Filthy parks, closed museums as US govt shutdown grinds on, Latest World News - The New Paper

Filthy parks, closed museums as US govt shutdown grinds on

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WASHINGTON/NEW YORK : Walking across Washington's National Mall on Wednesday, Mr Ralph Snake kept stopping to pick up garbage littering the corridor since a budget showdown closed a quarter of the federal government almost two weeks ago.

"I decided to clean up this one section, because that's what Americans will do," said Mr Snake, a 64-year-old member of the indigenous Hochunk Nation, who was in town from Wisconsin to see Ms Sharice Davids get sworn in as one of Congress' first two women of native American descent.

"Just because this thing is shut down, our hearts aren't shut down."

The partial shutdown, which has cut off many government services, entered its 12th day on Wednesday, with no end in sight to the impasse over President Donald Trump's demands for US$5.6 billion (S$7.6 billion) in funding for a border wall.

National parks, including California's Joshua Tree and Yosemite, have closed campgrounds after toilets threatened to overflow with human waste. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working without pay.

The immigration court system, suffocating under a massive backlog, is mostly shut.

In Washington, the 17 museums run by the Smithsonian as well as the National Zoo closed their doors on Wednesday after running out of emergency funding, leaving tourists frustrated.

In California, Joshua Tree National Park's campgrounds are closed because its toilets, which are not emptied due to a lack of staffing, have reached capacity. Yosemite National Park closed numerous areas this week for similar reasons.

Advocates have warned that an extended shutdown could cause environmental damage.

In US immigration courts, hundreds of judges have been furloughed, and only cases of immigrants in detention are being heard. A Justice Department spokesman said he could not respond to a request for comment because of the government shutdown.- REUTERS