Vote

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Vote

“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” Thomas Jefferson

All around the world people have had to fight for the right to vote. If you are not a white male land owner, chances are good that someone fought for your right to vote. I’m ashamed to admit that as a teenager my driving and drinking age were much more important to me than my voting age. 

I strongly recommend watching this film “An African Election’, about a 2008 election in Ghana, a country new to the process of “democracy”. It is available to rent or buy on Amazon. The film will remind you to vote because it is your right and your privilege that you were either lucky enough to be born with or lucky enough to earn.  

Fly safe and vote on Tuesday,

JAZ

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Ten Countries With The Most Smokers

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Ten Countries With The Most Smokers

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Mark Twain

As everyone knows, smoking is cool. But it can also kill you and is addictive and expensive, which is much worse than looking cool for a minute.

Bucking the worldwide trend, smokers are increasing in Montenegro. Forty per cent of adults smoke making them the “coolest” country on the list. Even when laws are enacted, they are rarely enforced in a culture where coffee and cigarettes are the norm.

While smoking is declining across Europe, a growing number of young Belarusians are turning to cigarettes due to lax regulations and low prices. Cheap cigarettes from Belarus are also being smuggled into Western Europe.

It is very difficult to enforce anti smoking laws in Lebanon where smoking is somewhat of a cultural tradition.The law that banned indoor smoking irritated many Lebanese accustomed to shishas and cigarettes at restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs.

Greece is a nicotine addicts’s paradise. Smoking regulations in Greece have not been enforced in a country where rules like this are meant to be broken.

One third of the population of Russia smokes. Up to 400,000 Russians die each year from tobacco-related causes. This could be stopped through tougher regulations, but tobacco producers have blocked all efforts for years, successfully lobbying their interests with the ruling United Russia party.

Tobacco is one of the leading causes of death in Slovenia. The average age to start smoking is fifteen and a half years old.

Belgians love to smoke and stores selling cheap cigarettes have opened on the Belgian Franco border. There is a growing trade in smuggled cigarettes in Europe and an equally illegal growth of sales over the internet. Cigarettes are much cheaper in Belgium than neighboring countries. Many bars and restaurants ignore the smoking ban.

Jordan rates highly as far as smoking countries in the Middle East go. The ban on smoking in public places is not enforced.It is easier to fight drug use than cigarettes here. Cigarette smoking is highest among the poor population. Having coffee and cigarettes with friends and family is deeply rooted in Jordanian culture.

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China is home to three hundred million smokers, more than any other country. There is a lack of national legislation to ban smoking in workplaces. The national ban has been delayed because of the influence of the Chinese tobacco industry and its influence on government revenue. Some Local municipalities have banned smoking in the workplace but it is hard to enforce

Almost half the adult population smokes in Bosnia Herzegovina. Cigarettes are cheaper than Europe and Asia. Smokers fight the government against anti smoking legislation. Any bans are not enforced and teenagers smoke at least half a pack of cigarettes a day.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

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

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