Lockdowns mean millions of women can’t reach birth control – Nehanda Radio

By Carra Anna | AP |

The callers were in tears. One by one, women in homes across rural Zimbabwe had a pleading question: When would family planning services return?

Lockdowns imposed to curb the coronavirus’ spread have put millions of women in Africa, Asia and elsewhere out of reach of birth control and other sexual and reproductive health needs.

Confined to their homes with their husbands and others, they face unwanted pregnancies and little idea of when they can reach the outside world again.

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In these uncertain times, women “have to lock down their uterus,” Abebe Shibru, Zimbabwe country director for Marie Stopes International, told The Associated Press. “But there is no way in a rural area.”

Eighteen countries in Africa have imposed national lockdowns, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All but essential workers or those seeking food or health care must stay home for weeks, maybe longer. Rwanda, the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to impose a lockdown, has extended it for two weeks, a possible sign of things to come.

Even where family planning remains available, providers say many women fear venturing out and being beaten by security forces and accused of defying the new restrictions.

Meanwhile, outreach services, the key to reaching rural women, have largely stopped to avoid drawing crowds and the risk of workers spreading the virus from one community to another.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation, or IPPF, in a new report Thursday says more than one in five member clinics around the world have closed because of the pandemic and related restrictions. More than 5,000 mobile clinics across 64 countries have closed.

Most are in South Asia and Africa, but Latin America and Europe have seen hundreds of closures as well.

From Pakistan to Germany to Colombia, IPPF members say they have scaled down HIV testing and gender-based violence response work and face shortages of contraceptives.

“They have needs that cannot wait,” IPPF director-general Alvaro Bermejo said of women in a statement, pleading for help from national governments to help provide personal protective equipment to allow for intimate care.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and death.

In Europe, 100 non-governmental groups on Wednesday called on governments to ensure reproductive health services during the pandemic, saying many facilities have sharply reduced them or shut down.

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DOLE assures aid to kin of 2 OFWs killed in UAE restaurant blast

MANILA – The government has assured financial assistance and other benefits to the families of the two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were killed in a gas explosion at a restaurant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Monday.

In a statement on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured that the families of the victims, Clark Bacud Gasis and Merriner Goc-ong Bertoces, will each receive PHP120,000 bereavement assistance.

“They will also get insurance benefits if they are qualified members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA),” he said.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Abu Dhabi reported that a total of 10 Filipinos, including two children, figured in the explosion reportedly caused by a gas leak inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant along Airport Road on August 31.

The explosion instantly killed Gasis, 39, an electrical draftsman from Surigao del Sur, and Bertoces, 26, an employee at the restaurant, from Negros Oriental.

Also, Bello added that OWWA would be ready to provide additional aid allowed by law to the families of the victims.

“We will extend to them all the support the government can provide,” he said.

The blast also injured eight other Filipinos. Six of them were immediately taken to the Sheik Khalifa Medical Center (SKMC) for treatment.

Five of the injured have already been discharged while the other one identified as Rodel Paclibar, also a KFC-Abu Dhabi staff member, remains at the hospital for further observation.

A total of 28 persons including other nationals were involved in the deadly blast, reports said.

Meanwhile, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) urged the people to continue to pray for all OFWs.

“We just honor our living heroes last August 31, they are our OFWs and the Medical front liners. Now we lost two OFWs in line of their works. We see the difficulties and dangers they are into and daily undergoing. So, the more we have to pray for them, appreciate their sacrifices and services, to protect themselves,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos, vice chairman of the CBCP-ECMI in a statement.

At the same time, he offered prayers for the victims and their families.

“We, at CBCP-ECMI, commend their souls to God’s mercy and we are praying for strength of their families to hold on to God and rise up from this tragic event,” the Catholic prelate added.

Santos also lauded Filipino officials in the host country for the help extended to the victims and their families.

“We are also grateful for help and assistance rendered by our Philippine embassy officials to our two OFWs and their families. Let us always pray for our OFWs and do always what is best for them,” he said. (PNA)

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Skeletal services to start on the Lagos-Ibadan rail project in September

Lagosians may soon begin to enjoy less traffic congestion and smooth
business operations with neighboring states as the railway lines are set to commence operations.

The Lagos Ibadan rail project which had been undergoing reconstruction is near completion with a 312km long double-track standard gauge rail line.

#Lagos-Ibadan rail project # railway lines

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The Best Celebrity Poker Players In Hollywood – Poker News

From all my years playing in high-stakes cash games and rounding several Hollywood home games I often get asked the question, “Who is the best celebrity poker player you’ve ever played with?” And although I almost always avoid answering this question with any real detail, today is the day that I’m finally gonna spill a big fat can of Hollywood beans!

Before I start naming names, we need to establish some rules. First off, how do we define a “Hollywood Celebrity” who I have played poker with? Well, there is the obvious record of A-listers who have played in the games from time to time, but in Hollywood, celebrity does not necessarily mean the person has to be an actor, rock star, or sporting idol. Tinseltown also celebrates the movie mogul producers, tabloid headline makers, run-amok trust fund types, billionaires, captains of industry, and frankly, anyone who can get seated on the patio at the Ivey in Beverly Hills when there are no reservations left, or be ushered past the lines and straight to the VIP bottle service at the hottest clubs in town.

There’s a ton of sucking up to be done in Hollywood and plenty of people are puckering up 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the intention of kissing the right person’s ass. If you really want to know who the hottest celebs are in Hollywood, just follow the paparazzi around… they know all the dirt. But as far as poker playing celebs, you’ve come to the right source.

I’ll be eliminating two celebs from the list due to what I would call “over qualification.” If you’ve read my book or my previous columns, you can probably guess one of the celebs being eliminated is my former partner in crime, Tobey Maguire. Why? I consider Tobey to be far beyond the level of a casual or even passionate Hollywood celeb poker player. I’ve played in many big cash games with some of the top pros in the world from the famous to the infamous, and Spider Man can hold his own with pretty much anyone.

Secondly, I am eliminating Jennifer Tilly, simply because I feel she has now officially become more of a “poker personality” than an actor. Her core business these days seems to be poker related, whereas none of the other celebs on my list can make such a bold claim.

My primary criteria for this list is that I have had to have played with these players multiple times in a serious cash game setting. While I’ve played in tournaments and/or enjoyed conversing about poker with players such as Jason Alexander, Ray Romano, or Don Cheadle, without tangling in a serious cash game I wouldn’t have enough information on their ability to make a fair assessment of overall skill.

I could have easily done a top 10, but for the sake of time and space, I kept it to five. Some honorable mentions would definitely include actor Hank Azaria, tennis legend Pete Sampras, and film director Steve Brill.

James WoodsNo. 5 James Woods

Coming in at no. five is Oscar-nominated thespian James Woods. Woods was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Actor for his work in Oliver Stone’s Salvador and for Best Supporting Actor for Rob Reiner’s Ghosts of Mississippi. He is the recipient of two Primetime Emmy Awards for the television movies Promise and My Name Is Bill W. My two favorite Woods performances would be his role in Contact alongside Jody Foster as the skeptical Michael Kitz and of course his role as the scumbag hustler/pimp, Lester Diamond in Scorsese’s masterpiece, Casino opposite Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci. I’ve spent an ample time at the table with Jimmy. He is a fun, super tight, yet very skilled player to play against.

Woods went to MIT, and is probably the most intelligent celebrity I’ve spent time with on the felt. The one thing about Woods that makes him tough to play with is his uncanny ability for table talk. Woods can talk your ear off when you are in the middle of a decision. I’ve seen him distract players through conversation causing them to make horrible plays. All the while, his own choices at the table are very always methodical and well-executed.

One thing that makes James Woods much like any other poker player is his passion for telling bad beat stories. One time I was walking through the Bellagio and he spotted me from the center of the poker room and flagged me down. After making his way through a sea of tables and fans who wanted his autograph, he proceeded to share about 30 minutes’ worth of bad beat stories from his last two hours at the table. But hearing James Woods share a bad beat story is decidedly much more entertaining than listening to your average rent-grinding pal who just lost his lunch money. The money means nothing to Jimmy, but winning means everything… and he’s a formidable opponent.

Todd PhillipsNo. 4 Todd Philips

My number no. 4 pick is acclaimed writer/director Todd Phillips. Todd is probably one of the hottest directors in Hollywood right now. We remember him for movies like Old School and Road Trip, but it was the incredible gamble he took when making The Hangover that really put him on the map. Todd gave up a $7 million dollar director’s fee in order to have casting control and the freedom to make a R-rated comedy. The result was the largest R-rated comedy in movie history and a more than $100 million dollar payout for Todd. If that wasn’t enough, he recently directed the no. one rated-R film of all time with The Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix, which has grossed over $1 billion.

I’ve played with Todd for years, starting back in my Hollywood Park days when he would drop by from time to time to play pot-limit. Much like the way Todd has taken strategic gambles in his career, he does the same at the poker table. He is not scared of a huge bluff or even slow playing a big hand if the circumstances are in line for a big payout. Todd was one of the founding members of our original game (that the film Molly’s Game was based on, and that my book Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist is about). It was during the run of our game that he also finished fifth in the 2005 WPT Legends of Poker championship event, bringing him a cool $250,000 cash along with some serious home game bragging rights. Todd’s biggest weapon at the table is his incredible sense of humor. He is so damn funny that he can make a player forget they are playing for tons of money.

Ben AffleckNo. 3 Ben Affleck

In terms of legitimate A-list movie stars, Affleck is definitely the best aside from Tobey Maguire. Affleck’s antics at the poker table have been widely reported. We know he has been banned from casinos for counting cards at the blackjack table, and he too has a legit tournament cash from winning $356,000 and the title for the 2004 California State Poker Championship held at the Commerce.

To those who feel that one or two cashes isn’t that much to write home about, consider this. Guys like Affleck and Phillips don’t play tournaments nearly as often as the average semi pro, so their cash percentage by comparison is impressive. I was there when Ben was learning the game and getting schooled by cash pros like Gabe Thaler, up to his first high-stakes private games in Beverly Hills with myself, Pete Sampras, Asher Dan, and Rick Fox. But it wasn’t until Ben became a regular in my game with Tobey that he became a serious threat at the table. I don’t think Ben picked up the game as quickly Tobey did, but over time he has steadily become one of the most feared actors to sit down at the table. He’s not afraid to make the big call or the big bluff and from what I’ve seen, he’s been more right than wrong when lots of money was on the line. Ben was definitely a winner in our game.

Nick CassavetesNo. 2 Nick Cassavetes

For those of you who don’t know who Nick Cassavetes is, let me start be explaining that this guy hails from pure Hollywood royalty. His mother was legendary actress Gena Rowlands and his father was actor and legendary film director John Cassavetes, the guy who basically invented the “independent” film genre by casting a rotating group of his close friends into personally financed films including his wife, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and Seymour Cassel. Much like his father, Nick’s reputation as a director has garnered him much praise from the film community. He directed The Notebook which is probably one of the most famous romantic films of all time, but it was Nick’s grittier films that gave him a daring reputation as a film maker. This was personified in the TV series Entourage when Cassavetes played himself and pushed Vincent Chase to do his own dangerous life-threatening stunts. In the same series, there were scenes featuring Nick as well as Rick Salomon playing poker on set, which is pulled straight from real life.

Aside from what we know as “Molly’s Game,” the biggest game in town was always held at Nick’s house and is still going off every week to this day. While Nick’s game didn’t play quite as big as our main game, it was huge and always a good time. Nick has a very commanding presence, standing six-foot-six with a menacing giant skull and crossbones tattoo across his chest. Nick is not afraid to gamble and he absolutely hates to lose! He once won a big prop bet with Tobey who bet him he couldn’t get six-pack abs in a short amount of time. Nick pulled his shirt off right at the table in front of everyone and Tobey was forced to admit defeat.

Nick’s personality is such that many players don’t like to play big hands with him for fear of upsetting him. He’s not the kind of guy you want to see pissed. I never played soft against Nick but we always liked each other, even though my style of play put me on the second tier of his weekly invite list. One time, Nick and I chopped up Brandon Davis before the game started in a classic two on one hustle that I will never forget.

Rick SalomonNo. 1 Rick Salomon

Beyond the shadow of a doubt Rick Salomon takes the top spot on my list. He was responsible for putting the final nail in my coffin when I lost a million dollars in one night, a scene more-or-less recreated in the movie by Harland Eustice, the character based on me.

Rick is, of course, the guy who filmed the underground sex tape of himself and Paris Hilton titled One Night In Paris, but that’s not the half of it. He’s also been married to Shannon Doherty of Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed fame, and was also famously married and divorced from Pam Anderson, not once, but twice! The guy is affectionately called “Scum” by his friends. He’s famous for being a bad boy, but known by the Hollywood A-listers and elites for being a man of his word. If you shake Rick’s hand over any amount of money, it’s just as good as signing a contract in blood. And that is something you rarely see in Tinseltown these days.

His wild drug antics are also the stuff of legend. Hell, the night he took me down he had done more cocaine in 10 minutes than I had ever seen in my life up to that point. But somewhere along the line, Rick said to himself, “If I ever smoke crack again, I’m checking myself into rehab for a year.” And that’s exactly what he did. If you’ve read my book and think I’ve lived a colorful life, I promise you… the book Rick Salomon could write would be like an action-packed roller coaster thrill ride into the world of Hollywood and high-stakes gambling. The dude has no fear, and when his discipline is on go mode, Rick is as skilled as any cash pro I’ve ever met.

Andy Beal, the billionaire banker who took on the Corporation for millions of dollars and was chronicled in the book The Professor, The Banker And The Suicide King by Michael Craig, reportedly lost $40 million to Rick, causing Pam to sue to him for her share. It’s all true, but it isn’t even half the story behind Salomon’s true tales at the table! Maybe one day he will let me share the rest of his mind-blowing exploits… but until then, you will have to trust me when I tell you, Rick Salomon is hands down the best Hollywood celeb I’ve ever played against.

In my next column, I’ll be spinning tales about the top 5 WORST celebrity poker players I’ve ever played with! You might be surprised and shocked to see the names on that list! Trust me, you won’t want to miss it. Be sure to check out all of my Card Player supplement videos at my KardSharp website.

And remember… stay sharp! Stay Kardsharp!

Houston Curtis Houston Curtis, founder of KardSharp.com and author of Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist has lived a successful double life as both a producer and card mechanic for nearly 30 years. His credits include executive producing gambling related TV shows such as The Ultimate Blackjack Tour on CBS, The Aruba Poker Classic on GSN and pioneering the poker instructional DVD genre with titles featuring poker champion Phil Hellmuth.

Barred for life from Las Vegas Golden Nugget for “excessive winning” at blackjack, Houston is one of the world’s most successful card mechanics and sleight-of-hand artists of the modern era. Curtis, who rarely plays in tournaments, won a 2004 Legends of Poker no-limit hold’em championship event besting Scotty Nguyen heads-up at the final table before going on to co-found the elite Hollywood poker ring that inspired Aaron Sorkin’s Academy Award-nominated film Molly’s Game.

Curtis resides in Phoenix, Arizona where in addition to running a production company and independent record label, he is also a private gaming/casino protection consultant to clients across the globe seeking insight into master level card cheating tactics via advanced sleight-of-hand technique. To reach Houston for a speaking engagement, consulting or production services send email to stacked@Kardsharp.com.

All views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Card Player.

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Suicide remains leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 29 in S’pore

There were a total of 400 reported suicides in Singapore in 2019, up from 397 in 2018, Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said in a release in Aug. 3, 2020.

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Suicides increased across most age groups

Most age groups registered a slight increase in the number of suicide deaths in 2019.

Deaths as a result of suicide dropped to 8.00 per 100,000 Singapore residents from 8.36 in 2018.

Suicide remains the leading cause of death for youths aged 10 to 29.

Notably, the number of suicide deaths amongst those aged 20 to 29 years remains highest compared to all other age groups.

20 to 29 years old group vulnerable

In 2019, 71 youths aged between 20 and 29 years took their own lives.

Suicide accounts for about one-third of all reported deaths in this age group.

Seeking help

Of those who revealed their age, youths between 20 to 29 years old accounted for approximately 17 per cent of total calls attended to on the 24-hour hotline, and making up for about 37 per cent of Email Befriending clients.

In particular, the number of calls from this age group rose to 4,124, up from 3,396 calls in the previous fiscal year ending March 2019.

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Problems encountered

Through interactions with clients, SOS observed that these individuals often cite issues with romantic relationships, difficulties coping with one’s mental health and struggles managing challenging situations as contributing factors that led to their acute distress.

In a survey recently conducted by SOS to understand the community’s perception towards suicide, one in three in the 20 to 29 age group, responded that they will not consider contacting others for help when they are emotionally overwhelmed.

Stigmatising beliefs around suicide emerged as a common barrier to seeking help for this group.

The fear of embarrassment, being judged, along with the sense of hopelessness that nothing will help, were prominent reasons that surfaced in the survey findings.

A total of 2,497 respondents participated in the survey, of which 580 were aged 20 to 29.

Gasper Tan, Chief Executive of SOS, said: “While the rise in calls is an encouraging sign that youths are recognising the importance of their mental health and need for early intervention, the high number of suicide deaths in this age group is concerning.”

“Much more remains to be done as a community to further understand and address the issues that may prevent our youths from seeking help”.

Highlighting the integral role of advocacy in recent years, he added: “As the lead agency in suicide prevention, SOS will continue to harness these efforts, drawing on the strength, support and network of the community in our programmes and outreach”.

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SOS text-based service introduced

The launch of SOS’ text-based service, SOS Care Text, has been brought forward in recognition of the hesitation of calling the hotline for some individuals in distress or contemplating suicide and their preference for another option through text messaging.

Referring to the increase in the number of calls into the 24-hour Hotline and emails during the Circuit Breaker period, Tan said: “During these trying times, it is crucial that SOS is able to readily provide an alternative form of emotional support while catering to the changing communication preferences of the community.”

Respondents to the SOS survey had also indicated text-based services as the most preferred platform to seek help, reflecting the timely introduction of this offering.

About SOS

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) is a secular, non-profit suicide prevention centre.

Established 1969, SOS has developed into a professionally run and managed organisation that adopts a holistic approach to suicide-related topics, focusing on prevention, intervention and postvention, an intervention conducted after a suicide for loved ones and friends.

With the mission to be an available lifeline to anyone in crisis, SOS offers emotional support to people in crisis, thinking of suicide, or affected by suicide.

All information shared with SOS is treated as confidential and people can choose to remain anonymous.

Top photo via Unsplash

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Birth rate in PH down by 6 percent in 2018: PSA | ABS-CBN News

MANILA – About 190 babies were born per hour, or approximately 3 babies were born per minute in 2018, a decreased trend in the last 6 years, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.

PSA said there were a total of 1,668,120 live births registered in the country in 2018, or around 4,570 babies born daily. This is equivalent to a crude birth rate of 15.8 or 16 births per thousand of population.

The 2018 data showed a decreasing trend in the last 6 years, from 1,790,367 live births in 2012 to 1,668,120 live births in 2018. This accounts for a 6.8 percent drop in the number of registered live births since 2012.

PSA also showed more males were born than females. Of the total live births in 2018, 870,832 or 52.2 percent were male, while 797,288 or 47.8 percent were female. This resulted to a sex ratio at birth of 109 males per 100 females.

More than half of all live births in 2018 were in Luzon at 58.4 percent, followed by Mindanao at 23 percent and Visayas at 18.5 percent.

Among the regions, the National Capital Region recorded the highest number of birth occurrences at 14.3 percent, followed by Calabarzon at 13.8 percent and Central Luzon at 11.3 percent.

According to PSA, more babies were born outside the usual residence of the mother, which may be due to better health care facilities and services in the receiving region.

In 2018, most of the births occurred in September, with a total of 156,820 births or 9.4 percent of the total. This was followed by October at 9.3 percent, November at 8.9 percent and December at 8.8 percent.

The data also showed the least number of births in 2018 was in February, with only 113,912 births or 6.8 percent of the total live births.

Of the total number of births, 94.3 percent, or 9 out of 10 births, were attended by health professionals, either by a physician, a midwife or a nurse. 

Among all the regions in the Philippines, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) showed a very low number of medically attended births, with almost half of the births in the region attended by traditional birth attendants, or hilot.

According to PSA, more than half, or 54.3 percent (906,106) of the total live births in 2018 were born out of wedlock. Calabarzon, NCR and Central Luzon recorded the highest number of babies born out of wedlock, while ARMM had the most number of legitimate births.

Majority of the babies were also born to mothers aged 20 to 24, and fathers aged 25 to 29. There were also more babies born to adolescent mothers (aged 19 below) than those sired by adolescent fathers.

The PSA have yet to release the full birth data for 2019, but it has recorded a total of 728,157 births from January to June of last year.

The PSA released the 2018 birth data on its official website on December 27, 2019.

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