Krasimir Podskochiev, 33, from Springfield, Va., runs a food truck that feeds the city’s federal workers. His truck, “The Taste of Eastern Europe,” stops at L’Enfant Plaza on Monday, the State Department on Tuesday, and Union Station later in the week. It relies heavily on business from government employees.
“We’ve seen a significant drop in our business, because we go mostly to government buildings,” he told National Journal. “It’s different every day, but we have up to 100 people each day and now we’re getting 20 to 30 percent less.” If the shutdown isn’t resolved by the end of the week, he says, he may take next week off.
Podskochiev’s truck is just one of the D.C. businesses feeling the pinch as hundreds of thousands of federal employees sit furloughed. Today. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, organized a news conference highlighting how families and communities around the country are being affected by the shutdown.
Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which investigates and helps prevent chemical disasters such as the West Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion, said 37 of his 40 employees had been furloughed. (The explosion killed 15 people and leveled hundreds of structures in April, including three of the town’s four schools.)
Other speakers at Tuesday’s event discussed how many critical services, such as the cleanup of toxic-waste sites and investment in the transportation sector, are being negatively affected by the shutdown. Sen. Bill Nelson D-Fla., noted that nutrients have been flowing into the main estuaries in his state, such as Caloosahatchee Estuary, with nobody to police them. “With us not being able to proceed with these Army Corps of Engineer projects that are to clean up the water, you’re going to have rivers that are dead rivers, where the nutrients suck all of the oxygen out,” he explained.
The shutdown pain doesn’t stop there. New Mexico border-patrol training has been suspended; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is canceling its annual flu program; and the White House website isn’t updating its information or responding to any queries. Even real-estate agents in Central Texas have been impacted.
In D.C. much local coverage of the shutdown has focused on the closure of national monuments and the closure of the National Zoo. National Journal‘s Matt Berman made a particularly valiant effort to find a panda last week. He failed, but the story is well worth a read.
And in particularly terrible news, a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that was scheduled to be delivered to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has been delayed until spring. “Our primary goal is the safety and security of this specimen,” museum director Kirk Johnson told The Washington Post. “It just doesn’t make sense to make the move now.”
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."