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.

Why Wall Street Set New Records on the Same Day COVID-19 Cases Did (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Another day, another shattered record of COVID-19 infections in the United States — and yet another set of new milestones in the Dow (^DJI) and S&P 500 (^GSPC), as Santa Claus continues to bestow gifts on Wall Street. One of the aforementioned records is most assuredly not like the other. But you better believe they’re inextricably bound to one another by the COVID pandemic, and what prices appear to be telegraphing about what comes next as the Omicron variant cascades across the globe.”

‘Slow-Motion Insurrection’: How GOP Seizes Election Power (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “In battleground states and beyond, Republicans are taking hold of the once-overlooked machinery of elections. While the effort is incomplete and uneven, outside experts on democracy and Democrats are sounding alarms, warning that the United States is witnessing a ‘slow-motion insurrection’ with a better chance of success than Trump’s failed power grab last year. They point to a mounting list of evidence: Several candidates who deny Trump’s loss are running for offices that could have a key role in the election of the next president in 2024. In Michigan, the Republican Party is restocking members of obscure local boards that could block approval of an election. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled legislatures are backing open-ended ‘reviews’ of the 2020 election, modeled on a deeply flawed look-back in Arizona. The efforts are poised to fuel disinformation and anger about the 2020 results for years to come.”

More Than Half of US States Will Raise Their Minimum Wage in 2022, but Employers Are Hiking Pay Faster (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “California’s largest businesses will be required to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour in January. It’s a milestone fast-food workers have been trying to achieve since 2012. … Next year, 26 U.S. states and Washington will raise their minimum wages, but only California and parts of New York will mandate hourly pay of at least $15, according to a report from payroll experts. However, many workers will see more substantial pay increases because their employers chose to raise their pay floor on their own.”

They Were the Pandemic’s Perfect Victims (Dana)

The author writes, “The pandemic killed so many dialysis patients that their total number shrunk for the first time in nearly half a century. Few people took notice.”

The World as We Know It Is Ending. Why Are We Still at Work? (Sean)

From Vox: “For a moment in early 2020, it seemed like we might get a break from capitalism. A novel coronavirus was sweeping the globe, and leaders and experts recommended that the US pay millions of people to stay home until the immediate crisis was over. These people wouldn’t work. They’d hunker down, take care of their families, and isolate themselves to keep everyone safe. With almost the whole economy on pause, the virus would stop spreading, and Americans could soon go back to normalcy with relatively little loss of life. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Instead, white-collar workers shifted over to Zoom (often with kids in the background), and everybody else was forced to keep showing up to their jobs in the face of a deadly virus. Hundreds of thousands died, countless numbers descended into depression and burnout, and a grim new standard was set: Americans keep working, even during the apocalypse.”

6 Weird and Wonderful New Year’s Traditions From Around the World (Dana)

From Oddee: “The year’s coming to an end, and you know what that means. It’s time to break out the fireworks and champagne to bid farewell to 2021. But that’s not how it goes everywhere in the world. Different peoples have very different ways (and times) to welcome in the new year.”

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