Jan 10, 2019

Joshua trees cut down by vandals during government shutdown

Joshua trees. Photo: FlowerPhotos/UIG via Getty Images

Vulnerable Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park in California have been cut down by visitors who illegally drove into areas where vehicles are banned during the partial government shutdown. As a result, the park is closed indefinitely, its superintendent said Thursday.

Why it matters: In all previous government shutdowns that affected the Department of Interior, administrations closed the parks rather than allow access unsupervised. Joshua trees already face threats of extinction from climate change.

Emily Douce, of the National Parks Conservation Association, told Vox that now-former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered to keep the national parks open during the shutdown to avoid the same criticism from 2013's shutdown.

  • The Obama administration was heavily criticized by Republicans and those living in towns that depend on revenue from park tourism during the government shutdown in 2013.
  • Yes, but: "The contingency plan is rather concise and vague, operations are not actually able to support the influx of tourists."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Nikki Haley poaches top conservative from Heritage Action

Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images

Nikki Haley has hired Tim Chapman, the head of Heritage Action, to run her conservative policy group Stand For America, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the hire. Haley and Chapman confirmed the hire, which was first reported by RealClearPolitics' Philip Wegmann.

Why it matters: Chapman is among the most influential conservative policy leaders in the country. His hire is Haley's highest-profile outside recruitment since leaving her job as UN ambassador under President Trump.

Situational awareness

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren supporters form super PAC
  2. We may be on "the brink" of coronavirus pandemic
  3. Pentagon policy chief resigns
  4. National polls show Bernie in control ahead of Nevada
  5. How a Chinese think tank rates all 50 U.S. governors
  6. Sanders and Bloomberg battle over heart health

Trump has declared war on sanctuary cities

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Armed with subpoenas, lawsuits and immigration SWAT teams, the Trump administration has declared war on sanctuary cities.

The big picture: President Trump and his administration have used every available tool to try to crack down on local governments that refuse to hold immigrants in criminal custody, block immigration agents from working in county jails or deny federal authorities access to immigrants' records.