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The Iran deal as explained by Jack Black, Morgan Freeman, and people who actually know about it

Raise your hand if you think we should pass the Iran deal. Now raise your hand if you understand the Iran deal.

Have you heard about the "Iran deal"?

In case you missed it, the White House struck a deal with Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons for the next 10 years. If you've been watching cable news, there's been no shortage of pundits yelling past each other about how awesome or awful it is. The Democrats love it and the Republicans hate it. But do you really want to base your decisions on what people in Congress say? I sure as hell don't. Congress doesn't really do nuance that well.

Based on the analysis I've read, the deal itself seems to be a good idea. But honestly, how many of us can say we truly understand how it works?


If only we had celebrities to explain it to us. WAIT! DON'T LEAVE!

Just watch this explainer video. The celebrities get fact-checked at 47 seconds in. (Don't worry, they're in on the joke.) If you don't want to watch the video, scroll down for the explainer.


The details of the deal are, frankly, over my head.

Often, when major issues are brought to the American public, marketing people trot out celebrities to scare you into changing your mind on an issue. In this satirical video, movie stars Jack Black, Natasha Lyonne, Farshad Farahat, and Morgan Freeman are here to scare you. They start by explaining how we'll all die if the Iran deal doesn't happen.

All GIFs via Global Zero.

But then the video takes a turn for the interesting.

First of all, America is not going to get nuked.

But the deal is still incredibly important to stability in the Middle East.

What makes this video different is that the celebrities get fact-checked by people with experience.

I was suspicious until I watched the whole thing (again, at 0:47 it gets interesting). This video is different not because of the celebrities, but because of the actual foreign policy experts who keep the celebrities honest. Their resumes are pretty impressive when it comes to these sorts of things.

Queen Noor of Jordan (who has extensive experience fighting for human rights), former CIA agent Valerie Plame (whose work included stopping Iran from getting the bomb) and former United States Ambassador Thomas Pickering (who was instrumental in making sure we didn't get embroiled in a decade-long war the first time we went into Iraq) fact check them.

What happens if we don't accept the deal that's on the table?

Former U.S. Ambassador Pickering (who was a Republican appointee) says:

And what happens if we go to war?

Former CIA agent Plame, who again, just to remind you, worked for the CIA on a mission to prevent Iran from getting nukes, says:

And we all know how well we do at long-term invasions in the Middle East, right?

Why is this deal a good one?

We'll be able to keep an eye on everything.

According to the White House, everywhere that Iran touches nuclear material, international inspectors will have immediate access.

Image via the White House.

And if they try to create a new secret location, the inspection team has a plan for that as well. According to at Slate:

"This makes it extraordinarily difficult for Iran to cheat. Iran might want to set up a covert enrichment plant, but where would it get the uranium? Or the centrifuges? Or the scientists? If 100 scientists suddenly don't show up for work at Natanz, it will be noticed. If the uranium in the gas doesn't equal the uranium mined, it will be noticed. If the parts made for centrifuges don't end up in new centrifuges, it will be noticed. Iran might be able to evade one level of monitoring but the chance that it could evade all the overlapping levels will be remote."

Morgan Freeman summarizes the deal more succinctly.

That's all well and good, but what do other experts say?

Having a celebrity-filled video is great but if you really want to verify that something is going to be successful, you have to see what the actual experts think.

James Fallows at The Atlantic did a great job of explaining who is for it and who is against it. I won't go into detail, but here's a summary.

People who are against the Iran deal:

The Republican candidates for president, the Republican members of Congress, a few American conservative Israel think tanks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and many conservative Israeli Netanyahu supporters.

People who are for the Iran deal:

Basically, everyone else — Democrats and Republicans from across the spectrum who have worked in foreign policy, more than 100 former U.S. ambassadors of every political stripe, including five former American ambassadors to Israel, over 60 highly respected American "national-security leaders," Hans Blix (the guy who ran inspections for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq), a bunch of optimistic Iranian dissidents, and according to The Atlantic article, "numerous Israeli analysts and former military and intelligence-service officials."

You can see a more comprehensive and in-depth list of everyone who both supports the deal and is against it in James Fallows' astute piece.

But what can you do about it?

Basically, the only thing that can stop this deal now is Congress.

Many of them are saying, "We need a better plan." But they don't actually say what a better plan would be.

And we know that experts from across the political spectrum think this Iran deal is a good compromise. So I was hoping to ask you to do something you might not normally do.

We need you to call your member of Congress at (877) 630-4032.

Ask them to give diplomacy a chance. And then consider sharing this.

And just to thank you for doing that, I'm including a GIF of U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering grinning cheesily at the camera. You're welcome.

Connections Academy

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

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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.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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