The 83-year-old Bulger, dressed in a gray shirt, dark pants and white sneakers, stood quietly as the verdict was read, showing little emotional response to the decision by jurors to convict him after five days of deliberation in Boston federal court. His sentencing was scheduled for November 13.
A legendary figure in Boston’s underworld, Bulger ran the “Winter Hill” crime gang after coming to power in a mob war that resulted in the death of members of rival gangs. He cemented his grip on Boston’s crime scene through ties with corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation officials who shared his Irish ethnicity and turned a blind eye to his crimes in exchange for information they could use against the Italian Mafia.
During the two month-long trial, the 12 jurors heard vivid descriptions of Bulger’s crimes. They included brazen daylight shootings of fellow criminals, the terrifying extortion of a victim at whose crotch Bulger aimed a machine gun and how one associate would pull teeth from the mouths of dead victims, hoping to make the bodies harder to identify.
Nicknamed “Whitey” because of the shock of light-coloured hair he had as a young man, Bulger fled Boston in 1994 after a tip from a corrupt agent that his arrest was imminent.
He spent 16 years on the run, many of them on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list along with 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden until May 2011 when bin Laden was killed. Agents caught up with Bulger in June 2011, living in a seaside Santa Monica, California apartment.
The jury convicted him of all but one of 32 criminal counts.
“Thirty-one out of thirty-two counts in such a complicated case covering such a long period of time is a fabulous result for the government,” said Michael Kendall, a former federal prosecutor in Boston who is now with the law firm McDermott Will & Emery. “He’s going to go to jail for the rest of his life.”
Never expected freedom
Defence attorney J.W. Carney told reporters afterward that his client was pleased by the outcome, and noted that Bulger had avoided the death penalty. That would have been a possibility if he had been tried on state charges in Oklahoma or Florida, where two of the murders were committed.
“This trial has never been about Jim Bulger being set free,” he said. Carney said that from the moment FBI officials arrested Bulger, his client knew “he was going to die behind the walls of a prison or on a gurney, getting injected with a chemical that would kill him.”
Bulger’s lawyers, who on the first day admitted their client was a drug dealer, extortionist and loan shark and later described him as an “organized criminal”, mounted an atypical defence, rarely directly addressing many of the charges.
Most of their efforts focused on denying prosecutors’ assertion that Bulger had served as an FBI informant, or “rat,” for more than a decade. On Monday, Carney called that assertion a “myth.”
Carney said he planned to appeal the conviction, citing a claim by Bulger that he had a deal with federal prosecutors that gave him immunity for his crimes. Carney said he would appeal on those grounds, but he did not discuss a reason Bulger would have been given an immunity deal.
He reiterated his earlier assertion that Bulger had never been an informant. Bulger has contended that he paid a corrupt FBI agent for tips but provided none of his own.
Before the trial began, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper had told Carney that he could not argue immunity, saying no deal that allowed a person to commit murder without consequence would be legally valid.
Bulger declined to take the stand during the trial and told the court earlier this month, “As far as I’m concerned … this is a sham and do what you want with me.”
The jury found Bulger guilty of 11 of the 19 murder charges. They decided prosecutors had failed to prove their case in murders that dated back to a 1970s turf war with another organization, the Notorangeli gang. The victims included members of that gang and people who were killed by accident in botched hits who had nothing to do with the gangs.
The jury reached no finding in the death of one woman, Debra Davis, a girlfriend of Bulger associate Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. Flemmi testified at the trial that Bulger strangled Davis in a South Boston house after she learned of their dealings with the FBI. Other witnesses had testified that Flemmi actually killed Davis with Bulger present.
The murders were part of a racketeering count that was the most complicated jurors had to decide. They needed to find he committed just two of the 38 crimes contained in that count for their guilty verdict.
Relatives of Bulger’s victims, who had been a constant presence at the waterfront courthouse during the trial, poured out onto the street after the verdict to tell their stories.
Steve Davis said he was at peace with the jury not reaching a finding on the murder of his sister, Debra.
“I don’t feel that he hands-on himself killed my sister, but I do know that he was guilty of conspiring or taking part of the whole thing,” Davis said. “But a no-find is better than a not guilty.”
William O’Brien was angry after the jury found that the government had not proven its case in his father’s 1973 murder.
“That prosecution dropped the ball,” said O’Brien, who shares his father’s name. “Five minutes they spent talking about his murder. That jury should be ashamed of themselves.”
The jury found Bulger not guilty of only one criminal count of extortion.
The government’s case relied heavily on three former top associates of Bulger including Flemmi, John “The Executioner” Martorano, and Kevin Weeks, who detailed 19 murders the gang committed.
Carney said that Bulger was glad to have his story told at trial. “At the end of a person’s life, when people think he is the only bad person in the courtroom, it’s important to show that that’s not true,” he said.
Kaspersky Lab researcher Kurt Baumgartner told Reuters on Monday that he is advising web surfers to stay away from the Chinese-language site of the Central Tibetan Administration, or CTA, until the organization fixes the bug. He described the attack on his company’s blog: https://bit.ly/16LuBoP.
Technical evidence suggests the group behind the campaign was also responsible for previous breaches on that site as well as attacks on groups that focus on human rights in Asia, Baumgartner said.
Those breaches involved a two-stage attack technique known as “water holing,” where hackers first infect a site that is frequently visited by people whose computers they want to cont
— Phuket Gazette Editors
Nigerian astronaut needs $3 million to get home
PHOTO: Lost In Space? Or lost in reality? Maybe someone will fall for it – Lost in Space’s Jupiter 2
The Nigerians have somewhat of a reputation for scams and scammers. Who hasn’t received an email offering loads of cash in return for your bank account and a moderate deposit? But this letter takes the famous Nigerian Scam to another level. Or perhaps it’s true (we don’t think so…)?
Subject: Nigerian Astronaut Wants To Come Home
Dr. Bakare Tunde – Astronautics Project Manager
National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)
Plot 555, Misau Street, PMB 437
Garki, Abuja, FCT NIGERIA
Dear Mr. Sir,
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE-STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL
I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.
In the 14 years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $ 3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we need your assistance.
Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account or subsequent disbursement, since we as civil servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.
Needless to say, the trust reposed on you at this juncture is enormous. In return, we have agreed to offer you 20 percent of the transferred sum, while 10 percent shall be set aside for incidental expenses (internal and external) between the parties in the course of the transaction. You will be mandated to remit the balance 70 percent to other accounts in due course.
Kindly expedite action as we are behind schedule to enable us include downpayment in this financial quarter.
Please acknowledge the receipt of this message via my direct number 234 (0) 9-234-XXXX only.
Yours Sincerely, Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
Thousands of Japanese rescuers looking for survivors of Typhoon Hagibis
Thousands of rescue workers are searching for survivors from the fury of Typhoon Hagibis, two days after the storm slammed into Japan. As of the time of this post, the storm had killed at least 35 people.
(Video from Sky News below…)
Hagibis crashed into the country Saturday evening, but brought hours of torrential rains before it made landfall, causing landslides and filling rivers until they burst their banks.
More than 110,000 rescuers, including 31,000 troops, worked through the night searching for people trapped by the disaster. Local media report at least 35 people have been killed, with the Kyodo news agency reporting nearly 20 people were missing. Government figures from Sunday night were lower, though updates were expected throughout today.
While Hagibis, one of the most powerful storms to hit the Tokyo area in decades, packed wind gusts of up to 216 kilometres per hours (134 miles per hour), it was the heavy rains that caused most damage, with 21 rivers bursting their banks.
In central Nagano, a levee breach sent water from the Chikuma river gushing into residential neighbourhoods, flooding homes up to the second floor. Military and fire department helicopters winched survivors from roofs and balconies in several locations, but in Fukushima one operation went tragically awry when a woman died after falling while being rescued.
The destruction forced the Rugby World Cup being hosted by Japan to cancel several games, but the “Brave Blossoms”, as the national team is known, lifted spirits with a stunning 28-21 victory over Scotland on Sunday that put them into the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time.
Rescue efforts have been continuing this morning, with local television showing soldiers rowing a rubber rescue dingy through floodwaters in Fukushima, while elsewhere workers removed dirt with a digger.
The death toll mounted throughout yesterday as bodies were recovered from flooded homes and cars, buildings caught in landslides, and swollen rivers.
The dead included a municipal worker whose car was overcome by floodwaters and at least five Chinese crew members aboard a boat that sank in Tokyo Bay on Saturday night.
As of this morning, some 57,500 households remained without power, with 120,000 experiencing water outages. The disaster left tens of thousands of people in shelters, with many unsure when they would be able to return home.
But most subway trains have resumed service, along with many bullet train lines, and flights had also restarted.
SOURCE: Agence France-Presse PHOTOS: AFP
Hong Kong property investors turn to SE Asia
From luxury Singapore apartments to Malaysian seafront condos, Hong Kong investors are shifting cash into Southeast Asian property, demoralised by increasingly violent protests as well as the China-US trade war.
Millions have taken to the streets during four months of pro-democracy demonstrations in the southern Chinese city, hammering tourism while also forcing businesses to lay off staff – and the property sector is feeling the pain. Property stocks in one of the world’s most expensive housing markets have plummeted since June, with developers being forced to offer discounts on new projects and cutting office rents.
Hong Kong businessman Peter Ng bought a condominium on the Malaysian island of Penang – which has a substantial ethnic Chinese population and is popular among Hong Kongers – after the protests erupted.
A 48 year old stock market and property investor told AFP he was worried about long-term damage to the Hong Kong economy if the unrest persists.
“The instability was a catalyst for me. Investors will always look at things like that, political stability.”
And Derek Lee, a Hong Kong businessman who owns a Penang apartment, said he knew others in the semi-autonomous city who were considering investing in south east Asian property because of the unrest.
“People are thinking about how to quicken their ideas, how to make a more stable life,” the 55 year old told AFP. Part of the allure of Malaysia is its relative affordability and prices much lower than Hong Kong.
The Malaysia site of Southeast Asian real estate platform Property Guru has seen a 35 percent increase in visits from Hong Kong, according to its CEO Hari Krishnan.
While Hong Kong’s protests are primarily pushing for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability, the summer of rage has been fuelled by years of simmering anger towards Beijing and the local government over falling living standards and the high costs of living.
Hong Kong’s property market is one of least affordable in the world with sky-high prices fuelled, in part, by wealthy mainlanders snapping up investments in a city which has failed for years to build enough flats to meet demand.
But now mainland Chinese, who traditionally viewed property in Hong Kong as a safe investment, are opting for rival financial hub Singapore as a result of the protests and the US-China trade war, according to observers.
There has been a jump this year in sales of luxury apartments in the city-state, which like Hong Kong is known for pricey property, driven partially by mainland Chinese buyers, according to the consultancy OrangeTee & Tie.
“The protests in Hong Kong have made some of the (mainland Chinese) based there… (more concerned) about investing in Hong Kong real estate, so they carry that investment to Singapore,” said Alan Cheong, executive director of the research and consultancy team at Savills.
As well as hitting China’s economy, trade tensions may have discouraged some Chinese from investing in the West and pushed them towards Singapore, with its mostly ethnic Chinese population.
“I think they don’t want to go to the West.”
Singapore is “the closest country culturally to China other than Hong Kong and I think they feel more comfortable with that”. There are further signs the stable, tightly ruled city is benefiting from the Hong Kong turmoil. Goldman Sachs last week estimated as much as $4 billion flowed out of Hong Kong to Singapore this summer.
And analysts warned there was little hope of Hong Kong’s property market recovering soon.
“Hong Kong property share prices have corrected by about 15 to 25% since July,” said Raymond Cheng, head of Hong Kong and China property at CGS-CIMB Securities International.
Residential sales were still holding up but only when developers offered discounts, office rents were expected to fall by as much as five percent and shop rents were also badly affected, he said.
But despite the unrest, businessman Ng, who will rent his Penang property and has no plans to move there permanently for now, was still hopeful about Hong Kong’s long-term prospects.
“The problem may not be solved in the short term but it is not so serious as pessimists think. Everything is still in the government’s control.”
SOURCE: Agence France-Presse
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