Things Have Been Weird

Nearly half the Democratic party has declared their candidacy for president, the current president declared an unnecessary state of emergency, and the Supreme Court actually agreed on something unanimously.

But that’s not really too far off par for the course when you think about it. The last two years have been nothing if not a whirlwind of ludicrous headlines competing to stay on the airwaves for more than 12 hours.

One thing is for certain, though, and that is the undeniable fact that every day we continue to travel further and further down this road of insanity, the greater the danger becomes.

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Joshua Tree Damages to Last Three Centuries

The government shutdown resulted in damages to the Joshua Tree National Park that the former superintendent says could take 300 years to resolve.

Visitors to the park actually cut down ancient Joshua trees — which take a full 60 years just to mature — so that they could make illegal roadways into the park.

Human waste from illegal camp sites also contributed to incalculable ecological damage to the park, which houses trees as old as 1,000 years.

Friends of Joshua Tree nonprofit director John Lauretig argues that the park should be completely closed if the government shuts down again to prevent any further damage.

“If the government doesn’t fund or staff the parks appropriately, then they should just close the parks to protect the parks and protect the people.”

Shutdown Cost U.S. $11 Billion

A report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that the 35-day partial government shutdown cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

While the CBO believes that roughly $8 billion of those losses are recoverable, at least $3 billion are permanent.

This devastating news comes as a bipartisan committee is beginning the daunting task of attempting to find a middleground between U.S. lawmakers and the president that will keep the government open after the three-week stopgap measure expires February 15.

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Pelosi Stands Her Ground

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that the president’s State of the Union address will not happen this Tuesday as planned.

Despite the president’s agreement to sign a temporary stopgap measure reopening the government for three weeks, Pelosi insists that the SOTU will still not take place.

The president had planned to give the address this Tuesday, but Pelosi has said that nothing will happen until the shutdown is officially and completely over.

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Government Temporarily Reopens

President Trump announced his endorsement of a spending bill to temporarily reopen the government this afternoon.

He made the announcement after the Senate failed to pass a spending bill to end the shutdown yesterday.

The agreement does not, however, resolve the issue of border wall funding, meaning it will only reopen the government for three weeks if a permanent solution can not be reached.

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Cohen Subpoenaed, Trump Crumbled

Michael Cohen has been subpoenaed to testify before the Senate, and the standoff between Nancy Pelosi and the president ended with Trump buckling to her demands.

It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours. In the same day that the president insisted he would hold the State of the Union address despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s insistence otherwise, he then buckled and agreed to postpone the address.

In a similar turn of events, just as Michael Cohen’s lawyers announced that he would not be appearing in front of Congress due to threats from the president and Rudy Giuliani, the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed him to appear before them. This testimony, however, will be behind closed doors, while his testimony before the House Oversight Committee would have been public.

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Trump to Move Ahead with SOTU

The president is insisting on delivering his State of the Union address despite critical shortages in security staffing due to the government shutdown.

However, because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi controls whether or not a resolution to convene a joint session of Congress, it is unclear whether or not anyone would be there to hear his address in the first place.

Pelosi previously declined to invite the president to deliver the address on the basis that shortages in security staff would endganger government officials. During a SOTU, virtually every member of the government is present, from lawmakers to Supreme Court Justices, requiring an immense security detail.

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TSA Workforce at 90 Percent Sunday

CNN and other news outlets are reporting that as much as ten percent of the TSA workforce called out sick Sunday amidst the ongoing government shutdown.

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as many as one in ten of its agents called in Sunday, many of them citing “financial limitations” as the reason why they could not work.

Despite the tremendous lack of staffing, the TSA reported that wait times continued to hover within the average, although certain airports were hit harder than others.

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A Petty Game

Nancy Pelosi urged the president to write his State of the Union due to security concerns; he cancelled her delegation’s flight to NATO and Afghanistan.

What began as a legitimate national security concern has spiraled into yet another petty game for the president, who is already holding hundreds of thousands of Americans’ paychecks hostage over a project that won’t fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

And, in the process, the president revealed a previously undisclosed destination for the delegation — Afghanistan — repeating the same potentially fatal blunder he committed on his last-minute visit to the troops in December.

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The Mortgage is Due

First Nations and indigenous peoples are being disproportionately affected by the shutdown due to their dependence on a host of government agencies and services which have been compromised.

From federally funded medical programs to food delivery services, Native communities are facing a dire lack of resources and support as we edge nearer to a full month of partially-functioning government.

In addition to critical services and products such as healthcare and food, streets in certain communities have gone unplowed for weeks, leaving people to try and dig themselves out or face the risk of being snowed in at home.

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