The foie gras industry in France might be in trouble. Because of an outbreak of the H5N8 virus, French government officials have begun slaughtering hundreds of thousands of ducks on Thursday to prevent a spread of the bird flu. This is just the latest in a series of culls since December. Now, officials are targeting ducks that are at risk of infection, not just those that are infected. This could mean a major blow the production of foie gras, a controversial dish that serves the livers of ducks that have been force-fed. The French government will compensate those affected farmers. Some farmers, though, say it may not be enough. This strain of bird flu has been detected in 13 countries throughout Europe, from Sweden to Hungary. Other cases of bird flu have caused the slaughter of more than 10 million chickens in South Korea since 2014 and one million farm birds in Japan. In 2015, millions of chickens in the United States had to be killed because of a bird flu outbreak.
—Four Yemeni detainees formerly held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay were transferred to Saudi Arabia. More here
—Four young blacks have been arrested in connection with the live-streamed beating of a white man with “mental health challenges” while shouting messages against whites and President-elect Donald Trump. More here
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Bird Flu May Devastate France's Foie Gras Industry
Four Guantanamo Detainees Transferred to Saudi Arabia
This post was updated on January 5 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Four Yemeni detainees formerly held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay were transferred to Saudi Arabia Thursday as part of the Obama administration’s last-ditch effort to reduce the prison’s remaining population. The detainees include Salem Ahmad Hadi Bin Kanad, Muhammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim, Abdallah Yahya Yusif Al-Shibli, and Muhammad Ali Abdallah Muhammad Bwazir. All four were unanimously approved for transfer by the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force. The transfer, which was first announced Wednesday, marks the beginning of President Obama’s final transfers from Guantanamo before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. As Reuters reports, Obama could transfer as many as 19 detainees before he leaves office—a move that, if successful, could reduce the prison’s population to 40, down from the 93 prisoners held in the prison last year. Trump has vocally opposed Obama’s call for the closure of the facility, and previously pledged to “load it up with some bad dudes.” Fifty-nine prisoners remain in Guantanamo, of who approximately two dozen are being held without charge.
U.S. Adds Osama Bin Laden's Son to Terrorism Blacklist
The Obama administration imposed terrorism-related sanctions Thursday against Hamza bin Laden, the son of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, citing evidence the younger bin Laden poses a risk to U.S. security. The move, which adds bin Laden to the U.S.’ Specifically Designated Global Terrorist list, freezes any assets bin Laden may hold in U.S. jurisdiction. The U.S. State Department said bin Laden was declared an official member of al Qaeda in August 2015 by his father’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and was recorded calling for acts of terrorism in Western capitals in an audio message that same year. He is also said to have called for lone-wolf attacks against U.S., French, and Israeli interests in each countries’ capitals, as well as for Saudi-based tribes to unite with al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to wage war against Saudi Arabia, which is conducting air strikes against Yemen’s Shia Houthi militias and their allies. Ibrahim al-Banna, a senior al Qaeda member, was also added to the list, and is said to have threatened Americans both domestically and abroad “in response to U.S. actions overseas.”
Israeli Police Question Netanyahu for the Second Time in Investigation Over Gifts
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned by police Thursday for the second time this week over allegations he and members of his family received illegal gifts from business owners. As we reported Monday, when the Israeli leader was first questioned, Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing, and indeed urged his critics “not to celebrate.” Haaretz reports Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer, is allegedly one of the main figures in the case. According to the newspaper, Ron Lauder, a U.S. businessman and longtime friend of Netanyahu’s, told investigators he gave the prime minister various gifts and had paid for a trip for Yair Netanyahu, the Israeli leader’s son. Authorities say they believe the gifts were given in hopes of gaining influence. Haaretz adds that police hope that by questioning Netanyahu they will gain more information on a second case whose full details have not yet been made public, but whose facts were presented to Israeli attorney general a few months ago.
Four Killed in Car-Bomb Explosion Near Turkish Court
A policeman and a civilian were killed after a car bomb detonated outside a courthouse Thursday in the Turkish city of Izmir, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reports. At least five people were wounded. Turkish police killed two people suspected of being behind the attack, and said they are looking for a third suspect. Erol Ayyidiz, Izmir’s governor, said the car stopped outside the courthouse and detonated shortly after an exchange with police, and that eight grenades and two Kalashnikovs were recovered. It is unclear who was behind the attack, though Ayyidiz said initial findings suggest the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, was involved. The incident comes less than a week after a gunman killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub—an attack for which ISIS claimed responsibility. The man behind the attack is still at large.
Four Arrested in Chicago Investigation Into a Livestreamed, Racially Charged Beating
Updated January 5 at 4:00 p.m. ET
Police in Chicago charged four people on Thursday with aggravated assault, kidnapping, and a hate crime, among other charges, in connection with a beating livestreamed on Facebook that shows four young blacks, all 18, kicking and hitting a bound mentally ill man while shouting “fuck Donald Trump” and “fuck white people.” The victim was an 18-year-old white man from a Chicago suburb who was reported missing Monday. Officers said he knew at least one of the attackers from school, and that he was picked up by the group in a stolen van and brought to a house. The video, which was about 30-minutes long and has since been removed, showed the man cowered in the corner, his mouth taped, while several people behind the camera talk and laugh, shouting epithets at him, Trump, and whites. At one point, a man takes a knife and cuts off a piece of the victim’s hair. Officers found the victim Tuesday walking down the street, disoriented, and said it took him most of that night to calm down enough to explain what happened. "It's sickening,” said Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that. I've been a cop for 28 years and I've seen things that you shouldn't see.” Authorities haven’t announced charges against the four—two men and two women. But along with the assault, Johnson said authorities are considering kidnapping, as well as hate-crime charges, though Johnson said it still needs to be investigated whether the epithets were “sincere, or just stupid ranting and raving.”
Senate Panel Hears Testimony on Foreign Cyberthreats to the U.S.
Senior intelligence officials testified Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee about foreign cyberthreats to the U.S. The hearing follows revelation of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee and others in an attempt, U.S. intelligence officials say, to influence the U.S. election. President-elect Donald Trump, who is expected to receive his own intelligence briefing on Friday, is skeptical of U.S. intelligence assessments of Russia’s role. Trump says it’s difficult to definitively say who was behind the hacking, and has supported the views of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, that a “14-year-old could have hacked” Democratic officials. Among those who testified Thursday are James Clapper, the director Of national intelligence; Marcel J. Lettre, the under secretary of defense for intelligence; and Admiral Mike Rogers, who heads U.S. Cyber Command. For more on the hacking, go here. For our live blog of the hearing, go here.