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Obama Leaves For Europe Without Answering Questions About ISIS Video


President Barack Obama reportedly ignored questions from the press Tuesday afternoon after the jihadist group calling itself the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL) released a video that appeared to show a second American journalist being beheaded.

According to a tweet from Time magazine political reporter Zeke Miller, Obama ignored a question that was "shouted" at him as he boarded Marine One and departed the White House for a previously planned trip to Europe. Miller told Business Insider the question was "Sotloff-related."

Bloomberg Television's White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly, subsequently reported Obama got on board Air Force One and left for Estonia without making a public statement following his helicopter flight from the White House. 

The president's departure came amid mounting pressure for him to take further action against Islamic State and criticism of his current handling of the group. 

Obama is scheduled to spend most of Wednesday in Estonia to discuss tensions with neighboring Russia. The president is also scheduled to be abroad Thursday and Friday. He’s expected to attend NATO meetings in the United Kingdom for both days before returning to Washington, D.C., on Friday.

BwjjpFqCIAAzMtSOn August 20, Islamic State released a video showing journalist, James Foley, being beheaded. Following the publication of the second video, purportedly showed Steven Sotloff being executed, a pair of lawmakers issued statements urging the president to take aggressive action to confront Islamic State. 

Obama authorized airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq late last month, however, he has not launched military airstrikes against the group in Syria. Islamic State initially formed in Syria during the revolution against that country's President Bashar al-Assad that began in 2011.

Criticism of Obama's handling of Islamic State has mounted since a press briefing last Thursday when the president discussed efforts to combat the group and said, "We don't have a strategy yet." Almost immediately after the briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest rushed to clarify the president's position and insisted he had a "comprehensive strategy" for dealing with the group. 

In his statement on Sotloff's death Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) called for the U.S. to "act decisively" against Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Mr. Sotloff and all those who have suffered under ISIL’s barbaric behavior. However, condemnation is not enough to deal with this scourge," Graham said. "It is time we act decisively against ISIL wherever it resides. Whenever American air power has been employed, in coordination with reliable partners on the ground, ISIL has been devastated.  It’s a tactic that should be aggressively pursued both in Syria and Iraq."

Graham concluded by referencing Obama's "strategy" remark.

"Mr. President, if you can’t come up with a strategy, at least tell us what the goal is regarding ISIL," said Graham.

Graham was one of two senators who called for action against Islamic State in the hours after the video of Sotloff's beheading was released. 

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Steven Sotloff," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida). "Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty.”

Sotloff was a Florida native who freelanced for Time magazine and Foreign Policy, among other publications. He was kidnapped by militants upon crossing into Syria a little more than a year ago. He had been freelancing for Time and Foreign Policy magazines.

A little an hour before Obama left the White House, his National Security Council released a statement to Business Insider indicating they were working to verify the "authenticity" of the footage purportedly showing Sotloff's death. 

"We have seen a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity," NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. "If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available." 

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15 Cognitive Biases That Mess With Your Money

Two Curious Ostriches 1On the surface, money seems straightforward. What could be more black and white than numbers?

But in fact, money is complicated. Nothing makes this clearer than looking at the ways in which we're subject to cognitive biases — the way our brains sneakily convince us to make decisions that often work against our best interests.

Cognitive biases may convince us to spend more, save less, and feel more confident in our decisions than perhaps we should. And the scary thing is, for the most part, we're powerless against them.

Here's a look at some of the most common ones.

Time discounting

This is a familiar concept to anyone who has ever chosen to spring for a weekend at the lake today, rather than saving that money for a more comfortable retirement later.

Time discounting fights against delayed gratification, making us more likely to value immediate rewards over ones to be had in the future.

Anchoring bias

Anchoring Bias

Also called the relativity trap, anchoring explains why you'll pay $25 for an hour of parking after seeing $30 at a lot down the street.

The first number you see, whether that's a price or a salary that comes up in negotiation, colors any that come after it. A high anchor influences you to spend more than you normally would.

Denomination effect

Denomination Effect

You hate to break a $50, but have no problem dissolving four tens, a five, and a handful of change.

It's not just you. Studies have shown that people are less likely to spend higher-denomination bills. Once you break that $50, however, you may be in trouble.

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Ridesharing Startup Lyft Will Continue Operating In NYC Despite Threats From The City's Taxi Commission

Lyft 15

Lyft's run in New York City may be startlingly short-lived.

The ride-sharing company known for the now-ubiquitous pink mustache on its cars announced on Tuesday that it would begin operating in the Big Apple, even though it didn't have permission from the city's Taxi and Limo Commission (TLC). 

Today the TLC released a statement calling Lyft "unauthorized in New York City."

"Lyft has not complied with TLC’s safety requirements and other licensing criteria to verify the integrity and qualifications of the drivers or vehicles used in their service, and Lyft does not hold a license to dispatch cars to pick up passengers," said the statement.

TLC Chair Meera Joshi released her own statement on Lyft's NYC operations.

"Every rider deserves the safety and consumer protections our rules provide, and we have a long track record of working successfully with innovative companies to help them start out the right way," she said. "We're still hopeful that Lyft will accept our offer to help them do the right thing for New York City passengers as they should, but New Yorkers can rest assured that the TLC will do its job and take the actions necessary to protect them.”

Joshi's "offer" refers to the Commission's "wish to work with [Lyft] to help them comply with the laws and rules that are central to protecting public safety and consumer rights, as we have with SO many other companies with new and innovative approaches," said a TLC official.

The TLC's statement also included a warning to would-be Lyft drivers, claiming they would be subject to legal action from the Commission.

"Unsuspecting drivers who sign-up with Lyft are at risk of losing their vehicles to TLC enforcement action, as well as being subject to fines of up to $2,000 upon conviction for unlicensed activity," it said. 

San Francisco-based Lyft is valued at around $700 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. It raised $250 million back in April, TechCrunch reported at the time. 

Lyft responded to the TLC's statement with one of their own, claiming they would continue to operate in NYC.

"Lyft will offer a new and much needed transportation option for New Yorkers in the areas of the city where existing options are lacking," said spokesperson Erin Simpson. "Where we differ with the TLC is that we do not believe its licensing and base station rules apply to the Lyft ridesharing model."

See below for Lyft's full statement:

Lyft will offer a new and much needed transportation option for New Yorkers in the areas of the city where existing options are lacking. This improvement in transportation will provide important opportunities that New Yorkers want and deserve. We'll continue to work with all stakeholders to create a path forward. Our focus remains on the community, who will be the ultimate beneficiaries. 

Where we differ with the TLC is that we do not believe its licensing and base station rules apply to the Lyft ridesharing model. It's important to clarify that our differences of opinion are not about safety standards, and that's because we put safety first. In new markets when we begin conversation with local regulators, we always find a way to ensure that communities have Lyft. We're certainly different from the status quo, but that is our strength.

Today we're releasing our Safety Commitment. We will never waver in keeping our drivers and passengers safe. This is Lyft's commitment to our community and yours.
This post has been updated.

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