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Phuket Books: Whitey – Life of a Boston mob boss

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Books: Whitey – Life of a Boston mob boss | The Thaiger

PHUKET: In Martin Scorsese’s celebrated film, The Departed, Jack Nicholson turns in a bravura performance as a Boston Irish crime boss, throwing a maniacal rant against ‘rats’ (informers) in which he scrunches up his face and flashes rodent-like incisors. It’s one of the great moments of movie history.

Ironically, Whitey Bulger, the real Boston mobster upon whom Nicholson’s character was based, was himself a rat. For two decades he was an informant for the FBI. While running a criminal fiefdom in the Irish enclave of South Boston, he gave the FBI information about his Italian mafia rivals in North Boston. But in this case, the FBI agents did not run him. He ran them. Through cash and other gifts, he gained protection from his many crimes, including the 19 murders for which he was ultimately indicted. When the bottom fell out in 1995 and his mobsters colleagues and FBI agents alike disappeared into jail, Whitey went on the lam for 15 years, posing as a retired Chicago businessman in the California beach community of Santa Monica.

This is the story of Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss (Crown Publishers, New York, 2013, 435pp), written by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, two award-winning investigative reporters from the Boston Globe.

James ‘Whitey’ Bulger was born bad. His two younger brothers, Bill and Jack, would rise from the mean streets of South Boston to become lawyers and prominent state politicians, but from childhood Whitey was the bad seed. He was “a boy who broke the mold, a stand-alone, a virtual once-in-a-lifetime bundle of high-octane drives and antisocial impulses, of cold defiance and anger.

“Whitey had connective tissue to family that other delinquent juveniles did not, but it would not have a stabilizing effect; instead, Whitey was in a category all his own – untamable. His edge, his fearlessness, his strut and narcissism, his need to prove himself and to assert his manhood and control over others – all combined to make him a one-off.”

He avoided arrest until, betrayed by informers, he was imprisoned for three bank robberies. Consigned to an eight-man cell in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, he was nearly driven mad by the constant uproar around him and checked himself into the prison Psychiatric Ward. “Whitey had been reduced to a puddle of his former self,” the authors write. But he had powerful outside support; not only his brothers, but also from Father Robert Drinan, the Jesuit priest who would later become a Massachusetts Congressman. Whitey offered himself as a human guinea pig for harrowing experiments with LSD, but otherwise disciplined himself through reading and bodybuilding habits that would continue into his eighties.

After nine years, four of them in the notorius Alcatraz, Whitey was released into his old neighborhood of ‘Southie’. It was 1965 and he was 35 years old. The authors detail his swift rise to mob leadership.

“In the comfort of Southie, virtually everything was within reach – the offices, the guns, the manpower.

“Whitey was thriving in ways he never had before, on the very same streets where the beast within had been first nourished as a juvenile in the late 1930s, when he discovered his knack for criminality.

“Over the years it had all been so circular and reinforcing in the hometown, and now he was shaping a criminal enterprise in his own image; lean, brutal, disciplined, and carnivorous.”

In 1975 Whitey drew FBI agent John Connolly, who was a friend of his brother Bill, into his own net of informants. From then on, he ruled with impunity. He was capable of strangling a colleague’s girlfriend with his bare hands and of stabbing a suspected rat 38 times with an icepick, yet he wept uncontrollably at the sudden death of his six-year-old son Douglas. And he was crafty enough to disappear at the right time, just as a new US Attorney prosecutor, Fred Wyshak, was closing in on his gang, Whitey Bulger settled into a good life in Santa Monica.

He was 81 when he was finally arrested by a new generation of FBI agents. By this time, the old corrupt ones were either dead or in prison.

Written by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, two award-winning investigative reporters from the Boston Globe., ‘Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss’ is available for the kindle from Amazon priced at US$15.99 by clicking here, or by order through all good bookshops in Phuket.

— James Eckardt

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Business

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg

May Taylor

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Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | The Thaiger

Thai Residents reports that on Sunday, Bloomberg published an article on the world’s best pension systems, using information gathered from the 2019 Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index.

The survey looked at the pension systems of 37 countries with metrics including employee rights, savings, the number of homeowners, growth of assets, and growth of the economy. The purpose of the analysis was to determine what was needed to improve state pension systems and to gauge the level of confidence citizens had in their state pension system.

The Netherlands and Denmark were found to have the world’s best state pensions, with Australia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, and Chile next. Out of all 37 countries, Thailand finished last, with what the report described as an extremely ineffective and ambiguous system.

“Thailand was in the bottom slot and should introduce a minimum level of mandatory retirement savings and increase support for the poorest.”

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | News by The Thaiger

Photo: WorkpointNews

Thai Residents states that only those employed within the government system in Thailand are eligible for a pension based on salary. For most Thai citizens, pension amounts vary from 600 baht to 1,000 baht a month, depending on the recipient’s age.

A report carried out by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) advises Thai citizens to have at least 4 million baht saved by the time they retire, but Thai Residents reports that 60% of Thai retirees have less than 1 million baht in savings, with one in three citizens who have reached retirement age are forced to continue working in order to survive.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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Bangkok

Tax on salt content being considered

Greeley Pulitzer

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Tax on salt content being considered | The Thaiger

The Excise Department is considering imposing a tax on the salt content of food to encourage food producers to reduce the sodium content of snacks, instant noodles and seasoning cubes.

The director of the Office of Tax Planning said that the department is discussing a limit on the amount of sodium food can contain, in line with the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 2,000 milligrams of salt per day.

In reality, Thai people consume an average of 1,000 milligrams per meal, making their daily intake well above WHO guidelines, according to the director.

He said any tax imposed would be at a level which would encourage food producers to reduce the sodium in their processed food without being punitive, adding that the proposal isn’t intended to generate more tax revenue, but to help protect the health of consumers. Excessive sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Fish sauce, soy sauce and salt would not be taxed.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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News

Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces

Greeley Pulitzer

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Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces | The Thaiger

People living in 22 Thai provinces are being warned to prepare for shortages of drinking water during the upcoming dry season, due to start on November 1st.

The warning was issued by the National Water Resources Office, citing low levels in reservoirs, which are the main sources for tap water production waterworks in 22 provinces.

Areas at risk identified by the office are in northern, north-eastern, eastern and southern provinces.

Measures have been adopted by agencies charged with dealing with water shortages. including dredging water channels to allow greater volumes of water to flow into reservoirs, drilling underground wells, enlarging storage ponds and the purchase of water to supply to those in urgent need.

The Royal Irrigation Department has announced that people should use water sparingly.

There are currently about 6 billion cubic metres of usable water in reservoirs in the affected provinces, with 5 billion cubic metres reserved for consumption and ecological preservation, leaving only 1 billion cubic metres for use in agriculture.

This means farmers in the Chao Phraya river basin may not be able to grow a second crop of rice this year.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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