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.

Tesla Recalls Autos for Software That Allows Them to Roll Through Stop Signs (Maria)

The author writes, “Tesla is recalling nearly 54,000 cars and SUVs because their ‘Full Self-Driving’ software lets them roll through stop signs without coming to a complete halt. Recall documents posted Tuesday by U.S. safety regulators say that Tesla will disable the feature with an over-the-internet software update. The ‘rolling stop’ feature allows vehicles to go through intersections with all-way stop signs at up to 5.6 miles per hour. The recall shows that Tesla programmed its vehicles to violate the law in most states.”

Meet the Trio Who May Have Figured Out How to Save American Democracy (Gerry)

From The New Republic: “Led by battleground state legislators, the Trumpers have rewritten voting laws, threatened election administrators, begun purges of county election boards, created new gerrymanders, and more. The worst of these power grabs limit access to a ballot, which is the starting line of voting, for anti-Trump blocs and would disqualify ballots and nullify votes before the finish line. This playbook is not new. But modern voting systems, from voter registration to tallying paper ballots, contain numerous stages and respective data sets, many of which are public records and are quite detailed. If smartly used after Election Day, these records could provide an easily understood evidence trail that would make it much harder for the Trump faction to proclaim victory prematurely or falsely.”

London’s Status as a Playground for Kremlin-Linked Oligarchs Undermines Britain’s Tough-on-Russia Stance (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has accused Moscow of plots to overthrow the Ukrainian government, pledged the ‘biggest possible’ offer of British troops to the region, and announced new legislation that could expand sanctions on allies of President Vladimir Putin. However, all of these plans are being undermined by something far closer to home: the city of London. … For years, the moneyed streets of the British capital and its surroundings have been a really great place to hide if you’re a Kremlin-linked oligarch. Russian millionaires and billionaires have bought up so much of wealthy areas like Belgravia in Central London that certain British neighborhoods have gained their own Soviet-inspired nicknames like ‘Londongrad’ or ‘Red Square.’”

Turkish Drones Boost Ukrainian Spirits Amid Fears of Russian Invasion (Aline)

From Al-Monitor: “As Western leaders scramble to stave off a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, a pair of air force colonels in this medieval town in southwest Ukraine are showering praise on Turkey’s globally coveted combat drones, the Bayraktar TBT 2. ‘The Bayraktar drone provides precision targeting to the artillery to destroy a column of tanks. It’s a quality drone that does everything in real time in an automated system,’ raved Lt. Col. Yuri Ignati, spokesperson for the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during an exclusive 70-minute interview with Al-Monitor.”

Do Other Viruses Have as Many Variants as SARS-CoV-2? (Sean)

The author writes, “SARS-CoV-2 seems to be constantly changing. In the span of just two years, alpha, beta, delta, lambda, mu and omicron have all made headlines. And that list doesn’t include dozens of other variants that were detected but not considered high priority by the World Health Organization. Is this coronavirus’s rapid evolution unusual, or do other viruses have just as many variants? We asked the experts to find out.” 

Suicide Hotline Shares Data With For-Profit Spinoff, Raising Ethical Questions (Bethany)

From Politico: “Crisis Text Line is one of the world’s most prominent mental health support lines, a tech-driven nonprofit that uses big data and artificial intelligence to help people cope with traumas such as self-harm, emotional abuse and thoughts of suicide. But the data the charity collects from its online text conversations with people in their darkest moments does not end there: The organization’s for-profit spinoff uses a sliced and repackaged version of that information to create and market customer service software.”

Why Does Snow Glow Blue? How Could a Fly Possibly Survive High-Elevation Elements? (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “The inspiration for this story was curiosity. For years during cold-weather hikes, I’ve noticed strange clusters of ice spikes jutting from the ground and wondered how they formed. That got me thinking about another winter enchantment: the way white snow glows turquoise in the holes left by boots or ski poles. I knew it had something to do with wavelengths, but what? Photojournalist Erika Schultz and I decided to team up on a story exploring these and other wonders unique to the season when our hemisphere tilts farthest from the sun. I hoped it would open my eyes to things I hadn’t noticed before and — maybe — expand my enjoyment of a season I often find hard to love.”