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.

Pandemic Wave of Automation May Be Bad News for Workers (Maria)

The author writes, “The trend toward automation predates the pandemic, but it has accelerated at what is proving to be a critical moment. The rapid reopening of the economy has led to a surge in demand for waiters, hotel maids, retail sales clerks and other workers in service industries. At the same time, government benefits allowed many people to be selective in the jobs they take. Together, those forces have given low-wage workers a rare moment of leverage. … Automation threatens to tip the advantage back toward employers, potentially eroding those gains. A working paper published by the International Monetary Fund this year predicted that pandemic-induced automation would increase inequality — not only in the US, but around the world.”

Apps With 5.8 Million Google Play Downloads Stole Users’ Facebook Passwords (Sean)

The author writes, “Google has given the boot to nine Android apps downloaded more than 5.8 million times from the company’s Play marketplace after researchers said these apps used a sneaky way to steal users’ Facebook login credentials. In a bid to win users’ trust and lower their guard, the apps provided fully functioning services for photo editing and framing, exercise and training, horoscopes, and removal of junk files from Android devices, according to a post published by security firm Dr. Web. All of the identified apps offered users an option to disable in-app ads by logging into their Facebook accounts. Users who chose the option saw a genuine Facebook login form containing fields for entering usernames and passwords.”

Iraq to Enhance Cooperation With NATO (Mili)

The author writes, “As part of Iraq’s strategy to maintain the security status in the country following the victory against the Islamic State, NATO’s role in Iraq has been on the rise over the last few years. During his meeting with the permanent NATO representatives in Brussels June 30, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi highlighted NATO’s role in Iraq, asking for expansion and diversification of this role in the future.”

How Many Abandoned Oil Wells Threaten Your Favorite National Park? (Inez)

The author writes, “June has barely come to an end, and parts of California and the West are already suffering through unprecedented heat, punishing drought and rapidly spreading wildfire — a harrowing preview of life on a planet that is only getting more chaotic.”

Climate Crisis Getting Short Shrift From News Outlets (Russ)

From the Orlando Sentinel: “Today, all of humanity is under attack, this time from an overheated planet — and too many newsrooms still are more inclined to cover today’s equivalent of dance competitions. The record heat waves and storms of 2020 confirmed what scientists have long predicted: climate change is underway and threatens unparalleled catastrophe. And because carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere for centuries, temperature rise and its effects are only getting started.”

Fukushima’s Boar-Pig Hybrids Reveal How Nature Can Heal After Humans (Dana)

From Inverse: “On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake — the largest ever recorded in Japan — generated a tsunami that devastated the island nation. The tsunami also triggered an accident at a nuclear reactor in the Fukushima region of Japan, leading to the evacuation of 164,000 residents within a 20-kilometer radius of the reactor. Among the evacuees were pig farmers who left their swine behind — fleeing from the threat of nuclear radiation. According to research published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the absence of humans and the sudden release of pigs into the wild led to new boar-pig hybrids that are now reclaiming Fukushima — though researchers don’t know if these hybrids will last in the long run.”

At 108 Years Old, Cape Cod Woman Starts Fund-raiser to Allow Her to Keep Living at Home (Reader Steve)

From The Boston Globe: “Juliet Bernstein, who turned 108 on Friday, has lived in her Cape Cod house for a half-century since she retired as a New York City teacher. Her mind is sharp, but she is physically frail and needs nearly round-the-clock care. Bernstein cannot walk without pain, no longer cooks, and depends on home health aides to bathe, dress, and use the bathroom. But like many elderly people, she is determined to spend the final years of her long life in the modest home she loves. Although Bernstein was born before World War I, at a time when the telephone was considered high technology, she has settled on a 21st-century path toward her goal: a GoFundMe account to help pay for home care.”

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