People are asking their gov’ts to let in more Syrian refugees; why Asians often see a higher sticker price for online test prep; and more.
Give me your tired, your poor…: Nearly five percent of Iceland’s population of 320,000 have joined a Facebook page calling on their government to take in more refugees, responding to an official cap of just 50, Christine Hauser reports for the New York Times. The page, Syria is Calling, has an absolutely lyrical call to action: “Refugees are our future spouses, best friends, our next soul mate, the drummer in our children’s band, our next colleague, Miss Iceland 2022, the carpenter who finally fixes our bathroom, the chef in the cafeteria, the fireman, the hacker and the television host. People who we’ll never be able to say to: ‘Your life is worth less than mine.’ ….Open the gates.”
Inspired by Iceland’s example: “Americans Supporting Syrian Refugees: Open Homes, Open Hearts” just launched on Facebook. The United States is currently only allowing 8,000 in.
Refugees Welcome, a Berlin-based group that connects German citizens with refugees in need of a place to stay, says it has been “overwhelmed by offers of support,” Jessica Elgot reports for The Guardian. It has helped people from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria.
Future, Imperfect: Uber drivers in California may join a class-action lawsuit against the company if they want to be treated as workers, not independent contractors, Judge Edward Chen ruled yesterday, Sarah Jeong reports for Motherboard.
Google’s self-driving cars, which are programmed to obey the law precisely, are apparently too safe for actual driving conditions, where other drivers are more aggressive or simply can’t make eye contact with its missing driver, Matt Richtel and Conor Dougherty report for the New York Times.
Depending on your zip code, the Princeton Review SAT preparation course charges anywhere from $6,600 to $8,400 when you sign up online, and “Asians are almost twice as likely to be offered a higher price than non-Asians,” ProPublica’s Julia Angwin, Surya Mattu and Jeff Larson report. This kind of price differential is legal as long as there is no intent to racially discriminate.
This is civic tech: For GovTech, the always readable Jason Shueh takes a close look at the rise of startups swarming into the “smart city” movement, zeroing in on Shaun Abrahamson’s Urban.us venture fund and its focus on investment areas like mobility and logistics, the built environment, utilities and service delivery.
What happens when journalists let the public decide which stories to do? “Stories made from public curiosity perform significantly better than typical news stories,” writes Jennifer Brandel on Medium.
Josh Miller, the founder of Branch, has left Facebook to join the White House digital team as its director of product. Explaining the move, he writes: “Wouldn’t it be great if your government had a conversation with you instead of just talking at you? The Obama Administration has already responded to 255 online petitions that had collectively gathered more than 11 million signatures. Imagine if talking to the government was as easy as talking to your friends on social networks? White House officials have started to regularly host Q&As on Twitter. These initiatives represent amazing progress, and there’s so much more good work to be done. I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned in the technology industry to the ideals of our democracy. As a mentor of mine likes to say, ‘It’s gonna be great!’”
Your moment of Zen: The only thing missing from this Huffington Post mashup of Donald Trump saying “China” is him breaking into song. What a shift from 2008, when the buzzword du jour was “Change.” Paging Hugh Atkin!