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.

Tech Titans Pledge Billions in Investments to Strengthen US Cybersecurity Defenses (Maria)

The author writes, “Some of the country’s leading technology companies have committed to investing billions of dollars to strengthen cybersecurity defenses and train skilled workers, the White House announced Wednesday following President Biden’s private meeting with top executives. The Washington gathering was held during a relentless stretch of ransomware attacks that have targeted critical infrastructure and major corporations, as well as other illicit cyber operations that US authorities have linked to foreign hackers.”

Merrick Garland Must Investigate Donald Trump’s Attempted Coup — Not for Retribution but for Deterrence (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “With increasing and troubling frequency, an argument is being made that former presidents should be presumptively shielded from criminal investigation and prosecution unless it is all but certain that a jury would return a conviction — a much higher bar than applies to anyone else. The argument amounts to a claim that — regardless of the nature of the crime — a former president should be above the law and beyond its reach. It’s one thing to debate the case-by-case wisdom of prosecuting a sitting or former president. It’s another to let that debate bring about the destruction of the very system — our constitutional democracy — that makes possible this, and every, public debate. Yet that’s exactly what I fear might be taking place in what would be an unforgivable failure of nerve, a monumental failure of courage.”

Afghanistan Meant Nothing (Bethany)

The author writes, “By the time you read this, the Taliban may already be in Kabul. If not now, then soon. Nixon wanted — and got — his decent interval between the United States pullout of Vietnam and the inevitable North Vietnamese takeover. Afghanistan’s interval was never going to be decent, but I confess I expected an interval. We’re scrambling to leave in time, we’re racing for the helicopters as the Taliban burns through Afghanistan like a forest fire. I remember Afghanistan well. I deployed there twice — once in 2008, and again in 2009–2010. It was already obvious that the Taliban would sweep through the very instant we left. And here we are today.”

To Save His Presidency, Biden Must Tell the Truth About Afghanistan (Dan)

From The New York Times: “For days now, the news media has likened the chaotic end of our misadventure in Afghanistan, and the awful images of terrified people scrambling onto planes at the Kabul airport, to the final exit from South Vietnam. The comparison is overdrawn; the last American combat troops left Indochina two years before the collapse of the Saigon government. But there is at least one potential parallel between the two conflicts that should have President Biden worried: The last time a war blew up in the face of a Democratic president, it derailed his domestic agenda and stalled the most ambitious social reforms of a generation.”

Florida Man Catches COVID, Delaying $6M Arizona Vote ‘Audit’ (Dana)

The author writes, “In a development that’s sure to fan the flames of a thousand conspiracy theories, a report from the presidential election ‘audit’ in Arizona has been delayed because COVID-19 has swept through the private company running the show. ‘The team expected to have the full draft ready for the Senate today, but unfortunately, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quite sick,’ Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said in a statement. It’s not clear whether any of the people were vaccinated against the virus.”

World’s First Crewless, Zero Emissions Cargo Ship Will Set Sail in Norway (Russ)

The author writes, “A Norwegian company has created what it calls the world’s first zero-emission, autonomous cargo ship. If all goes to plan, the ship will make its first journey between two Norwegian towns before the end of the year, with no crew onboard. Instead, its movements will be monitored from three onshore data control centers. It’s not the first autonomous ship — an autonomous ferry launched in Finland in 2018 — but it is the first fully electric container ship, say its makers. Developed by chemical company Yara International, the Yara Birkeland was designed to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, which are toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases, and carbon dioxide, as well as moving freight away from roads to the sea.”

‘Mind Blowing’: Grizzly Bear DNA Maps Onto Indigenous Language Families (Mili)

From Science: “The bears and Indigenous humans of coastal British Columbia have more in common than meets the eye. The two have lived side by side for millennia in this densely forested region on the west coast of Canada. But it’s the DNA that really stands out: A new analysis has found that the grizzlies here form three distinct genetic groups, and these groups align closely with the region’s three Indigenous language families. It’s a ‘mind-blowing’ finding that shows how cultural and biological diversity in the region are intertwined, says Jesse Popp, an Indigenous environmental scientist at the University of Guelph who was not involved with the work.”

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