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.


Shrinking Arctic Ice Reaches a New Low (Milicent)

On March 28, the National Snow and Ice Data Center made a grim announcement: “The ice at the top of the world has set a new wintertime low for the second straight year.”  To help you picture the loss, the scientists say it is “1.12 million square kilometers smaller than the 1981 to 2010 average, a size difference that’s bigger than California and Texas combined.”

1M Gmail Accounts Might Have Been Targeted by Government Hackers (Trevin)

Google says it warns users who have been targeted by placing a pink warning tab at the top of Gmail, and in the future will provide instructions about how users can better protect themselves.


Sympathy for Stalin Among Russians is High, Poll Shows (Milicent)

According to a poll taken in March by the Levada-Center, 54% of Russians described their attitude toward Stalin as “positive,” while acknowledging that he ordered the death of millions of innocent people. In a December poll, 20% said “Stalin was a wise leader who made the Soviet Union a powerful and prosperous nation.”


NYPD Has at Least Five Undercover ‘Cop Cabs’ (Trevin)

Emails released from the Taxi and Limousine Commission (via a FOIA request) shed some light on New York City ‘Cop Cab’ rumors.

Secret Service Nixes Plan to Allow Guns at the GOP Convention (Klaus)

The Secret Service said guns will not be allowed at the Republican convention site in Cleveland. In order to highlight the ridiculousness of the assertion that “good guys with guns” would make places safer, gun control supporters had lobbied to allow delegates and visitors to open carry weapons in Cleveland.

Turning Live Surveillance Feeds Into Interactive Art (Milicent)

At a gallery in Belgium, an artist’s “Jaywalking” installation displays, in real time, webcam footage of jaywalkers in places as far away as, for example, Seattle.  And the artist, Dries Depoorter, gives you the choice of doing something about it, or not. If you’re feeling mean, you can channel your inner cop: Just press a red button and a screenshot of the evil-doer will be quickly emailed to the local police. There’s much more to the exhibit, of course.