San Francisco Bans Happy Meal Toys

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It’s a battle straight out of the latest DreamWorks movie: The “bad, blue, and brilliant” Megaminds of San Francisco’s ultra-liberal Board of Supervisors have finally conquered their slick, good-looking, Metro Man nemesis, Mayor Gavin Newsom. Yesterday the board overrode a mayoral veto to ban McDonald’s from offering free toys inside its high-fat, vegetable-scarce Happy Meals. Any local kid who wants to reenact the drama better hurry, because San Francisco McDonald’s restaurants won’t be offering their plastic Megamind and Metro Man figures much longer.

Notwithstanding a recent Onion headline, the law doesn’t totally ban Happy Meals and the toys that they contain. Instead, it limits Happy Meal toys to McDonald’s meals that meet certain health and nutritional benchmarks, such as maximum sodium levels and minimum fruit and vegetable content. Newsom opposed the law because “Parents, not politicians, should decide what their children eat,” he explained in a statement. The sponsor of the law, Supervisor Eric Mar, countered that “this is a simple and modest law that holds fast food accountable.”

According to Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the fast food industry spent $4.2 billion on advertising in 2009; some 40 percent of preschool-aged children ask to go to McDonald’s on a weekly basis and 84 percent of parents have taken their children to eat fast food at least once in the past week. Only 12 out of 3,000 kids meals at 12 popular restaurant chains meet basic childhood nutritional guidelines.

The law gives McDonald’s and other restaurants until December, 2011 to bring their Happy Meals up to standard. “We are extremely disappointed with the decision,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman told CNN. But instead of moping, maybe McDonald’s should just adopt some of the can-do spirit of its Happy Meals’ superheroes. Next up on its plastic toy rotation: The Transformers.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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