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.

The Last-Minute Gift to Fight Climate Change: Donations (Maria)

The author writes, “Right now your inbox is probably full of ads for fun tchotchkes and gifts, as well as guides to getting the perfect present for that person who has everything. But the holidays tend to be an especially wasteful time of year … [and] the season of giving is hardly green. So this year, if you’re stumped as to what to get a loved one, consider making a donation in their honor to a group that’s working on climate solutions. Here are a few expert recommendations.”

A UAE Agency Put Pegasus Spyware on Phone of Jamal Khashoggi’s Wife Months Before His Murder, New Forensics Show (Russ)

From The Washington Post: “New analysis provides the first indication that a UAE government agency placed military-grade Pegasus spyware on a phone used by someone in [Jamal] Khashoggi’s inner circle in the months before his murder.”

The United States Is Being Robbed (Sean)

The author writes, “Since the start of the pandemic, U.S. billionaires have increased their collective fortunes by more than 70% in just 19 months. From a combined worth of $3 trillion in March of 2020 to an astonishing $5 trillion in October 2021, according to Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality (IPS) who analyzed data from Forbes. The Federal Reserve Board also estimates the current wealth held by U.S. billionaires to be two-thirds more than the $3 trillion in wealth held by the bottom 50% of U.S. households. At the other end of the spectrum lies poverty which many relentlessly remind us has been cut in half — a statement that will only hold true if the economic benefits during the pandemic are made permanent.”

Conservatives Have a New Bogeyman: Critical Energy Theory (Laura)

From The New Republic: “‘This morning at the ALEC Committee meetings,’ Jason Isaac, director of the Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation, wrote last Friday morning, ‘you’ll have the opportunity to push back against woke financial institutions that are colluding against American energy producers.’ The email — obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, and first reported by CMD investigative journalist Alex Kotch — offers a window into a rapidly congealing strategy among Republican state-level officials: declaring war on’“critical energy theory’ within the financial sector.”

Government Action Needed to Ensure Insurance Against Major Hacking of Driverless Vehicles, Experts Warn (Mili)

The author writes, “Government action is needed so driverless vehicles can be insured against malicious hacks which could have potentially catastrophic consequences, a study says. The software in driverless vehicles will make it possible for them to communicate with each other. It is being used and tested on public transport around the world, and is likely to be available to private vehicles in the future. This technology can help improve transport safety, but hacking could result in accidents and damage to fleets of vehicles, financial loss, deaths and personal injury.”

Rare and Frightening Footballfish Washes Up in California (Dan)

The author writes, “At first, the black blob spotted between rocks along the shores of San Diego this week was mistaken for a ball of tar. But as a concerned surfer approached, it became clear that this was something special. The finned creature had a gaping underbite that revealed nightmarish spiny teeth, small black eyes, a tentacle-covered appendage and bulb protruding from its head. Scientists at University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography swiftly identified it as a Pacific football fish, a deep-sea dweller so rare that only 31 specimens have been found in more than a century since it was first discovered.”