What Happens When the Government Shuts Down
Tom Brenner for The New York Times
Since the shutdown began, Transportation Security Administration workers, many of them responsible for screening passengers and baggage, have been calling out sick in increased numbers at airports across the country.
Last week, a federal official who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity said that the call-outs seemed to be a coordinated protest, but union officials said that many workers were most likely just looking for work elsewhere to cover for missed wages. A T.S.A. spokesman played down the disruption.
Parks and museums
Many national parks are closed to visitors. And while some remain open with limited staffing or thanks to helping from states, the National Park Service has warned that “access may change without notice.”
Joshua Tree National Park, for example, remained open after the shutdown, but then suffered temporary or partial closings as officials struggled to keep up with the toll visitors had taken. At some parks, volunteers have stepped in to help with cleanup.
[Read more on how parks and museums are affected by the shutdown.]
Limited staffing has also raised questions about visitor safety. At least three people have died on National Park Service land since the shutdown began, and while it is unclear if the shutdown had any effect on the authorities’ immediate responses to the accidents, the announcement of at least one of the deaths was reportedly delayed because of the lack of resources.
Museums have been affected, too. The National Gallery of Art, all 19 Smithsonian museums, and the National Zoo were closed last week because of the shutdown. (“Essential personnel” remain on hand at the zoo to care for the animals.)
[Though the museum is closed, you may still be able to see the art within. Some paintings have a double life online.]
Science, research and public health
The scientific community has been affected, too. Some government labs are empty, with scientists having been sent home. Research, some of it time sensitive, has been disrupted. And the flow of grant money may be interrupted, too.
Some agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, are largely or entirely unaffected. But others, such as the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which includes the National Weather Service, have sent many workers home.
[Read more about the shutdown’s toll on science and research.]
Inspections of chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, water treatment plants, and thousands of other industrial sites have also ground to a halt because the Environmental Protection Agency had to furlough most of its employees in charge of inspecting pollution and monitoring compliance.
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs
Fear not, older Americans: The Social Security checks are still coming. (And the Postal Service will still deliver them.)
That’s because the Social Security Administration received funding for the 2019 fiscal year back in September, according to Mark Hinkle, an agency spokesman.
“Social Security services and offices will remain fully operational, and Social Security benefits will be paid on time,” he said in an emailed statement.
[Fact Check: President Trump has told a number of falsehoods about the shutdown.]
Law enforcement and the judiciary
Tens of thousands of law enforcement personnel are among those working without pay.
That includes workers at the F.B.I., the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons, Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and more.
READ MORE: DOJ
Credits: NY TIMES /Christina Caron, Liam Stack, and Glenn Thrush contributed reporting
ABC Test and Restricts Use of Independent Contractors.
On Monday, April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in the matter of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. In a voluminous, 82-page decision, the California Supreme Court reinterpreted and ultimately rejected the Borello ( S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations, 48 Cal. 3d 341) test for determining whether workers should be classified as either employees or independent contractors for the purposes of the wage orders adopted by California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) in favor of a worker-friendly standard that may upend the existing independent contractor labor market.
In particular, the Court embraced a standard presuming that all workers are employees instead of contractors, and placed the burden on any entity classifying an individual as an independent contractor of establishing that such classification is proper under the newly adopted “ABC test” which will be discussed in further detail. The question of whether an individual worker should be classified as an employee or independent contractor has considerable significance for workers, businesses, and the public generally. If a worker is classified as an employee, the employer bears the responsibility of paying Social Security and payroll taxes, unemployment insurance taxes and state employment taxes, providing worker’s compensation insurance, and of course, complying with the endless labyrinth of state and federal statutes governing the wages, hours, and working conditions of employees. Indeed, many businesses, particularly those operating in the “gig economy,” are fundamentally premised on the use of independent contractors. In light of this case, any businesses operating in California that treat workers as independent contractors should confer with their legal counsel to review the relationship under the “ABC test” and determine whether any or all such workers should be reclassified.
Lesson’s from The Bush Era Reflects on What has to Come of Trump Administration Lies
Our inner voice of reason has been extinguished and intuitively remote controlled. In both dystopian and utopian societies once ideas are imprinted in our brains and opinions formed, we become like horses with blinkers. Before the invasion of Iraq without substantiated evidence, Collin Powell presented a case that Iraq had the weapons of mass distractions. As here, fabrication of propaganda was used by those who exert power by distorting the historical development leading to the war and alter records to stomp out any contrary view from the one formulated by the Bush Administration coupled with ensuring absolute control over public opinion. With the aftermath of September 11, our nation was still in grief and vulnerable. In this setting, the public is emasculated and the administration preyed on our emotion and stopped at nothing to justify the means. Without factual knowledge, we bought into a distorted public opinion that Iraq has the weapon of mass destruction and waged our patriotic support for the invasion. Subsequently even after Powell reffed to his United Nation presentation about Iraqi’s weapon of mass destruction “as a lowest point in his life”, we still ignore the correction but rather maintain a sentiment by putting lipstick on a pig that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, and yet today most Bush supporters still claim that WMD were hiding or moved before the invasion. ReadMore
The elections clause as a structural constraint on partisan gerrymandering of Congress
Richard H. Pildes is the Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU Law School.
The Supreme Court has struggled between seeing itself as an institution that only vindicates individual rights and as one that vindicates, at times, more structural or group-based interests. Partisan gerrymandering or vote dilution is obviously intended to advantage or disadvantage adherents of one political party. This is intrinsically a group-based injury, as are all vote-dilution injuries.
In the racial-vote-dilution context under the 14th Amendment, for example, the Supreme Court recognized from its earliest cases, including 1973’s White v. Regester, that the constitutional injury occurs when districts are designed “to cancel out or minimize the voting strength of racial groups.” Similarly, when the court drew on the racial-vote-dilution cases to hold for the first time, in 1986’s Davis v. Bandemer, that partisan vote dilution could also violate the 14th Amendment, the court recognized that “the question is whether a particular group has been unconstitutionally denied its chance to effectively influence the political process.” It makes no sense, either practically or conceptually, to “dilute” the vote of any individual voter in isolation. Vote dilution, whether racial or partisan, is about diminishing the overall political power of groups as groups, compared to the power those groups would have in a lawful plan. Read More
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