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.

Leaders Descend on France for Ocean Summit as Macron Puts Spotlight on Seas (Maria)

The author writes, “Up to 40 world leaders are due to make ‘ambitious and concrete commitments’ towards combating illegal fishing, decarbonising shipping and reducing plastic pollution at what is billed as the first high-level summit dedicated to the ocean. One Ocean summit, which [opened] on Wednesday in the French port of Brest, aims to mobilize ‘unprecedented international political engagement’ for a wide range of pressing maritime issues, said its chief organizer, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor. … Convened by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, as a highlight of France’s six-month EU presidency, the three-day summit will also focus on efforts to improve governance of the high seas and coordinating international scientific research.”

Harris County GOP Official Sparks Bipartisan Scorn With 7 Shocking, ‘Hate-Filled’ Proposals (Reader Steve)

From the Houston Chronicle: “A slate of anti-immigrant, anti-trans, pro-death penalty resolutions proffered by a Harris County GOP precinct chair drew outrage from Democrats and scorn from Republicans, though the opposing sides remained at odds over the correct outcome.Carla Richburg of Cypress, chair of GOP precinct 602, proposed eight resolutions to the party platform, including outlawing all sex education in schools; mandatory death penalties for anyone convicted of murdering a police officer or murders committed during other felonies; a call to ‘wage war against all invaders’ related to Texas borders that authorizes deadly force; considering all Chinese nationals as spies and removing them from the country; refusal to recognize transgender identification; and removal of the word ‘marriage’ from official documents.”

Israel’s Mossad Suspected of High-Level Iran Penetration (Dan)

The author writes, “In November 2020, a convoy carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s most prominent nuclear scientist, came under fire. He was killed with an artificial intelligence-assisted remote control machine gun. Carrying out an assassination in such a surgical fashion against a moving target without any civilian casualties requires real-time intelligence on the ground. After the killing, Iran’s intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, claimed that two months earlier, he had warned security forces that there was an assassination plot targeting Mr. Fakhrizadeh at the exact location where he was shot.”

Europe’s Secretive System to Keep Out Migrants (Aline)

From Le Monde Diplomatique: “Tired of migrants arriving from Africa, the EU has created a shadow immigration system that captures them before they reach its shores, and sends them to brutal Libyan detention centers run by militias. The prison is controlled by a militia that euphemistically calls itself the Public Security Agency, and its gunmen patrolled the hallways. About 1,500 migrants were held there, in eight cells, segregated by gender. There was only one toilet for every hundred people, and Candé often had to urinate in a water bottle or defecate in the shower. Migrants slept on thin floor pads; there weren’t enough to go around, so people took turns — one lay down during the day, the other at night. Detainees fought over who got to sleep in the shower, which had better ventilation. Twice a day, they were marched, single file, into the courtyard, where they were forbidden to look up at the sky or talk. Guards, like zookeepers, put communal bowls of food on the ground, and migrants gathered in circles to eat.”

As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels (Russ)

The author writes, “The police officer arrived at the Hindu temple here with a warning to the monks: Don’t repeat your hate speech. Ten days earlier, before a packed audience and thousands watching online, the monks had called for violence against the country’s minority Muslims. Their speeches, in one of India’s holiest cities, promoted a genocidal campaign to ‘kill two million of them’ and urged an ethnic cleansing of the kind that targeted Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.”

New Lightweight Material Is Stronger Than Steel (Sean)

From MIT News: “Using a novel polymerization process, MIT chemical engineers have created a new material that is stronger than steel and as light as plastic, and can be easily manufactured in large quantities. The new material is a two-dimensional polymer that self-assembles into sheets, unlike all other polymers, which form one-dimensional, spaghetti-like chains. Until now, scientists had believed it was impossible to induce polymers to form 2D sheets.”

Italy to End Covid Outdoor Mask Requirement From Friday (Carina)

From The Local: “Italy’s outdoor mask mandate will be dropped nationwide from Friday, February 11th under a new ordinance signed by Health Minister Roberto Speranza late on Tuesday. The change effectively means Italy reverts back to the rules on mask-wearing in force previously: Masks remain compulsory in all indoor public places, the text confirms, and the requirement to carry a mask with you at all times ‘in case of gatherings’ outdoors remains in place.”