Las Cruces
51°
85°
Wed
84°
Thu
83°
Fri
Weather from Yahoo!

ON-AIR NOW

NOW PLAYING

101 GOLD STAFF

MUSIC NEWS

Cher does ABBA: joins cast of “Mamma Mia!” sequel

John Shearer/Getty Images via ABCCher is returning to the big screen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cher is joining the cast of the Mamma Mia! sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Over the weekend Cher teased the news, posting an image of 1970s style star-spangled platform boots to Twitter.

She joins a high-profile cast of stars returning to the ABBA-themed jukebox musical franchise, including Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Amanda Seyfried.

It will be Cher’s first movie appearance since 2010’s Burlesque, in which she starred opposite Christina Aguilera

Cher won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Moonstruck in 1987.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Cher does ABBA: joins cast of “Mamma Mia!” sequel

John Shearer/Getty Images via ABCCher is returning to the big screen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cher is joining the cast of the Mamma Mia! sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Over the weekend Cher teased the news, posting an image of 1970s style star-spangled platform boots to Twitter.

She joins a high-profile cast of stars returning to the ABBA-themed jukebox musical franchise, including Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Amanda Seyfried.

It will be Cher’s first movie appearance since 2010’s Burlesque, in which she starred opposite Christina Aguilera

Cher won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Moonstruck in 1987.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tom Petty reportedly honored by friends and family at private ceremony

Andrew Chin/Getty Images for ABATom Petty apparently was honored by family and friends at a private ceremony on Monday.

Petty’s daughter, Los Angeles artist AnnaKim Violette, shared images on Instagram that appeared to be from the ceremony including one of the Golden Lotus Archway at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, California, where George Harrison‘s funeral was held in 2001.

She also shared an image showing a black-and-white photo of Petty above a vase of flowers. “The dark of the sun we will stand together,” she wrote.

According to the Shrine’s website, the Lake Shrine Temple grounds were closed to the public Monday.

Violette also posted a picture of herself posing with a photo of her father writing, “This is very hard for me.”

Petty died October 2 at 66.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

“Dancing with the Stars” recap: On Disney night, Jordan gets the first perfect score of the season and Sasha goes home

ABC/Craig Sjodin(LOS ANGELES) — Monday night was “Disney through the ages” night on Dancing with the Stars as the 10 remaining celebrities transformed into characters from their favorite Disney films and danced to songs made famous by them.

Broadway star Jordan Fisher brought the first perfect score of the season with a foxtrot to “You’re Welcome” from Moana. The judges were united in their admiration as Bruno Tonioli pointed out, “this is how you would dance the foxtrot in the 21st Century.”

At the end of the night, in spite of an impressive Argentine tango from Frankie Muniz, who pulled the second highest score of the night with 29, he and Sasha Pieterse were both in jeopardy.  In spite of her best efforts, the Pretty Little Liars star was eliminated.

The night kicked off with a salute to Disney and a full-cast performance of “It’s a Small World.” The next two hours featured beloved Disney characters from Mickey Mouse to Tinkerbell as the show highlighted songs from the vast archive of Disney films from 1928 to the 21st Century.

Victoria Arlen and Valentin Chmerkovskiy performed a jazz dance with a Steamboat Willie theme, which was the 1928 cartoon that introduced Mickey Mouse. The inspiring paralympian was decked out in full Mouse regalia complete with painted-on whiskers and impressed the judges for a score of 27.

Vanessa Lachey looked every inch a princess as she waltzed to “Un Jour Mon Prince Viendra” from Snow White for a score of 24.

Lindsey Stirling dazzled with her foxtrot to the Oscar-winning song “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio as the night moved into the 1940s, earning a score of 28.

Nick Lachey’s quickstep with Peta Murgatroyd to “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book was fun but only pulled in a score of 22, the lowest of the night.

Kermit the Frog appeared to cheers as a guest judge when Drew Scott finished his Viennese waltz to “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie and impressed the judges for a score of 25. Kermit awarded him a 10, but host Tom Bergeron said his vote doesn’t count.

Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvinstev performed a Mexican-themed jazz dance to the new song “Remember Me” from the forthcoming Disney Pixar animated feature, Coco, which hits theaters November 22.  Bella, who is Mexican-American, was ravishing in her traditional garb and sizzled in her routine, bringing in a 27, the fourth highest score of the night.

The final scores:

Jordan and Lindsay, 30 out of 30
Frankie and Witney, 29
Lindsey and Mark, 28 
Nikki and Artem, 27 
Victoria and Val, 27 
Drew and Emma, 25 
Terrell and Cheryl, 25 
Vanessa and Maks, 24 
Sasha and Gleb, 24 
Nick and Peta, 22

Next week is “A Night at the Movies,” featuring music from special guest judge Shania Twain.

Dancing with the Stars airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

“The Voice” recap: Battles begin with Miley Cyrus winning a two-way battle to steal one of Adam Levine’s artists

NBC Universal (LOS ANGELES) — It was the first night of the battle rounds on The Voice Monday night, as teammates went head-to-head for the right to advance to the next stage in the competition. The evening culminated in Miley Cyruswinning a two-way battle with Blake Shelton to steal one of Adam Levine’s artists. Blake and Jennifer Hudson also stole artists.

Each coach enlisted the help of a guest adviser during rehearsals: DNCE’s& Joe Jonas for Team Adam, Rascal Flatts for Team Blake, ex-Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland for Team Jennifer, and Billy Ray Cyrus for Team Miley.

Here are some of Monday’s highlights:

Team Miley’s “growlers,” 16-year-old Moriah Formica and Shilo Gold, 26, tackled The Guess Who’s “American Woman.” Miley’s dad, Billy Ray, called the pair a “new female Brooks & Dunn,” and predicted that neither was going home. Adam, Blake and Jennifer praised both artists, but leaned towards Moriah. Miley, while praising Shilo’s growth, also picked Moriah, who moved on to the knockout rounds. Gold was sent packing.

Keisha Renee, 30, and 17-year-old Noah Mac battled for Team Blake, dueting on Elvis Presley’s version of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Beforehand, Shelton said the round would go to the singer who delivered the song with “the message and the feeling.” Following the performance, Jennifer called Noah an “old soul,” and declared Keisha’s voice “flawlessly beautiful.” Miley suggested that Blake should go with Keisha. He noted both singers were different, but sang with heart, before giving the round to Keisha, who moves on.

In a dramatic moment, Hudson stole Noah just as he was about to leave the stage. He advances, now representing Team JHud.

Jennifer’s Chris Weaver and Kathrina Feigh were given “Dangerous Woman,” by Ariana Grande. Hudson’s advisor Kelly Rowland loved their “big voices,” but warned that “too much is too much.” Adam, Miley and Blake all praised Kathrina, but gave the round to Chris. Jennifer, noting that Kathrina was going up against a “freight train,” pronounced him the winner. Weaver advances to the knockout rounds.

However, Blake stole Kathrina, explaining that she “never backed down and gave it all she had” and he wanted to see “what she’s all about as an artist.” Feigh also moves on, now as a member of Team Blake.

The final pairing of the night was Team Adam’s rockers Adam Pearce and Whitney Fenimore, covering “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” by Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Levine’s advisor, Joe Jonas, was blown away by the duo, saying, “I’d go see that concert anytime.” After the performance, Blake praised Pearce’s “classic rock and roll sounding voice,” but leaned towards Whitney. Jennifer and Miley gave Adam the edge. Coach Adam awarded the round to Pearce, who advances to the knockout rounds.

Whitney wasn’t done though. Both Blake and Miley both fought to steal the singer, with Miley arguing that she turned around for her during the blind auditions, and Blake trying to capitalize on their shared Oklahoma roots. Whitney — with some egging on from Levine — chose Miley as her new coach.

The battles continue Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Miley Cyrus returning to “SNL” November 4

NBC/Trae Patton(NEW YORK) — Miley Cyrus is heading back to Saturday Night Live.

The singer and judge of The Voice will be the musical guest on November 4, while Larry David will host. It will mark her fourth appearance on the show.

Miley first hosted SNL in 2011, then pulled double-duty as both host and musical guest in 2013 and 2015.

So far, this season of SNL has included performances by Jay-Z, Sam Smith and Pink.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NATIONAL NEWS

Video captures good Samaritans rushing to rescue elderly couple from burning car trapped under tanker truck

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) — A witness captured the aftermath of a fiery collision on video this weekend, showing a group of motorists as they scrambled to rescue an elderly couple from a burning car trapped beneath a tanker truck.

Carmin and Alejandro Rivera Sr. were driving along Route 17 in Goshen, New York — about an hour north of Manhattan — Sunday when a tire blew out on their Subaru, causing them to lose control.

Their vehicle swerved to the left of the road, right under the tanker truck, and caught fire, according to witnesses.

One witness captured the aftermath of the crash as several strangers rushed to help the couple. Several people can be seen running to and from the vehicles in fear that they could explode with the couple still wedged beneath.

“Everybody just ran across the highway, even with flames coming out of the gas tank from the car,” one witness, Jackie Welch, told ABC New York station WABC Tuesday. “Nobody knew if it was going to blow up, or if it was a fuel tanker and nobody cared.”

At least three bystanders were seen crawling under the tanker truck in an attempt to assist the couple. One witness, Jackie Welch, said her son-in-law was one of the people who jumped into immediate action.

“[They] ran over without even thinking, even with the flames,” Welch said. “Nobody really knew what the tanker was carrying.”

“They got the people out of the car and next thing you know somebody was screaming, ‘Get back, get back’ and the gas tank just blew up on the car,” she added.

The Riveras, who’ve been married for 56 years, managed to make it out of the vehicle alive, although they suffered serious injuries.

Carmin Rivera sustained head trauma and is in intensive care, and her husband, Alejandro Rivera Sr., suffered a broken back, broken ribs and a broken ankle, according to WABC. The driver of the truck was not injured.

The couple’s son, Alejandro Rivera Jr., told WABC Monday he is thankful good Samaritans jumped into action.

The tanker truck turned out to be filled with liquid sugar, not oil as some witnesses feared, but he said he’s convinced his parents may have burned to death if the strangers hadn’t rushed to rescue them.

“Without their help, my parents would certainly not be here today,” he added, praising the strangers for their courage.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

911 calls capture unfolding crisis at Florida nursing home where patients died

John McCall, South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images(HOLLYWOOD, Fla.) —  Newly released 911 calls capture the unfolding crisis at a Florida nursing home that lost its air conditioning after Hurricane Irma, subjecting its patients to sweltering heat and ultimately leading to the deaths of 14 people.

In the first call from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills during the early hours of Sept. 13, an unidentified employee tells the dispatcher a patient is in cardiac arrest. “I saw her slouch over. I noticed she is not breathing,” the employee says.

In another call, an employee sighs, “Whatta night,” while describing her patient’s condition. By the fourth call, an employee remarks, “Oh my God, this is crazy,” as she goes back and forth with the dispatcher.

As the calls continue coming in, employees at the nursing home sound increasingly frenzied as they describe patients in various states of respiratory distress. By the sixth and final call, the dispatcher asks whether they’ve called already. “It’s for a different patient,” replies the employee.

The calls were released Monday by Hollywood Police.

Geoffrey D. Smith, an attorney for the nursing home, had no comment on the calls. “We have been asking for these records since the incidents occurred. To date, we have not had access to the 911 calls and are still waiting for responses to our multiple public record requests,” he said.

Florida officials have suspended the nursing’s home license in the wake of the deaths. The facility is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

More than 100 residents were evacuated from the nursing home, which is affiliated with the Larkin Community Hospital, on Sept. 13 after the facility’s air conditioning system failed.

Medical staff from Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, which is near the nursing home, described a chaotic scene of evacuating the patients from the nursing home after three came into the emergency room with “extraordinarily high temperatures.” Some of the patients who were admitted to the hospital had temperatures of upwards of 106 degrees, hospital officials told ABC News last month.

Nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo said in a statement shortly after the facility was evacuated in September that the home had suffered “a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane.”

“Facility administration is cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were affected,” he added.

In a later statement, Carballo said, “The center and its medical and administrative staff diligently prepared” for the hurricane.

“We took part in emergency management preparedness calls with local and state emergency officials, other nursing homes and health regulators,” he said. “While our center did not lose power during the storm, it did lose one transformer that powers the air conditioning unit. The center immediately contacted Florida Power & Light and continued to follow up with them for status updates on when repairs would be made. Outreach was also made to local emergency officials and first responders.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has vowed to hold those responsible for the deaths accountable.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Truck driver pleads guilty in human smuggling case that led to 10 deaths

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) — A man accused of transporting undocumented immigrants in a brutally hot tractor-trailer, resulting in the deaths of 10 people, has pleaded guilty to the federal charges against him.

James Matthew Bradley Jr., 61, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

The truck was discovered early July 23 in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas, by firefighters and police after a Walmart employee called late Saturday for a welfare check when someone asked the employee for water, officials said.

Eight people were found dead inside the tractor-trailer. Two additional people died later. Many experienced heat stroke and dehydration, officials said.

The tractor-trailer contained a total of 39 people but was believed to have held between 70 and 180 to 200 people during transport, according to the DOJ press release.

Conditions inside the tractor-trailer were “horrific,” according to officials. One undocumented immigrant who survived the ordeal told investigators that the driver ignored their banging from inside the container as they took turns breathing through a hole in the wall, according to a criminal complaint. Some people had trouble breathing and passed out, the man said.

Bradley initially told an officer at the scene that he was unaware of the tractor-trailer’s contents, according to the criminal complaint. Bradley told the officer “after he parked his tractor-trailer he exited the vehicle to urinate when he heard movement in the trailer. Bradley said he then went to the rear of the trailer and opened the door. Bradley stated he tried to administer aid to the occupants,” according to the complaint.

Temperatures inside the tractor-trailer are estimated to have reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, according to officials.

“Today’s admission of guilt by Mr. Bradley helps to close the door on one of the conspirators responsible for causing the tragic loss of life and wreaking havoc on those who survived this horrific incident,” Shane M. Folden, special agent in charge, Homeland Security Investigation, San Antonio, said in a statement. “This case is a glaring reminder that alien smugglers are driven by greed and have little regard for the health and well-being of their human cargo, which can prove to be a deadly combination. HSI is committed to aggressively targeting human smugglers and smuggling organizations, who continually victimize people for profit.”

Bradley faces up to life in federal prison, according to the press release. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 22.

Another man charged in connection with the smuggling operation, 47–year-old Pedro Silva Segura, an undocumented immigrant, faces a number of counts, including one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain resulting in death, one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy, and more. Silva Segura was arrested in Laredo, Texas, and is awaiting transfer to San Antonio. He has not yet entered a plea.

Attorneys for Bradley did not immediately comment on the guilty pleas.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

SPORTS NEWS

Oakland A’s respond to young fan’s heartbreaking letter after home destroyed in fires

Brandon Wade/Getty Images(SANTA ROSA, CA.) — A young Santa Rosa resident wrote an emotional letter to his favorite professional baseball team, the Oakland Athletics, after his home burned to the ground along with all of his favorite sports memorabilia.

Nine-year-old Loren Jaden Smith wrote to the team:

“I love watching your A’s games… I want to be an A’s player and I play at Mark West Little League in Santa Rosa. I played baseball in my backyard all day loving the A’s and making up my own game. In my backyard they won six World Series in a row. But my house burned down in the Santa Rosa fire and my saddest things were my baseball collection cards… my 17 jerseys and 10 hats and my baseball from the game and also a ball signed by the whole team and Rickey Henderson and Bob Melvin. I am 9-years-old and I had a major league baseball and it all burned up… so sad. I know you are not all together but hope they get this.”

ABC News affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco met Loren’s family in the wake of the wildfire and tweeted a photo of his letter to the Athletics and the team’s president, Dave Kaval.

“This is so touching. So sad to hear about their loss. We would be happy to completely outfit the family in new Athletics gear,” Kaval replied to the post.

“It breaks my heart just that he is not going to be back here screaming and yelling home runs that he hit over the fence with the whiffle ball to the neighbors,” the boy’s father Tait Smith, told KGO, referring to the yard of the family’s destroyed home.

Retired A’s pitcher Dan Haren reached out on Twitter offering to help the boy’s family.

A spokeswoman for the A’s said that a meeting between the family and the team has been set for later this week and will likely include a few surprises.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Packers star Aaron Rodgers breaks collar bone, may miss remainder of season

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke right collarbone during Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings after a hit by linebacker Anthony Barr.

In the first quarter of the game, Barr was chasing Rodgers as the quarterback was looking for a receiver. As Rodgers threw the ball, Barr hit him in the midsection driving him to the ground. Rodgers hit the ground on his throwing shoulder.

The team said Rodgers could miss the remainder of the season.

Backup quarterback Brett Hundley took over for Rodgers in the 23-10 loss. Green Bay is expected to promote Joe Callahan from the practice squad to serve as Hundley’s backup.

In 2013, Rodgers broke his left collarbone and missed seven starts. He is expected to miss the rest of this season because he broke the collarbone in his throwing arm.

In six games this season, Rodgers threw for 1,385 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Green Bay fell to 4-2 on the season.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 10/15/17

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

NATIONAL LEAGUE

L.A. Dodgers 4, Chi Cubs   1

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Vegas 3, Boston 1
Buffalo 3, Anaheim 1
L.A. Kings 3, N.Y. Islanders 2

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Washington 26, San Francisco 24
Chicago 27, Baltimore 24; OT
Houston 33, Cleveland 17
New Orleans 52, Detroit 38
Minnesota 23, Green Bay 10
Miami 20, Atlanta 17
New England 24, N.Y. Jets 17
Arizona 38, Tampa Bay 33
L.A. Rams 27, Jacksonville 17
Pittsburgh 19, Kansas City 13
L.A. Chargers 17, Oakland 16
 N.Y. Giants 23, Denver 10

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WORLD NEWS

Dozens of ISIS fighters killed after US strikes Yemen camps

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — About 50 ISIS fighters were killed in U.S. military airstrikes in Yemen targeting two training camps in the country’s central region. One of the camps had gained notoriety last week as the scene of an ISIS training video that showed images of ISIS recruits appearing to be kicked in the groin to demonstrate their physical toughness.

“U.S. forces killed dozens of ISIS members in a strike on two ISIS training camps, Oct. 16, in Al Bayda Governorate, Yemen, disrupting the organization’s attempts to train new fighters,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

“ISIS used the camps to train militants to conduct terror attacks using AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and endurance training,” it added.

A U.S. official said the American airstrikes were the first targeting ISIS in Yemen, a country better known as the home of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The U.S. military has conducted more than 100 airstrikes this year against AQAP, almost triple last year’s strikes. Carried out mostly by drones, the strikes are part of an increased effort to rein in the al Qaeda affiliate’s terror and territorial ambitions.

Both manned and unmanned aircraft were involved in Monday’s airstrikes against the two ISIS camps that were about 20 miles apart, said the U.S. official.

One of the camps earned notoriety last week in an ISIS propaganda video that showed a line of ISIS recruits seeming to be kicked in the crotch to demonstrate their mental and physical toughness.

Some local fighting groups in Yemen first aligned themselves with ISIS in 2014, the year that ISIS had its most significant territorial gains in Iraq and Syria.

“Strikes against ISIS targets disrupt and destroy militants’ attack-plotting efforts, leadership networks, and freedom of maneuver within the region,” said the Pentagon statement.

Yemen is involved in a civil war where military forces from Gulf allies have been fighting against Houthi rebels to restore Yemen’s government to power. That power vacuum led to a resurgence by AQAP and the emergence of ISIS in Yemen.

“ISIS has used the ungoverned spaces of Yemen to plot, direct, instigate, resource and recruit for attacks against America and its allies around the world,” said the Pentagon statement. “For years, Yemen has been a hub for terrorist recruiting, training and transit.”

The U.S. military coordinates with the Yemeni government to carry out counterterrorism operations in Yemen against ISIS and AQAP to prevent both groups from carrying out external terror attacks and limit the territory they control in Yemen.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Skies above the UK, France turn an eerie orange

Rob Ball/Getty Images(LONDON) — The skies above the United Kingdom and France glowed an eerie orange on Monday.

Winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia are thought to have blown dust from the Sahara to cause the surreal skies.

Photographers alternately described the color of the sky as red, orange, sepia and yellow-ochre.

Eurocontrol said it received an unusually high number of reports of cabin fumes in U.K. airspace.

Ophelia, now a storm, has killed at least three in Ireland.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Russian who says he helped meddle in US election studied hit show ‘House of Cards’

Mike Marsland/WireImage via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Russian “trolls” working for a company that allegedly used fake social-media accounts to try to influence U.S. voters in the 2016 election were required to watch the political thriller TV show “House of Cards” to increase their understanding of American politics, according to an interview broadcast in Russia.

In an interview aired Sunday by independent Russian station TV Rain, a man identified only as “Maksim” says he worked for the English-language department of a so-called “troll factory” that U.S. officials say was involved in an information campaign on American social media during the election.

Maksim, who said he worked for the company around 18 months and quit in early 2015, said his department was tasked with stirring up dissatisfaction against the U.S. government and harming the election chances of Democrat Hillary Clinton by writing in the comment sections of major American media outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. He said they tried to drive discussion toward specific topics, such as past alleged scandals around the former secretary of state and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

“About her it was always bad,” said Maksim, whose face was concealed during the broadcast. “The basic message was: ‘Aren’t you tired, my American brothers, of the Clintons?'”

He added that more broadly “our goal was to set Americans against their government … to provoke riots, to provoke dissatisfaction. There was a goal to influence opinion, to drive the discussion.”

The troll factory, located in an innocuous-looking building on the edge of St. Petersburg’s city center, first attracted wide notice after a 2015 article in The New York Times magazine said the company’s workers were pumping out pro-Kremlin messaging on social media and comment sections largely for a Russian-speaking audience. The article said the company has gone by different names but is best known as the Internet Research Agency.

Attention has focused on the company again since Facebook said last month that the Internet Research Agency spent $100,000 on U.S. political ads on the social network during the 2016 election.

Facebook handed over 3,000 ads it said purchased by the company to the Senate and House intelligence committees that are investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the election. The ads were purchased between June 2015 and May 2017, according to Facebook.

Maksim told TV Rain his department had been ordered to study American media to identify divisive topics. Employees were told to read through thousands of posts in the comments sections of U.S. news outlets before commenting themselves, Maksim said, with success measured in how many “likes” a post attracted from other users.

“You had to know all the basic problems of the United States of America. Tax problems, problems with the gays, sexual minorities, weapons,” he said. Inserting crude comments about homosexual men, he said, was viewed as a reliable technique for attracting “likes.”

Employees were required to watch “House of Cards” as a way to learn about American politics and to improve their English.

“At the beginning, they made us watch ‘House of Cards’ in English,” Maksim said.

He said he and others in his department were ordered not to refer to Russia in their posts or to try to promote Moscow’s viewpoint.

“We didn’t have the goal to turn Americans toward Russia,” he said. “You couldn’t mention Russia, nor Putin. Because Americans don’t talk about that. They basically don’t care about Russia and Putin.”

Maksim’s account follows reports from Facebook, an independent Russian journalist and comments from one of the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee about the Internet Research Agency.

Facebook told congressional investigators that the Internet Research Agency was especially busy during the U.S. 2016 campaign.

The social media giant’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said in a post on Facebook that most of the posts on his company’s network that appear to have been connected to Russia did not mention a specific presidential candidate or the election, but focused on “amplifying divisive social and political messages” on immigration, gun rights and LGBT issues.

Roger McNamee, a venture capitalist and early investor in Facebook, told ABC News the Russian effort may have started as merely an attempt to sow discontent, but as the campaign unfolded, he said it became clear the effort grew increasingly focused.

“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.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told ABC News last month that based on the Facebook ads he’d seen at that point it was clear the posts included divisive messages intended to “help one candidate and potentially hurt another.” He said the ads clearly appeared to be part of a broader effort that the U.S. intelligence community has determined was designed to aid Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton in the election.

Independent Russian journalist Lyudmila Savchuk, who worked for the Internet Research Agency in 2015 to expose what the factory was doing, told ABC News that young Russians posed as Americans online, working 12-hour shifts at the company’s headquarters posting comments on U.S. political issues selected by their bosses. Facebook, she said, was one of their primary platforms.

“’Troll factory’ is a very appropriate name for it because it really is a large-scale production that works around the clock, and they don’t take time off for holidays, lunch nor sleep,” she said. “A huge quantity of content is being produced.”

Maksim said in the Russian TV interview that when people in his department commented on U.S. news sites, they would use VPNs — virtual private networks — that disguise a computer’s real location. Those employees who failed to conceal themselves were punished, he said.

TV Rain said that Maksim had shown the station a document certifying his employment for Internet Research Agency as proof he had worked there.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Win 2 tickets to the SNM State Fair

The 101 number one song of the day was recorded by the only American to have a number one hit in Great Britain during a 68 week period that began August 8th 1963 through June 25th 1964. And he did it twice. Today’s featured single goes back to a comment by his songwriting partner. read more…

Win 2 SNM State Fair tickets

Today’s 101 #1 Song of the Day had a groundbreaking video that was the first to be played on MTV Europe when it debuted in August of 1987 and it was controversial for some of the lyrics which the writer says were inspired by a worker in the hardware dept. of an appliance store. read more…

Win 2 WWE Live tickets

Today’s 101 #1 Song of the Day was co-written and performed by the former lead singer of two popular British bands – one in the 70’s and one in the 80’s considered a supergroup but it was as a solo act in between that he’d hit the number one spot first. read more…

Win 2 WWE Live tickets

The 101 Number One Song of the Day was co-written by John Lennon but not with Paul McCartney. It was the product of a former mime who changed his birth name so he wouldn’t be confused with one of the Monkees.  read more…

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This