Liddy heard a scream one night from the backyard of her home in the border town of Pharr, Texas.

She was having trouble with undocumented immigrants passing through her property. She'd been especially worried ever since she found one of her horses killed and skinned, which she took as a warning sign from a Mexican drug cartel.

When she went out to her backyard to investigate the sound, she was disoriented by what she found. But not half as much as I was.


​All images by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente​/Panel Syndicate, with words by Brian K. Vaughan. Used with permission.

That's the basic setup to a cool new web comic called "Barrier."

Written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente, "Barrier" is a digital-only comic about immigration and aliens — legal, illegal, and extraterrestrial. The self-published series is available online, with the purchaser setting their own price, and the horizontal pages are optimized to fit your screen or tablet.

But here's the interesting part: The comic is bilingual. Which means I can't understand all of it.

Aside from a few years of high school Spanish that I can't remember and some random Irish phrases that I never use, I'm ashamed to say that English is my only language. But half of "Barrier" follows a Honduran immigrant en route to the United States, and there's no translation guide.

It's annoying and confusing — but, well, that's kind of the point.

"We wanted to try something different, presenting a story with no translations, so that readers in various parts of the world would each have completely unique experiences," explained Vaughan — who, like me, only speaks English.

Vaughan's artistic collaborators, Martin and Vicente, are both from Barcelona.

Unlike Vaughan, they speak Spanish. But their Spanish (and Catalan) is different from Honduran Spanish, or Mexican Spanish, so while they were making the comic, they ran the translated dialogue past the Honduran consulate in Barcelona too, just to be safe.

But again: That was kind of the point.

"It’s vital to the story that readers experience the same feeling of being lost and confused that people face when finding themselves in a different country," said Martin. "And judging by the both positive and angry responses we’ve received, we’ve apparently succeeded."

"We wanted to find an entertaining, unconventional and, most importantly, visual way to explore a complicated issue [like immigration]," Vaughan said.

Before "Barrier," the trio worked on a similarly experimental webcomic about internet privacy called "The Private Eye," a digital-only story that was pay-what-you-want and free of any copyright locks or encryption. This time around, Vaughan says they wanted to tackle what might be the most important topic of conversation for the next five years.

"We didn’t exactly need a crystal ball to guess that it might be immigration," he said, although he admitted that none of them realized just how big of an issue it would be.

From a reader's perspective, the lack of translation in "Barrier" really does make the story that much more effective.

You can still figure out what's happening, for the most part; not every language uses words, and the artwork in the comic speaks for itself.

I might not be able to interpret the dialogue during Carlos' trek through South America and Mexico, for example. But thanks to Martin's and Vicente's incredible artwork, I can at least understand that he's feeling anxious, lost, and confused — because, after all, so am I.

"I’m always humbled and fascinated by the way that language both unites and separates us all," said Vaughan. "As a visual medium, comics can often smash through that language barrier, which was a phenomenon I always wanted to investigate more deeply."

And just to drive the point home even further, there are sequences without any words at all, but they still tell a powerful story. You can see it in the pages below, or in the upcoming third installment of the series, which ... well, let's just say it takes the idea of feeling alien to differently literal level.

A series of consecutive, silent pages portraying the characters' parallel lives.

The disorientation of not knowing what's happening brings clarity to the issue of immigration in an incredible way.

"Languages are not only about communication, but they also model the way we perceive, understand, and experience the reality and the world around us," Martin said.

The artists know some people will miss out on certain subtleties and nuances in the story because they don't speak the language. Some people will likely understand a different point of view entirely. Others might follow their instincts and block out the half of the story they can't understand, even if they could still infer the story from the images and moments.

But, come to think of it, that sounds a lot like the larger debate around immigration.

When it comes to a complex topic like immigration, sometimes it's hard to find the right words. But that's exactly why "Barrier" is worth checking out.

Stories bring us together, and when a story like this is accessible to anyone, it makes it easier for people to have important conversations about things like immigration and surveillance — regardless of their native tongue.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

U.S. men's and women's soccer teams will now receive equal pay.

The U.S. women's national soccer team (USWNT) is the winningest women's soccer team on Earth, holding four FIFA World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals and eight CONCACAF Gold Cups. In the three years following their 2015 World Cup win, the women's team also generated more game revenue than the U.S. men's national soccer team (USMNT).

The U.S. men's national soccer team team, on the other hand, has never won a World Cup and has brought in less game revenue than the women's team in recent years. And yet, players on the women's team have continued to get paid thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts. This pay discrepancy resulted in two major lawsuits against the U.S. Soccer Federation, one by five women's players in 2016 and one by 28 players in 2019.

In February 2022, a settlement was reached, which has the U.S. Soccer Federation paying $22 million in back pay to the women's team players. And on May 18, U.S. Soccer Federation announced a deal that will have players for the USMNT and USWNT being paid equally until at least 2028.

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Photo from Upworthy Library

A proud sloth dad was caught on camera.

Teddy the two-toed sloth has become a proud papa and thanks to a video posted by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, we all get to witness the adorable reunion with his newborn son.

Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



The video, posted to the Florida zoo’s YouTube page, shows Grizzly slowly climbing toward her mate, who is at first blissfully unaware as he continues munching on leaves. Typical dad.

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