December 4th, 2014
By Alexandra Jaffe, CNN
(CNN) -- A prominent supporter of President Barack Obama and co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign was arrested last week on charges of sodomy and sexual abuse related to what authorities said was an encounter with a juvenile male.
Terrence Bean, 66, a major Democratic donor and a celebrated gay-rights activist, was indicted on two felony charges of sodomy and a misdemeanor count of sexual abuse by a grand jury and arrested in Oregon Wednesday, according to a statement from the Portland Police Bureau. Bean was released later that day on bail, pending a court hearing.
Kiah Lawson, a 25-year-old identified by multiple news outlets as Bean's ex-boyfriend, was arrested on Thursday on related charges, Portland Police confirmed. He's also been released from jail, and pleaded not guilty on Friday, according to The Oregonian newspaper.
The charges relate to an alleged encounter the two had with a 15-year-old boy in Oregon last year, The Oregonian reported. Bean's attorney has denied the charges and said in a statement that Bean is the "victim of an extortion ring." CNN is not naming the alleged victim because the network does not identify minors or victims of sexual assaults.
According to a release from the Portland Police Bureau, its Sex Crimes Unit detectives are investigating the case.
Obama: A "great friend and supporter"
Bean, a real-estate developer and co-founder of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign, is a powerful figure in Democratic politics.
The Oregonian reported that he helped raise more than half a million dollars for Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, and Federal Election Commission records show he's contributed thousands to Democrats, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others.
Photos posted online show him with the Obamas, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and aboard Air Force One with the President.
In remarks at a 2009 Human Rights Campaign dinner, President Obama thanked Bean, calling him a "great friend and supporter."
Human Rights Campaign spokesman Fred Sainz told CNN on Saturday that Bean took a leave of absence from the organization the day of the arrest "until his issues are resolved."
"Terry Bean has taken a voluntary leave of absence from the HRC board until his issues are resolved. Bean is just one of 80 board members, none of whom have daily oversight or responsibility for any of our programs," Sainz said. He said the HRC "does tremendous work to make America a more just and equal nation" and called that work "vital and is bigger than any one individual."
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund declined to comment on the development, but Bean has no current involvement with the organization besides contributing funds to its operations.
Attorney: Bean is the victim of an extortion ring
Bean's attorney, Kristen Winemiller, said the allegations against him should not be taken at "face value."
"Over the course of several months in 2013-2014 Terry was the victim of an extortion ring led by several men known to law enforcement," Winemiller said. "This current arrest is connected to the ongoing investigation of that case in which Mr. Bean has fully cooperated."
Lawson's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lawson's former attorney told The Oregonian that Lawson stumbled upon a camera Bean used to secretly record sexual encounters with him and other men, and took screenshots of some of the images, hoping to secure money from Bean in exchange for their return.
While Lawson's attorney characterized the money as "damages," Bean alleged extortion, and took his concerns to the district attorney.
The investigation was eventually taken up by the Portland Police Department due to a conflict of interest with the DA and Lawson's former attorney, and that investigation led to Bean's indictment and arrest.
CNN's John Branch contributed to this report.
December 4th, 2014
Some Republicans, infuriated by President Barack Obama's recent executive action on immigration, have reportedly floated the idea of denying Obama access to the House chamber for his 2015 State of the Union speech.
However, speaking at an unrelated news conference, Boehner directly shot down the proposal with a quip:
"The more the president talks about his ideas, the more unpopular he becomes. Why would I want to deprive him of that opportunity?"
He quickly moved on to take his next question.
Boehner and Obama have a less-than-friendly history, to say the least. Boehner has launched a lawsuit against the president over Obamacare and accused him of abusing his power with the executive action shielding millions of immigrants from deportation.
"If the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well," Boehner said shortly after this year's midterm elections. "When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself. And he's going to burn himself if he continues to go down the path."
Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, has been even more blunt. In a statement issued as Obama was preparing his executive action, Boehner's office compared the president to an unconstitutional monarch.
"If 'Emperor Obama' ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for Congressional action on this issue — and many others," Steel said.
In turn, Obama has lambasted Boehner for his alleged inaction on a host of issues, including immigration reform.
"Well, my response is pass a bill," Obama told his Republican critics. "Congress has a responsibility to deal with these issues and there are some things that I can’t do on my own."
More from Business Insider
December 4th, 2014
ABC News / By LEE FERRAN
Late Wednesday an affiliate of al Qaeda released a harrowing video showing a British-born American hostage who they say will be killed in three days if President Obama doesn’t meet the terror group’s demands.
Americans have sadly become familiar with their countrymen appearing in hostage videos halfway around the world – the terror group ISIS separately filmed three American civilians they held in Syria before executing them in recent months – but this time it was the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), not ISIS, forcing U.S. citizen Luke Somers to plead for his life.
And while ISIS has come to dominate headlines since cutting a brutal swath through Syria and Iraq in recent months, it’s AQAP that top U.S. security officials have said presents the greatest external terror threat to the homeland – the same group behind sophisticated and narrowly-foiled airline bomb plots, and the group led by the man who may one day take over as leader of all of al Qaeda.
So what is AQAP?
Out of Yemen, Target: America
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was formed in 2009 after a Yemeni faction of al Qaeda and Saudi extremists agreed to pool their terrorism talents and resources, according to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center. The group, which declared its allegiance to al Qaeda “core” leader Osama bin Laden before his May 2011 death, started with local operations, but soon turned its attention to a “global strategy,” including several direct attempts to attack America.
The same year as AQAP’s founding, the terror group launched a nearly-successful operation tobomb an American airliner in Detroit. The Christmas Day 2009 attack only failed because the explosive device hidden inside the underwear of then-23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab ignited, but failed to detonate.
“It’s very clear it came very, very close,” former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich. and then-ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said at the time.
U.S. officials said AQAP followed that attempt up with another the next year, in which explosive-laden packages were meant to be sent by cargo planes to the U.S. and then detonated. That attack was foiled after the packages were intercepted in Dubai and England, thanks to a tip from Saudi intelligence.
In May 2012, reports emerged that a double agent, working with allied intelligence agencies and the CIA, had infiltrated AQAP posing as a suicide bomber and made off with an explosive device he was supposed to take on yet another U.S.-bound aircraft.
Who’s Cooking Up All These Plots?
AQAP is believed to be led by the wiry Nasir al-Wahishi, who the U.S. State Department says is “responsible for approving targets, recruiting new members, allocating resources to training and attack planning, and tasking others to carry out attacks.” The U.S. offers a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture.
Al-Wahishi has survived in the dangerous position as AQAP’s commander since 2009 and just earlier this year seemed to poke a finger in the eye of U.S. intelligence by appearing in a video in the open before a large gathering of AQAP fighters.
“We must eliminate the cross held by the cross bearer America,” he told his followers.
The video appearance was answered days later with a barrage of airstrikes, which Yemeni officials said killed dozens of suspected AQAP members and a small number of civilians.
December 4th, 2014
By Barry Secrest
A "flying black horse " supposedly caught on film during a thunderstorm in Saudi Arabia and posted on Facebook via Youtube, has taken the internet by storm in recent days.
While some have viewed the bizarre images as either a hoax, a balloon, or perhaps even a sponge, others from an assortment of faiths view the image as an omen-- hearkening especially to those who study eschatology.
Of particular significance might be the sound of several Saudi's actually 'flipping out' while the video is being taken....
The story from Phillipine News:
An amazing footage of a flying black horse caught on camera during a lightning in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia caused widespread fear for those people who already saw the video. The amateur video which was first spotted on Facebook and uploaded by a certain Angel Louise Dela Cruz, received various comments from netizens, whether it is real or just another hoax or fake video.
Due to the popularity of the video not only on Facebook but also on YouTube, some netizens commented that the video was real and it is one of the signs of the times. Some Christian believers even quoted from a passage in the book of Revelation at Chapter 6:5-8 which reads: “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.”
According to some Bible scholars, in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, the black horse represented famine. The black horse which was seen descending from the sky amidst clouds and thunderstorms was linked by some netizens to the black horse of the “Revelation.”
The Facebook user who uploaded the video online did not make any further details regarding the viral video, but the uploader just added the following comments on Facebook: “Subhan allah..kabayong itim nkita sa kalawakan sa gitna ng kulog at kidlat..sa jeddah saudi arabia… La illa ilallah..”
What do you think of the video is it real or fake?
December 4th, 2014
By LEE FERRAN
A NASA official recently confirmed that one of the agency’s aircraft had been spotted on an American military airstrip in eastern Africa a few weeks ago, but like a series of U.S. military officials, declined to say what the space agency’s high-tech bird was doing there.
“I really can’t give you any of the details,” Jim Alexander, a NASA official with the WB-57 High Altitude Research Program, told ABC News. “You know, the airplane was there, you see it in the picture. But I really can’t tell you what it was for.”
The broad-winged white plane belonging to the agency best known for putting a man on the moon was photographed by the satellite company Digital Globe back in September sitting next to some tilt-rotor aircraft at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, a development reported by the military blog War Is Boring last month.
A NASA website that tracks the agency’s three WB-57s shows that one of its planes, number 926, was on a “foreign deployment” from July to November this year. A NASA handbook for the WB-57 posted online lists 14 international deployment sites for the aircraft around the world, but the American base near Djibouti isn’t one of them.
The Pentagon declined to answer any questions about “a NASA aircraft in Djibouti” and a spokesperson for the Air Force Space Command, which has a closer relationship with NASA, said they wouldn’t have operational knowledge of a mission on the continent. AFRICOM, the U.S. military’s Africa Command, would only say that “aircraft from a variety of agencies and nations perform diverse missions from Camp Lemonnier in support of U.S. and allied military peace and security operations in the region, which spans East Africa and the Mideast.”
“As a matter of policy, we do not discuss details of operations,” AFRICOM public affairs officer Tom Saunders told ABC News by email.
NASA’s Alexander said that their WB-57 aircraft “does a lot of work with a variety of different customers from the government, from industry, from academia,” including the Defense Department. “Anybody who needs to fly something high,” he said.
According to NASA’s website, the WB-57s have been flying research missions “since the early 1970s and continue to be an asset to the scientific community with professional, reliable, customer-oriented service designed to meet all scientific objectives.” A government website devoted to the converted old bombers describes a mission in Costa Rica to “explore the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere” and another to collect cosmic dust from comets and asteroids in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, among many others. A variation of the aircraft was used to gather air samples from above-ground nuclear tests conducted “by other countries,” according to an Air Force fact sheet.
But as War Is Boring noted, the military may be interested in more than just scientific objectives, as the plane can fly nearly as high as the famed U2 spy plane and carry more weight – including an array of high-tech imagery and communications equipment.
One previous mission was described by Arati Prabhakar, the head of the military’s fringe-tech specialists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to the House subcommittee on Intelligence earlier this year as a kind of mass, three-dimensional terrain mapping.
She said that a WB-57 was deployed to Afghanistan for a few months beginning in late 2010 and “collected” over 70,000 square kilometers of “terrain data” – information on about 10 percent of the country – using a system called High-Altitude LIDAR Operations Experiment (HALOE). LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, uses light from a “pulsed laser” to create “precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“HALOE provided forces in Afghanistan with unprecedented access to high-resolution 3D data, and it collected orders of magnitude faster and from much longer ranges than conventional methods,” Prabhakar said, according to written testimony. Given 90 days, Prabhakar said she was confident the system could’ve mapped half the country.
NASA WB-57 photographed at dawn.
A civilian who worked with the WB-57 program in Afghanistan, and who asked not to be identified due to the sensitive nature of some of the WB-57’s missions, told ABC News the plane is highly-customizable, using sometimes “one-off” configurations depending on the objectives of the project.
Whereas unmanned and manned surveillance platforms are often used for specific intelligence-gathering missions or to help put together individual “target packages” for U.S. special operations, the civilian guessed the WB-57 was in Africa to give the military a more “big picture, high-altitude, lower-level resolution” look at the landscape in the region -– like it did in Afghanistan -– for use whenever called upon in future operations there.
But the civilian admitted it was just a guess and the WB-57 can carry any number of sensor payloads. And for now, the military isn’t saying any more.
Whatever the mission was, it appears to be over. According to NASA, all three WB-57s are now back in the U.S., with their status listed as “inactive.”