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.

New Colombian President Pledges to Protect Rainforest (Maria)

The author writes, “Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s first elected leftist president, will take office in August with ambitious proposals to halt the record-high rates of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Petro has promised to limit agribusiness expansion into the forest. … ‘From Colombia, we will give humanity a reward, a remedy, a solution: not to burn the Amazon rainforest anymore, to recover it to its natural frontier, to give humanity the possibility of life on this planet,’ Petro, wearing an Indigenous headdress, said to a crowd in the Amazon city of Leticia during his campaign. But to do that, he first needs to establish reign over large, lawless areas.”

Yes, the Death of Roe Is ‘That Bad’ (Emily)

From The Real News Network: “Despite the fact that Republicans have continually drifted further to the right and become more aggressive in their pursuit of permanent minority rule, every step that the GOP (fueled by an increasingly Christofascist base) has taken to roll back basic rights has been met by a milquetoast, head-in-the-sand response from mainstream media, which has repeatedly minimized the extremist nature of conservatives’ actions and assured the public that it is ‘not that bad.’ Time and time again, these voices have tried to settle an outraged public by calmly explaining that any eventual changes to the social order handed down by this Court will be minimal, and time and time again they have been proven wrong.” 

‘Vote for Democrats’ Is Not Enough in a Post-Roe America (Dana)

From HuffPost: “This is what it means when Democrats tell people to vote: Cast your ballot into an Electoral College and Senate that is biased against Black people, Latinos and anyone who lives in a large urban area. Hope the Republican Party hasn’t made it too difficult for you to vote. Hope your state has not been gerrymandered so your vote makes little difference in the House or in state legislatures. If Democrats manage to overcome those things, they will be hampered by an extra-constitutional 60-vote requirement in the Senate. If they manage to overcome that, their law has to pass muster with a conservative Supreme Court majority that has already displayed its disdain for precedent. The simple existence of this Supreme Court is a potent display of how voting is not enough.”

Roe v. Wade Was Overturned. Here’s How Your Phone Could Be Used to Spy on You. (Sean)

From Scientific American: “Here’s how your smartphone could be used to prosecute you if you do decide to have an abortion in an area where it’s criminalized. First of all, your phone is a major tracker of personal information. It records a huge volume of data, your browsing information, location data, and payment history, that, taken together, can reveal your most intimate activities, such as how many times you go to the bathroom. If a basic activity like reproductive healthcare becomes criminalized, experts say courts could then issue a warrant for your device, which would then reveal all of that personal information. If this all sounds a little too dystopian, that’s because it is.”

State Dept. to Pay 6-Figure Sums to Havana Syndrome Victims (Reader Steve)

The authors write, “The State Department is preparing to compensate victims of mysterious brain injuries colloquially known as ‘Havana Syndrome’ with six-figure payments, according to officials and a congressional aide. Current and former State Department staff and their families who suffered from ‘qualifying injuries’ since cases were first reported among U.S. embassy personnel in Cuba in 2016 will receive payments of between roughly $100,000 and $200,000 each, the officials and aide said.”

US Pools Close, Go Without Lifeguards Amid Labor Shortage (Reader Jim)

The authors write, “A national lifeguard shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted communities such as Indianapolis to cut back on pools and hours. In other spots around the United States, swimming areas go without attendants. That’s left some Americans with fewer or riskier options, even as a significant part of the nation endures a second heat wave in as many weeks. Public health experts say the risk of drowning decreases significantly when lifeguards are present.”

These Artists Transform Garbage Into Garb to Take a Stand (Mili)

From National Geographic: “It started as a countercultural art movement in 2001. After years studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kinshasa — following teachers’ advice on creating work with ‘proper’ materials, such as resin and plaster of paris — some students in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) decided to do something different. They created art with what was in their immediate environment, including tires, exhaust pipes, foam, plastic bottles, antennas, tins that had held milk or paint, feathers, CDs, rubber slippers, and other discarded items. This work, the artists believed, felt familiar to a Congolese audience and spoke to a particularly egregious aspect of Congolese life: waste.”

Archaeologist Discovers 6,000-Year-Old Island Settlement Off Croatian Coast (Bethany)

The author writes, “Archaeologist Mate Parica was examining satellite images of Croatia’s coastline when he spotted something unusual. ‘I thought: maybe it is natural, maybe not,’ said Parica, a professor at the University of Zadar. The image showed a large, shallow area on the seabed jutting out from the eastern shore of the island of Korcula. Parica and a colleague decided to dive at the site and discovered what they believe is a Neolithic settlement from around 4,500 years BC, built on a small piece of land that was connected to the main island by a narrow strip.”