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Putin endorses evacuation of parts of Ukraine’s Kherson region

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia, October 28, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly endorsed the evacuation of civilians from parts of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region on Friday, the latest sign of Russia’s retreat in one of the most bitterly contested areas in Ukraine.

“Now, of course, those who live in Kherson should be removed from the zone of the most dangerous actions, because the civilian population should not suffer,” Putin told pro-Kremlin activists as he marked Russia’s Day of National Unity.

Moscow has already been ferrying people out of an area it controls in Kherson on the west bank of the Dnipro River, and this week announced that the evacuation zone would also include a 15 km buffer area on the east bank. But the comments appear to be the first time Putin has endorsed the evacuations personally.

Russia says it has been taking residents to safety from the path of a Ukrainian advance. Kyiv says the measures have included forced deportations of civilians, a war crime, which Russia denies.

Putin’s comments came amid signs Russia could be preparing to abandon its military foothold on the west bank of the Dnipro River, including Kherson’s regional capital – potentially one of the biggest Russian retreats of the war.

On Thursday, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-installed occupation administration in Kherson, said Russia was likely to pull its troops from the west bank. In later remarks, he was more equivocal, saying he hoped there would be no retreat but “we have to take some very difficult decisions.”

Late on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the fiercest fighting over the last week had taken place around Bakhmut and Soledar, in the eastern Donetsk region about 500 km northeast of Kherson.

“We are holding our positions in these and a few other areas in the Donetsk region,” he said in a video address, accusing Russia of insane stubborness for sending “tens or hundreds of thousands more people to the meat grinder.”

During the day Ukrainian forces had downed eight Iranian drones and two Russian missiles, Zelenskiy said.

Curfew

Pictures have circulated on the internet showing the main administration building in Kherson city with Russia’s flag no longer flying atop it. Kyiv has been wary, saying such signs could be Russian deception to lure Ukrainian troops into a trap.

A 24-hour curfew was imposed on the city on Friday, Stremousov said, adding the measure was necessary to defend Kherson from a likely Ukrainian offensive.

Ukrainian soldiers in a mechanized infantry company dug in on a tree line west of Kherson city were confident the Russians would eventually retreat, but would fight as they fall back.

Vitalyi, 48, the company’s deputy commander, said recent Russian efforts to beef up their defenses appeared aimed at protecting a withdrawal rather than holding Kherson.

“They have large amounts of tanks and people, but I don’t think they have a realistic plan to stay more than one or two weeks,” he said, as his men took advantage of unusually mild weather to improve bunkers and clean weapons amid thumps of intermittent artillery fire.

Vladyslav, a 27-year-old soldier, said he expected the Russians would fight: “We will fight as well. We have nowhere else to go. This is our home. This is our land.”

The regional capital, on the west bank at the mouth of the Dnipro, is the only big city Russia has captured intact since its invasion in February. Its loss for Russian forces would be one of the severest blows of the war.

More U.S. military aid and official visits

The United States announced $400 million worth of additional security assistance for Ukraine, including refurbishing T-72 tanks from the Czech Republic and missiles for HAWK air defenses that could be used against Russian drones and cruise missiles.

The new assistance brought the amount of U.S. military aid sent to Kyiv to more than $18.2 billion since the invasion. As it was announced, President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, in Kyiv.

Sullivan affirmed that Washington will continue to provide economic, humanitarian and military aid with support from both Biden’s Democrats and opposition Republicans.

“We fully intend to ensure that the resources are there as necessary and that we’ll get votes from both sides of the aisle to make that happen,” he told reporters at the Ukrainian presidential administration.

Sullivan’s remarks came days before U.S. midterm elections in which Republicans are given a good chance of taking control of Congress. This has raised concerns that close allies of former President Donald Trump, who is known for an “America First” agenda, could cut or even block Ukraine aid, which must be approved by the House of Representatives and Senate.

Sullivan’s visit came a day after Democratic Senator Chris Coons and Republican Senator Rob Portman traveled to the Ukrainian capital in a bid to signal bipartisan U.S. support.



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George Clooney, Gladys Knight among Kennedy Center honorees

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from left, and his wife, Evan Ryan, left, join 2022 Kennedy Center Honorees, front row from left, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, George Clooney, Tania León, and Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter, back row from left, Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein, along with fellow 2022 Honorees Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr., The Edge, and Bono for a group photo at the State Department following the Kennedy Center Honors gala dinner, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Washington.

Kevin Wolf | AP Photo

Performers such as Gladys Knight or the Irish band U2 usually would be headlining a concert for thousands but at Sunday’s Kennedy Center Honors the tables will be turned as they and other artists will be the ones feted for their lifetime of artistic contributions.

Actor, director, producer and human rights activist George Clooney, groundbreaking composer and conductor Tania León, and contemporary Christian singer Amy Grant will join Knight and the entire crew of U2 in being honored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The organization honors a select group of people every year for their artistic influences on American culture. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their respective spouses are slated to attend.

The 61-year-old Clooney — the actor among this year’s musically leaning group of honorees — has television credits going back into the late 1970s but became a household name with the role of Doug Ross on the television show “ER.” conductor Tania León, and

From there he starred in movies such as “Three Kings,” “Ocean’s Eleven” (and “Twelve” and “Thirteen”), “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and his most recent film, “Ticket to Paradise.” He also has extensive directing and producing credits including “Good Night, and Good Luck.” He and his wife, humanitarian rights lawyer Amal Clooney, created the Clooney Foundation for Justice, and he’s produced telethons to raise money for various causes.

“To be mentioned in the same breath with the rest of these incredible artists is an honor. This is a genuinely exciting surprise for the whole Clooney family,” said Clooney in a statement on the Center’s website.

Knight, 78, said in a statement that she was “humbled beyond words” at receiving the Kennedy honor. The Georgia-born Knight began singing gospel music at the age of 4 and went on to a career that has spanned decades.

Knight and family members started a band that would later be known as Gladys Knight & The Pips and produced their first album in 1960 when Knight was just 16. Since then she’s recorded dozens of albums with such classic hits as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Along the way she’s acted in television shows and movies. When Knight and the band were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Mariah Carey described Knight as “a textbook you learn from.”

Sometimes the Kennedy Center honors not just individuals but groups; “Sesame Street” once got the nod.

This year it’s the band U2. The group’s strong connection to America goes back decades. They performed in Washington during their first trip to America in 1980. In a statement the band — made up of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. — said they originally came to America with big dreams “fueled in part by the commonly held belief at home that America smiles on Ireland.”

“And it turned out to be true, yet again,” read the statement. “It has been a four-decade love affair with the country and its people, its artists, and culture.”

U2 has sold 170 million albums and been honored with 22 Grammys. The band’s epic singles include “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Lead singer Bono has also become known for his philanthropic work to eradicate poverty and to raise awareness about AIDS.

Christian music performed Amy Grant said in an interview with The Associated Press that she’d never even been to the Kennedy Center Honors even though her husband, country musician Vince Gill, has performed during previous ceremonies. Grammy winner Grant is well known for crossover pop hits like “Baby, Baby,” “Every Heartbeat” and “That’s What Love is For.” She’s sold more than 30 million albums, including her 1991 record “Heart in Motion,” which introduced her to a larger pop audience.

Composer and conductor León said during an interview when the honorees were announced that she wasn’t expecting “anything spectacular” when the Kennedy Center initially reached out to her. After all, she’s worked with the Kennedy Center numerous times over the years going back to 1980, when she was commissioned to compose music for a play.

But the 79-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner said she was stunned to learn that this time the ceremony was going to be for her.

León left Cuba as a refugee in 1967 and eventually settled in New York City. She’s a founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem and instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series.



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Michigan couple teaches people how to start lucrative side hustles

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In 2020, Jamie and Sarah McCauley filmed themselves ripping, repainting and restoring thrifted furniture. They resold the items, made more than $1,000 in profit and posted the results on YouTube.

Within a week, the video received 20,000 views. The McCauleys, who live off a variety of concurrently running side hustles, sensed opportunity. They started posting more videos about their other streams of income, which include rental properties, house flipping projects and reselling return pallets from Amazon and Target.

Teaching people how to build those types of hustles has proved lucrative: In the last year, the McCauleys made $102,000 from their YouTube and other social media channels, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

That averages out to $8,500 per month. During their best month of the year, they brought in $9,000.

The McCauleys say some of their furniture flips are as simple as staging and taking fresh photos of the product.

Jamie and Sarah McCauley

“We started to realize: This is a great way for people to make extra money if they have bills, or they just aren’t able to pay their rent, or they want to go on a nice vacation with their family,” Sarah says. “Anyone can do it.”

But of all their income streams, Jamie says their YouTube and social media presence is the most stressful to manage.

Here’s how they built it, and what goes into maintaining it.

How to build a social media career

Jamie and Sarah knew the ins and outs of social media from years of running a successful wedding photography business, which at its height made $150,000 per year, Jamie says.

But after having two children, the couple realized they didn’t want to spend weekends away from their family. So they started buying, renovating and renting out properties around west Michigan, hoping for a more passive income stream that would encourage schedule flexibility.

It worked, and the extra time allowed them to embrace a variety of side hustles. They got the idea to post their furniture and property-flipping adventures on YouTube in 2019, and immediately found it challenging.

Initially, Jamie worked 30 hours per week on the YouTube project alone, with Sarah working an additional 10 — on top of their efforts to sell two flipped houses and manage their photography business.

It took them a full year to hit 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time, making them eligible for Google AdSense, a feature that allows creators to monetize their YouTube videos with advertisements.

“We weren’t really sure where home design or flipping or photography or YouTube would lead us,” Sarah says. “But we knew if we put ourselves out there, it would open more opportunities.”

Flipping pros and cons

There are a couple of clear-cut benefits to flipping and reselling furniture and home décor online, especially during times of economic uncertainty, Sarah says.

For instance, more people are willing to hunt for deals on eBay and Facebook Marketplace when times are tough, instead of frequenting their usual retail stores.

“When a recession hits, people don’t want to pay full price for things,” she says. “Thrift stores thrive during recessions, and I think resellers do, too, because people are trying to save money in any way they can.”

Unlike real estate, the gambles of buying and reselling furniture are minimal in both price and risk, the McCauleys say. There’s less of a financial investment, and Sarah says she’s broken even on every flip.

The McCauleys say they staged and resold this $50 Facebook Marketplace dresser for $300.

Jamie and Sarah McCauley

The couple says one of their best flips was a mid-century dresser they bought for $50 on Facebook Marketplace. All they had to do was stage and take a nice photo of the dresser before reselling it for $300.

Sometimes, after buying furniture, the couple realizes the items have more flaws than they expected. Usually, this means investing more time and money into fixing up the piece, which can affect the item’s eventual sale value, they say.

In those cases, “we just get our money back instead of gaining a huge profit, but we’ve never really lost money from it,” Sarah says.

Costs and effect

Going a full year without making any money from YouTube was difficult, the McCauleys say. And simply qualifying for AdSense didn’t guarantee the big bucks.

“The slower growth and the inconsistency of it, it’s been more of a mental struggle to keep pushing and believing the process,” Jamie says. “Now, we’re in a better spot, but throughout that two-year period, it was a question of, ‘Is this what we should be doing? Is this going to work out?'”

In 2020, the couple felt a shift, they say. Their videos started going viral more regularly, and brands like Skillshare, Beyond Paint and HelloFresh reached out to them with partnership opportunities.

The sudden attention was overwhelming, and they didn’t immediately know which brands to trust. These days, the McCauleys work with an agency that vets the brands and sets up contracts for them, claiming an 18% from a number of those partnerships, they say.

Sarah says she often notices undervalued items at Goodwill, which she resells for a profit on sites like eBay.

Jamie and Sarah McCauley

Inside a renovated $155,000 old mansion in North Carolina



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