TIME politics

Netanyahu Will Be Speaking in Winston Churchill’s Shadow

Netanyahu is only the second foreign leader to address Congress three times

A leader of a close U.S. ally arrives in Washington to speak before Congress for his third time, as relations between the two countries begin to fray.

That was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in January 1952, making what TIME then called a “cautiously billed” visit to the United States to attempt to restore the close ties that had carried the U.S. and Britain through World War II.

The same description might also work for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who addresses Congress on Tuesday, becoming only the second foreign leader to address Congress three times. The close relationship between Israel and the U.S. has been buffeted by Israeli policies in the West Bank (opposed by the White House) and by U.S.-led negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program (opposed by Netanyahu). Now, Netanyahu is hoping to convince Washington to see eye-to-eye with him on Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu has already been compared to Churchill by Republicans in Congress. “There is a reason that the adjective most often applied to Prime Minister Netanyahu with respect to Iran is Churchillian,” said Senator Ted Cruz on Monday. House Speaker John Boehner said he plans to give Netanyahu a bust of Churchill.

Here’s how Churchill handled the situation:

In 1952, the post-war state of affairs had brought with it a new set of grievances between Washington and London. What approach should be taken toward Communist China? Would the U.S. support British influence in the Middle East? Would Britain allow the U.S. to use bases in England for nuclear-armed flights against Russia? “But above all else was the fact that, in the time of her own financial and foreign-affairs crises, Britain had somehow lost touch with the U.S.,” TIME wrote in the Jan. 14, 1952 issue.

Still, Churchill faced a friendlier environment than Netanyahu might on Tuesday. While the Prime Minister did not share the same bond with President Truman that he had with Truman’s predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was warmly received in Congress and he met personally with Truman. (Obama has declined to meet with Netanyahu, citing concern about influencing upcoming elections in Israel.)

In an article in the Jan. 28, 1952 issue, TIME reported on his entrance into the chamber: “The great man, bearing his 77 history laden years with impassive dignity, walked slowly through the standing, clapping U.S. Congressmen. He had aged, of course, but Winston Churchill seemed hardly a shade less pink-cheeked, rocklike and John Bullish than when he spoke before the House and Senate during World War II.”

One of those speeches had been given nine years earlier, on May 19, 1943, when Churchill had spoken to Congress to provide a confident report on wartime progress and to pledge Britain’s support in the fight against Japan. It was “not one of Churchill’s greatest speeches,” TIME reported, “though any other orator might well have envied it.” The bar had been set high by his first appearance, on Dec. 26, 1941, when Churchill arrived in Washington to rally a disheartened nation that was still reeling from the Pearl Harbor attack three weeks earlier.

Wrote TIME:

Churchill arrived like a breath of fresh air, giving Washington new vigor, for he came as a new hero. Churchill—like Franklin Roosevelt, not above criticism at home —is, like Franklin Roosevelt in Britain, a man of unsullied popularity in his ally’s country…. There were tears in Winnie Churchill’s eyes at the ovation which greeted him, from isolationist and interventionist Congressmen alike. He shoved his thick, hornrimmed glasses over his nose, blinked, balanced himself like an old sailor. With a sly grin, he made his joke, established himself as one of the boys.

Then he let go: eloquence, blunt, polished and effective as an old knobkerrie, the growling, galling scorn for his enemies, the passages of noble purple for his friends. Between bursts of applause in which Supreme Court Justices and diplomats joined as lustily as doormen, the galleries wondered whether ever before had such a moving and eloquent speech been made on the Senate floor. Actually it was not so much the speech as the personality that put it over.

Though Churchill’s third speech was received less “lustily,” Netanyahu, who previously spoke to Congress in 1996 and 2011, might learn from the British Prime Minister’s performance that day. Despite the circumstances, and despite not accomplishing all his aims, Churchill’s visit in 1952 ultimately proved helpful.

“In spite of the very serious failure to make progress on Middle East policy,” TIME observed, “the Churchill visit was a success; it reversed the Anglo-American drift away from unity.”

Read TIME’s story about Churchill’s first speech to Congress: The U.S. at War; Great Decisions

TIME National Security

U.S. Intel Chief: Roughly 40 Americans Have Returned From Syria

Director Of Nat'l Intelligence James Clapper Speaks At Council On Foreign Relations
Bryan Thomas—Getty Images Director of National Intelligence James Clapper speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations on March 2, 2015 in New York City.

James Clapper said the U.S. faces more global challenges than at any time in his half-century career in the intelligence community

About 40 Americans have returned from the jihadist battlefields of Syria — but they don’t pose a threat to American security, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Monday.

Clapper said during a question-and-answer session at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City that about 180 Americans have attempted to travel or have succeeded in traveling to Syria since the ongoing conflict began. But he said the Americans who have returned went for “humanitarian purposes or some other reasons that don’t relate to plotting” and they have not shown “nefarious” intentions.

“If they come back, and they are not involved in plotting, or don’t have nefarious purpose, that’s their right and privilege as an American citizen to come back,” Clapper said. The office of the Director of National Intelligence did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

About 20,000 foreign fighters from more than 90 countries are believed to have gone to Syria, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has seized large swaths of territory. That has raised fears of radicalized fighters returning to carry out attacks in their home countries.

Last week, the FBI arrested three Brooklyn men and charged them with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Two of the three men allegedly planned to travel to Syria, and the FBI said the men had discussed coordinating possible domestic attacks.

On Monday, Clapper said the U.S. faces more global challenges than at any time in his half-century career in the intelligence community.

“I’ve been in one capacity or another in the intel business for 52 years, and I don’t remember a time when we have been beset by more crises and challenges around the world and the diversity of these crises and challenges than we have today,” said Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general. That comment came days after he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that 2014 was the most lethal year for global terrorism on record.

In 2014, 13,000 attacks killed 31,000 people around the world, up from 11,500 attacks and 22,000 killed a year earlier, Clapper said at the Senate hearing on Thursday. Fifty percent of those attacks took place in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan — and ISIS was responsible for more of the attacks than any other group.

Clapper clarified on Monday that the terror assessment he gave Congress was not at odds with a statement from Secretary of State John Kerry, who drew criticism for telling a House subcommittee last week that global violent conflict is lower than it has ever been, saying that Americans were “safer than ever.”

Kerry “was thinking of a different context,” Clapper said. “What he was thinking about was the more cataclysmic case in point of — case with the Cold War. And he’s right; in that context we are a safer country. But I was looking at more the here and now, you know, what happened in 2014 and what kind of what we project out in the next year.”

TIME 2016 Election

Rand Paul Just Lost the Bulgaria Primary

Rand Paul
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, listens to a question during an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 27, 2015.

U.S. ally hits back after the presidential hopeful's dismissive remark

Bulgaria has a bone to pick with Rand Paul.

The country’s Embassy in Washington hit back Friday at comments the Republican presidential hopeful made earlier this week, in which he seemed to dismiss the country’s importance while mounting an attack against Hillary Clinton.

“It goes without saying that Senator Rand Paul’s remark is inappropriate,” the Bulgarian embassy in Washington told TIME in a statement. “His dismissive attitude towards a US and NATO ally and a friendly country and his foreign policy record is to be judged by the American people.”

Paul on Wednesday reiterated his criticism of the former Secretary of State for not paying more attention to the situation on the ground in Libya ahead of the September, 2012 attack on a Benghazi compound that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Clinton has said she didn’t read a diplomatic cable requesting increased security at the compound.

MORE: Republicans Rediscovering Their Old Hawkish Message on Foreign Policy

“I could expect her not to read the cables from Bulgaria,” Paul told Yahoo on Wednesday. “But absolutely it’s inconceivable she didn’t read the cables coming from Benghazi.”

Bulgaria had kinder words for Clinton.

“Not that long time ago Secretary Clinton was on an official visit to Bulgaria,” the embassy added, referring to a 2012 visit by the now-presumptive Democratic presidential front-runner. “She stays engaged with us and is very well aware of the geopolitical realities of the region.”

Paul’s campaign declined to comment Friday on the Bulgarian embassy’s statement. He has long seized on Clinton’s tenure at the State Department and the Benghazi attack in particular as fodder for criticism and to tout his anti-interventionist, libertarian foreign policy ahead of a likely presidential run. Last year, for example, he came out swinging at a talk in Kentucky by pointing to the State Department’s spending bill on embassy décor.

“They spent $700,000 on landscaping at the Brussels embassy,” he said in August. “They spent $5 million on crystal glassware for the embassies around the world.”

The Bulgarian embassy said Paul could benefit from its foreign policy counsel.

“Among EU and NATO Member States Bulgaria is one of those standing closest to the major regional and global security challenges of today,” the statement said. “In this context the information coming from the American Embassy in Sofia might be more than useful to anyone striving to responsibly shape US foreign policy.”

TIME russia

Russian Opposition Leader Shot Dead

Rallies Held In Moscow Ahead of Secession Vote
Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov speaks during a rally against the policies and intervention in Ukraine and a possible war in Crimea, on March 15.

Boris Nemtsov served as deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin

A leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was shot and killed in central Moscow on Friday.

Boris Nemtsov, a deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin, was killed by an unidentified attacker, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports.

President Barack Obama condemned Nemtsov’s murder in a statement Friday. “I admired Nemtsov’s courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia and appreciated his willingness to share his candid views with me when we met in Moscow in 2009,” he said.

Nemtsov, 55, was a prominent opposition member who was previously considered an economic reformer as governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The opposition has been planning a “Spring” rally on March 1 that aims to draw 100,000 people to the march in Moscow.

TIME Iraq

ISIS May Have Committed Genocide Against Iraq Minorities, Report Says

IRAQ-CONFLICT-IS-YAZIDIS
SAFIN HAMED—AFP/Getty Images Members of the Yazidi minority search for clues on February 3, 2015, that might lead them to missing relatives in the remains of people killed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, a day after Kurdish forces discovered a mass grave near the Iraqi village of Sinuni, in the northwestern Sinjar area.

"Many minority communities continue to live under the threat of mass killing in Iraq," an advocate said

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has systematically targeted minorities in Iraq and may be guilty of committing genocide, a new report from human rights groups says.

The report aims to shed light on the atrocities committed against minority religious groups, including Christians, Yazidis and Turkmen. Based largely on eyewitness accounts and field visits across Iraq, the report says ISIS has committed summary executions, sexual violence and torture that amount to crimes against humanity and possibly genocide.

“Information exists which would support a prima facie case that ISIS forces have committed the crime of genocide against religious minorities in northern Iraq, in particular against the Yezidi minority,” the report says.

The report, released in Brussels on Friday, comes days after ISIS kidnapped at least 90 Assyrian Christian men, women and children in Syria.

MORE: Inside ISIS, a TIME Special Report

ISIS overran large swathes of Iraq last summer and seized the Iraqi city of Mosul in June. Reports of the group’s persecution of the Yazidi population in the country’s north in August helped pushed the White House to launch airstrikes against the extremist group, but the report says the minority groups continue to be at risk even as the U.S.-led coalition air-strikes have halted ISIS’s advance in Iraq. It calls on the international community to provide more support to Iraq’s displaced and persecuted minorities and to bring the ISIS perpetrators to justice.

‘While military action against ISIS dominates the headlines, to date there has been no serious effort to bring the perpetrators of crimes against minorities to justice,” William Spencer, director of the Institute of International Law and Human Rights, said in a statement. The report was co-authored by IILHR, Minority Rights Group International, No Peace Without Justice and The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.

Thousands of minority women and girls have been raped and forced into marriage, and the minority groups represent a disproportionate number of the more than 2 million people who have been displaced since January 2014, the report found. About 8,000 civilians were killed in the last six months of 2014, according to the United Nations.

“Many minority communities continue to live under the threat of mass killing in Iraq,” Mays Al-Juboori, civilian rights officer at MRG, said in a statement.

TIME

Here Are the Absurd Prices of 9 Items That Help Explain the Venezuela Crisis

People line up outside a state-run Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas, Jan. 9, 2015.
Jorge Silva—Reuters People line up outside a state-run Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas, Jan. 9, 2015.

From $800 sneakers to $31 Value Meals, here's a compilation of some of the most exorbitant prices.

Nowhere else has the collapse of oil prices has taken a higher toll than on Venezuela, where crude provides 95 percent of the country’s export revenue. Already facing recession, Venezuela is on the brink of economic collapse.

As that revenue dried up, the country has been thrown deeper into economic turmoil under President Nicolas Maduro. The economy is expected to contract by 7 percent this year, inflation soared to 69 percent—the highest in the world—and shortages of goods have forced shoppers to line up for hours at supermarkets to buy basic foods and products. The situation descended into the surreal earlier this week when the Prime Minister of neighboring Trinidad & Tobago proposed exchanging Venezuelan oil for Trinidadian tissue paper.

Meanwhile, the confluence of short supplies and government currency restrictions has distorted prices so much that some items are entirely inaccessible for Venezuelans who don’t have access to dollars—which is most of the country. Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that a 36-pack of Trojan condoms was available for 4,700 bolivars on the auction website, MercadoLibre, used by Venezuelans to obtain scarce good. According to the official exchange rate, that would amount to roughly $755. (According to the black-market rate for people with dollars, it would be closer to $25, Bloomberg reported.)

To check up on prices, TIME scanned the MercadoLibre auction site and and the crowd-sourced website Expatistan.com, which lists costs of various goods in stores. Here’s a compilation of some of the most exorbitant prices when converted into dollars according to the official exchange rate:

iPhone 5, in original box: $11,433

Rawlings Baseball Glove: $1,809

Nike Free: $796

Dog Food (3 KG): $288

Levi’s 501 Jeans: $405

Nescafe (170 grams): $232

Fast Food Combo Meal: $31

Laundry Detergent (100 Ounces): $31

12 Eggs: $10

TIME faith

Harassment of Jews Across World Hits 7-Year High

Intimidation of Jewish people was particularly prevalent in Europe

The number of countries where Jews faced harassment rose to a seven-year high in 2013, according to new study on persecution of religious groups around the world.

The Pew Research Center found that Jews were harassed by governments or social groups in 77 countries of the 198 in the study, up from 71 countries the year before. The study measured both instances of government policies that restrict religious practices and private acts of hostility and found that Jews were far more likely to face private attacks or abuse than other religious groups.

Christianity, the world’s most widespread religion, faced instances of harassment in 102 countries. Among Christians, most instances involved government harassment. Muslims were harassed in 99 countries.

Harassment of Jews in 2013 was particularly prevalent in Europe. Among 45 European countries, 34 registered instances of private attacks on Jews, a higher proportion than any other geographic region. In March 2013, for example, three men attacked a young man wearing a kippah in a Paris suburb, threatening, “We will kill all of you Jews.” In August, vandals painted a Swastika on the walls of a bull ring outside Madrid. Some 32 countries in Europe saw private attacks on Muslims.

Among the world’s 25 largest countries, the study found that overall levels of harassment against all religious groups were highest in Burma, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Russia. But overall, the share of countries worldwide with social hostilities involving religion declined in 2013 — dropping six percentage points from 33% to 27%.

 

 

 

TIME russia

Putin’s Approval Rating Rises to 86% Despite Slumping Economy

Cyprus Agrees Military Deal With Russia
Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (L) during a joint press conference in Novo Ogaryvo State Residence on February 25 in Moscow.

Despite sinking relations with the West—or maybe because of it—Putin is nearly as popular as ever at home.

Russian President Vladimir Putin saw his approval ratings tick up to 86% even as the economy reels from Western sanctions and falling oil prices.

Levada Center, a Moscow-based pollster, released a poll Thursday showing Putin’s approval ratings increased one percentage point from a month earlier.

Putin’s approval numbers have soared nearly twenty points since early 2014, when Russia seized Crimea and sent relations with the West tumbling to the lowest levels since the end of the Cold War. His ratings reached a high of 87% in August.

The high ratings come even as the Russian economy faces recession. The ruble has lost nearly half of its value in the past twelve months, and the government expects the economy to shrink 3 percent this year, the first drop since 2009.

It can be hard to tell how reliable polling numbers are in Russia, though Levada is considered the most dependable. It’s likely though that Putin’s showdown with the West has won him fresh support amid a surge in nationalism — and the Russian media’s positive spin on everything Putin may have also helped boost his popularity.

TIME Military

China Now Has More Submarines than the U.S.

China Marks 60 Years Of The Chinese Navy (Getty)
ChinaFotoPress—Getty Images A Chinese Navy submarine participates in an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy on April 23, 2009 in Qingdao of Shandong Province, China.

China is adding subs and sending them farther out for longer periods of time

China now has more submarines than the U.S., though the vessels are inferior to the U.S. fleet.

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, said the vessels are part of China’s expansion into more geographic areas of operation for longer periods of time, Reuters reports. His comments mark the latest expression of concern from some U.S. officials over the Chinese military buildup.

U.S. military officials have recently sought to highlight China’s growing capabilities in an effort to ensure that the U.S. can maintain its technical edge, though a recent study from the Rand Corp. challenged some of those concerns when it found “potentially serious weaknesses” in the Chinese military.

[Reuters]

TIME Canada

Canadian City To Overturn Ban on Sledding

Hamilton lawmakers say they will legalize tobogganing

A city in Canada that banned sledding after it was sued more than three decades ago plans to scrap the ban and take its chances.

“You can’t take the fun out of winter,” said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, CBC reports. “In a perfect world, I would love it if people didn’t sue the city, but we can’t stop anyone from suing us for whatever reason. We can’t shut down our entire city.”

The City Council voted Wednesday to look into establishing designated tobogganing areas as well as other options to legalize the pastime, according to CBC.

Currently, violators are liable to face up to a $1,600 fine thanks to a bylaw first established in the 1970s after someone sued the city following a tobogganing accident. Another suit forced the city to pay more than $700,000 in 2004.

[CBC]

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