Occupy protesters shut down three cargo ports

More than 1,000 Occupy Wall Street protesters blocked cargo trucks at some of the West Coast’s busiest ports Monday, forcing terminals in Oakland, Calif., Portland, Ore., and Longview, Wash., to halt operations.

While the protests drew far fewer people than the 10,000 who turned out Nov. 2 to shut down Oakland’s port, organizers declared victory.

“The truckers are still here, but there’s nobody here to unload their stuff,” protest organizer Boots Riley said. “We shut down the Port of Oakland for the daytime shift, and we’re coming back in the evening.”

Organizers hoped the demonstrations would cut into the profits of the corporations that run the docks and send a message that their movement was not over. The closures’ economic impact, however, wasn’t immediately clear.

The longshoremen’s union did not officially support the protests, but its membership cited a provision in its contract that allowed workers to ask to stay off the job if they felt conditions were unsafe. Some went home with several hours’ pay, while others left with nothing.


Payroll tax cut expected to pass in House, not Senate

House Speaker John Boehner predicted Monday that the House will approve legislation that renews a payroll tax cut and curtails extra benefits for the long-term unemployed.

The House is expected to approve the roughly $180 billion measure today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said the bill will go nowhere in the Senate, citing a provision all but forcing President Obama to move ahead with a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Senate Democrats’ version of the bill pays its costs largely by boosting taxes on the wealthy. Republicans prefer freezing federal workers’ pay and other spending reductions.

The House bill would continue the Social Security payroll tax that workers pay at 4.2 percent in 2012, the same as this year. That tax is normally 6.2 percent, but was temporarily cut in a bid to spur the economy.


Safety board says driver in fatal pileup was texting

A 19-year-old driver was texting just before his pickup truck, two school buses and a tractor truck collided in a deadly pileup in Missouri last year, the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

The pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on one of the buses were killed and 38 others were injured in the Aug. 5, 2010, accident on an interstate highway near Gray Summit, Mo.

The chain of rear-end collisions began when the pickup truck rammed the back of the tractor truck, the board said. The pickup was then rear-ended by a school bus, which was in turn struck by the second bus.

The board is due to meet today to hear results of the crash probe and to make safety recommendations.


Canada withdraws from Kyoto accord, backs new one

Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change Monday, saying the accord won’t help solve the climate crisis. It dealt a blow to the treaty, which no other country has formally renounced.

Environment Minister Peter Kent said Canada is invoking its legal right to withdraw and said Kyoto doesn’t represent the way forward for Canada or the world.

The protocol was initially adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. Canada’s previous Liberal government signed the accord but did little to implement it, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government never embraced it.

“The Kyoto Protocol does not cover the world’s largest two emitters, United States and China, and therefore cannot work,” Kent said.

Kent’s announcement comes a day after marathon climate talks wrapped up in Durban, South Africa. Kent said the Durban agreement represents a path forward. Durban’s accord envisions a new treaty with binding targets for all countries to take effect in 2020.


Owner of N.J. Nets to run for president of Russia

After a week of surprising challenges to his authority, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin faces a new one from one of Russia’s most glamorous figures: The billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets says he will run against him in March’s presidential election.

The announcement Monday by Mikhail Prokhorov underlines the extent of the discontent with Putin, who has dominated Russian politics for a dozen years.

It comes on the heels of Saturday’s unprecedented nationwide protests against Putin and his party, United Russia. Tens of thousands of people gathered in the streets to denounce alleged election fraud favoring United Russia in Dec. 4 elections.

The fraud and the party’s comparatively poor showing in the elections – losing about 20 percent of its seats, although it retained a narrow majority – galvanized long-marginalized opposition forces.

In announcing his candidacy, Prokhorov refrained from criticizing Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev, but he said “society is waking up.”