Pay It Forward

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Pay It Forward

“The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” Aesop

Do you remember that emotionally manipulative movie Pay It Forward  based on networking good deeds? I have been trying to counteract a bit of the hate in the world by doing one small unexpected act of kindness for a stranger every day. Many times, situations present themselves and I do it without thinking,  but some days are harder.

I’m not an especially kind person so it does not come naturally. I grew up in New York so I don’t smile at strangers. I eat meat so I’m not kind to non-humans.  I speak without thinking and often start a sentence with no offense. The random act of kindness keeps me in the present moment and makes me hopeful about the possibility of paying it forward. 

If someone is helpful to me on a service phone call, I take five minutes (Apple or American Airlines etc) and I ask to speak to a manager and tell them how great the person was.  I write a recommendation on the site.

When I am especially messy in a hotel room, I leave a thank you note with a tip. (often)

 I take a walk on the beach and pick up some of the garbage.

I give all my foreign coins to UNICEF.

 Before credit card car regulated parking meters. I would leave extra money in the meter for the next person. Now many of the meters go to zero when the next car pulls in. 

Wherever I am in the world, if I am in a cemetery or site of a tragedy, I leave stones for the people who no one remembers.

Most of my deeds involve buying coffee or food for someone – a stranger, parking or gas station attendant, receptionist, manicurist, the person on line behind me etc. 

I write a positive YELP or Trip Advisor review often.

I buy trashy gossip magazines when I fly and when I’m finished reading,  I give them to the stewardesses who are always happy to have the latest gossip to read on their break.

Once in a while, I let someone in front of me at the grocery store with only a few items. I hate doing that from my childhood of old women always getting in front of me “on line”. You have no idea how many old women in Brooklyn jump in front of a twelve year old kid at the grocery store. “Age before beauty’, they would say. If one got through, more would follow.

It is the same with letting someone in front of me, in heavy traffic when I am driving and usually late  – so annoying.  I have perfected the hyper focus stare at the car in front of me.  There has to really be no other options for stranger kindness if I have let you in. 

I bring pencils and stickers, toothbrushes and small toys when I travel to third world countries to give out to the children or leave at a school or orphanage. I teach English for a day as well when I can. 

The internet helps. If I haven’t done anything, I go online and give money to some random Kickstarter or Go Fund Me student project that looks interesting to me.  I like the idea of a stranger believing in your dreams. You never know how that will turn out.

Kindness works a lot better than unkindness.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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9/11 Memorial

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9/11 Memorial

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” David Levithan

Maybe it was from a sense of obligation, to pay tribute to the lives lost; or a need to see the site of the World Trade Center tragedy to try to comprehend something that 17 years later is still hard to grasp. Maybe it was because I had just come from seeing Auschwitz in Poland. Maybe it was because I worked in Lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center was being built. But while planning a visit to New York, there was never a moment I considered not going to the 9/11 memorial and museum.

Inside this immense expanse of the museum, you’ll find various artifacts on display such as pieces from the planes that struck the Twin Towers, one of many fire trucks which assisted in rescue efforts, a three-story metal beam covered with missing posters, photographs, and messages of resilience named the ‘Last Column’, as well as a retaining wall that survived the destruction of the original World Trade Center.

There are the smaller but just as significant artifacts like damaged fireman’s helmets, World Trade Center ID’s, faded subway cards, police uniforms, and dust-covered shoes.

The museum is thoughtfully divided into several exhibits, with the main two being the Historical Exhibition in the North Tower and the Memorial Exhibition in the South Tower.

The Historical Exhibition is filled with artifacts, photographs, first-person accounts, and archival audio and video recordings. This exhibit is made up of three sequential parts: the Events of the Day, Before 9/11, and After 9/11.

The Memorial Exhibition is situated within the original footprint of the South Tower, and contains portrait photographs of the almost 3000 people who lost their lives in result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993.

The Memorial is located where the Twin Towers once stood. There are now two large grey chasms in the ground from which water cascades down all four sides before gathering in a pool and finally plunging into a dark void in the middle.

On the brass rims around these twin pools you’ll find stencil-cut names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001.

you are encouraged to touch them.

I did not know anyone personally who died that day. My son had just been dropped off for his freshman year in college in Boston. His father had taken that flight back to LA on American Airlines the week before. My mother who lived nearby had gone to a concert at the World Trade Center that Sunday. On September 11 at six am Los Angeles time, I was in the airport at American Airlines (three hours earlier than New York) waiting to get on a seven AM flight from LA to Boston because I had gotten a call a few hours before that my son was in the hospital about to have his appendix out.

“There but for fortune go you or I” Phil Oaks.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Countries With The Best Health Care Systems

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“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” Voltaire

To better understand the health care debate it is important to note that not all the countries in the world have the same health care. The commonality is universal coverage, but wealthy nations have taken varying approaches to it, some relying heavily on the government (as with single-payer); some relying more on private insurers; others in between. Experts don’t agree on which is best; a lot depends on perspective. Nothing seems to be perfect. This rating is the top ten countries from the World Health Organization.

1. France does not have socialized medicine. They have both privatized and government insurance. Everyone has health care. When someone goes to see a doctor, the national insurance program pays 70 percent of the bill. Most of the other 30 percent gets picked up by supplemental private insurance, which almost everyone has. It’s affordable, and much of it gets paid for by a person’s employer. In France, the sicker you are, the more coverage you get. It’s expensive to provide this kind of health care. But it is not as expensive as the U.S. system, which is the world’s most costly.

2.In Italy, healthcare is considered a right and the national health plan is designed to provide for all Italian citizens.The health care is funded by a broad tax system. The money to fund the system comes from all the classes.

3.Local and foreign national residents of San Marino are entitled to free, comprehensive health care from public hospitals. All employees must register upon starting a job and are issued a health card and number, and are automatically registered with a doctor in their neighborhood. Employers pay a contribution for each employee and dependent family members, deducted from their salaries, while the self-employed must pay the full contribution. Vulnerable people, such as the unemployed, aged and seriously ill do not need to register with an employer, and are entitled to free treatment.

4.Andorra has some of the most technologically advanced hospitals in Europe, and is similar to the French healthcare system. Public health is linked to social contributions.

5.Malta has a strong public healthcare system, which provides free services to all Maltese citizens and European Union residents. Malta has both a government healthcare service and a private system.

6.Singapore shows that fusions of conservative and liberal ideas in health care really are possible. Singapore is a place where the government acts to keep costs low and then uses those low costs to make a market-driven insurance system possible. Singapore’s government controls and pays for much of the medical system itself — hospitals are overwhelmingly public, a large portion of doctors work directly for the state.

7.Spain‘s single-payer health care system is ranked seventh best in the world by the World Health Organization. The system offers universal coverage as a constitutionally guaranteed right and no out-of-pocket expenses — aside from prescription drugs.

8. All Omani citizens have free access to universal healthcare. Much of the staff is foreign-born or received training abroad, but with more young Omanis completing college, this is beginning to change. In larger cities, especially Muscat, the quality of medical care is high, but you shouldn’t expect the same standards in rural areas. It has emerged that Oman is in the process of drafting a new set of mandatory health insurance laws beginning January 2018.The new laws will pass on some of the responsibility of looking after employee health to their employers by mandating that they implement suitable health insurance provisions.

9.Austria has had a health care system that ensures high-quality medical care for all citizens, independent of their social status or income. Building such a health care system has not been easy: it is the result of a long, hard road; many people have fought for it. The can also purchase supplementary private insurance.

10.In Japan, health care has long been likened to air and water — often taken for granted. Under the Japanese system, everyone must join a public insurance program through their employer or municipal government and pay a monthly premium that is determined by income.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Ten Countries With The Cleanest Air

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Ten Countries With The Cleanest Air

“And this new air was so delicious, and all his old life seemed so far away, that he forgot for a moment about his bruises and his aching muscles.” CS Lewis, the Horse and His Boy

Clean air is something we cannot, sadly, take for granted today — all the more reason to keep working to make the air in cities and around the world the best it can be. Here are the top ten countries with the cleanest air.

1 Australia has the least polluted air in the world. Tasmania, a state in Australia has the cleanest air in the world. An enterprising Australian company is bottling their air and selling it to China which is one of the most polluted countries. How do you bottle air?

2 Brunei, rated by many international agencies as one of the most livable places in the world, has done a good job of keeping emissions low and maintaining forests, even with rapid industrialization. It has some of the cleanest, safest air on the planet. Now, if only the Sultan does not bring back stoning.

3 New Zealand has relatively good air quality due to low population density, close proximity to the sea and remoteness from other continents and sources of pollution. It is the friendliest country with clean and safe air. Sounds good to me.

4 The pollution in Estonia’s urban areas is among the lowest in the world. More than half of the country’s land is covered by trees and public transportation helps keep emissions low.

5 Finland always shows up in the top five countries with the cleanest air. Lapland has some of the cleanest air in the world. Lapland is also selling their bottled air. They plant two trees for every bottle sold.

6 Canada makes great efforts for the preservation of its wildlife and clean air. Air quality in Canada continued to improve even though energy use and motor fuel consumption increased by more than 20%. This happened because of increasing societal awareness of the health danger of air pollution, which created a political demand for change that was met by technological improvements.

7 Iceland is also always among the countries with the cleanest air and water. Iceland is powered solely by hydropower and geothermal energy. Iceland’s unique geology allowed for continuous production of renewable energy. Icelanders still use fossil fuels for transport and agriculture. There are currently moves to shift from fossil fuels to hydrogen, which is renewable.

8 Sweden is a role model for air quality. Their long-term climate goal is to have zero emissions by 2045. Sweden takes the global battle against climate change seriously. More than half of Sweden’s national energy supply comes from renewables and a thorough legislation aims at further reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

9 Ireland has managed to keep its air very clean. In addition to adhering to environmental regulations, the Irish are lucky to have strong winds coming in from the sea to blow the small pollution they do have away.

10 Fifty years ago Japan was a very polluted country and became known for pollution related illnesses. Today, Japanese cities are among the world’s least polluted, according to the World Health Organization. The country prides itself on blue skies, Prius taxis and mandatory recycling. What’s more, it managed to clean up without sacrificing growth by investing in pollution-control technologies and giving local governments leeway to tighten standards beyond national requirements.

Fly safe,
JAZ

The Temple Mount, Jerusalem

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The Temple Mount, Jerusalem

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.” John Lennon

Jerusalem is a symbol of three great religions but is also a city filled with hatred. The conflicts are mostly between the Muslims and the Jews but also with the Ultra Orthodox.

The Temple Mount is in the South East corner of Jerusalem’s Old City surrounded by date palms and cypress trees. It is the most holy place in the city, with major significance to all three religions.

It is thought to be Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son Isaac to God.

For Jews, the Temple Mount was the location of the First Temple, built by King Solomon in 957 BC to house the Ark of the Covenant (which held the Ten Commandments) It’s the most sacred site in Judaism.

For Christians, the Temple Mount is significant because the Jewish temple located here was where Jesus prayed daily and later preached with his disciples.

For Muslims, it is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. The rock under the dome is where the Prophet Muhammad left Earth to visit heaven on a winged horse in the 7th Century.

The Temple Mount is a controversial and culturally significant place.

Israel took control of the Old City in 1967, but Muslims continue to manage the site.

However armed Israeli soldiers patrol inside. It’s a regular flash point for protests and violence between Jews and Arabs.

The entrance for non-Muslims is at the Mughrabi Bridge (an enclosed wooden ramp) near the Western Wall. Tourists can usually visit the Temple Mount, but there are restrictions.

It’s a religious site, so modest dress is required. (blue cover ups if you are not dressed correctly)

You must pass a security checkpoint with metal detectors, and certain religious artifacts are not allowed in (Bibles, crosses, Star of David, etc.)

There are only certain times that non-Muslims are allowed to visit.

It is quite different from the staircase in the wall that we used to go back and forth many years ago.

Tourists can walk around the plaza taking photos, but are currently not allowed inside the Dome of the Rock or the Al-Aqsa Mosque after a fire was set inside the mosque  by a Christian extremist many years ago. You are able to peek inside Al-Aqsa from a window on the side of the building.

Jews can visit the Temple Mount, but they can’t pray openly. Only Arabs are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount.

Some Orthodox Jews feel the site is too holy to even walk on while others believe they should be allowed to pray there. The chief rabbis have posted a sign forbidding Jews to pray there.

There is definitely tension in the air, but it didn’t feel dangerous.

The world is a big place and three religions are fighting over a plaza of stone. We are supposed to respect each other’s rights and freedoms.  None of this feels God like to me.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Ten Countries With The Worst Health Care Systems

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Ten Countries With The Worst Health Care Systems

“Let us be the ones who say we do not accept that a child dies every three seconds simply because he does not have the drugs you and I have. Let us be the ones to say we are not satisfied that your place of birth determines your right for life. Let us be outraged, let us be loud, let us be bold.” Brad Pitt.

There is a huge difference between developed and developing countries when it comes to healthcare. Each year, more than eight million children die from preventable diseases in countries with the worst health care. These countries receive a raw deal from growing globalization, inequitable infrastructure, brutal or ineffective government and poor resource allocation. This results in a cycle of poverty and ineffective healthcare. Here are the worst countries. There are many more.

1. Sierra Leone has the dubious distinction of being the worst country in providing healthcare to its citizens, with a score of 0.00 on the WHO health systems performance index. During the most recent civil war the medical facilities in the country were looted and destroyed. There are only about 22 physicians for every million people, and about 60% of the rural population does not have adequate access to clean drinking water. Life expectancy at birth is about 54 years. Malaria is a big problem.

2. Myanmar spends much more of its money on the military than healthcare. Malaria, AIDS, malnutrition and tuberculosis are serious problems. The risk of infectious diseases is very high and life expectancy is now fifty years old. The government spends less on health care than almost every other country.

3. Central African Republic ranks third as far as health care is concerned. The political instability and general lawlessness, combined with poverty and poor infrastructure, have brought down the average life expectancy to 49 years. Sanitation problems and lack of clean water are major sources of ill-health in this country. Diarrhea is one of the main causes of death for children under 5 years old.

4. The Democratic Republic of Congo is almost always in conflict. Average life expectancy is forty-eight years old. Cholera and diarrhea are rampant due to unclean water and lack of sanitation facilities. Malnutrition and malaria are the biggest problems.

5. Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa with more than 174 million residents. The average life expectancy in the country is fifty-two years. They have the second largest number of people in the world living with HIV. Malaria is the top cause of child illness and death. As one of Trump’s s—-hole countries, they suffer from a continual mass exodus of nurses, doctors and other health practitioners who leave looking for better opportunities abroad.

6. Liberia is sixth on the list of countries with the worst health care.The people have a life expectancy of fifty-seven years. The health care system in Liberia is highly dependent on support from foreign agencies which now carry out more than 90% of health service. They have the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. Childhood malnutrition is high.

7. As with many African countries, common diseases in Malawi are malaria, measles, tuberculosis and pneumonia. The country also suffers from a HIV/AIDS epidemic which has struck southern and central African countries so severely. Over 90,000 people in Malawi live with HIV/AIDS – more than one in ten adults are infected. The life span in Malawi is fifty-four years with the main cause of death being malnutrition. Access to basic sanitation and clean water is difficult.

8. The lack of healthcare personnel is a major problem faced by Mozambique. Most professionals move to other countries to seek better opportunities. There is always a shortage of necessary drugs, so locals often resort to traditional medicine. Mozambique is plagued by severe HIV, malaria, and cholera.The average life span is fifty years.

9. The situation looks bleak for the people of Lesotho: the average life expectancy is 49 years, and 25% of the people between 15-49 years of age have contracted HIV. There are rising rates of tuberculosis, malnutrition and infant and maternal mortality Access to health care is difficult for people in rural areas. Serious emergencies are often referred to neighboring South Africa.

10. The country with the tenth poorest healthcare system is Zambia. The average life expectancy of Zambians is fifty-five years. Diarrhea is the leading cause of child death because of limited access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation. Almost half the population of Zambia is below the age of fourteen because of the tremendously high birth and death rate. Malnutrition is widespread particularly in rural areas. Malaria is proving hard to control and there has recently been a resurgence in some areas.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Shithole Countries

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Shithole Countries

“Shit is the tofu of cursing and can be molded to whichever condition the speaker desires. Hot as shit. Windy as shit. I myself was confounded as shit…” David Sedaris

In case you missed it, President Trump used the word shithole in an immigration discussion behind closed doors. Someone walked out of the meeting and quoted it to a reporter.

I spent that evening watching many different newscasters and assorted panelists on different channels, repeat the word. It is blasted across the screen. Two newscasters mentioned that their children were watching but this is what the President said so they had to repeat it…and repeat it and repeat it. The words hit the air hard and fast. They go right to the emotional center of the brain and get a reaction. Profanity arouses strong feelings. Repeating these word are destructive because “they really are built to offend, to cause harm, to divide and to denigrate,”

I was a late curser. No one cursed in my house growing up. Son of gun and dirty rotten lice were as bad as it got. There were some questionable words floating around in Yiddish but I never heard the English equivalent.

I started dating a curser when I was in college. i still remember  the first time that I cursed. It was an early spring afternoon and we were walking through campus. I was wearing blue elephant bell bottoms and a short rust colored sweater. It was the perfect combination of trendy and stylish. He stopped to say hello to some friends and I fell off my very high platform shoes. The adrenalin rush of cursing definitely masked the pain and embarrassment. He thought it was cute and out of character for me. Obscenity was my final childhood rebellion. I married into a family of cursers. The words quickly shifted from taboo to normal. They can be used as any part of speech and work well as adjectives.

Kids love them because they know they are taking a risk and will use any opportunity to say them in front of you. When my daughter was three and my son was six, we were in the car stuck in traffic. My three-year old daughter said “Why aren’t we moving?” I said. “Traffic.” She said “Just say asshole and go around.” Hmm. I wonder where she learned that asshole meant stopped car. They are like sponges. My son knowing that was not ok, managed to use the word asshole twenty times in five minutes while admonishing her not to use the word asshole.

It was very emotionally potent for me to see a profanity across the screen. I never knew how that one was spelled. Was it one word or two? I know now. I visualized my deceased parents reaction to this. They believed that using profanity was a sign of a lack of education and knowledge. Every night before we went to bed we had to say what new word we  had learned and what it meant. I often had to look one up in the dictionary five minutes before. I think the plan was to have a rich vocabulary or at least good SAT scores.

I pictured all the kids watching at home. “Mom, the president just said shithole. I mean the newscaster said shithole because the president said shithole. It says shithole on the screen. Why does it say shithole? Why is the president saying shithole? Look I changed the channel. It still says shithole. If the president says shithole, can I say shithole? What about if Anderson Cooper says shithole?” My son would have said it as much as possible.

Are parents responding with something like what my parents said when I tried out a curse word on them? “Your language is a reflection of you. Maybe the president’s friends make him think that cursing is cool. Maybe the newscasters think that repeating it over and over is the right thing to do. The reality is that cursing a lot is not classy or intelligent Was that the best word you could come up with?.” Hopefully they remind their kids of this when they are sending their language out on social network and online communities.

He is not the first president to use profanity. He spoke this way about immigration during the campaign. He has made racist remarks throughout his presidency and has said that there were some good Nazis. He wants to cause chaos. This is not breaking news.  It is a dirty, f–king job.

Fly safe,

JAZ