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US Govt. Shutdown Draws Array of Protests

The partial U.S. government shutdown has forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers to stay home, restricted or shuttered many government services, and sparked an array of protests criticizing lawmakers and calling on them to end the budget impasse.

With no spending plan for a new fiscal year that began October 1, national parks closed, investigators who probe outbreaks of food-borne illnesses stopped going to work, and the government quit issuing reports on the state of the economy.

The shutdown is set to begin its third week on Tuesday, with Americans seeing a personal impact with delays on things like getting home loans and income tax refunds.

The effects have brought out protesters in big cities and small towns, including Sunday in Washington where several hundred people tore down barricades erected at the closed monuments and memorials on the National Mall. They took some of the barricades to the White House along with signs critical of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Congressman Ted Cruz, one of the leading Republicans who refused to fund the government without changes to Mr. Obama's signature healthcare legislation, spoke to the crowd at the National World War 2 Memorial.

"Let me ask a simple question: why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?"

Demonstrators also went to the U.S. Capitol Sunday to voice their criticism of Congress, which has repeatedly failed to agree on a budget and relied on so-called continuing resolutions to fund the government for several years.

Earlier protests brought out federal workers in cities like Chicago, Boston and Atlanta, and citizens in Plano, Texas; Newton, New Jersey and Springettsbury, Pennsylvania.

At Valley Forge National Historic Park near Philadelphia on Sunday, a group of runners turned out to protest park closures and fines that have been levied against those caught running on the grounds since the shutdown went into effect.

More demonstrations are planned for this week. Religious leaders and furloughed workers are set to visit lawmakers' offices in Washington Tuesday. A few blocks away, another group plans to picket outside a Citibank branch, urging banks to use their stature to help the Americans who funded bailouts during the financial crisis and pressure lawmakers to end the shutdown.

Companies have weighed in on the shutdown in a variety of ways, including offering special discounts and free food to federal workers. Coffee chain Starbucks carried out a promotion last week offering customers a free cup of coffee if they paid for someone else's drink. The company's chairman said it was a chance for people to "come together" while waiting for elected officials to do the same.

At least one American is not waiting for lawmakers to act. The shutdown has kept groundskeepers from working on the National Mall, but a South Carolina man showed up last week and began mowing grass, raking leaves and picking up trash around the grounds that hold many monuments and memorials. His actions have also inspired others to join his civic-minded mission to maintain the sites as the federal shutdown drags on.

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