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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.

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.”

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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


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