US-Trained Afghan Spies & Special Forces Are Joining ISIS For ‘Protection’ Against Taliban

US-Trained Afghan Spies & Special Forces Are Joining ISIS For ‘Protection’ Against Taliban

Many former national Afghan forces who are now being hunted by the Taliban after their US military backers withdrew from the country in August are turning to the Islamic State for protection, a new investigative Wall Street Journal report finds. 

Also among those joining the ranks of ISIS in Afghanistan, or ISIS-K, are members of Afghanistan’s US-trained intelligence service. “The number of defectors joining the terrorist group is relatively small, but growing, according to people who know these men, to former Afghan security officials and to the Taliban,” The Wall Street Journal writes.

Though this is said to be happening in small numbers, and is described as a move out of desperation, it could be a huge boon to ISIS-K’s capabilities, given US-trained intelligence members bring their expertise and capabilities with them to the terrorist group. Critics of the Biden’s administration’s Afghan exit fiasco have long warned that “left behind” US assets would be swooped up by terror groups.

Image: the former Afghanistan National Army Special Forces (ANASF) 

According to WSJ, “Importantly, these new recruits bring to Islamic State critical expertise in intelligence-gathering and warfare techniques, potentially strengthening the extremist organization’s ability to contest Taliban supremacy.”

As evidence the report cites “An Afghan national army officer who commanded the military’s weapons and ammunition depot in Gardez, the capital of southeastern Paktia province, joined the extremist group’s regional affiliate, Islamic State-Khorasan Province, and was killed a week ago in a clash with Taliban fighters, according to a former Afghan official who knew him.”

“The former official said several other men he knew, all members of the former Afghan republic’s intelligence and military, also joined Islamic State after the Taliban searched their homes and demanded that they present themselves to the country’s new authorities,” continues the report.

Alarmingly among those defecting to ISIS ranks amid fears they’ll be killed by the Taliban are elite special forces members. In some cases these Afghan special forces would have received training considered as elite as anyone can get, given their instructors at one point would have been US Navy SEALS or Green Berets. WSJ cites instances of this as follows: “A resident of Qarabagh district just north of Kabul said his cousin, a former senior member of Afghanistan’s special forces, disappeared in September and was now part of an Islamic State cell.”

The report explains how literally hundreds of thousands of Afghan national troops, intelligence officers, and police haven’t been paid for months since the collapse of the US-backed Kabul government – and at the same time they’re too afraid to show up to work, or identify themselves as part of the former government. At a moment the Taliban is trying to stamp out its ISIS-K rival, these disaffected and unemployed US-trained personnel are fodder for Islamic State recruitment

And then there’s this interesting widespread believe mentioned in the WSJ report:

The Taliban have long alleged that Islamic State-Khorasan Province was a creation of Afghanistan’s intelligence service and the U.S. that aimed to sow division within the Islamist insurgency, a claim denied by Washington and by Kabul’s former government.

Notably there’s the recent historical example of how the resistance was formed in Iraq after the 2003 US invasion. With Saddam Hussein toppled, hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed former Iraqi soldiers and police joined radical groups to wage a deadly insurgency. 

Already a number of major suicide and car bomb attacks have killed dozens in a few major cities, including Kabul – most of which have been blamed on ISIS-K. Washington officials have at various times suggested the possibility that the Pentagon might in some instances assist in anti-ISIS operations (for example with air support) – but so far the Biden administration has resisted putting such an obviously controversial plan in motion, given it would mean working directly with the Taliban.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 23:05

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden



Authored by Gary Galles via The American Institute for Economic Research,

Having gotten the okay from federal authorities that “Halloweening” can resume this year, various fearsome characters may soon be chanting “trick or treat” again at doors all over America. As a consequence, we will be restarting some excellent illustrations of basic economics 

Such an apparent extortion threat seems far from the allegedly dismal science, but in fact, Halloween reflects economics’ central precept that people choose by comparing the benefits and costs they expect to bear as a result of their choices. 

For example, modern jack-o-lanterns are carved out of pumpkins for economic reasons. They originated in Ireland as hollowed-out turnips used as lanterns, but pumpkins were more plentiful in America and made better lanterns, so the tradition migrated to pumpkins.

Dark houses and scary costumes originate from benefit-cost comparisons. In the fifth century B.C., Celts celebrated their New Year–Samhain–on October 31. According to legend, on that day the spirits of those who had died during the year searched for living bodies to possess as their only hope of an afterlife. Therefore, people made themselves unattractive “candidates,” to avoid such a fate. Houses were left dark, cold and undesirable, and people dressed ghoulishly to scare away the “shopping” spirits. 

Trick-or-treating also has economic roots.

It originated with “souling” in ninth century Europe. On All Souls Day, poor Christians would go door-to-door asking for “soul cakes”–bread studded with currants. The more cakes they received, the more prayers they would say for the donor’s dead relatives. This theological exchange of bread for prayers was viable due to the belief that prayers by the faithful could hasten the passage of the departed into heaven.

Current Halloween practices also reflect economics. Second only to Christmas as a shopping holiday, Halloween generates about $6 billion in sales, reflecting the vast majority of Americans who mark the occasion in some way. It is the biggest payday for candy makers, reportedly accounting for one-quarter of annual candy sales.

Halloween also turned when daylight savings time “falls back” into a major issue, in search of added sales from an extra hour of trick-or-treating. Lobbying led George W. Bush to sign the Energy Policy Act, which took effect in 2007, extending daylight savings time by a week to enable it (Now it ends the first Sunday in November). 

Because Halloween is also the biggest night for costume rentals and purchases and behind only New Year’s and the Super Bowl for alcohol sales, sellers in these industries pray for a weekend Halloween so more adult parties will take place. The Halloween Association trade group has even proposed permanently making Halloween the last Saturday in October, to get more economic bang out of the holiday. 

Halloween is also one of many children’s first experiences with economic decision-making. 

How long should you continue to trick or treat? You stop when the costs in terms of tiredness and sore feet outweigh the benefits of the additional candy. Is it really worth walking to the dentist’s house to get a toothbrush? Which streets should you hit? Such decisions reflect costs (how far do I have to walk?) versus the value of likely treat benefits to them. The number of lights on, the income level and number of kids in the neighborhood all enter this calculation. Children also learn to ask others about the likely loot payoff before choosing their path. Some parents even drive their children to other neighborhoods to increase their trick-or-treat haul.

When are you too old to trick or treat? When the cost of the hassles you get about it outweigh the benefits of the candy and fun you expect.

Children staying with friends Halloween night also learn how markets work, via candy exchange negotiations. I can still remember my amazement at the large number of hard candies one could get in exchange for, say, a Snickers or Reese’s, in trade, at one post-rampage party when I was young. 

The economics of Halloween affects others as well. Homeowners learn why the trick-or-treater’s dream–a bowl of candy with a sign saying “take all you want”—doesn’t work very well, except at running you out of candy quickly. Primary school teachers are much more likely to call in sick after Halloween because the children are either still going to be on their sugar high or suffering from the low that follows, and what meager learning will take place doesn’t justify the cost of containing the pandemonium. 

In other words, economics is far from dismal; it can shed real insight on every activity in a world of scarcity, including Halloween. In fact, when we extort treats with threats the same month that the federal fiscal year begins, and just before major elections in every even-numbered year, it reminds us of how commonly trick-or-treating describes politics as we are forced to bear it.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 22:40

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Goldman Capitulates, Pulls Forward Date Of First Rate Hike By One Full Year To July 2022

Goldman Capitulates, Pulls Forward Date Of First Rate Hike By One Full Year To July 2022

Following last week’s bond market turmoil, which led to shock and awe curve-flattening moves forcing various macro funds like Rokos and Alphadyne to capitulate and suffer massive losses, and sent Euribor Dec 22 futures crashing as even the ECB lost control of the front-end, virtually everyone has been forced to admit that the Fed’s “transitory” narrative was dead wrong and the central bank will hike rates far sooner than expected. How much sooner? Well, according to Goldman, which until Friday expected the first rate hike would not take place until July 2023 hast just pulled forward its forecast for liftoff (i.e., the first Fed rate hike) to July 2022, one full year faster than its previous forecast. After that, Goldman expects a second hike in November 2022 and two hikes per year after that.

Goldman also believes that the FOMC will announce the start of tapering next week, presumably at the $15bn per month pace noted in the September minutes.

If implementation begins in mid-November, the last taper would come in June 2022. While large surprises on the virus, inflation, wage growth, or inflation expectations could prompt a revision, “the hurdle for a change in either direction is high.”

That said, since the Fed is powerless to do anything to impact supply-chains – the primary source of bottlenecked supply and therefore surging prices – all the central bank will achieve is push the US into a recession faster while sparking a market crash, which in turn will mean an accelerated easing (rate-cuts, NIRP, more QE) cycle some time around early/mid-2023 at which point the Fed will likely start buying stocks, especially if some new veriosion of Covid mysteriously emerges out of China the blue.

But that’s out view, not Goldman’s. As for the vampire squid, the reason for the dramatic change in the bank’s liftoff call is that Goldman now expect core PCE inflation to remain above 3% – and core CPI inflation above 4% – when the taper concludes as shelter inflation will be running hot.

The next chart shows Goldman’s forecasts for key indicators at the time of the July 2022 meeting. In addition to the strong inflation numbers, the bank also expects GDP growth to have re-accelerated to a 4% pace, with the eventual slowdown coming mostly in the second half of next year, and the unemployment rate to stand at 3.7%. Taken together, we think this will make a seamless move from tapering to rate hikes the path of least resistance. 

Taken together, Goldman thinks “this will make a seamless move from tapering to rate hikes the path of least resistance.”

Goldman’s unexpected rate hike capitulation aside, the bank maintains its view that growth will slow to a trend-like pace and inflation will drop to the low 2s by late 2022 or early 2023, without an aggressive monetary policy response (here, too, Goldman is once again wrong because at this rate the best case outcome for the US is simply stagflation, while a currency crushing hyperinflation remains the worst). The key reasons cited by Goldman are that the level of fiscal support will continue to decline sharply and supply chain problems should be resolved, turning the inflationary surge in the goods sector into a temporary deflationary drag.

As a result, Goldman sees the possible paths ahead as bimodal: if something delays liftoff long enough for growth and inflation to fall sharply by end-2022, the Fed could stay on hold for a while. This was the scenario Goldman previously envisioned…. and it was dead wrong just as we said it would be.

Finally, beyond 2022, the bank forecasts one hike every six months: Goldman sees this twice-a-year pace as plausible “either as a dovish response to an environment where inflation remains modestly above 2%, or as an average outcome in an environment where inflation fluctuates above and below 2%.” In support of the first possibility, the bank suspects that both Chair Powell and Governor Brainard wrote down two hikes per year at the end of the forecast horizon in their September dots, conditional on an inflation forecast of just over 2%. This means that they have in mind a somewhat slower pace of tightening and less emphasis on normalization for normalization’s sake than under the Fed’s more preemptive approach last cycle.

One outstanding question Goldman often gets is whether inflation needs to be above 2% for the FOMC to deliver subsequent rate hikes after liftoff. Here, the hawks would likely say no on the grounds that inflation has already averaged well above 2% this cycle, while doves would say yes because otherwise the FOMC would have returned to the old preemptive approach. Goldman’s forecast of two hikes per year is based on an assumption that the dovish interpretation will win out, but this remains unclear.

The left side of the chart below, presents a stylized scenario analysis of possible paths for the Fed: Goldman considers a high inflation scenario in which the Fed hikes three times next year and then quarterly after that to a rate 100bp above its estimate of neutral (red line), a later liftoff scenario in which the Fed does not start until 2023Q3 but then proceeds at our baseline pace (green line), and variations on its baseline (dark blue line) in which inflation is usually below 2% from 2023 on (light blue line) or the economy falls into recession at some point (grey line). The combined probability of the baseline scenarios, which are the same in 2022, is 50%.

Here there are two takeaways: first, the risks around the bank’s baseline are symmetric, meaning that our baseline and weighted average views are similar (Exhibit 10, right), which is not always the case. Second, the weighted average view is somewhat below market pricing through 2023 and somewhat above market pricing in 2024 and 2025, suggesting that the market is pricing a bit too much tightening up front and a bit too little later on, even relative to Goldman’s baseline expectation of a fairly slow pace and our view that there is some chance of inflation falling below 2%, resulting in very little further hiking.

One final observation: Goldman’s decision to shockingly pull forward its first rate hike – and thus once again puke all over its reputation as a rational Fed watcher – has nothing to do with any of the abovementioned fundamental points, and everything to do with the violent market repricing in the short end and in terms of fed tightening. All of that can be summarized in the chart below courtesy of Bloomberg; it shows that as of Friday, the matket priced in odds as high as 87% — 22 basis points of a 25 basis-point increase — of a June 2022 rate increase. A week ago they priced in 16 basis points, a 62% likelihood. All Goldman is doing is following the crowd.

What Goldman does not get, is that as the market prices in more rate hikes, the market-implied slope of the Fed’s path continues to flatten as traders are also pricing in a policy error, i.e., tightening into a recession. As such, the curve’s peak now suggests at most five to six hikes by the end of 2025 to a level more than 100 basis points short of Fed policy makers’ projection.

In other words, some time in 2023 at the very latest, we will likely see Fed Chairwoman Brainard announce the an accelerated rate cut cycle has arrived, one which may culminate with NIRP even as the Fed buys stocks to keep the wealth effect from collapsing.






Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 22:10

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Australia’s Top Securities Regulator Says It Will Approve Bitcoin ETFs

Australia’s Top Securities Regulator Says It Will Approve Bitcoin ETFs

Authored by Alex McShane via Bitcoin Magazine,

The Australian Securities And Investments Commission (ASIC) has given early approval to fund managers seeking to launch Bitcoin spot exchange traded funds (ETFs), according to Business Insider.

Many Australian funds have already begun the application process after ASIC green lit the spot ETFs. After months of consulting with experts in the Bitcoin and crypto industry, the corporate regulators issued new guidance for the space, and detailed a draft of regulatory requirements for funds eager to offer Bitcoin spot ETFs.

In a statement on Friday, ASIC wrote, “We recognise the interest in, and demand for, ETPs and other investment products that hold crypto-assets in Australia.” One requirement for fund managers is they will need to appoint a Bitcoin custodial expert who is “required to ensure crypto-assets are held in safe and secure custody”.

Safe and secure custody includes storing Bitcoin private keys in air-gapped cold storage, through wallets which are subject to “robust physical security practices.” Redundant backups of seed phrases stored in geographically separate locations are also required, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Funds must also front a minimum of $10 million in net tangible assets to launch a Bitcoin ETF, along with adhering to other pricing and risk management obligations.

ASIC commented on why Bitcoin is one of just two newly approved assets, “We proposed this because we recognize that crypto-assets vary greatly in their features, characteristics, risks and how they operate, and we consider that only some may be appropriate to be held by a registered managed investment scheme.”

This comes just one week after Valkyrie and ProShares launched the first Bitcoin futures ETFs in the United States. Many in the U.S. are eagerly awaiting the approval of a Bitcoin spot-based ETF, which is considered to be a safer investment vehicle that can more closely track the price of Bitcoin. In any case, Australia’s coming spot ETFs are a step in the right direction in terms of educating traditional investors about Bitcoin and spreading adoption. 

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 21:50

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

OPEC+ Balks At Biden’s Demands For More Oil Production

OPEC+ Balks At Biden’s Demands For More Oil Production

With oil prices rising to levels last seen during the OPEC Thanksgiving massacre of 2014, developed nations – having realized they made an epic blunder by pushing the Net Zero lunacy far too hard, leaving the oil and gas industry with not nearly enough growth spending to keep the price of oil from surging (as we discussed in “One Bank Crunches The Numbers On Oil Supply/Demand Dynamics, Reaches A Shocking Conclusion“)…

… are now stuck begging OPEC+ to produce more, as the alternative is even higher oil prices and attendant social unrest as even ESG posterchild Larry Fink admits.

Speaking to reporters in Rome, a senior US official said that the U.S. is talking to other energy-consuming nations about how to press OPEC+ to boost output to address the current supply crunch. That such pleas aimed at OPEC+ come from the same admin which ended the Keystone XL pipeline on its first day, and has done everything to crush shale capex in the US, is hardly a surprise.

And since even the Biden admin is not dumb enough to grasp that its “demands” will be laughed out of the room, Bloomberg reports that the leaders will also discuss how they might respond if the 23-nation cartel that includes Russia doesn’t take action, the official said, although he wouldn’t speculate on what those options might be.

The statements from the “senior US official” come just in time to confirm recent media reports that a broad campaign has been waged to persuade OPEC+ to speed up its output increases as Bloomberg reported earlier in the week, citing multiple diplomats and industry insiders involved in the contacts.

According to a Bloomberg report last week, an intense campaign was being waged behind closed doors to persuade OPEC+ to speed up its output increases. The cartel, which meets virtually on Nov. 4 to review policy, is currently boosting output at a rate of 400,000 barrels a day each month and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future due to uncertainties associated with covid.

The private efforts come on top of recent public appeals. The Biden administration is increasingly alarmed by rising gasoline prices that have reached a 7-year high, and has been calling on OPEC+ for weeks to pump more oil. Japan, the world’s fourth-largest oil consumer, took the rare step of adding its voice to those calls in late October — a first for Tokyo since 2008. India, the third-largest consumer, has also asked for more crude. China has been silent in public, but is equally vocal in private, diplomats said.

“We found ourselves in an energy crisis,” Amos Hochstein, the top U.S. energy diplomat, said this week, reflecting a view broadly held view by big oil consuming nations. “Producers should ensure that oil markets and gas markets are balanced.”

On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz addressed the Group of 20 summit in Rome saying his government seeks “balance” in energy markets. Which, of course, is politically correct wording for the Saudis, and OPEC+, will ignore pleas to hike output especially since shale is hardly rushing to boost production and the price of oil will soon hit $90 if not $100, with the benefits flowing through to the bottom line of ever oil exporter.

“The Kingdom will continue its leading role in economic and health upturn and recovery from the global crises, and in finding a balance to achieve security and stability in energy markets,” he said, according to Saudi press agency.

The OPEC+ cartel meets next on Nov. 4 to conduct a virtual discussion of its policies. However, thanks to Angola we already know the outcome: the African nation rejected consumers’ calls for OPEC+ to increase oil production, saying the group’s plan to gradually add supply is working.

“Many countries and suppliers are calling for more oil and asking the OPEC+ to increase the oil production,” Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, oil minister for the OPEC member, said in a statement. “But in my humble opinion the current plan of increasing production by 400,000 barrels a day agreed in July by OPEC+ is working well and there is no need to deviate from it.” 

Translation: not only will OPEC+ not boost production despite the fervent request of virtue-signaling western nations which can’t seem to grasp that pushing “green” policies will result in energy hyperinflation (as we explained here), but that the person in charge of the White House has become such a global laughing stock that OPEC+ seems to enjoy rubbing how powerless he is, in his face.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 21:25

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

US Coal Miners “All Sold Out” For 2022

US Coal Miners “All Sold Out” For 2022

Top U.S. coal miners are experiencing a massive surge in demand as power companies restart coal-fired power plants due to high natural gas prices to prevent electricity shortages ahead of the winter season. 

According to Bloomberg, Arch Resources, the second-largest U.S. coal miner, has sold every lump of coal it will extract out of the ground for 2022. The company has sold next year’s coal for 20% over the current spot. Peabody Energy Corp., the top U.S. coal miner, has sold 90% of all its coal from the Powder River Basin area for 2022. 

Arch’s CEO Paul Lang said the company’s thermal coal output for 2022 is “fully committed.” According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, Arch sold the coal for $16 per ton, well over last week’s $13.25 spot price. 

“It’s pretty much sold out,” Peabody CEO Jim Grech said Thursday during a conference call. “We only have a small portion left to be sold for 2022 and for 2023.”

Alliance Resource Partners LP, a coal miner that will ship 32 million tons this year, has already locked in 2022 contracts to deliver 30 tons and 16 tons in 2023. 

“Our challenge in America is most producers are all sold out,” Alliance CEO Joe Craft said last week.

Surging demand for coal ahead of the Northern Hemisphere winter comes as the global energy crunch has forced natural gas prices to record highs worldwide. Power plants are transitioning away from natgas generation because it’s uneconomical at current prices, hence the increasing demand for the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Over the next month, average temperatures for the US-Lower 48 will begin to dive. 

This means electricity demand to heat building structures will increase. 

One of the biggest ironies this year is the transition to coal despite a push by politicians for green energy. One of the culprits behind the global energy crunch is alternative power, such as wind and solar, are unreliable. 

The latest Bloomberg data shows U.S. coal supplies are at two-decade lows ahead of the winter. 

U.S. power generation derived from coal is increasing. 

Power plants are expected to burn 19% more coal this year.

Arch’s Lang recently warned that coal producers might not have the capacity to respond to demand. 

Weeks ago, Ernie Thrasher, CEO of Xcoal Energy & Resources, the largest U.S. exporter of fuel, said demand for coal will remain robust well into 2022. He warned about domestic supply constraints and power companies already “discussing possible grid blackouts this winter.” 

All of this new founded coal demand has been a boon for Peabody Energy shares as earnings have tripled.

The rebound of coal under a Biden administration must be puzzling for many, but it has shown the green transition will take decades, not years. In the meantime, the world returns to coal

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 21:25

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

‘I Had To Stand Up And Try To Do Something:’ Professor Of Medicine On Suing School Over Vaccine Mandate

‘I Had To Stand Up And Try To Do Something:’ Professor Of Medicine On Suing School Over Vaccine Mandate

Authored by Jan Jekielek and Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic like many other medical experts. He worked long hours as the United States tried to grapple with the new disease. He had too many conversations with family members whose loved ones were dying from it.

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a professor of psychiatry at UC Irvine’s School of Medicine, is seen in Irvine, Calif., on Oct. 27, 2021. (Zhen Wang/The Epoch Times)

But as time wore on, he started noticing a pattern in public health decisions that seemed to diverge from traditional medical ethics, including an insistence that people at little risk from COVID-19 get a vaccine.

Kheriaty is now on suspension from the University of California, Irvine, (UCI) and challenging the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in court.

I had to stand up and try to do something about it,” the professor of psychiatry and director of the UCI Health’s Medical Ethics Program said on The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders.”

UCI spokespeople declined to comment for this story.


Kheriaty contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by Covid-19 in mid-2020. His infection was confirmed by two different tests from two independent labs. His five children and wife also contracted the disease. They all recovered, with none requiring hospital care.

It was, for me, actually a very liberating experience afterward, because I didn’t have to worry about the illness anymore. I knew the science on natural immunity,” Kheriaty said.

Natural immunity refers to when people contract COVID-19 and recover. Dozens of studies have documented that these individuals enjoy strong immunity against CCP virus re-infection. Some of the studies suggest the immunity is superior to that provided by COVID-19 vaccines, particularly the Johnson & Johnson one.

I knew that at that point, I was among the safest people to be around, I didn’t have to worry about transmitting the infection to my patients,” Kheriaty said.

He continued taking precautions, wearing personal protective equipment like masks as required at the hospital. But he was confident he didn’t pose a risk to others, which served as a relief.

That relief turned into disbelief when, around a year later, the University of California system, which includes UCI, imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Opt-Out is Temporary

The mandate (pdf) included a natural immunity opt-out, but only temporarily. People who recovered from COVID-19 were told they would only be exempt from the mandate for up to 90 days after their diagnosis.

University officials cited the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which alleges that the antibody tests it has authorized “are not validated to evaluate specific immunity or protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

SARS-CoV-2 is another name for the CCP virus.

“For this reason, individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or had an antibody test are not permanently exempt from vaccination,” officials said.

The mandate violated rights outlined in the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, including equal protection and substantive due process, Kheriaty’s lawsuit asserts.

Plaintiff is naturally immune to SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, plaintiff is at least as equally situated as those who are fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, yet defendants deny plaintiff equal treatment and seek to burden Plaintiff with an unnecessary violation of bodily integrity to which plaintiff does not consent in order to be allowed to continue to work at UCI,” it states.

The situation creates two classes, vaccinated and unvaccinated, when a more reasonable division would be those who are immune and those who are not, Kheriaty believes.

“What kind of discriminatory policies do we have in place that are excluding someone like me from the workplace when I’m 99.8 percent protected against reinfection whereas someone who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, by the company’s own data that they submitted to the FDA, is 67 percent protective against COVID infection?” he said.

Whose Burden?

Kheriaty initially planned to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Now he’s working to change the narrative around mandates.

Some say proposed natural immunity opt-outs for the mandates would be make it much more difficult to ascertain who meets the threshold, versus a vaccine mandate with no lasting provision for post-infection.

Most mandates across the country don’t have alternatives for people who had COVID-19 and recovered.

Kheriaty proposes putting the burden of proof on people who want to opt out.

“Just have them go get the testing on their own time. You don’t have to administer the T-cell test or the antibody test. You don’t have to go dig up their old medical record establishing that they’ve already had COVID,” he said.

Just ask them to bring that in and sign off on that as a kind of immunity passport.”

Side Effects

The population of those who recovered and still got a vaccine is known as having “hybrid immunity.”

A large part of the medical health establishment, including all federal public health agencies, downplay natural immunity. They say it exists but that hybrid immunity is better.

I’m not denying at all that people who get infected and recover have a considerable degree of immunity,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last month. “We also know—and I think we should not let this pass without saying it—that when you get infected and recover, a) you get a good degree of immunity, but b) when you get vaccinated, you dramatically increase that protection, which is something that’s really quite good.”

A spokesman for Fauci’s agency told The Epoch Times in an email that he sourced from several studies, including one from researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. They found that a COVID-19 vaccine based on messenger RNA given following COVID-19 infection boosted neutralizing antibodies.

Many studies, however, show the immunity post-infection is already sky-high for many, leading to questions about why the recovered would then go get a vaccine that, like every jab, has side effects.

Kheriaty worries about other research that seems to show vaccine recipients with natural immunity experience side effects at a higher frequency than those who are not immune who get a shot.

“There are now about five independent studies that strongly suggest that individuals that already have natural immunity, when you vaccinate them, the risk of vaccine adverse events or vaccine side effects is higher for that group,” the professor said. “They have higher risk of side effects from the vaccine. It’s not going to help the people around them because natural immunity already is sterilizing, [yet] we don’t yet have any COVID vaccines that offer sterilizing immunity.”

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 21:00

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Europe On Edge After Russia Unexpectedly Halts Gas Shipments Via Yamal Pipeline

Europe On Edge After Russia Unexpectedly Halts Gas Shipments Via Yamal Pipeline

In the middle of last week, an increasingly cold Europe exhaled a collective breath of relief when Russian president Vladimir Putin told Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller to “start gradual and planned work to raise gas volumes in your inventories in Europe: in Austria and Germany.” While markets were focused on the (latest) promise by the Kremlin to boost output to Europe, we said that this was just another chapter in Russia’s “cat and mouse” game with a soon to be freezing Europe, that the key word here was “gradual”, and that anyone expecting a sudden surge in Russian nat gas shipments to Europe should not hold their breath as “Putin has been very clear in laying out Russia’s ask to save Europe: activate the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. As long as Europe’s bureaucrats refuse to comply, any hope that electricity costs will slide in the coming weeks will be at best – pardon the pun – a pipe dream.

We didn’t have long to wait to be once again proven right: on Saturday, Russian gas supplies through the Yamal – Europe pipeline via Poland to Germany had come to a sudden, unexpected, and screeching halt.

While this was merely the latest political move in the escalating game over Europe’s energy future, with Putin making it very clear who has all the leverage, Gazprom was quick to deny what is patently obvious, and said that European customers’ natural gas requirements were being met as Russia sends gas to western Europe by several different routes, besides the the Yamal – Europe pipeline, which has an annual capacity of up to 33 billion cubic metres. 

“There is no demand for gas transit towards Germany currently,” a Gaz-System spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

Needless to say, that’s not how Europe, or European gas traders will see it after Germany’s Gascade operator said that flows at the Mallnow metering point in Germany, which lies at the Polish border, stopped early on Saturday. 

And so the political game over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline ratchets up, with Europe likely to see even less gas despite Gazprom saying that the requests of customers in Europe were being met and that fluctuations in demand for Russian gas were dependent on the actual needs of buyer (spoiler alert: European buyers need much more than 0).

While no gas reached Germany on Saturday, a spokesman for Poland’s state-controlled PGNiG said flows from the east were much lower than usual, but Poland was still receiving amounts consistent with its contract. Poland’s gas grid operator Gaz-System said on Saturday the Yamal pipeline was delivering gas to Poland via the Kondratki compressor station on the east and Mallnow on the west through “reverse mode” – meaning it was shipping gas from west to east.

One Russian news media report suggested the flow reversal was a short-term problem caused by balmy weather in Germany over the weekend.

Russian gas export flows have been closely watched as gas prices in Europe have soared amid economic recovery and low inventories. This website was one of the first to anticipate the endgame, writing on August 3 “From Russia With 50% Less Supply: European Nat Gas Prices Explode To Record Highs As Putin Turns The Screws.

Gazprom has been accused by the International Energy Agency and some European lawmakers of not doing enough to increase its natural gas supplies to Europe, but the Russian company has said it has been meeting its contractual obligations. A gas transit deal between Russia and Poland expired last year, but Gazprom can book the transit capacity via the pipeline at auctions.

Adding insult to injury, at the last auction on Oct. 18, Gazprom booked some 32 million cubic metres per day, or 35% of total additional capacity offered by the Polish operator Gas System for transit via the Kondratki transit point for November. The news of the far lower booking sent European gas prices surging, although last week’s Putin statement eased concerns modestly. Should flows via Yamal not restore, expect to see new all time highs in European gas prices in the coming days.

Meanwhile, we fail to see why there still remains confusion as to what happens next: On Oct 19, Putin made it explicitly clear what so many had though, signaling that no extra gas would flow to Europe without Nord Stream 2. And yet, even though Russia has all the leverage, Europe continues to delay final certification of the critical NS2 pipeline.

Finally, Russia’s choice to halt gas supplies to Europe comes around the time Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin not to weaponize natural resources for political purposes, confirms just how much influence Brandon Biden has on the world arena.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 20:35

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Australia Confiscating Bank Accounts, Property, Licenses, & Businesses For Non-Compliance With COVID Fines

Australia Confiscating Bank Accounts, Property, Licenses, & Businesses For Non-Compliance With COVID Fines

Authored by Sundance via The Last Refuge (emphasis ours),

Of all the extreme measures carried out by various states in Australia, the collections and confiscations by the State Penalty and Enforcement Register (SPER) might just be the icing on the cake.

During the lengthy COVID lockdown in the state of Queensland, Australia (Brisbane area), most workers were not permitted to work or earn a living.

Several states stepped in to provide wage subsidies so people could purchase essential products and pay their living expenses.  However, during the lockdown if you were caught violating any of the lockdown rules, you were subject to a civil citation, a fine or ticket for your COVID violation.

Get caught too far from home, outside your permitted bubble, and you get a ticket.  Get caught spending more than the permitted 1 hour outside, get a ticket.  Get caught without a mask, even by yourself – and yep, ticket.  Enter a closed quarantine zone (park, venue, etc.) and you get a ticket.  Tickets were being handed out by police on the street as well as during random checkpoints on the roadways.

Additionally, people returning to Queensland were put into a system of involuntary quarantine.  The costs for that quarantine, mostly hotel rooms, were to be paid by the people being involuntarily captive and not allowed home.

Citizens were required to have their physical location scanned via a QR code on their phone. These checkpoints were to assist in controlling the COVID spread and were used for contact tracing throughout the past two years.  However, the checkpoints and gateway compliance scans also registered your physical location; the consequence was an increased ability for police and COVID compliance officers to catch people violating the COVID rules.  Ex: If you checked in at the grocery store, they knew how far from home you are, and the police could figure out if you violated your one hour of time outside the home at the next checkpoint.

The result of all this compliance monitoring was thousands of fines, civil citations for violating COVID rules.  Thousands of people given thousands of fines that would need to be paid.

Now the state is requiring all of those civil citations get paid, or else.  And the enforcement actions to collect these fines from the State Penalty and Enforcement Register are quite extreme.  Citizens who have outstanding tickets are finding their driver’s licenses suspended; bank accounts are being frozen and seized; homes and property are are being confiscated, as well as business licenses suspended for outstanding citations.

“Queenslanders who received fines for breaking Covid-19 rules risk having their homes seized and bank accounts frozen in a government crackdown to collect $5.2 million in repayments.” (LINK)

Brisbane Times – “SPER was undertaking “active enforcement” on another 18.4 per cent of fines, worth about $1 million, which a spokesman said “may include garnishing bank accounts or wages, registering charges over property, or suspending driver licences”.   The remaining 25.2 per cent of fines were either under investigation or still open to payment without further action being taken.

Outside SPER’s work, Queensland Health took the unusual step of calling in private debt collectors to chase up $5.7 million amounting from 2045 significantly overdue invoices for hotel quarantine.  (read more)

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 20:10

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden