By Alexandra Ulmer CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's food shortages, inflation and crumbling medical sector have become such a source of anguish that a growing number of young women are reluctantly opting for sterilizations rather than face the hardship of pregnancy and child-rearing. Traditional contraceptives like condoms or birth control pills have virtually vanished from store shelves, pushing women toward the hard-to-reverse surgery. "Having a child now means making him suffer," said Milagros Martinez, waiting on a park bench on a recent morning ahead of her sterilization at a nearby Caracas municipal health center. The 28-year-old butcher from the poor outskirts of Caracas decided on the operation after having an unplanned second child because she could not find birth control pills. Her daily life revolves around finding food: she gets up in the middle of the night to stand in long lines outside supermarkets, sometimes with no choice but to bring along her baby son, who has been sunburnt during hours-long waits. "I'm a little scared about being sterilized but I prefer that to having more children," said Martinez, who with dozens of other women took a bus from the slums at 4 a.m. to attend a special "sterilization day" in this wealthy area of Caracas. While no recent national statistics on sterilizations are available, doctors and health workers say demand for the procedure is growing. For a Wider Image photo essay, see http://reut.rs/2atW2ZL The local health program for women in Miranda state, which includes parts of Caracas, offers 40 spots during these "sterilization days" but as recently as last year did not usually fill them. Now all the slots are scooped up and some 500 women are on the waiting list, according to program director Deliana Torres. "Before, the conditions for this program were that the women be low-income and have at least four kids. Now we have women with one or two kids who want to be tied up," she said. Health workers at a national family planning organization and at three government hospitals in the states of Falcon, Tachira and Merida echoed her view that demand for sterilizations had grown in recent months. The trend highlights how the oil-rich nation's brutal recession is forcing people to make difficult choices. Venezuela is a largely Roman Catholic country where Church doctrine rejects all forms of contraception and abortion is banned unless a woman's life is at risk. The Archbishop of Merida, Baltazar Porras, told Reuters an increase in sterilizations would be a "barbarity." But Venezuela's crisis has triggered almost daily riots for food and slammed a shrinking middle class as well as the poor who were once a bastion of support for late leftist leader Hugo Chavez's self-styled "beautiful revolution." Pregnant women are particularly affected as they struggle to find adequate food and supplements, give birth in crowded and under-equipped hospitals, and have to spend hours in lines for scarce diapers, baby food and medicines. The government ministries for health, women and information did not respond to requests for comment. 'I WANTED FIVE KIDS' Sterilizations are usually straightforward procedures that involve closing or blocking a woman's fallopian tubes, known as tubal ligation. "I heard about these free sterilization days on the radio. Immediately I showered, dressed, and went out (to find out about them)," said Rosmary Teran, 32, who had her second child two months ago and also came to the health center from a poor neighborhood before dawn. Some health workers fear the economic meltdown is putting pressure on women to make a choice they may come to regret if the crisis eases. "Sometimes we hear: 'My husband told me to get sterilized because another child now wouldn't be practical'," said social worker Ania Rodriguez at family planning group PLAFAM in central Caracas. Rodriguez says she meets with up to five women a day seeking sterilizations, up from one or two per week about a year ago. When women seem unsure or pressured into sterilizations, Rodriguez tries to steer them toward contraceptives like intra-uterine devices, which are somewhat more available and affordable than birth control pills or condoms. When they have them, pharmacies sell a pack of three condoms for around 600 bolivars, only 60 U.S. cents at the black market rate but a big expense for those who earn the minimum wage of some 33,000 bolivars per month. On the Caracas re-sale market, those same condoms fetch around 2,000 bolivars. Venezuela's elite can afford those prices but the ailing middle class and poor are increasingly stuck. "I couldn't find the (contraceptive) injections, the pill, nothing. It's very expensive on the black market, and now you can't even find stuff there anymore," said Yecsenis Ginez, 31, who has one son and decided to get sterilized. "I thought I would have up to five kids, I had loads of names in mind. But it would be crazy to fall pregnant now." Still, some women have had to wait for months to be sterilized because there are limited spots at state-led hospitals and private clinics can charge about 12 times the monthly minimum wage. And some health centers are unable to provide sterilizations at all due to a lack of equipment or specialists. DISARRAY Amid what now feels like a distant oil boom, Chavez built thousands of Cuban-staffed health centers in poor neighborhoods and also launched popular maternity-health programs during his 1999-2013 rule. But with Venezuela's state-led economic model decaying and oil prices depressed, hospitals have deteriorated sharply under his successor Nicolas Maduro. Medicine shortages hover around 85 percent, according to a leading pharmaceutical association. Equipment ranging from surgical gloves to incubators is scarce, and many underpaid doctors have left the public sector or emigrated. The government still says it has one of the world's best health systems and accuses detractors of waging a smear campaign. It has stopped releasing timely health data, though. The World Health Organization says Venezuela's neo-natal mortality rate was 8.9 per 1,000 live births last year, above the Americas region's average of 7.7. It says Venezuela's maternal mortality rate was 95 per 100,000 live births in 2015, one of the worst rates in Latin America and up from 90 in 2000. The nation of 30 million people has one of Latin America's highest rates of teenage pregnancies and large numbers of single-parent households, U.N. data shows. As they waited to be called into the operating room for their sterilizations, women in blue scrubs and hairnets wistfully recalled happier times in once-booming Venezuela. "Before, when you got pregnant, everyone was happy," said mother-of-two Yessy Ascanio, 38, as she sat on a bed in a side room. "Now when a woman says 'I'm pregnant', everyone scolds you. It makes me sad for young women." As some of her peers nervously looked out at patients being wheeled out after their sterilization, Ascanio advised: "If you get scared, just remember those food lines." (Additional reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo, Anggy Polanco in San Cristobal, and Sarah Dagher and Daniel Kai in Caracas; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Stuart Grudgings and Kieran Murray)
- Associated Press
Kyle Connor scored twice and the Winnipeg Jets spoiled Dominique Ducharme's debut as Montreal's coach, rallying to beat the Canadiens 6-3 on Thursday night to open a two-game series. The Jets rallied after Montreal took a 2-0 lead into the second period.
- Associated Press
Colin White scored twice, Matt Murray made 29 saves and the Ottawa Senators routed the Calgary Flames 6-1 on Thursday night for their third straight victory. Drake Batherson, Erik Gudbranson, Connor Brown and Erik Brannstrom also scored for Ottawa, with Batherson running his goals streak to four games.
- The Independent
‘Grim Reaper’ lawyer is fundraising to remind Republicans about last month’s Capitol riots
- Architectural Digest
From ornate to subtle, these beautiful screens double as functional artOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- Business Insider
Don Jr. slammed Republicans who 'lose gracefully' and said that Trump showed 'you can actually push back'
Donald Trump Jr. said more Republicans need to push back against Democrats, and criticized them for instead choosing to "lose gracefully."
- The Week
The Senate on Thursday confirmed former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, 64-35, to lead the Energy Department, with 14 Republicans joining all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to give President Biden his 10th Cabinet-level appointee (plus one deputy secretary). After her confirmation, Granholm tweeted that she's "obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis" and "impatient for results." Granholm repeated her priorities on MSNBC Thursday night. "I am all about bringing clean-energy jobs" to communities, especially those, like Michigan, reliant on fossil fuels, she told host Chris Hayes. "I am totally obsessed about how to create good-paying jobs in America," and the clean-energy sector "is the biggest opportunity for us." The market is shifting toward green energy, regardless of what politicians prefer, and the Energy Department's 17 national labs are creating ways to not only expand renewable energy but also "decarbonize fossil fuels," Granholm said. "And honestly, if we can bring the supply chains for all of these clean-energy products to the United States, instead of letting our economic competitors eat us for lunch, the jobs that could be created for us in the U.S. — good-paying jobs — are boundless." Biden has sent the Senate more nominations, and gotten fewer of them confirmed, than any recent president, Axios reports, citing a count by the Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post. Biden has submitted more nominees to the Senate — but received fewer confirmations — than recent presidents, data shows. https://t.co/tZQbBPahjI pic.twitter.com/BbuqlSmwOP — Axios (@axios) February 26, 2021 "The new president is facing a pandemic without a surgeon general or head of the Department of Health and Human Services, he confronts an economic crisis without his leaders at Labor or Commerce, and domestic terrorism is on the rise with no attorney general," Axios notes. You can track Biden's nominations at The Washington Post. More stories from theweek.comJournalist Tim O'Brien, who's seen Trump's taxes, thinks Trump's accountant will now flip in D.A. inquiryDemocrats should take the Romney-Cotton proposal seriouslyThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chump
- The Week
Husband of Hitler-quoting GOP congresswoman parked his militia-stickered truck outside Capitol Jan. 6
Illinois state Rep. Chris Miller (R), the husband of freshman U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), acknowledged Thursday that his pickup truck was parked in a restricted area outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, but he said the "Three Percenter" militia sticker on the back window doesn't mean anything. "Army friend gave me decal," Miller told The Daily Beast in an email late Thursday. "Thought it was a cool decal. Took it off because of negative pub." He said he "never was member" of the militia and "didn't know anything about 3% till fake news started this fake story and read about them." Online sleuths had linked him to the truck visible in footage from a CBS News report, earlier Thursday. The #Sedition3PTruck with government plates parked in a restricted zone from 1:02. #SeditionHunters #Sedition3P Source: https://t.co/DubmxJhjSZ pic.twitter.com/INCs6geEYg — Phoenix on Wheels (@phoenixonwheels) February 25, 2021 The Three Percenters, founded in 2008, are a "radical militia group" implicated in leading the Jan. 6 siege along with the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers,and other far-right extremist groups, the FBI said in an affidavit filed in the case against alleged rioter Robert Gieswein. Their name comes from the apocryphal claim that only 3 percent of U.S. colonists fought in the Revolutionary War, and they fashion themselves as the same kind of tyranny-stomping "patriots." Miller's wife, Mary Miller, is most famous for favorably quoting Nazi leader Adolf Hitler at a "Moms for America" rally outside the Capitol on Jan. 5. "Hitler was right on one thing: whoever has the youth has the future," she told the rally, apologizing later when video of her comments went viral but insisting that "some are trying to intentionally twist my words to mean something antithetical to my beliefs." More stories from theweek.comJournalist Tim O'Brien, who's seen Trump's taxes, thinks Trump's accountant will now flip in D.A. inquiryDemocrats should take the Romney-Cotton proposal seriouslyThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chump
- The Week
Journalist Tim O'Brien, who's seen Trump's taxes, thinks Trump's accountant will now flip in D.A. inquiry
Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien, one of the few journalists who has seen former President Donald Trump's tax returns, told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday night he will sleep better now that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance finally has eight years of Trump's financial documents, from 2011 to 2019. Trump "is very afraid of what's in these documents, I think," because they put him in serious criminal jeopardy, O'Brien said, but he isn't the only one implicated. O'Brien went on to explain why he thinks it's likely Trump's chief accountant, Allen Weisselberg, is likely to flip on Trump. "The thing to really focus in on here is that it's not just the tax records that Cy Vance has now," O'Brien said. "He probably has reams and reams of the accountant's work product. This is a criminal case, they're going to need to prove criminal intent on the part of Trump, his three eldest children, Allen Weisselberg, and anyone else in the Trump Organization who's fallen under the parameters of this investigation. And if there are email and notes and other records of communication about what they intended to do when they inflated the value of buildings so they could get loans against them and then turned around and deflated the value of the buildings so they could pay lower taxes on them, and there's a communication around that that predates any of these tax entries, that is gold for a prosecutor." A few hours earlier, O'Brien told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace that the particular eight years of documents Vance's team has "is important, because it predates Trump's ascent into the White House, and I think helps build the narrative around the money trail and Trump's motivations for his destructive and obscene dance with people like Vladimir Putin. It's a shame they couldn't go back further — think this is one of the tragic misses of Robert Mueller's investigation, he could have gone back further, I think, than Cy Vance is able to into Trump's finances." O'Brien also underscored that the investigation implicates at least Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, and "it also targets people inside the Trump Organization who might flip on Trump if they're exposed to criminal liability," but "the brass ring in all of this is that if Trump has a criminal conviction, he cannot run for president again, and that's looming over this entire thing as well." More stories from theweek.comDemocrats should take the Romney-Cotton proposal seriouslyThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chumpHusband of Hitler-quoting GOP congresswoman parked his militia-stickered truck outside Capitol Jan. 6
- Business Insider
While President Biden visits storm-torn Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz will be giving a speech on 'cancel culture' in Florida
The president will tour the state with Gov. Greg Abbott.
- The Telegraph
Prince Harry tells all to James Corden on Archie's first word, his views on The Crown and family life with Meghan
Prince Harry has revealed that he quit the Royal Family because it was "destroying my mental health" in a tell-all interview with close friend James Corden. Asked by Corden how he sees his life after lockdown, Harry, 36, said: "My life is always going to be about public service and Meghan signed up to that." On the decision to walk away from the royal family, he said it "was never walking away, it was stepping back rather than stepping down". He added that it was a "really difficult environment" and criticised the press, saying it was "destroying my mental health". Harry said he needed to move his family away but insisted: "I will never walk away, I will always be contributing. My life is public service." 'We never walked away' from Royal Family Prince Harry insisted that he and his wife Meghan had not walked away from the Royal Family. He told Corden: "It was never walking away. It was stepping back rather than stepping down. It was a really difficult environment, as I think a lot of people saw. "We all know what the British press can be like, and it was destroying my mental health. I was like 'this is toxic'. "So I did what any husband and what any father would do. I was like, 'I need to get my family out of here'. "But we never walked away and as far as I'm concerned whatever decisions are made on that side, I will never walk away. "I will always be contributing, but my life is public service, so wherever I am in the world it's going to be the same thing." Archie's first word and the Queen's Christmas gift The Duke of Sussex has spoken about family life during a chat with James Corden, revealing that son Archie's first word was "crocodile" and the Queen gave the one-year-old a waffle maker for Christmas.
Billie Eilish's documentary gives an intimate look at her secret relationship with rapper 7: AMP - and why she decided to end it
They began dating in late 2018, when Eilish was 16. The film chronicles her frustration with his "lack of effort" and "self-destructive" behavior.
In Eilish's new documentary, the "Lord of the Rings" actor gushes over her music. After he leaves, Eilish asks her brother, "Who was that?"
How a woman lives in a 500-square-foot apartment with 2 roommates, a dog, 100 houseplants - and zero clutter
Maximalist Bruna Mello lives in a sunny, vibrant tiny apartment in South London, and she doesn't let the small space keep her from collecting things.
- USA TODAY Opinion
The problem in 2020 was with the Republican candidate. That won't change in 2024 if Trump stays on top.
- Business Insider
Coinbase says the entire crypto market could be destabilized if Bitcoin's anonymous creator is ever revealed or sells their $30 billion stake
Satoshi Nakamoto owns about 5% of the bitcoin market. If their 1.1 million cache was transferred, bitcoin prices could plummet, Coinbase said.
"The Crown" has previously drawn criticism from royal insiders and politicians for its fictional depiction of the royal family.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is privately saying he can pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus package but wants to avoid any last-minute changes jeopardizing its trajectory, three sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.Why it matters: While the president hoped to enlist Republican support for the measure, Schumer has worked to ensure he has a solid 50 votes to muscle it through if necessary. A parliamentary ruling Thursday improved his chances.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeWhat we're hearing: Schumer met with a group of moderate Democratic senators Thursday morning. They pushed for some changes in the bill — including moving pots of money around, more funding for broadband and rural hospitals and extending unemployment benefits beyond August.“They have some ideas and we are going to check them out,” Schumer told Axios afterward.Asked if some of the lawmakers suggested lowering the bill's overall price tag, Schumer said: “I am not going into any details.”The leader is wary of rocking the boat right now, the sources said, and expects the measure will remain relatively unchanged in its final version."Schumer [has] been privately meeting with members to get their input on the legislation to make sure it was included in the drafting," a person familiar with the meetings said.The latest: The Senate parliamentarian announced Thursday night that Democrats could not include a $15 minimum wage provision within the measure under the reconciliation process.The ruling was significant because Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said they were opposed to including the wage hike in the package, potentially costing the Democrats critical votes.The bottom line: Democrats have largely been in lockstep that a nearly $2 trillion package is required to meet the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis.Last month, a group of 10 moderate Republican senators offered an approximately $600 billion counterproposal, but it was summarily rejected by the White House.The White House has been publicly optimistic it will add some Republican support but has privately been preparing to pass the package regardless.That strategy requires the entire Democratic Senate caucus to support it, leaving no room for error.More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
Some Republicans worry that this week's controversial antics from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) have stomped on their attempts to sensitively communicate why they are opposed.
TikTokers are freaking out after learning that Imagine Dragons made demos for disastrous Spider-Man musical
Multiple viral TikToks circulated about Imagine Dragons working on the Spider-Man musical, with many commenting on the 2012 hit song "Radioactive."
- The Independent
The building was closed for two days out of an abundance of caution