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.

US Probes Potential of Drivers Playing Video Games in Teslas (Maria)

The author writes, “The US has opened a formal investigation into the potential for Tesla drivers to play video games on a center touch screen while the vehicle is in motion. In a document posted Wednesday on its website, the agency says the feature, called ‘Passenger Play,’ may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.To date, the agency has received one owner complaint describing the gameplay functionality and has confirmed that this capability has been available since December 2020 in Tesla ‘Passenger Play’-equipped vehicles, an NHTSA spokesman said in an email.”

Nearly $100 Billion Stolen in Pandemic Relief Funds, Secret Service Says (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “Nearly $100 billion at minimum has been stolen from COVID-19 relief programs set up to help businesses and people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, the U.S. Secret Service said Tuesday. The estimate is based on Secret Service cases and data from the Labor Department and the Small Business Administration, said Roy Dotson, the agency’s national pandemic fraud recovery coordinator, in an interview. The Secret Service didn’t include COVID-19 fraud cases prosecuted by the Justice Department.”

How One of America’s Largest Employers Leans on Federal Law Enforcement (Russ)

From Politico: “Amazon has found a powerful ally to help it protect its sprawling operations from fraud and abuse: the U.S. government. The company has increasingly tipped off the Justice Department and FBI to investigate Amazon’s own employees and the sellers using its platform, according to a Politico analysis and a dozen interviews with Amazon employees, former federal prosecutors and financial crime experts. In addition, it has hired dozens of former DOJ and FBI employees, some of whom are filling out its internal teams aimed at policing its platform.”

Beware the Extremist, Dangerous, and Unconstitutional ‘Constitutional Sheriffs’ (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Police reform initiatives launched after George Floyd’s murder have largely overlooked the nation’s more than 3,000 county sheriffs, most of them elected. Yet there is an urgent need to address how sheriffs are increasingly undermining law enforcement accountability — and distorting public policy more broadly. Of particular concern are the self-styled ‘constitutional sheriffs’ — an increasingly influential subset of sheriffs who are subverting not only reform efforts but also core democratic principles.”

The Wealthiest People on the Planet Are Responsible for Almost Half of Carbon Emissions (Doug)

From Grist: “A recent analysis led by several Nobel-laureate economists has put concrete numbers to the ‘emissions inequalities’ around the world. The richest individuals, it found — the world’s ‘10 percent’ — collectively emit nearly half of all global emissions. Meanwhile, the poorer half of the global population is responsible for just 12 percent. The report, produced by the research group World Inequality Lab, based at the Paris School of Economics, maps the differences in global income and wealth across the world, as well as gender and environmental disparities, using data collected by more than 100 researchers over four years.”

VIDEO: India and Pakistan: The Students in Jail for Praising the Wrong Cricket Team (Mili)

From the BBC: “An Indian student has now spent nearly two months in jail for celebrating Pakistan’s victory in a cricket match. As his family call for his release, the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan went to the northern Indian city of Agra to find out why lawyers are refusing to represent him.”

The History of the Metal Box That’s Wrecking the Supply Chain (Sean)

The author writes, “Behold the simple shipping container. It’s a large, steel box that can carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. It’s also stackable and designed to fit on ocean freight ships, trains, and even trucks. … Thanks to the pandemic, the shipping container is now at the center of the global supply chain crisis, which has interrupted the delivery of everything from medical supplies to holiday gifts. Because of widespread manufacturing delays and bottlenecks, there aren’t enough of these boxes in the right place and at the right time. There are also too many containers at shipping terminals, which is clogging up ports and blocking more cargo from arriving. Exporters, meanwhile, are struggling to find the empty containers they would normally use to send their products to customers abroad. These shipping container problems are continuing to pile up as the larger manufacturing system they helped enable also struggles to adapt.”

Surfer’s Board Bitten by Swimming Boar in Hawaii (Dana)

The author writes, “A surfer off the Hawaii coast said the creature that left a bite mark on her board wasn’t a shark — it was a wild boar out for a swim. Ingrid Seiple, who has been surfing for more than 35 years, said she was riding the waves off Oahu’s Kaena Point when she spotted what she initially thought was a Hawaiian monk seal in the water. Seiple said she was shocked when the animal lifted its head.”