Page 62

Chuck Shepherd

News of the

Weird LEAD STORY—FINE POINTS OF FLORIDA GAMBLING LAW

; In October, state alcohol agents, assisted by local police in full riot gear, pointing their weapons, raided a bar in Largo, Fla., to shut down the latest gathering of the venerable Nutz Poker League, even though its players do not wager. (They meet at bars and restaurants, where management gives winners token gifts in exchange for the increased business.) A prosecutor told the Tampa Bay Times that Florida law defines illegal “gambling” as any game

62 CULTURE • DECEMBER 2012

that permits players to win something—even if they don’t have to “ante up.” The raid (during which players were ordered to keep their hands where the officers could see them) came after a months-long undercover investigation.

DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD?

; No Do-Overs: By 2009, James Washington believed he had gotten away with a 1995 murder, but then he had a heart attack, and on his deathbed, in a fit of remorse, he confessed to a confidant. (“I have to get some-

thing off my conscience,” he told a guard in the jailhouse where he was serving time for a lesser, unrelated offense.) However, Washington miraculously recovered from the heart attack and tried to take back his confession, but prosecutors in Nashville, Tenn., were unfazed. They used it to augment the sparse evidence from 1995, and in October 2012 the now-healthier Washington was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 51 more years in prison.

RECURRING THEMES

; Among the most creative illegal behaviors are those of clever smugglers—or immigrants trying to enter a country illegally. In September, two Moroccans tried to smuggle a Guinean man into Spain at the Melilla border in north Morocco by disguising him as a Renault car seat. One Moroccan drove, with the passenger perched on a seat in which the foam had been removed to make room for the Guinean. A police spokes-

man called the attempt “novel.” ; India’s notorious bureaucracy records deaths particularly ineptly, to the advantage of men seeking an alternative to divorce. They find it easier merely to swear out a death certificate on one wife so they can marry another, but that means the first wife will face years, and maybe decades, of campaigning to convince officials that she is not dead. BBC News chronicled the plight of Ms. Asharfi Devi, now 64, in September as she was finally declared “alive” after being deserted by her husband at age 23 and ruled dead at age 40. After Devi finally earned a hearing and brought relatives and evidence to the village council, deliberations took eight more months. Notwithstanding the ruling, the husband stuck to his story. ; Puzzingly, adults continue to accidentally ingest improbable objects, often seemingly unaware of what they did. Lee Gardner, 40, of Barnsley, England, swallowed a plastic fork 10

V I S I T U S AT i R e a d C u l t u r e . c o m

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