For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art - including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko - as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince - except that it acted secretly - the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.
The connection is improbable. This was a period, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the great majority of Americans disliked or even despised modern art - President Truman summed up the popular view when he said: "If that's art, then I'm a Hottentot." As for the artists themselves, many were ex-communists barely acceptable in the America of the McCarthyite era, and certainly not the sort of people normally likely to receive US government backing.
Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.
The existence of this policy, rumoured and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the "long leash" - arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender.
The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.
When you're too lazy to make bacon, why not pop a bottle and just drink bacon instead?
J&D Foods, a company that specializes in all things bacon -- including bacon-flavored envelopes and the bacon Kevin Bacon sculpture that made headlines recently -- has taken the obsession one step further by coming up with a new drinkable pork product: bacon-flavored soda.
That's right, Coca-Cola is out, and swine soda is in.
J&D Foods owner Justin Esch told AOL News that his company recently partnered with Jones Soda to create a special-edition bacon-flavored drink just in time for the holidays.
San Francisco on Tuesday became the first major U.S. city to pass a law that cracks down on the popular practice of giving away free toys with unhealthy restaurant meals for children.Three quick points: 1) McDonald's employees have never, ever, dragged a kid in from off the street and force-fed him a Happy Meal. Not once. 2) No intelligent person believes this ban on toys will actually affect childhood obesity. 3) Allowing eight self-appointed saviors to make dietary decisions for every single child in an entire city is infinitely more detrimental to overall societal health than enticing kids to eat a hamburger and fries for lunch.
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed the law on a veto-proof 8-to-3 vote. It takes effect on December 1.
The law, like an ordinance passed earlier this year in nearby Santa Clara County, would require that restaurant kids' meals meet certain nutritional standards before they could be sold with toys.