Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "The brain trust," June 30, 2012

Tune tariff

Canadian couples headed down the aisle now have something else to add to their wedding preparation checklist. The Copyright Board of Canada announced in June that new tariffs on the use of recorded music at live events will apply to bars, conventions, ice shows, and even wedding receptions. The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada already collects on behalf of music writers. Now, according to the Copyright Board, Re:Sound will collect fees on behalf of record labels and performers. Organizers for events with more than 500 people will have to pay Re:Sound a $38 fee. But, if dancing breaks out, the fees double.

Tourist trap

While many believe Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe should be prosecuted for human-rights violations, one United Nations organization has seen fit to honor him as a tourism ambassador. On May 29, the United Nations World Tourism Organization honored the African strongman-technically the nation's president-by adding him to their "Global Leaders for Tourism" group in a ceremony in the southern African nation. The honors did not pass unnoticed: "Robert Mugabe is under international sanctions, so how do you have an international tourism ambassador who can't travel to other countries?" an opposition party spokesman asked. "The UN is losing credibility. Does it think people should go to a country where the law is not obeyed?"

Miss Communication

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Judges in the June 2 Miss Universe New Zealand beauty pageant overlooked one small detail when they crowned a winner-the woman they chose isn't a citizen of New Zealand. Pageant judges awarded 22-year-old Avianca Bohm with top prizes in the Kiwi contest, but apparently ignored the part of Bohm's application where she admitted being a South African citizen, despite living in New Zealand for the past six years. The mistake means that unless officials rush Bohm's citizenship application, New Zealand may be forced to forfeit its spot in the upcoming Miss Universe Pageant.

Presidential pardon

It's unlikely that any of Tyler Sullivan's teachers will quibble with his absence from school on June 1. The 11-year-old Minnesota student skipped school for the first time in his life to witness President Barack Obama speak at a Honeywell facility in Golden Valley, Minn., with his father, Ryan Sullivan. The elder Sullivan helped Tyler jostle his way to the front of the ranks prior to the speech-a move that paid off. As the president walked past, the fifth-grader struck up a conversation with Obama. "First I said, 'Hi, Mr. President.' Then he says, 'Hi Tyler, you must be out of school then,'" Tyler told ABC News. Then Obama had an aide bring him a marker and White House stationery while he asked Tyler the name of his teacher. On it, the president wrote, "Please excuse Tyler ... He was with me!"

Quick getaway

The getaway car for an early June robbery at a Houston bank was put to good use-but not by the robbers. A woman who identified herself to reporters as Blanca was cashing a check at a Chase Bank in Houston when the robbery began. Blanca says she was thinking about her children at home when she crouched and fled out the door, jumping into the first car she saw and speeding away. The car turned out to be the robbers' getaway car-which helps explain why it was left unlocked and running. Blanca says she drove a few miles from the bank, pulled over, and ran into another store. Eventually Houston police arrived and arrested Blanca for car theft, but the FBI later cleared her and named her a witness in the bank robbery.

Going for a spin

Los Angeles police detective Gus Martinez was hoping for more than a fun ride when he climbed aboard the 130-foot-tall Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier's Pacific Park at 7:30 a.m. on May 31. More than a day later, Martinez emerged from the spinning wheel with a record, as confirmed by a Guinness World Records official, of 25 hours on a Ferris wheel-with hourly five-minute breaks. The new record surpassed by half an hour the previous record set in Dublin, Ireland, last year.

Car crazy

Sheriff's deputies in Missoula County think they know who stole a car from a backyard in Missoula, Mont. They think they know how it was done. The only mystery is the motive: Why would thieves go to the trouble of stealing a 1976 Ford Pinto, especially one with four flat tires and an engine that wouldn't start. Witnesses say they saw two men who had previously tried to purchase the much-maligned vehicle for $300 loading it onto the back of a flat-bed pickup truck on May 26. A recall by Ford in 1978 for poor gas tank design led many news publications to include the Pinto on their lists of all-time worst cars.

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