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MUSIC NEWS

Billy Joel to be interviewed and perform on “Kimmel” tonight; announces 2018 show in Tampa

Credit: Kevin MazurJust a reminder that Billy Joel will be a guest on tonight’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which airs at 11:35 p.m. ET/10:35 p.m. CT on ABC.

The Piano Man will serve as the evening’s musical guest and also will chat with the host. Perhaps Jimmy Kimmel will ask Joel about the recently announced news that Billy and his wife are expecting their second child together next month.

This week’s Kimmel show is being taped in Jimmy’s hometown of Brooklyn, New York, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House.

In other news, Joel has announced his first U.S. concert of 2018, a February 9 show at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Tickets for the event go on sale to the general public on Friday, October 27, at 10 a.m. ET. American Express card members will be able to purchase pre-sale tickets starting this Monday, October 23, at 10 a.m. ET. Billy has played seven previous sold-out concerts at Amalie Arena.

Joel’s next concert is a sold-out show taking place this Friday, October 20, at Madison Square Garden as part of his ongoing monthly residency at the famous New York City venue.

Here are all of Billy’s upcoming U.S. dates:

10/20 — New York, NY, Madison Square Garden
11/3 — Indianapolis, IN, Bankers Life Fieldhouse
11/18 — New York, NY, Madison Square Garden
11/29 — Salt Lake City, UT, Vivint Smart Home Arena
12/8 — Portland, OR, Moda Center
12/20 — New York, NY, Madison Square Garden
12/31 — Sunrise, FL, BB&T Center
2/9/18 — Tampa, FL, Amalie Arena

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

A Thriller, chiller night: Watch a preview of “Michael Jackson’s Halloween”

Credit Hammerhead ©2017 All Rights ReservedMichael Jackson‘s “Thriller” dance is a Halloween tradition, but now you can get your first glimpse of what CBS is hoping will be a new Halloween tradition: Michael Jackson’s Halloween.

In the 30-second promo, set to the MJ songs “Working Day and Night” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” we see the King of Pop’s animated feet as they appeared in the “Billie Jean” video, clad in black loafers and sparkly socks.  As he dances, sparkles fly from his feet, and then we see a sparkly glove giving a thumbs up.  Next, a full moon rises above a bridge with Michael’s eyes on it.

Next, we see scenes of the special’s animated characters, including dancing pumpkin-headed people, skeletons, monkeys and our heroes, Vince and Victoria, two millennials who meet on Halloween night.  They, along with Ichabod the dog, end up at a mysterious hotel, called This Place Hotel, located at 777 Jackson Street. 

According to CBS, the two are then “sent on an unexpected, magical adventure of personal discovery, culminating in a spectacular dance finale featuring an animated Michael Jackson.”

Michael Jackson’s Halloween stars the voices of Jim Parsons, Christine Baranski, Brad Garrett, Alan Cumming, Lucas Till and Lucy Liu.  It airs Friday, October 27, at 8 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Star-studded tribute concerts to T. Rex’s Marc Bolan taking place Sunday and Monday in NYC

Ron Howard/RedfernsTwo special tribute concerts commemorating the 40th anniversary of T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan‘s death and what would’ve been the glam-rock legend’s 70th birthday will take place this Sunday and Monday at City Winery in New York City. The 20th Century Boy: Marc Bolan & T. Rex 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert events will feature a star-studded lineup of musicians including Blondie‘s Clem Burke, original Alice Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway, Patti Smith Group‘s Tony Shanahan and founding King Crimson and Foreigner member Ian McDonald.

The shows also will feature performances by Marc’s son Rolan Bolan, the events’ guest of honor, as well as Suzanne Vega, one-time Meat Loaf and Clash collaborator Ellen Foley, ex-David Bowie touring guitarist Gerry Leonard and many others. The concerts will feature versions of plenty of classic T. Rex songs as well as selections from the group’s folkier early incarnation, Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Proceeds raised by the shows will benefit the Marc Bolan School of Music and Film project, a planned educational facility that’s being built in the African nation of Sierra Leone which Rolan and his mother, singer Gloria Jones, will run.

For more details about the shows, visit CityWinery.com and the concerts’ official Facebook page.

Bolan was born on September 30, 1947, and died in a car crash on September 16, 1977, two weeks short of his 30th birthday. As the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of T. Rex, he was responsible for creating such memorable songs as “Get It On (Bang a Gong),” “Jeepster,” “20th Century Boy” and “Children of the Revolution.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Marvel’s “The Punisher” to debut November 17 on Netflix

Netflix/Nicole Rivelli(NEW YORK) — Marvel’s The Punisher, the latest comics-based series to hit Netflix, will officially bow on the streaming service on November 17. 

All previous peeks of the show, which stars Jon Bernthal as solider-turned-vigilante superhero Frank Castle, had references to a debut date blacked out. 

The announcement of the premiere date was further delayed when the show’s panel at New York City’s recent Comic Con was cancelled out of sensitivity to the Las Vegas shooting massacre. 

Along with the premiere date, Netflix gave fans a final trailer today.

As with previous trailers, the new one is again set to Metallica’s haunting “One,” but this one shows more of Castle’s Special Forces career, before his former comrades-in-arms turn on him and murder his family as part of a drug-trafficking plot.

The vigilante character with the skull icon on his chest first appeared on the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man in 1974, but the fan favorite soon spawned his own books. 

Bernthal debuted his bruising portrayal of Castle in Season 2 of Daredevil on Netflix.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Margot Robbie takes the ice as Harding in “I, Tonya”

ABC/Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) — The first teaser has been released for I, Tonya, Margot Robbie’s darkly comic turn as real-life disgraced Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding.

Harding was implicated in a plot — executed by her ex-husband and bodyguard — to break the kneecap of her rival Nancy Kerrigan, weeks before they took the ice at the 1994 Olympic Games. 

The snippet begins with Robbie as Harding in a garish purple skating outfit, taking a final drag on a cigarette, before crushing out her smoke with her skate and heading to the ice. 

“America,” the Aussie says, hiding her accent with Harding’s Oregon twang. “They want someone to love. They want someone to hate. And the haters always say, ‘Tonya, tell the truth!’ There’s no such thing as ‘truth.’ I mean, it’s bulls***!'”

Harding and Kerrigan both eventually competed in the Games. Kerrigan took the silver while Harding placed eighth, tearfully blaming an untied shoelace for her poor showing. That incident was later spoofed on Seinfeld.

Harding was never convicted for the attack, but pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution in the case. She was fined and banned from professional skating for life.

This past spring, Kerrigan competed on Dancing with the Stars. She maintains Harding never apologized for the incident.

I, Tonya has just nabbed Robbie a Best Actress nomination at November’s Gotham Awards. The movie, which also stars Emmy winner Alison Janney, and Sebastian Stan from the Captain America movies, opens in limited release December 8.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

“This television thing was a fluke” – “Empire” creator Lee Daniels ready to return to directing

ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua

(NEW YORK) — Lee Daniels is thankful to have two primetime shows on television, but the Empire and Star creator says he’s seriously itching to get back to directing.

“I miss being behind the camera as a filmmaker because you know right now as a creator it’s really more administrative,” Daniels tells ABC Radio. “You start with something and you sprinkle your fairy dust on it and you manage it. You’re watching the baby walk and go to school and go to college. You’re not really creating anything new.”

For Daniels, who started his creative career by directing actors in the back of a church theater, directing is still his first love and something he’d like to get back to — both on the big screen and on Broadway.

“I’m a director — you know by nature. And I come from theater so what I miss is theater,” Daniels explains. “I really miss that. So I’m coming back to that. And that’s my intent, to come back to theater.”

While Daniels future intentions are clear, the now successful television producer recalls that his emergence into television wasn’t something he specifically planned.

“I did it by accident. This television thing was a fluke,” Daniels says. “They weren’t buying black television and so I wanted it on my bucket list as an artist. You know when I did Empire — just check it off the list as something to do.”

Daniels continues: “I had no idea that pilot was going to get picked up — or that it was going to go for thirteen episodes. Let alone like four years. It was like, “What? What?!”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NATIONAL NEWS

Winter weather forecast shows colder, wetter North and warmer, drier South

(ABC News)(NEW YORK) — What happens in the Pacific Ocean with the phenomenon La Niña will likely cause temperature and precipitation changes across the country this winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The weak La Niña developing could be the biggest player in the 2017-2018 winter forecast, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA, which released the U.S. Winter Outlook Thursday.

The phenomenon could cause colder and snowier conditions for the north-central U.S. and warmer and drier than normal conditions for the southern U.S, from California to Florida.

The areas around the Great Lakes could also see an increase of Lake Effect snow.

La Niña is the opposite of El Niño; together, they are called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, and often cause significant differences from average ocean temperatures, winds, surface pressure, and rainfall across parts of the tropical Pacific, according to NOAA.

La Niña is the cool phase of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, as opposed to the warm phase El Niño. The pattern usually swings back and forth about every three to seven years, according to NOAA.

La Niña winters usually bring milder than normal conditions and less snow for the coastal Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, from Washington, D.C., to Boston. The storm track for the Northeast usually remains more inland with La Niña, bringing mostly rain to the very populated I-95 corridor and snow for the eastern Great Lakes and Appalachian Mountains, Halpert added.

For the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies, cooler and wetter than normal conditions are forecast, which means more strong storms with damaging winds and flash flooding for Seattle and Portland are likely.

More than normal snow is forecast for the ski resorts in the northern Rockies from Big Sky Resort in Montana to Steamboat Springs in Colorado.

After a record breaking 2016-17 snow season in the Sierra Nevada Range Mountains, this snow season looks closer to normal. Southern California could be slightly milder and drier than normal.

Though the outlook seems to indicate above-average precipitation this winter, drought is likely to persist in parts of the northern Plains. Some improvement in drought conditions is expected further West.

In scattered areas of the South, particularly in areas that did not receive excess rainfall associated with the active 2017 hurricane season, drought could develop.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Security ramped up for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s Florida event

iStock/Thinkstock(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — Police have geared up for protests expected this afternoon on the University of Florida campus where self-described white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to host an event.

Widespread security measures are in place throughout the city of Gainesville, Florida, where the school is located. The added precaution stems partly from Gov. Rick Scott’s Wednesday decision to declare a state of emergency before the event.

The emergency action “enables various law enforcement agencies to work together more efficiently” and call in support from multiple jurisdictions, according to the school’s website.

Florida brewery encourages boycott of speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer with free beer

Spencer is president of a group called the National Policy Institute, which asked to organize an event on the public campus. The university originally denied his request in September, weeks after the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, based on safety concerns. But as a state-run entity prohibited from blocking free expression, the school ultimately honored the request, according to its website.

The Gainesville Police Department posted a message on its Facebook page Wednesday, writing “For months, GPD has been preparing a comprehensive safety and security plan for this week.”

“We have been very tight-lipped about our security measures for good reason … and it’s to keep you safe,” the statement reads.

“We won’t get in to exact numbers … but you can rest assured that there are plenty of extra law enforcement officers in town to help in any situation.”

Security costs from for the University of Florida Police Department, Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol and other agencies total more than $500,000, according to the school website.

School President W. Kent Fuchs has since said the spending is closer to $600,000, The Associated Press reported.

Spencer’s event is slated to start at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The heightened concern about the event stems from the violent protests and counterprotests that prevented his scheduled event in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. One person died after a car drove into a crowd of protesters and roughly 19 others were injured.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

5th-grade pianist uses recess to soothe hungry 6-year-olds

iStock/Thinkstock(FOLSOM, Calif.) — He has been playing piano for only five years, but 10-year-old Nathan Zhang is already making sure classical music strikes a chord with the future of America.

Nathan attends Theodore Judah Elementary School in Folsom, California, just west of Sacramento, California.

For the past few weeks, Nathan has sharpened his major piano skills during his recess, according to ABC Fresno, California, station KFSN-TV. Instead of taking a break like the rest of his fellow fifth-graders, he stays inside and tickles the ivories as first-graders eat lunch.

He told his school district that he does this because “adding music to their day would be great for them.”

The Facebook post of his showing off his forte has been shared hundreds of times, liked over 1,000 times and viewed by more than 32,000 people.

Nathan is quite the accomplished pianist already. He played at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 2016 after he won a contest online.

He also plays violin but says he wants to focus more on piano.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

SPORTS NEWS

Brooklyn Nets’ Jeremy Lin out for season with ruptured patellar tendon

Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) — Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin suffered a serious knee injury in his team’s season opener on Wednesday and is expected to miss the remainder of the year.

Lin left the 140-131 loss to the Indiana Pacers after driving to the basket in the fourth quarter. Lin immediately grabbed his knee, and seemed to mouth the words “I’m done,” before pounding the floor. Lin also appeared to cry in pain before Nets trainers got to him.

The team announced on Thursday that Lin had been diagnosed with a ruptured patellar tendon.

“Jeremy worked tremendously hard during the offseason and in training camp and was excited for the prospects of the team this season,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement Thursday. “We feel awful that the injury will cost him the season, however our entire organization will be there to support Jeremy in every way possible throughout his recovery. Jeremy remains an important part of this team and will continue to contribute in a leadership role.”

Lin scored 18 points before the injury.

In Lin’s absence, the team is expected to turn to newly acquired D’Angelo Russell at the point guard position. Russell scored 30 points on Wednesday night.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 10/18/17

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from yesterday’s sports events:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
N-Y Yankees   5  Houston   0

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Chi Cubs   3  L-A Dodgers   2

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Indiana      140  Brooklyn      131
Orlando      116  Miami         109
Detroit      102  Charlotte      90
Washington   120  Philadelphia  115
Milwaukee    108  Boston        100
Memphis      103  New Orleans    91
Atlanta      117  Dallas        111
Utah         106  Denver         96
San Antonio  107  Minnesota      99
Houston      105  Sacramento    100
Portland     124  Phoenix        76

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Toronto      6  Detroit    3
St. Louis    5  Chicago    2
L.A. Kings   5  Montreal   1

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck will stop throwing after setback in shoulder rehab

Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Indianapolis Colts will partially shut down quarterback Andrew Luck on Wednesday, General Manager Chris Ballard said, after a setback in his surgically-repaired right shoulder.

“The doctors and the trainers have decided to give him a cortisone shot to kind of take away some of the inflammation that’s been happening,” Ballard told reporters Wednesday. “He’ll continue to rehab. We’re just going to shut down the throwing right now to get this thing calmed back down.”

Luck underwent surgery on the shoulder in January. He practiced for two days earlier this month, increasing his workload last week, before the setback.

Ballard didn’t offer a timeline for when the team expects Luck can return to throwing, but said that the team didn’t intend to place Luck on Injured Reserve.

Luck originally hurt the shoulder in Week 3 of 2015. He aggravated the injury in Week 2 of 2016 and missed all of the team’s offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games.

In Luck’s absence, the team has turned to Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WORLD NEWS

Confusion sparks Pentagon investigation of Niger ambush that left four U.S. soldiers dead

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Confusion over what happened during an ambush of U.S. Special Forces in Niger earlier this month apparently sparked a full Pentagon probe of the incident announced Thursday, which some officials say could have had even worse casualties than four American soldiers killed from the small, “out-matched” team.

Officials have described a harrowing burst of violence in or near a village close to Niger’s border with Mali on Oct. 4, which led to the first U.S. combat deaths in the small African nation battling Islamist extremists.

The gunfight may have split the team of a dozen or fewer American commandos in half, according to one counterterrorism official. It was so chaotic that one soldier remained missing for up to 36 hours before his remains were recovered.

“They met an overwhelming force,” the counterterrorism official who was familiar with the mission and its aftermath, told ABC News. “They were out-gunned and out-matched. The enemy had relative superiority in numbers and fully enveloped and out-flanked the team. I think they got cut in half with suppressive fire.”

Four U.S. special operations soldiers were killed in action, along with 1 Nigerien soldier killed and two Americans wounded.

Another U.S. official said that the Defense Intelligence Agency has assessed it “highly likely” that the group of 50 or more attackers behind the ambush in Niger were from ISIS in the Greater Sahara, referred to as ISGS. But the counterterrorism official said the attackers may have included current or former members of al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist extremist group Ansar Dine from neighboring Mali.

Reports that day quickly came back to Fort Bragg, N.C., where the U.S. team of “Bush Hogs” from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group is based, that one soldier was missing and unaccounted for. “Accountability,” meaning ascertaining the whereabouts of all soldiers in a team when when they are in contact with an adversary, is a critical matter. The Army’s Warrior Ethos includes the pledge to “never leave a fallen comrade.”

But multiple sources said Sgt. La David Johnson, a support trooper in 3rd Special Forces Group, was missing for as long as 36 hours before his remains were found. Once he was recovered, it did not appear that he had been captured by the insurgents but it is believed he died in the initial fighting, several officials said.

It is very rare for a Green Beret team to make a “tactical withdrawal” under fire without having full accountability of its teammates — but the gunfight in Niger was extraordinary.

“They had critical casualties. They had zero air support on station,” the counterterrorism official said. “If they had stayed, everyone would have died.”

Since Niger is a low-intensity conflict, there are not many U.S. bases nearby with medevac helicopters and combat air support. French forces in the region often partner with the American forces and provide air support.

Leaving a man behind under fire may have been their only choice given three Americans were known to have been killed, as well as one Nigerien soldier, and several other soldiers wounded, said an experienced Special Forces commander.

“In reality, when you’re in a firefight, you may not have the luxury of having immediate accountability. When you get ambushed, your forces are trying to get out of the kill zone alive. Three guys may go left and one guy goes right, and the guy who goes right gets killed,” said retired Green Beret, Lt. Col. James Gavrilis. “If you’re on the losing end of an ambush, it’s not realistic to expect those guys to have full accountability of every man on the team right away.”

It remains unexplained by the Pentagon what the team’s specific approved mission was that day beyond “train, advise and assist” Nigerien partner forces, or even how many were Americans were in the team on the mission that day. Some missions such as tribal engagement may require lighter combat loads while night raids and long vehicle patrols may necessitate bringing heavier weapons and much more ammunition piled in their vehicles.

“‘Train and assist’ is not a classroom exercise. It’s typically out in the field, learning tactics and improving capabilities of indigenous forces like the Nigeriens,” said Matthew Olsen, former National Counterterrorism Center director and an ABC News contributor. “Just because it’s called ‘train and assist’ doesn’t mean that it’s not dangerous.”

“It’s Special Forces doing what they’re supposed to do — working alone and unafraid,” said the counterterrorism official.

Officials have said between eight and a dozen American troops were involved, a mix of operators and support troopers. Two of those killed were operators who wore the coveted Green Beret and the other two were support soldiers in the unit.

The counterterrorism official said the U.S. team’s downfall may have been a combination of not having enough, or not accurate enough, “ISR” — intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance scans — of the patrol area before commencing the mission; that it was a team of special operations soldiers with few prior combat deployments among them; the possibility of a compromised mission plan leaked by Nigerien troops to the enemy; or just simply very bad luck, officials said.

“They were set up for failure,” said one 3rd Group veteran, who monitored the incident and its aftermath.

The overarching mission in Africa of 3rd Special Forces Group, known as “The Tribe,” is “foreign internal defense” and counterterrorism operations in a low-intensity conflict around the Sahel region in which partnering with indigenous forces in remote areas is intended to build relationships in order to defeat violent extremists in at-risk countries such as Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Nigeria.

In one version of events provided by a U.S. official, the Green Beret-led team had driven to a village near the border with Mali and were walking to or from the meeting when they were ambushed by about 50 fighters from an ISIS group. But two different officials said that it appears only some of the American soldiers went into the village to meet with elders and that’s when they were attacked, meaning the Americans were separated at the outset of the gunfight.

There was a Nigerien platoon in the general vicinity but they were not part of the mission to the village and they did not participate in the firefight that followed the ambush, one official said.

Once Sgt. Johnson went missing, U.S. Joint Special Operations Command moved vast resources immediately to the area including intelligence assets and “tier one” operators, the most elite commandos, to assist in finding the missing soldier, who many feared at the time could have been taken prisoner. But by late morning (EST) on Oct. 5, the Sgt. Johnson had been found deceased.

Officials have said that the missing remains were found by Nigerien troops in the vicinity of the firefight. It was apparently a fluid battle scene that extended over a large area and wasn’t localized in one area, which may be why he wasn’t immediately located.

“There are inevitably going to be questions about this mission and whether or not it was handled appropriately,” Olsen said. “The reality is that it’s important for us to have elements like this ‘train and assist’ mission in these countries to help stem the flow of foreign fighters.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US military launches formal investigation into Niger ambush

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — U.S. Africa Command has launched a formal investigation into the circumstances surrounding an ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers and wounded two others.

Until today, the command had been conducting an informal review to gather facts about the Oct. 4 ambush, but two weeks later, the details of the deadly incident remain unclear.

U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser has assigned a general officer to head up the investigation.

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Russian Internet trolls sought to co-opt unwitting American activists

gorodenkoff/iStock/Thinkstock(ST. PETERSBURG, Russia) — From their desks in St. Petersburg, Russian Internet trolls at a company with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to co-opt American civil rights activists and use them to stoke racial tensions and stir political unrest, authorities said.

Congressional investigators tell ABC News that two online groups — BlackMattersUS and BlackFist — were among those used by Russian operators to reach out directly to unwitting individual Americans engaged in political activism and, in this case, encourage them to help organize rallies, train in self-defense and create music videos. In some cases, those activists even received financial support.

This effort, according to authorities, was the brainchild of the Internet Research Agency, the same St. Petersburg-based company identified by members of Congress as a key arm of the larger Russian operation aimed at influencing U.S. elections. That effort, as first reported by the the Russian publication RBC, now appears to be much broader than previously known, moving beyond the virtual world.

The Facebook and Twitter accounts associated with both groups have since been suspended, and ABC News could not reach any of the people identified online as being members of either group. Executives from both social media giants are expected to appear before Congress early next month to discuss steps they are taking to confront Russian efforts to infiltrate their platform, the scope of which is still not fully understood.

“The strategy appears to be a mix of suppressing votes, stoking fear and doing all they can to help their preferred candidate in Donald Trump and tear down Hillary Clinton,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee who has seen Russian social media posts turned over to Congress by Facebook and Twitter.

By piggybacking on the themes of the Black Lives Matter movement, Russian agitators succeeded in convincing people interested in those same social justice causes that this stealthy foreign-backed effort was legitimate.

Ronnie Houston, a hip-hop artist in Ferguson, Missouri, who goes by the name Rough the Ruler, told ABC News that someone claiming to be from BlackMattersUS contacted him on the Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram in March of 2016 and asked him to record a song for them “about the social issues that were going on.” He produced a short music video featuring video clips from marches, graphics touting the BlackMattersUS website, and lyrics describing police as “assassins” and protesters as “avengers.”

If he had known the group was not rooted in the Black Lives Matter movement, he said, he would not have agreed to record the song.

“No man I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “Wouldn’t have done it at all.”

Conrad James, an activist in Raleigh, North Carolina, says he was approached in September 2016 by a woman who claimed to represent BlackMattersUS and asked him to speak at a rally they were hosting in Charlotte. James said more than 600 people turned up.

“They definitely were trying to stir-up trouble,” James said of BlackMattersUS. “Their intent was obviously to have some type of emotionally filled rally where people are adding fuel to the fire that was already happening around Charlotte.”

Nolan Hack, an activist from Los Angeles, said BlackMattersUS asked for his help organizing civil rights rallies last year and he was reimbursed for some of his travel expenses.

He said the notion of a Russia connection “never entered my mind.”

A pair of bloggers whose social media posts and YouTube videos were pushed out from the St. Petersburg troll farm carried the most pointed political messages.

“We, the black people, we stand in one unity” said one post, by a pair of bloggers purporting to be from Atlanta named Williams and Kalvin. “We stand in one to say that Hillary Clinton is not our candidate.”

Federal officials and Facebook executives confirmed to ABC News that the William and Kalvin videos, first reported on by The Daily Beast, originated not in Atlanta, but in Russia. The men in the video appear to speak with a British accent and some investigators believe they may actually be somewhere in Africa, not Atlanta.

This effort doesn’t appear to have stopped after the election. At least six American trainers paid this year by a group called BlackFist to offer free self-defense classes around the country, urging people to ““be ready to protect your rights” and to “let them know that Black Power Matters.”

Omewale Adewale, a fitness trainer in Brooklyn, New York, says he was paid $320 via TK to conduct four classes in a month.

“It’s very sneaky,” Adewale told ABC News. “It’s very underhanded.”

Roger McNamee, a venture capitalist and early investor in Facebook, says this effort is evidence of the Russian strategy “to anger both sides of the equation.”

“Classic Russian intelligence techniques of taking the most extreme voices and amplifying them,” he said. “It was the perfect petri dish for this kind of campaign.”

Swalwell said he wants Congress to find a way to address this type of interference without infringing on peoples’ rights.

“Russia was able to use our greatest strength, freedom of speech, and turn it into a weakness,” Swalwell said. “I think we have to find what is that fine line between making sure my mom can post any political opinion that she wants but an organized intelligence service of a foreign country isn’t able to weaponize social media.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WIN 4 GLOBE TROTTERS TICKETS

The 101 number one song of the day was recorded by a man who had reached the top spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 twice before but was still working a studio musician backing some of the biggest names in show business.  read more…

Win 4 Globe Trotters tickets

Today’s 101 #1 Song of the Day was, according to the writer and performer, more or less a true story about the first woman he was with. He was 16 – she was MUCH older – at the 1961 Beaulieu Jazz Festival. It only took two takes to record it – still probably longer than the romantic interlude it’s about. read more…

WIN 4 GLOBE TROTTERS TICKETS

The 101 number one song of the day marked a new direction for a successful Motown group which led to an even greater success for the 5 man ensemble and it all began because a member of a different group wanted to get out of his contract.  read more…

Win 4 Globe Trotters tickets

The 101 number one song of the day was recorded by a band headed by a South African jazz pianist named Michael Lubowitz. It was written by the same people who wrote Da Doo Ron Ron and it makes about as much sense. read more…

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