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Apparently, the first day of Donald Trump’s new immigrant crime hotline went amazingly — just not in the way the Trump administration had probably hoped.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

The Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement Office (VOICE), established to assist victims of crimes committed by "removable criminal aliens," was reportedly prank-called all day by protesters claiming to have been abused by E.T., Jabba the Hutt, and other notorious creatures from outer space.

The trend was first noticed by Robbie Gramer, a writer for Foreign Policy.  


An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson told BuzzFeed that the hotline was "tied up" throughout the day by the protesters.

Alexander McCoy, a Marine Corps veteran and progressive activist, claims to have kicked off the tongue-in-cheek protest with a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

"I swore an oath to defend my community and uphold the Constitution," McCoy says. "I see speaking out as a way of continuing to fulfill my oath and standing behind the immigrant community that is under attack."

McCoy, who explains that he finds the term "aliens" intentionally dehumanizing, called the hotline and — after waiting on hold for 20 minutes — was asked if he was calling to report a crime by an "illegal alien."

He told the operator that he'd been abducted and taken to a UFO.

"I heard them give a long sigh," he says. "And they closed out the conversation saying that they'd make a note of it."

Critics of VOICE allege that it unfairly demonizes immigrants — singling them out for suspicion based on their status.

The office was announced during Trump's Feb. 2017 address to Congress during a tribute to four guests whose family members were killed by undocumented immigrants.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Two recent studies conducted by The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform organization, and the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, found that immigrants — whether documented or undocumented — commit crimes at lower rates than native-born residents.

An ICE official told Upworthy that the VOICE office is intended to provide information to crime victims and does not receive crime reports, and also that he considers the protest a "shameful" stunt at victims' expense.

After McCoy's tweet went mini-viral, other prank-tivists began calling in, adding their own spin.  

Michigan resident Lisa Polmanteer used her time on the phone with a VOICE representative to troll Melania Trump — claiming to have been "victimized" by an immigrant living off her tax dollars in New York City.

According to Polmanteer, the operator asked if she was talking about the first lady. When she said yes, he hung up.

Others on Twitter suggested an entirely different, punny approach.

While the prank was undoubtedly silly, its message was incredibly serious.

"I feel like the administration is going to use these stories to further demonize immigrants [and] refugees," Polmanteer says. "My grandparents were immigrants. I take it personally, I guess."

McCoy hopes the protest will move participants to support the efforts of immigrant rights groups, like United We Dream, Presente, Mijente, and the DRM Action Coalition, who have been, as he says, "fighting this fight much longer than I have."

He also hopes people will continue to take action against attempts to stigmatize those who come to the U.S. seeking a better life.

For now, that means fighting efforts like VOICE — even if it means being a little annoying.

Or especially if it means being a little annoying.

"I feel like the only thing I can do about it is be disruptive." Polmanteer says. [I'm] feeling pretty overwhelmed and powerless, you know? So I'm a jerk wherever I can be."

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images.

This post was updated with comments from ICE.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

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Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

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Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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