For the first time, the Pentagon has acknowledged the existence of a recent, secretive program to investigate reports of UFO sightings, The New York Times reports. While the Defense Department says it ended the mysterious Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program in 2012, Luis Elizondo, the former head of the program, told the Times it continues to operate with the help of officials from the Navy and CIA, albeit without federal funding. Elizondo said he appointed a successor to take over after his resignation in October. The program, which began as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2007, was launched with backing from former Senate majority leader Harry Reid and his longtime friend, Robert Bigelow. Bigelow’s company, Bigelow Aerospace, received just under $22 million in government funds from late 2008 until 2011, according to the report. The company used the funds to modify buildings for the storage of materials recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena and study people who’ve reported unexplained encounters. The program also collected video and audio recordings of reported UFO sightings, including one in which Navy pilots can be heard expressing shock as a “fleet” of rotating, glowing auras follow them at high speeds.
Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) announced on Saturday that he will not seek re-election to the House of Representatives next year. Kihuen, a freshman lawmaker who was considered a rising star in Democratic politics, stands accused of sexual harassment from a former campaign staffer and a lobbyist. “I want to state clearly again that I deny the allegations in question,” Kihuen, 37, said in a statement. “However, the allegations that have surfaced would be a distraction from a fair and thorough discussion of the issues in a reelection campaign.” The House Ethics Committee previously said it was opening up an probe into the allegations against Kihuen.
The billionaire founder of pharmaceutical giant Apotex and his wife were reportedly found dead in their Toronto home on Friday, and police are investigating their “suspicious” deaths. Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins has confirmed that Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey, were found dead, but police have not yet identified the two bodies discovered at the home. “The circumstances of their death appear suspicious and we are treating it that way,” Const. David Hopkins told reporters outside the couple’s home. Hopkinson said investigators were not currently treating the deaths as homicides, but noted that it was still very early in the investigation. Police were called to the home Friday afternoon over a “medical complaint,” he said. Barry Sherman, a well-known philanthropist, founded the generic drug-maker Apotex in 1974, and it went on to become the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company. Sherman had actively engaged in fundraising for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party in recent years, and was a major donor to the United Jewish Appeal.
Memphis police have charged the ex-wife of late NBA star Lorenzen Wright with first-degree murder in his 2010 death, closing one of the city’s most high-profile cold cases. Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings on Saturday said Sherra Wright faces conspiracy, first-degree murder and criminal attempt first-degree murder charges. She was arrested in California on Friday. Authorities say they believe Wright and Billy Turner, a deacon at the church the Wrights attended, had previously attempted to kill the basketball star before he was found riddled with bullets in July 2010. Turner was indicted on a first-degree murder charge earlier this month. Memphis Police Major Darren Goods said information received by the department’s gang unit “led us to Billy Turner and Sherra Wright.” No further details were given on a motive, but Goods said “the basketball connection is undeniable,” according to The Commercial Appeal. Wright played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Los Angeles Clippers during his 13 seasons with the NBA.
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In the wake of his firing from ABC over sexual misconduct allegations, celebrity chef Mario Batali has offered an apology capped off with a cinnamon roll recipe. In an email newsletter to fans that many have condemned as tone deaf, Batali acknowledged the controversy surrounding his “past behavior” on Friday. “I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team. My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility,” he wrote, vowing to “work every day to regain your respect and trust.” Immediately after the apology, however, Batali tacked on a postscript message: “In case you’re searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite.” Four women accused the chef of inappropriately touching them at his restaurants in a report published by Eater this week. Batali has stepped away from his restaurant business following the claims, and Eataly, the Italian chain he owns, has dropped his products over the “troubling” accusations.
Authorities in Southern California have carried out a new round of evacuations as high winds push the raging Thomas Fire closer to homes in Santa Barbara County. The 404-square-mile blaze, which has been burning its way through the area for nearly two weeks, approached the wealthy community of Montecito on Saturday. “It is right above the homes,” Cal Fire spokesman Jude Olivas was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office spokesman Brian Olmstead said about 12,000 people were being evacuated Saturday as the fire picked up again. Firefighters had made some progress when the Santa Ana winds died down Friday, but meteorologists have warned that winds of up to 55 mph could further spread the blaze and spark new fires over the weekend. The Thomas Fire, now the third-largest in California’s modern history, has already claimed two victims, a firefighter killed earlier this week and a 70-year-old woman found dead along the evacuation route last week.
Roy Moore has reportedly begun fundraising for an “election integrity fund” to investigate reports of voter fraud in Alabama’s Senate election. Refusing to concede even after President Trump urged him to acknowledge Democrat Doug Jones’ win in the race, Moore told supporters the “battle is not over” in a message sent out Friday, according to the Associated Press. Moore, whose campaign was largely overshadowed by numerous sexual misconduct allegations against him, said the election was “close” and noted that some military and provisional ballots have yet to be counted. He also cited “numerous reported cases of voter fraud” that would be sent to the secretary of state’s office. The results of the race will officially be certified between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3, though Secretary of State John Merrill has already said it’s unlikely any last-minute ballots will change the outcome.
Uber illegally recorded phone calls and wiretapped the phones of executives at rival companies in a global “intelligence gathering” operation that went on for years, a former employee has alleged. In a 37-page letter made public in federal court on Friday, Richard Jacobs, a former security employee with the ride-hailing service, alleges Uber set up internal teams whose sole purpose was to spy on competitors. “Uber has engaged, and continues to engage, in illegal intelligence gathering on a global scale,” Jacobs wrote, according to The New York Times. The teams allegedly infiltrated chat rooms, impersonated drivers of rival companies, and placed surveillance on executives of those companies, including by illegally recording phone calls, the letter claims. Jacobs’ allegations stem from a trade secrets case against Uber filed by Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving unit, which says Uber stole information about autonomous driving technology. The claims come as Uber faces five separate federal investigations, including one over a software tool the company allegedly used to evade law enforcement and another over alleged bribery overseas. Uber has also come under fire recently for reportedly covering up a massive 2016 data breach.
A Washington neo-Nazi convicted of gunning down three of his friends and shooting another in the face was hit with three consecutive life sentences Friday. Brent Luyster—a known white supremacist called out for his “long history of criminal activity” by the Anti-Defamation League—also received 54 years for attempted murder and firearm possession. Luyster was found guilty last month of killing his friends Joseph LaMar, Janell Knight, and Zachary Thompson in July 2016. A fourth victim, Breanne Leigh, survived after Luyster shot her in the face, and her testimony proved to be key in the prosecution’s case. In court on Friday, Leigh held up photos of her young daughters and confronted Luyster about the brutal killings. “I should not be the one looking them in their face and telling them why their dad is not here. Why did you take their dad from them? I want to know why, why execution style, kill the people you call your friends and family?” Leigh asked, according to The Columbian.