Thursday, September 3, 2015

Surprising government shutdown effects

Weddings, homework and Twitter accounts are among the casualties of the federal government shutdown.

Surprising government shutdown effects

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The office of the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey´s Twitter account is one of several local Twitter handles run by federal agencies that have gone dark during the shutdown.
The office of the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey's Twitter account is one of several local Twitter handles run by federal agencies that have gone dark during the shutdown.

Weddings, homework and Twitter accounts are among the casualties of the federal government shutdown.

The shutdown that went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, after Congress failed to pass  a spending plan, has real consequences in the region, including the furloughing of tens of thousands of federal workers and civilian military employees. The region's tourism industry could also take a hit, with the closure of National Park Service-run sites like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

But in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, there are also some surprising effects to the shutdown.

People across the country have mourned the shuttering of the National Zoo's panda cam and the end of pretty space photographs on NASA's website and social media accounts, but here's a look at some of the odder, local results of the shutdown.

1. Poison-ivy eating goats: A herd of goats had been eradicating an abundance of poison ivy at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, N.J., since July. But the goats were shipped away to an upstate New York farm last week, in preparation for a potential closing of the park (all National Park Service sites are now closed). The animals' owner, Larry Cihanek, told the Asbury Park Press that the goats appeared to have done their job before they were sent away: "In a 45-minute walk, I think I found 12 leaves. There was essentially zero poison ivy. I would consider it totally successful."

2. Class assignments: Students have a new excuse for tardy projects: The government shut down my data. Databases from a number of federal agencies, including the Census Bureau, National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, have been taken offline during the shutdown. At the University of Pennsylvania, some professors have postponed assignments and the library is helping students find alternative data sets. The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that a Penn sociology professor emailed her Ethnic Economics and Globalization class about the outage to the Census' Survey of Business Owners data: "As such, the assignment deadline will be extended for ONE DAY after the census website is back up," professor Tamara Nopper told her students.

3. Weddings: Some couples have to rethink their wedding plans. One New Jersey couple, Genieve Jeuck and Michael Sallemi, were set to fly Monday night from Newark to a Grand Canyon resort for their nuptials. But the resort is located on federal park property, so has closed for the duration of the shutdown. "I just felt blindsided," Jeuck told MyFoxNY. In Philadelphia, a spokeswoman for Independence National Historical Park said Tuesday that the park has had to cancel permits for bridal parties that had planned to take wedding photographs at the park. 

4. KKK rally: A Ku Klux Klan rally planned for Saturday at Gettysburg National Military Park is among the canceled events there. A permit had been issued to the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, but like all permits for special events at the Pennsylvania battlefield, it was rescinded when the park closed due to the shutdown.

5. Social media updates: A number of local Twitter accounts managed by federal agencies have gone dark during the shutdown. The U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey, FEMA regional offices covering Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and national parks including Valley Forge and Indepdendence National Historical Park are among those that say they won't be on the social networking site until the shutdown ends. Federally run local Facebook pages, like the National Archives at Philadelphia, also won't post updates or respond to others during the shutdown.

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