to learn anything about him. Had he been in prior shootings? Was there a history of abuse? … The secrecy Williams encountered is standard within the Sheriff’s Department, which routinely rejects requests from relatives of people who are shot, journalists and other members of the public to learn the names of deputies who open fire while on duty.”

Puerto Rico’s Government Remains Absent as More Femicides Rock the Island (Dan)

From Al Día: “On Monday, Jan. 25, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency on the island due to the ongoing epidemic of gender violence, and announced the establishment of the PARE Committee: Committee for the Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education of Gender Violence. A 2019 report by feminist group Proyecto Matria and anti-police brutality organization Kilómetro Cero found that gender-based killings, otherwise known as femicides, occurred on the island at a greater rate than in the contiguous United States from 2014 to 2017.”

Woman From Mali Gives Birth to 9 Babies in Morocco (Dana)

The authors write, “A Malian woman has given birth to nine babies at once — after expecting seven, according to Mali’s Minister of Health and the Moroccan clinic where the nonuplets were born. It appeared to be the first time on record that a woman had given birth to nine surviving babies at once. The five girls and four boys, and their mother, ‘are all doing well,’ Mali’s health minister said in a statement.”

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