Friday, November 28, 2014

A Tilt Toward NATO in Ukraine as Parliament Meets

Dear All,

Russia’s dictator, Vladimir Putin, continues to pursue the military forced annexation of the eastern territory of the Ukraine in the hopes of creating a land bridge between Russia and the Ukrainian territory of Crimea; after he had already used military force to annex that territory.  

During this time, American president BarackObama  has continued to wear his “Rose Colored Foreign Policy Glasses”, thus giving Putin a free hand to continue his aggression against their small neighbor. 

As this article shows, the Ukraine is now attempting to join NATO in the hopes of surviving  Putin's strategy of further Russian military attacks to stop him from robbing any more of Ukraine 's territory; and to ultimately regain all the territory Russia has already stolen, including the Crimea.

Also, as you read above, I quoted former presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he used the term "Rose Colored Glasses" during his foreign policy Ukraine/Russia debate with Obama.

In the future, I will not use the term "Rose Colored' when writing about Obama and his peculiar foreign or domestic policy fiasco's. 

Instead, I will use the term "Pot Colored Glasses". 

Obama, himself, admitted he was a huge abuser of marijuana when writing extensively in his biography "Dreams of My Father" about his leadership in the "Choom Gang" and his marijuana abuse; including other illegal drugs he abused.

After six years of watching the Obama Administration, I  have serious concerns that his past teenage abuse of drugs may have permanently damaged and clouded his brain; thus the "Pot Colored Glasses" effect.

Today’s science and technology proves beyond a doubt that marijuana abuse seriously damages several areas of the brain; including area's that effect judgment, and especially during the teenage years when those areas of the brain are rapidly developing.

Ron Kirkish
A Tilt Toward NATO in Ukraine as Parliament Meets



As Ukraine’s new Parliament, firmly controlled by a coalition of pro-Western parties, convened for the first time on Thursday, President Petro O. Poroshenko urged lawmakers to repeal a 2010 law that codified the country’s nonaligned status in global affairs, and to instead pursue membership in NATO.

The Parliament, in two of its most important initial actions, chose Volodymyr Groysman, a close ally of Mr. Poroshenko, as speaker and also re-elected Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, a technocrat well-loved in the West, as prime minister.

Mr. Poroshenko’s remarks were sure to antagonize Russia, which annexed Crimea in March and has supported violent, pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, in part because of the Kremlin’s opposition to any move by Ukraine toward NATO.

“Today it is clear that the nonalignment status of Ukraine proclaimed in 2010 couldn’t guarantee our security and territorial integrity,” Mr. Poroshenko told the Parliament.

“This position has led to serious losses. That’s why we’ve decided to return to the course of NATO integration.”

Earlier this month, Dmitri S. Peskov, the chief spokesman for the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, pointedly underlined Russia’s position in an interview with the BBC, saying: “We would like to hear a 100 percent guarantee that no one would think about Ukraine’s joining NATO.

We would like to hear that NATO would discontinue to approach Russian borders, that NATO will discontinue attempts to break the balance, the balance of power.

But unfortunately we fail to hear these words” (Source: The New York Times).


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Revealed: 2,500 new documents in IRS / W.H. harassment cases

Dear All,

While the nation’s attention has been wholly focused on the Ferguson, Missouri Riots, there has been breaking news in regards to the IRS Scandal. 

If you recall, over 30,000 Lois Lerner emails(former Director of the IRS) were recently found and turned over to the proper authorities for investigation.

Yesterday, the ‘Washington Examiner’ reported that there were 2,500 new IRS documents found that are potentially troublesome for the Obama Administration pertaining to the IRS Scandal and Investigation.

Excerpt: In an email from the Justice Department’s tax office, an official revealed the high number of documents, suggesting that the White House was hip deep in probes of taxpayers, likely including conservatives and Tea Party groups associated with the IRS scandal.

Ron Kirkish

Revealed: 2,500 new documents in IRS / W.H. harassment cases

Link to “FOIA” and court order document: 

 By Paul Bedard | November 25, 2014 | 6:37 pm

In a shocking revelation, the Treasury Inspector General has identified some 2,500 documents that “potentially” show taxpayer information held by the Internal Revenue Service being shared with President Obama’s White House.

The discovery was revealed to the group Cause of Action, which has sued for access to any of the documents. It charges that the IRS and White House have harassed taxpayers.

In an email from the Justice Department’s tax office, an official revealed the high number of documents, suggesting that the White House was hip deep in probes of taxpayers, likely including conservatives and Tea Party groups associated with the IRS scandal.

In requesting a delay in the delivery date of the documents, Justice told Cause of Action, “The agency [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration] has located 2,500 potentially responsive documents and anticipates being able to finish processing 2,000 of these pages by the December 1 date. It needs the additional two weeks to deal with the last 500 pages to determine if they are responsive and make any necessary withholdings.”
Cause of Action, which calls itself “Advocates for Government Accountability,” wasn’t surprised by the number of documents.

It had filed suit to win access to them and a federal judge shot down Treasury’s earlier bid to hide the documents.
“This disclosure, coming only after Cause of Action sued TIGTA over its refusal to acknowledge whether such investigations took place, and after the court ordered TIGTA to reveal whether or not documents existed, signals that the White House may have made significant efforts to obtain taxpayers’ personal information,” it said in a statement to Secrets.

The disclosure follows the agency’s recovery of 30,000 “lost” emails from former IRS executive Lois Lerner, the central figure in the IRS-Tea Party scandal.
Cause of Action said the latest finding renews their “concerns about the decaying professionalism of, and apparent slip into partisanship by, IRS's senior leadership.”

Below is the full email from Treasury:
My client wants to know if you would consent to a motion pushing back (in part) TIGTA’s response date by two weeks to December 15, 2014. The agency has located 2,500 potentially responsive documents and anticipates being able to finish processing 2,000 of these pages by the December 1 date. It needs the additional two weeks to deal with the last 500 pages to determine if they are responsive and make any necessary withholdings. We would therefore like to ask the court to permit the agency to issue a response (including production) on December 1 as to any documents it has completed processing by that date, and do the same as to the remaining documents by December 15. I note that the court’s remand was for a “determin[ation],” which the D.C. Circuit has recently explained can precede actual production by “days or a few weeks,” but we would prefer to simply agree on a date for turning over any of the remaining 500 documents that may be responsive.

Yonatan Gelblum
Trial Attorney, Tax Division

U.S. Department of Justice
Link to court “FIOA” document:

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted


Saturday, November 22, 2014

A message to President Barack H. Obama from Sacramento County Sheriff Scott R. Jones

Dear All,
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott R. Jones eloquently appeals to President Barack H. Obama in regards to a recent tragedy his department suffered when one of his officer was shot and killed by an “Illegal Immigrant”.  This same individual actually killed two police officers during the incident, with one being from another  nearby city.  This “illegal immigrant” had been caught and deported numerous times before he committed his horrible crimes; and taking the lives of these officers and also shooting a civilian in the face.
I hope you will take the time to listen to the words offered by Sheriff Scott R. Jones to the president and if you think that they are important, that you will consider sharing his words with others within your sphere of influence.
Best regards,
Ronald L. Kirkish
November 22, 2014
Before President Barack Obama’s unilateral and unconstitutional Executive order relating to immigration reform, which is essentially a form of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones had a few words to say.

Sheriff Jones recorded his message and posted it to Youtube, where it has since gone viral:

The Sheriff begins his message by talking about the four-times deported illegal immigrant with an extensive criminal record that shot and killed two Sheriff’s deputies (, one of which was one of his own, which he says is indicative of the need for immigration reform.
Although Jones says that Congress, both Democrats and Republicans,  share plenty of blame for not passing an immigration reform bill, he reserves his harshest criticism for Obama, saying “only you are singularly responsible” for the broken immigration policy that we currently have, due to the “hands-off” policies that have been put in place by DHS and their subsidiaries.
Speaking of DHS and Border and Customs agents, Jones said “They don’t need a raise to improve morale in that organization, they need to be allowed to do their jobs, and carry out their mission to keep America safe.”
“You are the only person who can impress upon Congress the urgency of reform. 
Simply stated, you are the only singular person in this country who can advance or adopt meaningful immigration reform. 
By that definition then, it is your singular failure alone as to why we do not yet have reform, why America continues to be at risk, and new crimes and new victims are mounting each and every day, in every single state.”
“In California, we have a very large, and very productive, undocumented population.  Unfortunately, that also necessarily means we have a large undocumented population that chooses crime as a way of life, that chooses to victimize others, including in many instances, other undocumented persons who are often unwilling to call us for help.”
“Like their American criminal counterparts, they commit murders, sexual assaults, kidnaps, thefts, engage in violent gang activity, and murder police officers.  The problem I have, is I can’t tell which ones are good and which ones are evil, and neither can you.  By their very definition, they are undocumented, untracked, untraced, and unaccounted for.  There is no way to know which of the 12 million undocumented persons we have in this country are good or bad.”
“This is not about racism.  It is about an increasingly violent and uncertain world in which we are inadequately protected.”
“Deferred action, or amnesty, is deferring this crisis.  It is not reform, it is simply giving up, and it does nothing to make America, or the undocumented population, any safer.”
“No matter what eventual pathway to immigration reform is chosen, there can be no conceivable resolution that does not involve securing our borders.  No matter what else is done or decided, for any facet of immigration reform to work, our borders must be secured.  So what possible reasons could there be for not starting on this immediately?”
“If nothing else, it would be a gesture of good faith to the American people, to demonstrate that you truly care about immigration reform and keeping us safe from everyone, and not just Mexican nationals, but everyone, who can now chose to simply enter our country at will, secure in the knowledge that there will be no consequences, if they are discovered.”
“An American patriot, Ronald Reagan, once told Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to ‘tear down this wall’, to preserve democracy and secure safety and freedom for a nation.  Mr. President, I’m asking you to build up that wall, for the very same reasons.”
Sheriff Jones ends his video by calling on every other law enforcement, political, and community leader to send similar video letters to the President, urging him to secure the border first while pursuing meaningful immigration reform.
The Sheriff is absolutely right, and he should be thanked for taking a brave stand, and saying what needs to be said.  Our country certainly does need reform to our immigration laws, beginning with border security, and only then contemplating ways in which to legalize some of the illegal population.
Obama talks about how there is no more time to waste, and action must be taken soon.  If that is the case, perhaps he should step back and allow the new Congress to actually work on reforming immigration legislatively, instead of making the situation worse by unconstitutionally taking unilateral half-measures that don’t address the fundamental roots of the problem.

The world’s most expensive rehab clinic

Dear All,

"Cannabis Psychosis" is very real and extremely destructive to the human as you will discover in this article.

Additional information: The Cannabis-Psychosis Link and Cannabis Psychosis

Ronald L. Kirkish

The world’s most expensive rehab clinic

It caters for sheikhs, A-listers, business leaders... and one immoderate journalist. Robert Crampton takes his place on the couch

Küsnacht, the suburb of Zurich stretching along the shores of the lake, is remarkable for three reasons. One is its extreme wealth. The singers Tina Turner and Shania Twain have homes here, as does Kimi Raikkonen, the Formula One driver. So do assorted Russian oligarchs and Arabian sheikhs. And in among the new money lies the old, the accumulated riches of the ages, passed down through venerable banking dynasties or half-forgotten Central European royal houses. You look at the solid, tasteful, timeworn villas and you can practically see money two or three centuries in the making oozing out of the walls. The income tax rate in Küsnacht, set locally, is 13 per cent.

Küsnacht’s second unusual feature is its tranquillity. The avenues and lanes here are, even by Swiss standards, uncannily calm. Contentment shrouds the rooftops along with the thick snow. Noise and ostentation are frowned upon. Privacy is prized above all else. The Prince of Wales, it is said, regularly dines nearby in the skiing season, but the idea of any local contacting a newspaper with this information is unthinkable. The streets and buildings display barely no signage. The best restaurants are accessed by plain, unmarked doors. Either you know where these places are, or you don’t get to go.

Küsnacht’s third claim to fame is that it was home, until his death in 1961, to Carl Jung, the second-most renowned psychotherapist in history. Jung moved here in 1908, building a lakefront house in which, in the late Twenties, he treated an American businessman, Rowland Hazard III, for chronic alcoholism. Jung suggested to Hazard that his future sobriety required him to experience “a spiritual awakening”.

Returning to the US, Hazard championed Jung’s methods to his friend Ebby Thatcher. Thatcher was a friend of Bill Wilson, who, influenced by Jung’s ideas, co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. Thus, indirectly, the 12-step recovery programme was born in Küsnacht.

Given this history – wealth, discretion, Jung – it really is no accident that Küsnacht is now home to the most expensive rehab clinic in the world. The Küsnacht Practice, operating out of a suitably anonymous modern office building, costs its clients £190,000 for a minimum stay of four weeks, payable upfront in full. That’s close to £7,000 a day. If a client stays three months, as some do, their bill won’t be far off £600,000. On top of that comes the cost of having a therapist travel home with them to help ease them back into everyday life, without returning to their bad old ways. The therapist may stay as long as a month. All part of the service.

By way of comparison, the Cottonwood clinic in Arizona, where former England footballer Paul Gascoigne is currently being treated, charges about £1,000 a day. Eric Clapton’s Crossroads centre in Antigua – alumni include Britney Spears and Colin Farrell – comes in at about £600 a day, as do the Betty Ford clinic in California, Cirque Lodge in Sundance, Utah, and the Priory Hospital, Britain’s most well-known addiction-treatment centre. Most people, rightly, think of these places as wildly expensive. Patients at Küsnacht pay ten times as much.

They may be addicted to alcohol, or drugs – illegal, prescription or both – or food, or sex (usually with prostitutes), or all of the above, often without acknowledging it. One chap, checked in for drug addiction, announced alcohol wasn’t a problem for him because although he got through a bottle of vodka a day, that was just how business was conducted in his country, each stage of negotiation toasted and sealed with a triple shot.

Patients may well be suffering from depression. They may well have been traumatised since childhood. Or they may be simply burnt out by stress. There are never more than three clients in situ at any one time. They never meet each other: no group therapy here. Instead, they are assigned their own therapist, available 24 hours a day. The patient and the therapist stay together in one of the practice’s luxury apartments, objets d’art worth tens of thousands dotted about, personal chef, housekeeper and driver on hand.

Therapists are very well paid – around three times what they might earn elsewhere – which accounts for the bulk of the eye-watering price tag. When not in session with their therapist, patients are counselled about addictions, exhaustively tested by doctors and biochemists, introduced to yoga and acupuncture, hypnotised, massaged and taken off for vigorous hikes in the surrounding woods by their personal trainer. They are also taken to AA and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings locally. Part hospital, part spa, part analyst’s clinic, part boot camp, part support network, Küsnacht certainly takes its promise of – dread word – holistic treatment seriously. At these prices, you’d expect nothing less.

Last year the practice had 20 patients. This year, Lowell Monkhouse, Küsnacht’s Canadian founder tells me, he’ll take 30, but no more. Or maybe just one more, for 48 hours at any rate: your correspondent, a man not unacquainted with either the pleasures or pitfalls, the delights or the downside, of overdoing it, specifically in regard to alcohol, food, cigarettes, anxiety, late nights and other sundry self-destructive behaviours.

For reasons of confidentiality, I am not able to meet any present or former patients of the practice. By way of a substitute, Küsnacht provides me with an intensive two-day taster of the schedule bona fide patients undergo. Austrian Dr Claudia Elsig encourages me into a light trance to conduct a psychiatric assessment. (Results pending.) Dr Antoinette Sarasin Gianduzzo, a Swiss biochemist, gives me a nutritional assessment via saliva, blood and hair testing. (See below.) Psychologist Anthony O’Brien, a soft-spoken Irishman from Tralee, conducts an addictions assessment. (“Your body’s giving you the information, Robert. Now you’ve got to start listening to it.”) Meanwhile, Ivan Serretti and Isabelle Seiler and Shelby McDermott and Moustafa Ahmoud get busy with reflexology, acupuncture, yoga and massage respectively.

Each practitioner, I couldn’t help but notice, looks ten years younger than they turn out to be. Monkhouse looks younger than his 65 years. Sarasin Gianduzzo looks younger than her 45. As for Ivan the reflexologist, I had him down as around 40. He’ll be 53 this month. “It’s no secret,” says Monkhouse. “We’re healthy. Ageing is just your body not functioning properly. Ours are.” Mine, however, isn’t. Every month of my 48 years is etched in my face. “You look tired,” I am told repeatedly. “Well, I am,” I agree, and then generally nod off. Not so much a spiritual awakening as a falling asleepening.

I am also advised to drink more water, lose 10kg, stop snacking, especially late at night, stop drinking, stop smoking, take more exercise (walking, ideally), make time for a little meditation each day, “get some rhythm” back into my body via a repetitive manual task, consider taking up a hobby and, Sarasin Gianduzzo recommends, “develop a healthy egoism and not always sacrifice your own pleasure for the sake of others”. Lots to work on there. “You need to make a start or your kids may not have a dad,” advises Monkhouse. I come away with a bag of vitamins and other supplements.

Freeloading journalists aside, Küsnacht’s paying customers have thus far included oligarchs, sheikhs, aristocrats and “a world-famous Hollywood actress”. This lady, Monkhouse explains, liked to go into Zurich once in a while, which she did largely unbothered by the locals. “She signed a couple of autographs in Starbucks but other than that, the Swiss left her alone.”

Monkhouse is keen to emphasise that his clientele extends beyond the mega-rich and famous. “I wouldn’t want to give the impression that only people with their own 747s come here, although we do get some of them. Some what you call averagely rich people also come up with the money somehow and attend.”

Küsnacht regularly treats business leaders, power brokers threatened with the sack if they don’t clean up their act. “Had this one guy, friend of a friend of mine in Boston, senior executive in a big company – big company – in New York, been through three treatment centres in the States. Brilliant guy but he just couldn’t stay sober and his board were about to deep-six [sack] him. Will we take him? I said sure. He was here three or four weeks, we did lots of work with him, therapy, yoga, acupuncture; he’s still sober many years later.”

Such people as Monkhouse describes are as untroubled settling a $1 million bill as an averagely well-off person would be by paying a prescription charge at the chemist. For the duration of his treatment, one gentleman block-booked 20 suites in the local five-star hotel for his family and entourage. “Some of those suites are £8,000 a night,” says Monkhouse. “They all stayed a couple of months without blinking an eye.”

When Monkhouse asked another patient, scion of “an old and noble British line”, what he did by way of work, the patient replied, “Lowell, what you’ve got to understand is that no one in my family has worked for 500 years.” Many of his British patients, Monkhouse says, “have names that are the same as counties or towns”. Such privilege can foster an ennui that leads to hedonistic, and pretty soon nihilistic, behaviour. Equally, the sort of risk-taking drive associated with entrepreneurs and executives often brings with it a taste for excess.

One patient turned out to be a government assassin. Caught in an explosion on a mission, he had become addicted to the morphine administered to ease the pain of his wounds. A grateful nation, sheltered behind various offshore companies, picked up the tab. “You should write a book, Lowell,” I suggest, the two of us snug in one of the practice’s chauffeur-driven Mercedes saloons, crunching through the Swiss snow. “Yeah, right,” he chuckles. “I wouldn’t live to see it published.”

Another patient – from Central Asia – arrived accompanied by a courteous and yet firm American gentleman who did little to dispel the impression that he worked for a branch of his government’s security services. “It is very important to the foreign and energy policies of the United States,” this man explained to Monkhouse, “that your patient is successfully treated and returned to his country in good health.” The whole time that patient stayed in Zurich, so too did his mysterious minder.

Top surgeons blowing tens of thousands on crack, oil billionaires gulping down Xanax and Ritalin, bankers who just can’t stop sending their private jet to Moscow to ferry over their favourite hookers for cocaine orgies, Monkhouse has seen them all.

He’s fascinating company, Monkhouse. Yet he’s also perfected the art of telling a good story without too much detail – and certainly without any actual names, or indeed many proper nouns at all. In his business, for both ethical and commercial reasons, confidentiality is king. When I ask him to comment on speculation that John Galliano, following his drunken anti-Semitic rant in Paris in 2011, spent some time being treated at Küsnacht, Monkhouse will neither confirm nor deny such rumours. He then changes the subject.

Most of the people who come to Küsnacht have been through one, two, sometimes ten other treatment centres, some of them almost as expensive as Monkhouse’s. By definition, their previous attempts have not worked. Or not worked for long. They’ve gone back to their lives, and sooner or later, they have relapsed.

Monkhouse, by contrast, can recall only a handful of defeats, although admittedly, the low numbers involved make even one failure statistically significant.

The practice does not as a rule prescribe drugs – indeed, one of its aims is to get people off antidepressants – but three patients, Monkhouse admits, “had serious psychiatric issues and symptoms that had to be dealt with pharmaceutically”.

One he has lost track of, one is functioning reasonably well, the third, a young man in his twenties, lives in a secure psychiatric hospital and probably will for the rest of his life.
“He had cannabis psychosis,” says Monkhouse. “We couldn’t help him.”
The hardest addiction to break, he adds, is to cannabis. Cannabis – certain strains at least – is also the drug that can cause the most profound and least reversible neurological damage, often quickly, often in very young and otherwise healthy adults.
The drug many people think of as harmless can send you mad, swiftly and permanently.

Those cases apart, Monkhouse says his aim “to treat the underlying causes of addiction” has been realised. His goal is for patients to leave “not anxious or depressed or craving”, and thus with a decent chance of staying healthy and substance-free when they return to their normal lives. “We get the biochemical stuff and the psychological stuff and the family stuff straightened out,” he says. “And then we get them into the fellowship, AA or NA or whatever. It’s the best long-term aftercare there is.”

He should know. Monkhouse is 65, hasn’t touched alcohol or drugs for 26 years and still tries to get to an AA meeting twice or three times a week. Raised on a ranch in Canada, he went into treatment for alcohol and drug dependency at the tender age of 25, in 1972. His life to that point had already included arrests for drink-driving and possession of heroin. At university, he had taken LSD – at the time still legal in Canada – in a psychology class, under the supervision of his professor. He became a teacher, got into politics, worked for future prime minister Pierre Trudeau and then prospered in advertising, running his own agency before he was 30.

Sober for several years after treatment, one day in the late Seventies he had “one glass of wine”, discovered cocaine, “and was off to the races”. Sacked, twice divorced, he eventually got sober – through AA – in 1987. Ten years later, aged only 50, he sold his business and retired to Zurich. He began practising a little therapy, discovered he was good at it, got his qualifications and his licence, and was then hired by the Priory at Farm Place in Surrey. He worked there for two years.

When he began practising in Zurich, he found that yoga and other exercise helped recovery. “When you’re fit, your brain functions better. You’re self-confident.” He then read about therapists in California treating crack addicts – successfully – not with drugs, but with amino acid supplements and micronutrients to remedy vitamin and mineral deficits. “That’s when I got into the biochemistry, the eureka moment. Our body doesn’t get the food it needs to give our brain the energy it needs.”

Many addicts, Monkhouse suggests, develop their addiction by trying to medicate anxiety or unhappiness or depression caused by malnutrition in our modern diet. “We see deficiencies in people’s bodies all the time. Not just addicts, but people who have never touched alcohol and are just burnt out with stress.” His emphasis on biochemistry isn’t unique – lots of clinics in the US take a similar approach – but few combine the science with traditional counselling as Küsnacht does. “We try to treat all the underlying causes and then teach people how to live with a brain we have changed.”

For Monkhouse, a billionaire can be just as susceptible to modern malnutrition as someone on an average wage who is informed and sensible about their diet. Indeed in some respects, he argues, the super-rich are more vulnerable to ill-health than the merely well-off. “My overall impression is that the super-rich get bad healthcare,” he says. “They don’t go to places you and I go. They’re not in the system. They go to some ‘special place’ their neighbour has told them about. They’re likely to have their own doctor living in their house. They often arrive here with their own doctor and psychiatrist.” Shades of Michael Jackson? “Right.”

One patient, Monkhouse recalls, “an unbelievably wealthy guy, came here addicted to morphine because of the pain he was in after some incredibly bad surgery at some place had buggered up his nerves. It almost ruined his life. Another guy came whose whole family had been fed heavy metals by some quack. They’re all really sick now.” Isolated from normal interaction, unlikely to make use of state medical services, not used to hearing the word “no”, the modern rich can fall prey to a charlatan as easily as the Romanovs did to Rasputin a century ago.

Isolation also brings another danger, says Monkhouse. “You’ve no idea how dysfunctional some of these wealthy families can be. And because they’re protected by money, they’re able to keep the dysfunctional family system going for generations. You see the kids being just as nuts as the parents. Some of these families are tragic. I have learnt that sometimes people in your family don’t want you to get better. If they’ve got you to look at, they can say, ‘There’s our problem.’ They don’t have to look at themselves.”

As for appraising my own situation, and whether my experience at Küsnacht helped me to do that, two days isn’t long enough to make a full evaluation. I was an observer rather than a participant. I wasn’t in detox. I wasn’t paying. Having said that, the mere experience of having highly educated and committed people listen to you, and on occasions challenge you, is worthwhile. Neither does a little pampering ever go amiss.

The biochemical tests I had were fascinating, and for the most part reassuring: comfortably mid-range for most proteins, vitamins, hormones, acids and minerals, but my adrenals aren’t what they should be and my cardiovascular risk is raised. They’ve told me what to do and take to reduce it. I can’t help feeling such assessments should be available to everybody.

A friend asked me if I had a spare fifty grand would I go back to Küsnacht for a week. I said, no, if I had a spare fifty grand I’d pay down my mortgage, or buy a Mercedes. But if I had a spare £1 million, I might allocate a quarter of it towards a month being taken apart and put back together again in Switzerland. And if I – or anybody else – had a spare £10 million, I might think about investing in a facility where those people who can’t afford £7,000 a day could go and have their problems addressed.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Why are the World’s Most Violent Cities in Latin America?

Written by Kyra Gurney - Friday, 21 November 2014

A crime scene in San Pedro Sula,
murder capital of the world
Of the world's 50 most dangerous cities, 43 are located in Latin America and the Caribbean. InSight Crime looks at some of the factors driving the violence.

Business Insider revived the list in a recent publication, based on a report from the Mexican Citizens' Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice that came out earlier this year, ranking cities around the world by their homicide rates.

With the exception of Cape Town, South Africa, the 20 most violent cities are in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Of the 50 urban areas with the highest homicide rates, 16 are located in Brazil, nine in Mexico, six in Colombia, and five in Venezuela (see this map link).

San Pedro Sula in Honduras was ranked as the most violent city in the world for the third consecutive year, followed by Caracas, Venezuela and Acapulco, Mexico.

InSight Crime has identified the top five criminal dynamics that have helped make Latin America's cities the most violent in the world:

1. Booming Domestic Drug Markets

Various Latin American countries have seen a substantial increase in the size of their domestic drug markets, spurring the rise of local criminal groups.

Brazil is now the world's second largest market for cocaine and its derivatives, after the United States, while Argentina, Peru and Colombia have also seen significant growth in their domestic markets in recent years.

As local criminal groups emerge to supply local markets, turf wars over transport and sales territory can lead to spikes in murder rates.

This is one of the factors driving homicides in Brazil, which has seen the domestic drug trade expand beyond Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and into the rest of the country.

Gangs have spread to the northern and northeastern regions of Brazil, home to several of the cities on the list including Salvador (#13), Natal (#12), João Pessoa (#9) and Fortaleza (#7).

The same dynamic is seen with larger criminal organizations, like the First Capital Command (PCC), which originated in São Paulo and now has a presence in 24 of Brazil's 27 states.

2. The Fragmentation of Organized Crime

Latin America has seen the fall of many major drug kingpins in recent years, causing criminal organizations to splinter into smaller factions.

Without the manpower to carry out large-scale transnational drug trafficking operations, these smaller groups typically turn to more localized -- and often more violent -- criminal activities, like kidnapping and extortion.

Splinter groups often fight among themselves for control of local criminal businesses.  

This is particularly true in Mexico, where the security forces have dealt heavy blows to criminal groups.

The Zetas have lost several high-ranking members in recent years, which has led to the cartel's fragmentation into semi-independent cells.

At least three of the Mexican cities on the list -- Nuevo Laredo (#30), Victoria (#22), and Torreon (#18) -- are situated in states with a significant Zetas presence.

The Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) has also suffered a loss of leadership and split into several rival factions, including criminal groups the Guerreros Unidos and Los Rojos, which are engaged in a bloody turf war.

These groups are fighting over territory in the states of Guerrero and Morelos, home to two of the cities on the list: Acapulco (#3) and Cuernavaca (#43).

In Guatemala, a 2013 spike in murders coincided with the deaths and arrests of criminal leaders.

Anti-narcotics prosecutors told local media that the power vacuum had spawned splinter groups engaged in battles for control of the criminal underworld.

Guatemala City is number eight on the list.

3. Drug Transit Nations Become Crime Hubs

Countries that serve as drug transit nations tend to see high rates of violence and crime.

To facilitate drug shipments through a country, transnational criminal organizations typically hire local groups to guard and transport the shipments, and sometimes pay them in drugs.

This can spur the development and increased sophistication of local gangs, as well as the growth of domestic drug markets.

Transnational criminal organizations also set up operations in transit nations to oversee drug trafficking, and bring violence with them.

One example of this phenomenon is Venezuela, home to five of the world's most violent cities, including Caracas, which is ranked as number two.

Venezuela is a major transshipment point for Colombian cocaine and has seen Colombian criminal groups battle for control of drug trafficking routes

Four of the five Venezuelan cities on the list are near the coast, and may serve as transit points for drug shipments headed to the United States and Europe via maritime routes.

Honduras has also seen violence surge and street gangs grow more sophisticated as the country has become a major drug transit hub. Honduras is home to the world's most violent city, San Pedro Sula, which is located near the border with Guatemala and close to Puerto Cortes, Honduras' main port.

The city also has a major gang problem, with the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 battling for control of the local drug trade, and the presence of the Sinaloa Cartel.

4. Conflict and the Legacy of Civil War

Civil wars in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua helped give birth to Central America's ruthless gangs.

The MS13, one of the region's largest and most powerful street gangs, was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s by Central American refugees fleeing armed conflict.

When the US government deported these refugees in the late 1990s and early 2000s, those involved in criminal groups transformed the war-torn Northern Triangle region -- made up of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras -- into a hub for gang activity.

Armed conflict has also led to considerable violence in Colombia, where guerrilla organizations have battled the state for the last 50 years.

The paramilitary groups that purportedly formed to defend against the guerrillas have now morphed into criminal syndicates known as BACRIM (a name derived from the Spanish "bandas criminales" or "criminal bands"), which are involved in turf wars over drug trafficking routes in major cities including Cali (#4), Medellin (#35), and Cucuta (#33).

5. Corruption and the Criminalization of Local Government

Ties between criminal groups and public officials play a crucial role in facilitating criminal activity and creating a culture of impunity.

Corrupt security forces can keep criminal groups informed, shield them from law enforcement operations, and facilitate drug shipments, while ties to politicians and local elites lend criminals a façade of legitimacy.  

This dynamic was made painfully clear by a recent case involving the disappearance of 43 student protesters in Guerrero, Mexico.

The mayor and his wife in the town where the students went missing allegedly ordered the attacks, which authorities believe were carried out by the Guerreros Unidos criminal group.

Following the attacks, intelligence reports indicated that 12 mayors from the state of Guerrero may have links to organized crime.