Midday open thread: KKK leader's kin sue Memphis over gravestone; billion-dollar climate disasters

Today’s comic by Matt Bors is Butterflies at the border:

A new report says Trump regime policies threaten 10 vulnerable species: The report—titled “Extinction Plan”—was commissioned by the Endangered Species Coalition. Executive Director Leda Huta told the Natural Resources Defense Council: “The Interior Department under President Trump has been especially cozy with the industries that are harming the very wildlife the Department is supposed to protect. If the administration has its way, the new regulations will put these species on a fast track to extinction.” In fact, several top appointees and high-level staff have for years pushed anti-wildlife policies. Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, an oil and gas lobbyist who will serve as acting secretary until a replacement for resigning Secretary Ryan Zinke can be found, designed a set of proposals the report’s authors find troubling. One reason: science would take a back seat to political and economic considerations when listing or delisting species as threatened or endangered. The 10 species especially at risk, according to the report: California condor; leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles; red wolf; Hellbender salamander; giraffe; Humboldt marten; rusty patched bumble bee; West Indian manatee; San Bernardino kangaroo rat; and the Western yellow-billed cuckoo.

Here is The Guardian’s list of the 50 best 2018 films in the United States.

Descendants of KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest say city desecrated his grave: In a lawsuit filed Monday, the lead attorney in the case asserts that when officials removed a statue of Forrest sitting horseback in the Health Sciences Park of Memphis, Tennessee, it wrecked the Confederate general’s gravestone. The statue had stood on a pedestal above the graves and copper caskets of Forrest and his wife, Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest, for more than a century. The lawsuit against Memphis and members of its City Council was brought by four great-great-grandsons and an indirect descendant of Forrest, a Rebel general in command of soldiers who in 1864 massacred surrendering black Union troops and their white officers at Ft. Pillow in Tennessee. They claim there was a conspiracy and violation of the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act when park ownership was transferred to a private organization that promptly removed the statue last year on Dec. 20. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for “mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation.” The descendants also want the statue, pedestal, caskets, and remains of the couple transferred to their possession.

MIDDAY TWEET

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We are poised for the 1st time in over a century – after hundreds of failed attempts – to finally make lynching a federal hate crime. Today @SenKamalaHarris and I will be asking every Senator for UNANIMOUS consent to pass our Justice for Victims of Lynching Act. pic.twitter.com/rAuCS089fV

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) December 19, 2018

Blind amphibian that buries its head in the sand named after Donald Trump:

A newly discovered blind and burrowing amphibian is to be officially named Dermophis donaldtrumpi, in recognition of the US president’s climate change denial.

The name was chosen by the boss of EnviroBuild, a sustainable building materials company, who paid $25,000 (£19,800) at an auction for the right. The small legless creature was found in Panama and EnviroBuild’s Aidan Bell said its ability to bury its head in the ground matched Donald Trump’s approach to global warming.

Employee finds original copy of 244-year-old Pennsylvania newspaper on shelf at Goodwill: At first he thought it might just be a worthless reproduction. But after researching it, he learned that the  yellowing Dec. 28, 1774, newspaper of the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser was the real thing, one of only four known original copies of that day’s edition with its “Unite or Die” masthead published a year and a half before Pennysylvania and the other colonies declared independence from England. The newspaper is worth as much as $18,000, experts say.

A D.C. rat makes it to the lawn of the White House. No, no, no, not THAT kind of rat.

2018 was a year of at least a dozen billion-dollar U.S. climate and weather disasters: The damage from one of those, the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise, California, and two smaller cities—killing 86 people—is being estimated at $18 billion. At a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Dec. 12, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine said damage at Tyndall Air Force Base from Hurricane Michael was going to run about $5 billion. Repairing Hurricane Florence’s damage at Camp Lejeune will run an estimated $3.6 billion.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: No news yesterday. Too soon to tell about today. But Greg Dworkin & Joan McCarter were here, so we winged it. Flynn’s non-sentencing, Trump Foundation dissolution, a double-secret subpoena, wall shenanigans, shutdown, and maybe a bump stock ban.

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