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last updated 22:10 GMT w/ 4 items on 2023.1.5

Sears Hometown Files for Bankruptcy in Delaware
by yahoo! Finance

Sears Hometown Stores Inc. filed for bankruptcy on Monday, court papers show. The retailer listed assets of no more than $50 million and liabilities of at least $50 million in its bankruptcy court petition, filed in Delaware. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows companies to continue operating while working on a plan to repay creditors. Sears Hometown is a branch of the retailer that focuses on selling appliances, tools, hardware and lawn and garden equipment. Sears spun off the Hometown business in 2012 to raise cash for its struggling parent company. Representatives for Sears did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Hometown wasn’t part of Sears Holdings Corp.’s 2018 bankruptcy, and Transformco, a company backed by former Sears Chief Executive Officer Eddie Lampert, purchased it in 2019 as part of a strategy to focus Sears’s future business on appliances. Instead the company has continued to fade away, with Transformco shuttering stores and selling off signature brands like Craftsman and DieHard. The now-bankrupt Sears Hometown entity is at least partially owned by Lampert, according to court papers.

In Africa, China Is Building Influence, Brick by Brick
by SCMP

Earlier this month, officials in the Nigerian capital of Abuja broke ground for the new headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). When completed in just over two years, the complex will enable the regional bloc of 15 member countries to conduct business in one centralised site instead of the three separate locations they now work in. The US$32 million facility to be on 7 hectares (17 acres) of government-donated land is being paid for by China – the latest in a series of high-profile donations in several African countries as Beijing increases its clout on the continent. “To sponsor and construct the new headquarters is a vivid reflection of China’s support to the work of ECOWAS, as well as the traditional friendship between China and the West African countries,” said Cui Jianchun, China’s ambassador to Nigeria. “China will continue to promote the common development of China and Africa, and is ready to make new contributions to building the China-Africa community.” Cui said the building showed China’s “sincere determination” to support the unity, peace and development of Africa, as well as efforts to promote Africa’s infrastructure development. The project, which had been agreed to in 2018, is being funded by the Chinese government through the China International Development Cooperation Agency. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari called the effort “a symbol of China’s commitment to ECOWAS”.

Japanese Government Wants to Give People an Extra ¥80,000 to Have Babies
by Japan Today

Japan has been struggling to find ways to increase its low and declining birth rate for some time now, and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is hoping that the promise of some extra cash in the bank will encourage more people to add a baby to their family. Currently, new parents in Japan receive a Childbirth and Childcare Lump-Sum Grant of 420,000 yen upon the birth of their child. Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato wants to up that amount to an even 500,000 yen, and met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last week to discuss the proposal, which is expected to be approved and put into effect for the 2023 fiscal year, which starts in the spring. However, while such an increase in the grant amount isn’t likely to make anyone less motivated to have children, it may not be all that effective of an incentive either. Though it’s called the Childbirth and Childcare Lump-Sum Grant, little, if any, of it is left over after the “Childbirth” part. Though the grant is funded through Japan’s public medical insurance system, child delivery expenses are paid out of pocket, and according to Mainichi Shimbun the nationwide average for delivery costs is approximately 473,000 yen. That means that even if the grant is increased, parents would be looking at, on average, less than 30,000 yen of it remaining once they’re home from the hospital, or less than the amount Asahi Breweries is gifting workers to eat out this holiday season. That’s not going to go very far against the total costs of raising a child to self-sufficient adulthood, and it’s doubtful in the first place that an 80,000-yen boost is going to cross over anyone’s make-it-or-break-it point for having a baby.

Chinese Shipyards Gorge on Record LNG Carrier Orders as Rivals Struggle
by gCaptain

China is making fast inroads in the market for newbuild liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers as local and foreign shipowners turn to its shipbuilders for the specialty vessels because long dominant yards in South Korea are fully booked. Three Chinese shipyards – only one of them having experience building large LNG tankers – won nearly 30% of this year’s record orders for 163 new gas carriers, claiming ground in a sector where South Korea usually captures most of the business. LNG tanker order books for Chinese yards tripled as China’s gas traders and fleet operators sought to secure shipping after freight rates soared to records following the upending of global energy supply flows by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With South Korean shipbuilders swamped by orders to service Qatar’s massive North Field expansion, Chinese yards also attracted more foreign bookings, including first overseas orders for some ship makers only recently certified to build membrane-type LNG carriers.

Satellite Images Show Saudi Arabia's 'Line' Megacity Construction Underway
by MIT Technology Review

In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia announced The Line: a “civilizational revolution” that would house up to 9 million people in a zero-carbon megacity, 170 kilometers long and half a kilometer high but just 200 meters wide. Within its mirrored, car-free walls, residents would be whisked around in underground trains and electric air taxis. Satellite images of the $500 billion project obtained exclusively by MIT Technology Review show that the Line’s vast linear building site is already taking shape, running as straight as an arrow across the deserts and through the mountains of northern Saudi Arabia. The site, tens of meters deep in places, is teeming with many hundreds of construction vehicles and likely thousands of workers, themselves housed in sprawling bases nearby. Analysis of the satellite images by Soar Earth, an Australian startup that aggregates satellite imagery and crowdsourced maps into an online digital atlas, suggests that the workers have already excavated around 26 million cubic meters of earth and rock—78 times the volume of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Official drone footage of The Line’s construction site, released in October, indeed showed fleets of bulldozers, trucks, and diggers excavating its foundations.

E.U. Commission Silent on Greek Spyware Sale to Madagascar
by euobserver

The EU Commission says it works closely with EU states on dual-use exports but will not comment on new revelations that Greece authorised the sale of spyware software to Madagascar. "We do not comment on individual cases or exchanges we have with member states," a European Commission spokesperson, told reporters in Brussels on Friday (9 December). The revelation, exposed in a investigation by the New York Times on Thursday, adds to the mounting body of evidence of spyware being used by EU state actors against politicians, journalists, lawyers and others. The Greek government confirmed to the paper that it had granted the company, Intellexa, licences to sell Predator spyware to Madagascar. Amnesty International, in a report, faulted Madagascar for harassing journalists, its prison detention of children, and state-led discrimination against the LGBTI community. EU dual-export rules, which governs civilian technologies with possible military or security uses, includes provisions on cyber surveillance technologies. Those provisions are supposed to ensure their trade is legitimate and will not be used to violate human rights. National authorities are responsible for deciding on whether to grant authorisation. But the commission also says "it works in close cooperation with member states to ensure that the rules are implemented correctly." However, when asked if this includes Intellexa's Predator sale to Madagascar, the EU commission refused to say.

Libyan Government Lifts Force Majeure on Oil Exploration
by LibyaHerald

The Tripoli-based Libyan government led by Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba announced today the lifting of the state of force majeure on exploration operations for the production of oil and gas. The government further called on international oil companies that have concluded contracts with the National Oil Corporation (NOC) to resume their work in Libya, stressing its readiness to provide the necessary support and provide them with a safe work environment. The Aldabaiba government said the lifting of force majeure on oil exploration is based on a request by the NOC and after a realistic assessment of the security situation in the country. It added that the security situation has improved a lot and has allowed for exploration in areas previously not possible. The government said that it has given instructions to all relevant parties to provide all the necessary cooperation to oil and gas exploration companies.

Chinese Shake Up Israel's New Car Market
by Globes

256,700 new cars were delivered in Israel in the first 11 months of 2022, down 9.8% from the corresponding period of 2021, and close to the average over the past decade. But overall numbers aside the past year has seen remarkable changes in the car market as the emphasis shifts from gasoline and diesel fueled cars to electric vehicles. Nearly 10% of new cars sold in 2022 are electric vehicles compared with 1% three years ago and about 35% of the new cars sold in November were electric vehicles. This percentage could rise further in December as buyers rush to bring in an electric vehicle before purchase tax rises from 10% to 20% in January. The shift to electric cars has also shaken up the mix of brands being sold in Israel with Chinese companies moving strongly into the local market. In the first 11 months of 2022, 24,000 electric vehicles were sold in Israel including 6,000 in November alone and 64% of the electric vehicles sold in Israel this year were made in China. This figure includes Western brands that are manufactured in China such as Tesla and Polestar (Volvo) although the Chinese see them as exports to the west.

Japan Eyes 56% Increase in Defense Budget Over Five Years
by Space War

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed ministers on Monday to boost the country's defence budget by 56 percent over the next five years to $318 billion. The government is overhauling its defence and security strategies in response to regional threats from nuclear-armed North Korea and an increasingly assertive China. Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Kishida told him that "the size of the medium-term defence programme for the next five years, which is currently being arranged, should be around 43 trillion yen ($318 billion)". The amount would be more than 1.5 times larger than the current five-year spending plan of 27.5 trillion yen. The decision comes a week after Kishida announced he wanted to increase defence spending to two percent of GDP by 2027. For decades, Japan has spent around one percent of GDP or less on defence, less than the NATO standard of two percent. But growing pressure from China, including military exercises and the presence of boats around disputed islands, has helped build support for a bigger budget.

U.S. Navy Lowers Entrance Exam Requirements in Bid to Get More Recruits
by MilitaryTimes

As the military struggles to attract new recruits, the Navy on Monday began a pilot program that will let in those who have lower scores on part of the entrance exam used to gauge a recruit’s ability to serve. Potential sailors are required to take the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or AFQT, to determine whether they are qualified to serve, as part of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, better known as the ASVAB. Under the Navy’s pilot program, the service will accept lower scores on the AFQT, between the 10th and 30th percentile, as long as the prospective sailor’s ASVAB individual line scores are still high enough to qualify for a Navy rating. The test score change announcement comes after the Navy raised its maximum enlistment age to 41 last month, up from 39. The sea service barely made its active-duty enlisted recruiting goal for FY22, which ended Sept. 30, bringing in just 42 bodies more than the goal of 33,400 new members.

Exxon Mobil Raises CEO Pay by 10 Percent as Oil Giant Makes Huge Profits
by Houston Chronicle

Exxon Mobil is raising the base pay for its CEO and other executives as the company posts record quarterly profits. The annual salary for Chairman and CEO Darren Woods will rise to $1.88 million next year from $1.7 million, about 10 percent, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The annual salary for Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells, who joined the company in 2021 with pay of $437,500, will rise to $1.2 million. The salaries for executives are a small part of total compensation. Woods' total compensation package for 2021 was about $23.6 million. Other executives seeing raises will be senior vice presidents Neil Chapman, whose salary will increase to $1.2 million and Jack Williams, who will receive $1.21 million next year, according to the SEC filing. Exxon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Filmmakers Want to Link ISP Subscriber Data to "Pirating" YTS and Reddit Users
by TorrentFreak

The filmmakers accuse the ISP of failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who were repeatedly flagged for sharing copyrighted material. They want to hold WOW! liable for these pirating activities, which could lead to millions of dollars in damages. The ISP challenged the claims and filed a motion to dismiss the case. Among other things, it argued that an IP address is not sufficient to prove that subscribers downloaded or shared any infringing material. The filmmakers opposed this motion, which has yet to be decided on by the Colorado federal court. In the meantime, another issue has raised its head. Both sides are gathering evidence to prepare for the case moving forward. As part of that process, the filmmakers have demanded the personal details of roughly 14,000 subscribers whose WOW! accounts were allegedly used to pirate content. WOW! objected to this request, arguing that the names and addresses of its subscribers are irrelevant to the core question of whether it reasonably implemented a repeat infringer policy. The filmmakers disagreed, noting that the information can be cross-checked to determine whether the ISP notified its subscribers and terminated accounts in response to infringement notices.

Chinese Security Firm Advertises Ethnicity Recognition Technology, Faces U.K. Ban
by The Guardian

A Chinese security camera company has been advertising ethnicity recognition features to British and other European customers, even while it faces a ban on UK operations over allegations of involvement in ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang. In a brochure published on its website, Hikvision advertised a range of features that it said it could provide in collaboration with the UK startup FaiceTech. These included using facial recognition for retail security, border control, and anti-money laundering checks for retail banking. The brochure also advertised “Optional Demographic Profiling Facial analysis algorithms”, including “gender, race/ethnicity, age” profiling. A second, Italian-based, company was also cited on Hikvision’s website as offering racial profiling. The company removed both claims from its website following an inquiry from the Guardian, and said the technology had never been sold in the UK. The document, it said, detailed the “potential application of our cameras, with technology built independently by FaiceTech and other partners”. FaiceTech denied ever having worked with Hikvision, and said the brochure was created and published without its knowledge or consent. In a legal letter sent to Hikvision, seen by the Guardian, the British company demanded the document be removed since it “is likely to deceive the public into a mistaken belief that our client is in some way associated with Hikvision”. The brochures were first discovered by the campaign group Big Brother Watch. In a statement, Madeleine Stone, the group’s legal and policy officer, said: “It is deeply alarming that the same racist technology being used in Xinjiang to repress the Uyghur population is being marketed in Britain. Hikvision is normalising deeply intrusive surveillance capacities which have no place in a democracy.

Microsoft 365 Faces More GDPR Headwinds as Germany Bans It in Schools
by The Register

Germany's federal and state data protection authorities (DSK) have raised concerns about the compatibility of Microsoft 365 with data protection laws in Germany and the wider European Union. According to the German watchdog's report [PDF], which was written after two years of negotiations with Microsoft, the body says that the product "remains in breach" of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The 2020 working group was put together to bring the cloud service into line with the Schrems II decision of the European Court of Justice – and relates to ongoing European concerns about cloud data sovereignty, competition, and privacy rules. Under the GDPR, children below the age of 13 are incapable of consenting to their data being collected, while consent may be given by those with parental responsibility for those under 16 but not younger than 13. When platforms do store data on adults, those customers are meant to be able to request the deletion of their records. The report adds: "Many of the services included in Microsoft 365 require Microsoft to access the unencrypted, non-pseudonymized data." The DSK report means the office suite is therefore not suitable for legally compliant use in schools or public authorities in Germany, although it won't affect use by businesses or consumers.

79,000 People Lost Their Jobs Last Month, Up 400% Year Over Year
by 24/7 Wallstreet

Everyone expected more job losses in November, but the size of the increase may not have been expected. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Thursday morning that U.S.-based employers fired 78,835 workers last month, an increase of 127% month over month and 417% year over year. Job losses so far in 2022 total 320,173, a year-over-year increase of 6%. The tech sector accounted for two-thirds of November’s firings. November’s total is the highest for the sector since Challenger, Gray began keeping records in 2000 and is the highest total since 2002 when tech companies chopped 128,563 jobs during the dot-com bust. Job losses in the tech sector are more than 500% higher so far this year than in 2021. Excepting the carnage in the pandemic-related layoffs in the travel and leisure industry in 2020, the last time any sector cut this many jobs was 2015, when the U.S. Army announced a three-year plan to cut more than 40,000 troops. Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger, Gray commented, “The Tech sector has announced the most job cuts this year by far. While other industries are cutting jobs at a slower pace, hiring appears to have slowed as well.” The company’s year-to-date data indicates that U.S. companies have announced plans to hire 1.43 million workers, compared to plans for hiring 1.75 million at the same point last year. Auto industry workers also have been hit hard with job losses. More than 30,000 autoworkers have lost their jobs in the first 11 months of this year, a year-over-year increase of almost 200%. Rising mortgage rates and inflation have led to nearly 8,000 job losses in the real estate industry, an increase of 187% compared to 2021’s losses in the sector.

CGN Is Being Forced Out of Britain
by AtomInfo.RU

The recent decision of the British government on public investment in the Sizewell C NPP construction project is equivalent to a complete withdrawal from the project of the Chinese state corporation CGN. Chinese nuclear giants CNNC and CGN have a lot in common with Rosatom in their structure, however, unlike the Russians, their portfolio of foreign orders for the construction of nuclear units can be said to be empty. From this point of view, the units built by CNNC in Pakistan can be mentioned as the only Chinese success, but it is difficult to call it a victory by the ultimate rating, since only Chinese companies can build nuclear power plants in Pakistan due to the twists of international law. Chinese analysts have never said out loud the strategy that should have been chosen by the sworn friends of CNNC and CGN to repeat the foreign successes of Rosatom. One can restore the adopted strategy. studying the ways and actions of Chinese corporations. It is obvious that in the struggle for foreign orders, Chinese nuclear scientists have relied on the provision of loans. But they went even further. To overcome the natural doubts about the ability of CNNC and CGN to implement major projects outside of China, the following approach was adopted: "We will pay you to build a unit or units with reactors of your choice, and for this you will then allow us to build a unit or units with Chinese reactors." Fortunately, the Chinese nuclear scientists have enough money for such generosity. CNNC adhered to this strategy in Argentina (heavy water unit first, then "Dragon"), and CGN - in Romania (heavy water units at the Chernavoda nuclear power plant and a possible second nuclear power plant with Dragons) and Britain (EPR first, then Dragon). In all three cases, the Chinese strategy failed. Chinese analysts could not adequately take into account in their calculations and forecasts the risks of political opposition from those forces that do not like the technological cooperation of their countries with China. The CGN corporation was ousted from Romania in 2020, and in 2022 the participation of CGN in the British new construction program is coming to an end.

Britain: Census Reveals The Massive Impact of Immigration on Society
by Migration Watch U.K.

In the last 20 years the population of England and Wales has increased by around eight million entirely as a result of immigration. This has meant huge population shifts and churn in different areas of the UK but particularly in London, the South East and East of England, and the West and East Midlands. As a result, the white British are now a minority in London, Birmingham and Manchester. 1) The Census statistics for 2021show that the total ethnic minority population in England and Wales has risen by eight million in twenty years. It stands at nearly 15 million (nearly tripling from 5.7 million in 2001) and has more than doubled from 12% of the population to 26% since 2001. 2) The overall population of England and Wales rose by around eight million since 2001 – rising from 52 million to nearly 60 million in 2021. However, although there was a plateauing of the White British and Irish populations, the rise in the ethnic minority population accounted for nearly all of net population growth (increasing by a total of 8.4 million). 3) Since 2001, the UK has 3.2 million more people of Asian background, 2.4 million more from White Other backgrounds, 1.3 million more from Black backgrounds, a million more from mixed race backgrounds, and half a million more from other ethnic backgrounds. Meanwhile, the white British population has essentially plateaued over that period at around 44 to 45 million. 4) It is not surprising that immigration has driven population growth as every year between 600,000 and a million migrants come here long-term while about 300,000 to 500,000 leave. The resulting overall net migration total of a quarter of a million more means huge demographic shifts, especially in major cities and areas adjacent to them – such as the East of England and south-eastern suburbs of London and Birmingham and its surrounding environs. 5) A comparison with ONS figures released for 2016 show a remarkable change in the population makeup in the top 5 five cities in England and Wales in just five years, with the white British population in the five major cities in England and Wales declining by a total of 800,000 since that year, with the bulk of this shift being from London and the next largest drop in Birmingham (90,000). Two of the top three cities (Birmingham and Manchester) have become minority White British.

If You Offer Internet Service, Your Speech Is Now Highly Regulated by the FCC
by CommLawBlog

In an order released on November 17, 2022, the FCC dictates in detail the specific words that an Internet service provider must use when communicating with its customers. The FCC has adopted new rules requiring specific information (referred to as the broadband consumer label) to be displayed at the point of sale when offering mass-market retail Internet access service by wire or radio. Internet service providers must display unique identifiers for each of their Internet service plans that must consist of their FCC Registration Number followed by 15 alphanumeric characters. A provider’s broadband consumer label must include the information on the FCC’s label template (see page 6 of the FCC order). Any customization of the label is prohibited. Smaller providers will have one year to come into compliance with the new rules after Federal Register publication of OMB’s approval. A small Internet service provider is one with 100,000 or fewer subscriber lines. Larger providers have six months to display the broadband consumer labels. In addition to the order adopting the new label rules, the FCC also issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comments on whether the FCC should impose additional requirements for broadband consumer labels. In that rulemaking proceeding, the FCC will consider whether it should require additional pricing information on labels, more speed and latency metrics, service reliability measurements, cybersecurity practices, mandatory foreign languages, and making the labels interactive. The deadline for filing comments regarding additional label requirements will be 30 days after Federal Register publication.

IDF Holds Joint Air Drills with U.S., Simulating Strikes on Iran and Proxies
by The Times of Israel

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday published footage and details of a series of joint aerial exercises it held with the US military this week, simulating strikes against Iran and its regional terror proxies. In a statement, the IDF said that during drills, which took place over Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, four IAF F-35i fighter jets, accompanied four American F-15 aircraft and an American KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft, refueled several IAF F-16i fighter jets. The IDF said the drills also “simulated an operational scenario and long-distance flights.” The joint drill was agreed upon during IDF chief Aviv Kohavi’s trip to the US last week. The IDF said Kohavi told American defense officials in Washington that the two militaries must accelerate joint plans for offensive actions against Iran. Last Thursday, he said joint activities with the US military in the Middle East would be “significantly expanded.” Jerusalem opposes US President Joe Biden’s attempts to revive a nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers that traded sanctions reliefs for curbs on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. In light of growing uncertainty regarding a return by Iran to the deal, the past two years have seen the IDF ramp up efforts to prepare a credible military threat against Tehran’s nuclear sites.

U.K. Court Orders Crypto Firms to Share Data to Track Thieves
by Bank Info. Security

A British court ordered six cryptocurrency exchanges to reveal the identities of account holders allegedly tied to a 2020 hack of an anonymous English cryptocurrency platform during which thieves stole $10.7 million worth of digital assets. The exchanges must share the status of the stolen funds, the "know your customer" details of the alleged hackers and their bank account and payment card details, email addresses, residential addresses, phone numbers and bank statements, High Court Justice Christopher Butcher ruled. His Tuesday order on behalf of a plaintiff whose identity isn't public - the plaintiff goes by the moniker LMN in court and isn't associated with a similarly named NFT collection of cartoon lemons - directs the exchanges to cooperate without "avoidable delay." The exchanges are Binance, Bitflyer, Payward - which operates as Kraken, Luno PTE, Coinbase Global, and Huobi Global. The victim company initially contacted law enforcement authorities and later hired a cryptocurrency expert to trace the stolen funds. That investigation hit a dead end with the platforms, since the wallet addresses the investigator found were omnibus accounts used by the platforms to manage the trades of multiple individuals. Ari Redbord, a former senior adviser to the Department of the Treasury on money laundering and an ISMG contributor, said, "It will be interesting to see how the exchanges in this case respond." Most will likely respond to the court order, he said. "That said, it is hard to enforce legal process outside of the jurisdiction. So if an exchange decides not to comply, enforcement could be a challenge." The exchanges, including Coinbase - which actively participated in a Nov. 11 hearing leading to the order - did not respond to a request for comment, including whether they intend to comply with Butcher's order. The British judge issued the order despite the exchanges' location outside the United Kingdom by citing an October 2022 update to civil procedure law that streamlined orders for information disclosure against foreign entities in cases of fraud intended to be pursued in English or Welsh courts.

Majority of U.S. Defense Contractors Not Meeting Basic Cyber Security Requirements
by info. security

Nearly nine in 10 (87%) of US defense contractors are failing to meet basic cybersecurity regulation requirements, according to research commissioned by CyberSheath. The survey of 300 US-based Department of Defense (DoD) contractors found that just 13% of respondents have a Supplier Risk Performance System (SPRS) score of 70 or above. Under the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), a score of 110 is required for full compliance. Anecdotally, a score of 70 is believed to be “good enough” to be considered compliant, according to the study authors. DFARS, which was enacted into law in 2017, is designed to bolster cybersecurity in the defense industrial base. Defense contractors also must comply with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), a certification framework they must pass to bid for contracts with the DoD. The first version of CMMC was released in January 2020, with an updated version, 2.0, coming into effect in May 2023. It offers five certification levels spanning one through five, with five being the highest. Each level maps to a different level of process maturity. The new study suggests the vast majority of DoD defense contractors are neither meeting current DFARS obligations or in a position to comply with the updated version of CMMC.

Israel Beefs Up Protection of Its Senior Spies, as Proxy War with Iran Intensifies
by Intelnews.org

Israeli authorities have stepped up measures to protect its senior intelligence and security figures, over concerns they may be targeted by agents of the Iranian state, according to news reports. The news comes amidst widespread concerns that the ongoing shadow conflict between Israel and Iran is escalating in the shadow of the Russo-Ukrainian war. On Thursday, Israel’s state-owned broadcaster and news agency, Kan, reported that  the government of Israel had implemented additional security measures to protect current and former members of its security and intelligence agencies. The report added that the measures are focused largely on current and former members of Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad, as well as those associated with Israel’s intelligence and security apparatus that are living abroad. The report comes amidst concerns among security observers that a clandestine war between Israel and Iran is growing in intensity. To a notable extent, this growth is being fueled by the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Iran’s supply of cheap and reliable attack drones appears to be enabling Moscow to subvert and outright destroy Ukraine’s national infrastructure. In what seems like a direct response to Iran’s actions, Israel war materiel is now flowing into Ukraine, reportedly through a NATO country.

Meet the Man on a Mission to Expose Sneaky Price Increases
by The New York Times

A few weeks ago, Edgar Dworsky got a promising tip by email. “Diluted cough syrup,” read the message, accompanied by a photo of two packages of syrup with a curious difference: The new one appeared to be half the strength of the old one. Mr. Dworsky gets emails like this frequently, alerting him to things like a bag of dog food that discreetly shrank from 50 pounds to 44 pounds. A cereal box that switched from “giant” to “family” size and grew about an inch taller — but a few ounces lighter. Bottles of detergent that look the same, but the newer ones come with less detergent. The cough syrup message looked intriguing. Mr. Dworsky made plans to investigate. He has dedicated much of his life to exposing what is one of the sneakier tricks in the modern consumer economy: “shrinkflation,” when products or packaging are subtly manipulated so that a person pays the same price, or even slightly more, for something but gets less of it. Consumer product companies have been using this strategy for decades. And their nemesis, Mr. Dworsky, has been following it for decades. He writes up his discoveries on his website, mouseprint.org, a reference to the fine print often found on product packaging. Print so tiny “only a mouse could read,” he says. He writes about shrinkflation in everything — tuna, mayonnaise, ice cream, deodorant, dish soap — alongside other consumer advocacy work on topics like misleading advertising, class-action lawsuits and exaggerated sale claims. One recent Mouse Print report explored toilet paper shrinkflation. “Virtually every brand of toilet paper has been downsized over the years,” Mr. Dworsky wrote, documenting more than a decade of toilet paper shrinkage.

Massive Cancellations Make Mess of Already Low New-House Sales
by Wolf Street

Sales of new single-family houses have been zigzagging along low levels for months. In October, they rose 7.5% from September, after having plunged 11% in September, according to the Census Bureau today. At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 632,000 houses, they were down 5.8% from the already low levels a year ago, and down 37% from two years ago. These sales are based on signed contracts between buyer and homebuilder, and they’re no indication of how many of those deals actually close. And those sales that actually close are far lower amid a huge wave of cancellations.


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