Peace In The House, Peace In The World

Peace in The House, Peace in The World

“Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world” A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

In the Jewish tradition, there is a high idealized standard of family life characterized by wholeness, fulfillment, nurturing, respect and kindness. It is believed that God dwells in a pure and loving home. It is called shalom bayit -peace in the house.

Peace starts with us. We must create peace in the home to carry it outside and share it with our communities, our cities, our states, our country and then the world. It is more than saying I want World Peace. It is making a conscious choice do something differently in our lives. It is choosing to deal differently with our own conflicts and frustrations. It is learning communication skills and taking responsibility for our  actions. It is taking these commitments we have made to ourselves and bringing them out into the world.

As Gandhi says, become the change you want to see. We can’t depend on our leaders anymore. I do not believe that I will see World Peace in my lifetime. But if we do not change how we behave to other people, it will not be in any lifetime.

Be good to those around you. Selfless acts of service to those in need will change your life and theirs. Teach your children about the world around them. Learning about other cultures, religions and customs enables children to understand different perspectives and develop a feeling of connection with all people.

There are more people in this world who want love and peace than there are who want hate and war. The media focuses on the bad. We need to focus on the good.  I have met good  people from all over the world which makes me still believe that peace is possible. There are more people who want to live in harmony then chaos.

I try to do something nice for a stranger every day. It started after seeing the movie Pay It Forward. Sometimes it is small like leaving money in a parking meter for the next person, buying a coffee or a drive through meal for the person in line behind me, giving food to a homeless person, picking up garbage that I see on the beach, listening to the person standing in front of a store who is raising money for something or talking to an old person sitting on a bench alone in a park. My hope is that they will do something for someone else. Maybe it will make one person a little less angry, or more peaceful and connected during their day. 

Become an expert at living your life with wholeness, fulfillment , nurturing, respect and kindness and maybe those around us will follow. If we are lucky, it will trickle up.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Of The Least Corrupt Countries In The World

Ten Of The Least Corrupt Countries In The  World

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” Mahatma Gandhi

Corruption is one of the biggest problems in the world. The threat of corruption is always prevalent. Here is the list of the 10 least corrupt countries in the world in order as published by Transparency International.

Denmark almost always ranks first as the country least prone to corruption. Is it that the Danes have a higher moral fiber than other people? Is it something in their genes? Perhaps it is that the Danes have a high degree of trust in other people and in the system. Fair working conditions, social security, health arrangements, decent salaries and pension schemes are among the things that contribute to giving the Danes reasonable living conditions. Anti corruptions strategy is part of the corporate business structure. They aren’t immune to bribery but they have a tradition of  high ethical and moral views of the world.

New Zealand is not categorized by political corruption scandals.   No country has a perfect score and New Zealand has slipped down from first place over the last few years. New Zealand’s reputation for honesty, transparency and justice is a great advantage in conducting international trade and other dealings. It is still the least corrupt country in Asia-Pacific.

Corruption is very low in Finland. Finland consistently ranks in the top four of the Corruption Perception Index. There is a strong anti corruption commitment from their government. The country’s focus on human rights issues and literacy have a high correlation to lower rates of corruption.

Sweden ranks fourth in the World Corruptions Perception Index.  Government agencies have a high degree of transparency, integrity and accountability. The legal system is effective in fighting corruption issues that arise.  According to Forbes magazine it is the best country in the world to do business with. The low-level of corruption is one of the reasons.

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Norway falls behind Sweden and Denmark in corruption but all the Scandinavian countries still rate as the least corrupt countries in the world. Business is conducted with a high level of transparency. Administration corruption and petty bribery are almost non-existent. Bribery, fraud, extortion and money laundering carry a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment. Anti-corruption laws are strongly enforced.

Switzerland has very strong anti-bribery enforcement activities and controls of corruption. The Swiss economy is one of the most competitive and innovative in the world. One of the reasons is because they have a sound regulatory environment.

Singapore has consistently placed well ahead of the other Asian countries in terms of corruption. Singaporeans expect and demand a clean system, and will not give or accept bribery to get things done, unlike in other countries.  The city-state does have an aggressive Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau; professional courts and a ruthless, relentless emphasis on efficiency and results.There’s an old saying in Asia that the real money is in government. Not the paychecks, but the kickbacks. Singapore  pays its government well so that does not happen.

The Netherlands is always in the top ten. When economic freedom exists, it comes with  very little corruption.  The country has established strong pillars—an independent judiciary, effective anti-corruption mechanisms and a culture of trust—that all combine to create a society where corruption is not considered a serious problem.

Corruption does not constitute a problem for businesses in Luxembourg. The country has a strong legal framework to curb corruption, and anti-corruption laws are effectively enforced. It is not perfect but still better than most of the world.

Canada ranks tenth  this year and is still one of the least corrupt countries. It is the least corrupt country in the Americas which includes the United States. It does not mean that there is no corruption, only less than other countries.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things That I Am Worried About When Traveling As A Couple

Things That  I Am Worried About When Traveling As A Couple

“The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.”  Henry Boyle

It all seems perfect when you are thinking about it in your living room. I imagine breakfast in a fluffed bed, over looking a clear blue ocean. In my story, I look effortlessly beautiful five minutes after waking up. The new normal airport security lines are fast and stress free. My suitcase is not heavy. Traveling in my fantasy is just as glamorous as traveling looks on Instagram and Facebook. No one has jet lag, gets annoyed, sick or has physical bodily functions.

Traveling  together as a couple prematurely  can ruin a potentially great relationship. The pressure to get along and enjoy yourself all day long can be huge.  A short trip is a good test. It is easy to over look things when you are home, but when you are traveling together every minute, an issue that would otherwise not be a big deal, can blow up out of proportion.

He does not yet know that I truly believe that to have the perfect trip you need to have the perfect travel wardrobe no matter how heavy the suitcase is. I am a spiller and not just on myself. The pressure of not knocking over a glass of wine or cup of coffee all over him will probably make it happen. Does he really understand that saying you get carsick and being in a car with someone who is carsick are two different things?  What funny, weird habits does he have that I don’t yet  know about? Besides that he just mentioned he has a fanny pack for traveling.  At least it is a cute one. What is a jet lag problem?  We are both planners. Will that turn out to be one of our issues?

Finding oneself in a challenging situation often changes temperaments and can lead to misunderstandings. Different agendas often lead to calendar conflicts and the inability to visit every site you hoped to see. Flexibility and at least a bit of alone time is important.We both are funny so that might help. He says that he is funnier. 

The unpredictability  of any trip  and being together twenty-four hours a day means there is no place to hide. The chips will fall one of two ways: I will return hating every fiber of his being; or I will be convinced that this is the person I am going to travel the world with. The first trip we have planned is a few days in Northern California – the second is to the most remote place on earth.

I am  about to learn quickly whether he  can read a situation, problem-solve, and handle his  baggage in any circumstance. He is about to learn what it is like to be with a serial traveler. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Countries With The Longest Life Expectancies

Countries With The Longest  Life Expectancies

 ‘If a man in China dies before 90, other people treat the death as early and tragic.’ unknown

I  think of life as a finite amount of time.  Maybe we are each allocated a certain number of years. Some countries have more- some less. People often exceed the life expectancy of their country. For them, every day is a gift. here is a list of the top ten places to live if you want more of a guarantee of long life.

10; In South Korea people now live longer than Americans. Perhaps it is exercise – they take it very seriously and walk a lot also. Perhaps it is diet. Kimchi, a staple of Korean food, is actually rated as one of the healthiest foods in the world. Korean meat and chicken are raised differently and are considered to be healthier than those in the United States.

9. The people in Israel live long lives. The world has made great strides in reducing deaths that arise from preventable and treatable diseases and Israelis have good medical care. Israeli people live in a constant state of stress and fighting which should work against their lifespan. But the Israeli warmth and social support has a major influence on their mental state. Israelis do live with a fear of terror which is balanced by a high level of optimism.

8. Australia is now included in the group of countries where people are expected to live longer. Australia’s universal health care system is one of the best in the world.There is a sharp decline in tobacco consumption. Though they are living longer, there is also a rise in diseases so it may not mean that they are living healthier.

7. Red wine and good health insurance make France one of the countries with a long life expectancy. Walking, everything in moderation, varied diet and no snacks or sodas are proven to be helpful for longevity. 

6. Singaporeans are living longer now. They are not just living longer but staying healthy longer. There is great emphasis on proper care for the onset of chronic diseases. In Singapore good health seem to come with wealth, a strong economy and good health care. They want to change the perception of aging  by keeping people over the age of sixty-five as vital members of society.   

5. Italians smoke more, earn less and spend less on health care than we do but they still live longer. The Mediterranean diet is also likely to be a factor in the long lifespans in Italy. Olive oil helps.

4. There are long life expectancies in Switzerland. They have a good work life balance. The Swiss work normal hours and take proper lunch breaks.Their cities are very pedestrian friendly and walkable.They have the highest chocolate consumption of any country in the world. Dark chocolate is believed to have protective powers.

3.  Spanish people are happy, friendly and walk everywhere. The food in Spain is unprocessed and there are a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Gazpacho and honey are credited with longevity powers.

2. If you had the power to choose the chance for a long life, you would choose to be born in Japan. Japanese boys and girls are  expected to live to 73 without any major illness or disability. Their overall life expectancy is in the 80s. The high Japanese life expectancy is due to a diet low in fats and high in carbs. It also includes regular exercise and a healthy attitude to life, community and family. The island of Okinawa has an unusually high proportion of old people attributed  often to a laid back attitude and a lot of varieties of seaweed in their diet.

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1. People who live in Hong Kong are outliving the rest of the world.  They have beaten Japan primarily because smoking has decreased by fifty per cent. Hong Kong is a city while Japan is a country with rural areas included. In general, people who live in the city have longer lives. People in Hong Kong have good access to education, clean water, medical care and electricity. The Asian diet which is low in sugar, Feng Shui, Yin and Yang philosophy (balancing opposing forces – physically and mentally), importance of family ( people who live alone die sooner) and no sun worshipping, are all contributing factors to their long lives. 

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Sometimes A Kid Is Just A Kid

Sometimes A Kid Is Just A Kid

“By endurance we conquer.” Edward Shackleton

In life you will meet a lot of people and most of them you will end up forgetting. I will never forget an eight year old boy who rolled into the first day of 826LA summer writing program  where I volunteer.

It wasn’t just a wheel chair. He was strapped in with a plastic plate across his chest and a large clear plastic tube attached to a hole in his throat. I have lung problems and hate to see breathing tubes.  Since I was a child, I have always had a strange fear of deformities and people who look sick. The pediatrician told my mother that it was because I had watched my grandmother who lived with us, shrivel away and die when I was three years old.  I don’t know if that is true.

“Please don’t sit at my table” I thought when he entered. I’ve often heard that when you phrase something negatively and put it out into the universe, the universe doesn’t hear the negative word.  It hears “Please sit at my table” and that is what happened. I won’t be able to help him. But I smiled and introduced myself. After all, I am grown up now. He says his name is Tony.  His eyes lit up and gave me the most beautiful smile. He participated shyly as all the kids did on the first day. I wasn’t sitting next to him and he couldn’t reach a paper in his binder. I froze for a second because I did not know if I was supposed to get up and help him or let him struggle and do it himself. Alejandra, the girl sitting next him quietly gets it for him. Neither of them say a word to each other. He is sitting next to a boy named Omar and he says that there is someone in his class named Omar. Omar smiles in delight at him and says ‘You know someone with my name?” It will be all right at this table.

I am late the next day and a volunteer is already sitting there when I arrive. The program leader tells me that  the kids at my table  were asking for me. I seem to be doing ok. Do we talk about the wheel chair and all the stuff he has with it? No one that I have asked seems to know. I watch nine-year old Alejandra who is sitting next to him this week. She does not interact much with any of the kids at the table – only adults. She is on it. If Tony can’t reach something or drops something, she gets it and hands it to him in total silence. I learn from her that helping someone is just something you do. You don’t need a big discussion about it.

At the end of the week, we do a group project and everyone has added something important to save the sea turtles. We have become a team.. Tony tells me that he hates doctors but likes the dentist. I have to go to the dentist for a filling and a crown and I tell him that I HATE dentists. He laughs hysterically as if I have just said the funniest thing. He is a warrior and clearly I am not. He looks like he has gone through so much at such a young age. Most of us cannot even imagine doing that but the smile never faded from his face. He told me he didn’t smile a lot when he was in the hospital  but he smiles all the time now.  Sick definitely does not mean weak.

The following week the kids have changed tables.  I arrive early. “Tony is sitting at the second table”, says the program leader.  He is very happy to see me there when he arrives. I am happy to see him as well.

The summer program is ending and I do not know if I will ever see Tony again. I have dealt with worsening health problems that seemed big to me but are small in relationship to his. I learned from him to be grateful  for the health I have and always make the most of my situation. While I was busy wallowing in self-pity, Tony was smiling through adversity and putting a smile on my face as well. But more importantly, he taught me that at any moment, even when you least expect it, someone or something can change your life.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Ten Of The Most Corrupt Countries In The World

Ten Of The Most Corrupt Countries In The World

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. “Friedrich Nietzsche  

Transparency International, an anticorruption agency monitors the relationship between politics and money around the world. Measuring corruption is difficult and subjective, but  the group compiled a Corruption Perceptions Index. The lowest ranked nations were all plagued by “conflict and war, poor governance, weak public institutions like police and the judiciary and a lack of independence in the media.”

Fair  and just government rule is an important  step in pulling a country out of the cycle of poverty. When the government is corrupt, natural resources are destroyed. The death toll rises when people have to bribe for inadequate health care,clean water or food.  The first step to putting an end to poverty is putting an end to government corruption.

Unfortunately, there are way more than ten countries – many being in Africa. I compiled the ten from a few different lists. 

1.Somalia in Eastern Africa heads almost all the lists as the world’s most corrupt country. It has been there for the last ten years. Corruption in Somalia takes the form of mass murder.  Three decades of war and droughts forced half of the population to be dependent on foreign food aid shipments which are controlled by the local warlords. Desperation turns ordinary citizens into pirates on the many Somalian pirate ships to feed their families. Bribery, voter intimidation and no way of keeping track of the number of voters, makes change in government difficult.

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2. Corruption in North Korea is a widespread and  a growing problem. It is hard to get the facts because it is the most totalitarian Communist regime left in the world.  North Koreans assume that any official in a position to take bribes will. Corruption is part of the fabric of daily life. Strict rules and serious punishments imposed by the regime, for example, against accessing foreign media  are commonly evaded by offering bribes to the police.

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3. Afghanistan is always in the top four as one of the most corrupt countries. The casual disregard of legality is noticeable. Most of the money from international aid never filters down to the people who need it. There is no punishment for corruption.  The interior minister was also made a drug czar which was too much for the international community to handle. Britain pulled their funding. Drug trafficking and vote rigging  are  very visible.

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4. Sudan is one of the worst nation’s in the world for human rights violations. Corruption exists in every section of the economy and every level of government. There is no freedom of the media so it is hard for the average person to get any information. Bribery is necessary for any  public services and in dealing with police. The UN is ineffective  in this country because of government intervention.

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5. Corruption is at the root of the power struggle in South Sudan causing the continued violence. Government officials have built personal fortunes while their country suffers and starves. Both sides have been blamed for mass rape, massacres, denial of aid, sexual slavery, burning of food supplies and villages, killing civilians and the use of child soldiers.  Both sides, have been looting the country’s natural resources and using international aid to fund their militias to fight each other.  There is no accountability for the atrocities and looting of state resources, or for the famine that has resulted.South Sudan is the world’s newest country (2011) and the hope they had five years ago is dwindling.

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6. Angola is a country rich in diamonds, oil and serious corruption. The president is a billionaire. Government workers are rich. Villagers live without health care, education and adequate food. Angola has the  highest child mortality rate in the world which is mostly preventable.   Corruption kills. The US and western oIl companies have a great relationship with Angola. If we do not condemn it, then we have a part in it.

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7. Not much has changed since the revolution in Libya in terms of corruption and financial mismanagement. The systemic corruption is not limited to a few institutions but becoming normal in people’s lives. The bribe culture still flourishes. The oil based economy is a huge source of corruption with  very little filtering down to the people who need it.

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8.In post war Iraq a corrupt political class has pillaged the country’s money, forcing corruption at every level. The senior political leaders have taken most of it. Organized corruption syndicates run the country and militia. Plunging oil prices and the War against the Islamic State are putting Iraq’s dwindling finances in major jeopardy. Corruption exists because it is allowed to exist. Having being governed by a dictator for so long, the people don’t understand self governance.

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9. The Myanmar government has acknowledged the problem of widespread corruption. it will take time to have an impact on all the private sector and government corruption. Land ownership and the jade business are still run by military.  Multiple exchange rates and corruption are serious barriers to trade and investment in Myanmar. Nepotism, personal connections and bribery are more important than qualifications.  Myanmar is one of four major producers for opium and heroin. Money intended to help the  public is more often used for personal gain.

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10. Corruption seems to go hand and hand with human rights violations and Venezuela is no exception. Government funds meant to serve the people are mismanaged, stolen or spent. Medicine and food meant for the poor are sold to other countries.Venezuela is an oil rich country and the fact that so many live in poverty without government aid is shameful. There is so much corruption and mismanagement from the government to the private sector that food and medicine are rotting in warehouses instead of being distributed. Journalists who try to report anything are jailed.

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Other very highly corrupt countries are Haiti, Guinea Bissau,  Eritrea. Syria, Turkmenistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan,Burundi, Cambodia, Zimbabwe,Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Los Angeles Restaurant Standbys

Los Angeles Restaurant Standbys

“In Los Angeles, everything is 100% organic, except the people.” Kris Kidd

I’m a foodie and my first choice is to try a new restaurant. There are certain restaurants that I often return to because they are comfortable and consistently delicious. They are always crowded and fun. The list is in no particular order.

Matsuhisa was opened in 1987 by Nobu Matsuhisa.  I had been there a few times but I  was not much of a fan of raw fish in the eighties. His cooked food was amazing. Many trips to Japan later have really made me appreciate raw fish and  his attention to quality and detail. Nobu Matsuhisa  was responsible for bringing sushi culture to the forefront in America. The restaurant is always packed and delicious https://matsuhisabeverlyhills.com/

Angelina Osteria feels very authentic. An osteria is a casual eatery similar to a neighborhood tavern where one enjoys rustic Italian food alongside carafes of wine. Chef Gino Angelini understands this. I have never had a meal here that wasn’t cooked to perfection.  The sea bass baked in salt is impressive. https://www.angeliniosteria.com/

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Charcoal is the newest restaurant from Josiah Citrin, a Westside local best known for his French restaurant Mélisse. It is more casual and near the beach with an open kitchen, craft beer and ambitious cocktails. The best dish might be the charred cabbage with tart yogurt and sumac. The Goldster also loved the vegetable dishes. I have been there a few times and  so far it is always spot on. I am a big fan of the peanut butter chocolate cake. https://www.charcoalvenice.com/

Gjelina is on everyone’s favorite restaurant list. No matter what time of day you arrive, it is always packed. People love the pizza but I prefer the small plates and salads.  It says on the menu ‘changes & modifications politely declined.”  If you are a sauce or dressing on the side person, don’t go. They aren’t kidding.

Tsujita Sushi is the third Tsujita restaurant on Sawtelle Blvd. Ramen fans queue up at the other two noodle bars. I’ve had the omekase dinner a few times and it is interesting and tasty. It is high-end sushi and  starts at 120 and up. I prefer the more cost friendly lunch special and often run in and sit at the sushi bar. There are various rice bowls topped with fish. They are artfully presented  and contained lovely, fresh and unexpectedly generous pieces of fish. It is my go to lunch place when I am in that area. The Goldster is a fan.

Il Pastaio has become a Beverly Hills landmark. It is always packed. The restaurant  has a large menu and pasta is the star which makes sense because the translation is the pasta maker. There are also really delicious and interesting salads, seafood and steak.  I consistently have good meals here and would probably eat there more often if it was not always so crowded. http://www.celestinodrago.com/

Republique definitely lives up to the hype. Every dish I had at dinner was some of the best food I have ever tasted in LA.  It is one of my favorite places to take out-of-town guests. The food and lighting are very instagram friendly as well. I love it for breakfast and lunch. The salted caramel chocolate cake and the shakshuka are worth the traffic.  http://republiquela.com/

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Sycamore Kitchen is described as New American cuisine. It is a breakfast and lunch place in the Mid Wilshire area. It is not a brunch place. Breakfast ends at 1130. They have amazing pastries and coffee. The egg tartine is one of my favorite breakfasts and served all day. I like all the salads and sides. The line moves pretty quickly and you don’t have to wait long for a table.  http://thesycamorekitchen.com/

Baco Mercat’s food is always fantastic and creative. The restaurant is named after the baco sandwich (on flat bread and served in a bowl ). I like the ‘original” one when I am eating meat. I crave the brussel sprouts (really, they are that good).The owner and chef Josef Centeno has a few restaurants in the old Bank district downtown. They are all amazing. I also love Orsa And Winston. All the foodies in LA will agree with me on this one. (baco sandwich)  http://www.bacomercat.com/

Rose Cafe is  very new stylish Venice. I love it. It’s a big restaurant,  hipster designed with plenty of takeout food and parking. There are  interesting healthy breakfast choices  eggs with sweet potatoes , avocado and greens,  superb pastas at lunch and dinner and elaborate beautiful main courses. It is delicious all day dining and my new neighborhood go to restaurant.  http://rosecafevenice.com/

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Fly safe,

JAZ