Tulsi Gabbard announces she is leaving Democratic Party, calling it an ‘elitist cabal of war mongers’

ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced on Tuesday she is leaving the Democratic Party, denouncing it as an “elitist cabal of war mongers,” while calling upon other “common sense independent minded Democrats” to exit with her.

“I can no longer remain in today’s Democratic Party that is now under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness, who divide us by racializing every issue & stoke anti-white racism, actively work to undermine our God-given freedoms, are hostile to people of faith & spirituality, demonize the police & protect criminals at the expense of law-abiding Americans, believe in open borders, weaponize the national security state to go after political opponents, and above all, dragging us ever closer to nuclear war,” Gabbard said on Twitter.

Gabbard represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District from 2013 to 2021 as a Democrat, and in 2020 she mounted an unsuccessful bid for the party’s presidential nomination. In in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday, she claimed that the party she’s exiting stands for the “powerful elite,” not the people.

“If you can no longer stomach the direction that the so called woke Democratic Party ideologues are taking our country. I invite you to join me,” she said.

Gabbard paired her announcement with the launch of a podcast series on YouTube called “The Tulsi Gabbard Show.” The first upload is a 28-minute episode titled “Why I’m leaving the Democratic Party,” where she details her entrance into the Democratic party as a young person, “inspired by Democrats who stood up against the war in Vietnam” and those who stood up for plantation workers in Hawaii.

Chief among the reasons her 20-year stint as a member of the Democratic Party will be cut short, she said, is her fear that “President Biden and Democratic Party elites have pushed us to the precipice of nuclear war, risking starting World War III and destroying the world as we know it.”

Gabbard said that her entrance into the 2020 presidential cycle was also because of imminent “nuclear holocaust.”

“I ran for president in 2020 because I knew that this is where we were headed. All the signs were there. I raised this issue every single day during the campaign and on the national debate stage for those of you who may have come to a town hall or who were watching, I’m sure you noticed, but the politicians and the media completely ignored it,” she said.

In her announcement and throughout the episode, Gabbard touted a number of traditionally conservative talking points, repeating right-wing rhetoric like “wokeness” and “elites,” and harkening back to phrasing top GOP leaders have regularly circulated.

She accused Democrats for turning American democracy into “a banana republic” — a term widely imparted by Republican leaders, especially to characterize the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August.

“The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves. Now the Regime is getting another 87k IRS agents to wield against its adversaries? Banana Republic,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote after the raid.

Gabbard has long been a Fox News contributor — she even guest-hosted Tucker Carlson Tonight in August, following the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago.

“Now, whatever your views are on Donald Trump, there’s no denying that the unprecedented raid on his Palm Beach home earlier this week has set our country on a dangerous new course, and there’s no turning back,” she said on the show.

Gabbard did not announce her next steps, or if she’d consider jumping to the Republican Party.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Russia in ‘desperate’ position, UK spy chief says

belterz/Getty Images

(LONDON) — Russia is in a “desperate” position in its war in Ukraine and is running out of weapons and allies, according to the U.K.’s Director of GCHQ Jeremy Fleming.

“We believe that Russia is running short of munitions, it’s certainly running short of friends … Russia and Russia’s commanders are worried about the state of their military machine,” Fleming said in an interview with the BBC News on Tuesday morning.

“The word I’ve used is ‘desperate.’ We can see that desperation at many levels inside Russian society and inside the Russian military machine,” said Fleming, whose British Government Communications Headquarters has a mission similar to the U.S. National Security Agency.

Fleming gave the interview ahead of a speech he was scheduled to give to a London think tank Tuesday, in which he was expected to be highly critical of the Russian military’s performance in the nearly eight-month-long war.

“Far from the inevitable Russian military victory that their propaganda machine spouted, it’s clear that Ukraine’s courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace is turning the tide,” Fleming said in his prepared remarks, adding that, “The costs to Russia — in people and equipment are staggering. We know — and Russian commanders on the ground know — that their supplies and munitions are running out.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a series of missile strikes across Ukraine in the last 48 hours in retaliation for an attack on the strategically important Kerch bridge into Crimea over the weekend, with Fleming arguing this will have depleted their dwindling arsenal.

“Russia, as we’ve seen in the dreadful attacks yesterday, still has a very capable military machine. It can launch weapons, it has deep, deep stocks and expertise. And yet, it is very broadly stretched in Ukraine,” he told the BBC.

He also took aim at Putin’s leadership: “With little effective internal challenge, his decision-making has proved flawed. It’s a high stakes strategy that is leading to strategic errors in judgement. Their gains are being reversed.”

“And the Russian population has started to understand that too, “ he added. “They’re seeing just how badly Putin has misjudged the situation. They’re fleeing the draft, realizing they can no longer travel. They know their access to modern technologies and external influences will be drastically restricted. And they are feeling the extent of the dreadful human cost of his war of choice.”

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tulsi Gabbard announces she is leaving Democratic Party

ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced on Tuesday she is leaving the Democratic Party.

“I can no longer remain in today’s Democratic Party that is now under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness, who divide us by racializing every issue & stoke anti-white racism, actively work to undermine our God-given freedoms, are hostile to people of faith & spirituality, demonize the police & protect criminals at the expense of law-abiding Americans, believe in open borders, weaponize the national security state to go after political opponents, and above all, dragging us ever closer to nuclear war,” Gabbard said on Twitter.

Gabbard mounted an unsuccessful run for president in 2020.

Story developing…

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Too soon to know’ whether Kremlin was behind cyberattacks on US airports, Kirby says

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — It’s still “too soon to know” whether the Russian government was behind Monday’s cyberattacks on over a dozen U.S. airports, according to White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

“We just don’t really understand fully who’s behind this, what the motivation was, certainly at what level — if any — Kremlin officials were aware. We just don’t know,” Kirby told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.

Story developing…

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Russia-Ukraine live updates: Putin orders attacks across Ukraine

Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

(NEW YORK) — More than six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion into neighboring Ukraine, the two countries are engaged in a struggle for control of areas throughout eastern and southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose forces began an offensive in August, has vowed to take back all Russian-occupied territory. But Putin in September announced a mobilization of reservists, which is expected to call up as many as 300,000 additional troops.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Oct 11, 7:16 AM EDT
Death toll from Monday’s strikes rises to 19

At least 19 people have died since Russian missiles struck civilian and critical infrastructure targets across Ukraine on Monday, according to the Ukrainian State Emergency Service.

Another 105 people were injured in the attacks in over a dozen Ukrainian regions, including the capital Kyiv, where more than 30 fires broke out.

Oct 10, 9:04 AM EDT
Zelenskyy: Deadly civilian strikes show ‘true face’ of Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday said Russia’s missile assault on civilian targets across Ukraine showed Russia’s “true face.”

Eleven people have died and 64 are hurt across eight oblasts and the city of Kyiv, according to the Ukrainian State Emergency Service.

“The world once again saw the true face of a terrorist state that is killing our people,” Zelenksyy said on Twitter. “On the battlefield & in peaceful cities. A country that covers its true bloody essence & goal with talks about peace. It proves that the liberation of is the only basis of peace & security.”

Oct 10, 6:40 AM EDT
Missile strikes are response for bridge attack, Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday’s attacks on civilian areas across Ukraine were a response to Saturday’s attack on the bridge connecting Russia and Crimea.

“To leave without an answer a crime of such a type is already simply impossible. This morning, at the proposal of Russia’s ministry of defense and general staff, a massive strike of high precision, long-range weapons has been delivered from air, land and sea, on Ukraine’s energy facilities, military command and communication,” Putin said.

He added, “In the case of continuing terrorist attack on our territory, the answers from Russia will be severe and by their scale correspond to the level of threat created for the Russian Federation. No one should have any doubts about that.”

-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti and Tanya Stukalova

Oct 10, 4:57 AM EDT
US Embassy in Kyiv: ‘Shelter in place’

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv emailed Americans in Ukraine, warning that they should shelter in place.

“The U.S. Embassy urges US citizens to shelter in place and depart Ukraine now using privately available ground transportation options when it is safe to do so,” the email said.

Oct 10, 4:50 AM EDT
Missiles strike civilian targets in cities across Ukraine

Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine on Monday morning, as a series of Russian missiles struck civilian targets in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv and other cities.

Russia launched 75 missiles toward Ukraine, Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said. Forty-one of those missiles were struck down by air defenses, Zaluzhnyi said.

At least eight people died and 24 were injured in Kyiv, officials said. At least five missiles struck the capital at about 8 a.m. local time.

Missiles hit the capital’s central Shevchenkiv District, with explosions near Parliament and other government buildings. Samsung’s Ukraine headquarters, which is next to Kyiv’s main train station, was damaged. Photos showed smashed glass windows and what appeared to be significant damage.

Power was out in much of Lviv, in western Ukraine, where several explosions were also reported. The mayor said “critical infrastructure” was damaged.

At least six explosions were heard in Kharkiv, where the regional governor urged residents to shelter in place.

-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti, Britt Clennett and Ian Pannell

Oct 10, 3:08 AM EDT
Zelenskyy: ‘Hold on and be strong’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday urged Ukrainians to “hold on and be strong” after explosions rocked Kyiv.

“The 229th day of full-scale war. On the 229th day, they are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,” Zelenskyy said. “In general. Destroy our people who are sleeping at home in Zaporizhzhia. Kill people who go to work in Dnipro and Kyiv. The air alarm does not subside throughout Ukraine. There are missiles hitting. Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded. Please do not leave shelters. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Let’s hold on and be strong.”

-ABC News Joe Simonetti

Oct 08, 4:21 PM EDT
Putin orders investigation into attack on Crimean bridge

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a commission to investigate an explosion that damaged a key bridge linking Crimea and Russia. Russia had been using the bridge as a key supply route for bringing in troops and ammunition into southern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Security Service declined to comment on rumors of its involvement in the bridge’s explosion.

Putin also signed a decree instructing tighter security for the bridge and the infrastructure supplying electricity and natural gas to the peninsula.

The blast coincided with the naming of Air Force General Sergei Surovikin as the commander of all Russian troops in Ukraine.

Oct 08, 12:10 PM EDT
Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant loses remaining external power source due to shelling: IAEA

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plane lost its last external power source due to renewed shelling, the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement Saturday.

The plant is now relying on emergency diesel generators for the electricity it needs for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions, according to Grossi.

The plant’s connection to the power line was cut at around 1 a.m. local time. Sixteen of the plant’s diesel generators started operating automatically, providing its six reactors with power. After the situation stabilized, 10 of the generators were switched off, according to Grossi.

“The resumption of shelling, hitting the plant’s sole source of external power, is tremendously irresponsible. The Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant must be protected,” Director General Grossi said. “I will soon travel to the Russian Federation, and then return to Ukraine, to agree on a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant. This is an absolute and urgent imperative.”

Oct 08, 7:28 AM EDT
Three killed in bridge blast, official says

Three people were killed on Saturday in the explosion that collapsed portions of the bridge linking Russia to Crimea, a Russian official said.

The Russian Investigative Committee also said it had identified the driver of the truck that was allegedly blown up on the bridge.

Russia’s response should be tough, said Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs.

“If the Ukrainian trace is confirmed in the state of emergency on the Crimean bridge, the consequences will be inevitable,” Slutsky wrote on his Telegram channel on Saturday.

He said he has no doubt that “Kyiv is behind the organization of this attack.” Ukrainian officials have not taken credit for the blast. Ukraine’s official government Twitter account tweeted the phrase “sick burn” after the explosion, but did not directly reference the blast.

“This is not just an emergency,” Slutsky wrote. “It could be an act of state terrorism.”

The railway infrastructure restoration has been started after the fire on the bridge was contained and extinguished, Crimean Railway said.

Oct 08, 6:38 AM EDT
Truck blast caused bridge damage, Russia says

Russian officials said the explosion that damaged the key bridge linking Crimea and Russia came from a truck.

“Today at 6:07 a truck was blown up on the automobile part of the Crimean Bridge from the side of the Taman Peninsula,” Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee posted online. “It resulted in the ignition of seven fuel tanks of the train, along the direction of the Crimean Peninsula. There was a partial collapse of two automobile spans of the bridge. The arch over the navigable part of the bridge was not damaged.”

Russian investigators were at the scene, attempting to “establish the circumstances of the explosion,” the committee said.

Russian supply lines into Crimea were likely to be disrupted by the blast. Crimean authorities said they would instead get supplies from Russia’s newly annexed territories.

Oct 08, 4:45 AM EDT
Bridge ‘down’ between Russia and Crimea

The bridge between Russia and Crimea was partially destroyed on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said the Kerch Bridge had “gone down.”

“The guided missile cruiser Moskva and the Kerch Bridge — two notorious symbols of Russian power in Ukrainian Crimea — have gone now,” the ministry said on Twitter, referencing Russia’s Moskva vessel, which was destroyed in April. “What’s next in line, russkies?”

Videos and photos posted by official Ukrainian accounts on social media on Saturday appeared to show the aftermath of an explosion, with plumes of smoke rising above the water.

At least one section of the bridge appeared to have partially fallen into the Kerch Strait, the waterway between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

A railway bridge running alongside the vehicle bridge also appeared to be damaged.

Oct 07, 4:07 PM EDT
Russian officials say its premature, there is no need to cancel New Year, Christmas festivities to put funds toward war

A source in the Kremlin said Saint Petersburg, Russia, authorities choosing to cancel Christmas and New Year citywide events to funnel the funds toward the war in Ukraine is premature, according to Russian News Agency Interfax.

“We consider it clearly premature and undeveloped,” the source said according to Interfax.

The Russian Defense Ministry also said its armed forces have all the necessary equipment for the war in Ukraine, saying there is no need to cancel events in Russian regions to save funds for military personnel, said Colonel-General Viktor Goremykin, Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation.

Earlier on Friday, St. Petersburg officials announced they had decided to cancel the planned festivities and the funds would be used to equip the mobilized. A similar decision was made by the authorities of the Leningrad region.

Oct 07, 2:16 PM EDT
Shelling outside Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant damaged power line to reactor, IAEA says

Shelling outside the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, damaged the power line to one of the reactors, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said Friday.

The damage was caused to reactor six on Thursday, forcing the unit to temporarily rely on emergency diesel generators, according to Grossi.

Two of the experts who had been at the plant for over five weeks, were replaced Friday. There are now four IAEA experts at the Zaporizhzhya plant.

“Again and again, the plant’s courageous, skilled and experienced operators find solutions to overcome the severe problems that keep occurring because of the conflict. However, this is not a sustainable way to run a nuclear power plant. There is an urgent need to create a more stable environment for the plant and its staff,” Grossi said in a statement.

Oct 07, 1:44 PM EDT
White House says no new intel sparked Biden comments on Putin’s nuclear threat

After President Joe Biden made comments suggesting Russia may use nuclear weapons, the White House says there is no new information to suggest an imminent threat.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden’s comments have been “very consistent” and he was reinforcing how seriously the U.S. takes Russia’s threats about using nuclear weapons.

“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric has been reckless and irresponsible. But if the Cuban missile crisis has taught us anything, it is the value of reducing nuclear risk and not brandishing that,” she said speaking to reporters Friday.

Jean-Pierre also called Putin’s comments irresponsible as a leader of a nuclear power.

“We won’t be intimidated by Putin’s rhetoric, we have not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture, nor do we have indications they are prepared to use them but Putin can de-escalate this at any time, and there is no reason to escalate,” Jean-Pierre said.

Oct 07, 1:31 PM EDT
St. Petersburg cancels New Year, Christmas festivities to put funds toward war with Ukraine

Traditional Christmas and New Year celebrations in Saint Petersburg, Russia will be canceled and all previously allocated money for the festivities will be channeled to finance volunteers and mobilized troops involved in the war with Ukraine, according to TASS, a Russian news agency, which cited a statement from the municipal authorities.

All the available funds will be channeled into a special account to pay for gear for volunteers and mobilized citizens, according to TASS.

“During a session with Governor Alexander Beglov with members of the municipal administration it was decided to cancel previously scheduled events dedicated to New Year festivities,” the statement said, according to TASS.

Oct 07, 11:33 AM EDT
Top Ukrainian adviser criticizes Noble Peace Prize decision

A top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has criticized the Nobel Peace Prize for its decision to award Russian and Belarusian human rights defenders alongside Ukraine’s, reflecting a widespread sentiment in Ukraine that it has been unwillingly lumped in with two countries engaged in attacking it.

“Nobel Committee has an interesting understanding of word ‘peace’ if representatives of two countries that attacked a third one receive @NobelPrize together. Neither Russian nor Belarusian organizations were able to organize resistance to the war. This year’s Nobel is ‘awesome’,”Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Zelenskyy, wrote on Twitter.

Oct 07, 9:55 AM EDT
Biden says Putin ‘is not joking’ about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons

President Joe Biden made some of his most clear and striking assessments on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats of using a nuclear weapon.

For the “first time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have the direct threat of the use of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path that they are going. That’s a different deal,” he said at a fundraiser in New York City on Thursday.

“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily [use] a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”

Biden said Putin’s military is “underperforming” in Ukraine and he may feel threatened.

Biden said he knows Putin “fairly well” and has spent “a fair amount of time with him” and warned that Putin is serious.

“He is not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons, or biological, or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming,” Biden said.

“There’s a lot at stake,” Biden said. “We are trying to figure out what is Putin’s off ramp? Where does he get off? Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself in a position that he does not – not only lose face but lose significant power within Russia?”

Oct 06, 2:27 PM EDT
Zaporizhzhia power plant perimeter has mines: IAEA

There are mines along the perimeter of Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said at a press conference in Kyiv Thursday after holding talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The facility is currently under the control of Russian forces.

“There have been indications that in the perimeter of the plant there are some mines, yes,” Grossi said, before denying that there are any mines inside the plant itself.

Grossi is headed to Russia next to push for a security zone to be set up around the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Grossi told reporters that the IAEA considers Zaporizhzhia a Ukrainian facility.

“I think the IAEA, as an international organization, has a mission, has a legal parameter to do it. And what I will be is very consistent as I have been from the very beginning. We are not changing our line. We are continuing saying what needs to be done, which is basically avoid a nuclear accident. At the plant, which is still a very, very clear possibility. Yes,” Grossi said.

Oct 06, 1:45 PM EDT
Ukrainian official confirms advance into Luhansk region

The village of Hrekivka in Ukraine’s Luhansk region has been liberated, its governor, Serhiy Haidai, said Friday, adding that fierce fighting continues for other settlements.

“I’ve seen some soldiers already posted a photo of them standing on the background of the sign ‘Hrekivka,’ so its not a secret anymore — it is already liberated. And we keep moving in that direction,” Haidai said.

“After liberating Lyman [in Donetsk at the end of last month], as expected, the main battles are on the direction of Kreminna. The occupiers are pulling their main forces there. This is where the beginning of de-occupation of Luhansk oblast lies,” Haidai said.

He added, “Luhansk region liberation will be tougher than Kharkiv region. All those Russian military who ran from Kharkiv region and Lyman ran to our direction, so the occupation forces increased in number.”

Oct 06, 4:38 AM EDT
Apartments in Zaporizhzhia struck in early morning

Russian forces struck a residential neighborhood in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia early on Thursday, officials said.

Oct 05, 2:20 PM EDT
Ukrainian officials say they found more evidence of tortures, killings in eastern Kharkiv

Ukrainian officials released images they claim show evidence of tortures and killings in eastern Kharkiv, in areas recently reclaimed from Russia.

Authorities are investigating an alleged Russian torture chamber in the village of Pisky-Radkivski, according to Serhiy Bolvinov, the head of the investigative department of the national police in the region.

Bolvinov posted an image of a box of what appeared to be precious metal teeth and dentures presumably extracted from those held at the site.

Two bodies were found in a factory in Kupiansk with their hands bound behind their backs, while two others were found in Novoplatonivka, their hands linked by handcuffs.

-ABC News’ Jason Volack

Oct 05, 6:47 AM EDT
Putin formally annexes 15% of Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws finalizing the illegal annexation of four regions of neighboring Ukraine — more than 15% of the country’s territory — even as his military struggles to maintain control over the newly absorbed areas.

The documents completing the annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions — in defiance of international laws — were published on a Russian government website on Wednesday morning.

Earlier this week, the Russian parliament ratified treaties making the occupied areas part of Russia. The move followed what the Kremlin called referendums in the four Ukrainian regions, which the West rejected as a sham.

The annexed areas are not all under control of Russian forces, which are battling a massive counteoffensive effort by Ukrainian troops.

Oct 04, 1:29 PM EDT
Biden, Harris speak to Zelenskyy, offer new $625 million security assistance package

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday, underscoring that the U.S. will never recognize areas annexed by President Vladimir Putin as Russian territory and offering additional security assistance.

Biden announced a $625 million security assistance package that includes additional weapons and equipment, according to a statement from the White House.

Biden also promised to impose “severe costs” on any individual, entity or country that “provides support to Russia’s purported annexation.”

-ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Oct 04, 11:58 AM EDT
More than 355,000 people have fled Russia amid mobilization

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a national mobilization last month, more than 355,000 people have left the country, according to Russian independent media.

Roughly 200,000 people escaped to Kazakhstan, 80,000 left for Georgia and 65,000 departed for Finland. Some 6,000 people also fled to Mongolia and there are reports of people fleeing to Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that more than 200,000 people have been mobilized since Sept. 21.

-ABC News’ Tanya Stukalova

Oct 04, 9:29 AM EDT
Ukraine makes major breakthrough in south, advancing well behind Russian lines

Ukraine has made a major breakthrough in the country’s south that now threatens to collapse part of the Russian front line there, similar to Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the northeast last month.

Ukrainian forces have advanced over 18 miles in two days, driving deep behind Russia’s front line in the Kherson region and advancing south along the Dnipro river.

Russian journalists reported that Russian forces on Monday were forced to pull back from the village of Dudchany. Multiple Russian military bloggers, who are often embedded with Russian troops, say that Ukrainian troops now heavily outnumber Russian troops there.

The advance, if it continues, has huge implications for the war. Russia’s position is increasingly in danger of collapsing, which would make it all but impossible to defend the city of Kherson, the capital of the region annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin four days ago.

Oct 04, 5:55 AM EDT
Zelenskyy signs decree ruling out negotiations with Putin

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a presidential decree on Tuesday formally declaring the “impossibility” of holding negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The decree backs a decision put forward by Zelenskyy’s national security council and includes the point: “To declare the impossibility of conducting negotiations with the president of the Russian Federation, V. Putin.”

The decree echoed a statement made by Zelenskyy when Putin annexed Ukrainian territory last Friday, saying it showed it is impossible to negotiate with the current president.

Oct 03, 12:22 PM EDT
Ukraine advances in south, Russia says

Ukrainian forces on Sunday evening broke through part of Russia’s defense of the disputed Kherson region, advancing from the region’s northeast into a territory Russia had claimed to annex as its own on Friday.

Ukrainian troops succeeded in pushing south along the Dnipro river, according to Ukrainian and Russian officials.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Monday partly confirmed the advance, saying Ukrainian forces “managed to drive a wedge deep into our defense.”

It said Russian troops had fallen back to “pre-prepared lines of defense” and were using heavy artillery to halt a further Ukrainian advance. It claimed, without evidence, that Ukraine had suffered heavy losses, but acknowledged that Ukraine had an advantage in tank numbers there.

Russian military bloggers said on Sunday that Ukrainian troops advanced southwards in the direction of the village of Dudchany, several miles behind the rest of Russia’s frontline in the region.

The advance raised questions about whether Russia would be able to hold the city of Kherson, the only regional capital it managed to seize in the invasion. For weeks, military experts have said Russia’s position in the Kherson region has been deteriorating because Ukraine has destroyed the only bridges allowing Russia to re-supply its troops.

Kirill Stremousov, a Russian-installed official in the region, on social media acknowledged Ukrainian troops had advanced along the Dnipro towards Dudchany but claimed they had been halted by Russian fire and that “everything is under control.”

A continued Ukrainian advance along the Dnipro would threaten to undermine the rest of the Russian front north of the river, raising the risk Russian forces there could be cut off.

The White House National Security Council’s spokesman John Kirby noted Ukraine was making gains in the south on Monday, but caveated that they were “incremental” for the time-being.

The battle for Kherson has major military and symbolic significance for both sides. A retreat from the city would seriously undermine Russia’s annexation of one of the four Ukrainian regions declared by Vladimir Putin just days ago — Kherson is supposed to be the capital of the newly annexed region of the same name.

Oct 03, 11:18 AM EDT
Kidnapped head of Zaporizhzhia plant has been released

The head of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhzhia has been released, after Ukrainian officials accused Russia of kidnapping him, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Ihor Murashov, the head of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, was released and returned safely to his family, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the Director General of the IAEA, tweeted.

Zaporizhzhia is a Ukrainian facility now occupied by Russian troops.

Oct 03, 7:26 AM EDT
Putin’s nuclear threats ‘irresponsible rhetoric,’ official says

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats that his country could strike Ukraine with nuclear weapons were “irresponsible rhetoric” from a nuclear power, a Pentagon official said.

“They are continuing to be irresponsible rhetoric coming from a nuclear power,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on “Good Morning America” on Monday. “There’s no reason for him to use that kind of bluster, those kinds of threats.”

But the U.S. was still taking the threats seriously, he said. The U.S. was “ready and prepared” to defend every inch of NATO territory, he said.

“We have to take these threats seriously. We must. It’d be easier if we could just blow it off, but we can’t,” Kirby said. “These are serious threats made by a serious nuclear power.”

Oct 03, 5:55 AM EDT
Russia ‘likely struggling’ to train reservists, UK says

Russian officials are “likely struggling” to find officers and provide training for many of the reservists who’ve been called up as part of President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said.

“Local officials are likely unclear on the exact scope and legal rationale of the campaign,” the ministry said in a Monday update. “They have almost certainly drafted some personnel who are outside the definitions claimed by Putin and the Ministry of Defence.”

Some of the reservists are assembling in tented transit camps, the ministry said.

Oct 02, 10:42 AM EDT
Former CIA chief Petraeus says Putin’s losses puts him in ‘irreversible’ situation

Former CIA chief David Petraeus said Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has put himself in an “irreversible” situation amid the Kremlin’s annexation of Russian-controlled Ukrainian regions.

“President Volodymyr co-anchor Jonathan Karl.

Petraeus said Putin “is losing” the war, despite “significant but desperate” recent moves. On Friday, Putin said he was annexing four regions of Ukraine — a move denounced by Ukraine, the U.S. and other Western countries as a violation of international law — and, in late September, the Russian leader said he was calling up some 300,000 reservists, triggering protests and a mass exodus from Russia.

In a rare acknowledgment Thursday, Putin admitted “mistakes” in how the country carried out the mobilization.

Oct 01, 9:07 AM EDT
Russia shoots at civilian convoy, kills 22, Ukrainian official says

Russian forces are accused of shelling a convoy of seven civilian cars killing 22 people, including 10 children, according to preliminary data, Olexandr Filchakov, chief prosecutor of the Kharkiv region, told ABC News.

According to preliminary data, the cars were shot by the Russian military on Sept. 25, when civilians were trying to evacuate from Kupyansk, a settlement in the Kupyansk area, Filchakov said.

The column of shot cars was discovered on Friday. Two cars burned completely with children and parents inside, Filchakov said.

Filchakov said the bodies burned completely.

Russian forces fired at the column with a 12.5 mm caliber gun. Those who remained alive were then shot at with rifles, according to Filchakov.

-ABC News’ Somayeh Malekian

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Ukrainian officials, tech companies to send more drones to the front line

omersukrugoksu/Getty Images

(LVIV, Ukraine) — Ukrainian and foreign tech companies are providing an array of tech and cyber support to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, Ukrainian officials and tech experts said, with some of the country’s top commanders saying they plan to buy about 1,000 more drones.

“Ukraine needs all the categories of drones: huge ones, small ones, kamikaze drones,” Ivan Tolchynskyi, CEO of Atlas Aerospace, a compact drone manufacturer, said at a conference in Lviv this month.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation along with the General Staff said this month that they’d spend almost $500,000 to buy about 1,000 drones.

Small drones have become popular in Ukraine “because every soldier probably wants to get their own drone on the battlefield,” Tolchynskyi added. His company has provided the Ukrainian army with about 150 drones and plans to increase the number of deliveries to “1,000 by the end of this year.”

Ukraine’s cause is also boosted by non-combat drones and special equipment, such as the mine-detection technology and medical drones supplied to various NGOs by the Canadian company Draganfly.

“We originally came to Ukraine with our medical response drone that carries about 30 pounds of temperature sensitive supplies – such as insulin or pharmaceuticals – for search and rescue battlefield missions,” Cameron Chell, president and CEO of Draganfly, said.

While drones help defend Ukraine’s skies and territory, the country also needs solid protection in cyberspace to repel attacks by Russian hackers.

“On average, we register around 200 attacks every day. Sometimes it is 500 a day and sometimes it is 50, but it happens every day,” Oleksandr Bornyakov, deputy minister of Digital Transformation, said.

“We may not see it, we may not know what is really going on behind the scenes,” Kim Zetter, a cybersecurity journalist, added.

Yet according to NATO Cyber Defense Center Ambassador Kenneth Gears, “[W]e have probably seen what Russia has.”

As troops in the battlefield don’t do anything without hacker support these days, Gears said, the “very poor results that we see on the battlefield from the Russian army are in part the result of failed cyber-attacks and cyber defenses of the Russian army.”

But in Ukraine, the IT sector — and cyber warfare — seems to be thriving, industry officials said.

“The IT industry is one of the most resilient industries in Ukraine right now, maybe the most resilient. We are able to perform very efficiently during these times,” Vitaly Sadler, CEO and co-founder of Intellias, an IT development company, said.

Ukraine boasts an informal “IT army” — a gathering of over 200,000 anonymous volunteers who are coordinating via the Telegram messaging app. This motley crew of “hackers” performed online attacks on very sensitive Russian targets, targeting banks, civil aviation databases and even the Federal Security Service website.

Ukraine may even conscript a few IT specialists fleeing Russia on the back of the partial military mobilization announced by Moscow on Sept. 21, said Bornyakov, adding that the recruitment is likely going to be limited.

“I don’t think Ukrainian society is ready to accept even ‘good Russians.’ We might consider this on a very personal basis after conducting complete research on each person,” Bornyakov said.

Russian hackers are in a more vulnerable position once they leave Russia.

“Right now, they are protected by the Russian government — the NSA and the U.S. cyber command know many of them. And Russia is going to be focused primarily on its own defense,” he said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Here’s how Elon Musk would change Twitter, according to experts

CARINA JOHANSEN/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — After a monthslong saga cast Tesla CEO Elon Musk as suitor, critic and legal adversary of Twitter, the wealthiest person in the world appears poised to take ownership of the social media company.

A renewed offer at Musk’s original asking price from April has prompted anticipation of massive changes on the platform under his leadership, which could take hold within days or weeks.

The judge paused the acquisition case last week, giving the two sides an opportunity to reach a deal before Oct. 28. Under a potential agreement, Musk would pay $54.20 a share or roughly $44 billion to purchase Twitter, he said last week.

The acquisition would bring nearly immediate and dramatic changes to the platform, altering the user experience in a manner heartening for some and infuriating for others, experts told ABC News.

In the long term, over a timeline of several years, Twitter could prove unrecognizable, carrying additional subscription fees but offering a slew of services that touch everything from person-to-person payments to travel reservations, they added.

“The easy thing is buying Twitter; the hard thing is fixing it,” Dan Ives, a managing director of equity research at Wedbush, an investment firm, who closely follows the tech sector, told ABC News.

Here’s how Twitter will change under Elon Musk, according to experts:

Relaxed content moderation rules

In recent months, Elon Musk has emphasized his commitment to the principle of free speech, suggesting that Twitter should permit all speech that stops short of violating the law.

“My preference is to hew close to the laws of countries in which Twitter operates,” he said in May. “If the citizens want something banned, then pass a law to do so, otherwise it should be allowed.”

Currently, the platform imposes limits on a range of speech, including hate speech, targeted harassment and media that features graphic violence.

The content policing rules will relax almost immediately, some analysts said.

“There are some big changes that would be in the offing,” Bill Mann, a senior analyst at Motley Fool, told ABC News. “He wants to reduce their content moderation.”

Sinan Aral, a venture capitalist and professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said users should expect a more permissive approach to conservative views, including those expressed by former President Donald Trump. According to Aral, Trump would be “reinstated almost immediately” after a Musk acquisition, considering previous statements from Musk assuring the move.

But Musk’s commitment to free speech would conflict with the company’s business strategy, which depends on advertising revenue tied to the number of users on the platform, said Ives, of Wedbush. The presence of offensive or hateful views on the platform could drive away many users, causing Musk to moderate his approach, Ives added.

“Musk says ‘freedom of speech’ but if it becomes a cesspool on Twitter, that goes against the monetization of the platform,” Ives said.

‘Everything app’

Musk, who also runs space-flight company SpaceX, holds an ambitious long term vision for Twitter that extends far beyond its current function as a social media and messaging platform. Last week, he made a bold comment about his aspirations for the site: “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” he said.

The best example of what Musk means by an “everything app” is WeChat, a highly popular app in China that serves not only as a messaging and media-sharing platform but also a versatile tool in which users pay friends, purchase products and book reservations, among other uses, analysts said.

“You could understand why any company would want this,” said Mann, of Motley Fool, citing platforms like Meta-owned Facebook and Snapchat that have pursued the all-in-one app strategy.

He described Musk’s vision for person-to-person payment on the platform as “the holy grail for any app.”

However, U.S.-based platforms face greater challenges than WeChat, including stiff competition on each of the functionalities that Musk would try to roll into one service, said Aral, of MIT.

“There are numerous competitors that Twitter would have to fight through,” he said.

Still, Aral described the goal as “not farfetched.”

“There is historical precedent for that,” he added.

Ives, of Wedbush, put the likelihood of success for the “everything app” at no more than 20%.

“That will take years and a lot of challenges ahead,” Ives said. “Then again, there’s a reason he’s the richest person in the world. His back has been against the wall again and again, and he’s massively succeeded, as we see with Tesla and SpaceX.”

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Murder charges filed against suspect in kidnapping of family in Merced County

Merced County Sheriff’s Office

(NEW YORK) — The Merced County District Attorney filed charges on Monday against a suspect in the alleged kidnapping and murder of four family members in California.

Charges against Jesus Manuel Salgado include four counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances, officials said.

“Special Circumstances allege that the murders were committed during the commission of a kidnapping and that there were multiple murders in the same case,” the statement said.

Salgado made his first court appearance in Merced Superior Court on Monday, ABC News’ Fresno station KSFN-TV reported. He’s accused of kidnapping four family members, who were later found dead in a rural almond orchard.

Eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri and her parents — 27-year-old mother Jasleen Kaur and 36-year-old father Jasdeep Singh — had allegedly been taken against their will from a business, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said. The baby’s uncle, 39-year-old Amandeep Singh, was also allegedly kidnapped, the sheriff said.

The charges filed on Monday against Salgado — which also include arson and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person — carry a possible sentence of life in prison without parole, the district attorney’s office said on Monday.

“District Attorney Kimberly Lewis will not be making a decision regarding the death penalty in 2022,” the office said in a statement. “The People are preserving their right to pursue the death penalty in the future.”

Salgado’s brother, Alberto Salgado, has been arrested but not charged, KSFN reported.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Emotions run high at Uvalde school board meeting amid superintendent’s retirement

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) — The superintendent of a school district in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 fourth-grade students and two teachers earlier this year, has announced his plans to retire.

Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell — along with other school officials and local law enforcement — has faced intense scrutiny over the handling of the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School, one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Nearly 400 law enforcement officers rushed to the scene, but “egregiously poor decision-making” resulted in allowing the 18-year-old shooter to remain active inside a classroom for more than 70 minutes before he was finally confronted and killed, according to a damning investigative report released by Texas lawmakers in July.

Harrell’s impending retirement was announced on Friday. In a statement posted on his wife’s Facebook account on Sunday, Harrell said the decision was “not made lightly and was made after much prayer and discernment.”

“My heart was broken on May 24th,” he added.

On Monday evening, after an hour-and-a-half of closed-door deliberation, the school board confirmed their acceptance of Harrell’s retirement and unanimously approved a motion to conduct a search for his replacement. Walsh Gallegos, an education-focused law firm with offices in Texas and New Mexico, will oversee the hiring process. Harrell has said he intends to stay on through the academic year until a new superintendent is named.

A crowd of people gathered outside before the start of Monday’s meeting to show their support for Harrell, with many holding up homemade signs, hugging him and cheering him on.

Harrell has worked for the school district since he started as a special education teacher in 1992, eventually working his way up to Uvalde High School principal and then following in his father’s footsteps in 2018 when he became superintendent.

Families of some of the Robb Elementary School shooting victims spoke at Monday’s meeting, telling the school board that they believe negligence and incompetence contributed to the massacre. They pleaded with Harrell directly to bring the tragedy-torn community together. They also expressed frustration at their fellow community members, saying they didn’t receive as much support after the shooting as Harrell has this week.

“I’m disgusted with this community,” said a tearful Kimberly Rubio, the mother of 10-year-old student Lexi Rubio, who was among those killed.

“We can’t get people to care enough to come to the school board meetings, the city council meetings or anything else,” said Brett Cross, the guardian of 10-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia.

Cross had been staging a sit-in protest outside the school district’s administration building until Friday.

After voting on Harrell’s retirement, school board members continued with other items on the agenda for Monday’s meeting as dozens of people in the audience got up and left.

“What happened to accountability?” one Uvalde resident said on their way out. “We’re not getting none.”

Last week, the school district suspended its entire police force. Some officers employed with the police department were placed on leave, while others were reassigned. The school district also fired a recently hired officer who had been a Texas state trooper on the scene at Robb Elementary School when the shooting took place and was under internal investigation for her actions that day.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

What are ESG and ‘woke capitalism’? State treasurers weigh in on fight over where tax money goes

Catherine McQueen/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — In the final month before the midterm elections, much of the attention will focus on high-profile races to choose governors, senators, representatives and more.

But another debate has been heating up further down the ballot among the officials charged with safeguarding states’ money. Some Republican state treasurers are now arguing that “woke capitalism” is a threat, and they’re taking action to push back against it.

“Woke capitalism” is a derogatory reference to ESG, or environmental and social governance, a financial strategy where companies and investors prioritize investments that they believe will create a positive benefit to society in the long-term, often by addressing climate change or issues like diversity or racial inequality.

Advocacy groups and investors have for years lobbied the financial industry to divest from fossil fuels, and the increased attention on racial injustice and environmental issues has led scores of younger investors to look for more socially conscious ways to manage their money.

The U.N. climate panel has said that in order to keep warming temperatures down as much as possible, the world needs to stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure as quickly as possible — and that any new infrastructure could become a financial liability if fossil fuels are replaced by renewable energy in the coming years.

Banks have responded to such factors both by offering funds that they claim only include environmentally friendly industries and by pledging to prioritize finance for industries that have made steps to address their contribution to climate change.

But Republican critics of the ESG strategy insist it unfairly puts a finger on the scale of the market in a way that benefits Democratic priorities.

Some GOP officials are now arguing that this type of investing creates a disadvantage for industries like coal, oil and natural gas and that banks are giving in to left-wing lobbying when they adopt these policies. Texas and West Virginia have taken legislative steps to curb ESG, adopting laws that say their governments will no longer work with banks that don’t support the industries in their states.

“The environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) movement has produced an opaque and perverse system in which some financial companies no longer make decisions in the best interest of their shareholders or their clients, but instead use their financial clout to push a social and political agenda shrouded in secrecy,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar contended in an August announcement that Texas wouldn’t do business with 10 financial firms that, Hegar said, “boycott” the oil and gas industries.

A July study from researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Federal Reserve of St. Louis found the Texas law cost taxpayers in some parts of the state an additional $300 to $500 million in additional fees and interest from switching municipal bond accounts to smaller banks that were acceptable under the new legislation.

The study’s authors said that their finding was specific to the Texas law and it’s unclear how such a restriction would play out in other states, but critics of the laws are concerned that similar extra costs could hurt public pension funds for people like teachers.

Democrats and climate advocates have accused these Republican treasurers of politicizing the way they manage taxpayer money in their states. In a recent statement through the nonprofit For the Long Term, 13 Democratic state treasurers and the New York City comptroller said states that adopt anti-ESG policies are trying to block progress. (Eleven total state treasurers are up for reelection in November.)

Oregon’s Democratic State Treasurer Tobias Read, who signed the letter, told ABC News he finds the debate “maddening.”

“Your job as a state treasurer is to look out for the interest of the beneficiaries. In Oregon’s case, it’s hundreds of thousands of people, and these are people whose livelihood depends on the pension — that’s what allows them to buy groceries and pay the electric bill and make rent,” Read said. “And if you can’t separate your own personal politics from your obligation to serve those people, I think you shouldn’t be treasurer.”

Republicans argue that banks have already been politicized and that it’s only fair that they push back against what they see as activist investing, in which like-minded shareholders organize to pressure companies to incorporate their values.

South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, a Republican, said that while he doesn’t see himself as completely aligned with GOP groups on this issue, he thinks the best way to push back on companies that he sees attacking Republican values is to pull money away from their businesses.

“It’s been cast in other media places that we are on his political rampage to stop ESG. We’re just pushing back on ‘hey, I thought you were gonna leave us alone.’ I mean, that’s just how we look at things. So what I want to do is I want South Carolina to be left alone,” Loftis said of how he viewed companies who make ESG investments. “And they’re not going to just leave us alone, so it’s got to be a national thing.”

The debate isn’t just a state issue. Former President Donald Trump weighed in at a conservative event last week, saying “woke” banks should be penalized “very severely.”

“The big banks like Chase and like Bank of America … They’ve gone woke and they should be penalized very severely for it. The banks have let the community down,” Trump said at a “Hispanic Leadership Conference” hosted by the America First Policy Institute in Miami.

Other high-profile Republicans like former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have joined in and at least one leading Republican in Congress has signaled that it could become a federal legislative issue if his party takes control after the election.

“If banks don’t cease and desist from weighing in on social and cultural issues, don’t be shocked if Republicans, once back in power nationally, pressure banks to pursue their goals,” retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a recent hearing.

“I would oppose such efforts, just as I oppose similar efforts by liberals,” Toomey said then. “But once the precedent is set, the potential for future abuse is limitless.”

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.