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Uber doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation when it comes to keeping its riders safe. Its latest update could change that.

In a blog post, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi outlined a number of new features aimed at passenger safety, including the ability to dial 911 in-app and giving riders the opportunity to designate trusted contacts who will be able to access trip details.

Additionally, Khosrowshahi pledged a stronger driver screening process and announced an expansion of the company’s Safety Advisory Board, which will now include former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. The feature changes will be rolled out sometime this summer.


“Every day, our technology puts millions of people together in cars in cities around the world,” he wrote. “Helping keep people safe is a huge responsibility, and one we do not take lightly. That’s why as CEO, I’m committed to putting safety at the core of everything we do.”

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi speaks onstage at The New York Times 2017 DealBook Conference. Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times.

This may be little more than damage control and an effort to fight off existing and future lawsuits.

In 2016, an Uber driver in Chicago was charged with sexually assaulting an intoxicated passenger. The following year, another Chicago woman sued the ride-sharing service over sexual assault by a different driver. A Los Angeles Uber driver was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and kidnapping in 2017, and a Virginia driver was arrested in January 2018, again, for alleged sexual assault.

An Uber car in New York City. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

In 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities reviewed the records of 70,789 Uber and Lyft drivers, and found that 8,206 (or roughly 11%) failed a background check — some with serious and violent convictions on their records (51 of the rejected drivers were convicted sex offenders).

If not for the screening, the drivers could still be on the road today, as they had passed whatever background check system the ride-sharing companies used.

Late last year, two women brought a class-action lawsuit against Uber, arguing negligence and systemic corruption. The lawsuit reads, in part:

“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired. Nothing meaningful has been done to make rides safer for passengers — especially women. This is no longer an issue of ‘rogue’ drivers who act unlawfully.”

Among other actions, the lawsuit called on the company to address its driver background screening system.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


Addie Rodriguez was supposed to take the field with her dad during a high school football game, where he, along with other dads, would lift her onto his shoulders for a routine. But Addie's dad was halfway across the country, unable to make the event.

Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

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Pop Culture

She bought the perfect wedding dress that went viral on TikTok. It was only $3.75

Lynch is part of a growing line of newlyweds going against the regular wedding tradition of spending loads of money.

Making a priceless memory

Upon first glance, one might think that Jillian Lynch wore a traditional (read: expensive) dress to her wedding. After all, it did look glamorous on her. But this 32-year-old bride has a secret superpower: thrifting.

Lynch posted her bargain hunt on TikTok, sharing that she had been perusing thrift shops in Ohio for four days in a row, with the actual ceremony being only a month away. Lynch then displays an elegant ivory-colored Camila Coelho dress. Fitting perfectly, still brand new and with the tags on it, no less.

You can find that exact same dress on Revolve for $220. Lynch bought it for only $3.75.
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