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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.

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New California Law Will Require Big Firms to Reveal Carbon Emissions (Maria)

The author writes, “A groundbreaking California law will force large companies doing business in the state — including major global corporations — to disclose their planet-heating carbon emissions. The measure, signed into law by the governor, Gavin Newsom, on Saturday, will be the nation’s first of its kind, serving as a blueprint for national climate accountability. It comes as federal regulators have dragged their feet on crafting similar rules, which could be finalized this month.”

America’s War in Afghanistan Devastated the Country’s Environment in Ways That May Never Be Cleaned Up (Laura)

The author writes, “Afghans who lived near America’s vast bases say the US military’s lack of even minimal environmental protections polluted their land, poisoned their water, and sickened their children. The consequences of the contamination may last for generations.”

FBI Interviewed Individuals Who Accuse Amy Coney Barrett Faith Group of Abuse (Mili)

From The Guardian: “The FBI has interviewed several individuals who have alleged they were abused by members of the People of Praise, a secretive Christian sect that counts conservative supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett as a lifelong member, according to sources familiar with the matter. The individuals were contacted following a years-long effort by a group called PoP Survivors, who have called for the South Bend-based sect to be investigated for leaders’ handling of sexual abuse allegations. The body, which has 54 members, has alleged that abuse claims were routinely mishandled or covered up for decades in order to protect the close-knit faith group.”

Texas Ranch Owner Says DPS Arrested Hundreds of Migrants Without His Consent (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “A ranch owner is contesting hundreds of migrant arrests on his land in Eagle Pass, TX, along the Rio Grande, saying state troopers working for Gov. Greg Abbott never had permission to initiate the crackdown there this summer. Beyer Junfin’s lawyer said he never authorized the arrests, and he has repeatedly asked that the more than 650 trespassing cases be dropped. The Department of Public Safety says Junfin agreed verbally and the local county attorney has continued to prosecute the migrants under the premise that some of the ranchers’ text messages amount to written consent. … Arrests on the property made up many of the trespassing charges filed under Abbott’s sweeping border initiative, known as Operation Lone Star.”

How a Big Pharma Company Stalled a Potentially Lifesaving Vaccine in Pursuit of Bigger Profits (Reader Jim)

From ProPublica: “Ever since he was a medical student, Dr. Neil Martinson has confronted the horrors of tuberculosis, the world’s oldest and deadliest pandemic. For more than 30 years, patients have streamed into the South African clinics where he has worked — migrant workers, malnourished children, and pregnant women with HIV — coughing up blood. … So, when Martinson joined a call in April 2018, he was anxious for the verdict about a tuberculosis vaccine he’d helped test on hundreds of people. The results blew him away: The shot prevented over half of those infected from getting sick; it was the biggest TB vaccine breakthrough in a century. He hung up, excited, and waited for the next step, a trial that would determine whether the shot was safe and effective enough to sell. Weeks passed. Then months. More than five years after the call, he’s still waiting, because the company that owns the vaccine decided to prioritize far more lucrative business.”

Hubble Telescope Just Witnessed a Massive Intergalactic Explosion and Astronomers Can’t Explain It (Sean)

The author writes, “A mysterious cosmic explosion created a brilliant flash of light in the space between two galaxies over 3 billion light-years away. The optical flash, which was one of the brightest bursts of blue light in the universe but lasted only a few days, is the latest example of a rare breed of brief astronomical event called a luminous fast blue optical transient (LFBOT). LFBOTs are a complete mystery. The first one to be discovered wasn’t observed until 2018. … Nicknamed ‘the Cow,’ it was up to 100 times brighter than an ordinary supernova, and was also bright in radio waves, ultraviolet, and X-rays. If it was a supernova, it behaved very oddly. Usually, a supernova stays bright for weeks, or even months, and has a recognizable spectrum. Yet the Cow faded after a few days.”

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