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Good News, Bad News. September ’11

Good news for… Gay couples in NY

July 24th was a busy day for the state of New York as hundreds of same-sex couples legally tied the knot for the first time in its history. Often cited as one of the most liberal states in the US, New York surprised many by taking so long to legalise same-sex marriages, but it eventually became the sixth and most populous state in the US to do so.

Demand was so high for state wedding permits that a public lottery had to be held in order to administer them. One mass wedding at the Niagara Falls featured forty-six gay couples exchanging vows at the same time. One newlywed, when asked if he took his partner’s hand in marriage, excitedly replied, “You bet your life I do!”

And it’s not just good news for the happy couples and equality campaigners; it’s good news for wedding companies and other businesses too. Legal recognition of gay marriages is expected to generate about $400 million for the state over three years.

Bad news for… Stylish Mafia criminals

Rita Barbera, the ‘Miss Trunchbull’ of the Italian justice system, has banned inmates from wearing designer labels at the notorious Ucciardone prison. The 19th century Sicilian jail is famously known to be the home of Mafia criminals but has also come to be regarded as ‘The Grand Hotel’ because of its lax attitudes towards punishing mob bosses.

The scale of the pampering is such that inmate Michele Catalano, who was arrested in 2007 on charges of drug trafficking and extortion, held a champagne and lobster birthday banquet in the prison gym.

But enough is enough, says the new prison governor Rita Barbera. “Prison is a place of punishment and every inmate has the same status,” she announced in July. “So any symbol of luxury that suggests power or financial supremacy must go.”

Brands such as Prada, Gucci, Armani and even Nike and Adidas have been called in for confiscation. Prisoners are now only allowed to wear ‘approved clothing’. But the inmates’ families aren’t taking this lying down. One mobster’s wife complained, “My husband will have to walk around naked! All he has is designer clothes.”

Chris Veck

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