SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix is getting jeered for excluding the employees in its DVD-by-mail service from a recently introduced benefit that gives up to a year of paid leave to most of its workers after the birth or adoption of a baby.
At least three online petitions posted by activist groups are urging Netflix to extend the baby benefit beyond the roughly 2,000 workers in the Internet video service that generates most of its revenue.
Netflix has about 450 temporary, part- and full-time employees in its steadily shrinking but still profitable DVD division.
The protesting groups contend Netflix is unfairly favoring the mostly high-paid computer programmers and other technology specialists working in its Internet video service over the lower-paid employees who sort through discs and stuff envelopes in the distribution centers that receive and send DVDs.
Many of the DVD workers are paid by the hour and make a fraction of the six-figure salaries doled out to many of the Internet video service employees. Netflix pay varies widely, ranging from $15 per hour for customer-service representatives to more than $200,000 annually for software engineers, according to information shared by company workers on employer review website Glassdoor.com.
“Netflix is leaving workers who could benefit the most from a generous paid leave policy behind and that is offensive,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, a women’s rights group.
Netflix says its DVD employees get bigger paychecks and better benefits than people in comparable jobs. “We are regularly reviewing policies across our business to ensure they are competitive and help us attract and keep the best employees,” the Los Gatos, California, company said in a statement.
Besides UltraViolet, the two other groups pressuring Netflix about the limits on its parental leave policy are: Coworker.org, which fights for workers’ rights; and Democracy for America, a political organization founded by Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a one-time candidate for president.
Democracy for America sent emails Thursday urging its members to challenge Netflix for discriminating against its DVD workers.
“A worker’s ability to care for their family should not be dependent on what department they work in,” wrote Mia Moore, Democracy for America’s chief of staff.
When it announced its new baby benefit earlier this month to widespread acclaim, Netflix initially said the policy would apply to all its full-time workers. It wasn’t until a few days later that Netflix revealed that DVD workers would not be eligible, after all.
Although it once was the Netflix’s focal point, the DVD rental service has become a company afterthought as more households have embraced the concept of streaming video over high-speed Internet connections. Netflix now has more than 65 million worldwide subscribers to its Internet video service compared to 5.3 million DVD customers — less than half the number that it had three-and-half-years ago.
This story has been corrected to read that the benefit is paid leave, not unpaid leave
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A gunman shot into a crowd that gathered outside the Rochester Boys and Girls Club after a basketball game, killing three people and wounding four others in what Gov. Andrew Cuomo called “a deplorable act of violence.”
The drive-by shooting happened at about 11:20 p.m. Wednesday as people milled about outside the club, which is across the street from a school. Police said there was no problem at the club before the shooting.
“A fun and peaceful basketball tournament at the Boys and Girls Club ended with laughing as people walked home, but soon turned into a bloodbath because someone thought it was OK to open fire into the crowd,” Mayor Lovely Warren said at a news conference Thursday with Police Chief Michael Ciminelli.
Officials have not yet released the names of the victims. The injured, all men in their 20s, have gunshot wounds that don’t appear to be life-threatening, police said.
“Local authorities are working to bring the perpetrators of this hateful act to justice, and my administration stands ready to assist them in any way possible,” Cuomo said in a statement.
A $10,000 reward was offered Thursday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
The mayor and police chief warned against retaliation, urging witnesses and others to report anything they know to police.
“We understand emotions run high,” Ciminelli said. “More violence is not the answer to a violent act.”
Warren said the shooting followed a “peace rally” earlier in the day that involved the city’s Pathways to Peace program intended to discourage the use of violence in settling disputes.
“Hours later, three young men are dead and four more are wounded,” Warren said. “Two of the young men who were killed last night were engaged in our Pathways to Peace program: Young men who were trying to turn their lives around. Young men who had promise and who we believed we could help and we could save from this culture of violence.”
A large crowd gathered early Thursday near the scene of the shooting as family and friends of the victims consoled each other.
Police put out a call for surveillance or cellphone video, promising anonymity if requested. Ciminelli said about 100 people had been at the basketball game and an estimated 25 to 30 were still outside the club when the shooting erupted.
He declined to discuss a possible motive.
“We are bringing every resource that we have to bear on this,” he said. “We will run this down and find out who did this. This was an outrageous act. We intend to find out who did it and bring them to justice.”
The executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester, said the shooting happened about 20 minutes after the club-sponsored basketball game ended.
“The safe haven for our members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester has been compromised by this horrific incident” Dwayne Mahoney said in a statement.
He expressed hope “this heinous crime will be quickly solved.”
More than two weeks after a mine spill fouled waterways in several Western states, officials expressed concern Thursday over the long-term effects of contaminated river bottoms as the federal agency that triggered the accident downplayed the dangers.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency workers released more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water Aug. 5 while investigating an inactive mine site near Silverton, Colorado. The spill prompted the shutdown of public drinking-water systems and left rivers in the region tinged a disturbing yellow-orange color that has since faded.
The EPA said in recent days that poisons including lead and thallium have been detected in river sediment samples collected from the Animas River, which travels from Colorado into northern New Mexico, joining the San Juan River before emptying into Lake Powell along the Utah-Arizona border.
In Colorado, contaminants exceeding drinking-water standards were found in seven private wells out of more than 100 tested, according to the EPA. Details on what contaminants were found and at what concentrations were not disclosed. Officials said Thursday that they would continue to investigate the wells, but noted that it was not clear if the spill was to blame.
EPA officials have repeatedly said sediment contamination was returning to pre-spill levels and no longer threatens recreational river users on the upper Animas or water treatment plants.
But state health officials were more cautious as they attempted to nail down the potential for long-term damage to private drinking wells and aquatic life, from the heavy metals and other contaminants that dropped out of the passing plume.
Experts warn that sediments could be stirred up from river bottoms by storms or during the annual spring runoff, when snow at high elevations in the Rocky Mountains melts.
The sediment contains thallium, a naturally occurring metal that can cause hair loss and kidney or liver problems, as well as lead, which can delay mental development in children.
“We are concerned about this particular sediment load given how the various constituents in the sediment may continue to affect the stream,” Colorado health officials said in a statement released by Jan Stapleman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health and the Environment.
The officials added that there was “ongoing potential for those (private) wells to be affected as the sediment migrates into the groundwater table.” It could take years to gather enough data to accurately gauge the extent of problems for fish and other aquatic life, they said.
In Utah, scientists from the state Department of Environmental Quality said tests to date suggested the water in the San Juan River presents little health risk to users. Agency officials said they were turning to a long-term monitoring strategy focusing on sediment and what, if any, steps can be taken to deal with it.
In the interim, Utah health officials warned river visitors not to drink the water and to minimize contact with dirt and sand.
In New Mexico, environmental regulators monitoring the sediment said the threat it posed was an “open question” that required long-term investigation.
After tumbling from the heights of Colorado’s Rockies, the Animas slows as it enters New Mexico, allowing more sediment to drop out of the water column and onto the river bottom, said Bruce Yurdin, a water quality expert with the New Mexico Environment Department.
Contaminants can be taken up by insects living on the bottom, which are then consumed by fish and ultimately by people fishing on the popular waterway.
Yet it could be difficult to distinguish problems caused by the EPA’s spill from the long history of contamination flowing from upstream mines, Yurdin said.
Thirty-eight private water wells have been sampled in New Mexico, according to the EPA. Results of those tests were not provided.
Arizona wildlife officials planned to test the tissue of fish from Lake Powell for potential contaminants.
Despite repeated requests from The Associated Press, the EPA has not released further information on the pre-spill contamination levels in the Animas and San Juan rivers, which would shed light on how much things have changed.
EPA spokeswoman Lisa McClain-Vanderpool said the agency planned to release more information on sediments soon.
Navajo President Russell Begaye visited Silverton over the weekend and poured water over sediment settling on the banks of the river. He watched as yellowish sediment flowed over the rocks and downstream.
“These are things I’m concerned about, is what happens when the rain comes,” Begaye said in a video posted on his office’s Facebook page.
Tribal spokesman Mihio Manus said the president was considering lifting an advisory Saturday against using the San Juan River for irrigation. The EPA planned to end water deliveries for agriculture to the reservation on Friday.
The Interior Department, which is conducting an independent review of the spill at the EPA’s request, said Thursday that it expects to deliver a final report by late October.
The probe will be overseen by Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation.
Associated Press writer Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona, contributed to this report.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The police chief on Thursday unapologetically defended the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old who was killed by two white officers in a confrontation that drew protesters and unrest back to the streets.
Protesters pledged to stand firm. Said the director of a group called the Organization for Black Struggle: “We will not go away.”
Mansur Ball-Bey, who police said had a handgun, was shot as officers raided a home in a violence-plagued part of north St. Louis. Within an hour of Wednesday’s shooting, more than 100 people converged on the scene, taunting officers and decrying the use of deadly force.
A vacant building and at least one car were torched, police said. Officers responded with tear gas and arrested at least nine people on charges of impeding traffic and resisting arrest.
The scene unfolded less than two weeks after violence marred the anniversary of the day Michael Brown was fatally wounded by a white officer in nearby Ferguson. His death launched the national Black Lives Matter movement.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the crowd-control tactics were justified because officers were being hit with bottles and bricks and protesters refused to clear out of the roadway.
“I’d certainly much rather our officers focused in the neighborhoods, interceding violence before it happens,” Dotson said Thursday, noting that some in the neighborhood implored police to leave them alone.
“It’s kind of ironic that we’re in that neighborhood where police services are most needed, and people are telling us not to do our jobs.”
Activists vowed to continue their efforts.
“We have a right to live in freedom and specifically free from fear,” said Montague Simmons, executive director of the Organization for Black Struggle. “This can’t go unchecked. We’re going to stay in the street. No matter what (police) put forward, we are not going to stop.”
The latest shooting happened while officers were serving a search warrant. They encountered Ball-Bey and another suspect running from the home, police said.
Ball-Bey turned and pointed a handgun at the officers, who shot him, authorities said. He died at the scene.
The handgun found in the dead man’s possession had one round in the chamber and 13 in the magazine, Dotson said.
Some protesters questioned the police claim that the suspect was armed. Distrust of police accounts has been common since Brown’s death.
On the night of the Brown anniversary, 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr. was wounded by plainclothes officers in Ferguson after he allegedly first fired at them. His father called that account “a bunch of lies” and insisted his son was unarmed.
Later, police released surveillance video that appeared to show the younger Harris pulling a handgun from his waistband and running in the direction of the officers.
“I understand people’s skepticism,” Dotson said Thursday. “But don’t let social media and innuendo drive what you believe to be true. You have to let the facts speak.”
Mayor Francis Slay pledged an “independent and transparent” investigation of the shooting but stood behind police.
“The police were in this neighborhood doing their job,” Slay said at a meeting with the St. Louis Clergy Coalition, a group of black ministers. The meeting was at a church about a block from the shooting site.
The police chief and mayor said protesters should have their voices heard, but they differentiated between those who gather to protest and others who create mischief.
“We have to be mindful of the fact that there are criminals who were at the protest as cover for their activity,” Slay said.
Joe Steiger, president of the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, the city’s police union, said the chief’s decision to pull manpower away from other crime-prone areas to monitor protests risks stretching the city’s already thin police force.
The protests, he added, “seem like they’re never going to end.”
Activists said the police response was unnecessarily “militaristic” and an affront to free-speech rights.
Steiger bristled at the notion that police are the villains and said trouble-makers during protesters are criminals.
“Police don’t start riots. Rioters start riots,” he said.
The scene of Wednesday’s shooting — known as the Fountain Park neighborhood — is a historically high-crime area that has seen an uptick in violence, with 127 confirmed homicides this year. There were 159 homicides in all of 2014 and 120 the year before that.
A 30-year-old man was shot and killed there Monday. Last month, a man was charged with felony child endangerment after his 3-year-old nephew accidentally shot himself in the head after finding a loaded gun under a pillow in a bedroom. A market next to Wednesday’s shooting was riddled with bullets this week and ransacked hours after Ball-Bey’s death. Thieves made off with cellphones, cigarettes, food and medicine.
Fountain Park is also the area near where a 93-year-old veteran who was part of the famous all-black Tuskegee Airmen of World War II was the victim of two crimes within a few minutes Sunday — being robbed and then having his car stolen. The veteran was unhurt, and his car was found Tuesday blocks from where it was taken.
“Right now, you see a police officer and your first instinct is to run,” said Fred Price, 33, who lives near the shooting scene. “They don’t want to get shot by the police.”
Something like this, he said, makes people “want to keep the police out of the neighborhood.”
VIENNA (AP) — Following is a transcript of the original draft agreement between the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran covering inspections at the Parchin military site, where Iran has been accused of pursuing nuclear weapons development a decade ago. This agreement is separate from the much broader Iran nuclear deal signed by Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers in July. Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to The Associated Press that this draft does not differ from the final, confidential agreement between the IAEA and Iran. The AP was not allowed to have a copy of the draft but was allowed to transcribe the entire text, and it appears here:
Separate arrangement II agreed by the Islamic State of Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on 11 July 2015, regarding the Road-map, Paragraph 5
Iran and the Agency agreed on the following sequential arrangement with regard to the Parchin issue:
1. Iran will provide to the Agency photos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
2. Iran will provide to the Agency videos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
3. Iran will provide to the Agency 7 environmental samples taken from points inside one building already identified by the Agency and agreed by Iran, and 2 points outside of the Parchin complex which would be agreed between Iran and the Agency.
4. The Agency will ensure the technical authenticity of the activities referred to in paragraphs 1-3 above. Activities will be carried out using Iran’s authenticated equipment, consistent with technical specifications provided by the Agency, and the Agency’s containers and seals.
5. The above mentioned measures would be followed, as a courtesy by Iran, by a public visit of the Director General, as a dignitary guest of the Government of Iran, accompanied by his deputy for safeguards.
6. Iran and the Agency will organize a one-day technical roundtable on issues relevant to Parchin.
For the International Atomic Energy Agency: Tero Varjoranta, Deputy Director General for Safeguards
For the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ali Hoseini Tash, Deputy Secretary of Supreme National Security Council for Strategic Affairs
TIANJIN, China (AP) — Chinese workers in protective suits began clearing wreckage on Thursday, including charred car bodies and crumpled shipping containers, from the site of a chemical warehouse that exploded last week, killing at least 114.
Officials have ordered nationwide checks on dangerous materials, and the Chinese military said it was inspecting storage measures for weapons, ammunition, and fuel as well as chemical, explosive and toxic materials, the official newspaper People’s Liberation Army Daily reported.
Training in the handling of such materials and in executing emergency response plans will also be stepped up, the newspaper said.
Driving home the importance of such efforts, President Xi Jinping and other top leaders gathered in Beijing to hear a report on progress in investigating the disaster.
“Lately, in some places there have been major industrial safety accidents, one after the other, revealing yet again that problems in the area of industrial safety remain prominent and grave,” said a statement issued after the meeting.
Safety work needs to be improved and attitudes need to change to “contain the outbreak of major accidents, bring about a fundamental improvement in industrial safety and safeguard the lives and property of the masses of the people,” the statement read.
Along with safety violations, official corruption was added as a contributing cause of the Aug. 12 disaster in the port city of Tianjin following revelations Wednesday that the son of a former police chief, one of two silent owners of the warehouse, used his connections to help obtain licenses despite safety violations.
The other owner is a former executive at a state-owned chemical company who also used his connections to smooth the way for approval for the facility run by Ruihai International Logistics, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
The explosions that rocked the port city of Tianjin were among China’s worst industrial accidents in recent years and the deadliest on record for the country’s firefighters, who accounted for 102 of the 179 total dead and missing. Authorities say almost 700 people remain hospitalized, while 30,000 people in and around the area have had their lives turned upside down by the disaster.
A key question is why the warehouse was able to store toxic chemicals, including sodium cyanide, ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate, even though it was located less than the required 1,000 meters (yards) from homes and public roads — a clear violation of state safety rules.
One explanation offered by the silent owners, identified as former SinoChem executive Yu Xuewei and the late Tianjin port police chief’s son, Dong Shexuan, is that they shopped around until they found a licensed safety inspection company that would give its approval.
The two are among at least 10 people reportedly taken into custody, including top officials of the warehouse’s management company.
China’s Cabinet has pledged that its investigation will find the cause of the blast, assign responsibility and recommend punishment. After days without a statement, Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo appeared at a news conference Wednesday saying he would take ultimate responsibility for the disaster.
Additionally, the head of the government body in charge of industrial safety, Yang Dongliang, has been placed under investigation for corruption. Yang had previously worked for 18 years in Tianjin in state industry and local government, rising to executive vice mayor. His son has also reportedly been taken in for questioning.
Homeowners have protested daily on city streets demanding that the government compensate them for damaged homes that they fear are now unlivable because of chemical contamination.
“How are we supposed to live in this ghost town now,” said resident Niu Guijun. “If the government insists on telling us that there’s no problem, they’re welcome to move in and we’ll let the officials live there free of charge.”
Associated Press video journalist Wong Wai-bor in Tianjin and writers Christopher Bodeen, Ian Mader and Didi Tang in Beijing contributed to this report.