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.

Off-Season Cover’ Crops Expand as US Growers Eye Low-Carbon Future (Maria)

The author writes, “Illinois farmer Jack McCormick planted 350 acres of barley and radishes last fall as part of an off-season crop that he does not intend to harvest. Instead, the crops will be killed off with a weed killer next spring before McCormick plants soybeans in the same dirt. The barley and radishes will not be used for food, but Bayer AG will pay McCormick for planting them as the so-called cover crops will generate carbon offset credits for the seeds and chemicals maker. The purpose of cover crops is to restore soil, reduce erosion and to pull climate-warming carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.”

The Insurrectionists’ Roll Call (Reader Pat)

From The Washington Post: “It’s been a year since the horrible attack on the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in five deaths, countless injuries, hundreds of people charged or arrested, and millions of dollars in damages. One would think both parties would have united to decry the assault and bring the instigators to justice, but, instead, only the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol to overturn the presidential election results have been brought to justice. As U.S. Capitol Hill Police Officer Harry Dunn testified about the attack to Congress last year, ‘If a hit man is hired and he kills somebody, the hit man goes to jail. But not only does the hit man go to jail, but the person who hired him does.’”

Days Before Jan. 6 Anniversary, Trump Endorses Hungary’s Autocracy-Curious Orbán (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Just days before the first anniversary of his attempt to overturn democracy in America, former President Donald Trump endorsed a man whom much of Europe considers a threat to democracy on their side of the Atlantic: Hungary’s Victor Orbán. … Human rights and democracy advocates have roundly condemned Orbán for his efforts to take over Hungary’s independent judiciary, stifle the free press, attack institutions like universities, and vilify immigrants and the LGBTQ community.”

The Pandemic Might Have Redesigned Cities Forever (Sean)

From Wired: “It was easy to find tragedy in the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Vaccines became widely available and proved to be remarkably effective at keeping people out of hospitals, but some people wouldn’t get their shots — mostly Republicans. Broader uptake of vaccines could have averted 163,000 deaths between June and November alone. That’s tragedy. But you could find hope in 2021, too. It was literally in the air. The virus — and specifically the understanding that as an aerosol it spread more easily in poorly ventilated spaces — changed something fundamental about urban life. The expansion of restaurants to curbside spaces and the closure of city streets to automobiles began in 2020, but in 2021 those alterations felt like a new phase in a decades-old cold war over the look and feel of the modern city.” 

Cancer Deaths Rose to 10 Million Worldwide in 2019 (Mili)

The author writes, “Cancer deaths rose to 10 million and new cases jumped to over 23 million globally in 2019, according to a new scientific study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. At the start of the decade in 2010, total cancer deaths numbered 8.29 million worldwide and new cancer cases were at 18.7 million; the counts by the end of the decade in 2019 represent increases of 20.9% and 26.3%, respectively.”

‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (Born 1926) Is Finally in the Public Domain, a Reminder That Our Copyright System Is Absurd (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “In recent years, every New Year’s Day has brought a bumper crop of literary and artistic works into the public domain — that is, out of copyright after decades of protection. This year, the harvest is especially rich. … As it happens, however, this massive release isn’t something entirely worth celebrating. Instead, it’s a pointer to the sheer absurdity of American copyright law, which long ago came under the thumb of the entertainment industry and distant heirs of artists determined to preserve what is essentially a windfall.”

Monster Crab Attacks Australian Golfers on Christmas Island (Dana)

The author writes, “An enormous crab unexpectedly joined golfers for a round on Christmas Island and made off with some of their gear after slicing through one of their clubs ‘like a chainsaw.’ Footage taken on the course shows the huge crab clutching onto the ends of a man’s golf clubs after it appeared to have climbed up his golf bag. Christmas Island local Paul Buhner, who filmed the video, which was shared to Reddit on Sunday, identified the thief as a coconut or ‘robber’ crab.”

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