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.

Social Media Hammered by Mounting Questions About Advertising (Maria)

The author writes, “Social media has had a rough 2022, with lingering questions about advertising spending, political ads and a $44 billion takeover of Twitter that may or may not be happening. … Then late Monday, Snap, which runs the Snapchat app that features vanishing messages and video special effects, issued a rather dire profit warning, saying that ‘the macroeconomic environment has deteriorated further and faster than anticipated,’ since just last month. Social media companies are competing for the same pool of advertising money that is increasingly under threat from spiking inflation and also changes at Apple Inc. that can restrict the information social media platforms can collect on users, a big selling point for advertisers.”

Insurrectionist Doug Mastriano Should Be Barred From the Pennsylvania Ballot (Reader Steve)

From The Nation: “Donald Trump’s choice for governor of Pennsylvania, state Senator Doug Mastriano, was affirmed last week by Republican primary voters who followed the former president’s order to nominate a candidate who actively sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. That may cut it in the fever swamp that is the Pennsylvania Republican Party. But it doesn’t cut it constitutionally. Mastriano’s actions before, during, and after the January 6, 2021, coup attempt by Trump backers disqualify the newly minted nominee from Pennsylvania’s November ballot, say lawyers who point to a section of the US Constitution that bars insurrectionists and their allies from serving in elected or appointed positions.”

Why Wisconsin Republicans’ New Interest in Empowering the Secretary of State Has Alarmed Democracy Experts (Reader Jim)

From The Boston Globe: “For more than 40 years, Secretary of State Doug La Follette has toiled in relative obscurity, a sun hat-wearing Democrat who, unlike his counterparts in many other states, is not responsible for elections in Wisconsin, or license plates, or very much at all. ‘I’ve run for office many times, and usually the secretary of state’s office is a total sleeper,’ said La Follette, speaking in the windowless basement chamber of the State House to which his shrunken office has been relegated. ‘Nobody cares.’ Not this year. In recent months, with their party still seized by former president Trump’s election falsehoods, some Republicans have trained their sights on La Follette’s toothless office, hoping to take it over and assume election administration duties currently managed by a bipartisan board — a move Democrats see as a prelude to a power grab.”

Russias Hunger Blockade (Sean)

The author writes, “While the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine rages on land, devastating countryside and cities alike, the conflict has also throttled the flow of commercial seaborne traffic to its once-bustling ports. For Ukraine, the effects of the Russian blockade are severe, as exports account for approximately 41 percent of its economy, but the impacts extend far beyond the shores of the Black Sea. The most acute of these is the disruption to the flow of Ukrainian grain, wheat in particular, into the global market, causing steep price rises since the invasion began in late February. Moreover, as Ukrainian wheat amasses in-port, buyers abroad are struggling to find alternative sources to satisfy their nations’ dietary needs. Not only does this food situation bode ill for millions of people reliant on Ukrainian grain imports, but Russia’s control over the flow of commercial traffic from Ukraine feeds back into the Kremlin’s war effort and bargaining power.”

Virginia Politician Threatens Legal Action Against Barnes and Noble Over “Obscene” Lgbtq+ Book (Dana)

From Gay Times: “A conservative Virginia politician announced plans of legal action against Barnes and Noble over selling an ‘obscene’ LGBTQ+ book. On May 18, lawyer Tim Anderson revealed on Facebook that he filed a lawsuit against the bookstore chain on behalf of politician Tommy Altman — a congressional candidate in the area. In the lengthy post, the attorney accused Barnes and Noble of selling two ‘obscene’ books to minors without parental consent.”

Old Skins Cells Reprogrammed to Regain Youthful Function (Mili)

The author writes, “Scientists have developed a new technique for rejuvenating skin cells. This technique has allowed researchers to rewind the cellular biological clock by around 30 years according to molecular measures, significantly longer than previous reprogramming methods. The partially rejuvenated cells showed signs of behaving more like youthful cells in experiments simulating a skin wound. This research, although in early stages, could eventually have implications for regenerative medicine, especially if it can be replicated in other cell types.”

Asteroid Four Times the Size of the Empire State Building Barreling Toward Earth on May 27 (Sean)

The author writes, “An enormous asteroid four times the size of the Empire State Building will make a close approach to Earth on May 27, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). Fear not: the asteroid, named 7335 (1989 JA), will soundly miss our planet by about 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) — or nearly 10 times the average distance between Earth and the moon. Still, given the space rock’s enormous size (1.1. miles, or 1.8 km, in diameter) and relatively close proximity to Earth, NASA has classified the asteroid as ‘potentially hazardous,’ meaning it could do enormous damage to our planet if its orbit ever changes and the rock impacts Earth.”