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Sting sings his rarely performed song 'Russians' as 'a plea for our common humanity'

Sting has brushed off his 1986 hit song "Russians" because it's unfortunately relevant again.

I was a teen when the Cold War ended, so my childhood memories are marked by the ever-present threat of nuclear war with Russia. This was pre-internet, obviously, so we didn't have easy, direct access to people in different countries around the world like we do now. It's probably hard for younger generations to imagine, but the only Russians we ever saw were in TV shows and movies, and maybe occasionally on the nightly news.

Spoiler alert: They were not usually portrayed favorably. Russia was our country's longtime mortal enemy, after all. The Red Scare was over, but anti-communist and anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S. still lingered.

However, in the mid-1980s there was a peace movement that influenced—and was influenced by—artists and entertainers. We saw Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov's humanity in the movie "White Nights" in 1985. And we were compelled to consider that Russians were really no different from us on a human level in Sting's 1986 song, "Russians."


The former frontman of The Police included the song on his debut solo album "The Dream of the Blue Turtles," and he told the British daily newspaper the Express that the song was inspired by his watching illegal broadcasts of Russian children's television shows.


"I had a friend at university who invented a way to steal the satellite signal from Russian TV," he told the Express. "We'd have a few beers and climb this tiny staircase to watch Russian television. At that time of night we'd only get children's Russian television, like their 'Sesame Street'. I was impressed with the care and attention they gave to their children's programmes."

Hence the iconic line about hoping the Russians love their children too.

The song fit the era perfectly, coming out the year after "We Are the World" and a few years before the Cold War finally came to an end. Listening to it has always felt like looking at a snapshot of a specific moment in time, with time giving it a bit of the sepia tone of a bygone era. But now here we are again, with the threat of nuclear war with Russia hanging over our heads. And here we are again with anti-Russia sentiment too easily morphing into anti-Russians sentiment, making Sting's "Russians" almost feel like it could have been written yesterday (minus the references to "the Soviets" and Reagan).

It's a little easier this time around to remember the humanity in the people on the other side, especially seeing how many Russian soldiers have been young conscripts with no idea what they were being sent to Ukraine to do. But there are still people lumping the Russian people in with the sins of their government, which is both unfair and inhumane. Many Russians are victims of intense state-run media propaganda and censorship of outside information sources and genuinely have no idea what's really happening in Ukraine. Many people in Russia who do understand what is happening have risked their lives protesting the war, with arrests of protesters growing into the thousands.

Sting shared a new live performance of the song with a message that reflects what many of us are feeling.

"I’ve only rarely sung this song in the many years since it was written, because I never thought it would be relevant again," he wrote. "But, in the light of one man’s bloody and woefully misguided decision to invade a peaceful, unthreatening neighbor, the song is, once again, a plea for our common humanity. For the brave Ukrainians fighting against this brutal tyranny and also the many Russians who are protesting this outrage despite the threat of arrest and imprisonment - We, all of us, love our children. Stop the war."

It's a beautiful rendition. And for those who may not know, the cello part of the song is actually a theme from "Lieutenant Kijé Suite" by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev.

The combination of war and media can influence people's thinking about a group of people. In war times, it's far too easy to start dehumanizing people on one side or the other, especially when one side is quite clearly the aggressor.

But everyday people don't choose to go to war. Those decisions are made by government and military leaders, with no input from the people they are charged to protect and defend. So we have to guard ourselves against blaming an entire people for the evil deeds of those in charge.

Calls to our common humanity are always needed, but they're especially needed in times of war.

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.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Joy

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.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

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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