Are you supposed to tip Uber drivers? Uber just answered in a surprising way.

I believe "Uber" is the German word for "super-convenient rides when the subway shuts down."

Which is appropriate, even though I just made it up.

The once-underdog-startup-turned-transportation-empire has become a pretty dominant force in the world of people who need to get places, which has also made it the subject of several recent controversies.


Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

First, New York City taxi owners sued Uber, saying the ride-booking service was threatening their livelihoods. Then Uber drivers got angry and sued the company, citing unfair wages and lack of proper employment status.

The company has also come under fire for spying on a reporter, a sexist campaign in France that claimed to pair passengers with beautiful women, and a "negligent" driver onboarding process that many say has led to incidents of sexual assault.

Like that area under the passenger seat, Uber has never really been squeaky clean. And now, another controversy is putting the company back into the headlights.

Uber just announced that its app won't include an option for tipping. And there's a really interesting reason.

You see, tipping is a bit confusing when it comes to ride-booking.

While Uber's official policy is that passengers don't have to tip and there is no option that allows users to tip using the app, many Uber drivers say that policy has created the misconception that drivers get tips from the company. In fact, drivers receive only the ride's fare, minus a 20-25% cut that goes to Uber.

Photo Illustration by David Ramos/Getty Images.

As part of the settlement from the class action lawsuit brought by drivers back in 2015, Uber has agreed to clarify once and for all that tips are not included in drivers' fares.

However, the company says it's still not planning on adding a tip function to the app anytime soon.

Why?

Tipping is inherently unfair because of customers' subconscious racial biases, Uber says.

While most conversations about racial bias and tipping tend to focus on the likelihood of a customer to tip based on his or her race, Uber has done its homework on research that suggests the bias goes the other way, as well.

According to The Boston Globe, an Uber spokesperson cited a study done by two Cornell University professors that found "consumers of both races discriminate against black service providers by tipping them less than white service providers.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

A study published in the Yale Law Journal also found that after controlling for other variables, African-American cab drivers were tipped one-third less than white cab drivers on average. It also suggested that government-mandated tipping would directly reduce the racial tipping bias and might even reduce the tendency of drivers to refuse African-American customers.

Some have argued that race doesn't factor into how customers tip. But the data doesn't back them up.

Kiesha Seaton, an Uber driver who is black, told the Globe that she doesn't think race has anything to do with the tips she does or does not receive, saying, “It’s all about the service you provide, and if you provide top-notch, five-star service, you expect to be compensated as such." She went on to cite a large tip she once received as evidence, while admitting that she’s not sure how the experience would have played out if she were white.

Still, other Uber drivers have argued that everything from the model of the car they drive to their physical appearance can affect their tips.

In the service industry, there are obviously innumerable variables that can affect tipping behavior, ranging from the general mood of the customer or server to their economic status to the widely misunderstood and confusing language of a tipping policy.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

In a perfect system, Uber wouldn't need a tipping feature.

The company would simply pay their drivers a fair living wage and negate the need for the customer to provide extra in the form of tips.

Joe's Crab Shack recently became the first major restaurant chain to test out that concept. The restaurant raised its servers' starting wage to $14 an hour (from just over $2) and banned tipping. CEO Ray Blanchette argued that it would increase employee retention and guarantee that servers take home a consistent paycheck even if they work on slow nights — something that could be financially devastating to a server under the old model.

If Uber wants to make its employees happy, clear up all the tipping confusion, and account for unfortunate racial discrepancies, it might want to try paying its drivers a living wage.

Frankly, if Uber can afford to deliver kittens to your door once a year, it can probably afford to treat its workers fairly.

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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

There's a weird thing that happens when we talk about people dying, no matter what the cause. The 2,977 souls who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack felt overwhelming. The dozens of children who are killed in school shootings are mourned across the country each time one happens. The four Americans who perished in Benghazi prompted months of investigations and emotional video montages at national political conventions.

But as the numbers of deaths we talk about get bigger, our sensitivity to them grows smaller. A singular story of loss often evokes more emotion than hearing that 10,000 or 100,000 people have died. Hearing a story of one individual feels personal and intimate, but if you try to listen to a thousand stories at once, it all blends together into white noise. It's just how our minds work. We simply can't hold that many individual stories—and the emotion that goes along with them—all at once.

But there are some ways we can help our brains out. An anonymous visual effects artist has created a visualization that can better help us see the massive number of Americans who have been lost to the coronavirus pandemic. The number alone is staggering, and seeing all of the individual lives at once is overwhelming.

In this video, each marble represents one American who has died of COVID-19, and each second represents six days. At the top, you can see the calendar fill in as time goes by. Unlike just seeing a grid of dots representing the visual, there's something about the movement and accumulation of the marbles that makes it easier to see the scope of the lives impacted.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

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Usually when we share a story of a couple having been married for nearly five decades, it's a sweet story of lasting love. Usually when we share a story of a long-time married couple dying within minutes of each other, it's a touching story of not wanting to part from one another at the end of their lives.

The story of Patricia and Leslie "LD" McWaters dying together might have both of those elements, but it is also tragic because they died of a preventable disease in a pandemic that hasn't been handled well. The Michigan couple, who had been married for 47 years, both died of COVID-19 complications on November 24th. Since they died less than a minute apart, their deaths were recorded with the exact same time—4:23pm.

Patricia, who was 78 at her passing, had made her career as a nurse. LD, who would have turned 76 next month, had been a truck driver. Patricia was "no nonsense" while LD was "fun-loving," and the couple did almost everything together, according to their joint obituary.

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