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Search For Victims Concludes; Florida Coast Aims For Ian Recovery

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 11:36

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An army of 42,000 utility workers has restored electricity to more than 2.5 million businesses and homes in Florida since Hurricane Ian's onslaught, and Brenda Palmer's place is among them. By the government's count, she and her husband, Ralph, are part of a success story.

Yet turning on the lights in a wrecked mobile home that's likely beyond repair and reeks of dried river mud and mold isn't much solace to people who lost a lifetime of work in a few hours of wind, rain and rising seawater. Sorting through soggy old photos of her kids in the shaded ruins of her carport, Palmer couldn't help but cry.

"Everybody says, 'You can't save everything, mom,'" she said. "You know, it's my life. It's MY life. It's gone."

With the major search for victims over and a large swath of Florida's southwest coast settling in for the long slog of recovering from a rare direct hit by a major hurricane, residents are bracing for what will be months, if not years, of work. Mourning lost heirlooms will be hard; so will fights with insurance companies and decisions about what to do next.

Around the corner from the Palmers in Coach Light Manor, a retirement community of 179 mobile homes that was flooded by two creeks and a canal, a sad realization hit Susan Colby sometime between the first time she saw her soggy home after Ian and Sunday, when she was picking through its remains.

"I'm 86 years old, and I'm homeless," she said. "It's just crazy. I mean, never in my life did I dream that I wouldn't have a home. But it's gone."

SEE MORE: Residents Set Up Memorial For Hurricane Ian Victims

State officials confirmed eight more deaths linked to the storm late Monday, bringing Florida's toll to 102 — just over half of those in hardest-hit Lee County, where the powerful Category 4 hurricane came ashore with 155 mph winds on Sept 28. Overall, 111 deaths have been blamed on the storm, also including five deaths in North Carolina, one in Virginia and three in Cuba.

It was the third-deadliest storm to hit the U.S. mainland this century behind Hurricane Katrina, which left about 1,400 people dead, and Hurricane Sandy, which killed 233 despite weakening to a tropical storm just before landfall.

At a makeshift memorial set up in a downtown park along the Caloosahatchee River, Holly Harmon got tearful Monday while placing yellow roses beside photos of people lost to the storm. She said it was the first time she had been able to visit because she had to wait for an inspector from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess damage to her home.

"My heart is just hurting for so many of the people we've known and grown with and everything they've lost," said Harmon, 27.

While Gov. Ron DeSantis has heaped lavish praise on his administration for the early phases of the recovery, including getting running water and lights back on and erecting a temporary bridge to Pine Island, much more remains to be done. There are still mountains of debris to remove; it's hard to find a road that isn't lined with waterlogged carpet, ruined furniture, moldy mattresses and pieces of homes.

On the road to Estero Island, scene of the worst damage to Fort Myers Beach, workers are using heavy machines with huge grapples to snatch debris out of swampy areas and deposit it into trucks. Boats of all sizes, from dinghies to huge shrimpers and charter fishing vessels, block roads and sit atop buildings.

DeSantis said at least some of the roadmap for the coming months in southwest Florida may come from the Florida Panhandle, where Category 5 Hurricane Michael wiped out Mexico Beach and much of Panama City in 2018. Panama City leaders will be brought in to offer advice on the cleanup, DeSantis told a weekend news conference.

SEE MORE: Surviving The Storm: Newsy Team Covering Ian Narrowly Saved By Locals

"They're going to come down on the ground, they're going to inspect, and then they've going to offer some advice to the local officials here in Lee County, Fort Myers Beach and other places," DeSantis said. "You can do what you want. You don't have to accept their advice. But I tell you that was a major, major effort."

In a region full of retirees, many of whom moved South to get away from the chill of Northern winters, Luther Marth worries that it might be more difficult for some to recover from the psychological effects of Ian than the physical destruction. Two men in their 70s already have taken their own lives after seeing the destruction, officials said.

Fort Myers was sideswiped by Hurricane Irma in 2017, but Marth said that storm was nothing like Ian, and the emotional toll will be greater, especially for older folks.

"I'm 88 years old. People my age struggle," said Marth, who counts himself and his wife, Jacqueline, among the lucky despite losing a car and thousands of dollars worth of fishing gear, tools and more when their garage filled with more than 5 feet of water.

"If you got wiped out financially, you don't want to start over again. You don't have the will to start again," Marth said. "So those are the people my heart breaks for."

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Found Cleaning Up After Hurricane Ian: A Stranger's Memories

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 01:07

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One mystery couple’s special day will forever be woven into another family’s less joyful memories.

Hurricane Ian rocked neighborhoods in Fort Myers Beach less than two weeks ago. Annette Wenger was in Wisconsin, and drove down a week later to survey the damage to their dream home on the water.

"Monday, we got up early, and we started our cleanup," Wenger said. "And you go in, grab stuff, bring it out, throw it out. And all of a sudden, it's like, here's a book."

"The first picture I saw was a wedding picture of this couple. And I think they're cutting the cake. And you know, they're older pictures. So they probably don't have copies like we do today where we keep them on our phone and we send them to Walgreens or something like that. And then there's a picture of a little boy just sitting playing in a sandbox."

Wenger posted a few of the pictures to a Facebook group online, hoping somebody would recognize anyone in the photos. No luck yet.

SEE MORE: Debris Cleanup Is A Huge Task In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Ian

You can find so many stories like this one on social media posts: A virtual lost and found of sorts, trying to connect people with tokens of what once was.

"The main thing that I pulled from this is how helpful everyone has been," Wenger said.

There’s a lot of cleanup left, but now finding this album’s owners is part of Annette’s mission.

“I have somebody’s memories. And I want to give them back to them. I know how much my pictures mean to me and if I would lose them… I hope somebody would try to find me," Wenger said.

America’s Breakdown: A National Conversation - Mental Health Data

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 01:00

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In a two-hour special, veteran journalist John Donovan leads a nationwide discussion about the mental health realities facing America.

"America’s Breakdown — A National Conversation" features a slate of guests, first-person storytelling and experts covering a range of topics, from childhood abuse and parenting advice, to burnout in the workplace. It will also offer solutions.

Guests include Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and kidnapping and sexual abuse survivor Elizabeth Smart, who details how her childhood trauma has followed her into adulthood.

This emotional and informative nationwide discussion is part of Newsy’s ongoing commitment to revealing the reality of America’s mental health crisis. The feature appears online in four parts; click here for part two.

Newsy Special: America's Breakdown — A National Conversation

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 01:00

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In a two-hour special, veteran journalist John Donovan leads a nationwide discussion about the mental health realities facing America.

"America’s Breakdown — A National Conversation" features a slate of guests, first-person storytelling and experts covering a range of topics, from childhood abuse and parenting advice, to burnout in the workplace. It will also offer solutions.

Guests include Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and kidnapping and sexual abuse survivor Elizabeth Smart, who details how her childhood trauma has followed her into adulthood.

This emotional and informative nationwide discussion is part of Newsy’s ongoing commitment to revealing the reality of America’s mental health crisis. The feature appears online in four parts; click here for part two.

Newsy Special: America's Breakdown — A National Conversation, Pt. II

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 01:00

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In a two-hour special, veteran journalist John Donovan leads a nationwide discussion about the mental health realities facing America.

"America’s Breakdown — A National Conversation" features a slate of guests, first-person storytelling and experts covering a range of topics, from childhood abuse and parenting advice, to burnout in the workplace. It will also offer solutions.

Guests include Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and kidnapping and sexual abuse survivor Elizabeth Smart, who details how her childhood trauma has followed her into adulthood.

This emotional and informative nationwide discussion is part of Newsy’s ongoing commitment to revealing the reality of America’s mental health crisis. The feature appears online in four parts; click here for part three.

Newsy Special: America's Breakdown — A National Conversation, Pt. III

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 01:00

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In a two-hour special, veteran journalist John Donovan leads a nationwide discussion about the mental health realities facing America.

"America’s Breakdown — A National Conversation" features a slate of guests, first-person storytelling and experts covering a range of topics, from childhood abuse and parenting advice, to burnout in the workplace. It will also offer solutions.

Guests include Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and kidnapping and sexual abuse survivor Elizabeth Smart, who details how her childhood trauma has followed her into adulthood.

This emotional and informative nationwide discussion is part of Newsy’s ongoing commitment to revealing the reality of America’s mental health crisis. The feature appears online in four parts; click here for part four.

Newsy Special: America's Breakdown — A National Conversation, Pt. IV

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 01:00

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In a two-hour special, veteran journalist John Donovan leads a nationwide discussion about the mental health realities facing America.

"America’s Breakdown — A National Conversation" features a slate of guests, first-person storytelling and experts covering a range of topics, from childhood abuse and parenting advice, to burnout in the workplace. It will also offer solutions.

Guests include Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and kidnapping and sexual abuse survivor Elizabeth Smart, who details how her childhood trauma has followed her into adulthood.

This emotional and informative nationwide discussion is part of Newsy’s ongoing commitment to revealing the reality of America’s mental health crisis.

Los Angeles City Council President Resigns After Leaked Racist Audio

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 00:52

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Nury Martinez, Los Angeles' city council president, stepped down from that post on Monday after a firestorm around a slew of racist comments she made in leaked audio. She's facing a growing chorus of calls to leave her city council seat entirely.

The resignation comes after the Los Angeles Times published the audio of Martinez making racist remarks about Mexican Angelenos and the Black son of a White colleague. 

While speaking to other city leaders in a private meeting, she described the colleague's Black son as behaving "like a monkey."

"They're raising him like a little White kid, which I was like, this kid needs a beat down. Let me take him around the corner, and then I'll bring him back," she said in the audio.

Martinez also described the boy as her colleague's accessory.

California Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla said in a statement Monday that Martinez and the other two council members present for the meeting should resign their seats.

"I am appalled at the racist, dehumanizing remarks made by Los Angeles city officials and leaders that were made public yesterday," he said. "As a father, I am offended that an innocent child was a target of these remarks."

In another moment, Martinez describes the racial makeup of a neighborhood known as "Koreatown," using a racial trope often used against Oaxacans. 

"I see a lot of little short, dark people," she said.

They're just a few of a string of offensive comments recorded in the meeting.

Martinez apologized over the weekend and said Monday, "In the end, it is not my apologies that matter most; it will be the actions I take from this day forward. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to make amends."

But powerful voices like Padilla and the two remaining candidates for Los Angeles mayor want Martinez out, along with council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo.

They failed to shut down the racist jabs, and de León even played into them after Martinez called a white council member's Black son his "accessory." De León, who ran for mayor earlier this year, compared the boy to a purse.

"When Nury brings her Goyard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag, él trae su accessory, él trae a su negrito, like on the side," de León said.

The horrifying audio exploded into a massive political scandal — a sad reckoning with the persistence of hate.

Florida Business Owners Paid It Forward When Storm Took A Turn

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 00:51

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Harlem Heights is a poor, majority Hispanic community in Florida. Residents there say they feel neglected after Hurricane Ian hit the area — but owners of a business located hours away are changing that.

After the storm nearly hit his family, Peter Gangi decided to pay it forward by creating his own storm distribution event in one of the poorest areas of Lee County's Harlem Heights.

"We're from Sarasota, and it was supposed to hit Sarasota," Peter Gangi said. "When it didn't hit Sarasota and we saw the news, I said, 'We have to do something.'"

That something was a traffic-filled, six-hour drive with friends and family with skill sets that were necessary after the storm.

Dr. Daina Reyes, a counselor, talked to people there about managing stress.

"You wake up in the morning, and you just lost everything," Dr. Reyes said. "It's very hard. It's very hard to cope. It's very hard to to work through all that process. We had to help them out, give coping skills, mechanisms, how to work this out."

Dr. Reyes' barber husband gave free haircuts.

SEE MORE: Hurricane Survivors Struggle To Find Shelter After Losing Everything

The storm left knee-deep standing water in the area. Nearly two weeks later, that water receded, leaving residents' damaged possessions. Some people there lost everything, including their only mode of transportation, making it difficult to get to supply giveaways.

"They definitely still need a lot of food," Andrea Gangi said. "They've been taking a lot of diapers, and they said they can't find them in the stores."

A little less than 2,000 people live in Harlem Heights, and many live below the poverty line. The census reports the average annual household income in Florida is about $57,000. In Harlem Heights, it's less than half that — around $25,000 a year. 

Hispanic people make up the majority of this community's residents.

"The neighborhood they went to first, it was full of immigrants from all over," Andrea Gangi said. "This is another reason we came out too because we're immigrants."

"They were actually scared to come out," Peter Gangi said. "Some of those people don't have papers, don't have documents, and they were feeling scared like, 'Hey I don't want to get deported.' Coming from a Hispanic background, we have to help out everyone but especially the minorities, especially the Hispanic and Haitian communities."

"Just to be able to to provide to this community and be a blessing to them, it's very humbling, and I'm happy to be out here," volunteer Michael Martinez said.

Over two weeks so far, the group has been able to distribute more than 1,800 meals.

Russia Unleashes Most Widespread Strike Against Ukraine In Months

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 00:49

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Horror and chaos unfolded in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, after Russia unleashed a string of missile attacks targeting bridges, power plants and other civilian infrastructure.

Russia launched at least 84 cruise missiles toward Ukraine, causing explosions that rocked at least a dozen cities including Lviv in the West and Kharkiv in the Northeast. The attacks left at least 14 people dead, with at least five of the deaths just in Kyiv.

The blasts shook cities that enjoyed relative normalcy recently, with most the fighting concentrated in the south and east of the country. The strikes on Kyiv were the first in four months.

"There was an explosion, everything was shaking," said Tetyana Lazunko, resident of a building damaged in the Zaporizhzhia blast. "We were here. If not I don't know what could have happened to us. Between the walls, here is the chair, and everything was flying, and I was screaming."

The gut-wrenching footage from the ground shows residents who are going about their daily routines suddenly finding themselves in the middle of a fiery nightmare.

SEE MORE: Russia Strikes Kyiv, Other Ukrainian Cities; Many Dead

Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a televised address the strikes were conducted in retaliation, revenge for the Ukrainian attack on a bridge to Crimea and other attacks in Russia that Putin described as "terrorist" actions.

Along with Putin's accusations came a threat. 

"If the attempts to carry out terrorist attacks on our territory continue, Russia's responses will be tough and proportionate to the level of threats posed to the Russian Federation," Putin said. "No one should have any doubts about this."

But amid the violence and terror came a rallying cry from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recorded outside the presidential office in Kyiv not far from where blasts rang out just hours before.

"They seek panic and chaos; they want to destroy our energy system," Zelenskyy said. "They are hopeless… They deliberately chose such a time, such goals, in order to cause as much harm as possible. But we are Ukrainians, helping each other. We believe in ourselves. We restore everything that was destroyed. Now there may be temporary interruptions in electricity, but there will never be interruptions with certainty - the certainty of victory."

It's a sentiment echoed by the Ukrainian people, even as they shelter in place underground in the subway. The national anthem reverberated off the dark walls, with a promise to keep the faith and keep fighting.

What Happens If Elon Musk Buys Twitter?

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 20:02

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After months of trying to back out from a deal to buy Twitter, Elon Musk seems to be moving forward with the acquisition. It's still unclear what direction the company could head under his leadership — but experts are concerned it could open the platform to hosting increased unsavory content. 

Those worries stem from Musk’s comments on how speech should be moderated on social media. Musk has suggested that he’d be more lenient with content moderation, saying “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.” Experts told Newsy this could open the platform to hate speech, misinformation, and other kinds of harassment. 

"They got rid of some of the white nationalists and racists and anti-Semites," said Paul Barrett, Deputy Director of the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University. "They put in place policies that had [misinformation] labeling components. If you bring in Elon Musk, who himself has kind of a troll mentality online … overnight, Twitter will take steps back toward what it was in the past."


SEE MORE: Are Social Media Platforms Ready For The Midterms?

Musk has also said that he would reinstate President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which was banned for repeatedly pushing the false narrative that the election was illegitimately won by Joe Biden, and thus posed “a risk of further incitement of violence.” This worries civil society experts, as in recent weeks, Trump has used his Truth Social platform to routinely push election misinformation.  

"When he had his social media platforms and his accounts across Facebook, Twitter and the like. What did he do with them? He used them to incite people," said Nora Benavidez, Director of Civil Rights and Digital Justice at Free Press. "He was really a super spreader of a lot of the worst stuff. When I then think about having him back on, it feels like the most obvious conclusion that we will see him practice those horrible tendencies again."

There are also concerns around Musk’s cryptic proposal to “authenticate all real human users,” which could require individuals to attach their real names to accounts. Experts told Newsy that could lead to more real-world harm. 

"There are authoritarian regimes. There are cases where people don't want to maybe talk about their sexual orientation or political beliefs to their family members," said Anjana Susarla, Omura-Saxena Professor of Responsible AI at Michigan State University. "Authenticating everyone and saying that old-fashioned sort of a thing as having everything out in the open — where the cure of misinformation is more information — I think those things have been shown not to work."

Why Are We Trying To Go Back To The Moon?

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 19:47

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America is on a mission back to the moon.  

To understand why we're going back for the first time since 1972 we need to remember why we went there in the first place. 

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and to the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard," said President John F. Kennedy in 1962.

During the Cold War America was in a fierce space race with the communist Soviet Union. In July 1969 the U.S. declared victory. 

Geza Gyuk is the director of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium. 

"The Apollo Program was really an anomaly. We we wanted to go there not for scientific reasons, not because it was sort of technically the next step, but because of political reasons. You know, the Russians were coming, the Russians were coming. And so, we had to get there first," said Gyuk. 

Now, more than five decades later, NASA says its current Artemis Program is about exploration, not about politics.  

"We're going back to the moon, and this is why," said Bill Nelson, an administrator at NASA. 

The Artemis Program, which began with an un-crewed rocket launch, will eventually set the stage for what NASA hopes is a long-term presence on the moon. The agency says the mission is three-fold: scientific discovery, economic opportunities and inspiration for a new generation. But the agency stresses the moon is really a solar system steppingstone.  

"I just want everybody in the room and everybody watching to remember our sights are not set on the moon. Our sights are clearly on Mars," said Capt. Reid Wiseman, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA.

SEE MORE: First NASA Mission Led By Native American Woman Underway

NASA is bullish on the red planet and says the Artemis Program can help launch a growing space economy — one that will build new industries and create new jobs. 

And that potential economic benefit is key because each Artemis mission will cost more than $4 billion. The price tag for the whole program through 2025? $93 billion.  

Some NASA critics argue the agency is already being outpaced by private space companies building rockets that are better and cheaper. 

"Right now, we're seeing the last gasp as sort of the Apollo approach to building giant rockets. And meanwhile, you know, 1,000 miles to the west, Elon Musk can build his starship so cheaply that he blows them up and he puts a blooper reel out," said Keith Cowing, an editor at  

But NASA believes the costs will help it achieve a third goal — inspiring a generation too young to have witnessed the Apollo era.  

Dr. Kjell Lindgren is a NASA astronaut. 

"All of us in the astronaut office are in one way or another influenced by those iconic images of our Apollo astronauts exploring the moon," said Lindgren. 

And this time the missions will be more diverse. 

NASA says the Artemis 3 mission will land the first woman and first person of color on the moon. NASA wants it to happen in 2025. 

"We want every kid in America to look at our poster and say, oh, I see myself in that," said Wiseman.  

And right now the public is behind it. According to an Economist / YouGov poll from 2021, a majority of Americans favor the U.S. sending astronauts back to the moon. And a Gallup poll from 2019 showed a record number of Americans say the benefits of the space program justify its cost, helping to solidify support for a return to the moon and beyond. 

First NASA Mission Led By Native American Woman Underway

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 18:10

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched its crew right into history books. 

Aboard the Dragon capsule, mission commander Nicole Mann has gone where no other indigenous woman has gone before. 

"I am very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage. You know, it's interesting. We're all from very unique, different backgrounds," said Mann. 

Mann, born in California and a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian tribes, is a Stanford-trained mechanical engineer and Marine F-18 fighter pilot. This is her first trip to space, almost a decade after being chosen to join NASA's astronaut class in 2013. 

"I'm thrilled to be joining the NASA team and looking forward to the next two years of training," said Mann. 

Despite tensions between the U.S. and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine, in space the countries are still cooperating. A Russian cosmonaut was aboard a SpaceX capsule for the first time ever. 

The crew of four will spend the next five months conducting hundreds of experiments aboard the International Space Station. 

SEE MORE: Russian Launches To Space From U.S., 1st Time In 20 Years

As Suicides Rise, U.S. Military Seeks To Address Mental Health

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 16:52

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After finishing a tour in Afghanistan in 2013, Dionne Williamson felt emotionally numb. More warning signs appeared during several years of subsequent overseas postings.

"It's like I lost me somewhere," said Williamson, a Navy lieutenant commander who experienced disorientation, depression, memory loss and chronic exhaustion. "I went to my captain and said, 'Sir, I need help. Something's wrong.'"

As the Pentagon seeks to confront spiraling suicide rates in the military ranks, Williamson's experiences shine a light on the realities for service members seeking mental health help. For most, simply acknowledging their difficulties can be intimidating. And what comes next can be frustrating and dispiriting.

Williamson, 46, eventually found stability through a monthlong hospitalization and a therapeutic program that incorporates horseback riding. But she had to fight for years to get the help she needed. "It's a wonder how I made it through," she said.

In March, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the creation of an independent committee to review the military's mental health and suicide prevention programs.

According to Defense Department data, suicides among active-duty service members increased by more than 40% between 2015 and 2020. The numbers jumped by 15% in 2020 alone. In longtime suicide hotspot postings such as Alaska – service members and their families contend with extreme isolation and a harsh climate – the rate has doubled.

A 2021 study by the Cost of War Project concluded that since 9/11, four times as many service members and veterans have died by suicide as have perished in combat. The study detailed stress factors particular to military life: "high exposure to trauma — mental, physical, moral, and sexual — stress and burnout, the influence of the military's hegemonic masculine culture, continued access to guns, and the difficulty of reintegrating into civilian life."

The Pentagon did not respond to repeated requests for comment. But Austin has publicly acknowledged that the Pentagon's current mental health offerings — including a Defense Suicide Prevention Office established in 2011 — have proven insufficient.

"It is imperative that we take care of all our teammates and continue to reinforce that mental health and suicide prevention remain a key priority," Austin wrote in March. "Clearly we have more work to do."

Last year the Army issued fresh guidelines to its commanders on how to handle mental health issues in the ranks, complete with briefing slides and a script. But daunting long-term challenges remain. Many soldiers fear the stigma of admitting to mental health issues within the internal military culture of self-sufficiency. And those who seek help often find that stigma is not only real, but compounded by bureaucratic obstacles.

Much like the issue of food insecurity in military families, a network of military-adjacent charitable organizations has tried to fill the gaps with a variety of programs and outreach efforts.

Some are purely recreational, such as an annual fishing tournament in Alaska designed to provide fresh air and socialization for service members. Others are more focused on self-care, like an Armed Services YMCA program that offers free child care so that military parents can attend therapy sessions.

The situation in Alaska is particularly dire. In January, after a string of suicides, Command Sgt. Maj. Phil Blaisdell addressed his soldiers in an emotional Instagram post. "When did suicide become the answer," he asked. "Please send me a DM if you need something. Please."

SEE MORE: Biden Administration Lays Out Roadmap To Mental Health Integration

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said that while posting to Alaska can be a dream for some service members, it's a solitary nightmare for others that needs to be addressed.

"You've got to be paying attention to this when you see the statistics jump as they are," Murkowski said. "Right now, you've got everybody. You've got the Joint Chiefs looking at Alaska and saying, 'Holy smokes, what's going on up there?'"

The stresses of an Alaska posting are compounded by a shortage of on-the-ground therapists. During a visit to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska earlier this year, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth heard from base health care workers who say they are understaffed, burned out and can't see patients on a timely basis. If a soldier seeks help, they often have to wait weeks for an appointment.

"We have people who need our services and we can't get to them," one longtime counselor told Wormuth during a meeting. "We need staff and until we get them, we will continue to have soldiers die."

The annual Combat Fishing Tournament in Seward, Alaska, was formed to "get the kids out of the barracks, get them off the base for the day and get them out of their heads," said co-founder Keith Manternach.

The tournament, which was begun in 2007 and now involves more than 300 service members, includes a day of deep-water fishing followed by a celebratory banquet with prizes for the largest catch, smallest catch and the person who gets the sickest.

"I think there's a huge element of mental health to it," Manternach said.

It's not just in Alaska.

SEE MORE: Where Is Mental Health Funding Going?

Sgt. Antonio Rivera, an 18-year veteran who completed three tours in Iraq and a year at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, freely acknowledges that he has serious PTSD.

"I know that I need help. There's signs and I've waited long enough," said Rivera, 48, who is assigned to Fort Hood in Texas. "I don't want my children to suffer because of me not going to get help."

He's doing yoga, but says he needs more. He's reluctant to seek help inside the military.

"Personally I'd feel more comfortable being able to talk to someone outside," he said. "It would allow me to open up a lot more without having to be worried about how it's going to affect my career."

Others who speak up say it's a struggle to get assistance.

Despite the on-base presence of "tons of briefings and brochures on suicide and PTSD," Williamson said she found herself fighting for years to get time off and therapy.

Eventually, she entered a monthlong in-patient program in Arizona. When she returned, a therapist recommended equine-assisted therapy, which proved to be a breakthrough.

Now Williamson is a regular at the Cloverleaf Equine Center in Clifton, Virginia, where riding sessions can be combined with a variety of therapeutic practices and exercises. Working with horses has long been used as a form for therapy for people with physical or mental disabilities and children diagnosed with autism. But in recent years, it has been embraced for helping service members with anxiety and PTSD.

"In order to be able to work with horses, you need to be able to regulate your emotions. They communicate through body language and energy," said Shelby Morrison, Cloverleaf's communications director. "They respond to energies around them. They respond to negativity, positivity, anxiety, excitement."

Military clients, Morrison said, come with "a lot of anxiety, depression, PTSD. We use the horse to get them out of their triggers."

For Williamson, the regular riding sessions have helped stabilize her. She still struggles, and she said her long campaign for treatment has damaged her relationship with multiple superior officers. She's currently on limited duty and isn't sure if she'll retire when she hits her 20-year anniversary in March.

Nevertheless, she says, the equine therapy has helped her feel optimistic for the first time in recent memory.

"Now even if I can't get out of bed, I make sure to come here," she said. "If I didn't come here, I don't know where I would even be."

Additional reporting by the Associated Press. 

Rain-Fueled Landslide Sweeps Through Venezuela Town; 22 Dead

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 16:52

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A landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through a town in central Venezuela, leaving at least 22 people dead as it dragged mud, rocks and trees through neighborhoods, authorities said Sunday. Dozens of people are missing.

Residents of Las Tejerías in Santos Michelena, an agro-industrial town in Aragua state 54 miles southwest of Caracas, had just seconds to reach safety late Saturday as debris swept down a mountainside onto them.

The official death toll rose to 22 after the recovery of 20 bodies on Sunday, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez told state-owned Venezolana de Televisión.

"There was a large landslide in the central area of Las Tejerías" where five streams overflowed, she said from the scene of the disaster. "We have already found 22 dead people; there are more than 52 missing."

"There are still people walled in," Rodríguez said. "We are trying to rescue them, to rescue them alive."

She said shelters will be set up for people who lost their homes.

Higher on the mountainside, most of the houses were swept away, including  those of a group of Evangelicals who were praying when the landslide hit, said homemaker Carmen Teresa Chirinos, a resident of Las Tejerías. Families in tears hugged in front of destroyed homes and businesses.

"There are a lot of people missing," Chirinos said.

Hours earlier, Major Gen. Carlos Pérez Ampueda, the vice minister for risk management and civil protection, had said via Twitter that several people were reported missing in the El Béisbol and La Agotada neighborhoods in the north of the town. Dozens of homes were damaged by the landslide.

Rescuers were carrying out search operations with trained dogs and drones, Pérez Ampueda said. Crews of workers and heavy machinery removed debris to clear roads and restore electricity and water services.

"So many families lost their houses and I, as a businessman, lost my pizzeria," said Luis Fuentes, who opened his pizza restaurant two years ago. "Look, I have nothing."

Aragua Gov. Karina Carpio said the floodwaters "terribly affected" 21 sectors in Las Tejerías, capital of the Santos Michelena municipality, which has some 54,000 inhabitants.

During the past week, torrential rains have caused flooding in 11 of Venezuela's 23 states.

President Nicolás Maduro said 20,000 officials, including rescuers and members of security forces, have been deployed to affected regions.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press. 

SEE MORE: Powerful Typhoon Hits North Philippines, Thousands Evacuated

Biden Faces Backlash Over 'Nuclear Armageddon' Comment

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 15:58

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The U.S. top military spokesman on Sunday sought to cool off heated debate over the president’s warning of a potential nuclear "Armageddon" with Russia.  

President Joe Biden spoke at a Democratic fundraiser on Thursday and warned of the possibility of a nuclear attack by Russia, saying, "we have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis. I don't think there is any such thing to use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon." 

John Kirby, who also serves as White House national security spokesman said Sunday the president’s comments were an accurate reflection of the high stakes, but not based on any specific new intelligence.  

"His comments were not based on new or fresh intelligence or new indications that Mr. Putin has made a decision to use nuclear weapons and, quite frankly, we don't have any indication that he has made that kind of decision," said Kirby. 

The president’s remarks have sparked a firestorm of criticism from former top U.S. officials, including from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who said Sunday President Joe Biden’s comments were "reckless." 

"First of all, those comments were reckless. I think that even more importantly, they demonstrate maybe one of the greatest foreign policy failures of the last decades, which was the failure to deter Vladimir Putin in the same way that the Trump administration did for four years," said Pompeo. 

And former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said the president needed to "back off" the nuclear rhetoric in order to get President Putin to the negotiating table with Ukraine.  

SEE MORE: Biden: Nuclear 'Armageddon' Risk Highest Since 1962 Cuban Crisis

"President Joe Biden's language, we're about at the top of the language scale, if you will. And I think we need to back off that a little bit and do everything we possibly can to try to get to the table to resolve this thing," said Mullen. 

But Sen. Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, defended the president on Sunday, saying he was right to raise the risk of nuclear conflict. 

"I think Joe Biden is right to just get this country ready. For the fact that you were dealing with an incredibly dangerous human being in Russia, the war is going badly, and you just can't predict what he's going to do next," said Murphy. 

The president’s nuclear warning comes as tensions are heating up between Russia and Ukraine. A new round of Russian missile strikes hitting civilian areas overnight in Ukraine, just hours after a massive explosion on a key bridge between annexed Crimea and the Russian mainland.  

Ukrainian troops have made gains in recent weeks, increasing fears that a cornered President Putin may lash out possibly using a tactical nuclear weapon.  

Asked if there is a possible end to the war in sight, Kirby said Sunday it would require President Putin to come back to the negotiating table — something he does not seem willing to do.  

"We all want to see this war end. It’s gone on way too long. And what needs to happen is for the two sides to be able to sit down and negotiate and find a way out of this peacefully and diplomatically. Mr. Putin has shown no indications — zero, none, that he's willing to do that," said Kirby. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he will not negotiate with President Putin, but he has not ruled out negotiating with other Russian government officials.  

Senator: Democrats Back Reparations For Those Who 'Do The Crime'

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 14:58

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Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville asserted that Democrats support reparations for the descendants of enslaved people because "they think the people that do the crime are owed that."

The first-term Alabama Republican spoke at a Saturday evening rally in Nevada featuring former President Donald Trump, a political ally. His comments were part of a broader critique in the final weeks before the Nov. 8 election, when control of Congress is at stake, about how Democrats have responded to rising crime rates. But Tuberville's remarks about reparations played into racist stereotypes about Black people committing crimes.

"They're not soft on crime," Tuberville said of Democrats. "They're pro-crime. They want crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparation because they think the people that do the crime are owed that."

He ended his appearance with a profanity as the crowd cheered.

Tuberville is falsely suggesting that Democrats promote crime and that only Black people are the perpetrators. In fact, crime has slowed in the last year and most crimes are committed by White people, according to FBI data.

The Democratic Party has not taken a stance on reparations for Black Americans to compensate for years of unpaid slave labor by their ancestors, though some leading Democrats, including President Joe Biden, back the creation of a national commission to study the issue.

SEE MORE: Jury: Democratic PAC Defamed Roy Moore, Awards Him $8.2M

Some Republicans on Sunday struggled to defend Tuberville's comments.

Republican Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska said he "wouldn't say it the same way," describing the remarks as impolite.

"That's not the way I present things," Bacon said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "But got to be honest that we have a crime problem in our country."

There was no immediate response from Tuberville's office on Sunday to a request for comment.

Republicans have been trying to close out this election year with an emphasis on crime, using rhetoric that has sometimes been alarmist or of questionable veracity, similar to Trump's late-stage argument during the 2020 campaign that Democratic-led cities were out of control.

FBI data released last week showed violent and property crime generally remained consistent between 2020 and 2021, with a slight decrease in the overall violent crime rate and a 4.3% rise in the murder rate. That's an improvement over 2020, when the murder rate in the U.S. jumped 29%.

The report presents an incomplete picture, in part because it doesn't include some of the nation's largest police departments.

More broadly, rates of violent crime and killings have increased around the U.S. since the pandemic, in some places spiking after hitting historic lows. Nonviolent crime decreased during the pandemic, but the murder rate grew nearly 30% in 2020, rising in cities and rural areas alike, according to an analysis of crime data by The Brennan Center for Justice. The rate of assaults went up 10%, the analysis found.

The rise defies easy explanation. Experts have pointed to a number of potential causes, from worries about the economy and historically high inflation rates to intense stress during the pandemic that has killed more than 1 million people in the United States.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press. 

North Korea Confirms Simulated Use Of Nukes To 'Wipe Out' Enemies

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 13:43

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North Korea's recent barrage of missile launches were the simulated use of its tactical battlefield nuclear weapons to "hit and wipe out" potential South Korean and U.S. targets, state media reported Monday, as its leader Kim Jong-un signaled he would conduct more provocative tests.

The North's statement, released on the 77th birthday of its ruling Workers' Party, is seen as an attempt to burnish Kim's image as a strong leader at home amid pandemic-related hardships as he's defiantly pushing to enlarge his weapons arsenal to wrest greater concessions from its rivals in future negotiations.

"Through seven times of launching drills of the tactical nuclear operation units, the actual war capabilities of the nuclear combat forces ready to hit and wipe out the set objects at any location and any time were displayed to the full," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

KCNA said the missile tests were in response to recent naval drills between U.S. and South Korean forces, which involved the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan for the first time in five years.

Viewing the drills as a military threat, North Korea decided to stage "the simulation of an actual war" to check and improve its war deterrence and send a warning to its enemies, KCNA said.

North Korea considers U.S.-South Korean military drills as an invasion rehearsal, though the allies have steadfastly said they are defensive in nature. Since the May inauguration of a conservative government in Seoul, the U.S. and South Korean militaries have been expanding their exercises, posing a greater security threat to Kim.

The launches — all supervised by Kim — included a nuclear-capable ballistic missile launched under a reservoir in the northeast; other ballistic missiles designed to launch nuclear strikes on South Korean airfields, ports and command facilities; and a new-type ground-to-ground ballistic missile that flew over Japan, KCNA reported. It said North Korea also flew 150 warplanes for separate live-firing and other drills in the country's first-ever such training.

Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said the missile launches marked the first time for North Korea to perform drills involving army units tasked with the operation of tactical nuclear weapons.

The North's public launch of a missile from under an inland reservoir was also the first of its kind, though it has previously test-launched missiles from a submarine.

SEE MORE: N.Korea Launches 2 Missiles Toward Sea After U.S.-S.Korea Drills

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, said North Korea likely aims to diversify launch sites to make it difficult for its enemies to detect its missile liftoffs in advance and conduct preemptive strikes.

KCNA said when the weapon launched from the reservoir was flying above the sea target, North Korean authorities confirmed the reliability of the explosion of the missile's warhead, apparently a dummy one, at the set altitude.

Kim, the professor, said the missile's estimated 370-mile flight indicated the launch could be a test of exploding a nuclear weapon above South Korea's southeastern port city of Busan, where the Reagan previously docked. He said the missile tested appeared to be a new version of North Korea's highly maneuverable KN-23 missile, which was modeled on Russia's Iskander missile.

North Korea described the missile that flew over Japan as a new-type intermediate-range weapon that traveled 2,800 miles. Some foreign experts earlier said the missile was likely North Korea's existing nuclear-capable Hwasong-12 missile, which can reach the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. But Kim, the professor, said the missile tested recently appeared to be an improved version of the Hwasong-12 with a faraway target like Alaska or Hawaii.

North Korea released a slew of photos on the launches. One of them showed Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju, both wearing ochre field jackets, frowning while covering their ears. Some observers say the image indicated Ri's elevated political standing because it was likely the first time for her to observe a weapons launch with her husband.

Worries about North Korea's nuclear program deepened in recent months as the country adopted a new law authorizing the preemptive use of its bombs in certain cases and took reported steps to deploy tactical nuclear weapons along its front-line border with South Korea. This year, North Korea carried out more than 40 missile launches.

Some experts say Kim Jong-un would eventually aim to use his advanced nuclear arsenal to win a U.S. recognition of North Korea as a legitimate nuclear state, which Kim sees as essential in getting crippling U.N. sanctions on his country lifted.

Kim Jong-un said the recent launches were "an obvious warning" to Seoul and Washington, informing them of North Korea's nuclear attack capabilities. Kim repeated that he has no intentions of resuming the stalled disarmament diplomacy with the United States now, according to KCNA.

SEE MORE: North Korea Conducts 4th Round Of Missile Tests In 1 Week

"The U.S. and the South Korean regime's steady, intentional and irresponsible acts of escalating the tension will only invite our greater reaction, and we are always and strictly watching the situation crisis," Kim was quoted as saying.

Kim also expressed conviction that the nuclear combat forces of his military would maintain "their strongest nuclear response posture and further strengthen it in every way" to perform their duties of defending the North's dignity and sovereign rights.

South Korean officials recently said North Korea maintains readiness to perform its first nuclear test in five years. Some experts say the nuclear test would be related to an effort to build warheads to be mounted on short-range missiles targeting South Korea.

"North Korea has multiple motivations for publishing a high-profile missile story now," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. "Kim Jong-un's public appearance after a month-long absence provides a patriotic headline to mark the founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party."

"Pyongyang has been concerned about military exercises by the U.S., South Korea and Japan, so to strengthen its self-proclaimed deterrent, it is making explicit the nuclear threat behind its recent missile launches. The KCNA report may also be a harbinger of a forthcoming nuclear test for the kind of tactical warhead that would arm the units Kim visited in the field," Easley said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press. 

Questionable Roughing The Passer Calls Raise More Questions

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 13:38

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Can't touch this.

Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett found out the hard way when he sacked Tom Brady and got flagged for roughing the passer in the fourth quarter of Atlanta's 21-15 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

The questionable penalty that benefited Brady and the Buccaneers raised more concerns about interpretations of the rule. It was the second straight week referee Jerome Boger made the critical call late in the game on a play that didn't seem to warrant a flag.

Last week, it helped the Buffalo Bills on a drive that ended with Tyler Bass kicking a 21-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20.

This time, it allowed the Buccaneers to extend the final drive and eventually run out the clock.

Protecting quarterbacks has always been a point of emphasis for the NFL. That was magnified after Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was taken off the field on a stretcher following a violent hit in a game against Cincinnati on Sept. 29. Tagovailoa sustained a concussion when 6-foot-3, 340-pound Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou threw him backward, slamming his head into the turf.

SEE MORE: NFL's Concussion Protocol Modified After Tagovailoa Review

Tupou wasn't penalized for sacking Tagovailoa. Neither Josh Allen nor Brady were injured on the hits Boger called roughing.

"What I had was the defender grabbed the quarterback while he was still in the pocket, and unnecessarily throwing him to the ground," Boger told a pool reporter after the game. "That is what I was making my decision based upon."

Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles, of course, understood the decision.

"I saw that one being called. I saw it against Tua when he got hit, and in the London game this morning," Bowles said. "I think they are starting to crack down on some of the things, slinging backs. I don't know. Right now, the way they are calling (it), I think a lot of people would've gotten that call."

The NFL rulebook states: "Any physical acts against a player who is in a passing posture (i.e. before, during, or after a pass) which, in the referee's judgment, are unwarranted by the circumstances of the play will be called as fouls."

The rulebook also notes: "When in doubt about a roughness call or potentially dangerous tactic against the quarterback, the referee should always call roughing the passer."

Many analysts, including former quarterbacks, disagreed with Boger's call.

"The league office has to get that fixed," Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said on NBC's "Football Night in America" pregame show. "If you cannot tackle the quarterback, it's going to be impossible to play defense."

Robert Griffin III tweeted: "The Falcons got ROBBED. Hitting the QB hard does not equal Roughing the Passer even if it's Tom Brady."

Despite the perception that the 45-year-old Brady gets special treatment, the seven-time Super Bowl champion ranks 41st with .14 roughing calls per game since 2009. This was the first time Brady was the beneficiary of a roughing penalty this season. He only got one last year.

Jarrett was visibly upset about the penalty and refused to talk to reporters after the game. Falcons coach Arthur Smith wouldn't criticize the officials.

"Obviously from my vantage point, it looked like it was a bad call," Falcons cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. said. "But that's why you put the refs out there to make these calls. They pay these guys to make those calls. It looked bad (from) my standpoint — but like I said — I was on the back end. They put these guys there to make those calls."

Nobody wants to see any player endure a hit like the one that sent Tagovailoa to the hospital. But there's a difference between protecting quarterbacks and punishing defenders for playing football.

Finding a balance is the NFL's dilemma.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Russia Strikes Kyiv, Other Ukrainian Cities; Many Dead

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 11:32

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Russia unleashed a lethal barrage of strikes against multiple Ukrainian cities Monday, smashing civilian targets including downtown Kyiv where at least eight people were killed amid burnt-out cars and shattered buildings that brought back into focus the grim reality of war after months of easing tensions in the capital.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces invaded neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24, said the strikes were retaliation for what he called Kyiv's "terrorist" actions — a reference to Ukraine's attempts to repel Moscow's invasion force and cripple their supply lines.

The actions he referred to include an attack last weekend on a key bridge between Russia and the annexed Crimean Peninsula, which is prized by the Kremlin.

The intense, hourslong attack marked a sudden military escalation by Moscow in its attack on Ukraine. It came a day after Putin called the explosion Saturday on the huge bridge connecting Russia to its annexed territory of Crimea a "terrorist act" masterminded by Ukrainian special services.

SEE MORE: Explosion Damages Bridge To Crimea, Hurts Russia Supply Line

At least eight people were killed and 24 were injured in just one of the Kyiv strikes, according to preliminary information, said Rostyslav Smirnov, an adviser to the Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs.

Putin, speaking in a video call with members of Russia's Security Council, said the Russian military launched "precision weapons" from the air, sea and ground to target key energy and military command facilities.

The missile strikes marked the biggest and most widespread Russian attacks in months. Putin, whose partial mobilization order earlier this month triggered an exodus of hundreds of thousands of men of fighting age from Russia, stopped short of declaring martial law or a counterterrorism operation as many had expected.

But the sustained barrage on major cities hit residential areas and critical infrastructure facilities alike, portending a major surge in the war amid a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in recent weeks and raising questions about how "precise" Russia's targeting is.

Moscow's war in Ukraine is approaching its eight-month milestone, and the Kremlin has been reeling from humiliating battlefield setbacks in areas of eastern Ukraine it is trying to annex.

Blasts struck in the capital's Shevchenko district, a large area in the center of Kyiv that includes the historic old town as well as several government offices, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

Some of the strikes hit near the government quarter in the symbolic heart of the capital, where Parliament and other major landmarks are located. A glass tower housing offices was significantly damaged, most of its blue-tinted windows blown out.

Residents were seen on the streets with blood on their clothes and hands. A young man wearing a blue jacket sat on the ground as a medic wrapped a bandage around his head. A woman with bandages wrapped around her head had blood all over the front of her blouse. Several cars were also damaged or completely destroyed. Air raid sirens sounded repeatedly across the country and in Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces launched dozens of missiles and Iranian-built drones against Ukraine.

The General Staff of the Ukraine Armed Forces said 75 missiles were fired against Ukrainian targets, with 41 of them neutralized by air defenses.

The targets were civilian areas and energy facilities in 10 cities, Zelenskyy said in a video address. "(The Russians) chose such a time and such targets on purpose to inflict the most damage," Zelenskyy said.

The morning strikes sent Kyiv residents back into bomb shelters for the first time in months. The city's subway system stopped train services and made the stations available once more as places for refuge.

SEE MORE: On Ukraine, Russia Repeats Insistence That It Had No Choice

While air raid sirens have continued throughout the war in Ukraine's major cities across the country, in Kyiv and other areas where there have been months of calm many Ukrainians had begun to ignore their warnings and go about their normal business.

That changed on Monday morning. The attacks arrived in Kyiv at the start of the morning rush hour, when commuter traffic was beginning to pick up. At least one of the vehicles struck near the Kyiv National University appeared to be a commuter minibus, known as a "marshrutka" and which is a popular albeit often crowded alternative to the city's bus and metro routes.

Nearby, at least one strike landed in the popular Shevchenko Park, leaving a large hole near a children's playground.

Among the targets hit was a pedestrian bridge known as the Klitschko bridge — a landmark in central Kyiv with its glass panels. Closed-circuit television footage shared by an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister showed a huge explosion as the bridge was apparently targeted. A man seen on the bridge just before the explosion is seen running away after the blast.

Lesia Vasylenko, a member of Ukraine's parliament, tweeted a photo showing that at least one explosion occurred near the main building of the Kyiv National University in central Kyiv.

Elsewhere, Russia targeted civilian areas and energy infrastructure as air raid sirens sounded in every region of Ukraine, except Russia-annexed Crimea, for four straight hours.

Associated Press journalists in Dnipro city saw the bodies of multiple people killed at an industrial site on the city's outskirts. Windows in the area had been blown out and glass littered the street. A telecommunications building was hit.

Ukrainian media also reported explosions in a number of other locations, including the western city of Lviv, which has been a refuge for many people fleeing the fighting in the east, as well as in Kharkiv, Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, Zhytomyr and Kropyvnytskyi.

Kharkiv was hit three times, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. The strikes knocked out the electricity and water supply. Energy infrastructure was also hit in Lviv, regional Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi said.

Three cruise missiles launched against Ukraine from Russian ships in the Black Sea crossed Moldova's airspace, the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Nicu Popescu complained.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.