Evening News: Jimmy the Gent and Knock Knock, It’s George!

whitecatGood Evening

Tonight the news stories are focused on crime, and boy were there lots of criminals in the news today.

There was an article making news from the South China Morning Post that reported Snowden sought Booz Allen job to gather evidence on NSA surveillance. Which of course changes things…

A few recent articles and thoughts on this:

Snowden Went to Booz Allen to Steal Files, but Didn’t He Already Have Some? – Philip Bump – The Atlantic Wire

This Is Not About Edward Snowden – op/ed Bloomberg

Glenn Greenwald pushes back hard on latest Edward Snowden “revelations” Greg Sargent-Plum Line

“Anybody who wants to accuse me or anyone at the Guardian of aiding and abetting Snowden has the obligation to point to any specific evidence to support that accusation,” Greenwald told me. “Otherwise they’re just spouting reckless innuendo.”

“News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.”

by digby

Jesus H. Christ

A prominent business journalist suggested Monday that The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald should be arrested for reporting on leaks detailing top secret surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, a financial columnist for the New York Times and a commentator for CNBC, said on-air that he’d “almost arrest” Greenwald along with NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who fled Hong Kong for Russia on Sunday in the hopes of ultimately receiving asylum in Ecuador.

“I would arrest [Snowden] and now I’d almost arrest Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who seems to be out there, he wants to help him get to Ecuador or whatever,” Sorkin said.

Well at least he said “almost”.

Uh, Wall Street sources? I’d be a little bit careful about talking to this person in the future. He’s clearly not a journalist and will sell you down the river the minute a government prosecutor decides to put you in the government crosshairs. True, the government has shown no desire to prosecute any of you for anything. But you never know — some rogue Attorney general might decide to make an example of you. Your good friend Sorkin here is a very good … patriot.

I’m just going to post this from the Press Freedom Foundation, which even defends sell-outs like Andrew Ross Sorkin, even though they don’t deserve it…

You can read the rest of the link, where she still is defending Greenwald.

Officials: How Edward Snowden Could Hurt the U.S. – ABC News

As the U.S. intelligence community struggles to complete a damage assessment over the secret information allegedly stolen by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, sources told ABC News there is a growing consensus within the top circles of the U.S. government that the 30-year-old contractor could deal a potentially devastating blow to U.S. national security.

Then there is the joke heard round the world…well around the US at least. George Zimmerman Trial Knock Knock Joke 06/24/13 VIDEO | Mediaite

Zimmerman defense attorney Don West began his opening argument by trying to defuse the emotional impact of Guy’s opening, agreeing that “this is a sad case,” but then also ham-fistedly conceding permission for the slain teenager’s parents to grieve. “Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin are grieving parents, without question,” he said, adding “They have the right to grieve, they have the right to feel the way they feel.”

He then went into a long digression about why George Zimmerman’s family members were not seated in the courtroom , culminating in an objection that was sustained from the bench.

“Well, I think the evidence will show that this is a sad case, that there are no monsters here,” West continued. “Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. So let me, at considerable risk, let me say, I’d like to tell you a little joke. I know how that may sound a bit weird, in this context, under these circumstances, but I think you’re the perfect audience for it. As long as you don’t, if you don’t like it, or you don’t think it’s funny or appropriate, that you don’t hold it against Mr. Zimmerman, you can hold it against me, but not Mr. Zimmerman.”

Yes, Mr. West, it is really weird, really really weird. Maybe the strategy here is to gain sympathy for the defendant because his lawyers suck so bad?

“Here’s how it goes,” he continued. “Knock knock, who’s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who?”

George Zimmerman just shot and killed your unarmed, 17 year-old son? Because that’s pretty much the punchline that Trayvon’s parents were told when they got a knock on the door in February.

“Knock knock, who’s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right. Good, you’re on the jury.”

The joke was met with complete, life-sucking silence in the courtroom. “Nothing?” West pleaded, to a tiny smattering of embarrassed titters. “That’s funny.”

Geez, yeah…that is funny. /snark.

Zimmerman Trial Knock Knock Joke Apology Don West VIDEO | Mediaite

George Zimmerman‘s defense attorney Don West was forced to apologize after a recess in his client’s murder trial this afternoon for making a knock-knock joke during his opening statement. “No more bad jokes, I promise that,” West told the jury. “I’m convinced in was the delivery though, I really thought that was funny. I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”

If you want to find out what happened during the rest of the first day’s trial:

George Zimmerman Trial: First witnesses testify in case of Trayvon Martin killing – Crimesider – CBS News

Meanwhile, check out what they found buried in Jimmy “the Gent” Burke’s back yard…Testing finds human remains in New York gangster case

Test results on material found at the former New York home of late gangster Jimmy “The Gent” Burke have come back positive for human remains, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office said Monday.

An anthropological investigation is now under way on the material, said office spokeswoman Grace Brugess. She said investigators will try to extract DNA from the remains to try to identify who was buried there.

On Wednesday night, investigators at Ozone Park in Queens finished the search for remains possibly connected to a case that happened before 1996, said a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity last week.

According to public records, the house is now owned by Burke’s daughter, Catherine Burke, who declined Tuesday to comment to CNN.

James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke JimmytheGent.jpg
Jimmy Burke’s mugshot in 1979.

James Burke died in 1996. According to his obituary in The New York Times, he was serving a 20-years-to-life sentence in a New York prison when he fell ill with cancer.

You may remember the Jimmy “the Gent” from the Scorsese film Goodfellas:

Robert De Niro played Burke as Jimmy Conway in the 1990 Martin Scorsese classic mafia film “Goodfellas,” and Burke is probably best known as the alleged mastermind of the 1978 Lufthansa heist, an $8 million robbery at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which was the largest robbery in history at the time.

The source said that Burke and his cohorts, closely associated with top members of the Lucchese crime family, also were allegedly involved in a number of other activities — so the search in Queens may not be related to the Lufthansa heist.

Wouldn’t it be something if it was Billy Batts character’s remains?

Take a look at the Wikipedia link on James Burke, it is fascinating. (It got me sidetracked…that is why this post is so damn late tonight.)

Also, if you have followed the Whitey Bulger trial…this may be a helpful link: The ‘Time Capsule’ Of Mob Lingo At The Whitey Bulger Trial : NPR

This week, we’ve been immersed in news about mobs both real and fictional, with the death of Sopranos star James Gandolfini and the continuing trial of James “Whitey” Bulger.

The Sopranos gave us a primer on mob language like “clipping” a “rat.” But Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang and his Boston Irish cohort were the real deal. Members of Bulger’s old cohort came to the witness stand and used the real-life slang of their gang days.

That caught the ear of linguist Ben Zimmer, who tells Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered, that he’s been fascinated by quotes from the trial.

“Hearing these senior citizens, actually, talking about misdeeds that happened 30 or 40 years ago, and describing it using these terms — it was almost like a time capsule of this amazing, colorful slang,” he says.

Cameras aren’t allowed in the courtroom, so there are no videos or even recordings of the trial for Zimmer to listen to. Instead, he’s relied mostly on journalists’ tweets, like when one local reporter joked that Bulger collected more rent than any landlord in Boston.

“If you had any bookmaking business or loan-sharking business, Bulger’s gang was trying to get a piece of that,” Zimmer explains. “So you had to pay your tribute, which they called rent.”

Another term that came up during testimony was “vig.” That’s short for vigorish, a word of Yiddish and probably Russian origin.

More at the link…The one think I find funny is the quote from Goodfellas, were Jimmy tells a newly arrested Henry Hill,  “Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.” Then you have this nugget from former enforcer John Martorano:

Martorano also says the word “rat” doesn’t apply to him, though he’s now a government witness in the Bulger trial.

“He didn’t want to be accused of being a rat,” Zimmer says. “He’s a government witness for Whitey Bulger. Since Bulger was already an informant, that meant that Martorano himself was not a rat.”

In that same 60 Minutes interview, Martorano said there was a distinction between a government witness and a rat. A witness, he said, had the courage to give testimony on the stand. On the other hand, a rat was “doing it behind your back and dropping dimes.”

That quote – particularly the phrase “dropping dimes” – also piqued our interest.

“That evokes the image of putting a dime in a payphone, perhaps,” Zimmer explains. “That you’re calling up the authorities to rat on somebody.”

Well, you have a good evening.

This is an open thread…

28 Comments on “Evening News: Jimmy the Gent and Knock Knock, It’s George!”

  1. Like I said, the time kind of got away from me, but hope things are going well tonight. And that the evening is not to hot!

  2. RalphB says:

    I disagree with the Bloomberg editorial that “This is not about Snowden”. It wouldn’t be if we could believe everything published was the truth but that’s already been proven wrong. Therefore his motives have to be taken into consideration.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Snowden made it about him as soon as he came out in public. If he wanted it to be about the NSA, he would have remained in the background and he wouldn’t be handing over info to China and Russia. According to that ABC News article, he could very well have the names of every undercover agent and their locations in his four laptops.

      Another official said Snowden had access to a particularly important computer server in the government’s system “which contained ridiculous amounts of information” totaling hundreds of pages worth of secrets. He is suspected of storing stolen material on computers and making copies of documents. At risk is the effectiveness of billions of dollars worth of supercomputer and clandestine spying resources.

      What Snowden May Know About Human Ops

      Beyond technical systems, U.S. officials are deeply concerned that Snowden used his sensitive position to read about U.S. human assets, for example spies and informants overseas as well as safe houses and key spying centers.

      They worry this recent quote from Snowden was not an exaggeration: ” I had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all over the world. The locations of every station, we have what their missions are, and so forth.”

      It’s difficult to understand why Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson are supporting him.

      • bostonboomer says:

        And BTW, Greenwald totally threw Snowden under the bus in that interview with Greg Sargent. Greenwald got what he wanted and moved on. On All In show tonight he didn’t show any interest in whether Snowden revealing classified info to Cuba, e.g. could hurt either of their credibility.

        • RalphB says:

          Greenwald doesn’t seem to care about anything other than Greenwald. Speaking of All In, Chris Hayes seems like a lost child with this story.

      • RalphB says:

        I think Plame and Wilson are showing the old knee jerk response.

    • The Volokh Conspiracy » What is The “Real Story” About Edward Snowden and His Disclosure of NSA Activities?

      So there are two stories here. And given that, I don’t understand the claims of those who insist that the former is the “real story” and the latter a “distraction.” They’re both big stories, and it’s legitimate to cover them both.

      More broadly, I don’t know what the standard is for declaring one of these big stories a “real story” and the other a “distraction.” Each of us gets to decide which of the two stories we find more interesting and which we want to discuss at a particular time. Now, perhaps the claims about “real stories” and “distractions” are just themselves cynical efforts to distract others into changing the topic. Or, less cynically, perhaps they reflect a certain myopia among those who think that what they personally care about must be the real story and what they personally don’t care about must be a distraction. But at least taken at face value, I don’t understand how one person can decide for someone else what “the real story” is; I would think that is up to each person to decide.

      I just don’t know, I kind of have the feeling that a lot of people got played in this scheme and I wonder if the real story will get told, or will we get the version the press wants us to have….or the version the “powers that be” (gov/president/cia/nsa/etc) want us to have…if I am making any sense with that statement.

      • RalphB says:

        You make sense to me and I don’t know the answer. Whatever we get will be less than the truth is all I’ll bet on.

        The press certainly got played and will go to great lengths to make sure that doesn’t come out, I believe.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I heard it was a CIA outpost.

      • RalphB says:

        May be the same thing.

        A number of the attackers targeted the west gate, which is near the CIA office, our producer said, adding that black smoke was billowing out of the building.

    • roofingbird says:

      Well, you’d a thunk that if they were going to reference “he of the boob in hand and the beer bottle in the nose”, they would have at least spelled his name right.

  3. RalphB says:

    WaPo: Snowden case highlights Ecuador’s double standard

    Mr. Snowden should be particularly interested in Section 30 of the law, which bans the “free circulation, especially by means of the communications media” of information “protected under a reserve clause established by law.” The legislation empowers a new superintendent of information and communication to heavily fine anyone involved in releasing such information, even before they are prosecuted in the courts. In other words, had Mr. Snowden done his leaking in Ecuador, not just he but also any journalist who received his information would be subject to immediate financial sanction, followed by prosecution.

    Some might find it awkward to be granting sanctuary to one country’s self-proclaimed whistleblower while stifling their own. Not Mr. Correa, who for years has been campaigning against the United States while depending on it to prop up his economy with trade preferences. Thanks to the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Protection Act, Ecuador — which uses the dollar as its currency — is able to export many goods to the United States duty-free, supporting roughly 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people.

    As it happens, the preferences will expire next month unless renewed by Congress. If Mr. Correa welcomes Mr. Snowden, there will be an easy way to demonstrate that Yanqui-baiting has its price.