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October 12, 2017

Even the short-lived fervor over the cell phone game Pokémon Go was used as a tool by Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential election, a new report by CNN has found.

A Russian-linked account masquerading as a Black Lives Matter activist group called Don't Shoot Us apparently had the "dual goal of galvanizing African-Americans to protest and encouraging other Americans to view black activism as a rising threat," CNN reports. In addition to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts (all of which are now suspended), Don't Shoot Us carried out its agenda by way of a Pokémon Go contest in which followers could allegedly win Amazon gift cards by training Pokémon near locations where police brutality took place.

"A post promoting the contest showed a Pokémon named 'Eric Garner,' for the African-American man who died after being put in a chokehold by a New York Police Department officer," CNN writes, adding:

It's unclear what the people behind the contest hoped to accomplish, though it may have been to remind people living near places where these incidents had taken place of what had happened and to upset or anger them.

CNN has not found any evidence that any Pokémon Go users attempted to enter the contest, or whether any of the Amazon Gift Cards that were promised were ever awarded — or, indeed, whether the people who designed the contest ever had any intention of awarding the prizes. [CNN]

Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all reported that their platforms were used by Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential campaign. "It's clear from the images shared with us by CNN that our game assets were appropriated and misused in promotions by third parties without our permission," added Niantic, the company that made Pokémon Go.

Don't Shoot Us remains active on YouTube and Tumblr, where it now reportedly posts about Palestine. Jeva Lange

8:13 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is calling on the White House to "end the cruel, tragic separation of families" at the border, saying the policy is "not consistent with our values."

In a statement released Monday evening, Murkowski said that the "thousands of children taken from their parents and families must be reunited as quickly as possible and be treated humanely while immigration proceedings are pending." There is no need for a "policy designed to separate families, particularly mothers with young children, without a clear process and focus on the needs of the children," she added. "To blame previous administrations for a wrong committed today is not acceptable."

Murkowski is also "troubled that those seeking asylum are being turned away before they even have the opportunity to file their papers." If Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen can't "fix this and fast," she said, "we in Congress must." Catherine Garcia

7:27 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

By passing the National Defense Authorization Act on Monday evening, the Senate voted to reimpose the ban on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE.

The defense spending bill was passed by a vote of 85-10, and must still be reconciled with the House version. U.S. lawmakers consider ZTE a national security threat, and are concerned that its equipment could be used to spy on the U.S. and carry out cyberattacks. In April, the Commerce Department enacted a seven-year-ban on American companies doing business with ZTE, but President Trump in May tweeted that he was working to keep ZTE afloat because "too many jobs in China" were being lost.

A provision of the National Defense Authorization Act would prohibit the U.S. government from buying or subsidizing equipment from ZTE and another Chinese telecom company, Huawei, among other penalties. Catherine Garcia

6:49 p.m. ET
Miami Dade County Corrections via Getty Images

Rapper XXXTentacion was shot and killed Monday afternoon outside of a motorcycle dealership in South Florida. He was 20.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office confirmed XXXTentacion's death. Witnesses said the rapper, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, was leaving the dealership when a gunman ran up to his vehicle and shot him.

XXXTentacion's second album, ?, was released in March and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. He had been under house arrest while awaiting trial for domestic violence, but a judge let him out so he could go on tour, TMZ reports. Catherine Garcia

5:36 p.m. ET

The horrors of the Trump administration's decision to separate immigrant families at the border can be hard to fathom, even as images and descriptions of the detention facilities circulate the web. On Monday, ProPublica published alarming audio from a facility where children had just been separated from their parents, illustrating the trauma and desperation inflicted by the practice.

In the excruciating recording, children sob and wail for their parents, begging to contact their family members and desperately trying to figure out what's going to happen to them. ProPublica reports that the children are between 4 and 10 years old, and were only separated from their parents for about 24 hours at the time of the audio, which was recorded last week. As many as 30,000 children could be detained by August if the Trump administration continues to separate families at its current pace, a senior administration official said.

The "zero tolerance" policy announced in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions has led to hundreds of children being held in facilities where they spend most of the day in cages awaiting placement with temporary foster families or to be picked up by a family member who is legally authorized to live in the U.S.

It's a difficult listen, but the recording demonstrates just how painful these separations are for children and families fleeing violence and instability in their home countries. Listen to the devastating audio below, via ProPublica. Summer Meza

4:51 p.m. ET
JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images

Big news for Waterloo fans.

No, the second Mamma Mia! movie was not leaked a month early. Napoleon's famous hat from his just-as-famous losing battle was sold at auction for the equivalent of $325,000 Monday, exactly 203 years after his crushing surrender, BBC reports.

It's a small price to pay to emulate the French style icon, whose bicorne hat elongated his actually-not-short stature and made sure he could be seen in battle. This hat is one of only 19 in existence, though Napoleon owned about 120 until he was exiled, per BBC. One from the Battle of Marengo sold for around $2.2 million in 2014, yet this Waterloo exclusive was only expected to fetch around $46,000.

Why you wouldn't pay at least as much just to make ABBA references is a mystery. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:24 p.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Times is locally owned for the first time in nearly 20 years, after Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong took ownership of the newspaper Monday, reports CNN Money.

Soon-Shiong acquired the Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and the rest of the California News Group from Tronc for $500 million, telling employees in a memo that he hopes to make the Times competitive with The New York Times and The Washington Post. "I've not gone into this transaction from a financial basis at all," he wrote. "There's an opportunity to make a major impact on the nation."

In his optimistic note, Soon-Shiong told Times employees that he considered "fake news" to be "a cancer of our times," and forecasted positive growth for the paper because of his dedication to "the essential role of journalism."

The Times was previously owned by Tronc, the Chicago-based newspaper group, but the company announced its intention to sell the Los Angeles paper back in February. Soon-Shiong is a surgeon and part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, and he has also expressed interest in buying other regional papers around the country like the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, and the New York Daily News, reports NPR. Read more at CNN Money. Summer Meza

4:16 p.m. ET

England was looking to settle for a 1-1 draw with Tunisia, the top-ranked African team, on Monday in the World Cup group stage. But instead, Tottenham striker Harry Kane headed Harry Maguire's corner kick past Tunisia's Farouk Ben Mustapha in the first minute of stoppage time, ending the match 2-1.

Kane was also responsible for England's first goal in the 11th minute, and Tunisia's Ferjani Sassi scored the equalizing goal on a penalty in the 33rd minute. With his stoppage-time goal, Kane became the first English player since Gary Lineker in 1990 to score multiple goals in a World Cup game, ESPN reports.

The win gives England an important 3 points, with the Three Lions next facing Group G rival Panama on June 24. Jeva Lange

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