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Part of the tragedy of daily life in socialist Venezuela can be glimpsed in this small volunteer soup kitchen in the heart of one of Latin America’s biggest slums, which helps dozens of children as well as unemployed mothers who can no longer feed them.
Some Venezuelans manage to endure the nation’s economic meltdown by clinging to the shrinking number of well-paid jobs or by receiving some of the hundreds of millions of dollars sent home by friends and relatives abroad — a quantity that has swollen in recent years as millions of Venezuelans have fled.
But a growing percentage of people across the country, especially in slums like Petare, are struggling to cope.
Contreras’s husband, Jorge Flores, used to have a small stand at a local market selling things like bananas and yucca, eggs and lunchmeat — trying to scrape out a profit in a place where hyperinflation often made his wholesale costs double from day to day. Then he was robbed at gunpoint by a local gang. And his brother crashed the motorcycle he used to supply his stand.
So Flores abandoned the market stall and looked for other work. He does some plumbing jobs and the family has turned its living room into a barbershop, sheltered beneath a corrugated metal roof held down by loose bricks and planks. It’s decorated with origami-like stars that the family has made out Venezuela’s colorful but rapidly depreciating bolivar bills.
“Our currency is worthless,” Contreras said. “These days, I prefer trading a bag of flour for a manicure or a haircut.”
The scarcity of milk, medicine and other basics — along with routine violence — has eroded support for socialist President Nicolas Maduro even in poor neighborhoods like Petare that once were his strongholds. Maduro says there’s an opposition-led plot to oust him from power and says U.S. economic sanctions and local opposition sabotage are responsible for the meltdown.
Various local polls show he retains support from roughly a fifth of the population, many of them ideological stalwarts, government-connected insiders or poor voters dependent on government handouts, including the so-called CLAP boxes of oil, flour, rice, pasta, canned tuna and other goods that arrive several times a year.
Contreras’ family of four gets those boxes, but it’s not enough to get by on for long. For months, they’ve been relying on the soup kitchen launched by opposition politicians as the main source of protein for their children. On a recent day, her 7-year-old son Jorbeicker played a pickup soccer game in the hilly, dusty streets in front of her home, while her husband practiced styling his mother’s hair.
“I’m barely getting by,” Flores said, scissors in hand.
The four-day power outage that brought most of Venezuela to a halt this month added to Flores’ misery. He wasn’t able to use the electric clippers needed to give customers the sort of trims they demand.
“It hit us in a big way,” he said. “You absolutely need the clippers.”
The couple estimates the power outage cost the family the equivalent of $11 in missed haircuts — a significant sum in a country where the minimum wage amounts to $6 a month, even if most people supplement that figure by working side jobs and pooling resources with friends and neighbors.
Contreras and Flores charge 2,500 bolivars — about 70 U.S. cents — for a trim. A government-subsidized kilogram of flour can cost almost three times that, and Contreras says that lines for the rationed goods can be endless and she sometimes comes back empty-handed. She also said she feels unsafe in the lines. Dozens of people have been killed in gang crossfires over the years, and some have been crushed to death when lines of shoppers turned into stampedes of desperate looters.
Next-door neighbor Dugleidi Salcedo sent her 4-year-old daughter to live with an aunt in the city of Maracay, two hours away, because she could no longer feed her. “My boys cry,” the single mother of four said. “But they resist more than her when I tell them that there’s no food.”
After walking back from the soup kitchen, she opened the rusty door to her home of scraped, mint-colored walls. Inside, her 11-year-old son Daniel, who was born partially paralyzed and with developmental disabilities, lay on a stained couch while flies flew over his twisted, uncovered legs.
When she took the lid off a plastic container to show her last bag of flour, a cockroach crawled out, making her jump back and scream.
“This is so tough,” she said. “I don’t have a job. I don’t have any money.”
Salcedo used to sell baked goods and juices to neighbors from the window of her kitchen. Then, her fridge broke down and she couldn’t find the money to fix it.
These days, she relies on the kindness of neighbors, or asks a friend who owns a small food shop for credit while she waits for loans from family members in other parts of Venezuela.
“This country has never been as bad,” the 28-year-old said. “Just buying some rice or flour is something so hard, so expensive, and often, they don’t even have any.”
A few days later, thieves broke into the soup kitchen and stole food. Then, a fire broke out in the slum, burning 17 homes to the ground. It was caused by candles that were apparently being used for light after a power outage — an almost everyday occurrence in many parts of Venezuela. Opposition lawmaker Manuela Bolivar, whose Nodriza Project runs the soup kitchen, said that when firefighters arrived, they lacked water and had to put out the blaze with dirt.
“It’s a social earthquake,” Bolivar said. “They lose their homes. They’re left in the open air. The soup kitchen was robbed. It’s so many adversities: It’s the infections, the lack of water and food.”
At an outdoor market a short distance from Petare in the middle-class district of Los Dos Caminos, Carmen Gimenez shopped for carrots and other vegetables for a stew. When her 14-year-old daughter Camila asked if they could take some other products, she told her that they would have to stick to the basics.
Although she has a job at a bank, she still struggles to make ends meet.
“It doesn’t matter where you live. The need is the same,” said Gimenez, 43.
“The poor, the rich, and the middle class — we’re all suffering somehow because the government has leveled us all downwards,” she adds with anger. “How did they dominate us? Through the stomach. (VOA)
Divorce is a hard fact in someone's life because it can affect all aspects of life like social, economic, and living status. Conditions become tougher if you have children. Recovering from divorce is also a painful process but good thing is that it is possible to get through it and place better in terms of both finances and emotions. The impact of divorce on finances can be life-lasting but taking precautions and thorough investigations of options can help a lot not only to save unnecessary costs but also some other hidden areas where you weren't aware. Following are some tips to save money during a divorce.
1.Avoid advice from everyone
People like your friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, etc. will start giving unsolicited advice during the divorce process when you discuss it with them. They will share their own experiences and horror stories and advice on how to handle financial issues during the divorce process. Get advice only from those you trust. In this regard, attorneys or financial experts are the best options to save money during the divorce process.
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2.Consider your spouse
It can be challenging for someone who has started the divorce process to think about the soon-to-be ex-spouse's best interests and financial wellbeing. While making decisions about assets and finances, considering not only your interests but also your spouse's interests can help you to reduce divorce process time. You can save your own and your spouse's money if you spend less time in such negotiations because times spend with the attorney will also be shortened.
3.Goodbye to the joint bank account
You should close all joint bank accounts which were in use of you and your spouse especially credit base account. Block major and supplementary credit and debit cards. Your spouse can use it and you can suffer heavy financial loss. Closing of all joint accounts should be the first step to cut down financial loss during divorce proceedings.
4.Open a new checking account
In continuation of the previous point, open your new checking account. This will help you in terms of not only building up of financial history but also your credit record. Credit history will be helpful if you apply for a loan or any other credit facility. This financial history will let you control your money during the divorce process. If your bank account is not a joint account but you own it, then make sure that your spouse was not using supplementary debit or credit cards. If the spouse was using then block it immediately.
Divorce can include many additional and sometimes hidden costs along with routine costs. This can bring more stress and worries to your life. Saving money can help you to fight such financial status. Force savings every month in this regard can help a lot. You can do this by opening a savings account and setting up a debit order from your checking account.
Recovering from divorce is also a painful process but good thing is that it is possible to get through it and place better in terms of both finances and emotions.Getty pictures
6.Keeping track record of the expense
You may not be interested in maintaining a record sheet of your expenses during your married life. If so, then you should start now. Analyze your bank statement critically because expenses can be out of control now. Review your daily cost of things and make critical decisions to cut down unnecessary costs.
7.Chalk out budget
Ideally, a proper budget should be chalked out to control expenses and save money during the divorce process. Select important segments/areas of your lifestyle and allocate a budget to each of them. After allocation of budget, stick to it strictly every month. This can be problematic in the beginning but become easy when you become used to it. By doing this, you will also be able to manage your savings account by allocating money.
8.Own health insurance
Medical emergencies and different health issues can be sudden or without any notice. So, it is necessary to have a health insurance plan in order to not only pay bills of medicines and lab tests but also an unexpected expensive hospital stay. If your health insurance has previously been covering your spouse then it is advisable to set up your own health insurance plan. This can help you to save money.
9.Amendments in your will and beneficiaries
If you have already decided about your will beneficiaries then it is the right time to update it. Now your divorce is under process, so, the content of your will and beneficiaries should also be significantly changed. This is much needed because it is possible that now you have children and who you like to allocate your property and saving especially if the children were not present when you drew up the will.
10.Change power of attorney
Many people assign power of attorney to their spouses during the marriage. Now it is essential to update and end the power of attorney and signing authority given to the spouse. This will help you in terms of legal and financial matters.
11.Apply for online divorce
Advancement in technology has made it easy for everyone to save time and money. Now in the United States, it is easy to apply for a divorce online. You can save time and attorney fees by downloading all the required divorce documents online. You should not worry about which document and how downloaded because many local court websites can give detailed information about how to file divorce online and which documents are needed.
12.Make use of the mediator
It is extremely helpful to use the mediator to decide terms and conditions between you and your spouse. Although an attorney is needed in certain matters of divorce use of a mediator will help you in saving attorney fee
Many spouses are very conscious about expensive assets and luxuries that are going to be distributed among spouses after the divorce. So, they make decisions to splurge on these luxuries. It is advisable not to splurge as the cost of divorce proves may be past your expectation.
14.Do it yourself (DIY) divorce
Many people are unable to afford the cost of attorney and mediator, so, they now try to handle things by themselves as much as possible. The rate of divorce and its cost is increasing day by day. This factor making "do it yourself (DIY) divorce" popular. DIY spouses are using information given by some attorneys who are offering free consultation on their first meeting.
Disclaimer: ( The article is sponsored and hence promotes some commercial links)
Gone are those days when people, sports enthusiasts, and governments lined up to host the Olympics. Hosting the Olympics, once seemed to be an immensely prideful event, but it has now transformed into an economic burden. Host cities grapple with a plethora of problems which mainly include construction delays, cost overruns, security issues, and environmental concerns.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has more or less aggravated the problems. The Winter Olympic Games are scheduled for 2022 in Bejing, China. Furthermore, Paris and Los Angeles have been recently nominated as the hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics Games respectively. Both cities have held the Games on two occasions previously, with Los Angeles hosting as recently as 1984. Simply submitting a bid to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) costs up to millions of dollars. Host cities typically have to spend $50 million to $100 million in fees to a slew of consultancy agencies, event management companies, etc.
Hosting the Olympics is more costly than the bidding process. For instance, London spent $14.6 billion for hosting the Games in 2012. On the other side, Beijing spent a lavish $42 billion for the Games in 2008. Meanwhile, the Russians spent $51 billion dollars on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Making, it the costliest Olympic Games in the history of the Olympics.
Governments of host cities and bid teams love to brag about the legacy of hosting the Games. But the hidden costs of such a massive project is too evident to hide. Such megaprojects require additional employment, as well as subsequent improvement of the pre-existing facilities and public infrastructure. Most of these projects are fraught with costs overruns, shoddy work and a lack of long term vision.
According to a study conducted at the prestigious Oxford University In England, by Danish geographer Bent Flyvbjerg and American journalist Allison Stewart, which looked into the individual economic parameters of hosting the Summer Olympic Games between 1960 and 2012. The findings were astonishing, they found out that the Olympic Games overrun the initial cost estimate with 100 per cent consistency. No other megaproject is this consistent regarding cost overruns.
Athens, in particular, seems to have been the tipping point. The city pridefully hosted the Games in 2004, which ended up costing them €9 billion (a whopping $11 billion at today's exchange rate). The offset of the Games was in disguise the onset of Greece's tumultuous years. The country now is in total disarray, with sky-high unemployment rates, failing economic apparatus, record levels of homelessness, all among the grandiose venues built for the Games.
The conclusion is simple, hosting the Olympics is an extravagant affair. If not planned properly, it tends to result in a severe economic crisis for the host city. If the host city lacks facilities and public infrastructure to support the excess crowds pouring in, not hosting the Olympics may be the best option.
Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.
On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.
Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.
Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).
Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.
India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.
He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.
Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.
The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.
Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.