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iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- In ongoing standoff following a referendum for an independent state separate from Iraq, Kurds in northwestern Iraq have suffered significant losses, including areas that supply much of the region's revenue.

Iraqi Kurds lost another major territory on Tuesday to Baghdad, surrendering the town of Sinjar -- one day after losing the oil-rich Kirkuk.

Kurdish troops, known as the Peshmerga, abandoned the town to the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iran-backed and predominantly Shia militia coalition that operates as part of the Iraqi security apparatus.

Iraqi forces have continued their advance on Peshmerga positions in disputed territories, exactly one year after the now-warring sides jointly launched the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS, backed by the United States.

The current confrontation between Iraqis and Kurds was spurred on by an independence referendum that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held in defiance of the government in Baghdad and against the advice of the international community.

Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and his ruling KDP party were determined to begin movement toward the long hoped-for Kurdish independence.

Instead, “KDP hubris has generated the greatest Kurdish setback since 2003” according to Emile Hokayem, senior fellow for Middle East security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, Colonel Dillon, told reporters on Tuesday that the current standoff is “distracting” from the war against ISIS.

But the losses for the Kurds, who have been reliable U.S. partners in the fight against ISIS, in these days of conflict have been substantial. Losing Kirkuk, which is responsible for 13 percent of Iraq’s oil production, is existential for Kurds; the KRG has barely any revenue without it.

Late Iraqi President and leading Kurdish politician Jalal Tabalani once referred to Kirkuk as their "Jerusalem." Yet military forces loyal to Tabalani's son and heir cut a deal with Baghdad and withdrew from their positions in the disputed city and nearby oilfields and airbase, facilitating an almost bloodless Iraqi takeover.

The United States has made brief statements calling for restraint, after it downplayed Kurdish warnings last week of an imminent attack by Iraqi forces. At a press conference on Monday, President Trump said, "The United States won’t take sides."

“Essentially, the United States has decided that supporting Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi and safeguarding him against more pro-Iran competitors in the upcoming Iraqi election is more important than the Kurds right now,” according to Dr. Renad Mansour, an Iraq research fellow at The Royal Institute for International Affairs in London, an independent think tank also known as Chatham House.

The General Command of Peshmerga Forces accused a special force unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of being part of the military operation in Kirkuk. President Trump had announced on October 13 that the United States was imposing new sanctions on the IRGC.

Forces loyal to Barzani surrendered Sinjar Tuesday, a town in north-western Iraq the Peshmerga took control of in 2014 after ISIS attacked and sexually enslaved its population, a minority known as the Yazidis. At the time, Barzani vowed never to leave.

They also retreated from the Bai Hasan and Avana oilfields north-west of Kirkuk, two crucial revenue sources for the KRG.

Two days after the Kurdish independence referendum was held, one of the demands made by the Iraqi Parliament to avoid a military escalation was that those oilfields and disputed territories be surrendered. At the time, Barzani's only public compromise was to call for dialogue.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. government has indicted two Chinese nationals for allegedly manufacturing and shipping illegal cocktails of the drug fentanyl into the United States, which authorities said has contributed to a national crisis with an "extraordinary death toll."

Xiaobing Yan, 40, and Jian Zhang, 38, both of China, were indicted in separate cases in recent weeks, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

The move represents the first time U.S. authorities have filed charges against major fentanyl traffickers based in China, where authorities believe the vast majority of illegal fentanyl is being made or otherwise sourced.

"[It's] an extraordinary epidemic and crisis that has been building for some time," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas in an exclusive one-on-one interview.

In the United States last year, a third of all fatal drug overdoses came from fentanyl alone -- 20,000 of the 64,000 fatal drug overdoses in total.

One Nation, Overdosed: Snapshots of Americans struggling under the opioid crisis

"The fentanyl that we see in the United States is believed to all be coming in some way from China. In some cases it's manufactured in China and then shipped, either through the mail or through other countries to the United States. In other instances the precursor chemicals come from China, and the fentanyl is manufactured in Mexico, for example."

Yan allegedly used different company names online to sell fentanyl and similar drugs directly to customers across the United States, and he even tracked changes to U.S. drug laws so he could tweak his recipe and evade U.S. law enforcement.

"Chemists can make just a slight modification so that the new version is not identical to the previous version" and is therefore not banned by current U.S. law, Rosenstein told ABC News.

Yan faces federal charges in Mississippi.

Zhang allegedly ran a network of labs in China that manufactured fentanyl and sold the drug online. He and eight others -- five Canadian citizens, two residents of Florida, and a resident of New Jersey – have been indicted by a federal grand jury in North Dakota for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in the United States and other drug-related conspiracies. Zhang allegedly sent thousands of packaged to U.S. customers since 2013.

Rosenstein warned that those buying fentanyl have little way of knowing what they’re truly getting, and "just a few grains of pure fentanyl can actually case death."

The acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Robert Patterson, said that while "overdose deaths are at catastrophic levels [I] challenge all of us to look beyond the statistics."

"Instead, focus on the individuals behind those numbers," he said at a press conference in Washington. "Part of the solution related to this unnecessary loss of life has to come from discussions, which can be difficult and uncomfortable. Each one of these deaths impacts real people, from the immediate victim to all those whose lives they've touched."

Chinese authorities have been assisting the Justice Department in their investigations, but U.S. investigators have faced challenges because the ingredients used to make fentanyl are not necessarily illegal in China, according to Rosenstein.

"The situation now is that some of these labs operate legally in China, but they're violating U.S. law when they ship it here," he told ABC News. "We’re hoping that [China] will step up now that we’ve demonstrated that Chinese nationals are [distributing] this poison and causing deaths in the United States."

Chinese authorities, however, have apparently not taken Yan or Zhang into custody.

"We don't know exactly what the Chinese are going to do," Rosenstein said, noting that the United States does not have an extradition treaty with China. "They might be willing to hold them accountable there ... so we’re going to share the evidence with them."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI is helping authorities in Malta investigate a car bomb that killed a journalist who exposed the nation's ties to offshore tax havens through the leaked Panama Papers.

Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was reportedly killed Monday as she drove away from her home near Mosta, on Malta's main island, according to the BBC.

U.S. Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned Galizia's death as "appalling violence in the strongest terms possible" in a press briefing Tuesday.

Nauert called for a "thorough, transparent" investigation, saying that the FBI is providing "specific assistance as needed" at the request of Maltese authorities.

Muscat described Galizia's death as a "barbaric attack" and a "political murder," as well as an assault on freedom of expression.

Galizia was "was one of my harshest critics, on a political and personal level," Muscat said. Galizia wrote that Muscat's wife, along with the country's energy minister and the government's chief of staff, had offshore holdings in Panama to receive money from Azerbaijan, according to the AP. Muscat and his wife denied that they had companies in Panama.

Thousands of people gathered in Sliema Monday night for a candlelight vigil in tribute to Galizia.

The slain journalist had been a columnist for The Malta Independent for more than 20 years and also wrote a blog called the "Running Commentary." She is survived by her husband and three sons.

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Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images(VIENNA) -- On Sunday, Austria’s center-right People’s Party (ÖVP) won the parliamentary elections, putting its 31-year-old leader Sebastian Kurz on a track to become Chancellor of Austria and Europe’s youngest national leader.

Kurz, dubbed “wunderwuzzi” meaning “wonderkid,” called for a snap election back in May and announced his candidacy for chancellor in June in a bold gamble that he won when voters handed his party about 32 percent of the vote.

He currently serves as the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration, a position he was appointed to in 2013 at the age of 27 -- the youngest to hold the post in Europe.

As Foreign Minister, Kurz hosted a conference on nuclear weapons in 2014 and later hosted the talks that lead to the Iran nuclear deal, signed in Vienna in 2015. The year before, he invited 30 foreign ministers to Vienna to negotiate solutions to the Ukraine crisis.

Domestically, he has introduced and supported policies that lean more right-wing than center-right, politically.

In January, he called for a ban on the Islamic headscarf for school teachers and other public servants in Austria. He was also one of the decision-makers behind legislation that banned full face veils such as the burqa in public places in Austria. The ban came into effect earlier this month and Kurz vowed that it would be strictly enforced. In August last year, he told The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, ORF, that the full body veil is "hindering integration" and that it is "not a religious symbol, but a symbol for a counter-society."

He has also criticized Austria’s large neighbor Germany for its “open-door policy” that has welcomed a million refugees from Syria and Iraq since 2015. Kurz went in the opposite direction of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying that Austria couldn’t take anymore migrants and that he was prepared to send troops to the Balkans to close the border. Kurz claims that he has reduced migration to Europe by taking the initiative to close the Balkan migration route, shut last year.

Some criticize Kurz for mimicking the policies of Austria’s extreme-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), despite his leadership in what is billed as a more centrist party, while others praise him, arguing that his tough stance on migration appeals to voters and reduces the actual power of the radical right.

Before Kurz took over leadership of his party in May, polls predicted that the Freedom Party could win the election. In Sunday’s election, the Freedom Party’s vote share increased, but they came third with about 26 percent of the vote.

“By election day, the FPÖ had faded to the background behind the ÖVP’s charismatic new leader,” wrote Alex Jarman, a Fulbright-Schuman fellow in the Institutions Unit at the Centre for European Policy Studies, in an analysis published by the London School of Economics. In the same analysis, Jarman argued that Kurz' strategies may work in the short-term to stop the far-right from dominating Austria’s politics, but that Merkel’s approach in Germany will work better in the long-term.

Austria’s electoral system makes it difficult for a party to gain a majority on its own, which is the case for Kurz’ People’s Party that will need to form a coalition to govern the country. Kurz will likely attempt to form a coalition with the Freedom Party, by some to make a lot of demands rather than act as a friendly partner.

“Kurz’s actions do not address the underlying factors fueling radical right-wing populism in Austria," Jarman wrote. "While Kurz has reduced the FPÖ’s prominence in the short term, he has also brought radical right-wing populist ideas into the mainstream of Austrian politics. This action will not easily be undone, and future populists will be able to take advantage of it to bring more instability to Austrian politics."

The contrast between Kurz' tactics with Austria and recent policies in Germany, he added, will likely result in different long-term outcomes.

"Germany, meanwhile, has taken the opposite approach," Jarman said. "It faces greater risks from radical right-wing populists in the short term, but is less likely to see a long-term populist impact on its political system."

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blog.x.company(QUEANBEYAN, Australia) -- X, the organization known as Google's "moonshot factory," announced Monday that is using drone technology to deliver burritos and over-the-counter medicines to rural communities in Australia.

Project Wing said is working in collaboration with communities and business partners in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales to test out drone deliveries to rural communities, James Ryan Burgess, the co-lead of the project, wrote on X's company blog.

In the blog post, Burgess wrote that Project X has partnered with Guzman y Gomez, a Mexican food chain, and Chemist Warehouse, a pharmacy chain, for deliveries to rural areas where people "face a 40-minute round trip in the car for almost anything.”

“Almost all said that they’d value having medicine delivered to their door, especially when they’re unwell,” wrote Burgess.

Some of those who have received burritos so far include alpaca farmers, artists, young families and retirees, Project Wing said, and they are listening to customers' comments on how to make the technology better.

One of the challenges that Project Wing said it faces in delivering straight to people's homes is customizing where the goods are dropped -- the drones must navigate trees and other objects to get to the right spot in people's yards. The solution, Burgess wrote, is developing algorithms that will allow the company to make safer deliveries.

“We’re grateful to the communities in the ACT and Queanbeyan regions who’ve let us into their yards, so we can learn even more about building a delivery network ready to fly in the open skies,” wrote Burgess.

Project Wing has made successful drone deliveries already, like last year's Chipotle deliveries to Virginia Tech students.

X, Guzman y Gomez and Chemist Warehouse have not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

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iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Prince William and Duchess Kate have announced their third child is due in April 2018.

The new baby will join the couple's older children, Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to confirm they are expecting a baby in April 2018," Kensington Palace said in a statement Tuesday.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to confirm they are expecting a baby in April 2018. pic.twitter.com/jOzB1TJMof

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 17, 2017

William and Kate, both 35, have not yet announced where Kate will give birth, but it is expected she will use the same hospital as with her previous deliveries. Both George and Charlotte were born at the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in London.

Kensington Palace announced Kate's pregnancy on Sept. 4 when she was forced to cancel a planned engagement as a result of hyperemesis gravidarum. Kate also missed George's first day of school a few days later.

Kate has gradually added royal engagements back to her schedule as she feels up to it.

On Monday, Kate made a surprise appearance alongside William and Prince Harry at a children's charity event. Kate, sporting a new hair style, danced with Paddington Bear on the platform of Paddington Station in London.

"Her condition is improved, but the duchess does continue to be affected by hyperemesis gravidarum," a royal aide told ABC News Monday. "She is making decisions day to day but is keen to do as much as she can."

Kate also attended a Buckingham Palace reception on Oct. 10 to mark World Mental Health Day.

William and Kate were scheduled to go on a royal tour of Scandinavia later this fall. Kensington Palace announced today that instead William will visit Finland alone in November, a trip he will make at the request of the U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Kate will join William on an official visit to Norway and Sweden in early 2018, according to Kensington Palace.

Earlier this year, William and Kate visited Poland and Germany with their children as part of a "Brexit" charm offensive as the U.K. negotiates its withdrawal from the European Union.

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ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- This week Beijing marks the opening of China’s most important political event: the 19th Communist Party Congress. This gathering, held every five years, brings together China’s top Communist Party members and the country's top leaders. It is the Super Bowl of Chinese politics, if the the Super Bowl is played largely behind closed doors.

Presiding over the proceedings is Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Communist Party - a title that is more influential domestically than the "president" title he is associated with abroad.

Xi's unprecedented and ruthless anti-corruption campaign affected over 1.3 million officials, and he holds unquestionable sway over his party. He has strengthened the Communist Party’s influence in the Chinese government to an extent not seen in almost 40 years.

Xi is all but certain to be nominated by his fellow members for a second five-year term, consolidating his position as the most powerful Chinese leader in generations. He joins the pantheon of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

What is the Party Congress?

The Communist Party technically provides guidance and direction to China’s government: the State Council. The party uses these gatherings to discuss and approve the party’s long-term goals as well appoint top leadership. This is the 19th nation-wide Congress held by the Chinese Communist Party since its founding in 1921.

The gathering has been used in recent history to reshuffle and announce the party’s leadership transition. More than 2,000 party members will meet to elect 205 of its members to the Central Committee and at least 11 new members into the 25-seat Politburo. Party members will also decide who gets to a seat in the inner sanctum of party power: the Politburo Standing Committee. This is the top decision-making body in China and is made up of five to nine members.

For example, after much of his adult life in local-level politics, Xi Jinping was first elevated on to the national stage at the 16th Party Congress in 2002 and then elected into the Standing Committee in 2007 during the 17th Party Congress, marking him a next generation top leader. Then at the 18th Party Congress, he successfully rose to the top in an opaque jockeying process. 2012 was famously known as one of the most tumultuous years in party politics, but you would have hardly known observing from the outside.

What to expect this week

Xi will open the Congress in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People with a "work report" - a speech recapping the achievements of the party under his leadership over the past five years. He will also lay out out his vision and priorities for the next five years and possibly beyond. Then much of the proceeding will retreat behind closed doors. The party is expected to amend its charter to include Xi Jinping by name, alongside Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, who opened up China’s economy, enshrining Xi’s place in history.

The Party Congress will run from Oct. 18 to Oct. 24. The "main event" for China watchers will likely take place on the morning of Oct. 25: the lineup of the Politburo Standing Committee. Members of the committee will be unveiled to the public one by one, in the order of seniority, starting with Xi and then followed, most likely but not certain, by current Premier Li Keqiang. Only Xi’s place is secure.

Will Xi elevate a potential successor?

Xi was seen as the next leader-in-waiting exactly 10 years ago. Will he do the same for an appointed successor? If, by the end of the Congress, there is no clear rising star among the ranks of the Standing Committee, it may signal that Xi intends on staying beyond the unofficial retirement age of 68. Xi will be 69 at the next Party Congress in 2022.

Will Wang Qishan stay on?

Wang is a current member of the Standing Committee, Xi’s longtime friend, and most importantly, Xi’s anti-corruption czar who spearheaded his relentless campaign. Wang is 69 years old and beyond the unofficial retirement age for a Chinese official Because it’s unofficial, Xi could opt to break this rule and thus pave a precedent for himself in 2022.

Where will Xi take China?

If Xi’s first term was about consolidating power within the party and instituting an aggressive and active foreign policy, where will he take the country once he’s got his allies on board? When Xi came to power, it was hoped that he would tackle much needed economic and social reforms in the face of a slowing and changing Chinese economy. That, however, has taken backseat to Xi’s power grab. The stewardship of Chinese economy is seen as Xi’s most pressing challenge in his second term. It will underpin the very legitimacy of the party and no amount of nationalistic fervor can distract from that for very long.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sadak Mohamed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two powerful truck bombs in the heart of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Saturday killed at least 300 people and injured about 300 more, in what authorities call the deadliest attack in the country’s history.

Funerals have begun for the killed who have been found. But the death toll from the attacks is expected to rise, as rescue workers continue attempts to pull victims from the rubble.

The government has blamed the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Shabab group for the attacks, but the extremist group has not yet commented.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo announced three days of mourning for the victims and said flags will be flown at half-mast. The Minister of Information, Abdirahman O. Osman called the attack barbaric and said that officials from Turkey and Djibouti have arrived in Mogadishu to provide support for the victims and that more than 30 injured people were flown to Turkey for treatment.

over 30 injured people were flown to Turkey to receive medical assistance. Thanks to Turkey for it is readiness as always to assist #Somalia. Turkey won the hearts and minds of Somali people pic.twitter.com/aa7uI2I8x5

— Abdirahman O. Osman (@engyarisow) October 16, 2017

Hospitals are overextended and struggling to treat victims, many of whom sustained severe burn injuries. Volunteers have been providing first aid and have transferred many wounded to nearby medical points.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said on Sunday that he was “sickened” by the attack, which took place on a crowded street, and sent condolences to the victims.

Sickened by attacks in Mogadishu. I send condolences to the victims and urge unity in the face of terrorism and violent extremism.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) October 15, 2017

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating, said an “unprecedented” number of civilians had been killed.

“I am shocked and appalled by the number of lives that were lost in the bombings and the scale of destruction they caused,” he said in a statement “The perpetrators struck a densely populated neighborhood of Mogadishu. They have killed an unprecedented number of civilians. It is a revolting attack both in terms of its intent and impact.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said that the attacks were a reminder of the toll the armed conflict in Somalia has had on civilians.

"Thousands of civilians lose their life in Somalia every year as a direct consequence of the ongoing conflict," said Jordi Raich, ICRC's Head of Delegation, in a statement.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia pummeled Ireland Monday, leaving at least three people dead in storm-related accidents, Ireland's National Police said.

A woman in her 50s was killed when a tree fell on her car as she was driving. Another woman in her 70s who was a passenger in the car was injured. A man was also killed after a tree struck his car. And, a third person died in an incident related to the storm when he suffered a serious injury from a chainsaw as he was clearing a fallen tree, police said.

The Irish Meteorological Service reported wind gusts off the south coast of Ireland as high as 109 mph and said the wind was taking down trees. It said that the storm is expected to bring further "violent and destructive" wind as well as flooding from heavy rain and storm surges to Ireland. Ophelia is likely to be the most powerful storm to hit Ireland since Hurricane Debbie in 1961, forecasters said. Ireland closed schools and hospitals ahead of Ophelia, placed troops on standby and warned people to stay inside. The government said that schools will remain closed Tuesday. More than 350,000 homes and businesses are already without power.

The very strong winds will probably extend to parts of northern England along with some southern and central parts of Scotland in the evening, the U.K.'s meteorological service said.

The Met Office issued an amber weather warning for Northern Ireland from 12:00 p.m. -- 11:00 p.m. GMT Monday, saying power cuts are likely and that cancellations and longer journey times are to be expected as some bridges might close while road, rail, air and ferry services might be affected.

Ophelia is technically no longer a hurricane, but will still pack hurricane-level wind gusts while passing over Ireland before likely crossing over to Northern Ireland.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said residents should avoid "unnecessary travel or other outdoor activities." The U.S.-based disaster modeler Enki Research said Ophelia's could cause up to $1.5 billion in damages in Ireland and up to $2.5 billion overall in the British Isles.

 

Public safety is our key concern today. Advice is to stay at home, no unnecessary travel or other outdoor activities. Further updates later.

— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) October 16, 2017

 

“By the time Ophelia reaches our latitudes, she will be weakening and will be an ex-hurricane,” said Steve Ramsdale, chief forecaster at the Met Office in the U.K,, in a statement. “However, Ex-Ophelia will be bringing some significant impacts to Northern Ireland and western and northern Britain on Monday and Tuesday.”

The powerful winds will probably extend to parts of northern England and some southern and central parts of Scotland in the evening as winds turn more to the southwest, said the Met Office. Heavy rain is also possible in Northern Ireland and western Scotland. The rest of the U.K. will see breezy weather, but the wind is not expected to bring widespread disruption there, the Met Office said.

 

Latest model guidance for #Ophelia at 9am
Check @MetEireann for further updates pic.twitter.com/FGbFdXNOEh

— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) October 16, 2017

 

Matt Crofts, a lifesaving manager with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a British charity that aims to rescue those at risk of drowning, warned people from going out to watch the big waves.

“Stormy conditions may be tempting to watch but big waves can easily knock you off your feet,” he said in a statement. “The sea is far more powerful than you think and your chances of survival are slim if you are dragged into the swell. Our volunteer lifeboat crews will always launch to rescue those in danger at sea, but to launch into conditions like these could also put their lives at risk.”

In the U.K., media have compared Ophelia to the Great Storm of 1987, which hit the country exactly 30 years ago and killed 22 people.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Rescued Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle said his children are "improving" after spending their entire life being help captive in the mountains of Afghanistan.

“The children are improving, we mentioned before that the eldest Najaeshi Jonah was doing well but that his younger brother Dhakwoen Noah was still struggling as much as ever with even just being able to look at his grandparents faces without terror,” Boyle told CP24 in an emailed statement last week.

Boyle arrived in Toronto with his wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children on Friday after being held hostage for five years by a Taliban-affiliated terrorist network. The family was rescued in Pakistan on Wednesday in a dramatic operation orchestrated by the U.S. and Pakistani governments, officials said last week.

He said Dhakwoen was initially afraid of his grandparents, but he warmed up to them “literally overnight” after his grandmother made him a hearty pancake breakfast.

“Obviously he's still incredibly troubled and stressed over everything, but it's a major step,” Boyle said, speaking of Dhakwoen’s newfound love for his grandma. “She's the first person he's accepted since 2015.”

He said his daughter, Ma'idah, still finds it hard to be around other men.

“She still can't be within a metre of any man except her father but if she sees a woman she starts squirming and trying to get over to her, regardless of who it is — to nestle in the love,” Boyle said.

Boyle and his wife, who was pregnant with their first child at the time, were kidnaped while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan in October 2012.

The couple had four children while in captivity, but Boyle said their fourth child, an infant daughter, was murdered by their abductors. The Taliban has denied those claims.

Boyle said the family is currently living with his parents in Smiths Falls, Ont., located about an hour south of Ottawa, which he his children's "first true home."

"We have reached the first true “home” that the children have ever known – after they spent most of Friday asking if each subsequent airport was our new house hopefully," Boyle said in a separate statement on Saturday.

"Full medical work-ups for each member of my family are being arranged right now, and God-willing the healing process – physically and mentally can begin," he added.

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KSTP.com(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- A Minnesota father of three was one of more than 270 people who were killed in Somalia over the weekend when a pair of truck bombs went off in the country's capital, his family said. Authorities are calling it the deadliest terrorist attack in the nation’s history.

The attack left 276 people dead and around 300 others injured, the country's information minister, Abdirahman Osman, said late Sunday. The death toll is expected to rise.

Fifty-year-old Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow arrived in his hometown of Mogadishu just hours before the deadly bomb went off, according to his family. He was resting in his hotel room when the blast struck, destroying the hotel and many other buildings in the surrounding area.

"We miss him so much,” Eyow's widow, Ruun Abdi Eyow, said at a press conference on Sunday. "I want people to know that he was a great father. He has two jobs, and my husband works very hard."

Born in Somalia, Eyow became a refugee when he fled the East African nation after its government collapsed in 1991, according to his mosque. He eventually settled in Minnesota in 1998.

"Ahmed was one of our most effective and active community members in our center," Mohamed Omar, executive director of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center, said at the news conference on Sunday.

Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow leaves behind three children: Yonis, 14; Yusra, 13; and Yahya, 10.

Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow left for Somalia on Oct. 7 “with great hope, looking forward to a chance to make a difference in his home country,” according to the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., where Eyow attended daily prayer services.

“He was working as a welder but longed to return to his homeland of Somalia,” the center said in a statement on Sunday. “He thought that he could help bring back stability to Somalia by applying for a job as a representative with the UN.”

The Islamic center has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the Eyow family.

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iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Harvey Weinstein is facing new sexual assault allegations that could lead to criminal charges in London.

Police in London are investigating claims against the movie mogul that go back more than 20 years, ABC News has learned.  Metropolitan Police confirmed at least three alleged victims have come forward, but they would not confirm Weinstein's involvement nor the women's names.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Lysette Anthony, a British actress and soap opera star, said she told police she was raped by the Miramax co-founder in the late 1980's and reportedly gave evidence to officials last week.

There is no statute of limitations for sex crimes and other serious cases in the U.K.  In the U.S., the law varies by state. The state of New York does not have a statute of limitations for rape claims and the New York Police Department said it is conducting a review of incidents related to Weinstein.

More than 35 women have have accused Weinstein of sexual harrassment or assault.  In a previous statement to the New Yorker, Weinstein denied "any allegations of non-consensual sex."


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