TIME conflict

This Graphic Shows How Blood Diamonds Arrive in the U.S.

There are many loopholes in the global supply chain

The diamond industry created the Kimberley Process in 2003 to reassure consumers that their gemstones had not been used to finance conflicts.

But while the Kimberley Process removed some conflict diamonds from the market, many still slip through loopholes along the supply chain, as detailed in the TIME article Blood Diamonds. Another problem is that the Kimberley Process’ narrow definition of “conflict diamond” does not include some of the practices in diamond mining and sale that consumers find troubling, including environmental degradation, child labor, worker exploitation and state-sanctioned violence. That allows for unethically sourced gems to end up in stores in the U.S.

This graphic shows how conflict diamonds can easily become part of the global supply chain:


Read Next: TIME’s Report on Blood Diamonds

TIME conflict

The ‘Zealot’ Who Gave the John Birch Society Its Name

John Birch Society Exhibit
Spencer Grant—Getty Images New England Rally for God, Family & Country by the John Birch Society Exhibit held at the Statler Hilton Hotel on Park Square, Boston, 1972.

His death on Aug. 25, 1945, was commemorated by the anti-communist group

It was one of the last deaths of World War II, but its legacy had a lasting effect on our politics.

Seventy years ago Tuesday—on Aug. 25, 1945— a 26-year-old Army Air Force captain named John Birch was killed by communists in China at the twilight of World War II, after Japan announced its surrender. Some 13 years later, the John Birch Society–named for the young soldier–was founded to expose what they saw as rampant communism within the United States.

The secretive group wasted little time fanning the flames of anti-communist sentiment, with TIME reporting in 1961 on their theories about leftist agents in high-ranking government positions—including, they posited, Dwight Eisenhower. That report was read into the Congressional record a few weeks later and inspired debate on the Senate floor.

The group’s namesake was apt. As TIME reported, Birch was a champion crusader:

John Birch was born in Landour, India, to a husband-and-wife team of missionaries. When John was two years old, his family returned to the U.S., and he was raised in New Jersey and Georgia. In 1939 Birch graduated from Georgia’s Baptist-controlled Mercer University as the top man in his class, leaving behind him a record that is still recalled. “He was always an angry young man, always a zealot,” says a classmate. “He felt he was called to defend the faith, and he alone knew what it was.” Says a psychology professor: “He was like a one-way valve: everything coming out and no room to take anything in.”

In his senior year, Birch organized a secret “Fellowship Group” and set out to suppress a mildly liberal trend at Mercer. He and twelve colleagues collected examples of “heresy” uttered by faculty members (example: a reference to evolution), whipped up support among Georgia’s Baptist clergy, finally forced the school to try five men on the charge. Mercer eventually dismissed the cases, but not before admonishing 75-year-old Dr. John D. Freeman, a world-famous Baptist leader, for using a theologically “unsound” textbook. That summer Dr. Freeman quietly retired from Mercer. Says a professor: “It broke him.”

After school, Birch followed his parents’ lead in becoming a missionary. He was serving in China when World War II arrived. In 1942, after meeting survivors of the U.S. air raid on Tokyo, Birch decided to enlist and was assigned to work behind enemy lines in China.

Read more from 1961, here in the TIME Vault: Who Was John Birch?

TIME conflict

What It Felt Like to Witness the Liberation of Paris During World War II

Sep. 4, 1944
TIME The Sept. 4, 1944, cover of TIME

'I have never seen in any face such joy as radiated from the faces of the people of Paris this morning'

For four long years during World War II, France’s capital city festered under the thumb of Nazi occupation—until Aug. 19, 1944, when Paris, it seemed, could take no more. With the German forces on their heels throughout the region, an uprising broke out in the city. Less than a week later, on this day in 1944, Allied forces triumphantly made their way into the City of Light. For many around the world, it was the liberation of that great cultural center that marked the beginning of the end of the horrific war.

“Paris is the city of all free mankind,” TIME opined shortly after, “and its liberation last week was one of the great events of all time.”

The report from TIME’s war correspondent Charles Christian Wertenbaker captured the charged spirit of the moment:

I have seen the faces of young people in love and the faces of old people at peace with their God. I have never seen in any face such joy as radiated from the faces of the people of Paris this morning. This is no day for restraint, and I could not write with restraint if I wanted to. Your correspondent and your photographer Bob Capa drove into Paris with eyes that would not stay dry, and we were no more ashamed of it than were the people who wept as they embraced us.

We had spent the night at General Leclerc’s command post, six miles from Paris on the Orleans-Paris road. Here the last German resistance outside Paris was being slowly reduced, while inside the city the Germans and the F.F.I, fought a bitter battle that had already lasted six days. Late in the afternoon a French cub plane flew in 50 yards above the Cathedral of Notre Dame, on the He de la Cite where the F.F.I, had its headquarters, and dropped a message which said simply: “Tomorrow we come.”

Read more from 1944, here in the TIME Vault: Paris Is Free!

TIME Turkey

The U.S. and Turkey Will Soon Launch ‘Comprehensive’ Operations Against ISIS

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu answers a question during an interview with Reuters in Ankara, Turkey, August 24, 2015.
Umit Bektas—Reuters Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu answers a question during an interview in Ankara on Aug. 24, 2015

The joint operations include providing air cover for moderate Syrian rebels

Turkey’s Foreign Minister said Monday that Washington and Ankara have agreed on a plan to flush out ISIS extremists from the Turkey-Syria border.

In an interview with Reuters, Mevlut Cavusoglu said the two nations would soon launch “comprehensive” air operations to clear ISIS from a 50-mile long border zone in northern Syria.

“The technical talks have been concluded [Sunday], and soon we will start this operation, comprehensive operations, against Daesh [Islamic State],” Cavusoglu told the news agency.

He added that regional allies including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar as well as France and Britain may also take part.

Reuters reports that the joint operations include providing air cover for moderate Syrian rebels and aim to create an ISIS-free “safe zone” along the border with Turkey. ISIS has been using the border to transport supplies and foreign fighters into Syria.

U.S. and Turkish aircraft would use military air bases in Turkey to launch strikes against ISIS, Reuters says.


TIME White House

Why the White House Fire Still Matters

A view of the Capitol after the conflagration of the 24th August 1814.
Universal History Archive / Getty Images A view of the Capitol after the conflagration of Aug. 24, 1814.

Aug. 24, 1814: British forces set fire to the White House

When Americans remember the War of 1812 — if we remember it at all — we typically recall the stinging losses it entailed: dominion over Canada, for one, along with many of the brand-new buildings in our nation’s young capital. While we won the war, these humiliating deprivations made it “the bucktoothed stepsister of American military victories,” as TIME put it last year.

On this day, Aug. 24, in 1814, following their victory at the Battle of Bladensburg, British forces marched on Washington and set fire to the White House — as well as the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Treasury, among other buildings. It was a low point in the war, and our entire military history, as National Geographic notes, when Americans saw “their capital burned, their Army literally running away, and President Madison and his wife, Dolley, forced to abandon the White House… with the president’s dinner still on the table.” British officers helped themselves to the food and wine before torching the place, according to TIME.

It’s no surprise, then, that the War of 1812 doesn’t get the same attention in American history books as the Revolutionary War. But some historians say it doesn’t deserve its bad rap: It went a long way toward establishing America’s national identity and its reputation as an international superpower.

Three weeks after being routed in Washington, after all, the American military bounced back at Baltimore, handing the British a dramatic defeat that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner.

And while scorch marks are still visible on some White House walls, the past two centuries have put a lot of water under the bridge between the U.S. and the U.K. When British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the White House in 2012, Obama joked that his predecessors had “really lit the place up,” per National Geographic.

Others think it’s still too soon to make light of the famous fire, however. The British embassy in Washington learned this lesson the hard way when it commemorated the 200th anniversary of the fire on Twitter last year. Embassy officials tweeted a photo of a cake topped with a model of the White House — adorned with glowing sparklers.

According to The Guardian, outraged Americans took issue with the British display of levity. One tweeted back “WWHHAATT??? Is this suppose [sic] to be funny?” It was, according to the British embassy, which apologized for ruffling any feathers.

“We meant to mark an event in history & celebrate our strong friendship today,” embassy officials replied.

Read more from 1967 about the burning of Washington and other military-history lowlights, here in the TIME archives: Divided We Stand: The Unpopularity of U.S. Wars

Read next: How the Star-Spangled Banner Became the National Anthem

Download TIME’s mobile app for iOS to have your world explained wherever you go

TIME South Korea

North and South Korea Trade Fire on Their Border

South Korea's surveillance equipment detected a single North Korea shell

(SEOUL, South Korea) — South Korea’s military fired dozens of shells Thursday at rival North Korea after the North lobbed a single artillery round at a South Korean border town, the South’s Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that its artillery landed at the place where North Korea had fired its shell. There were no other immediate details from the military, but it appeared that North Korea did not respond to South Korea’s returned fire.

About 80 residents in the South Korean town where the shell fell, Yeoncheon, were evacuated to underground bunkers, and authorities urged other residents to evacuate, a Yeoncheon official said, requesting anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. He said there were no reports of injuries or damage in Yeoncheon.

In the nearby border city of Paju, residents were asked to stay home, officials said.

North Korea had previously threatened to attack South Korean loudspeakers that have been broadcasting, for the first time in 11 years, anti-Pyongyang propaganda messages across their shared border. Pyongyang also restarted its own loudspeakers aimed at the South.

The cross-border propaganda warfare followed accusations from Seoul that Pyongyang had planted land mines on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone that maimed two South Korean soldiers last week.

Authoritarian North Korea is extremely sensitive to any criticism of the government run by leader Kim Jong Un, whose family has ruled since it was founded in 1948.

North Korea’s army said previously in a statement that the broadcasts were a declaration of war and that if they were not immediately stopped “an all-out military action of justice” would ensue.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye urged Pyongyang to “wake up” from the delusion that it could maintain its government with provocation and threats.

Pyongyang’s powerful National Defense Commission had claimed that Seoul fabricated the evidence on the land mines and demanded video proof. The land mine explosions resulted in one soldier losing both legs and another soldier one leg.

TIME Yemen

The Conflict In Yemen Has Killed Almost 400 Children, U.N. Says

Mideast Yemen
Abdulnasser Alseddik—AP In this April 26, 2015, file photo, a man carries a boy who was injured during a crossfire between tribal fighters and Shiite militia known as Houthis, in Taiz, Yemen

At least 1,950 civilians have been killed in the fighting

(UNITED NATIONS) — The conflict in Yemen has killed nearly 400 children since the end of March, and a similar number of children have been recruited by armed groups, according to a new report by the U.N. children’s agency. It warns that the fighting shows “no sign of a resolution.”

This is UNICEF’s first such alert on Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Shiite Houthi rebels since late March. Millions have been trapped in the conflict, and aid groups have warned that many people are on the brink of starvation.

“Basic services that children depend on have been decimated,” UNICEF says.

Its report says that as of a week ago, 398 children have been killed, 377 have been recruited to fight and 1.3 million have fled their homes. The report says the death toll could be much higher. Overall, the U.N. human rights office said Tuesday, at least 1,950 civilians have been killed in the fighting as of Friday.

“Abdul was 4 years old, and he was killed by a sniper,” the report quotes one local child, 7-year-old Nada Nussir as saying. “I do not want to die like him.”

Human rights groups have expressed concern that both sides are violating the laws of war and not doing enough to protect civilians. Amnesty International this week called on the U.N. to create a commission of inquiry to investigate alleged war crimes.

The U.N. and aid groups have called repeatedly for ways to get food, fuel, medicine and other supplies into Yemen, but tight restrictions imposed by the coalition on air and sea transport remain in place, while Yemen’s exiled government accuses the Houthis of hijacking aid.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, and its population relies on imports for about 90 percent of its supplies. Attempts at U.N.-brokered humanitarian pauses to bring in aid have failed.

The new UNICEF report says about 10 million children, or half of the country’s population, need urgent humanitarian assistance.

It also says more than half a million pregnant women in Yemen’s hardest-hit areas are at higher risk for birth or pregnancy complications because they can’t get to medical facilities.

Saudi Arabia months ago pledged to fully fund a $274 million emergency U.N. appeal for Yemen, but a UNICEF spokesman, Rajat Madhok, on Tuesday told The Associated Press that the agency has not received any money from the appeal. Discussions between the kingdom and the world body on the terms of the funding have long delayed the money.

TIME photography

See Participants in V-J Day Parade Reunited 70 Years Later

On Aug. 15, 1945, the end was in sight for World War II. These New Orleans residents celebrated the best way they knew how

She barely remembers the day—she was only 8, and 70 years have gone by—but Linda Torres can recall the happiness she felt when she heard that World War II was ending. The news that Japan was surrendering meant that her father, Lloyd Lusse, who was serving with the Army in the Philippines, would soon be coming home.

“When [my mother] got the word, and everywhere in the neighborhood horns were blowing and everything else, she grabbed the American flag off the front of the porch and went and got a fishing pole, a cane pole, and she made a flag with that,” Torres tells TIME. “And everybody gathered up and started parading down the street.”

A newspaper photographer happened to pass by as the paraders marched. The photograph ran in the New Orleans Times-Picayune the next day, Aug. 15, 1945—the day often considered V-J Day, even though the war didn’t officially end until early September. Now, the Times-Picayune and the National World War II Museum in New Orleans have uncovered the identities of many of the participants and brought them back together to mark the 70th anniversary.

“New Orleans is very familiar with parades. That’s what people do when something joyous happens,” says Keith Huxen, the museum’s chief historian. “I think this photograph speaks to people because [of] the context of what had just ended. World War II is by far the bloodiest war in human history and, particularly for young Americans who had gone overseas and fought and seen a lot of death, this is the moment where people know that they’re going to live.”

The project of tracking down the paraders began months ago as part of an effort to preserve the history of the war and of the building of the post-war world. “We capture the voices of a generation that unfortunately is rapidly disappearing from the scenes,” Huxen says. “Preserving that legacy for future generations to learn from is I think very important.”

Linda Torres’ memories of that day may be the spotty ones of a little girl, but they include indelible details. Among them: her father didn’t come home immediately because he was on a crew assigned to mop-up duty in Hiroshima. For Roland Jauchler Jr.—the 10-year-old with the trumpet in the original picture—it’s a reminder of good times with people who are mostly gone.

“We were all happy, elated that the war was over,” he tells TIME. “That’s about all I can remember.”

TIME People

5 Myths About Emperor Hirohito

AFP/Getty Images This undated picture taken in Tokyo shows Japanese Emperor Hirohito.

On the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender in World War II, separating the legend from the history

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Myth 1: Emperor Hirohito was a God

After the overthrow of the Japanese Shogunate in 1868, the four southern tribes, the Satsuma, Choshu, Saba and Tosa, sought to embed the legitimacy of their new regime by the re-promotion of an eighth century myth that the Japanese Emperor was a God. The myths were set out in two official chronicles, the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters: AD 712) and the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan: AD 720).

The powers of the Emperor did not survive as power shifted to the Shogun system and until 1868 the Imperial Japanese family continued to exist largely in obscurity and often in relative poverty. As often happens with revolutionary regimes, a new national identity was required to justify and embed the country’s new military rulers. An infant Emperor Meiji was adopted as the new order’s figurehead and self-justification. Japan’s new regime re-emphasized the role of the Emperor as a living God, making it the heart of an ideological indoctrination taught in the new state school education system. The Japanese Army took this further by the simultaneous incorporation of Bushido (the military scholar code) into its military programs. Thus the overthrow of the Shogun was portrayed less as a revolution and was characterized instead as the Meiji Restoration, a title that gave moral justification to a successful armed insurrection.

Myth 2: Hirohito was simply a constitutional monarch forced into war by his generals

In March 1946, some nine months after the Pacific War had been brought to an end, Emperor Hirohito made a testament about his role in the war. In a bizarre scene, Hirohito had a single bed set up on which he lay in pure white pajamas on the finest soft cotton pillows. In eight hours of statements, the Showa Tenno no Dokuhaku Roku (Emperor’s Soliloquy: his post-war testament) Hirohito absolved himself for all responsibility for the war by claiming that he was a constitutional monarch entirely in the hands of the military: ‘I was a virtual prisoner and was powerless.’

This was a lie. Although by convention Hirohito behaved as a constitutional monarch, the Meiji Constitution granted him absolute power – he was after all enshrined as a God. On three separate occasions during his rule he had demonstrated his absolute powers; in 1929 he forced the resignation of his prime minister; in 1936 he overruled his military advisors to insist on the harshest treatment of the young officers involved in the coup d’etat known as the 26 February Incident in 1945; and finally in August 1945 he overruled his advisors by insisting on a Japanese surrender. Hirohito had the power to stop Japan’s military adventurism in the 1930s but chose not to. As his former aide-de-camp Vice-Admiral Noboru Hirata conjectured, “What [his majesty] did at the end of the war, we might have had him do at the start.”

Myth 3: Hirohito was a peace-loving scientist only interested in ocean mollusks

After the Pacific War, General MacArthur’s propaganda machine as well as the Imperial court went into overdrive to convince the world that the Emperor was a peace loving man, a scientist, whose main interest was the study of hydrozoa, microscopic jellyfish. Hirohito was indeed an avid gentleman scientist. However he was also a young man with an interest in the minutiae of military activity. He had a war room built underneath the Imperial Palace in Tokyo from where he could follow Japan’s military adventures in detail. Even the military hierarchy complained at the level of resources needed to update the Emperor. Throughout the war, he mainly wore a military uniform and to celebrate great victories he rode a pure white charger in parades in front of the Imperial Palace. Furthermore, although the Emperor’s court papers were destroyed before the Allies could seize them, it seems clear from contemporary accounts that as Japan’s war situation deteriorated, that he became increasingly shrill in his criticisms of the military, and more insistent on his own strategic suggestions.

Myth 4: Hirohito did not know about the Rape of Nanking and the genocide in China

The Rape of Nanking was widely reported in the Japanese Press, even relaying in gory detail a competition between officers as to who could cut off most Chinese heads. Hirohito could not have been unaware of these reports particularly as his own family was closely involved in the atrocities in China. His own uncle, Prince Asaka had commanded the Japanese troops at Nanking. As a reward Hirohito gifted Asaka a pair of silver vases and they also resumed their regular games of golf.

In a genocide that killed 20 to 30 million Chinese, the Emperor’s relation, Field Marshal Prince Kanin, gave the authorization for the use of gas. Prince Mikasa, Hirohito’s youngest brother, even visited Unit 731 in Manchurian where live vivisection and other experiments were carried out on Chinese and western prisoners. Although unproven, it seems highly unlikely that the inquisitive Hirohito would have been uninformed by his relatives of these activities conducted by the Japanese Army. Like Hirohito, all the imperial family was excused prosecution at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

Myth 5: Hirohito apologized for Japan’s war crimes in the Pacific War

It is variously reported that Emperor Hirohito offered to give a formal apology for Japanese war crimes including the attack on Pearl Harbor. Supposedly MacArthur, in order not to undermine the Tokyo War crimes trials refused to allow this. However if Hirohito had really wanted to issue an apology to the nations of Asia and to the United States he could surely have done so by handing a press release to the international press. In 1975, when asked about the “responsibility for the war,” Hirohito replied, “I can’t comment on that figure of speech because I’ve never done research in literature.” It is an obfuscation that is fully reflected in the Japanese post-war historiography taught in schools and universities.

Francis Pike is a historian, journalist and specialist in Asian economics, politics and history. He is the author of Empires at War: A Short History of Modern Asia Since World War II (2009). His latest book is Hirohito’s War: The Pacific War, 1941-1945 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).

TIME Media

See 19 Vintage Magazine Ads That Capitalized on the End of World War II

Whether honoring veterans or looking forward to peacetime production, these companies had a message for the 1945 consumer

The Japanese surrender in World War II—which was promised on Aug. 14-15, 1945—ushered in a period of national upheaval in America. The nation’s major companies were eager to capitalize on the changed mood. As these ads that ran in TIME during those weeks show, everyone from office-supply companies to cigarette makers tried to use the news to tailor their pitches. They appealed to veterans looking for new stability, to housewives who had kept the home fires burning, or to businesses starting the process of converting back to a peacetime economy.

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