protest

Protesters attack Port of Seattle salaries, seek better conditions for workers, less air pollution

Protesters attacked air pollution, working conditions and high salaries for port executives

Against the backdrop of a towering asthma-medicine inhaler, about 250 protesters demonstrated downtown on Thursday*, saying the Port of Seattle should do a better job of cleaning up air pollution, taking care of its low-level employees and reining in the six-figure salaries of its executives.

The protest outside a meeting of the American Association of Port Authorities targeted in particular Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani’s 9 percent pay raise earlier this year that gave him a salary more than twice that of Gov. Chris Gregoire – as state employees saw their paychecks dip 3 percent. Yoshitani makes $366,825 a year.

One protester carried a sign saying “Tay’s pay is not OK.” Others carried Yoshitani’s visage emblazoned with “Overpaid.” Protesters included labor activists, environmentalists, port workers and others.

“He got a 9 percent raise!” state Rep. Zack Hudgins told the demonstrators. “Did anyone here get a 9 percent raise?”

Hudgins, D-Seattle, said he will file legislation that would:

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Changing the political system = saving the Earth, say protesters at Copenhagen climate talks

COPENHAGEN – T-shirts. Banners. Picket signs. Chants. Those were the weapons most demonstrators wielded to get across their plea as tens of thousands rallied to send a message to United Nations climate-treaty negotiators meeting here.

Their overriding point was probably best summed up in one placard: “Change the politics, not the climate.” Another frequently seen sign: "There is no Planet B:" The Copenhagen march was echoed by an international campaign of demonstrations.

[caption id="attachment_7155" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="InvestigateWest photo by Christopher Crow."]InvestigateWest photo by Mark Malijan.[/caption]

The protesters targeted a proposal emerging from global negotiations here that wouldseek to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide by putting a price on the right to pollute. A similar system has worked well to control acid rain in the United States, by most accounts. But critics say exporting that concept to a worldwide climate treaty is foolhardy because it privatizes the right to pollute. (Jim Tankersley of the LA Times has an interesting look at what goes on inside the negotiations versus what's transpiring outside.)

The Saturday protest, billed as the largest likely during the climate talks, was not without violence. A few hundred of the 30,000 or more demonstrators tossed bricks at police, smashed windows and set off homemade explosives near the end of the march.

Alberta tar sands energy firm pleads not guilty in birds' deaths

Syncrude, an Alberta oil sands giant, pleaded not guilty Monday in the deaths of approximately 1,600 ducks in one of its tailings ponds in April 2008, reports Sarah O'Donnell in the Edmonton Journal. The migrating ducks landed in a pond near Fort McMurray, were coated in oil residue, and sank to the bottom. Only eight survived, five of which went to Edmonton's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The remaining three were released. The deaths in what's also known as the Alberta tar sands region violate the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. Syncrude says it is doing all it can to make avoid a repeat case. Syncrude lawyer Robert White had this to say:

Syncrude is not above the law. However, the law has recognized for a long time that when people do their best to avoid something, that isn't a matter for charges. That is a matter of fix-up... And it is not possible for anybody to do more than Syncrude has done to ensure it never happens again.

The company is still fighting the charges.

North of Fort McMurray, Greenpeace activists have seized a giant dump truck and shovel from Shell's Albian Sands open-pit-mine, reports Richard Warnica in the Edmonton Journal. More than 25 people chained together pickup trucks to block off the dump truck, then climbed to the top and chained themselves down. Spokesman Mike Hudema says the group is prepared to stay until people listen to the message proclaimed on its banner: "Tar Sands: Climate Crime." The protest comes one day before Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's meeting with U.S.