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.

Researchers Complete First Detailed Map of Global Coral Reefs (Maria)

The author writes, “Researchers have completed a comprehensive online map of the world’s coral reefs by using more than 2 million satellite images from across the globe. The Allen Coral Atlas — named after late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen — will act as a reference for reef conservation, marine planning and coral science as researchers try to save these fragile ecosystems that are being lost to climate change.”

George W. Bush Compares ‘Violent Extremists at Home’ to 9/11 Terrorists in 20th Anniversary Speech (Reader Jim)

The authors write, “On the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that changed his presidency, former president George W. Bush on Saturday warned there is growing evidence that domestic terrorism could pose as much of a threat to the United States as terrorism originating from abroad, and he urged Americans to confront ‘violence that gathers within.’ Without naming it, Bush seemed to condemn the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, when a pro-Trump mob overran the complex in a violent siege that resulted in the deaths of five people. Bush compared those ‘violent extremists at home’ to the terrorists who had hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001, and crashed them in New York City, Arlington, and Shanksville, Pa., killing nearly 3,000 people.”

Richest Americans Fail to Pay $163 Billion in Taxes, Treasury Estimates (Russ)

The author writes, “The top 1% of Americans are avoiding paying an estimated $163 billion in taxes a year, according to the Treasury Department. That is pushing the estimated tax gap, the amount of money owed by taxpayers that isn’t collected, to nearly around $600 billion annually, and to approximately $7 trillion in lost revenue over the next decade, the Treasury Department finds. Tax evasion is concentrated among the wealthy in part because high-income taxpayers are able to employ experts who can better shield them from reporting their true incomes, the Treasury Department argued in a blog post. More complicated incomes such as partnerships and proprietorships — more frequent among high earners — have a far greater noncompliance rate that can hit as high as 55%.”

A Secretive Pentagon Program That Started on Trump’s Last Day in Office Just Ended. The Mystery Has Not. (Gerry)

From The Washington Post: “A Pentagon program that delegated management of a huge swath of the Internet to a Florida company in January — just minutes before President Donald Trump left office — has ended as mysteriously as it began, with the Defense Department this week retaking control of 175 million IP addresses. The program had drawn scrutiny because of its unusual timing, starting amid a politically charged changeover of federal power, and because of its enormous scale. At its peak, the company, Global Resource Systems, controlled almost 6 percent of a section of the Internet called IPv4. The IP addresses had been under Pentagon control for decades but left unused, despite being potentially worth billions of dollars on the open market.”

Texans Can Now Openly Carry Guns in Public Without a Permit or Training. Police Say the New Law Makes It Harder to Do Their Jobs (Mili)

The author writes, “A new pro-gun law in Texas … allows most Texans who legally own a firearm to carry it openly in public without obtaining a permit or training, a measure that experts say will make it more challenging for law enforcement to protect the public from gun violence. The controversial ‘constitutional carry’ legislation is the latest in a series of pro-gun bills that state lawmakers passed this year as gun violence incidents rise in Texas and across the country. The number of shootings in Texas, not including suicides, increased 14% this year with roughly 3,200 shootings compared to the same period in 2020, which recorded roughly 2,800 shootings, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive (GVA). Gun violence incidents this year represent a 50% increase over the same period in 2019, which saw 2,100 shootings, the data shows.”

India’s DNA COVID Vaccine Is a World First — More Are Coming (Sean)

From Nature: “India has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine that uses circular strands of DNA to prime the immune system against the virus SARS-CoV-2. Researchers have welcomed news of the first DNA vaccine for people to receive approval anywhere in the world, and say many other DNA vaccines might soon be hot on its heels. ZyCoV-D, which is administered into the skin without an injection, has been found to be 67% protective against symptomatic COVID-19 in clinical trials, and will probably start to be administered in India this month. Although the efficacy is not particularly high compared to that of many other COVID-19 vaccines, the fact that it is a DNA vaccine is significant, say researchers. It is proof of the principle that DNA vaccines work and can help in controlling the pandemic.

Descendants of the Enslaved Sheltered From Ida in a Historic Plantation’s Big House (Dan)

The author writes, “When the Banner family sought shelter from Hurricane Ida, which was roaring across the Gulf, they looked for the sturdiest building in the tiny community of Wallace, La., where they live. So they decided to ride out the storm in the Big House on the Whitney Plantation. The Banners are Black. They’ve lived for generations on this rich, alluvial soil beside the Mississippi River, about 50 miles upriver from New Orleans. And they say their enslaved ancestors helped to construct this Creole plantation house 230 years ago for a German planter and slave owner named Jean Jacques Haydel. As it happens, it was to this white-columned manse that the Banner sisters, Joy and Jo, and their parents, Harriett and William, fled.”

A Woman Is Suing San Francisco for $50 Million Over a Parking Ticket, Saying Tire Chalk Is Unconstitutional (Reader Steve)

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “Even as cities across the region switch from chalking tires to digital enforcement of time-zone limits, gaining efficiency and reducing carpal tunnel injuries among parking officers, a pair of federal lawsuits claim the old-fashioned way is a violation of drivers’ Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. In one of the cases, filed Sept. 4, plaintiff Maria Infante seeks $50 million and class-action status after a San Francisco parking enforcement officer wielding chalk on a residential street gave her a $95 ticket. Unlike some in her predicament, Infante had apparently not spotted the stripe in time to rub it away.”

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