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Netflix to give workers with babies a year of paid leave

LOS GATOS, Calif. (AP) — Netflix is letting new parents on its payroll to take up to a year's paid leave in a move that could pressure other technology employers to improve their baby benefits as they vie for talent.

The employee benefit announced Tuesday on Netflix's blog is generous even by the high standards of Silicon Valley, where free meals and other perquisites supplement lavish salaries in the fiercely competitive battle for computer programmers and other technology workers.

Google, which consistently ranks among the best places to work, offers 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. Parents can also take up to 12 weeks of paid "baby bonding" time during their child's first year.

Netflix says the baby-leave policy applies to all of the roughly 2,000 people working at its Internet video and DVD-by-mail services.

More than 380 in US sickened by cilantro-linked infection

DAVID PITT, Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More than 380 people in 26 U.S. states have been diagnosed with a stomach illness tied to Mexican cilantro contaminated by human waste, two federal agencies said Tuesday.

It's the fourth consecutive summer in which the intestinal infection cyclosporiasis has been reported in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating the cause of the latest outbreak, which appears to have begun after May 1.

The FDA said it suspects the contamination came from "contact with the parasite shed from the intestinal tract of humans" in the growing fields, contaminated water or harvesting, processing and packing activities. It causes diarrhea, nausea and fatigue which can last several weeks to a month or more if untreated.

Preliminary results indicate cases in Texas and Wisconsin can be traced to cilantro from the state of Puebla, Mexico, which was supplied to restaurants at which some of those who became ill dined, the FDA said Tuesday in an updated posting on its website.

Georgia reported clusters of the illness to the CDC. Federal officials said people were sickened in 26 states but declined to name the others.

Previous U.S. outbreaks of the illness have been linked to imported fresh produce, including cilantro from the same region in Mexico which was the subject of a partial ban imposed by the FDA on July 27.

Cilantro imported from the state of Puebla was linked to outbreaks of the stomach illnesses in the United States in 2012, 2013 and last year, the FDA said.

U.S. and Mexican health authorities investigated 11 farms and packing houses in Puebla and discovered human feces and toilet paper in fields and found that some of the farms had no running water or toilet facilities, the FDA said. Problems were found at eight firms, including five that were linked to the U.S. outbreaks.

The FDA has imposed a partial ban on cilantro from the region, accepting it for import into the U.S. only from approved companies during the summer months.

"If you are concerned go back to the store and ask the retailer where they purchased the cilantro," FDA spokeswoman Lauren Sucher said. "If in doubt, throw it out."

Washing it or attempting to clean cilantro may not remove the pathogen that causes illness, although cooking at high temperature will reduce the likelihood of illness.

Toxic algae blooming in warm water from California to Alaska

PHUONG LE, Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — A vast bloom of toxic algae off the West Coast is denser, more widespread and deeper than scientists feared even weeks ago, according to surveyors aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel.

This coastal ribbon of microscopic algae, up to 40 miles wide and 650 feet deep in places, is flourishing amid unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures. It now stretches from at least California to Alaska and has shut down lucrative fisheries. Shellfish managers on Tuesday doubled the area off Washington's coast that is closed to Dungeness crab fishing, after finding elevated levels of marine toxins in tested crab meat.

So-called "red tides" are cyclical and have happened many times before, but ocean researchers say this one is much larger and persisting much longer, with higher levels of neurotoxins bringing severe consequences for the Pacific seafood industry, coastal tourism and marine ecosystems.

Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the area now closed to crab fishing includes more than half the state's 157-mile-long coast, and likely will bring a premature end to this year's crab season.

"We think it's just sitting and lingering out there," said Anthony Odell, a University of Washington research analyst who is part of a NOAA-led team surveying the harmful algae bloom, which was first detected in May. "It's farther offshore, but it's still there."

The survey data should provide a clearer picture of what is causing the bloom which is brownish in color, unlike the blue and green algae found in polluted freshwater lakes. Marine detectives already have a suspect: a large patch of water running as much as 3 degrees centigrade warmer than normal in the northeast Pacific Ocean, nicknamed "the blob."

"The question on everyone's mind is whether this is related to global climate change. The simple answer is that it could be, but at this point it's hard to separate the variations in these cycles," said Donald Boesch, professor of marine science at the University of Maryland who is not involved in the survey. "Maybe the cycles are more extreme in the changing climate."

"There's no question that we're seeing more algal blooms more often, in more places, when they do occur, they're lasting longer and often over greater geographical areas. We're seeing more events than documented decades ago," said Pat Glibert, professor at Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Odell recently completed the first leg of the survey, mostly in California waters. On Wednesday, researchers plan to continue monitoring the sea between Newport, Oregon, and Seattle. The vessel will then go to Vancouver Island, wrapping up in early September. Another research ship is taking samples off Alaska.

The brownish bloom was particularly thick off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, and Odell said it was unusually dominated by one type of algae called Pseudo-nitzschia, which can produce the neurotoxin domoic acid.

"It's an indication of an imbalance," said Vera Trainer, a research oceanographer with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. "Too much of any one thing is not healthy for anybody to eat."

Trainer said this bloom is the worst she's seen in 20 years of studying them. Harmful algal blooms have usually been limited to one area of the ocean or another, and have disappeared after a few weeks. This one has grown for months, waxing and waning but never going away.

"It's been incredibly thick, almost all the same organism. Looks like a layer of hay," said Raphael Kudela, a professor of ocean sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz.

The current bloom also involves some of the highest concentrations of domoic acid yet observed in Monterey Bay and other areas of the West Coast.

"It's really working its way into the food web and we're definitely seeing the impacts of that," Kudela said, noting that sea lions are getting sick and pelicans are being exposed. And now that the Pacific is experiencing its periodic ocean warming known as El Nino, it may come back even stronger next year, he said.

Domoic acid is harmful to people, fish and marine life. It accumulates in anchovies, sardines and other small fish as well as shellfish that eat the algae. Marine mammals and fish-eating birds in turn can get sick from eating the contaminated fish. In people, it can trigger amnesic shellfish poisoning, which can cause permanent loss of short-term memory in severe cases.

State health officials stress that seafood bought in stores is still safe to eat because it is regularly tested. While there have been no reports of human illnesses linked to this year's bloom, authorities aren't taking chances in fisheries with dangerous toxin levels.

California public health officials have warned against eating recreationally harvested mussels and claims, or any anchovy, sardines or crabs caught in waters off Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara counties. Other shellfish harvests are shut down along Oregon's coast.

The most recent samples showed the highest-ever recorded concentrations of domoic acid in the internal organs of Dungeness crab, Ayres said.

"This is really unprecedented territory for us," said Ayres.

University of Oregon settles lawsuit over rape allegations
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The University of Oregon has agreed to pay $800,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a student who claimed she was sexually assaulted last year by three basketball players.

The unidentified 18-year-old woman on Tuesday dismissed all claims against the university. Last week, she also dismissed all claims against head basketball coach Dana Altman.

According to the settlement, the school will also waive her tuition, housing and student fees for four years.

In addition, the school will pursue a policy change requiring all transfer applicants to report any disciplinary history.

In the suit filed in January, the woman said Altman knew when he recruited one of the players that he had been suspended from another college because of allegations of sexual misconduct. Altman denied he knew it.

Gawker hands out Donald Trump's cell number, plan backfires

(KUTV) Well, that backfired.

Gawker, a media and pop-culture blog that has secured a foothold as a major source of online news, put Donald Trump to the test yesterday and blasted out his cell phone number.

Trump, of course, famously publicized rival presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham’s mobile number during a speech in South Carolina last month. Gawker, in turn, decided to take The Donald up on the same offer Monday, writing “In the spirit of open and fair political debate, we now bring you Trump’s number.”

But there’s no trumping Trump, it seems. He embraced the gesture, encouraging followers to give him a ring via Twitter.

We tried dialing a couple times, and after getting a busy signal first, got Trump’s voicemail and campaign message on the second try.

“Hi, This is Donald Trump, and I’m running for the Presidency of the United States of America,” he says. “With your support, we can make America great again.”

He then gives his pitch to follow him to Twitter or visit his campaign website about how to get involved or learn more about his run for the White House.

Wanting to leave a message? Sorry. Voicemail was full.

Wandering alligator ends up on S.C. beach
BY JOEL ALLEN, WPDE

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. (WPDE) — Ray White was on the beach in Pawleys Island Sunday when he saw a crowd of people staring at something, so he wandered over to take a look.

What he saw was an alligator that had somehow made its way into the ocean, where it didn't really belong.

"It was just out riding the waves, floating," said White.

White grabbed his smart phone, aimed and hit the record button.

"Everybody had cell phones. There's videos and pictures everywhere," White said.

Wildlife biologist Dean Cain from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said the gator probably came from its natural habitat, a creek or freshwater source nearby, and after a rain storm, got flushed out to sea.

Cain said alligators don't move around much this time of year, because it's too hot, but a little rain encourages them to move.

Sometimes, small, young alligators that are captured in that kind of situation can be relocated, but Cain said unfortunately, the alligator that was taken out of the ocean Sunday was 9 feet long and quite mature.

It had to be destroyed.

"Generally, nobody wants an alligator on their property, so when you try to move an alligator and you don't know exactly where it came from, it generally may end up in a place that you don't want it anyway," Cain said.

White was most impressed by the DNR-contracted crew that made short work out of wrangling the gator.

"They hooked it, taped it, had some harnesses specially made for that. It was all over fairly quickly," said White.

It's not every day that someone walking along the beach can see that kind of animal hitting the surf.

"Alligators like to ride the waves, too," said White.

PHOTO COURTESY: Rainer Hengst

Darren Wilson tells The New Yorker, 'I can't find work'
BY KATELYN MURPHY, WSYX

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — One year after fatally shooting a young man in Missouri, Darren Wilson is opening up in a lengthy interview with The New Yorker.

Wilson, the former police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, says he has been unable to find work and has to be careful when going out in public.

Wilson also told The New Yorker that he has not read the scathing Department of Justice report that accused Ferguson police of discrimination.

Wilson did not discuss Brown much in the interview, but did say the deceased teen's family is suing him.

A family spokesperson for Brown's parents had a "mixed reaction" to the New Yorker piece, adding that they are "not surprised" by what Wilson said.

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