Elections And Protests Around The World

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Elections And Protests Worldwide 

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” Alan Moore

In Guinea President Alpha Conde amended the constitution from a presidential term of five to six years, to stay in power. 

In Uganda, 76-year old president Yoweri Museveni, previously too old to be eligible for reelection, changed the constitution to gain eligibility to run again in February 2021. 

Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned in November after weeks of protests and death threats. 

 Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced this week that he would disband  the  Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) which is part of the  federal police, following mass protests sparked by a video of the officers killing a man. SARS has also been accused of other killings, extortion and torture  especially of young people.

In Lebanon, protesters argue that while they are suffering under an economic crisis, the country’s leaders have been using their positions of power to enrich themselves, through kickbacks and favorable deals.

Namibia has been rocked with protests over the death of a woman in April. Gender-based violence and domestic abuse  are persistent problems in Namibia. Police responded to the SARSprotests with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and arrests sparking further violence.

Protestors in Iraq have also been calling for the end of a political system that they say has failed them.

The Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan plunged into political chaos and riots after opposition groups seized control of Parliament and released their imprisoned leaders in protests over parliamentary elections they called rigged.

Protests against alleged government corruption have also taken place in Egypt. 

In Hong Kong protestors demonstrate against police brutality and for universal suffrage. 

In Belarus, security forces used violence in an attempt to disperse protesters who were demanding an end to the country’s long term dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

And in America,  President Donald Trump has cast doubt on the integrity of the election and repeatedly refused to say that he’d accept the results if he loses. Police grapple with the threat of right wing militia groups and a president who has called for an “army of poll watchers”  placing an unprecedented strain on police for election day and the violence and protests expected in the days after the results.  The toxic political climate, combined with the COVID-19 crisis and the national reckoning over police misconduct, is putting a lot of strain on everyone. Gun stores in the US are empty. 

I never thought I would say this about an American election. Stay safe, be brave and vote.

JAZ

Drive Through Art In The Time Of Corona

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 Drive Through Art  In The Time Of Corona

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” Elizabeth Edwards

Drive through attractions are an innovative solution to the social distancing challenges presented by  Covid 19. Drive In movie theaters are making a comeback.

The Van Gogh Exhibit in Toronto, Gogh By Car, is an immersive drive through experience of art, light, sound, movement and imagination. It sounds like fun.

We had our first drive through art experience this past weekend. The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Hyundai, and the Hollywood Palladium got together and developed a plan for something special. Driven: A Latinx Artist Celebration was free with online tickets.  

Now that the pandemic has closed public restrooms (not that I even want to use them),  going anywhere involves liquid intake planning. It did not help that it was 110 degrees in Hollywood and I could have used some water.

Our tickets were for 12:00 pm on the first day of the exhibit. I believe it was the first time slot. Lesson one about a drive though art exhibition would be don’t go on the first day so they can iron out the kinks.

It took us fifty minutes to get there after a large morning coffee. We then had to wait forty five minutes. Even though they said you cannot leave the car, I got out to try and walk my dog. At least one of us could pee.

When we finally got in there, it was really cool.

I’m a fan of Hispanic Art so the paintings were interesting to me.

The artwork was by Judth Hernandez, Denise Lopez, Steffano Alvarez, Carlos Almaraz, Diana Gomez, Patssi Valdez, Chiachio and Giannone, Norbert Rodriguez and Delmer Mejia.

There is a playlist that you can access on your radio while driving through the exhibit.

It was such an inspiration to see the way that the artists and curators have demonstrated resilience and creativity by pivoting to a drive-through experience during this challenging time.

. Drive ins are the perfectly distanced social events. I hope there will be more of these.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Road Trip In The Time Of Corona

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Road Trip In The Time Of Corona

“That’s why I love road trips, dude. It’s like doing something without actually doing anything.” John Green

The world changed in March 2020, when the country — and the planet — shut down to help slow the spread of Covid 19. For most of us, the pandemic signaled the first time we were asked to shelter in place, maintain our distance from our friends and family, forgo handshakes and hugs, and cover our faces.  

Being at risk, I have been home for six months. The California wildfires changed all that for me because I am violently allergic to smoke and was getting sicker and sicker from the air. We decided to drive to Arizona.  Venturing outside brought up very mixed feelings. On one hand, I was excited to go on a trip to anywhere, have room service and eat in a restaurant.  On the other hand, I had adapted to being at home and felt safe there. The virus is still very active and it was scary to change what I was currently doing for fear this would lead to getting the illness. But I had no choice.

We jumped in the car the next day. When you’ve been inside for a long time, it feels strange to go out. Eventually we had to stop and get food and use our first public restroom in six months. We were armed with masks, gloves, alcohol spray and  hand sanitizer. As difficult as it was to get used to lockdown, it is just as difficult to come out of it. We drove by a crowded restaurant and decided no way.  We saw a Subway. It was not crowded and everyone wore masks and stood six feet apart. The bathroom was clean. I ordered my favorite-turkey on whole wheat with pickles lettuce and tomato and then I put potato chips in it to go. It tasted like the best sandwich I had eaten in six months.  I felt the sensory overload of being in a restaurant for the first time..The second rest stop was super crowded. Everyone wore masks and kept social distance. I felt so much anxiety about being around all those people. 

We got to the hotel in Arizona. The staff wore masks and gloves. Everyone had to wear a mask when indoors. There was an automatic temperature checker as you walked in.

Automatic hand sanitizers were everywhere.  We had our choice to carry our own luggage or  park our own car and a bellman came to the parking lot in a golf cart. We ordered room service.There are no checks to sign. 

The next day we hiked and we were shocked that no one wore masks.

We decided to venture out to the restaurant for lunch.

The tables were eight to ten feet apart and the restaurant was not crowded. There were individual ketchup packets and individual water bottles. I forgot how it felt to sit in a restaurant and have someone serve you. What a treat that I used to take for granted. (first waiter in six months!!!)

We were upgraded to a room with a small swimming pool and large outside area so I was totally fine to hang out there. (the view)

We went to the restaurant for the rest of our meals.

I changed clothes for every meal.

Being in sweatpants  for six months  has made me appreciate my clothes.

If you are like me, and worried about safety and the virus, The Four Seasons in Scottsdale is a great place to start going out again.I felt very safe and was able to relax and heal. 

There has been a lot of talk of a ‘new normal’ – but normal is changing and uncertainty, and managing risk, is going to be the reality for the foreseeable future. New normal’ for most of us will mean ‘what we need to get through today, or this week – it’s going to be very difficult to predict what the course of the rest of the year will look like.

Stay safe,

JAZ

No Travel For Americans

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No Travel For Americans

“I don’t believe there’s any problem in this country, no matter how tough it is, that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can’t completely ignore.”
George Carlin

If you are planning to travel to Europe this summer and you happen to be American, you might want to make other plans.  The European Union opened their borders on July first and America is not on the list of countries allowed to visit. The decision to exclude certain countries is based on the number of Covid 19 cases and how well their governments are doing to control the cases.  China, Vietnam, Uganda. Russia, Brazil and the U.S. are all being seen as unworthy of inclusion. Are these the “shithole countries” now?

We also cannot travel to Asia, the Middle East, Africa  and South America. There are some countries which have a two week quarantine before you can enter but that is as long as an average work vacation.

To rectify the situation, Trump has cut the funding for Covid 19 testing. According to him, if there are less tests than less people have it. It’s sort of like less pregnancy tests, less babies. The United States has the highest death toll in the world from coronavirus.The U.S. death toll is more than 132,000 and there have been more than 2.9 million cases.The U.S. accounts for more than a quarter of all deaths worldwide.

In March, Trump banned travel from Europe, the Uk and Ireland. Since then, Europe was able to flatten the curve and our numbers continue to soar. The countries that were able to control the virus had national policy – not  each state doing something different.

You can’t blame Europe. Why would they want a bunch of Americans infecting them now that they have the disease under control. You can blame Trump. If he had realized the seriousness of this early on, had a strict quarantine in all states like Italy did, and wore a mask, we would be back to summer vacation travel by now.

Stay home, stay safe, and please wear a mask when you go out,

JAZ

Returning To The Places You Love

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Returning To The Places You Love

“I believe that each person has a favorite place, a tree, a mountain, or a beach which they want to come back to, even if the return can only take place in the boundaries of their imagination.” Sana Szewczyk

I’m always afraid to return to places that I love. There’s a danger for me that comes with returning to these places. There’s always an underlying fear that on a second visit, it doesn’t feel the same; that either I’ve changed or it’s changed or maybe both.  There are so many places in the world to see, how could I justify a return visit?

 I have revisited countries but I focus on different cities and I just spend a short time in the cities that I have been to. I often find that second and third time visits are much more relaxed, spontaneous and enjoyable. Going back to a place lets you dig a bit deeper and uncover another layer of the place.

I’ve already done the famous sites and waited on the long queues. The nice thing about return visits is the I can concentrate on exploring the off the beaten track parts of a city. I don’t feel bad about spending an entire day shopping, eating and drinking since I did the museums and tourist thing on the last visit. 

If I visit during a different season, the city can have a whole different feeling. Many cities are transformed for special events like festivals or holidays at certain times of the year.. Bad weather, bad luck and bad choices can turn you against a destination that might deserve a second chance. 

I cancelled two trips over the last few months in quarantine. I don’t know when i will actually be able to travel again. Researching trips, which is something I do extensively when I am home, is not an option right now. When the world feels so uncertain, maybe it is just  easier to reminisce about the past than to plan something new. Istanbul, Venice, London,  Sydney, Tel Aviv  anywhere in South America, Portugal, Croatia and Japan look pretty great to me right now.

Stay Safe,
JAZ

The  Best And Worst Thing About Quarantine With A Little Help From My Friends

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The  Best And Worst Thing About Quarantine With A Little Help From My Friends

“The best way out is always through.”  Robert Frost

BEST: I’m doing qi gong, yoga and meditation and a beach walk every day. It is helping my anxiety and I sleep great. WORST:  I cancelled two trips and I’m not traveling.  JZ

BEST is cleaning my desk, watching great tv and finally finishing a series. WORST is not being able to hug & kiss my kids, missing my friends and working out in a gym! EH

BEST is being with my dog 24/7. WORST is cooking three meals a day for my husband. SR

 BEST is that I don’t have to get dressed up and put on makeup to go to work. WORST is not going out to eat, to the movies, a play or concert with friends and not having home cooked Sunday dinners with my kids.  Oh and not having my housekeeper!  JL

BEST is pretty easy.  My immediate family and girlfriend are here all day.  WORST is my fears for people who are facing huge problems  and also some personal health fears.  Just thinking about the worst list makes me sense my blood pressure increasing.  LA

BEST is catching up with friends and relatives virtually. Also more time for reading, Spring cleaning and watching Netflix. WORST is not going to movies, the Grove, shopping, church, and hugging friends. EM

BEST:  As an extrovert, I was delightfully surprised to find that I no longer suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), because there’s not much to Miss Out on.  Instead, I can be fully present and do one thing at a time. WORST: My husband has “underlying health conditions” that make true isolation necessary for him, which means I have to be extremely careful, too.  So my time outside is limited. LM

BEST is getting a lot of sleep, having the time to try new recipes and beauty products and catching up on movies.WORST is being alone, stuck at home and not seeing, hugging or kissing friends and family. It is worrying about losing jobs, money and the future. NC

BEST is remembering what I am thankful for.  WORST is thinking that I will never travel again.TN

BEST is eating good food and watching good movies and TV shows.WORST is not seeing my friends and getting fat. DB

BEST is the confirmation that I definitely married the person in the world I would most like to be quarantined with. WORST is the constant low-level non-specific anxiety.  LO

BEST  is that I am finally getting rid of shit in my house.WORST is that I can’t spend time with my mom.This Sunday is her 95th Birthday. SF

BEST  is spending all this time with my boyfriend, just the two of us.WORST  (aside from missing personal grooming – Brazilian wax, fillers etc) is not getting together with friends for a meal. CL

BEST is getting to sleep later in the morning  and reading the whole NY Times. I’m even doing the Friday and Saturday crossword puzzles.  Also, having the time to reconnect with people in my life that I haven’t seen or heard from in a long time.WORST is that I miss seeing the people in my life. Zoom just doesn’t cut it after a while. HM

BEST is slowing down and having time to do a new project.WORST is isolation. MU

 BEST is that life is way simpler and more meaningful. Time is slower and faster and I am more aware of how precious life is and that what really matters most doesn’t need a new pair of shoes, dress or anything else to make it special.WORST is not being able to touch, hug and kiss family and friends. My daughter is pregnant and I worry about her. DG

 BEST Being with my family all the time.WORST Being with my family all the time MA

BEST is learning to cook.WORST is having the Corona Virus. AA

Thanks for the help.

Stay Safe,

JAZ

Living Together – The First Year

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Living Together – The First Year

“The best relationships usually begin unexpectedly.” Unknown

May First marks our first year of living together. Was it just a year ago that I was worrying about sharing closet space, how to split costs and who’s art would go where? I had deeper concerns also. Would we grow to hate each other? Would resentment fester over my messiness or his need for a lot of alone time?  Would moving in together end up moving us apart?

I also moved into an apartment after living in a house for many years. The walk up stairs are no joke when you have the dog and packages. The landlady lives underneath us – a fact that seasoned apartment dwellers would have taken into consideration. Parking is a nightmare.

Somehow we figured out how to exist together in a way that’s both scary and comforting, hilarious and serious, calming and nerve racking, and utterly unique in every way. 

Then Covid 19 arrived in Los Angeles. The virus that had felt abstract and in faraway places like China, Iran, and Italy was spreading across our city.  The fear of Covid 19 and what it would do to our relationship as we navigated the crisis during this first year of living together was real. Suddenly we were spending every single minute in the house together for weeks. We had two beautiful trips planned during this time that were both abruptly cancelled. Our conversations quickly went from where we should eat in Paris to how much toilet paper do we have left.

 At the start  of living together, I was worried that the mundanity of everyday life would kill all the romance and excitement between us. COVID-19, it turns out, has made our life even smaller and more mundane than I could have ever imagined. We barely leave the apartment except for special occasions like a morning or afternoon walk on the beach. We play word games when there is a lull in the conversation. I am usually in sweat pants or jeans and no makeup. We watch a lot of TV and have settled into an equilibrium over cooking and cleaning because there are no schedules to coordinate. 

In an unexpected twist of circumstance, COVID-19 will come to define this rather momentous step in our relationship. The crisis has also hit me with some much-needed perspective and gratitude. I feel lucky to navigate all of this with someone I love. At a time when public safety demands social distance, I feel grateful to have so little space separating us.

Self quarantined in our apartment, inundated with news and confusion about COVID-19, we are doing fine. Perhaps the real test of our relationship will come when the fears of COVID-19 subside and we once again have to decide if we will stay or move. Whatever we decide, I think we will make it through.

Stay safe,

JAZ