One of the jurors who convicted Whitey Bulger started up a strange pen pal friendship with him

I was on Cape Cod this past weekend — specifically, the town of Eastham, which is way up by the wrist and fairly desolate in winter. What I didn't know at the time was that Janet Uhlar, one of the juror's from Whitey Bulger's trial, was right around the corner from me the whole time. Along with the collection of handwritten letters she'd received from him between 2014 and his totally suspicious prison death in 2018.

NBC News just published a piece about Uhlar and her relationship with Bulger, and how she came to regret her decision to convict him on racketeering charges and 11 counts of murder.

Uhlar started writing Bulger, she said, because she was troubled by the fact that much of the evidence against him came through testimony by former criminal associates who were also killers and had received reduced sentences in exchange for testifying against their former partner in crime.

"When I left the trial, I had more questions," she said.

After Bulger started returning her letters, Uhlar noticed he often dated them with the time he had started writing in his tight cursive style. "He always seemed to be writing at 1, 2 or 3 in the morning, and when I asked him why, he said it was because of the hallucinations," Uhlar said.

Uhlar knew, of course, about Whitey's reputation as a notoriously brutal mobster. And she knew that the FBI had enabled his behavior. Her uncertainty and regret had nothing to do with whether Bulger had actually killed people, either — that's a universally accepted fact at this point. Read the rest

PHOTO: Rudy Giuliani with Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, third 'unnamed associate'

One for the ages. Almost looks like one of those garage sale black velvet paintings with the dogs playing poker. Read the rest

Uninhabited mansions of London's "Billionaires' Row"

London real estate has been a favorite place for oligarchs and thugs to safely park their ill-gotten money. This 9-minute documentary takes you on a tour of North London's Billionaires' Row of uninhabited mansions. The structures are decaying, but the owners don't care, because the real value are the lots themselves.

From Amusing Planet:

The entire neighbourhood is owned by the super-rich, ranging from Saudi princes to East European arms dealers to Indian business magnates. Yet, no one ever lives here for more than a few weeks each year. Most have been left to the staff who looks after the properties while the owners are away. Others have never been occupied. Several huge properties have fallen into ruins after lying vacant for more than 25 years. These once expensive homes are in a terribly bad shape with peeling paint, rotting carpets, water streaming down bedroom walls, collapsed ceilings, and ferns growing between broken floor tiles.

The person who made this video said in the YouTube description, "We rarely explore alone but this documentary was filmed single-handedly, with a sharp ear, eye, a suppression of urgent tension, and a constant readiness to run! Hope you find it interesting."

[via Neatorama] Read the rest

Davos in the Desert is back, and banks and hedge fund managers are flocking to Mister Bone-Saw's side

"Davos in the Desert" is Saudi Arabia's charm offensive aimed at global financial elites, but its launch last year was marred by its close proximity to the gruesome murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, carried out at the personal behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who styles himself a progressive reformer. Read the rest

A Belgian photographer was allowed to photograph the inner circle of Japan's yakuza

In 2009, Belgian photographer Anton Kusters went to Japan and gained the trust of high-ranking members Japan's organized crime families, known as the yakuza. He was allowed to photograph them for two years, giving Westerners a revealing glimpse into the secretive underworld syndicate. He published a book in 2011, called Odo Yakuza Tokyo. Earlier this month The Economist produced a short film about Kusters' project, called Japan's Yakuza: Inside the syndicate. Read the rest

Mobster Whitey Bulger tells high schoolers: "My life was wasted and spent foolishly"

Notorious murderer and organized crime thug Whitey Bulger is serving a life sentence at a Federal penitentiary in Florida. Recently, three high school girls participating in the National History Day competition wrote Bulger a letter to ask him what he thought about his legacy. Here's the 84-year-old convict's reply: Read the rest