Monday, December 10, 2018

December 10, 1983, Memphis, Tennessee.

I woke up in a rented Memphis condo 35 years ago today to find a Shelby County, Tennessee Sheriff's Deputy knocking at our front door, delivering a $1 million libel lawsuit.  That was at 8:30 AM.   My first law school exam was at 1 PM that afternoon.  (Torts. My professor's name was Thomas Reynolds.  I got a "B.")

The libel lawsuit was filed by a convicted felon East Tennessee Sheriff Deputy Dispatcher, ROBERT WAGNER, his wife, GAIL DUNCAN WAGNER, her father, ERVIN DUNCAN, and INTERSTATE BONDNG COMPANY.  WAGNER solicited bail bonding business using the NCIC terminal, sometimes calling out on the radio to Tennessee Highway patrolman, stating, "Tell the SOB I'll make his bond."

The individual and corporate plaintiffs alleged that I had defamed them by reporting as Appalachian Observer editor that it appeared that they were "in cahoots" with Anderson County Sheriff DENNIS O. TROTTER, in whose jail they obtained 87% of the bail bonding business.  The lawsuit hung over my head for the rest of my 1L year.

In May, 1984, Sheriff DENNIS O. TROTTER was arrested and sent to federal prison for some of his many crimes.  The three bail bondsmen waived indictment and pled guilty to a USDOJ criminal information charging that they had bribed TROTTER with $10,633.50 (10% of their profits).

Sheriff DENNIS O. TROTTER and the bail bondsmen settled with me out-of-court in five figure settlements.  No one else has ever sued me for libel.

Few reporters sued for libel ever filed counterclaims for abuse of civil process, malicious prosecution of a civil lawsuit, RICO or other torts.

I did.

And I did it as a first-year law student at Memphis State University, pro se, ab initio.

My successful tort case was successfully prosecuted to completion by Hayden Lait.

In 1988, when Sheriff TROTTER emerged from federal prison and got a look at our potential jurors in federal court in Memphis, he knew he would not find a sympathetic jury: three of eighteen potential jurors were employees of West Tennessee churches.  TROTTER's criminal conviction was for selling drugs out of the evidence locker at Anderson County Sheriff's office, including cocaine and synthetic heroin.  TROTTER was one of nine (9) of 95 Tennessee Sheriffs who went to federal prison for drug dealing in the 1980s.

When I ponder St. Johns County, Florida Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's sins, crimes and torts, I think of Sheriff TROTTER.

Republican Sheriff  SHOAR has the same evil arrogance as Democratic Sheriff TROTTER.  TROTTER was outrageous and so is SHOAR, as in the Michelle O'Connell coverup, his insulting a grieving family, his attempted criminal prosecution and firing of FDLE Special Agent Rusty Ray Rodgers for doing his job "too well," his stirring up Deputy JEREMY BANKS' malicious civil litigation against Agent Rodgers, dismissed March 30, 2018 (Good Friday/Passover) by United States District Court Judge Brian J. Davis.

As LBJ said to Congress after Selma, "We shall overcome!"

Why this matters (short Axios-style version, 163 words):

As a first year law student at Memphis State University in 1983, I was sued for $1,000,000 by a corrupt East Tennessee Sheriff's bail bondsmen co-felons. I immediately sued them for suing me for reporting their 87% monopoly on bail bond business, reporting it appeared that they were "in cahoots."
Sheriff DENNIS O. TROTTER went to federal prison, the three bail bondsmen waived indictment and pled guilty to federal crimes, and the four all settled civil litigation I brought against them for suing me. Lessons learned:
1. Every reporter and activist threatened with a libel lawsuit needs to know their legal rights and calmly proceed to file counterclaims against those vicious varmints who would chill, coerce, restrain and intimidate our First Amendment rights. I did.
2. We, the People win when we stand up to bullies.
3. Expose and unite against corrupt Sheriffs like DENNIS O. TROTTER and DAVID SHOAR, and all their works and pomps.
4. Speak truth to power. I do.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, December 10, 1964

Today is not only the 70th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is also the 54th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, the same year he helped enact the 1964 Civil Rights Act, after helping giude the St. Augustine, Florida civil rights movement.

Footnote: It's also the 35th anniversary of my being served with a $1,000,000 libel lawsuit from an East Tennessee Sheriff's bail bonding business co-felons.  (The SLAPP lawsuit was later dismissed, the Sheriff went to federal prison, and he and his co-felons paid me five figures in settlements for their retaliatory lawsuit against me.)

Martin Luther King Jr. – Acceptance Speech

Martin Luther King’s Acceptance Speech, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1964
Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.
Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.
Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace …
After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity. This same road has opened for all Americans a new era of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights Bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a super highway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.
I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shallovercome!
This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.
Today I come to Oslo as a trustee, inspired and with renewed dedication to humanity. I accept this prize on behalf of all men who love peace and brotherhood. I say I come as a trustee, for in the depths of my heart I am aware that this prize is much more than an honor to me personally.
Every time I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a successful journey possible – the known pilots and the unknown ground crew.
So you honor the dedicated pilots of our struggle who have sat at the controls as the freedom movement soared into orbit. You honor, once again, Chief Lutuli of South Africa, whose struggles with and for his people, are still met with the most brutal expression of man’s inhumanity to man. You honor the ground crew without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to freedom could never have left the earth. Most of these people will never make the headline and their names will not appear in  Who’s Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvellous age in which we live – men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization – because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake.
… peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.
I think Alfred Nobel would know what I mean when I say that I accept this award in the spirit of a curator of some precious heirloom which he holds in trust for its true owners – all those to whom beauty is truth and truth beauty – and in whose eyes the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.

Marriott strike yields 40 percent pay hike for Westin housekeepers. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Looking forward to watching unionization of local hotels and restaurants in St. Johns County.  We have a lack of affordable housing in our community.

While robotic Republicans talk about affordable housing, Democrats know that only free democratic trade unions and collective bargaining will get workers paid just wages.

Proud of these Marriott workers in San Diego.

May the New Year bring strong unionization drives here in St. Johns County, where tourists spend billions but workers are paid peanuts.

I like the idea in this article about the UNITE HERE union collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Marriott requiring panic buttons for hotel maids to get help if a guest or supervisor is sexually harassing them.  Marriott is introducing the technology at some 5000 properties. Sexual harassment and rape of hotel maids is a pandemic problem, which a CBA or local ordinance might help eradicate.

We look to VCB and TDC to encourage all hoteliers to install it in 2019.

From the December 4, 2018 San Diego Union Tribune:

Marriott strike yields 40 percent pay hike for Westin housekeepers

A more than month-long strike by Westin San Diego Gaslamp workers will deliver a 40 percent pay hike for hotel housekeepers, stronger protections for sexual harassment and a first-time pension.
Details of the new four-year contract were made public Tuesday following the end this week of the last of the hotel walkouts that had targeted Marriott International properties involving 7,700 workers across eight cities in the U.S.
The Unite Here labor union representing the workers had agreed to not divulge terms of the individual contracts until all strikes were settled. The last of those was in San Francisco where 2,500 workers had been on strike for more than 60 days. They are returning to work on Wednesday now that they have approved a new contract.
The San Diego strike, which marked the first hotel walkout in the county since 2000, when workers at the Hotel del Coronado struck for one day, ended in early November
The financial terms of the agreements negotiated in each of the affected cities varies based on their respective economic demographics. In San Diego, hotel housekeepers, who tend to be among the lowest paid workers and represent the largest of more than two dozen different union job classifications at the Westin, had been earning $14.25 an hour, significantly below their peers at other San Diego union hotels.
The Westin’s 162 workers represented by Unite Here had been without a new contract since April of last year
With the new agreement, their pay will jump to $18 an hour next July and will increase a few times more until 2022 when hourly wages will reach $20, said Rick Bates, research analyst for Unite Here Local 30. By comparison, housekeepers at the Hotel del Coronado, also a union property, currently earn $18 an hour, and at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront, the hourly pay is $17.35.
In San Francisco, where the cost of living is considerably higher than San Diego’s, the median hourly wage for hotel housekeepers is currently $23, which will increase by $4 an hour by the end of the four-year contracts for the affected hotels, according to Unite Here.
In addition to housekeepers, the new San Diego contract will mean significant pay raises for all categories of workers, from front office employees to banquet cooks, Bates said. Tipped banquet servers and bartenders, for example, will receive an increase in their gratuity, from 13.5 percent to 15.5 percent.
Throughout the strike, the workers’ mantra had been, “One job should be enough,” a reflection, union organizers said, of the need of many employees to work more than one job to make ends meet.
“I think we were looking for wages that would allow the workers to provide for their families in San Diego, and we weren’t going to stop fighting until we got there, and $20 was the target,” Bates said. “You’re not going to be rich by any means but you’re not going to be in poverty. This is just the starting point.”
A spokeswoman for Marriott International, now the world’s largest hotel chain, had no comment Tuesday on the substance of the new contracts, saying only that “We look forward to welcoming our (San Francisco) associates back at work.”
With its acquisition nearly two years ago of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott's portfolio has grown to 1.26 million rooms in more than 6,500 properties in 127 countries and territories, and during the last fiscal year, it recorded profits of $1.3 billion on revenue of nearly $23 billion.
In addition to the pay raises coming to the Westin Gaslamp workers, other economic benefits negotiated on their behalf include:
  • No increases in health insurance premiums during the four-year contract period. Monthly premiums for the union’s Kaiser health plan, for example, will remain at $50 a month, no matter the size of the household. Workers who prefer to receive their medical care in Mexico will now have access to a SIMNSA plan (Sistemas Medicos Nacionales, S.A. de C.V.). Because it is a lower cost plan, union members will pay no premium.
  • A first-time pension that will require the employer to contribute 40 cents an hour for each hour worked by the employees. That will rise to 60 cents an hour by the end of the contract. Westin hotel workers already have a 401k that includes an employer contribution but now they will have the choice of a guaranteed pension, Bates explained. If they choose the pension, they can still keep contributing to their 401-k but will no longer get an employer contribution.
Across all the hotels, Unite Here won agreements from Marriott to equip employees who work directly with guests, like housekeepers and room service attendants, with GSP-enabled panic buttons that will let them call for immediate help if they feel unsafe.
In addition, there is a provision that requires guests to be removed mid-visit and banned from the hotel for three years if they’re believed to have been sexually harassing an employee, Bates said.
Marriott has been working on the panic button technology for some time and plans to roll out the initiative to all its more than 5,000 managed and franchised properties in the U.S. and Canada, said spokesman Brendan McManus.
“The associate alert technology rollout is projected to continue through 2020 as we and our franchise partners fine-tune and tailor installations at individual sites ranging from highrise city properties to sprawling resorts to suburban hotels,” he said.
Responding to union concerns about increasing automation that could potentially jeopardize hotel jobs, Marriott also agreed to not make such decisions without first engaging in talks with the union, Unite Here said.

Coastal Warning: An Unwelcome Messenger on the Risks of Rising Seas. (Yale Environment 360)

Read Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Gilbert Gaul's interview of Orrin Pilkey on the folly of continued building of structures along coastlines.

Are St. Johns County, St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach policymakers listening?

St. Augustine City Commissioners, led by Mayor Nancy Shaver, and City staff, led by City Manager John Regan and Public Works Director Michael Cullum -- appear to be engaged.

But what about their less energetic colleagues at St. Augustine Beach City Hall and St. Johns County Administration Building a/k/a "Taj Mahal?"

More later.

Next May, there will be a national Keeping History Above Water conference here to address historic preservation issues on ocean level rise.

Meanwhile, here's the Yale Environment 360 Gilbert Gaul interview with marine scientist Orrin Pilkey:

Flooded homes in Ocean County, New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.
Flooded homes in Ocean County, New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. U.S. COAST GUARD VIA GETTY IMAGES


Coastal Warning: An Unwelcome Messenger on the Risks of Rising Seas

Marine scientist Orrin Pilkey has long been cautioning about sea level rise and the folly of building and rebuilding along coastlines. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about why an eventual retreat from oceanfront property on the U.S. coast is inevitable.
For six decades, Orrin Pilkey has written, taught, and preached about the beauty of barrier islands and the extraordinary risk of building in coastal floodplains. In more than 40 books, 250 scientific papers and journal articles, and countless opinion pieces, Pilkey has fashioned a vision of coasts as dynamic, living landscapes, with their own personalities, quirks and flaws, “not unlike people,” he says. 
To the extent that America has a public conscience of its coasts, it just may be the voluble marine geologist, a short, hobbit-like figure who for decades wore an unruly gray beard like the wizard Gandalf. Pilkey warned about interfering with the natural processes of shorelines and questioned developers, politicians, and engineers who helped to fill the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts with trillions of dollars of vacation houses, investment properties, and businesses, often subsidized with generous federal tax dollars. 

Orrin Pilkey
Orrin Pilkey 
Unsurprisingly, not everyone appreciated his message. Some beach town mayors viewed Pilkey as the Antichrist. “I hate him, hate him, hate him,” bellowed the mayor of one of the largest and richest beach towns in New Jersey — this after Pilkey observed that the shoreline there was rapidly eroding. In 1991, the town council of Folly Beach, South Carolina, even passed a resolution condemning Pilkey’s research as “insulting, uninformed, and radical.” Pilkey framed the resolution and hung it on his office wall.
Now 84, the former Duke University professor is still busy and has a new book on sea level rise coming out next August. With growing concerns about sea level rise and another year of catastrophic hurricanes (2018’s Florence and Michael), it seemed like a good time to talk with Pilkey about how his ideas have evolved over time, and what he sees as the biggest challenges ahead in an age of climate change, warming oceans, torrential rain storms, and more violent hurricanes.
Yale Environment 360: Recent reports by the United Nations and the National Climate Assessment highlight the risks of crowding the nation’s shorelines with risky property, and raise the possibility that millions may be forced to retreat to higher ground as the seas rise and hurricanes do more damage. You’ve been warning about these threats for decades, dating back to 1969, when Hurricane Camille wrecked your parents’ Mississippi retirement house. Was that a turning point in your career? 
Orrin Pilkey: Yes, the loss of my parents’ house was the point at which I realized for the first time the immense power of the sea and the need to inform the world that building next to the shoreline is almost suicidal. The recent UN report and National Climate Assessment confirmed some of my worst fears about the future threats of flooding and storms. Yet people continue to build in risky places. In Waveland, Mississippi, where my parents retired to a house with 13 feet of elevation, I saw an example of a beachfront house that was destroyed by Hurricane Camille, a replacement house destroyed again by Hurricane Katrina (2005), and the vacant lot for sale for $80,000. A loud activist voice was needed. 
“The question that needed to be answered was…Which is more important, beaches or buildings along our ocean shores?”
e360: You grew up in Washington State and were a smoke jumper for a time. How did you go from fighting fires to studying the coasts and earning a PhD in marine geology?
Pilkey: I first saw the ocean in Puget Sound as a teenager and was fascinated by the waves, the sea smells, and the infinite vistas. That love of the ocean continues to this day. But like me, I believe that many marine scientists have grown up far from the sea. The late Bruce Heezen, the father of marine geology, for example, grew up as an Iowa farm boy. 
e360: You were one of the first coastal geologists to take a public stance about building in harm’s way, arguing that armoring the coasts with seawalls, rock groins, and other defenses was not sufficient. What was your thinking at the time? 
Pilkey: I was primarily concerned that these devices were being sold as the way to save the beautiful beach cottage communities. When they didn’t work, which was the usual case, the excuse used by the engineers was that the storm that destroyed the devices was unusually severe and unexpected. It was clear that beaches were being destroyed in order to save oceanfront houses, with seawalls and other structures interfering with the natural flow of sand and accelerating erosion, and that a voice expressing that was severely needed. The question that needed to be answered from the standpoint of Americans everywhere was: Which is more important, beaches or buildings along our ocean shores?
e360: In some ways we appear to be going back to the future at the coasts. Charleston and Miami are building seawalls and giant pumps. New York City is planning for a huge surge gate. And Texans are trying to get the federal government to pay for a Dutch-style gate across the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel, in Galveston. In your view, will these steps work and, if so, for how long?
Pilkey: Protection of major cities is different from the protection of much smaller resort communities on barrier islands. Stabilizing the shoreline, that is, holding it still, may be a reasonable priority for portions of big cities, but not so for smaller tourist developments, which depend on a good beach. Hard structures, such as seawalls and groins, almost always eventually destroy the beach. Surge gates depend on the blind luck that no superstorms will occur and overtop or destroy them, and also depend on a low rate of sea level rise. Their lifetime is likely to be only a decade or two. It is also likely that many other coastal cities will clamor for a surge gate once one city has one. Can we afford construction and maintenance of these large structures in view of their questionable success? The Dutch have a small country, much of it below sea level, and there is no place to escape the coming sea level rise. Therefore, they must use extreme engineering. But Americans have plenty of room to retreat.
“Government support of beach development encourages more and more development, leading to more storm damage.”
e360: Hurricanes by far account for the costliest natural disasters in the U.S., with over $500 billion in damage in recent years, and the likelihood of even more catastrophic storms in the future. Yet Americans keep building in harm’s way, often with the aid of generous federal subsidies, including flood insurance, disaster aid, and Army Corps of Engineers’ beach repairs. Don’t these subsidies distort the risks, shifting them from private homeowners to public taxpayers, and make it harder to encourage people to retreat to higher ground?
Pilkey: Unquestionably, government support of beach development encourages more and more development, leading to more and more storm damage. The mentality is why retreat when the government is right there to help you put things back the way they were before the storm.
e360: I am thinking about Dauphin Island, off the coast of Alabama, which has been repeatedly battered by hurricanes and has received tens of millions in federal aid. After Katrina, in 2005, a few dozen homeowners wanted the government to buy their homes, so they could move inland, but there was no money. Why don’t buyouts work at the coast?
Pilkey: The western half of Dauphin Island is the least suitable location for development along the entire U.S. Gulf of Mexico. North Topsail Beach in North Carolina, is similarly vulnerable. Buyouts on Dauphin Island would make sense because serious damage has occurred there five times since 1973, mostly on the west end where all of the vacation homes are. The government would have saved money in the long run if they had purchased the damaged properties, but the extreme high price of beachfront buildings prevents the buyout approach. It’s a shame. Buying these vulnerable properties could be the first step in managed retreat. 

Dauphin Island, off the coast of Alabama, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Dauphin Island, off the coast of Alabama, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. NOAA/NWS
e360: Increasingly, coastal communities are seeing regular flooding, largely as a result of rising seas. Miami has its King Tides. Areas of Norfolk, the Outer Banks and New Jersey now routinely flood in ordinary thunderstorms. What does your recent research tell us about what’s happening and what residents can expect?
Pilkey: The flooding that is occurring along the fringes of many American communities is called sunny-day flooding or nuisance flooding. These high tides correspond to spring tides but have been raised higher by sea level rise, and are the first concrete evidence of a rising sea. The highest of these nuisance floods are called King Tides, which occur three or four times a year. As sea level rises, nuisance flooding will penetrate further and further inland, threatening more property and resulting in more flood claims.
e360: The general scientific consensus is that we can expect about 3.5 feet of additional water by the end of the century. But if the ice sheets melt or sea level rise accelerates, we could see 6 to 8.5 feet, which would be catastrophic. By some estimates, up to a trillion dollars worth of coastal property could literally be under water. Will we likely see a mass migration from the coast at some point?
Pilkey: Millions of people will be fleeing drowned cities this century. Low-lying cities, such as Miami, Charleston, and New Orleans, and many barrier island communities, especially in Florida – Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach – are likely to produce huge numbers of evacuees. Miami alone will produce 4 million climate refugees, probably well before 2100. Currently, there are no plans to accommodate these refugees in inland cities. Even places with higher elevations will be at risk. Surrounding access roads at lower elevations may flood in storms or high tides and prevent residents from reaching businesses, schools, stores, and churches.
“Ghost towns are a likely element of our coasts by the end of this century. Complete loss of some communities is not impossible.”
e360: In a few coastal resorts we are beginning to see home buyers factor sea level rise and flood risks into the price of real estate. In Miami, condos at higher elevation carry a premium. How quickly do you see real estate prices at the coast sinking, and what impact do you expect that will have on future development? 
Pilkey: I believe that we are due for a crash in the price of beachfront property. No one knows exactly when this will occur, but it is likely within a decade or two. There are already small price reductions occurring in some places. Probably sinking prices will cause a dramatic reduction in new beachfront development nationwide. Ghost towns are a likely element of our coasts by the end of this century. Complete loss of some communities is not impossible. Edingsville Beach in South Carolina, a town of 60 houses on a barrier island, disappeared in a major hurricane in 1893. Along the Holderness Coast in England, 26 towns are under water on the Continental Shelf.
e360: If you owned an oceanfront home, say in New Jersey, what would you do?
Pilkey: If I owned a house in view of the sea, I would remember that along our coastal plains, if you can see the sea, the sea can see you. If I opted to stay, I would first investigate the evacuation routes. I would want to know what the biggest storm on record did to the coast there. Very likely, I would move my home well back from the shoreline. Better yet, I would probably look into the feasibility of moving it to the mainland. One other temporary useful alternative would be to raise the building to allow storm surge to flow underneath it. Most likely, however, I would sell.
Gilbert M. Gaul
Gilbert M. Gaul is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of the forthcoming book The Geography of RiskEpic StormsRising Seasand the Cost of America’s Coasts, to be published in 2019 by Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar Straus and Giroux. MOREABOUT GILBERT M. GAUL →

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (United Nations, December 10, 1948)

Today is the 70th anniversary of the adoption of this landmark document under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt.   Today we celebrate that anniversary.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction. 

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.