Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, former U.S. special forces commander in Iraq and Afghanistan who was the country's highest ranking military intelligence official, says that the George W. Bush administration's Iraq war was a tremendous blunder that helped to create the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS.
LOS ANGELES -- More than three dozen former prosecutors and legal experts are calling on the Department of Justice to conduct a full investigation of the Orange County District Attorney's Office and the Orange County Sheriff's Department over a jailhouse informant program that allegedly has violated defendants' rights.
Just days after a series of attacks that killed 129 people around the French capital, Parisians and their supporters are posting images of themselves defiantly enjoying the city's iconic cafe culture, even though the extremists' targets included multiple cafes and bistros.
The hashtag #JeSuisEnTerrasse -- literally, "I'm on a...
A brother of two suspects linked to the attacks that rocked Paris last week told reporters on Monday that his family has been surprised to learn their relatives could have been involved in the violence that has left at least 129 people dead.
"My family and I...
The manhunt for a suspected Paris attacker widened on Tuesday as authorities pieced together a more detailed picture of the group of terrorists who killed at least 129 people last week.
Authorities searching for Salah Abdeslam -- the only identified suspect still believed to be alive -- have announced that they're now looking for another fugitive linked to the attacks, according to The Associated Press. The potential ninth attacker has not been identified, but authorities reported that the person could have been traveling with Abdeslam.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, and French authorities believe three coordinated teams of terrorists are responsible for the massacre, according to Paris prosecutor François Molins. Seven of the known attackers are now dead after detonating suicide explosives.
On Tuesday, French National Police tweeted out a call for information about an unidentified man they say is one of the dead attackers. "This individual is the deceased attacker in one of the terror plots committed on November 13 at the Stade de France," the notice reads, translated from French.
Meanwhile, authorities across Europe are conducting raids to look for accomplices. Prosecutors in Belgium, where several of the attackers had ties, announced charges against two additional men for their alleged involvement in the bombings and shootings last Friday.
The two men are Mohammed Amri, 27, and Hamza Attou, 21, who allegedly drove to Paris and picked up Abdeslam. The men's lawyers say the two did drive Abdeslam back to Brussels, but deny they were involved in the attacks. Authorities said the same ingredients used in the Paris bombs turned up in a search of the men's residence.
The accused ringleader of the attacks, a radicalized Belgian believed to be a recruiter for the Islamic State, supposedly organized earlier terror plots in Western Europe and was targeted by Western airstrikes in Syria last month, according to The New York Times.
In addition to suspected attacker Salah Abdeslam, five of the deceased attackers and the alleged mastermind have been identified so far. Here's what we know about them.
Authorities have said that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, is a radicalized Belgian who was the ringleader of the Paris attacks. He is believed to be in Syria, where he’s allegedly fought alongside ISIS.
Abaaoud is well-known to European officials, who say he's connected to previous plots and failed attacks, including a plan to assassinate police officers and an August incident in which passengers subdued a gunman on a train bound for Paris.
Western military forces targeted him in airstrikes against the Islamic State as recently as last month, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
Abaaoud’s father has accused him of kidnapping of his 13-year-old brother and bringing him to Syria to wage jihad.
Appearing in ISIS propaganda videos and in the group's English-language magazine, Dabiq, Abaaoud has bragged about evading Western authorities and urged Muslims worldwide to join him in Syria. One explicit video shows him in a pickup truck in Syria that is dragging mutilated bodies behind it.
Tried in absentia in Belgium, Abaaoud was sentenced to 20 years in prison for recruiting for the terrorist organization. Before becoming an extremist, he had reportedly been locked up for theft.
Ismail Omar Mostefai
French officials identified Ismael Omar Mostefai as one of the Paris attackers after his suicide belt exploded at the Bataclan theater. He was a 29-year-old Frenchman who was being monitored for links to Islamic radicalism, Molins said on Saturday.
Authorities were able to identify Mostefai from a piece of his finger they found after the suicide bombing, Le Monde reported. They also found a weapon that they traced to the suburb where he grew up.
Mostefai's father, a brother and other family members were being questioned Sunday.
"It's a crazy thing, it's madness," his brother told AFP after turning himself in to police.
The brother had cut ties with Mostefai years ago and said he was unaware of his radicalization, AFP reported. He believed Mostefai had gone to Algeria with his daughter.
The brother's neighbor supported his claims. "[Mostefai's brother and his wife] were an extraordinary couple. They had been disconnected from any activity for a long time," the man told news channel iTélé.
Mostefai, born in the Chartres region of France in 1985, allegedly spent a few months in Syria sometime between 2013 and 2014, Le Monde reported. A senior Turkish official said on Monday that he had entered Turkey in 2013. The official also said that Turkey had warned France about Mostefai in December 2014 and again in June.
Mostefai's acquaintances seemed unaware of his plans. "He was really, really, really discreet," one of his neighbors told iTélé.
Brahim Abdeslam, 31, is believed to have been the suicide bomber at the Boulevard Voltaire. The Frenchman lived and worked in the Brussels immigrant neighborhood of Molenbeek. He was known to be involved in theft and drug trafficking, according to Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique.
Until recently, Brahim Abdeslam had owned a bar in his neighborhood that his neighbors complained about. Police who’d searched the bar in August noticed the “strong smell of drugs” and found partially smoked joints in ashtrays. Abdeslam sold the bar in September.
France's national police on Sunday tweeted a wanted poster for Salah Abdeslam, Brahim's brother, who was born in Brussels in 1989. Salah managed the bar owned by his older brother, according to Reuters.
Police say he rented a Volkswagen that was found near the Bataclan.
After the attack, police stopped Salah and two other men at a checkpoint near the Belgian border. Authorities allowed them to continue on their journey, realizing only later that they’d let a suspected attacker slip through their grasp.
The two men in the car with Salah have been arrested, though they deny involvement in the attack.
Authorities have carried out raids to find Salah in his home neighborhood in Brussels and in the western German city of Aachen, but the hunt for the most wanted man in Europe has so far been a bust.
Authorities also detained Salah and Brahim's brother, Mohamed Abdeslam, but they later released him. He has denied any involvement in the attacks and said he hoped Salah would turn himself in to authorities.
Abdeslam told reporters in front of his home on Monday that he has worked for the city government for years without problems, and had "no links whatsoever to what happened."
He also said how shocked his family remains over some family members being linked to the attacks.
"My family and I have been touched by what has happened,"Abdeslam said. "We have learned about this through the media, like many of you. It didn't cross our minds that one of our brothers could have been linked to these attacks. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. But you have to understand that we have a mother, a family, and despite everything, he remains their child."
Frenchman Bilal Hadfi, 20, was identified as one of the attackers at the Stade de France. European intelligence officials told The Washington Post that he had spent time in Syria.
Paris-born Samy Amimour, 28, took part in the raid on the Bataclan, French officials said. RTL reported he had been charged with terrorism offenses in 2012 and was put under judicial control, but he violated the terms. Authorities issued an international warrant for Amimour's arrest in 2013, the same year he traveled to Syria.
Authorities also found a Syrian passport near the Stade de France explosion site, Molins announced Saturday. The passport allegedly belonged to Ahmad Al-Mohammad, who was born in 1990 in Syria. He hadn't been on French authorities' radar prior to the attack.
The Serbian interior ministry said Sunday that Al-Mohammad crossed from Turkey to the Greek island of Leros on Oct. 3 with many refugees. He was reportedly traveling with a second man, Mohammed Almuhamed, according to The Guardian.
After Al-Mohammad arrived in Athens on Oct. 8, authorities did not continue tracking him, the AP reported. His passport was registered in both Croatia and Serbia, where he ultimately sought asylum, per The Washington Post.
It is still not clear whether the passport is real or fake.
Potential Ninth Attacker
On Tuesday, authorities revealed that an unidentified third person traveling with the Abdeslam brothers is still at large, and might have been directly involved in the attacks.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled one of the alleged assailants last names. He is Bilal Hadfi, not Hafdi.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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Undercover video recorded by an animal rights activist at one of the largest U.S. pork producers appears to show pigs being beaten and dragged across the slaughterhouse floor as workers cheer and throw blood-soaked towels at one another.
An edited version of the video, posted to YouTube on Wednesday, shows pigs covered in feces and riddled with puss-filled sores headed for the production line. It also shows numerous pigs that appear to be conscious and shaking in pain as they are being slaughtered. Federal law requires livestock to be stunned before they are killed.
"That one was definitely alive," one male employee, whose face is intentionally blurred in the video, shouts as pig carcasses move down a conveyor belt. "If USDA is around, they could shut us down," a man who appears to be the same employee says later, referring to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates meat processors.
The video was taken inside Quality Pork Processors, in Austin, Minnesota by an investigator for animal rights nonprofit Compassion Over Killing some time this year. QPP supplies more than half of the "fresh pork raw material needs" for Hormel, the maker of Spam and other processed meat products, according to QPP's website.
The animal rights group has given "many hours" of raw video to the USDA and local authorities, and has met with federal investigators to assist in the investigation, Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing, told HuffPost.
"The actions depicted in the video under review are completely unacceptable, and if we can verify the video’s authenticity, we will aggressively investigate the case and take appropriate action," USDA spokesman Adam Tarr said.
Tarr said federal inspectors were on duty at the plant, but the video was likely taken out of their view. "Had these actions been observed by the inspectors, they would have resulted in immediate regulatory action against the plant," Tarr added.
Nate Jansen, QPP's vice president of human resources and quality services, told HuffPost that the company's own video monitoring system had already been "flagged" for something appearing on the Compassion Over Killing footage, and an employee was disciplined for an unspecified violation of company policy. A second employee also was disciplined with a written warning and order to undergo retraining, according to The Associated Press.
"We had already taken disciplinary action" before being made aware of the animal rights group's video, Jansen said.
Jansen, said the edited version of the Compassion Over Killing video posted to YouTube fails to tell the whole story. The company has "hundreds of people" and "multiple interventions" to stop contamination from entering the food supply, he said.
"If you look at them as a full sequence, with the handling, you will see those animals were handled according to acceptable regulations and policies and our own internal procedures," Jansen said. "I've got complete trust in the foods that we produce."
Compassion Over Killing's Meier rejected the criticism that video editing distorted the YouTube version.
"Our video speaks for itself," Meier said. "We documented excessive beating, shocking, improper stunning, and dragging of animals."
Meier said the group's investigator applied for a job at QPP and worked there for several months. The investigator only worked with live animals during the last three weeks of employment, Meier said.
QPP is one of five pork processors that participate in a federal pilot program called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-Based Inspection Models Project, or HIMP. Launched by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service in the 1990s, HIMP is designed to produce a "flexible, more efficient, fully integrated" meat and poultry inspection system that allows a plant like QPP's to take more responsibility for carcass inspection, which used to be overseen by government employees.
The idea is to allow USDA inspectors to focus more on food safety and other consumer protections, according to the Food Safety and Information Service. USDA says the process is effective.
But animal rights groups, including Compassion Over Killing, say the program reduces government oversight and allows for high-speed slaughter, which the group says kills about 1,300 pigs per hour.
"That means this facility operates at faster line speeds than almost any other facility in the U.S.," Compassion Over Killing said in a statement describing the video. "The excessive slaughter line speed forces workers to take inhumane shortcuts that lead to extreme suffering for millions of pigs. It also jeopardizes food safety for consumers."
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Mexico’s Supreme Court voted 4 to 1 on Wednesday that members of a cannabis club are allowed to grow marijuana for their personal use, a potentially significant blow to laws restricting drug use in the country.
The club members -- Josefina Ricarño, Armando Santacruz, José Pablo Girault and Juan Francisco Torres Landa Ruffo -- had applied for a license from Mexico's drug regulatory office, but were denied. They appealed that denial to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the four members were allowed to grow, transport and use marijuana for recreational purposes.
Although the decision does not legalize marijuana across Mexico, it could provide a legal path for advocates and groups who oppose marijuana prohibition to continue challenging restrictions in the future. It sets the stage for a wide-ranging challenge to laws restricting marijuana by finding that prohibiting the recreational consumption of weed contradicts constitutional guarantees of personal freedom.
"This vote by Mexico’s Supreme Court is extraordinary for two reasons: it is being argued on human rights grounds and it is taking place in one of the countries that has suffered the most from the war on drugs," Hannah Hetzer, senior policy manager of the Americas at the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. "Now with this landmark decision out of Mexico, it is clear that the Americas are leading the world in marijuana reform."
Marijuana use remains controversial in Mexico, however. A survey released in October by Mexican pollster Parametría found that only 20 percent of Mexicans favored legalizing marijuana for recreational use, though some 81 percent said they supported legalizing it for medical use. Only 4 percent of respondents said they would smoke weed if it were legal.
It’s the latest in a series of shifts in the Americas away from past policies of the war on drugs, violence from which has killed an estimated 100,000 people in Mexico since 2006.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana in the U.S. Another two states and Washington, D.C., joined them two years later. Uruguay legalized marijuana in 2013 and moved to create the world’s first national marijuana marketplace, but there have been some hold-ups. Earlier this year Chile harvested its first crop of government-approved medical marijuana. And in what was seen as a significant rejection of a key American tactic to fight against the growing of cocaine in Latin America, the government of Colombia halted aerial fumigation of the country’s illegal coca fields, the plant used to make cocaine, on fears that the spray was linked to causing cancer. And just last month, Justin Trudeau was elected as Canada's new prime minister on a promise to end marijuana prohibition in the country.
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