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.

NASA Is Turning Its Technology Back Toward Earth to Study Effects of Climate Change (Maria)

The author writes, “After decades of gazing into space, NASA is turning its technology back toward Earth to study the effects of drought, fire and climate change on the Blue Planet. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge last Thursday, scientists and state officials gathered to discuss how satellite data, 3D imaging and new radar and laser technologies can provide invaluable insights into Earth’s rapidly changing systems. Some said the meeting marked a sea change.”

In Florida, Petty Condo Politics Jeopardizes Residents’ Safety (Dan)

The author writes, “Half the balconies on the 23-story high-rise condominium building needed repairs, sometimes breaking off in pieces and threatening units below. To reduce the load, one owner was asked to move her plants inside and be patient until the spalling concrete could be fixed. But the $11.9 million repair plan for Winston Towers 700 in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, never got off the ground. The price tag sparked an owner rebellion that ended in June 2020 with the recall of all nine board members. The new board instead planned a project that would cost only $2.3 million, according to the general contractor’s bid.”

The Shadow Penal System for Struggling Kids (Bethany)

From The New Yorker: “Teen Challenge, a network of nonprofits that has received tens of millions of dollars in state and federal grants, has more than a thousand centers in the United States and abroad. George W. Bush has praised it as ‘one of the really successful programs in America.’ The organization, which is affiliated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God church, is made up of centers for adolescents and adults Seeking to overcome ‘life-controlling issues,’ such as drug use, depression, or sexual promiscuity. Many people are sent there by courts, as an alternative to juvenile detention or jail.”

In Book, Former Sen. Joe Lieberman Describes How Karl Rove and Republicans Helped Him Beat Ned Lamont in 2006 (DonkeyHotey)

From the Hartford Courant: “For the past 15 years, former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman has never spoken publicly about the secret help that he received from Republicans Karl Rove and Elizabeth Dole to help him defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the contentious 2006 Senate race. But in a new book and an interview, Lieberman says that Rove, the chief political strategist for then-President George W. Bush, told him that he would do anything possible to help Lieberman against Lamont, an anti-war Democrat at a time when the Iraq War was highly controversial.”

Massive Rift Detected in Arctic’s ‘Last Refuge of Ice’ (Mili)

The author writes, “During spring 2020, a temporary gap the size of Rhode Island appeared in the sea ice to the north of Canada’s northernmost island. Troublingly, this rift is located in the so-called ‘Last Ice Area’ — a frozen expanse that’s expected to host the last remnants of Arctic sea ice as our world gets continually warmer. For a period of two weeks in May 2020, a giant hole in the sea ice known as a polynya appeared in a region where these sorts of gaps are not supposed to form. Polynyas are natural gaps that form in places normally covered in ice, but this particular rift was spotted in a region north of Canada’s Ellesmere Island — a place thought to be immune to this sort of occurrence.”

Lake Tahoe Water Level Hits Four-Year Low as Drought Pummels Tourist Spot (Sean)

The author writes, “Lake Tahoe’s water level dropped to a four-year low on [last week] as gusty winds and the impacts of California’s devastating drought hit the popular tourist destination. After days of high winds increased evaporation rates, water levels fell to the basin’s natural rim for the first time since 2017, the end of the state’s last drought. The lake normally sits above the rim, which allows for water to flow into the Truckee River. Levels will probably continue to drop, receding below the rim this week, sooner than expected.”

Seattle Police Arrest Store Owner Suspected of Trafficking Stolen Lego Sets (Reader Steve)

From The Seattle Times: “Seattle police arrested a 67-year-old downtown store owner Friday who is suspected of trafficking stolen Lego sets and other items at a store in Pike Place Market. The Seattle Police Department opened an investigation — ‘Operation: MandalOrganized Retail Theft’ — in late July, after a downtown retailer reported a repeat shoplifter who frequently stole Star Wars-themed Lego sets, according to an item on the agency’s online blotter. The store estimated $10,000 worth of products were stolen between July and September, police said.”

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