Ten Countries With The Worst Covid Outbreaks

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Ten Countries With The Worst Covid Outbreaks

“Only if we end the pandemic everywhere, can we end the pandemic anywhere.”Unknown

The world has the same goal – to end this pandemic and go back to whatever normal is. Viruses don’t respect borders. These countries share the fact that at the start of the outbreak, they tested little relative to their size. Our healthcare systems are not equipped to handle thousands of people getting sick at the same time, so more people are dying in these countries. The governments in all these countries downplayed the severity of the virus, fumbled lockdowns, and instead of science used magical thinking in the hopes of ending the outbreak.  The numbers change rapidly but at the moment, here are the countries with the worst outbreaks in order. The numbers are from December 21.They will be higher by the time you read this.

10. Iran 1,164,535 cases 53,816 deaths

The difference between Iran and other countries experiencing a surge in the virus is the “maximum pressure” sanctions put on them by Donald Trump.  The Iranian government and doctors insist they don’t have enough medicines to fight the virus. Though the sanctions technically exempt food and medical supplies, human rights reports from Iran have repeatedly emphasized the impact of sectoral sanctions on gaining access to essential medicines and medical equipment, including respirators and protective equipment for health-care workers. Experts say US sanctions on Iran are indeed hurting ”foreign reserves, foreign currency abroad to purchase the necessary medical equipment — masks, anything that it might need to take care of its population,” Sanam Vakil.

9. Mexico 1,320,545 cases 118,202 deaths

One quarter of Mexico’s population has been exposed to Covid 19. The government thinks the real number is even higher than the reported numbers. The blame is on the country’s under funded health care system, lack of adequate testing,  and complicated effort to track the disease and coordinate the response. There was a voluntary lockdown from March to June but because of Mexico’s high poverty level many had to work and so the numbers went up. There has been no mask mandate. Some say it is to downplay the pandemic and some Mexican States have imposed their own mask mandate.

8. Spain 1,817,448 cases 48,926 deaths

Spain has been in a state of emergency since the end of October. The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has asked people to drastically curtail their social lives and limit their movements for the common good. Silvia Calzón, Spain’s secretary of state for health, urged people to act wisely and avoid large crowds. Spain is reluctant to blame its citizens for early on having the most cases in Europe, but they feel the increase is do to young people partying and socializing. Spain has a similar problem to the US where the Covid safety regulations have been left to the different regions.

 7. Italy 1,964,054 cases 68,099 deaths

At the moment Italy holds a record that no-one wants – the most corona deaths in Europe. Italy was the first country in Europe to be slammed with Covid and had the benefit of time and experience to be better prepared for the second wave. Italy waited too long to reimpose restrictions  and reinforce its medical community. Nearly 80,000 Italian health care workers have been infected and 255 doctors have died. Instead, on Nov. 3 the government divided the country into three risk zones with varying restrictions. But by then infections had been doubling each week for nearly a month and hospitals were already overwhelmed in Milan and Naples.

6. Turkey 2,043,704 cases 18,351 deaths

As with all the countries where the virus is highest, Turkey waited too long to impose Covid 19 restrictions. Now children under the age of 20 can go outside for three hours a day and have school on Zoom. People over the age of 65 can go out for a different three hours. The elderly and the young are banned from public transportation. There is a curfew. Many are angry about how the government mismanaged the crisis. The government played down the virus and sugar coated the numbers not counting the asymptomatic ones which were high.

5. UK 2,073,511 cases 67,616 deaths

The four countries of the UK are trying to avoid a spike over the Christmas holidays. They want to ease things up between Dec 23-27 with rules like only a single person household can visit another home. People living in the UK will be allowed to form a Christmas bubble of up to three households. Households can only be in one bubble and may not switch. London has moved from High Alert to Very High Alert and bars and restaurants will remain closed. Outdoor groupings must be limited to six people. The virus is accelerating and the hope is not to lose more and more people as the vaccine is being rolled out. 

4. Russia 2,877,727 cases 51,351 deaths

As Russia struggles to get the virus under control, videos released of morgues piled high with bodies and hospitals that look like war zones, suggest the numbers are much higher than released. The way they count the Covid deaths, are different than the World Health organization guidelines which states that all deaths related to Covid-19 should be counted. Though the government portrays a country in full control of the pandemic, the strain on the medical facilities is becoming obvious to the Russian people. 

3. Brazil 7,241,612 cases 186,818 deaths

Fueled by the untimely political disputes, Covid 19 spread like wildfire in Brazil. Amid the controversy, Brazilian research disproved the theory that hydrochloroquine was helpful in treating the virus. Brazil was unprepared for the second wave of the virus and the hospitals are full with queues of patients lined up outside for beds. Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed the novel coronavirus as a “little flu” and said recently was at the “tail end of the pandemic.” Sound familiar? Brazil has the second largest death toll in the world from Covid 19.

 2. India 10,075,036 cases 146,134 deaths

Tens of millions of migrant workers were stranded without work or food after Prime Minister Narendra Modi  imposed a lockdown in March. By spring and summer, these workers were so desperate that the government provided emergency trains to carry them back to their home villages. They became virus trains and due to lack of testing and social distancing these trains brought the virus all over India to places where it had not appeared before. The government never adequately contemplated how  shutting down the economy and quarantining 1.3 billion people would cause desperation,  panic and  chaos for millions of migrant workers at the heart of Indian industry. Experts agree that the spread in rural areas, home to more than half of the population, is a challenge to both fight and monitor. The health infrastructure in these areas is weaker, making it harder to treat patients and testing isn’t easily available in many small towns and villages. 

1. US 18,312,007 cases 325,187 deaths

We are number one – in both deaths and number of cases. Few countries have been as severely hit as America has. The world watched as the US – once a model for government competence and health care, fumbled the response to the Corona Virus. Despite ample warning, immense resources, medical and scientific expertise, it floundered. The world listened in shock as our President talked about drinking disinfectant. When people in third world countries emerged from lockdown and began partying, they saw that Americans in certain states did the same. Almost everything that went wrong with America’s response was predictable and preventable.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Best TV Shows With Subtitles

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Best TV Shows With Subtitles

“On Friday night, I was reading my new book, but my brain got tired, so I decided to watch some television instead.”  Stephen Chbosky

Since I can’t actually travel right now, I’m traveling to a different country, one TV series at a time. These shows take me to different places and different cultures. As the virus continues, I’m sure I will be adding more to this list.

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories (Japan) Netflix

I used to love eating after midnight in college. There’s something about eating with people at odd hours that inclines one toward romance or deep philosophical discussion.
Based on the manga of the same name, the story follows a man who owns an izakaya in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, (translated into diner) which is open from midnight-7AM. Each episode follows the story of a customer with ties to a particular dish from his past. The diner serves as a meeting place for the episode’s featured characters, while the owner—referred to only as “Master”—offers sage, down-to-earth advice. The patrons range in backgrounds, from taxi drivers to physicists, writers, actors, gamblers, gang members, drag queens and strippers. There are several regulars who appear in each episode and interact with the featured character. There is nothing epic in the stories and the characters are often based on stereotypes. What I particularly love is that the setting allows them to let their guard down organically, alone in a small diner in the early morning, with no one but the proprietor to intrude on their journey of self-discovery. It facilitates a sense of separateness—almost outside of reality—where people who might otherwise be considered nobodies or oddballs can express and share their humanity. It is our favorite show. In these troubled times, it reminds us that everyone has a story and reflects a truth of what it means to be human.

Shtisel (Israel) Netflix

Shtisel is a drama featuring an ultra Orthodox family in the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem. The depiction of ultra-Orthodox Jewish culture is just fascinating. At the heart of “Shtisel” is the relationship between Shulem Shtisel, a recently widowed religious school principal, and his youngest son, Akiva, a bachelor who still lives at home. There is true love between them, but their relationship is fraught with tension over Akiva’s still being single, as well as over his preference for making art instead of studying and teaching Torah. The other main plot lines deal with Giti, one of Shulem’s daughters, and her family. Her husband, Lipa, overwhelmed with the responsibilities of supporting a large family, goes abroad (ostensibly for a job) and disappears for months. Left to raise and financially support the children on her own, Giti almost falls apart under the strain. Additional strands of the dramatic narrative involve other members of the extended Shtisel family and their friends and neighbors in Geula. The Haredi lifestyle is presented as a given, and by and large the characters do not strain against its strictures. At the same time, the series does not shy away from dealing with real-life issues and the fact that all of them have “vices”. The peculiarity and foreignness of the show combined with the universal and familiar feeling of what goes on in families completely won me over. I watched it once by myself and again with the BF who also loved it.

Broadchurch (United Kingdom) Netflix

I discovered Broadchurch by accident. Like True Detective, Season One revolves around one murder case. I was on the edge of my seat trying to guess who murdered Danny Latimer. Everyone looks suspicious. Each time I thought I knew who the murderer was, a new clue came up and secrets popped out and I had to guess again. i watch a lot of detective shows and I’m pretty good at figuring out the culprit but this one had me stumped. Broadchurch was the most popular show in The UK when it came out and I can see why. The cast is superb led by Academy Award winner Olivia Colman and David Tennant. It is a fully immersive drama that will grip you from the first episode. Unfortunately, the other two seasons are not as good. But, the character development is brilliant and they have great chemistry, so I stuck with them. Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Charlotte Rampling appear in the second season. The natural beauty of the town (the Jurassic coast-now on my list of places to go) and the people that populate Broadchurch allow it to rise above the usual detective series.

Made In Heaven (India) Amazon

I absolutely adore Made In Heaven and can’t wait for Season 2. The story follows Karan and Tara as they manage their wedding planning business of the same name. It seems like a very real take on the wedding industry of the very rich in India. Each episode focuses on a different, unbelievably beautiful wedding while the characters navigate their very complicated lives. Kabir and Jaspreet work for Made In Heaven and are dealing with complications of their own. Kabir often narrates the videos of the weddings and they’re always wonderful observations and really tug at your heart. Each wedding tells a story of India, undisguised and unsweetened. They don’t shy away from politics or religion and there is always a message of hope.

Bordertown (Finland) Netflix

Bordertown follows Kari Sorjonen, a shockingly great detective (definitely on the spectrum), who decides he needs a break from the horrors he sees everyday in Helsinki. This is understandable as no horror is too scary for this show. Kari moves his sick wife and teenage daughter to a family house in Lappeenranta, a town that borders the edges of Finland and Russia. At first it seems nice. However, if you’re in a crime drama, things are never nice for long. Though Bordertown has the brooding, dark environments and intense acting of similar shows, the series is more of a family-focused drama with a killer on the loose. There are horrific crimes happening in the background — almost all of them are done to young, sexualized women. The main narrative is about this one tired, brilliant investigator who just wants to have dinner with his family. I loved the first two seasons but I couldn’t make it through the first episode of the third season. It became way too dark and gory for me.

Fauda (Israel)  Netflix

An Israeli show about an elite team of commandos looking to infiltrate a terrorist group with ticking time bombs and evil masterminds does not seem all that different from many post 9/11 shows. What makes it different and worth watching is the relationships between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It shows a bit more realistic portrayal of how they are willingly and unwillingly entangled into each others lives. Fauda follows a group of Israeli undercover agents, known as mista’arvim, who carry out counter-terror operations in the West Bank by blending in to become indistinguishable from local Palestinian residents. I think it does a good job of showing both the good and the bad on both sides. . It is clear that the two sides are past the point of no return in being able to coexist, yet they cannot bring themselves to do what is needed to end their mutually destructive relationship. The cast and directors are both Israeli and Palestinian and though there are many political critiques it is definitely a binge watch.

Henning Mankell’s Wallender (Sweden) Netflix

Wallander is the popular 62-year-old hero of a group of novels by Henning Mankell, the best-selling Swedish crime novelist. The inspector lives alone, except for his beloved dog, tends to be morose, is a good cop and a liberal idealist. Detective Wallander is both the beat-up and dysfunctional ex-husband/son/father and a professional who makes honest, human mistakes, but sticks around to see the job through. The BBC made the show as well starring Kenneth Branagh but I watched the original in Swedish. Each episode is an hour and a half and the first season is apparently movies that were based on the different books. In the first episode, Wallander’s daughter Linda returns to Ystad having successfully graduated police training. The difficult relationship between father and daughter is now further complicated by having them work together. I highly recommend watching season one. I get the feeling the other seasons were made into a TV show which was very different than season one and they don’t work as well. I like the casting-they seem more like ordinary people than actors which makes the stories more believable.

Hinterland (Wales) Netflix

Hinterland is set in Aberystwyth, Wales. Speaking scenes were filmed twice, once in English and once in Welsh and was released in both languages. The accent was hard for me but then I got used to it. The series is full of silence. These are not talkative people. They live in a brooding, windswept barren place filled with secrets. And they have their own secrets as well. Tom Mathias stars as a recent addition to the police department in this small coastal town. Mathias is not inclined to explain himself to his officers and they are often left to try to read his mind in hopes of understanding why the investigation is going as it is. He is dedicated to being the tragic figure in this series. Mared Rhys, his partner and an experienced police officer herself, has her own problems. The photography of Western Wales is beautiful but doesn’t look like a place you would want to visit in winter. There are five episodes per season and if you can stick through it to the end of season three, the payoff is good.

Call My Agent (France) Netflix

Call My Agent is about a film talent agency called ASK, and revolves around the agents, their assistants and the film stars they work for. The episodes are filled with gossip, drama and likable relatable characters. In each episode French actors play themselves as clients of the agency. The day-to-day problems are relatively unimportant: the agents are faced with non-compliant actors, try to disseminate false rumors, attempt to reconcile co-stars who have fallen out, wrestle with tarnishing media stories… As well as these behind-the-curtain dramas of the stars, the agents’ private lives are also wrought with entertaining relationship dramas and personal dilemmas. It is a highly, binge worthy watch and just what you need in dark times.

Merli (Spain) (Catalan) Netflix

In the style of “Dead Poets Society,” Merli tells the story of a philosophy teacher in a public secondary school who opens his students minds and makes them question things in a very unorthodox way. His son who has grown up with his mother, now lives with Merli and his grandmother, and is in his class. Every episode is named for a new philosopher. I like the premise but in each episode Merli seems to care more and more about himself. It is less about a great teacher and more about a selfish man that uses his knowledge to justify his actions. Yet for some reason, he still seems to be a good teacher, inspiring his students. There is only one season so it is not a huge commitment and I like watching it. I couldn’t find a trailer with subtitles (the show has them) but you get the idea.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

Street Art In The Time Of Corona

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Street Art In the Time Of Corona

“Art helps us identify with one another and expands our notion of we – from the local to the global.”Olafur Eliasson

Art is always important to bring people together during a time of crisis. By mocking political leaders, laughing at our faults, recognizing health care workers and reminding us that masks are important, Street Art offers a momentary respite from the constant news and psychological toll of the virus.

Kobra, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Teachr1, Los Angeles, USA

Lushux, Melbourne, Australia

TV boy, Barcelona, Spain

John D’Oh, Bristol, England

Nello Petrucci, Pompei, Italy

Ufa,Russia

FAKE, Amersterdam, Netherlands

Temat, Warsaw, Poland

Tyler Street Art, Mumbai, India

EME Freethinker, Berlin, Germany

Andreas Welin, Copenhagen. Denmark

 

Stay safe,

JAZ

 

Ruins That I Would Like to See

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Ruins I Would Like To See.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   But I have promises to keep,   And miles to go before I sleep,   And miles to go before I sleep.”Robert Frost

Our world is so filled with places that I want to see. It’s hard to say whether a single lifetime would indeed be enough to experience all of it. Most of us will probably never see everything that the world has to offer us, but it’s worth a shot. Here are the ruins I still haven’t seen and want to. 

Tikal, Guatemala

The Mayan ruins in Guatemala are ancient wonders built between the sixth century BC and the tenth century AD. Reclaimed by the jungle hundreds of years ago, they’ve been partially excavated and stand as reminders of a great civilization. It’s the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas and famous for its view..

 Terra Cotta Warriors, China

IF you’ve heard of Xian in China before I’m pretty sure it’s because you’ve also heard of the Terracotta Warriors, a collection of terracotta sculptures created to represent the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. This figures were only discovered in 1974 by 3 farmers and have now become one of China’s most prized possessions. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits.

Great Wall, China

When i was very young, I saw a picture of the Great Wall Of China. While its length was beyond  my comprehension, I vaguely remember sitting down and being absolutely in awe .It is the coolest landmark in the world. The Great Wall was unified and constructed during the Qin Dynasty over 2000 years ago.  Using hundreds of thousand of workers and prisoners, the wall was constructed over decades of work. It was almost destroyed by the Mongols and Chairman Mao but in 1984 when a new ruler came into power, Deng Xiaoping he re-opened its doors to the rest of the world and opted to rebuilt the Great Wall to restore National Pride.

 

Chichen Itza, Mexico

 Chichen Itza is the most well-known and frequently visited Mayan ruins site in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It has a fascinating 1,000-year-old history. One thing that makes  Chichen Itza so intriguing, other than the giant stone pyramid, is the mysterious decline of the Maya people themselves.By the time of the Spanish conquest, this great city and others like it were virtually ghost towns. Mexico’s most famous ruins are astonishingly well-restored site compared to other Mayan ruins in the region. 

Giza, Egypt

The Giza Pyramid complex is located just at the outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo. Set in the desert, it comprises three Pyramids that each have a mini-complex of its own and the Sphinx. The Sphinx is an iconic Giant statue of the mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. There are many theories about why the pyramids were constructed in the first place. The most accepted one was that they were constructed as a tomb for the great pharaohs that ordered them built. Many theories abound as to how is it that these massive structures were made especially during ancient times.

Luxor, Egypt

Established on the shore of the great Nile river and surrounded by both mango plantations and desert, Luxor is one of the greatest open air museums. containing some the largest and most striking ancient monuments ever constructed.. The history of Luxor (originally called the city of Thebes) dates back to 3,200 B.C. Nevertheless, the city didn’t prosper until the 2,134 B.C., during the 11th Dynasty, when Mentuhotep ll brought peace and stability to the region, and Thebes started to grow as a city, becoming, during the 18th Dynasty, in 1,550 B.C., the religious and political capital of Ancient Egypt.most of their tombs, monuments and temples still remain, very well-preserved, including the tomb of the world-famous  Tutankhamen..

Stonehenge, England

What were they for? How did they get here? What do they mean? So many questions surround the ring of massive prehistoric stones found at Stonehenge and the fact that we’ll probably never have any concrete answers only adds to the mystery and allure of the site.How these stones ended up in perfect architectural symmetry in the middle of the English countryside, long before modern machinery would have made it a much simpler feat, is perhaps what entices so many people to visit this ancient iconic site year after year.

Pompeii, Italy

In 79 AD somewhere around 20,000 Pompeians went about their daily lives giving nary a thought to the volcano they lived alongside. August 24th would change their lives forever. On that fateful day as Mt. Vesuvius spewed, though much of the city was destroyed, Pompeii was also buried under 20 feet of ash and pumice. Centuries of history were sealed away until 1748. It was Rocque Joaquin de Acubierre that discovered Pompeii. Due to the lack of air and moisture, artifacts buried under the ash and pumice at both archeological sites were extremely well preserved. 

Great Mosque, Mali

The iconic Grand Mosque in Djenne, northern Mali is the largest free standing mud brick building in the world and harking back to a time of tribal empires long since fallen.A new layer of adobe plastering is used to fill the cracks which occur in the extreme summer heat, and repairs made to damage done with the pounding of the annual rains. The worst kept secret of Djenne’s Grand Mosque is that it is not the original. Though it is surely the finest example of Sahelian adobe architecture in the world, it was in fact built by the French in c. 1908. The original dated back to the 13th century but did not stand the test of time and of the elements.

Borobodor Temple, Indonesia

Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and Indonesia’s most visited tourist attraction. Located on the island of Java, the temple was constructed in the 9th century, before being abandoned in the 14th century as the population converted to Islam. Protected by UNESCO, it was restored in the 1970s and later opened to the public (while still being used for religious pilgrimage).

Ellora and Ajanta Caves, India

The Ellora and Ajanta caves are located outside of Aurangabad, which is an eight-hour train ride from Mumbai. The Ellora caves were built between the fifth and tenth century. There are 34 caves, some Hindu, some Buddhist and a few Jain. The Ajanta caves, like the temples of Khajuraho, were “lost” for centuries until an Englishman discovered them in the mid-19th century. They are all Buddhist, and known more for their paintings 

Carthage, Tunisia

Carthage was the centre of the Carthaginian Empire in antiquity. The city has existed for nearly 3,000 years, developing from a Phoenician colony of the first millennium BC into the capital of an ancient empire. Carthage is 15 kilometers north of Tunis and these ruins once were the most important trading base in that region with a population of over half a million. Do you know Hannibal? He came from Carthage and tried to battle the Romans but was defeated two centuries BC. Half a century later the Romans took Carthage and destroyed most if not all of the city. They rebuild their own Carthage and made it the capital of the Roman province Africa. 

Fly safe,
JAZ

Ten Ways That I Want To Die

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Ten Ways That I Want To Die

“You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence” John Green

My landlord died suddenly. He was about  to move to Thailand for a year and we were about to have the do you want to keep renting or buy discussion? It turns out that people are fragile and  I am face to face with the realization that tomorrow is promised to no one. So I thought of several ways that i would like to die.

1 Being in a Terrorist Attack in any country but my own. lb Accidentally shooting myself to protect small children in above terrorist attack.  

2. Contracting malaria during the rainy season in the Amazon.

3. Being kicked in the head by a cow walking on the side of the road in India.3b. Being gored by a bull while running in Pamplona. 

4. Falling down the temple steps in Daramasala after the Dalai Lama has told me the secret of life.

5. Laughing too much like the third century Greek philosopher Chryssipus  did.

6. Overeating at a feast given in my honor in Japan,Turkey, Israel or Spain.

7. Being crushed quickly in an earthquake by all the books I have hoarded for my whole life.

8.Skiing down La Pas De Chavanette Porte du Soleil in the French Swiss Alps. It is known as the Swiss Wall and has a vertical drop of 300 kilometers I haven’t skied in fifteen years but I used to be good. I don’t want to be injured though-just dead.

9.Being electrocuted on stage while jamming with Imagine Dragons which would be doubly cool since I don’t play the guitar.

10. Getting a deadly food poisoning which eating at NOMA one of the best restaurants in the world. 

Fly safe,
JAZ

Working On My Bucket List

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 Working On My Bucket List
 “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a plane ticket.” unknown Truthfully, anywhere in the world that I have not been before is a bucket list place for me. Life is short and we have to remember to live it to the fullest. Sometimes I visit places that should have been on my list but I did not know till I got there. Most of them come from books I have read throughout my life. I want to experience a place in the way an author has. My list makes me stop and think of what I want to experience in this lifetime. Having a bucket list gives you hope. There are places on the list I may never go to but the goal of a bucket list is to never finish it. The best lists are constantly changing. So, start writing. Machu Picchu, Peru  Moia, Easter Island, Chile Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain  – soon Camino De Santiago, Basque region, France and Spain – soon Canary Islands, Spain Faroe Islands Grand Canyon, USA Angor Wat, Siem Reap,  Cambodia Ferry from Gibraltar to Morocco (which i think doesn’t go anymore)  Auschwitz, Poland Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey Pizza in Sicily and Naples, Italy The Algarve in Portugal Church of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain Greenland Punta Del Este,Uruguay Bahia, Brazil Medellin, Colombia Ushuaia, Argentina Tigers Nest Temple, Bhutan Taj Mahal, India Terracotta Army, Xian, China Faukland Islands Boulder Beach, Capetown, South Africa Gorillas, Rwanda Viet Nam Borneo Sri Lanka, Nepal. Ethiopia Fly safe. JAZ  

Ten Countries With The Worst Air Pollution

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Ten Countries With The Worst Air Pollution

“I’m always amazed at the human capacity to not make fundamental changes, but instead merely adapt. I see these pictures of people in Beijing and New Delhi, walking around with masks on, because you can’t walk outside your house and breathe? If you can’t breathe?…If that’s not the cue to make a fundamental change, I don’t know what is!” Bill Maher

Every country these days has bad air pollution. Cities are usually worse than rural areas. China is famous for terrible air pollution but they are trying to be better. Here are the top countries for air pollution.

1.The World Bank says Pakistan’s air pollution is the most severe in the world.
The harm caused by air pollution in Pakistan’s urban areas exceeds most other high-profile causes of mortality in the country, including traffic-related accidents. Declining government attention to air quality leads to weak implementation of environmental policies.

2. Air pollution in Qatar vastly exceeds safe limits and is damaging the health of the population. It can be explained in part to the country’s building boom, vehicle exhausts, smelting plants and the burning of organic materials.

3. Along with all the other problems, walking the streets of Kabul is a health risk. Thick columns of smoke from ovens and factories and bumper-to-bumper vehicles producing harmful gases create various types of respiratory disease. No city in Afghanistan has a proper and technical management of solid waste. They are dumping waste in valleys and open fields, which is extremely dangerous not only in polluting the air, but also for underwater pollution. Three to five thousand people a year die of air pollution related illnesses In Afghanistan.

4. Air pollution kills fifteen thousand Bangladeshis a year according to the World Bank. Large numbers of children, street children, local street-walkers, and rickshaw pullers in Bangladesh are at particular risk from this air pollution. According to this report, there are two major sources of air pollution in Bangladesh, vehicular emissions, and industrial emissions. These are mainly concentrated in the cities. Dhaka is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with an estimated population of more than 8 million. Air pollution has emerged as an acute problem in the city. Blackening of the city air and reduced visibility can be observed at times.

5. There is a black cloud over Cairo, Egypt. The smog is  caused by farmers piling up rice straw and burning it, because they lack the means to transfer the rice straw from their fields to recycling centres. Millions of cars prowl the traffic-clogged streets, while a thousand factories belch smoke into the air. On a bad day, the smog in Cairo and the Delta cities is unbearable.

6. The United Arab Emirates has air that is a bit worse than China and twice as bad as India. Cement manufacturing, power generation, desalination and cars all add to its pollution. But one of the biggest contributors in the region is dust made of sand, kicked up by construction or windstorms. The combination is lethal.

7. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is the world’s coldest capital. One third of the people live below the poverty line and burn coal for warmth. The toxic fumes make air pollution worse than Beijing. Children and old people are affected the worst but the government does not see it as a priority.

8. India’s cities are consistently ranked among the world’s worst polluted cities. Sometimes the air quality numbers are worse than the highest number in the world pollution index. More than 2.5 million premature deaths in India last year were attributed to air pollution. Crop burning, diesel fuel, dust, wild fires and coal all contribute to the increasingly polluted air.

9. Bahrain is another unhealthy country for breathing. Diesel car exhausts , factory fumes and dust storms contribute to particles in the lungs. It is a wealthy country and not heavily populated and should be doing more to correct this.

10. The pollution from Katmandu floats toward the Himalayas. Nepal has become one of the worst countries for air pollution due to car emissions, brush fires, burn farming, brick kilns, and cooking stoves. The black carbon emissions are affecting the nearby glaciers in the Himalayas which affects the water supply for that region.

Other countries with high levels of air pollution include Ghana, Jordan, China, Senegal, Turkey Bulgaria, Mauritius, Peru and Serbia .

Fly safe,
JAZ

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Warsan Shire

Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,  Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand,  Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia, Scotland, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.

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Growing up in New York, with immigrant grandparents, the Statue of Liberty meant something. “Tell us the story of when your parents saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time again” we asked.   My mother would say that to her parents and many like them, the statue meant freedom to live in a country where you could be whatever you wanted to be. America was the place to go to flee from oppression, racism, class-ism and poverty. We understood that it was something special to be born in a country with ideals like that.

America is not perfect. We have racism and poverty. But that doesn’t destroy the dreams it was built on. Millions of people came to America to build a better life for themselves and for their families and still do to this day.

On the Statue of Liberty, there are words I know so well: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” That’s the spirit that made me feel like an American.  I wouldn’t be here without that philosophy.

Fly safe.

JAZ

Travel Things That You Will Probably Do Only Once In Your Lifetime

Travel Things that You Will Probably Do Only Do Once In A Lifetime.

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

There are many things I would like to do again in my lifetime, go back to Croatia and Turkey, spend more time in the Amazon, eat street food in Thailand and sushi at Tsukiji etc. Then there are things that I know I will only do once. (Croatia)

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Climb to the top of the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument , etc. Any monument that you climb is a “one and done” for me. (Washington)

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Shop at Harrods in London or Ginza Mitsukoshi in Tokyo. The largest department store in the world is a one time visit – especially for the food areas. i can’t focus enough to buy anything. There are better places to be in these cities. (Tokyo)

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Climb to the top of some big mountain like Kilamanjaro, Everest or the Matterhorn. If you are capable of doing this, it is great for your quadriceps but words like summit and base camp are frightening to me. (Kilamanjaro)

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Visit the coffee shops in Amsterdam. If that is where you are spending all your time in Amsterdam, you have a problem.

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See the Aurora Borealis.

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Walk the Camino de Santiago.

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Take a gondola ride in Venice. I had every intention of doing this but after getting woken up every morning to gondoliers singing Volare, I felt like i had done it and took a boat instead.

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Visit the Grand Canyon – still have not done this

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Walk the Great Wall of China.

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Visit the Acropolis, Stonehenge, the Colosseum, Ephesus, Delphi, the Moabs or other famous ruins. They stay the same just a bit older.

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Go to Oktoberfest in Munich, Carnaval In Rio, Running With the Bulls In Pamplona, La Tomatina in Spain, Kumbh Mela in India ,Burning Man in Nevada, Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, Chinese New Year in China and the International Balloon Festival in New Mexico.

I still have a lot to do.

Fly Safe,
JAZ

What To Bring Or Not Bring To Someone’s Home In A Foreign Country

What To Bring Or Not Bring To Someone’s Home In A Foreign Country

“What you consider gross—dead rats—I consider considerate gifts.” Jarod Kintz

I’m a person who always likes to bring the right gift so having dinner in foreign country at someone’s house always requires a bit of research for me.

To the Japanese, gift giving is a way of communicating respect, friendship, and appreciation. It is good to be ready for the gift giving ritual that has been deeply rooted in the Japanese culture for centuries. Everything should be beautifully wrapped and ripping open the paper is bad form. Downplay the importance of the gift. This is typical in all Asian cultures. Always present the gift with two hands.

Do not give wine as a hostess gift in Argentina because it is considered common. Champagne or hard liquor is fine. Don’t bring scissors or knives because that means you want to sever the relationship.

What can you bring to someone in China? They make everything there. First off gift giving is not easy. They don’t open their gifts in front of you and they refuse them several times. You have to be persistent but not pushy. It’s a delicate balance. Again no knives or scissors to break the relationship. I am missing something. When people in these countries get invited for dinner is the go to gift a pair of scissors? Why do they have even have to say that? Also no clocks or anything in sets of four. Four is an unlucky number in Chinese because it sounds like death. This is true in most Asian countries. Avoid white chrysanthemums because they are used at funerals.

In Malaysia pay attention to the Muslim culture. Avoid pork, knives, alcohol, and highly personal gifts. Present gifts in the right hand only. In Indian sections of Malaysia, avoid black and white colors. Instead, opt for yellow, red or green which symbolize happiness.

Israelis have a tendency to overdo gift giving and put a lot of thought into choice and presentation. If you are going to the home of Orthodox Jews or Muslim Arabs remember that the gifts must not violate any of their religious beliefs. Candy, flowers and gifts for the kids are always appreciated.

If you are invited to a Quechua home in the mountains of Peru, coca leaves are an acceptable gift. Coca leaves have always been present at all important moments of community life. Today, the history and traditional use of the coca leaf in Peru are a solid part of ethnic and national identity.

In Korea, generosity is a highly valued personal trait. Give expensive gifts if possible.

When invited to a home in Russia, bring something other than vodka. If you bring flowers only present them to a woman. Avoid yellow flowers (unless you picked them yourself in the countryside). White flowers should be given with caution. Same with red as they usually mean love. Fine chocolates are always appreciated.

In Italy, it is nice to bring cakes for coffee when invited to dinner. The cakes have to be of a special kind, bought in a pasticceria by weight. These delicious cakes are placed in intricate patterns on a golden paper tray and wrapped in paper nicely folded with carrying handles After opening the present the hosts and the other guests will take pains to point out which cakes, they each do not like. In the end the cakes are pushed aside in the assumption that nobody can eat another bite after having partaken of a full delicious meal.

You must bring a gift if you are invited to someone’s house in India. Chocolates or flowers is acceptable. Different flowers have different meanings in India so always check with the florist about what is a proper choice. When in doubt red roses usually work. If they have children (and many do) it is nice to bring something for them. If you are visiting during a festival always carry a box of sweets with you. Be cautious in giving leather as a gift. The cow is sacred in India and many Hindus are vegetarians.

In Ethiopia a traditional gift if you are visiting someone’s home is coffee. However a chicken from the market may be well appreciated. They cost anywhere from $5-12. The average weekly wage is around $25 a month in a government job. So a chicken is quite a gift. If they have room the family may keep it for eggs. If not then it will make the next meal. To transport them, just pick them up by their feet. When chickens are upside down they do not move or make noise. They are very easy to handle. See this is where they lose me, I feel bad to carry an upside-down chicken around.

Fly safe,

JAZ