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.

Nations Renew Talks on ‘Killer Robots’ as Deal Hopes Narrow (Maria)

The author writes, “The countries behind a United Nations agreement on weapons have been meeting this week on the thorny issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems, colloquially known as ‘killer robots,’ which advocacy groups want to strictly limit or ban. The latest conference of countries behind a Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is tackling an array of issues from incendiary weapons, explosive remnants of war, a specific category of landmines, and the autonomous weapons systems. Opponents of such systems fear a dystopian day when tanks, submarines, robots or fleets of drones with facial-recognition software could roam without human oversight and strike against human targets.”

3 Residents of the Villages Arrested After Casting Multiple Votes in 2020 Election (Reader Steve)

From the Orlando Sentinel: “Three residents of The Villages were recently arrested and face charges of casting more than one vote during the 2020 election, according to affidavits. Joan Halstead, Jay Ketcik and John Rider all face felony charges of casting more than one ballot in an election, arrest reports provided by the office of Ocala-based State Attorney Bill Gladson show. … It is unclear which candidate the three voted for. … However, posts in support of former President Donald Trump can be found on Facebook pages appearing to belong to Halstead and Rider.” 

Chris Charbonneau, 40-Year Planned Parenthood Veteran, Removed as CEO (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Chris Charbonneau, a formidable figure in reproductive rights who worked for Planned Parenthood for nearly 40 years and expanded the Seattle-based affiliate across six states, including two in the Midwest, has been removed from her position as the organization’s CEO. The board of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky made the move last week after a donor this fall used a racist term in a meeting referring to Black people, and Charbonneau repeated the word while discussing the meeting with another staffer.” 

Why Can’t America Get Rapid Tests Right? (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “As I am writing this sentence, I have my phone sitting next to me, waiting for a photo to pop up in my family group chat. We’re all eager for the results of a rapid test that my brother just took. Last week, one of his coworkers at the auto body shop tested positive for COVID. On Monday, a second coworker tested positive. My brother is symptomless, and going into work, but testing daily right now. This could easily cost us $100 for a week — the length of time that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccinated folks test after a COVID exposure — as over the counter rapid tests have typically run $24.99 per box at CVS or Walgreens (though there are deals to be found).”

More Eyes on Polluters: The Growth of Citizen Monitoring (Laura)

From Yale Environment 360: “In pollution hotspots like western Pennsylvania — where petrochemical facilities are proliferating — local residents, distrustful of companies and government, are taking advantage of low-cost technologies to do their own monitoring of air, water, and noise pollution.”

FROM 2020: Shots in the Dark (Sean)

The author writes, “Silvon Simmons was shot three times in an upstate New York city. Then he was accused of trying to kill the cop who fired at him. His story is a study in the kinds of police practices that have sparked protests across America — and it shows the enormous challenge cities face when trying to enact change.”

Potty Training Cows and Other Messy Stories From the Animal Kingdom (Dana)

From Scientific American: “Urinating is easy. Holding it in, however, is tough. While some animals, such as wolves, control their bladders to selectively mark their territories, cattle roam blithely around pastures peeing with abandon. ‘You get the impression that these animals have no control over their urination,’ says Jan Langbein, an animal psychologist at the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology in Germany. ‘But you can train dogs, and you can train horses. So we thought, why not cattle?’”