The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. U.S. Army Chastised Over Transgender Contractor

    Tamara Lusardi just wanted to use the bathroom. The civilian contractor — who was born a man — was made to use a gender-neutral facility, and co-workers constantly used the wrong pronoun when addressing her. But a groundbreaking government report found that the disabled Desert Storm veteran faced discrimination. So the Army has now agreed to LGBT-sensitive training, and Lusardi is welcome to use the women’s room.

    Washington Post

  2. U.S.: Black-Market Oil Funds ISIS

    Who are the richest terrorists ever? ISIS extremists earn at least $1 million a day selling oil from seized territory. Amazingly, according to U.S. officials, the buyers include some of the militants’ biggest enemies: Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s regime, Iraqi Kurds and middlemen in Turkey. The Treasury’s accusations prompted strong denials all around. Meanwhile, ISIS “has amassed wealth at an unprecedented pace” through other criminal activities, including extortion, kidnapping, sex slavery, bank robberies and even livestock theft.

    FT (sub), The AtlanticAP

  3. Amazon’s Huge Losses Spook Investors

    Digital natives are restless after the e-commerce giant reported its largest quarterly loss in 14 years. Amazon’s high-growth spending strategy drained away $437 million in the third quarter, even as sales jumped 20 percent. The company also took a $170-million hit on its disappointing Fire smartphone, and warned of a further slowdown in sales. Investors, clearly questioning whether the bleeding from its profit-postponement plan will ever stop, sent shares down 12 percent in after-hours trading.

    WSJUSA Today, SMH

  4. The Queen Tweets, Airbnb Valued at $13 Billion

    Seattle-area school shooting leaves 2 dead, 4 critically injured (CNN)

    Remains belong to University of Virginia student Hannah Graham (USA Today)

    Her Majesty the Queen sends her first tweet signed “Elizabeth R.” (The Guardian)

    Canadian parliament attack ‘not linked to ISIS.’ (BBC)

    Airbnb valued at $13 billion as it heads into staff stock sale. (FT) sub

    Sweden calls off the hunt for a suspected Russian submarine. (The Guardian)

    J.K. Rowling promises a new Halloween Harry Potter short story on her website Oct. 31. (USA Today)

  5. EU Nations Unite for Landmark CO2 Deal

    European leaders are breathing easier. They’ve agreed on the “world’s most ambitious” plan to cut greenhouse gases 40 percent by 2030, while increasing use of renewable sources by 27 percent. The agreement sets the tone for next year’s global climate summit in Paris. The fierce negotiations pitted richer, greener nations against poorer countries that rely heavily on dirty technology like coal. But Greenpeace said the agreement didn’t go far enough to keep Europe from being “hooked on polluting.” 

    The Guardian, AFPWSJNYT


  1. ISIS Draws Female Western Recruits 

    Ladies are the startling new demographic joining the murderous militants in Iraq and Syria. Of the thousands of young Muslim recruits from Western countries, experts believe 10 percent are female. In the past week, police caught three Colorado teenagers heading to Syria and a London woman planning “terrorist acts.” What attracts them? ISIS is actively courting women as fighters and supporters, using female recruiters and social media — so politically engaged, socially alienated women are believed to be most at risk.


  2. Sunlight May Slow Weight Gain

    Sun worshipers, rejoice! Those beams of light might not be so bad after all. Scientists who exposed well-fed mice to UV light noted that the rodents ate markedly less and showed fewer signs of type 2 diabetes. The effects were linked to the nitric oxide released by the skin in response to sunlight, rather than vitamin D. Whether sunlight can help less-furry humans lose weight warrants further study, but there’s nothing like a ray of hope.


  3. Can Facebook Conquer China?

    Just because Mark Zuckerberg can address them in near-fluent Mandarin doesn’t mean they’re speaking the same language. Facebook has been blacklisted in China since 2008, and recent Hong Kong protests have prompted fresh crackdowns on social media. But the 30-year-old CEO from White Plains, NY, is on the charm offensive, addressing a Beijing crowd in their native tongue, hiring local recruits and reaching out to Chinese entrepreneurs. If Zuckerberg can woo the Chinese government, he and Facebook may yet take on the world.

    Forbes, TechCrunch

  4. Dark Knight to Play Steve Jobs 

    Cue the black turtlenecks. Christian Bale, perhaps the best and broodiest actor of his generation, will play one of the best and broodiest minds of our time. The actor didn’t even have to audition for a chance to portray Apple’s nearly mythic co-founder. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin — who profiled another famous co-founder in The Social Network — said Bale was the clear choice for the role. Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, is slated to direct.

    Bloomberg, CNN, CNET

  5. Lamela Lands Stunning ‘Rabona’ Goal

    So unnecessary, but so beautiful. Tottenham midfielder Erik Lamela scored a goal equivalent of Kobe throwing a breakaway alley-oop. The Argentine footballer kicked his first of two goals in the “rabona” style, striking with his left leg behind his right for added dazzle. Lamela and his team handily beat Greek side Asteras Tripolis, 5-1. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino refused to show much emotion over the feat but noted that it was an “unbelievable” shot — perhaps the best goal ever made. 

    BBCESPN, Eurosport