“I, The Jury” – The Prologue [Part 0] [An Original Online Series]

Underworld Awakening Publicity Still

“Whoever we are … Wherever we reside … We exist on the whim of murderers …”— Miles Davis, “The Rock”

***

An original online series based on characters and situations from the Vampire trilogy “The Endless Night” by H. P. Lovelace; dedicated to Mickey Spillane, his Mike Hammer, and the original, his “I, The Jury”. So, if you’re looking for Sherlock Holmes, Perry Mason, Nero Wolf, et al, you’d best look elsewhere. Mickey Spillane … dead … but not forgotten … never …

***

Series starts January 08, 2011

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The Endless Night, The First 16 Pages – [an excerpt from IUP, Book 01]

Poisen Elves
Be careful what you wish for … sometimes you get it

Click on the image of Jenny Miller, Mondo’s BFF, to read the pages … Enjoy … :)

 

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Xi’s visit to Macau deals cold deck to VIP gamblers

By Farah Master (HONG KONG) | Reuters

<Original Source>

(Reuters) – As Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Macau this weekend for his first official visit in five years, the message from Beijing is clear: the world’s biggest gambling center cannot remain a one-industry town.

Xi’s pervasive anti-graft campaign contributed to a disastrous year for major casino companies, which have lost a combined $58 billion in market value over the past six months as VIPs stayed away.

The former Portuguese colony became a paradise for Chinese government officials and rich businessmen to flaunt their wealth and indulge themselves with private jets and sumptuous hotel suites. Gambling revenue hit $45 billion last year, seven times Las Vegas’s take.

But it also became a pathway for extracting money from China – something the government is targeting aggressively.

China extended a crackdown on illicit money transfers into Macau, giving its Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau access to transactions made through the state-backed UnionPay credit card, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday.

The move, timed just ahead of Xi’s high-profile visit, is the latest in a string of actions aimed at curbing illicit funds leaving the country, a priority for Xi as he goes after corrupt officials who have fled overseas.

UnionPay has been a conduit for growing numbers of Chinese to illegally send billions of dollars abroad, a Reuters special report showed in March.

MACAU’S ‘DEMISE’

The corruption link helps explain Beijing’s interest in seeing Macau expand beyond casinos into more family-friendly entertainment.

Li Gang, China’s representative in Macau, warned on Sunday that “the dominance of one industry can lead the city to prosperity, but it also can lead to its demise”.

Gambling merited barely a mention in an editorial this week in the Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, praising Macau as a platform for international trade and a world heritage site.

Junket operators who lend money to wealthy mainland Chinese gamblers said they would keep a low profile during Xi’s visit, which marks the 15th anniversary of Macau’s handover from Portugal. He is expected to voice his support for Macau diversifying beyond gambling.

“Xi’s visit definitely means more control on the gaming path, especially for VIPs,” said one junket operator who declined to be named, referring to the high-rollers who accounted for two-thirds of Macau’s revenue last year but now represent just 56 percent.

Hong Kong-listed casino stocks have plunged 32-51 percent since the start of the year, widely underperforming the benchmark Hang Seng Index, which has dropped 2 percent in the same period.

NEW CASINOS, NEW RESTRICTIONS

China is pushing for new development focusing on culture, sports and retail, instead of prioritizing gambling.

If casino companies don’t comply, it may affect their licenses. Discussions on license renewals start next year, and the earliest concessions expire in 2020. The government has said it’s looking at how effectively operators provide non-gaming amenities in their new resorts.

Casino moguls including U.S. billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn are also under pressure to add non-gaming elements to secure coveted gambling tables.

Adelson, who has led diversification efforts in Macau with an exhibition arena and hotels, is building a mock Eiffel tower replica, while Wynn is building a palatial $4 billion resort with a massive lake and air-conditioned gondolas.

Some junket operators said they welcomed Xi adding his voice to the calls for diversification because gambling accounts for the bulk of Macau’s tax base and left the city vulnerable to sharp downturns.

“I think Xi’s trip is a good thing for Macau, for the central government to show support and ensure stability,” said a junket operator. “There is a lot of negative influence right now.”

(Editing by Emily Kaiser and Will Waterman)

 

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The Most Expensive Hotel Suites in the World [The Royal Penthouse Suite at Hotel President Wilson, Geneva, Switzerland]

The Royal Penthouse Suite at Hotel President Wilson, Geneva, Switzerland

The Most Expensive Hotel Suites in the World [The Royal Penthouse Suite at Hotel President Wilson, Geneva, Switzerland]

From $65,000 a night

This 12-bedroom, 12-bathroom suite sprawls across 18,000 square feet, taking up the entire eighth floor of the hotel, which is why nightly rates start at $65,000 (and can reach upwards of $80,000). Features include armored doors, a human-sized safe, bulletproof windows, a private elevator, and helipad access—making it a favorite among visiting dignitaries, heads of state, and other VIPs in need of privacy.

Courtesy Hotel President Wilson

<Original Source>

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19 Of The Most Evil Women In History [#3 – Dorothea Binz]

Dorothea Binz

As the SS supervisor at the Ravensbruck concentration camp, her dedication to her work was described by her fellow Nazis as “unyielding.”

Known for patrolling the camp with a whip in one hand and a German Shepherd at her side, inmates reportedly fell silent upon her approach. Her reputation of whipping, beating and even shooting female inmates earned her the job of supervising the torture bunkers at the camp as well as training guards.

<Original Source>

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The Real “Chinese Dream”: Control of the South China Sea?

by | The National Interest

<Original Source>

While bureaucratic competition among numerous maritime actors is likely a factor that is contributing to tension and uncertainty in the South China Sea, as Linda Jakobson argues in her report China’s Unpredictable Maritime Security Actors, it is probably not the biggest source of instability. Rather, China’s determination to advance its sovereignty claims and expand its control over the South China Sea is the primary challenge.

Xi Jinping has clearly signaled that “protection of maritime rights and interests” and “resolutely safeguarding territorial sovereignty” are high priorities, which should be pursued even as China seeks to preserve stability and maintain good relations with its neighbors. At the recently concluded Central Foreign Affairs Work Conference, Xi additionally emphasized that China should not “relinquish our legitimate rights and interests or sacrifice’ China’s ‘core interests.’”

As Jakobson relates, uncoordinated actions by local entities have occasionally created policy confusion, for example by releasing competing maps of the nation’s South China Sea claims. However, China’s most assertive and destabilizing actions have appeared to be well coordinated, including the placement of the HYSY-981 oil rig in waters disputed with Vietnam earlier this year and extensive land reclamation projects that are underway in the South China Sea.

In the case of the dredging activities that are rapidly transforming tiny reefs into artificial islands, Jakobson states that these are “likely to be a tool of legal warfare, intended to solidify China’s claims to maritime rights based on so-called land features, rather than an attempt to militarize the South China Sea as some have claimed.” It is likely, however, that China is pursuing both objectives simultaneously.

Beijing is not satisfied with the status quo in the South China Sea and it is amassing capabilities to gradually change the situation to its advantage. It is carefully avoiding the use of force and thereby hopes to keep the US at bay. Some experts describe China’s strategy as “tailored coercion.” Others have used the term “salami-slicing.” Whatever terminology you prefer, the evidence is mounting that Xi Jinping does have a grand strategy. Strengthening China’s control over the South China Sea is part of his “China Dream” of rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

This piece was first posted on The Interpreter, which is published by the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

Image: Wikicommons. 

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13 Ski and Spa Vacations for People Who Hate Skiing – Condé Nast Traveler [Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah]

Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah

13 Ski and Spa Vacations for People Who Hate Skiing - Condé Nast Traveler [Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah]

Thanks to a multi-day spa package option, you could easily spend your entire trip inside this 35,000-square-foot spa. Enjoy a private spa suite with a partner, which includes two copper tubs, or go it alone and sample a range of hydrotherapy options, such as soaking in a tub of herbs before getting wrapped in seaweed. Don’t be deterred by treatments named Mountain Body Therapy, a combination of hydrotherapy and sports massage. It might be geared toward skiers, but luckily skiing is not a prerequisite.

Courtesy Montage Deer Valley

<Original Source>

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19 Of The Most Evil Women In History [#4 – Myra Hindley]

4. Myra Hindley

Together with her boyfriend, Ian Brady, Hindley was responsible for the rape and murder of five young children between 1962-68.

Hindley died in prison in 2002.

<Original Source>

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Dr Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip — 10 Ways to Remove Stress

Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is, perhaps, the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy, and rewarding life. — Marilu Henner

How to remove stressThis is supposed to be the most joyful time of the year, but for many people this has become the most stressful time of the year. What a shame!

And there are other people who are stressed all day every day all year long. What a tragedy!  It doesn’t have to be that way.

This season is supposed to be all about good news. And one piece of good news is you don’t have to have a stress-FULL life. You can have a joy-FULL life and career if you use these ten stress-busting strategies.

1. Remind yourself “You’ll never get it all done, and that’s okay.”

I was raised in a family where my parents said, “First comes work; then comes play. When you get all your work done, then you can play.” Perhaps you were raised the same way.

The trouble is, if you take that advice literally, that you must get all your work done before you play, you would never play.

You need to remember no matter how hard you work or how fast you work, on the day you die there’ll still be a few things left in your in-box. The same goes for the holidays. You’ll never get all your holiday chores done. There’s always more you could do to create that picture-perfect holiday. Let it go. Remind yourself “you’ll never get it all done and that’s okay.”

As the founder of Christmas said, “I come to give you peace.”

2. Avoid mind binders.

Never say such things as “I get so stressed out during the holidays … There’s so much to do … I just can’t take another party.” The more you think or say such things, the more stress you’ll have.

In my new book, “The Payoff Principle: Discover The 3 Secrets For Getting What You Want Out Of Life And Work,” I go into great detail on all the various Mind Binders you need to avoid and the exact process for eliminating them from your life.

3. Do only the most important things.

People say to me, “I’ve got my friends, my family, my company party, my church, decorating to do, gifts to buy, food to cook, and dozens of other activities during the holiday season. They all seem important. So how do I take your advice and do only the most important things.”

First, all the people in your life are NOT equally important. Focus on the folks who mean the most to you and get to the others later in the year.

Second, all the activities on your holiday schedule are NOT equally important. Select three activities that would bring the most meaning to this season … for YOU. Make sure you do those three things … and don’t add anything else to your schedule unless you truly have the time and desire.

4. Choose your fights carefully.

Holiday gatherings at work and at home often bring difficult people together. Don’t get sucked into a conflict unnecessarily. Don’t get involved unless you can answer “yes” to these three questions: 1) Does a threat exist? 2) Is it worth a fight? 3) If I fight can I make a difference?

5. Set your spending limits in advance.

I hear so many people talk about how expensive Christmas has gotten to be. They talk about the high cost of living. But I don’t buy it. It’s not the high cost of living that causes the holiday stress. It’s the cost of living high.

So set your spending limits in advance. Know what you are comfortable spending and stick to that decision.

But I’ll give you a warning. You will be tempted to spend more because somebody else is spending more. And you’ll be tempted to spend more to make up for the time you didn’t give someone this last year.

You will resist those temptations if you set your spending limits in advance.

6. Pay attention to your body.

If you’re not quite sure if the holiday stress is getting to you (or the stress at work on any given occasion), listen to your body to see if you’re off balance or have too much stress. Your body will always give you some signals (such as more frequent headaches, muscle tensions, eating changes, or sleep difficulties) when you’re over-stressed.

Pay attention. If you don’t listen to those signals, your dis-stress will lead to dis-ease.

7. Practice an attitude of gratitude.

As I said before, it’s all too easy to get stressed out during the holidays. And it’s easy to get somewhat negative about that.

But you can eliminate that stress by practicing an attitude of gratitude. Simply put, the more thanks you give, the less stress you’ll have.

So let me recommend a simple exercise for each of you. Every day during the holiday season, take two minutes to list all the things you’re thankful for. And then take a walk outside, by yourself, and say out loud a thousand times, “Thank you.”

And what will happen? When the holiday stresses start coming in your direction, your list of thanks will come back into your head and cancel out those negative stresses.

8. Be an actor.

Instead of re-acting to other people’s holiday expectations or demanding behavior, choose to respond in a way that you feel good about. Don’t come down to their level. Let your personal and professional enthusiasm bring them up to your level.

9. Do a check up from the neck up.

Examine your attitude. 85% of people are programmed negatively. What about you? Do you fall into that category?

The way you find out the answer is to examine your first reaction to any bit of news you might receive. When you go to your desk and find a note from your boss that says, “See me immediately,” what is your first reaction? Do you think, “Great, the raise is coming early this year.”? Or is your first reaction, “What did I do wrong this time?” 85% expect the negative.

If you fall into that category, give yourself the gift of a new attitude for the holidays and the new year.

In “The Payoff Principle: Discover The 3 Secrets For Getting What You Want Out Of Life And Work,” I take you through a step-by-step process that will give you the ultimate attitude makeover.

For the moment, there are three things you can do to get you started in that direction. First, set the goal of getting a better attitude. Second, do some affirmations. As silly as it sounds, tell yourself, over and over again, “I’m a positive person with a positive attitude.” And third, ask a couple of people to hold you accountable, to praise you when you’re showing a more positive attitude and to encourage you when you’re getting down.

10. Remember you can change.

Don’t buy into the big lie … when people say “I can’t help the way I feel…That’s just the way I am.” You may not know how to change your attitude but it is totally changeable if you simply spend five minutes a day practicing the strategies listed above.

You can always change for the better. Do it and you’ll be giving yourself the best Christmas present ever.

ACTION:

Each of these ten strategies is a gift you give to yourself. Which three will you choose to give yourself?

Share with your friends and colleagues!
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Here Is Xi’s China. Get Used to It.

179480220

by | Managing Director of GaveKal Dragonomics | The World Post

<Original Source>

china file 300

The prevailing mood among China-watchers in 2014 was one of anxiety and skepticism. The year began in the shadow of Chinese assertiveness in the East and South China Seas. Economic concerns quickly took over: by February the property market seemed on the verge of an epic collapse thanks to the previous year’s sharp monetary tightening. At midyear the worry was that an endless anti-corruption campaign had caused government sclerosis, making it impossible to get anything done. And by October, as the Communist Party held its law-focused Fourth Plenum, many bemoaned both the lack of evident progress on the economic reforms outlined at the prior year’s Third Plenum and the Party’s unwillingness to let its power be constrained by Western-style rule of law. All in all, one might conclude that the main quality of Xi Jinping’s government was looking tough. Achievements were sparse.

This popular reading is unduly negative. Here is another that fits the facts at least as well: After a brief scare, the property market stabilized, in large measure thanks to the removal of unreasonable restrictions on house purchases, rather than an unsustainable blowout in credit growth. By the end of the year the economy was still growing at the fastest pace of any major economy (7.3 percent), although a slowdown next year seems likely given the apparent intention to constrain credit growth. In June the Politburo approved the biggest fiscal reform in 20 years, which aims to restructure troublesome local-government debts and revamp the tax structure to cut back on perverse incentives. November saw a significant opening of the capital account, as the “Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect” program permitted investors in those two financial hubs to put money directly in each others’ stock markets. Partly in anticipation of this event, Chinese stocks staged a big rally in the second half of the year which made Shanghai the world’s second best performing market in 2014. And in December the People’s Bank of China released draft rules for deposit insurance, setting limits on the government’s unlimited guarantee of the financial system and setting the stage for full deposit-rate liberalization in the next year or two.nized opposition.”
Politically, the anti-corruption campaign did not stop with the public fingering of former security boss Zhou Yongkang but instead shifted its focus to the People’s Liberation Army, which has a well-earned reputation as a noisome sewer of graft. While it remains hard for Xi to shake the impression that he is pursuing a vendetta against political enemies, each month that the campaign continues, and each new institution that falls prey, strengthen the argument that the anti-corruption drive is a broader effort to remake the nation’s governance structure. Another big political challenge came with the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong following the publication of rules by the National People’s Congress permitting universal suffrage in the city’s 2017 chief executive election, but with restrictive nomination rules ensuring the victor will be compliant with the Party. Despite fears of a PLA crackdown, Beijing chose restraint and let the local government handle the matter; the protests gradually faded with little impact on either business or China’s international reputation.

Last, the external front saw a string of diplomatic successes. Tensions with Japan and Southeast Asian neighbors which rose dangerously high in 2013 were dialed down and disappeared from the headlines. A landmark gas pipeline deal was concluded with Russia, on apparently excellent terms for China, ending a decade of dithering. Three large new multilateral financial institutions sprang up under Chinese leadership, with a combined capitalization of U.S.$240 billion: the New Development Bank (originally the BRICS development bank), the Silk Road infrastructure fund, and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. And in November Beijing hosted an impressive Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting, which together with an almost simultaneous summit between Xi and President Obama resulted in a breakthrough on the Information Technology Agreement (an international high-tech free trade deal previously stymied by Chinese intransigence), a politically pivotal U.S.-China pact to cooperate on climate change, and two U.S.-China military agreements designed to reduce the risk of an accident in the East or South China Seas leading to armed conflict.

Name One Leader With a Better Record

This record is stronger than that of any other major world leader in the last two years. Even if one conservatively reckons the true growth rate at 6.5 percent or so, China’s economy is expanding at three times the rate of the healthiest developed economy, the U.S., and faster than the other big high-growth countries in Asia, India, and Indonesia. China has done far better with both cyclical and structural economic management than its rival Japan. Shinzo Abe has talked a brave game about his “three arrows,” but has delivered only one: aggressive monetary easing. Structural reform is absent and fiscal policy was disastrously captured by Ministry of Finance hawks, whose consumption-tax increase drove the country into a needless recession. Xi and his premier Li Keqiang by contrast have done a neat job of running monetary and fiscal policies that are expansive enough to promote growth, but disciplined enough (so far) to limit the excesses that nearly took the economy off the rails in the previous administration.

Diplomatically, Xi stacks up well. Early this year, pundits made much of Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical brilliance as he destabilized Ukraine and seized Crimea. This so-called brilliance was nothing more than the success of a bully who wins a bar fight because he is sober and wields a knife while his opponents are drunk and unarmed. Within weeks of this supposed triumph he was scurrying to Beijing to offer up natural gas on the cheap. Xi meanwhile has crystallized a strategy of patiently building up influence throughout Asia by big investments in infrastructure that will boost trade and economic growth. His task is a hard one: to increase China’s geopolitical reach while allaying fears that China seeks to subjugate its neighbors or disrupt the American-led international order. His solution, as illustrated by the flurry of announcements around the carefully orchestrated APEC summit, is a two-track policy that positions the nation both as a cooperative player in the existing order (ITA, climate change) and as the leader of an emergent one (AIIB, New Development Bank).

Writing the Authoritarian Playbook

Such a scorecard would earn most leaders accolades; why then does so much commentary suggest that economic reform is at a standstill, the anti-corruption campaign is nothing more than a series of gangland rubouts, that China’s diplomacy is bellicose and disruptive–in other words, that Xi is not much more than a Putin with Chinese characteristics? There are two broad reasons.

First, Xi is playing a long game, and long games are hard to read. Because so much of the foreign interest in China is economic, Western analysts habitually construe reforms in narrow economic terms; but Xi’s ambitions are far loftier and involve remaking the entire Chinese system of governance. Accepting this premise makes it easier to understand the anti-corruption campaign as a crucial first step in the reshaping of political institutions, rather than as a crude power-grab. An authoritarian reformer, Xi draws on precedents from regional history. Anti-corruption drives were central early-stage tactics for Park Chung-hee (who brutally converted South Korea from crony-capitalist basket case to developmental success story in the 1960s and ’70s) and Chiang Ching-kuo (who in the 1980s reined in the epic corruption of his Guomindang party and set Taiwan on a course for democracy and high-technology prowess). This stance also explains the primacy of fiscal reforms–essential for adjusting the balance of power between central and local governments–over the financial reforms that mesmerize the foreign business press.

As a nationalist, Xi wants a reform program whose economic beneficiaries will mainly be domestic firms. This makes him not a crony capitalist, but an ordinary political leader. Outside analysts accustomed to measuring China’s economic progress by how many benefits it grants to foreign companies, though, are naturally disappointed. Finally, most of the reforms outlined at the Third Plenum had an explicit or implicit target date for completion of 2020. (Fiscal reform, timed for completion in 2016, is a notable exception.) Given this time scale–an appropriate one for far-reaching structural adjustment–it is a bit premature to fret when none of the goals has been met in the first year. The direction is clear and concrete steps have been taken in almost every major reform area, which is quite a bit more than could be said about the aimless second term of the previous government.

At Bottom, We Just Don’t Like Commies

The other, profounder reason for enduring skepticism is the conviction among outsiders that the Chinese Communist Party runs an illegitimate regime. The assumption of illegitimacy leads to a presumption of fragility. Because China’s leaders have no electoral mandate, the story goes, they must keep economic growth running at some arbitrarily high rate (eight percent? seven percent? six percent?), or the regime will collapse. Failure to contain environmental damage will lead to protests that will cause the regime to collapse; fixing environmental damage may slow the economy to such a degree that the regime will collapse. Failure to adopt Western-style rule of law will lead to social discontent that will cause the regime to collapse. No problem can simply be a problem; it must be an existential crisis.

Here’s the truth: the Chinese state is not fragile. The regime is strong, increasingly self-confident, and without organized opposition. Its economic management is competent and pragmatic. Its responsiveness to social pressures on issues such as the environment is imperfect, but well-informed by research and public opinion surveys. It derives real legitimacy from its consistent demonstrated ability to raise living standards, provide a growing range of public goods, and maintain a high level of order while mostly letting people do what they want in their daily lives (unless what they want is to organize against the government). Like any large state, China has large problems, but the Party’s rule is not threatened by umbrella-wielding students in Hong Kong or striking schoolteachers in Heilongjiang, any more than the American regime is threatened by rioters in Ferguson.

In short, China is a successful authoritarian developmental state which is now rich enough to start setting its own rules rather than just accepting other peoples’. That is the Xi project. To recognize this fact does not require one to celebrate it, or to ignore the costs of the authoritarian strategy. So long as it insists on clamping down on information networks, China can never become a global technological leader or anything close to it. So long as it deprives citizens of political and civil rights considered basic in virtually every other middle- or upper-income country in the world, it will remain a cultural desert and its “soft power” will be stunted. These are real costs, and big ones. But they are costs the leadership has decided to bear, and it is a fantasy to think they will be punished for this decision not to emulate the liberal democratic ideal. China, to steal John Connally’s famous phrase about the dollar, is its own country, and other people’s problem. It will develop in its own way, on its own terms, and others will just have to work with it as best they can.

This article was first published on ChinaFile, an online magazine from Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations.

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13 Ski and Spa Vacations for People Who Hate Skiing – Condé Nast Traveler [Le Chabichou, Courchevel, France]

Le Chabichou, Courchevel, France

13 Ski and Spa Vacations for People Who Hate Skiing - Condé Nast Traveler [Le Chabichou, Courchevel, France]

Le Chabichou is inside the largest ski area in the world, and its state-of-the-art spa is ready to handle slope-related needs. Not only does it boast a hammam, ice fountain, and salt grotto, but it also includes a pool with multi-sensory features, such as music.

Noel Pelegrin

<Original Source>

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19 Of The Most Evil Women In History [#5 – Maria ‘Chata’ Leon]

5. Maria 'Chata' Leon

As the head of The Avenues, Chata ran one of the most dangerous street gangs in the history of Los Angeles. From her fortress home on Drew St., she ran a criminal enterprise based on drugs, murder and intimidation.

Much of the gang’s higher leadership was made up of her children.

<Original Source>

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