Wednesday March 20, 2019
Home Lead Story The Partial S...

The Partial Shutdown Of The Government Of United States Ends

The shutdown furloughed 800,000 government employees, with at least 420,000 required to continue working without pay, and the remainder sent home

0
//
USA, Shutdown
Internal Revenue Service employees Brian Lanouette, of Merrimack, N.H., center right, and Mary Maldonado, of Dracut, Mass., right, join with others as they display placards during a rally by federal employees and supporters, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget sent a memo late Friday to closed federal government departments and agencies to inform them that their divisions are now open and their employees can return to work.

The memo called on the agencies to “reopen offices in a prompt and orderly manner.”

The memo said the OMB appreciates the “cooperation and efforts during this difficult period” of the government shutdown.

Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a three-week spending bill, ending the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

“After 36 days of spirited debate and dialogue, I see that Democrats and Republicans are willing to put partisanship aside, I think, and put the American people first,” Trump said in a Rose Garden announcement. “This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of this beautiful nation.”

U.S., Shutdown
The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen beyond a chain fence during the partial government shutdown in Washington, Jan. 8, 2019. VOA

By Friday evening, both the U.S. Senate and House had approved the legislation, which Trump then signed.

The bill funding the government through Feb. 15 does not include money for the construction of Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. The president said that a bipartisan committee would be formed in the meantime to evaluate border security, but, contrary to previous claims, he was not asking for a concrete wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

“We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea. We never proposed that,” he said.

The announcement came on the 35th day of the shutdown, when roughly 800,000 federal employees missed their second consecutive paycheck.

 

Nancy Pelosi, Shutdown
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 25, 2019, after President Donald Trump announces a deal to reopen the government for three weeks. VOA

 

It also came shortly after incoming flights to New York’s LaGuardia airport were delayed because of staffing issues, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA also said that departure delays at LaGuardia, as well as Philadelphia and Newark airports, were the result of air traffic control staffing shortages.

Early Saturday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named the Democratic House members — Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey of New York, Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, David Price of North Carolina, Barbara Lee of California, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Pete Aguilar of California — who will serve on the bipartisan committee to evaluate border security.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Friday after Trump’s announcement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump agreed to Democratic demands to separate the discussion on reopening the government from border security. He said he hopes Trump has “learned his lesson.”

 

DOnald Trump, Shutdown
President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Jan 25, 2019, in Washington. VOA

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters, “I see every crisis as a challenge or an opportunity” and was careful not to characterize Trump’s motives during the government shutdown.

Trump’s announcement reversed his position from Thursday, when he said he would accept a deal to at least temporarily reopen the federal government if it contained a “pro-rated down payment” on the U.S.-Mexico border wall he has sought.

“It’s just common sense, walls work,” Trump said Friday, arguing the barrier would keep out criminals, human traffickers and drugs.

In an apparent reference to reports he was considering declaring a national emergency at the border, Trump said he had “a very powerful alternative” but chose not to use it. He said that option was still on the table if Congress could not come to an agreement within the three-week funding period.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes there will be “good-faith negotiations’’ in the coming weeks to settle differences on border security.

USA, Shutdown
People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

A growing number of lawmakers of both parties have said compromise is the only way to end the political stalemate and reopen the government.

“It is long overdue for all sides to come together, to engage in constructive debate and compromise to end this standoff,” Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said. “Shutdowns represent the ultimate failure to govern and should never be used as a weapon to achieve an outcome.”

Also Read: A Quarter Of U.S. Jobs To Be Affected By Advancement Of A.I.

The shutdown furloughed 800,000 government employees, with at least 420,000 required to continue working without pay, and the remainder sent home, some of whom have been forced to look for temporary work elsewhere to help pay their household bills. All are set to miss their second biweekly paycheck on Friday.

Some government services have been curtailed, as about 10 percent of airport security agents ordered to work have instead called in sick, some food inspections have been cut back, and museums and parks are closed. Federal courts warned they could run out of money by the end of the month. (VOA)

Next Story

“They Don’t Make Prayerful Offerings When They Harvest,” Story Of The Native American Church

“The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

0
Church
The sun sets over the gateway of peyotera Amada Cardenas's house in Mirando City, Texas. Ironwork reflects core Native American Church values of faith, hope, love and charity. VOA

Back in the day, when the “grandmas and grandpas” of the Native American Church (NAC) needed peyote, they would make a 2,000-kilometer pilgrimage from the reservations of South Dakota to the tiny town of Mirando City, Texas, close to the U.S. border with Mexico. That’s where they could find Amada Cardenas, a Mexican-American woman who at the time was the only peyote dealer in Texas.

Cardenas was not Native American, nor was she a member of the NAC. But she understood how sacred the medicine was to church members and defended its use as a religious sacrament to those who sought to ban it.

Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994.
Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994. VOA

“After Amada’s passing, the peyote distribution system lost heart and seemed to be about monetary compensation,” said Iron Rope, former chairman of the Native American Church of North America (NACNA) and today chairman of the NAC of South Dakota. He is concerned that the remaining three or four peyote dealers in Texas — all non-Native — don’t give “the medicine” the reverence they should.

“They don’t make prayerful offerings when they harvest,” Iron Rope said. “We’ve heard reports about intoxicated harvesters. Sometimes, the medicine that comes to us was mushy or small, and the harvesting technique was not one that would allow regrowth.”

Careless and sometimes illegal harvesting, along with increased land and resource development in Texas, has led to a decline in peyote’s quality and availability. Prices have gone up, and church members worry the cactus, now listed as a vulnerable species, could become endangered.

In 2013, NACNA began researching ways to conserve peyote and its natural habitat.

Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico.
Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico. VOA

Pan-Native religion

Peyote, or Lophophora williamsii, is a succulent that contains psychoactive alkaloids and only grows in southern Texas and a handful of states in northern Mexico.

Indigenous people have used it ceremonially and medicinally for centuries, as noted by 16th century Spanish missionaries, who condemned it as an evil. Peyote use persisted, however, and by the late 1800s, had spread to present-day Oklahoma, where tribes adapted it to suit their individual spiritual traditions.

In the face of government efforts to ban peyote, peyotists in the early 20th century sought to incorporate as a formal religion. In 1918, an intertribal group established the NAC, which has evolved to include tens of thousands of members across dozens of tribal nations. Members view the church as an important component of healing from historic trauma and reconnecting to tradition.

Peyote was banned in the United States in 1970, but the law was later amended to allow peyote to be used in “bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church.”

Texas allows several peyoteros registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to harvest and sell peyote, but only to card-carrying NAC members with proven Native American ancestry.

Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007.
Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007. VOA

‘A beautiful ceremony’

Unlike other religious denominations, said Iron Rope, the NAC is not a unified theology.

“Different variations of the ceremony have come into play,” he said. “There are Christian aspects to the NAC today and traditional aspects, as well.”

Wynema Morris, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and an NAC member, grew up with an understanding of the sacredness of peyote and the religious etiquette surrounding its use.

“It was my own grandfather, Samuel Thomas Gilpin, who actually received peyote early on from the Winnebagos, a neighboring tribe, and passed it on to his sons, my uncles,” she said.

This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled "Cheyenne Peyote Leader." Courtesy: Library of Congress.
This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled “Cheyenne Peyote Leader.” Courtesy: Library of Congress. VOA

Peyote is much misunderstood and maligned, she said, viewed by many anthropologists through the lens of colonial prejudice.

“I don’t like their use of the word ‘hallucinations,’” she said. “You don’t use peyote to get high. You use it to pray and communicate with God — the same God everyone else talks to.”

She described all-night services of prayer, song and meditation.

“The ceremony is beautiful,” she said. “The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

Sacred gardens

In 2013, NACNA began looking at ways to conserve and sustain peyote for future generations of indigenous Americans, Mexicans and Canadians.

“It was our intent to eventually have our own land and be able to have our own peyote dealer who could understand our concerns as the Native American Church,” said Iron Rope.

The sun sets over "the 605," acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church.
The sun sets over “the 605,” acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church. VOA

In 2017, NACNA and partner organizations formally launched the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI). With funding from the Riverstyx Foundation, a nonprofit that supports research of medicinal uses of psychoactive plants, IPCI purchased 245 hectares (605 acres) of land in Thompsonville, Texas, to serve as “Sacred Peyote Gardens.”

Also Read: Practice What You Preach: Celebrities Should Stand By Their Public Image In Private Domain

It is their hope that by 2021, “the 605” will house a nursery, residential and guest housing, and youth training, all supported by peyote sales.

“It’s about generations to come,” said Iron Rope. “To reconnect them to the land and to the medicine. And that’s the healing process that we’ve been missing.” (VOA)