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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.

Sweeping Climate Bill Pushes American Energy to Go Green (Maria)

The authors write, “After decades of inaction in the face of escalating natural disasters and sustained global warming, Congress hopes to make clean energy so cheap in all aspects of life that it’s nearly irresistible. The House is poised to pass a transformative bill Friday that would provide the most spending to fight climate change by any one nation ever in a single push. Friday’s anticipated action comes 34 years after a top scientist grabbed headlines warning Congress about the dangers of global warming.”

‘We Are at War’: So Much for the GOP General Election Pivot to the Middle (Reader Steve)

From The Seattle Times: “Remember the old days, meaning a blink ago, when political candidates would come out of a pitched primary election and then pivot to appeal to the broader middle? Now what you do is ramp up the violent rhetoric. ‘We are at war,’ GOP candidate Joe Kent said Tuesday, the day he beat an incumbent member of Congress for a spot in the general election this fall. … Kent, an ‘America First’ Republican who defeated incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, was fuming in the aftermath of the FBI executing a search warrant on Trump’s home in Florida. [Steve] Bannon called it ‘jack-booted gestapo tactics,’ to which Kent agreed.”

An Off-Duty Officer Killed a Bronx Teen, His Actions Reflect Culture of the New York City Department of Correction (Dana)

The author writes, “When off-duty corrections officer Dion Middleton killed 18-year-old Raymond Chaluisant, the New York City Department of Corrections’ culture of violence and depraved indifference to the lives of Black and Brown New Yorkers spilled onto the streets in the Bronx. Middleton shot and killed a teenager after being sprayed with a water gun and returned to work, telling his coworker about it without fear of judgment or consequence. Following Middleton’s arrest, New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina issued a statement saying, ‘These very serious charges are in no way a reflection of the officers who work to keep our city safe every day.’ Except they do.”

DeepMind’s Protein-Folding AI Cracks Biology’s Biggest Problem (Russ)

From New Scientist: “DeepMind has predicted the structure of almost every protein so far cataloged by science, cracking one of the grand challenges of biology in just 18 months thanks to an artificial intelligence called AlphaFold. Researchers say that the work has already led to advances in combating malaria, antibiotic resistance and plastic waste, and could speed up the discovery of new drugs.”

The TB Vaccine Mysteriously Protects Against Lots of Things. Now We Know Why (Mili)

The author writes, “When babies in the African countries of Guinea Bissau and Uganda were given the tuberculosis vaccine, something remarkable happened. Instead of the vaccine only protecting against the target bacteria — Myocbacterium tuberculosis — the tuberculosis vaccine offered broad protection against a range of unrelated infections, including respiratory infections and serious complications such as sepsis. Australian researchers have now pinpointed the biological mechanism behind the off-target effects of the tuberculosis vaccine.”

The Plague of Spotted Lanternflies Has Descended on NY and NJ — But It May Not be as Bad as We Thought (Gerry)

From Gothamist: “The unmistakable red, polka-dotted spotted lanternflies were first sighted in New York in 2020. A year later, our marching orders were clear: kill, kill, kill, no questions asked. In their third summer in the city, however, our collective efforts feel a tad futile. Spotted lanternflies are living their best lives, scaling skyscrapers, riding the subway, and lounging at the beach in seemingly more plentiful numbers than in the last two summers combined. After all the hype, perhaps now is the right moment to pause, take stock of these spotted little creatures, and appreciate the fact that, according to some experts, they may not actually be as bad as we thought.”

Why Are These 400 Trees in a Polish Forest Crooked? (Sean)

The author writes, “In a forest near the town of Gryfino, Poland, there are 400 pine trees with unusually curved trunks. The trees’ trunks take a sharp, 90-degree turn and then curve to form a shape resembling the letter J. How these trees all grew with an identical curve is a mystery. They are estimated to have been planted sometime in the early 1930s. During World War II, Gryfino was invaded and destroyed, and its residents had to abandon the town, according to reporting in the New York Times, including those who planted and knew the secrets of the forest.”