kill it with fire
May 20, 2014

Because a clown with a blood-red smile wasn't nightmarish enough, McDonald's has unveiled a new mascot: Happy, a sentient Happy Meal box with dead, unblinking eyes and a disturbingly lifelike set of human teeth.

Happy's introduction comes alongside McDonald's debut of Go-Gurt as a Happy Meal side. The new mascot will serve as a "brand ambassador" to promote healthy nutrition for kids — if only by terrifying them into making better choices. Scott Meslow

Coming Soon
8:47 a.m. ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

At the U.S. Capitol next Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will unveil the "Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality," his answer to the "Contract with America."

Politico reports that the 13-point "Progressive Agenda" includes ideas from economist Joseph Stiglitz and other progressive leaders, including activists as well as elected officials. More than 60 people have signed on to the agenda, ranging from senators to national labor leaders to actors Steve Buscemi and Susan Sarandon. De Blasio discussed the ideas with progressives during a meeting at Gracie Mansion on April 2.

According to Politico, the agenda will include a universal pre-kindergarten program, as well as a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave. The agenda will also reportedly include "tax fairness" proposals to increase carried interest taxes. Meghan DeMaria

8:13 a.m. ET
CC by: Wally Gobetz

On Wednesday, the Vatican announced that, as Pope Francis had suggested four months ago, Rev. Junipero Serra will be canonized, at a ceremony on Sept. 23 while the pope is visiting Washington, D.C. Over the weekend, Francis celebrated a mass in honor of the 18th century Franciscan missionary at the U.S. seminary in Rome, after an academic conference on Serra's controversial legacy in California.

Serra, born Majorca in 1713, gave up his life as a professor of theology to become a missionary to the New World. He walked almost the entire length of California, establishing 21 missions. Many Native Americans view Serra negatively, accusing him of forcibly converting Indians and exposing them to deadly European diseases. The Catholic Church describes Serra as a protector of Indians who, along with bringing Christianity to the U.S. West, gave the indigenous Californians an education. Peter Weber

2016 Watch
7:57 a.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Stringer/Getty Images

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the lead for the GOP's 2016 presidential nomination — and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a distant seventh place.

Only 5 percent of Iowa Republicans said that they would vote for Bush if the caucus were held the day of the poll. Twenty-one percent of respondents, meanwhile, said they would vote for Scott Walker.

Other candidates who fared better than Bush in the poll include Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (13 percent), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (13 percent), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (12 percent), and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (11 percent).

Forty-five percent of respondents indicated that Bush is "not conservative enough," and only 39 percent of respondents indicated they had "favorable" opinions of Bush. The phone survey was conducted from April 25 to May 4 and included 667 likely participants in Iowa's Republican caucus.  Meghan DeMaria

6:32 a.m. ET
CC by: Dave Cournoyer

The CBC calls Tuesday's provincial elections in Alberta a "massive shock that turns Canadian politics on its head." When the ruling Progressive Conservative government called the election a year ago, the party had 70 of the Alberta legislature's 87 seats, and in December the Progressive Conservatives celebrated 43 years in control of Alberta, a record for any party in any Canadian province.

On Tuesday, the leftist New Democratic Party crushed them, winning 53 seats and pushing the Conservatives to an embarrassing third-place finish, 11 seats, behind the further-right Wild Rose Party, with 21 seats. This is not only surprising because conservative, oil-rich Alberta "has long been cast as the Texas of Canada," as The New York Times notes, but also because it is the home and political base of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight," said NDP leader Rachel Notley on Tuesday night. She will be the next premier, with the Wild Rose Party assuming the role of official opposition. Outgoing Premier Jim Prentice resigned as party leader and member of the provincial legislature, announcing that his "contribution to public life is now at an end." Political analysts attributed the Conservatives' sharp turn in fortunes to budget deficits brought on by falling oil prices, political missteps, and shifting demographics. Peter Weber

campaign 2016
5:38 a.m. ET

Newly official Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina was on Tuesday's Late Night, and along with amusingly informing Seth Meyers that she just purchased the domain name (well-played, Fiorina), she acknowledged that she believes climate change is caused by humans. "I'm prepared to take the scientists at their word," she said, "but the problem is we never finish the scientists' sentence.... A single nation acting alone can make no difference at all."

Lest you think Fiorina is backing President Obama's push to enact an enforceable global pact on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions or cheering his landmark deals with China and India, fear not. "Why would we destroy all these jobs with regulation when the answer to climate change is innovation, not regulation?" she asked. There follows a short but interesting conversation on when and how the U.S. can and should lead in the world, and then Fiorina changes the subject to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is both "a bad dude" and funny. —Peter Weber

4:44 a.m. ET
Ben Torres/Getty Images

Islamic State appears to have taken credit for the attack on a cartoon-drawing contest in the Dallas suburb of Garland on Sunday, calling gunmen Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi "soldiers of the caliphate." Simpson had been interacting with ISIS figures on Twitter, the FBI says, but intelligence analysts are skeptical that ISIS ordered the attack. It's likely the attack was less directed by ISIS than "inspired by them," says Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, citing intelligence officials.

That's not necessarily something to be happy about. "ISIS and its caliphate is becoming a brand, looser even than a network like Al Qaeda," Omer Taspinar, an expert on political Islam at the Brookings Institution, tells The New York Times. "It's a kind of spiritual belonging. Claiming credit does not necessarily indicate any kind of organizational link." That suggests more lone-wolf ambushes like the Garland one and fewer big operations like the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Unlike Al Qaeda, says terrorism scholar J. M. Berger, ISIS "can retroactively ratify attacks that they like and ignore those that don't serve its purpose." In that sense, the Garland attack is an odd one to try and own: Despite firing assault rifles, wearing bulletproof vests, and having the element of surprise, Simpson and Soofi were apparently shot dead by a traffic cop with a pistol, after incurring only one minor injury. Peter Weber

The Daily Showdown
4:01 a.m. ET

"There are so many hopefuls in the Republican race, we've got to start narrowing the field," Jon Stewart said on Tuesday's Daily Show. He had a helpful suggestion, too. "Let's do it with a game I call 'Let's Get Rid of Ted Cruz.'" The game show isn't just out of personal or policy animus, Stewart insisted. It's that "Ted Cruz cannot live up to the extremely high standards set for a candidate by... Ted Cruz.” Over the next 5 minutes, Stewart laid out his case, using Cruz's words against him, Daily Show–style. Surely, um, Republican primary voters will be persuaded. —Peter Weber

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