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.

Senate Panel Advances Antitrust Bill Aimed at Apple, Amazon, and Google (Maria)

The author writes, “An antitrust bill aimed at tech giants such as Apple, Amazon and Alphabet’s Google cleared a Senate committee and will advance to consideration by the full chamber, as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle came together to pass it. The bill aims to prevent large technology platforms from favoring their own products and services on their platforms over those of their competitors. … The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-6 on the measure on Thursday, with five Republicans voting alongside Democrats to advance it.”

Is Government Competent to Spend More Public Money? (DonkeyHotey)

From The American Prospect: “Build Back Better, President Biden’s signature legislation, would be the fifth large federal outlay since the $2.2 trillion CARES Act of March 2020, followed by the $900 billion COVID relief package in December 2020, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of March 2021, and the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure act passed in November (only $550 billion of which was new money). Even at the truncated BBB level of $1.8 trillion, those outlays over the past two years would total $8 trillion. There are three main arguments against the additional spending. One is macroeconomic, that all this stimulus has supposedly contributed to inflation, a claim the Prospect has effectively refuted. The second is purely ideological; Republicans oppose social spending per se, and Joe Manchin is averse to America becoming an ‘entitlement society.’ But the third argument is worth a closer look. Almost a year after ARPA was enacted, nearly half the money is unspent, so why approve more? Government capacity is often the Achilles’ heel of progressive calls for greater outlays.”

How the FBI Destroyed the Careers of 41 Women in TV and Radio (Sean)

From The MIT Press Reader: “At the dawn of the Cold War era, dozens of progressive women working in radio and television were placed on a media blacklist and forced from their industry. Carol Stabile explores this shameful period in American history.”

Police in This Tiny Alabama Town Suck Drivers Into Legal ‘Black Hole’ (Dana)

From AL.com: “Months of research and dozens of interviews by AL.com found that Brookside’s finances are rocket-fueled by tickets and aggressive policing. In a two-year period between 2018 and 2020 Brookside revenues from fines and forfeitures soared more than 640 percent and now make up half the city’s total income. And the police chief has called for more. The town of 1,253 just north of Birmingham reported just 55 serious crimes to the state in the entire eight year period between 2011 and 2018 — none of them homicide or rape. But in 2018 it began building a police empire, hiring more and more officers to blanket its six miles of roads and mile-and-a-half jurisdiction on Interstate 22.”

A Bitter Feud Centers on Source of Arrowhead Bottled Water (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “High in the San Bernardino Mountains, water seeps from the ground and trickles down the mountainside among granite boulders and bay laurel trees. Near this dribbling spring, water gushes through a system of tunnels and boreholes, and flows into a network of stainless steel pipes that join together in a single line. The water then courses downhill across 4.5 miles of rugged terrain in the San Bernardino National Forest to a tank, where some is hauled away in trucks to be bottled and sold as Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water. Local environmentalists say the bottled water pipeline doesn’t belong in the national forest and is removing precious water that would otherwise flow in Strawberry Creek and nourish the ecosystem. After nearly seven years of fighting against the extraction of water, activists say they hope California regulators will finally order BlueTriton Brands — the company that took over bottling from Nestlé last year — to drastically reduce its operation in the national forest.” (Also see this from WhoWhatWhy: “Wall Street Is Thirsting for Your Water.”)

‘Once-in-a-Lifetime Encounter’ With Rare Octopus Filmed at Great Barrier Reef (Mili)

The author writes, “A mesmerizing new video shows a ‘once-in-a-lifetime encounter’ with a bizarre, bright red octopus swimming above the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Australia. The encounter, first reported by local Australian news website Bundaberg Now, was a rare sighting of a blanket octopus, named after the blanket-like fleshy cape between its arms. Jacinta Shackleton, a marine biologist and reef guide, filmed and photographed the octopus while diving off the coast of Lady Elliot Island in Queensland.”