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March 1st, 2010:

Texting ban moves forward in Michigan [cell phones]

Free Refills reader John sent in word the other day that the Michigan legislature is moving ahead with a texting-while-driving ban. This is despite the fact that a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that such bans have no impact whatsoever on safety.

Here is the rundown, courtesy of MIRS.

Texting a message while driving would be a secondary offense punishable by $100 as part of compromise legislation that unanimously moved out of the Senate Transportation Committee, 4-0.

The movement of HB 4394 and HB 4370 to the Senate floor sets the stage for a vote to ban texting while driving. Even though Committee Chair Jud GILBERT (R-Algonac) isn’t opposed to making texting and driving an offense police could pull a driver over for, he said he realizes there isn’t support in the House.

“The fine is OK,” he said. “Something is better than nothing.”

The House version set the fine at $500, but the version reported today ratchets that fine down to $100. The plan is to make the bills a bi-cameral, bi-partisan package and today’s action lines up a final vote on that plan.

Defeating Communism with a Big Mac [McDonald’s]

The happiest bread line in Russian history

When people think of the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is typically images of jubilant Germans tearing down the Berlin Wall that spring to mind. And of course, we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall last November.

But last nail in coffin of Russian Communism did not come until few months later, when McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Moscow. Once the Soviets learned about Big Macs (or Big Mak, as they put it), there was no turning back. Twenty years later, McDonald’s has stores in over 50 Russian cities, employs more than 25,000 people and has served over 2 billion customers. American capitalism at its finest.

McDonald’s marked the anniversary of its conquest of the Soviet Union with a press release and an amazing photo.  Here are the details:

On January 31, 1990, a ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off the grand opening of the first restaurant, located in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. It was the world’s largest McDonald’s, with 28 cash registers and enough seating for 700 customers, and people lined up down the block to get their first taste of the famous “Big Mak.” Because Russian people weren’t accustomed to eating finger food, however, there was a bit of confusion; after pondering his Big Mak for some time, one man reportedly ate it with a spoon, while others took their sandwiches apart and ate them layer by layer!

Despite the cultural hurdles, McDonald’s served 30,000 customers on that first day of business, with half of all sales going to the Soviet Children’s Fund, a national organization that helps children. Since then, McDonald’s has grown to more than 240 restaurants in more than 50 Russian cities. We deliver quality food at a great value to a million customers every day in Russia – our fastest-growing market in Europe – with a total of more than 2 billion satisfied customers since we first opened.

Is your thirst big enough?

Reader Dan sent in this amazing picture of a Pizza Hut in Munich.

There is a bit of a reflection, but the poster is advertizing Pizza Hut’s new Free Refills promotion.  The text reads “Free Refill – ist dein Durst gross genug?” Translation: “Free Refill – is your thirst big enough?”

A few things struck me about this picture:

1: There doesn’t appear to be a German word for Free Refill.

2: The window has “Welcome To The American Way of Pizza” etched into the glass.

I have never been to a Pizza Hut in Germany, just in the UK and Ireland, where they all offer free refills. So I decided to head over to to learn more.

Apparently this poster is part of a new promotion Pizza Hut-Germany is rolling out. In it, they are marketing American Free Refill technology to the thirsty German masses. So far free refills are only offered at a few of Pizza Hut’s German locations, but the website makes it easy to find where those locations are. They’ve even developed a cute little “Free Refill” logo. It almost makes you tear up a bit.

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