However, it seems that some federal bureaucrats would rather stay in the DC area than move there. Politico and The Hill are reporting that the Department of Agriculture has decided to move a pair of its research agencies closer to the center where farming is conducted. Kansas City was chosen, in part, because of the USDA’s existing presence there and its proximity with many of the land grant universities doing work for the USDA. The move is supposed to save the government $300 million over the next 20 years.
Politico reports that employees at the Economic Research Service (research areas include climate change, nutrition, and the farm economy) allege that the relocation is an attempt to shrink the agency and dial back research that doesn’t align with the Trump administration’s priorities, but they have not offered any explanation of how working in a lower cost-of-living area in the middle of the farming heartland would adversely affect their work. OTOH, the USDA says the high cost of living the DC area hinders recruitment and retention at the agencies.
Politico further reports that workers at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture who arrange federal grants for agricultural research institutions believe the move is rooted in politics, but they have not explained how reducing the average distance between them and those research institutions will create any problems.
Of course, the decision to move these agencies is political. In 2016, the American people elected a President with a particular management philosophy, and he’s implementing it. Elections have consequences.
Legal Insurrection reports that the insurance carrier for Oberlin College has notified the school that while its policy does cover a defamation claim, it does not cover some of the other torts claims in the Gibson’s Bakery lawsuit. The insurance company has filed a motion to intervene in the case to find out what proportion of the $11,000,000 verdict was for defamation.
When most of us think about cyber warfare, we probably have hacking or malware attacks in mind. But what about using blocking and censorship to control the flow of information?
Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other private actors are essentially engaging in a form of private cyber warfare by deplatforming accounts that they view as politically incorrect, and they’ve been relying on the protections afforded by U. S. law to get away with it. But these American companies operate on the worldwide web, and no other country’s laws provide the protection they enjoy here. Some of those countries which we normally think of as democracies are considering giving the mainstream social media sites a dose of their own medicine.
Stephen Michael Kellat has an interesting piece over at Coyote Works about the cyber war that is brewing between Facebook and several countries (New Zealand in particular) and the possible economic fallout. It’s been suggested that countries having problems with Facebook or other social networks should consider nation-level blocking so that local alternatives might develop.
A cyber war need not be kinetic and appears to be shaping up as economic in nature. Currently the stock market is driven hard by the FAANG group of stocks which stands generally for Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. Out of those five companies, one produces physical goods to purchase and one is a retailer. The other three produce electronic intangibles for a global market. If the United States gets hit with what would effectively be targeted economic sanctions towards a specific company that may have offended local sensibilities, how are we going to react?
Blocking Instapundit or Legal Insurrection may not move the needle much on the national economy. Blocking Facebook would appear to cause a bit of a plunge, though. A multilateral blockade of one web property to essentially quarantine it would be a fairly drastic action.
Read the whole thing.
Bill Schmalfeldt was unavailable for comment.