Climate Gentrification & This Week in Amerika

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Published on The Daily Impact  May 5 & May11, 2017

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“Climate Gentrification” a.k.a. Miami Vice 

 

 

 

 

The sea is coming for Miami, and the rats — protesting that they don’t believe it — are making deals. Is “Miami Vice” redundant?

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to imagine that the plug-ugliness of the American climate-change denier could be made more loathsome, but it has been. The Masters of the Universe and their wholly-owned-and-operated politicians have plumbed new depths in their ability to make money while aiding and abetting the increasing misery of their fellow human beings.

Their latest refinement has been detected in Miami, which is fitting, because few places on earth rival Miami’s wretched excess in the heedless pursuit of megabucks. Fitting, too, because Miami may well be the first large American city to be submerged by seas rising in response to climate change. The prospect is of course hotly denied or coldly ignored by Miami’s politicians and uglygarchs, who insist there is nothing to see there, even while the rising waters — especially in South Miami, Coral Gables and Miami Beach — are quite literally, with increasing and dismaying frequency, lapping at their ankles.

Now it appears that Miami real estate developers are actively working to profit from the thing they deny is happening — the rising of the warming sea. Their schemes have been illuminated in, of all places, the website of the venerable science magazine Scientific American.

Ever since the 1920s, when they started transforming south Florida from a mosquito-infested swamp to a Mecca for rich old capitalists, the highest and best form of real estate has been “waterfront.” “Water (or beach) access” was a distant second, and landlocked land was for the little people. For many decades, custom — and, under Jim Crow, zoning laws — restricted the habitats of the poor and the persons of color of Miami to the city’s urban core. The same thing happened in many if not most other American cities.

Such urban cores can and do remain slums forever unless someone decides to build a freeway, or the rich and famous run out of living room and begin the process known as gentrification, which involves displacing the poor and racially disadvantaged to an even less visible and hospitable location. So the fact that gentrification is beginning to happen to urban MIami would not seem to be a surprise, or interest for a science magazine.

Here’s why it is. There is another attribute to the urban core of Miami that is drawing the attention of speculators and developers. It occupies the highest ground in South Florida. And studies are starting to show that land more than nine feet above sea level (in South Florida, 15 feet is described as “mountaintop”) is becoming the prime target for gentrification, and for developers accumulating parcels for high-density development.

On the one hand, it is hard to get your head around the venality of people who would, while denying the reality of sea-level rise in order to protect the value of their sea-level properties — which they are building as fast as they can as we speak — at the same time hedge their many bets by quietly buying up higher ground to have available for sale when the little people realize they’re drowning.

On the other hand it is impossible to measure the stupidity of people who believe that all the ocean is going to do is redraw a few maps. Whatever chalets they build on the 15-foot mountains, assuming they survive their first hurricane, will eventually be surrounded by a sea of garbage and sewage, and will not received from their drowned city any of the services they require, such as champagne and caviar deliveries.

One of the people who has been scrutinizing the behavior of the uglygarchs is Jesse Keenan, a lawyer and Florida native who teaches climate-change adaptation at Harvard. He has noticed that the lower classes of Miami are becoming similarly motivated:

“Everybody I know that is a small owner of real estate that isn’t within the billionaire class — average middle-class, upper-middle-class Miamians who have real estate on the beach — is in the process of selling their properties and moving to the mainland.”   

Unable to invest in the future misery of their fellow property owners, these folks are simply getting out of Dodge. Their numbers. like the numbers of speculators investing in mountaintop Miami, are small, but growing fast. And the day they become visible to more than the curious scientists who write for Scientific American, and to websites more mainstream than The Daily Impact, is the day the crash  starts for real.

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This Week in Amerika

 

 

 

Back in Washington D.C. in 2002, Neo-Nazis were on one side, police on the other. Now, the distinctions are getting blurry. (Photo by Elvert Barnes/Flickr)

 

 

 

Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, during the last few weeks, the following things have occurred:

A 61-year-old woman was convicted of disorderly conduct after a two-day jury trial in Washington. Desiree Farooz faces a sentence of up to one year in jail for what federal prosecutors described as an attempt to “impede, disrupt and disturb orderly conduct” of a Senate committee hearing back in January. It was the confirmation hearing for the nominee to be the next Attorney General of the United States, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama. During the hearing, Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby said out loud that Sessions — a renowned racist who for that very reason was once denied a federal judgeship by that very Senate — had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally.” Ms. Farooz laughed. According to witnesses it was not a particularly loud or prolonged laugh. Other witnesses said it was the only appropriate response to Shelby’s outlandish claim. Capitol police pounced and hauled her away to prison.

In a hallway of the State Capitol Building in Charleston, West Virginia, last week, a veteran reporter, Dan Heyman, was walking alongside the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, asking a question repeatedly without getting a response. Not that it matters, but the question was about the latest Republican health-care-insurance legislation. Without warning a police officer pulled the reporter aside, handcuffed him, and put him in jail for “causing a disturbance by yelling questions.” Heyman said later, after posting bond, that in his 30-years as a journalist he had never heard of a reporter being  arrested for asking a question.

A few weeks ago, human rights investigators for the United Nations pointed out what they called an “alarming and undemocratic trend” in the United States. Since the last presidential election, they pointed out, at least 19 states have enacted, or tried to enact, legislation that criminalizes protest demonstrations. Proposals included seizing the assets of anyone arrested in a protest (Arizona); making it legal to run over protesters blocking a roadway (North Dakota); and classifying protests as “economic terrorism,” a felony offense carrying a prison sentence (Washington State). The UN investigators called on the United States to stop trying to criminalize peaceful assembly, which they described as a fundamental right under the US Constitution, not a privilege to be licensed and regulated by the government.

Oh, I almost forgot, this also happened. The President of the United States summarily fired the director of the FBI, who was directing an investigation of the President’s campaign and conduct. The President previously fired the acting attorney-general of the United States, Sally Yates, who was investigating the President’s National Security adviser, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who was investigating the President’s campaign and business affairs. These three people had three things in common; they were investigating Trump; they were outstandingly competent and professional; and they had behind them the power of the United States Department of Justice. That power, which has been this country’s last-ditch defense against racketeers, coal barons and corrupt politicians, lies in tatters now, at the feet of  a jug-eared racist as attorney general and an empty-headed game-show host playing the part of president.

So those four things happened in the past few weeks. What do you think? Is Amerika great again, yet?

 

 

 

 

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