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Richard Nixon and Donald Kendall: Pepsi in Russia and South America

It has been said in half-jest that Pepsi was the official soda of the Cold War. Vice President Richard Nixon shared a Pepsi with Soviet Russia's Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, at the opening of the "American National Exhibition" in Moscow on July 24, 1959, after the famous "Kitchen Debate" (CBS newscast on Archive.org; transcript with two photos from the day). But how was it that Pepsi was the only Western soda-pop available there that day? Look to Donald Kendall, a long-time pal of Richard Nixon, who starting out in 1947 selling fountain syrup in New York, and rose through the ranks to be President of Pepsi Cola International by 1957. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 11, 2014 - 13 comments

"Might as well have been."

Skeptics Gone Wild: Navigating America’s Conspiracy Theory Culture
But trying to explain away anyone’s specific conspiracy belief, or conspiratorial thinking in general, misses the point—the point being that there’s no longer anything especially irrational about believing that shadowy actors are subverting American democracy. Think of that CIA dispatch, advocating a propaganda campaign against the suspicious. Picture the president, slumped forward in the back seat of his limousine, a bullet through his neck. As he lays dying something new is being born, a creeping miasma of suspicion that will spread across Dallas, across Texas, across America.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 5, 2013 - 80 comments

"It’s almost like history is a kind of snake swallowing its tail."

"In trying to understand conspiracy theorists, I used to think that what conspiracy theorists were really doing on some level was grieving, their fantasies a form of displaced love for JFK, but I’ve come to think the love involved is mostly self-love, their self-congratulatory assertion of superiority over mere facts."

What Does the Zapruder Film Really Tell Us?
Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris deconstructs the most famous 26 seconds in film history.
posted by Atom Eyes on Sep 27, 2013 - 151 comments

So You Think You Can Solve The Kennedy Assassination

Want to (dis)prove who killed JFK? Start with the 5 million pages of material in the National Archives' Assassination Records Collection1. Better review the 26 volumes of hearings and exhibits published by the Warren Commission. And each frame of the Zapruder film2. And just to be on the safe side, the operating manual for his then top-of-the-line Bell & Howell 414PD camera. (1: previously, but with outdated link. 2: related) [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Jul 23, 2011 - 73 comments

I can see the fnords!

Before 9/11, the center of the conspiracy theorist's universe was the Kennedy Assassination. And probably the definitive statement on the ridiculousness of the conspiracy theories of that era was the Illuminatus! Trilogy[warning, the entire several hundred page novel in PDF], published in 1975 and written by two Playboy editors at the height of the era of flower power. It drew on many sources, but most distinctively, it drew from a little public domain pamphlet called The Principia Discordia. Many people know the catch phrases (Fnord! Hail Eris!), but not many people know the authors' very real connections to the Kennedy Assassination. [more inside]
posted by empath on Jun 29, 2009 - 76 comments

The man in the center of the motorcade has learned to tie his shoes.

On his deathbed, the former CIA spymaster E. Howard Hunt made a startling confession. Or so says his son, Saint...Maybe the Zapruder film can tell us if there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll. Or was that a hoax too?
posted by nasreddin on Apr 15, 2007 - 40 comments

"Even my son goes on about Che"

"We can't be too purist about these things"
Slate: I know there is a conspiracy theory saying that David Atlee Phillips—the Miami CIA station chief—was involved with the assassination of JFK.
Howard Hunt: [Visibly uncomfortable] I have no comment.
Slate: And there were even conspiracy theories about you being in Dallas the day JFK was killed.
Hunt: No comment.
Laura Hunt: Howard says he wasn't, and I believe him.
E. Howard Hunt talks about Guatemala, the Bay of Pigs, Dealey Plaza. And what really happened to Che Guevara. (more inside)
posted by matteo on Oct 8, 2004 - 14 comments

Lee Harvey Oswald did it.

There was no conspiracy in the assassination of JFK, according to a new BBC documentary broadcast tonight. Offering a CG reconstruction of the plaza based on the Zapruder film and interviews with people who knew people, convincing evidence was offered that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman acting on his own. Essentially that all these people are misguided. It also carefully worked through some of the other theories, Cuban and Mob and had very few nice things to say about Oliver Stone. For example, there wasn't a magic bullet because the diagram in the film is wrong -- Texas Governor John Connally wasn't sitting directly in front of the president, but below and just off the side, so the round just went in a straight line. This was tragedy effecting millions perpetrated by one man. How often have we heard that story?
posted by feelinglistless on Nov 23, 2003 - 59 comments

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