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.

Mine E-Waste, Not the Earth, to Manufacture Consumer Tech: Scientists (Maria)

The author writes, “The recycling of e-waste must urgently be ramped up because mining the Earth for precious metals to make new gadgets is unsustainable, scientists say. One study estimated that the world’s mountain of discarded electronics, in 2021 alone, weighed 57 million tons. … Global conflicts also pose a threat to supply chains for precious metals. The [UK’s] Royal Society of Chemistry is running a campaign to draw attention to the unsustainability of continuing to mine all the precious elements used in consumer technology.”

Declassified FBI Memo ‘Confirms’ Direct Connection Between Saudi Government and 9/11 (DonkeyHotey)

From Insider: “For more than 20 years, successive US presidents have given Saudi Arabia a pass on the question of whether the kingdom’s government had anything to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As the story goes, plenty of individual Saudis were involved — including 15 of the 19 hijackers and Osama bin Laden — but there was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government itself was behind the attacks. That’s more or less what the 9/11 Commission concluded, and the Saudi government continues to cite the commission’s report in official statements as proof that ‘Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with this terrible crime.’ … But over the past several months, a raft of new documents released by the American and British governments suggest that the 9/11 Commission got it wrong.”

Trump Claims Republicans Will Stay Home in November if His Pick Doesn’t Win the GOP Gubernatorial Primary in Georgia. Voters Say Otherwise (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “David Perdue and Donald Trump often say that Gov. Brian Kemp has irrevocably divided Georgia Republicans. ‘He has alienated a good part of the Republican Party,’ Perdue said. … But while many Republican voters in the state were frustrated with how Kemp handled the 2020 presidential election results — he refused to reverse Joe Biden’s victory, much to Trump’s chagrin — even some of the most committed Perdue voters say they’ll support Kemp in the general election should he emerge as the victor of the May 24 primary. After all, the eventual GOP nominee will face off in November against Democrat Stacey Abrams, the arch-villain for Georgia Republicans who one operative described to CNN as the ‘great unifier’ for the GOP.”

How One Seattle Company Is Fighting the Red-State Cultural Crackdown (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “When Dan Shapiro first decided to switch his Seattle company from all-local to remote, it didn’t occur to him he would then become a gatekeeper between clashing worlds. But increasingly as his Pioneer Square tech firm has hired employees who live around the nation, including in red states like Texas and Oklahoma, the political crackup of the United States has been tossed into his lap. ‘For some reason, the two most important people in health care right now are your company CEO and Samuel Alito,’ Shapiro told me the other day. ‘That’s where we are.’ Shapiro runs Glowforge, a 200-employee firm that makes 3D printers. He was reading the news earlier this year when it hit him that the health benefits package he’d pledged to his employees included a suite of things, such as abortion and gender-affirming medical care, that some states now are banning or trying to criminalize.”

About Those Kill-Switched Ukrainian Tractors (Bethany)

The author writes, “Here’s a delicious story: CNN reports that Russian looters, collaborating with the Russian military, stole 27 pieces of John Deere farm equipment from a dealership in Melitopol, Ukraine, collectively valued at $5,000,000. The equipment was shipped to Chechnya, but it will avail the thieves naught, because the John Deere dealership reached out over the internet and bricked these tractors, using an in-built kill-switch. Since that story ran last week, I’ve lost track of the number of people who sent it to me. I can see why: it’s a perfect cyberpunk nugget: stolen tractors rendered inert by an over-the-air update, thwarting the bad guys. It could be the climax of a prescient novella in Asimov’s circa 1996. But I’m here to tell you: this is not a feel-good story.”

Life in Prison for Stealing $20: How the Division Is Taking Apart Brutal Criminal Sentences (Mili)

From The Guardian: “At the end of September last year, [Maurice] Lewis became one of the first 128 people given back their freedom thanks to a new civil rights division in the Orleans parish district attorney’s office. The division was created by the city’s new district attorney, Jason Williams, who ran as a progressive reformer and pledged never to use Louisiana’s habitual offender statute again. Part of his new civil rights division’s work to address past harms has been to revisit excessive sentences. It has since relitigated 82 habitual offender cases, resulting in their sentence enhancement or ‘multi-bills’ being amended or revoked, and leading to immediate release from prison.”

We Better Think Twice About What We Say to ET (Sean)

From Nautilus: “Parents around the world tell their children to be careful about speaking to strangers. It’s good advice for our innocent offspring, because even if the risk of a dangerous interaction is very small, the consequences could be very great. Yet when it comes to the idea of sending unsolicited messages out into the cosmos to try to get a response from technological alien life, we seem to forget these sensible domestic rules. That goes for everything from the earliest messages beamed into space to one outlined last month by a group of researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and several international organizations. Each could spark consequences beyond our control. As a case in point, the first deliberate, high-powered radio message sent by humanity to another world lacked any semblance of careful thought, or any poetry. It consisted of the Morse code dots-and-dashes for three words: ‘MIR,’ ‘LENIN,’ and ‘USSR.’ Mir means ‘peace’ or ‘world,’ the other two words need little explanation.”

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