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

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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

Ten Of The Most Friendly Countries In the World

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Ten Of The Most Friendly Countries In The World.

“People need to realize that we all share the same spirit that comes from God and from the earth.”Nganyintja

Even the most patriotic person might look at the chaos in our country and think – Why do I live here? Perhaps it is the inept politicians who tweet that are getting you down. If you decide to go anywhere else, where will you go? The world is a big place. I’ve composed a list of the most friendly and welcoming countries in the world. The research was interesting because every list that I looked at was different. Some were based on personal experience. I compiled a few and added in my own bias as well.

10. Sri Lankans are friendly, courteous and hospitable. They will come up to you at a tourist site, not to sell you something but to engage in a conversation. They are genuinely interested in how you like their country. Strangers will offer you food on a bus and wish you well on your journey. Everyone who visits Sri Lanka remembers the kindness of the people.

9. The Philippines came in consistently on top ten lists. Filipinos are friendly and spiritual. They try not to let the calamities and trials of life deter them. Everyone smiles and many people will talk to you. They are welcoming, curious and respectful.

8. Those clichés about Thailand being the “land of smiles” have a strong basis in truth They’re always happy, always smiling, extremely polite, and always helpful. Thais rarely steal or cause any problems. They have amazing memories — once a friend, always a friend.

7. According to WIN-Gallup 89% of Fijians report they are happy, making Fiji one of the happiest countries in the world. When you get off the plane in Fiji everyone is genuinely happy as they extend their greetings. Fijian people are dedicated to having meaningful interactions with their community, which leads to a strong influence on how they interact with those outside of their community as well. They are hospitable, approachable and will make a connection with anyone they come in contact with.

6. On the whole, the people in America are welcoming, sociable, good-natured, and polite. Our reputation is that we sue and shoot each other a lot and are xenophobic so the friendliness is unexpected.

5. Icelanders are very friendly and easy going.There is little violent crime in Iceland so they don’t have to be afraid of people they do not know. They are open-minded with little or no prejudice and love learning about different cultures and practicing their English.

4. Canadians are happier, live longer and have less financial inequality than most of the world. Murder rates in Canada  are very low. They have less on their mind when you run into them which apparently makes them friendly and welcoming. Canadians are polite, humble and nice. They are a small group of people living on a lot of land. Canadians have learned that to survive they have to watch out for one another.

3. In Ireland, the people are engaging, polite, and genuinely interested in others. Ask someone for directions and don’t be surprised if they take you there themselves. They are proud to call this place home. More importantly, they want this to feel like home to you. The Irish people are the underdogs and don’t take life too seriously. They understand that it’s the small things and the people who matter.

2. Australians are known for having a casual attitude to life. They tend to look at the lighter side in difficult situations. Australian are incredibly friendly and fun. The men are good-looking with an adorable accent. The girls and gorgeous.So are the beaches. The pace of life is generally a lot slower here than in many other countries.  The standard of living in Australia is high by world standards so most people don’t have the daily pressure of survival to contend with. It’s amazing the difference those two factors have on people’s outlook on life.

1.New Zealand is rated as the world’s friendliest country on a lot of lists. It is definitely far enough from the rest of the world to be uninvolved in international stress. They have quality government programs and an emphasis on family outdoor activities. It is ridiculously beautiful and has great coffee as well. New Zealanders are laid back, welcoming and friendly.

Other friendly country include Uganda, Senegal, Turkey, Morocco, the United Kingdom, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Viet Nam and Nepal.

 

Fly safe,
JAZ

Least Friendly Countries In the World

Least Friendly Countries In The World

“I’m a stranger in a strange land.” Carson McCullers 

As any world traveler knows, not every country offers tourists a warm welcome. Everyone does not “like to practice their English” for you English-speaking tourists. Everyone does not like foreigners. Friendliness is rated by attitudes toward foreigners. Here are the least friendly countries in order.

10. Mongolia is not a nation of smiling quaint little Asian people. They come from warrior lineage and showing emotion to strangers is a sign of weakness. It is a cultural difference and that is the way it is. They often seem rude and unfriendly, especially in cities. Once you go out of the city, this is not the case. The challenging nature of nomadic life has shaped the need for the unique hospitality and genuine warmth extended to all travelers and pilgrims. Mongolians believe that the welcome offered a stranger today will be repaid in the future. This concept is at the very root of Mongolia’s centuries-old culture.

9. Bulgaria is about as East as Eastern Europe gets and Eastern Europeans are not friendly. They don’t smile and I don’t speak Bulgarian. I don’t know much about this country. It is not famous for gymnasts or shooting dictators.There is a lot of stuff on the internet about people being rude and ripping off tourists when possible. Least friendly does not mean unsafe. I guess I will go and see for myself and bring a book.

8. Slovaks are not friendly to people they do not know. I am not sure if this reserve is a Slavic trait or a product of the Socialist regime that they lived under for so long. Smiling customer service will not be part of your shopping or dining experience in Slovakia. They want tourism but they can’t figure out how to market themselves. If you need help in English “ask young,” The older people working in train stations and bus terminals do not speak English. There have been several racist incidents in this homogeneous white society that make people not want to return.

7. Latvia is a good place to not ask directions because no one is going to help you. I have been there. The locals are not friendly and if anyone is friendly to you they want something – so be careful. It is my least favorite of all the Eastern European countries that I have been to so far.

6. Pakistan is a country rife with crime and terrorists. Home to the Taliban and other extremist organizations, Pakistan is unsafe and unfriendly.

5. Iran is a tough one. I think it is on this list because it is ruled by savage mullahs who sponsor terrorism. But from everything I have heard, Iranians are welcoming to visitors and happy to see travelers in their country. The President leads chants that say Death To America. There are posters that say Death to Israel and We Have No Homosexuals. This definitely makes it unwelcoming, yet by all accounts, the people are kind and friendly.

4. Kuwait is incredibly hot which probably makes people irritable. Do not expect a warm welcome here. It is a conservative Muslim country and from being around conservative Muslims in my travels, I notice that they avoid eye contact with anyone in Western clothes. There is not a lot to do other than eating vast amounts of food, smoke shisha (hookah) and walk around luxurious shopping malls. Apparently, the locals don’t seem to want foreigners to do that.

3. I was in Russia a while ago. No one spoke English and at that time every sign was written in Cyrillic. It was hard to get around and I tried to learn temporary Cyrillic as fast I could. The no smiling, no small talk is standard Russian behavior. It was still early in the post-Communist era and people were adjusting. The life of a Russian person in Russia had always been hard and a constant struggle. When I was there, they had many issues between this new “free” life and the feeling that life under Communism was easier. It was what they knew. I found the people cold, rude and unfriendly but I never found that with the many Russian immigrants I have met in the States. I understand why it is listed as the third most unfriendly country in the world because that was my experience as well coming from a completely different culture. 

2. Venezuela is a country in crisis.  It is socially, economically, and politically in ruins. Venezuela is full of violent crime, inflation, and corruption. The local people spend half their lives waiting in line at empty supermarkets, bus, train and gas stations. Hospitals are empty because there is no medicine in this oil-rich country.  The black market is so much cheaper than inflated prices so everyone carries cash. Tourists are robbed by both criminals and police. Traffic accidents are common because cars don’t stop at street lights for fear of being robbed. Protests are daily and often turn violent. Venezuela is a dangerous country and not on most people’s list to travel to right now. Everyone is way too worried about their own safety and precarious future to be friendly to strangers. 

1. Bolivia took the dubious honor of being the most unfriendly country in the world. I know you probably thought it would be the French. I’m not sure I get this one. The only Bolivians I have met were in Northern Argentina selling hand-made souvenirs and coca leaves for altitude sickness in the Altiplano. It is the most extensive high altitude plateau outside of Tibet -4000 meters high. Chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea is very helpful for avoiding altitude sickness. The legality of coca leaves in Buenos Aires is questionable but it is medicinal in the Altiplano and they bring it in from Bolivia. Some Bolivians were friendlier than others but no one was rude. I’ve always found South Americans to be kind and helpful and I can’t find any information on why it is number one. It is an odd choice for a poor, beautiful country that needs tourism. I’m definitely going anyway.

 

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