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.

Microsoft Exec: Targeting of Americans’ Records ‘Routine’ (Maria)

The author writes, “Federal law enforcement agencies secretly seek the data of Microsoft customers thousands of times a year, according to congressional testimony Wednesday by a senior executive at the technology company. Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, told members of the House Judiciary Committee that federal law enforcement in recent years has been presenting the company with between 2,400 to 3,500 secrecy orders a year, or about seven to 10 a day.”

Trump Is Preparing for the Worst (Dan)

The author writes, “Like Hemingway’s Mike Campbell, the Trump Organization is confronting troubles that accumulated gradually and have coalesced suddenly. And once again, friends are at the bottom of it. A grand-jury indictment of Donald Trump’s business and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, unsealed this afternoon in New York, alleges tax evasion arising from an attempt to pay Weisselberg and other Trump Organization executives extra money ‘off the books.’ Prosecutors charge that Weisselberg and others received rent payments and other benefits without paying the appropriate taxes on them. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have said they will plead not guilty. So far, the danger is to Trump’s friends and his business, not the former president himself. But the danger could spiral, because Trump knew only so many tricks.”

After the Fall of a Florida Condo, Some Residents Confront Their Future on the Coast (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “As search and rescue teams scoured the rubble in hopes of finding someone alive, authorities said Tuesday that 12 people were confirmed dead and 149 remained unaccounted for in what could be the deadliest accidental building collapse in U.S. history. Many residents and second-home owners in the tiny coastal city of Surfside, just a few miles northeast of Miami, spoke of being unnerved about their future on this barrier island.”

US Intelligence Agencies Are Trying to Solve Scientific Mysteries and Failing Badly (Sean)

From BuzzFeed: “In the absence of any real evidence, US intelligence reports — typically shrouded in secrecy — are fueling a flurry of speculation over today’s biggest scientific mysteries. Yet history has shown that intelligence agencies are not equipped to quickly solve scientific problems, and their findings look more likely to spark fear and confusion rather than crack any cases. Although they all boast technical expertise, intelligence agencies, at their heart, are not really focused on solving scientific mysteries, said Loch Johnson, a political scientist at the University of Georgia and senior editor of the academic journal Intelligence and National Security. They are good at analyzing political situations and spying, he said, ‘but when it comes to scientific matters, we really fall off.’”

The State Convicted Him of Child Abuse. A Medical Expert Said It Was Likely Diaper Rash. (Bethany)

From The Appeal: “In 2007, former police officer Keith Winfield went on trial in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, for allegedly inserting a hot curling iron or a similar object into the anus of his 23-month-old niece. He laid that same hot object on her vagina, according to the prosecution. ‘This is a case about an act too horrible for most to contemplate done to a little girl left alone with the wrong person,’ the prosecutor told the jury. Winfield was convicted and sentenced to two life terms. Winfield has maintained his innocence since he was accused. He and his legal team aren’t pointing to another perpetrator, though. The child, they say, was not burned by Winfield or anyone else — she had a diaper rash.” 

Chicago’s First Monument to a Black Woman Will Commemorate Activist Ida B. Wells (Mili)

The author writes, “This week, a Chicago committee revealed a new statue paying tribute to the anti-lynching and suffrage activist Ida B. Wells, making it the city’s first sculpture honoring a Black woman. As Maya Mokh reports for the Chicago Tribune, the Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee hosted an unveiling ceremony for the monument, called the Light of Truth, this Wednesday. Sculptor Richard Hunt created the piece over the course of three years, and earlier this month, workers installed the completed statue in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, at the former site of the Ida B. Wells Homes, a Chicago Housing Authority public housing project that city officials demolished in 2011.”

6 Unusual Independence Day Traditions from Across the US (Dana)

From Oddee: “America’s 245th birthday is just around the corner. To the vast majority of the country, that means fireworks, flags, and food from backyard barbeques. But it’s a big country with a lot of history, and it just makes sense that not everyone celebrates Independence Day the same way. Here are some of the more unusual ways Americans commemorate the nation’s founding.”

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