ISIS Leader Killed by US Forces, Forces That Supposedly Left Syria Two Weeks Ago
United States forces have reportedly killed the leader of Islamic State in Syria, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “Our sources from inside Syria have confirmed to the Iraqi intelligence team tasked with pursuing Baghdadi that he has been killed alongside his personal bodyguard in Idlib after his hiding place was discovered when he tried to get his family out of Idlib towards the Turkish border,” an Iraqi official in the know said, according to Rueters.
This is pretty good timing for President Trump, as the success may take some heat off of him while Democrats are pursuing an impeachment case at a quickening pace. The assassination comes just a few days after US forces were ordered by Trump to leave Syria, which now that this news has popped up may have been a ploy to get the ISIS guard down, though this is admittedly conjecture. The withdrawal made room for Turkish forces to operate against Kurdish forces, who were allies with American forces in fighting ISIS forces.
Bitcoin Goes Bananas
Bitcoin (BTC-USD) skyrocketed to as high as $10,350 off of record volume of over $38 billion worth traded over the course of 24 hours at the end of last week, and nobody knows why. The most popular guess is that sentiment became extremely positive following comments by China’s President Xi Jinping, who said publicly that “We must take the blockchain as an important breakthrough for independent innovation of core technologies….We must clarify the main direction, increase investment, focus on a number of key core technologies, and accelerate the development of blockchain technology and industrial innovation.” Xi said this during a Communist Party central committee meeting. Though it is unclear if his comments on blockchain, which may actually be bearish for Bitcoin in a fundamental sense because it could mean that Beijing is getting ready to introduce a state-controlled competitor, really has anything to do with it. Most of the gains occurred in Bitcoin itself, as opposed to the many altcoins created in its wake. Bitcoin dominance as a percentage of total cryptocurrency trading jumped from 65.6% to 68.5% as the gains piled on. By the time you read this, Bitcoin could be back to where it was before the spike began though. Or somewhere else entirely.
GM Strike Ends
A six-week strike by the United Auto Workers union against General Motors (NYSE:GM) has come to an end. It was the biggest strike against any US business since the last GM strike in 2007 in terms of the amount of people on strike (50,000). It was also the longest strike in the auto industry time-wise since back in the 20th century. It is estimated that GM has lost about $1.75 billion as a result of the strike. The deal was signed for four years, and includes a 6% rise in wages over the course of the new contract. That’s less than the current inflation rate of 2% a year, so GM may have gotten off easy if inflation heads significantly higher than that over the next four years, which seems likely given that the Federal Reserve is printing something like $100 billion a day in repo money, which could end up going much higher by the end of year liquidity crunch. Anyway, next in line for union attack is Ford (NYSE:F) and Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU). They’re probably very excited.
Gold Steadies at $1,500 As Germany Buys For First Time Since 1999 & Maduro Pillages Venezuela
Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) is back on the move after a mild correction since the beginning of September. Making waves in the gold bug community, though so far not corroborated by the latest Bundesbank balance sheet data released October 11, are reports that the Germany’s Bundesbank has recently started buying gold for the first time in over 20 years. The balance sheet above does show a rise in the Euro value of gold held by the central bank, but that could be accounted for by the price rise between Q1 and Q2. Nevertheless, according to the World Gold Council, central bank gold holdings have increased 15% since 2009.
In other gold news, back in Venezuela, the Miami Herald reports on a systematic siphoning operation of the country’s vast gold reserves by the country’s leader, Nicholas the Mustachioed Marxist Maduro.
“It is unprecedented, the pillage exercised by the criminal enterprise that Maduro administers while heading the state. This is something never seen before,” Cristopher Figuera told the paper’s Spanish language edition, el Nuevo Herald, in an interview.
If you’re short on cash though and want to join the gold wave, Undercoil metal detectors are an option.
Microsoft Wins $10B Government Cloud Contract Over Amazon
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) won a massive $10 billion government contract that will put the US government, and thereby its taxpayers, $10 billion deeper into an already $23 trillion hole. The money will be printed by the Federal Reserve though, so everything’s fine. Seeking to capitalize off of Star Wars, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract was awarded to Microsoft over Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and IBM (NYSE:IBM), after Microsoft may have successfully executed the JEDI mind trick, but probably not. Amazon was widely expected to win. The surprise choice of Microsoft over Amazon may have something to do with President Trump’s personal animosity towards Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, since he owns the Washington Post and Trump doesn’t like that newspaper for being “fake news”. Trump made a stink about the JEDI contract back in July.
Indonesian Report on Boeing 737 MAX Crash Due Friday
A full report on the causes of the Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX Lion Air crash by Indonesian investigators is due by the end of the week. The main problem according to a summary of the report had to do with the Angle of Attack (AOA) sensor, which was malfunctioning but still replaced prior to the crash. However, the AOA Disagree Alert, which pilots must use to override the AOA sensor if it has an incorrect reading, was not installed, because the airline had not purchased what was at that point an optional upgrade, according to Boeing. The company has said it will fix the problem and make the Disagree Alert a standard feature, which kind of seems somewhat important as it would enable pilots to override the safety system that was pointing the nose of the plane into the ground.