TIME Fine Art

These Are Some of Ai Weiwei’s Most Influential Works of Art

Multi-talented Chinese contemporary artist Ai Wei Wei, who specializes in political and cultural criticism, brilliantly conveys his message through a variety of mediums

TIME politics

This Is the Most Sexist Republican Ad of the Year

The College Republicans National Committee ad aimed at women describes Florida Governor Rick Scott as the perfect wedding dress

Updated October 2, 11:45 a.m. EST

In case there is any debate about whether 1) Republicans really want young women on board for the midterms and 2) they’re confused about how to do it, the College Republican National Committee ad for Rick Scott (produced, ironically, by women) will settle the question once and for all.

The ad features Brittany, a young undecided voter, who appears to be shopping for a wedding dress, but she’s actually shopping for candidates for the Florida Governor’s race, get it? Because women don’t like dirty old politics, women like wedding dresses!

She has her heart set on the “Rick Scott” wedding dress, because “Rick Scott is becoming a trusted brand — he has new ideas that don’t break your budget.” But then, frumpy old mom chimes in with some Democratic drivel and tries to get her to buy an ugly dress with sleeves called “Charlie Crist.” The ugly dress comes with “additional costs” like “$2 billion in taxes, $3.6 billion in debt, and 15% tuition increases” which are represented, of course, by an ugly veil, ugly sash, and ugly necklace. Because veils are easier to understand than debt, obviously.

There’s also an identical ad running in Illinois, to endorse Bruce Rauner for Governor.

And we wonder why women think Republicans don’t get them.

 

TIME politics

President Obama, Please Stay out of California

Obama Delivers Economic Address At Los Angeles Trade-Technical College
U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he steps to the podium to deliver remarks on the economy at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College on July 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew—Getty Images

Frankly, Mr. President, it feels like you’ve taken California for granted

Mr. President, I realize such a statement may seem jarring. After all, our state voted for you twice. When you were first running for president, Maria Shriver said, “If Barack Obama were a state, he’d be California.” But these days, I bet I could rally a majority of Californians behind a proposition asking that you never visit again. And I wouldn’t have to talk about your record-low job approval ratings among Californians.

No, our fundamental problem with you is more personal than political. You, sir, have developed a reputation as a very poor houseguest.

You often show up with little warning about your itinerary or schedule. (Your excuse? That the Secret Service can’t disclose your movements for security reasons.) Your massive security cordon routinely causes hours-long traffic jams in a state that already has too many of them. I was once two hours late picking up a child from daycare because you just had to stop for takeout in Los Angeles during the evening rush hour.

So you’ll understand why I felt nothing but dread upon reading multiple news reports that you’re headed to Southern California next week to raise campaign money at the home of actress-turned-insufferable-lifestyle-guru Gwyneth Paltrow.

It isn’t just the traffic-related inconvenience that’s tiresome: It’s that your visits are about you taking, not giving. Almost all of your trips have been driven by political fundraising. You’re disrupting our lives so that millions of dollars rich people might otherwise spend here will instead bludgeon voters in Alaska and North Carolina with President Obama, Please Stay out of Californiamindless TV ads.

While you might be our president, these days other leaders seem to do more presiding than you, engaging with Californians about California. Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto addressed a joint session of the legislature on his recent visit. Even the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, is much more of a presence in the civic conversation about California than you are.

Why has the relationship between you and California grown cold? I suspect part of the problem is that you and California are too similar. The fact that we don’t disagree on much can make small differences seem bigger.

We both want to take action against climate change, but your meager policy proposals seem like a drag while we forge ahead with cap-and-trade. We both care a lot about advancing technology and the Internet, but you’re squabbling with Silicon Valley over government surveillance (the Facebook and Google guys like to be doing the surveillance, not getting surveilled) and privacy.

Frankly, it feels like you’ve taken California for granted. Even the biggest things you’ve done for us—Obamacare, the stimulus package when the Great Recession hit—can feel like disappointments.

The Affordable Care Act has covered more than 2 million Californians, which is great, but it also neglects more than 2 million of us – undocumented immigrants. The rest of us end up paying, in money and in our health, for their lack of coverage. Including them would have been a heavy lift politically. But you’ve been suspiciously more interested in deporting our undocumented neighbors than legalizing Californians who are deeply embedded in our communities.

As for the stimulus, that legislation, while providing billions in state aid to California, was not nearly enough to offset the huge budget cuts forced by the recession. The stimulus included very little money to help with our state’s massive infrastructure needs, estimated at $800 billion. State officials begged your administration for loan guarantees to forestall the worst cuts, but you said no. The result: California spending on schools and health remains at historically low levels, even with the economy recovering.

Yes, you and your aides and people in other states might grumble: Why should California get special treatment? Because, Mr. President, we are special. You can’t accomplish your biggest goals when your biggest state is in the shape it’s in. You can’t reduce the national unemployment rate much if California’s own unemployment remains well above the national average. You can’t achieve your goal of making the U.S. number one in the world in percentage of people with college degrees when California’s public universities are turning away thousands of students each year.

Your trips here have come to feel like those political fundraising e-mails that keep arriving this time of year. You’re spamming us, Mr. President. If you can’t do better by California on these trips, then maybe you should stop visiting.

Joe Mathews is California and innovation editor for Zócalo Public Square, for which he writes the Connecting California column.

This article was originally written for Zócalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

This Is How Much More Popular Same-Sex Marriage Is Today Than in 1989

A file picture taken October 1, 1989 sho
A file picture taken October 1, 1989 shows Denmark's Axel Axgil (L) and Eigil Eskildsen (R) on their Oct. 1, 1989, union, when they became the first registered gay partners in the world Keld Navntoft—AFP / Getty Images

Most Americans are in favor of gay marriage today. In 1989, not so much

Twenty-five years ago, on Oct. 1, 1989, Denmark became the first country to grant legal status to same-sex couples, allowing gay Danes to enter into domestic partnerships. Since then, dozens of countries have followed suit, as well as many U.S. states.

But Denmark in 1989 was an aberration — particularly to that country’s more conservative cousins in the United States. A TIME/CNN poll that year found that fully 69% of Americans opposed gay marriage in 1989, and 75% felt that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children.

A prescient TIME story from November of that year, of which the poll was part, argued the merits of domestic partnerships — and went as far as to endorse gay marriage, despite the overwhelming unpopularity of that position at the time. Same-sex partnerships faced deeply entrenched opposition, from forces as diverse as major insurance companies concern about extending coverage to unmarried partners and social conservatives concerned about morals, Walter Isaacson wrote. When San Franciscans proposed that year allowing gay couples to register their relationships, John R. Quinn, the city’s Archbishop, called the idea a “serious blow to our society’s historic commitment to supporting marriage and family life.” And David Blankenhorn at the Institute for American values said the domestic-partnership movement “misses the whole point of why we confer privileges on family relationships.”

A quarter century later, it’s easy to forget how much societal mores have changed. In the intervening years, views on same-sex marriage have flipped, with 59% of Americans supporting it and just 34% opposed, according to a March 2014 poll by the Washington Post-ABC News.

In his 1989 column in TIME’s pages, Isaacson countered the prevailing views. He made a firm argument in favor of gay marriage that may have sounded eccentric in 1989 but has became mainstream in 2014. He writes:

Domestic-partnership rights and legal gay marriages… can be justified to the extent that the couples involved profess a willingness to accept the mutual financial obligations, community-property rights and shared commitments to care for each other that are the basis of family life. With this broader goal in mind, it makes sense for society to allow — indeed to encourage — domestic partners both gay and straight to take on all the rights as well as the responsibilities of marriage.

Today, 19 states have decided that it does indeed make sense to allow gay marriage, and it’s likely more states will follow their lead — if popular opinion has anything to do with it.

TIME politics

Reports: Armed Ex-Convict Was Allowed on Elevator With Obama

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama speaks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

The incident violates the Secret Service's protocol and is the agency's latest embarrassment

An armed security contractor with three prior criminal convictions was allowed to ride an elevator with President Barack Obama earlier this month, a violation of Secret Service protocol, according to the reports by the Washington Post and the Washington Examiner.

The two publications reported that the incident took place on Sept. 16 during Obama’s visit to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, where Secret Service agents began questioning the contractor after he refused to stop videotaping Obama on his phone. Agents fired him immediately upon discovering his criminal history, and realized he was armed only after he turned in his gun, the Post reported.

A Secret Service agent confirmed the incident to the Associated Press, but declined to elaborate due to an ongoing investigation, according to reports.

The incident appears to be a clear violation of the Secret Service protocol, which could have prevented the incident through its Arm’s Reach Program, former agents told the Post. Under the program, all staff, guests, volunteers and contractors are heavily screened through multiple criminal and intelligence databases to ensure safety. Anyone found to have a criminal history, mental illness or other risk factors are not allowed to come close to Obama–hence, the policy’s name.

The reports add another line to the Secret Service’s growing list of blunders, the focus of Congress’ questioning of director Julie Pierson on Tuesday. Pierson took full responsibility for an armed intruder who managed to jump the White House fence and enter the presidential residence on Sept. 19. Earlier this week, a new report surfaced showing how the Secret Service failed in 2011 to realize immediately that a gunman had fired shots at the White House.

TIME faith

Atheists Aren’t the Problem, Christian Intolerance Is the Problem

Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Held In D.C.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks during the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord International Hotel and Conference Center March 7, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and internationally best-selling author. Robyn Blumner is the executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

If Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s disparagement of atheists was just the ranting of a tinpot politician turned Fox News bloviator, it could be left without comment or fuss.

Unfortunately, not only does Huckabee have to be taken seriously as a possible Presidential candidate in 2016, but his suggestion that atheists who work for the government (primarily elected officials) be summarily “fired” is an applause line in too many quarters in the United States. That nonbelievers somehow deserve to be discriminated against is a view widely shared, particularly among Christian conservatives who seem to think “religion by the sword” is an oldie but a goodie.

This latest bit of hate was offered up – where else? – at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. The ritual hookup between Christian conservatives and Republican presidential aspirants is a right wing, Jesus-loves-us debauch of Homophobia, Intolerance and Militarism, a trifecta easily remembered by the acronym “HIM”.

Huckabee, in a tortured metaphor about answering phones “God is ringing,” exhorted his audience to answer the God-call by making sure only people with the right values are hired for jobs in Washington and by making sure those who “refuse to hear … God’s heart” are fired. No joke, Huckabee is suggesting that we should: 1) Find out whether government employees are true believers; 2) Fire those who aren’t.

Yes, that is illegal, which makes the suggestion all the more stunning from someone who expects to be taken seriously on America’s national political stage.

But such warped intolerance toward people who simply don’t subscribe to a deity, is considered a ticket to electoral success in some parts of the United States. Consider Zach Dasher’s view of nonbelievers – comments he rolled back on Monday after public pressure.

This Republican congressional candidate in Louisiana and nephew of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, suggested on his faith-based podcast that atheism contributed to the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 children and six adults in 2012.

Apparently, the premier driver was not the mental illness from which shooter Adam Lanza clearly suffered, nor was it that an unstable man was able legally to amass a stockpile of weapons, thanks to his mother supplying them.

According to Dasher, “the reason why (the Sandy Hook massacre) happened is that we have denied as a culture that man is made in God’s image.” He said the “atheist agenda” reinforces a message that says “you don’t matter … all you are is chemical, all you are is material.”

Had Dasher bothered to find out about atheism, humanism and the nonreligious, he would have come to understand just how precious this community views life.

Unlike Dasher, who believes there is another existence – a better one — outside the temporal, atheists, humanists and freethinkers believe they have one life and one chance to do something meaningful with it. With no supernatural arbiter to fall back on, nonbelievers know it is up to them and them alone to promote justice, compassion and a fair society.

The proof that secular people are good, care for others and build healthy societies is evidenced in cross-national studies. The research of Phil Zuckerman at Pitzer College, demonstrates that secular societies, such as Sweden and Denmark, among others, are more likely to enjoy broadly shared prosperity and a high level of societal health and happiness than traditionally religious ones, and certainly more so than the United States.

Gregory Paul has done a similar comparison, as well as one between states within the US, and found parallel results. Which way the causal arrow goes is an interesting question: does secularism foster healthy caring, or does religiosity die away in societies where people care for one another? Paul himself says, “once a nation’s population becomes prosperous and secure, for example through economic security and universal health care, much of the population loses interest in seeking the aid and protection of supernatural entities.”

Whichever way the causal arrow goes, politicians like Huckabee and Dasher would do well to ponder (if indeed they know the meaning of the word) on Zuckerman’s summation: “(W)hen we consider the fundamental values and moral imperatives contained within the world’s great religions, such as caring for the sick, the infirm, the elderly, the poor, the orphaned, the vulnerable; practicing mercy, charity, and goodwill toward one’s fellow human beings; and fostering generosity, humility, honesty, and communal concern over individual egotism — those traditionally religious values are most successfully established, institutionalized, and put into practice at the societal level in the most irreligious nations in the world today.”

With that reality, one has to wonder what politicians like Huckabee and Dasher really stand for?

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and internationally best-selling author. Robyn Blumner is the executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME White House

9 Secret Service Screw-Ups and Scandals

Secret Service - stock photo
Ian Waldie—Getty Images

From White House intruders to wild and crazy nights

With Secret Service Director Julia Pierson appearing before a House oversight panel on Tuesday with promises to fix the agency after revelations that a fence-jumper made it all the way to the East Room, the agency is making lots of promises. “It will never happen again,” Pierson told the panel.

But as hopeful as she may be, those who remember even the recent history of the agency have reason to take that vow with a grain of salt. Not only is there a decades-long history of intrusions at the White House, but the agency is also no stranger to messing up.

For example:

Earlier this year, three agents were sent home from a trip to the Netherlands after getting drunk the night before the President was set to arrive.

In 2013, two agents were removed from Presidential security detail after sending sexually inappropriate emails to a colleague, which was uncovered when one of the agents was discovered trying to forcefully enter a woman’s hotel room after forgetting a bullet inside.

In 2012, eight agents were fired after it emerged that they had allegedly solicited prostitutes while on an on-duty trip to Colombia.

In 2001, an agent admitted to having stolen nearly $3,000 in cash that the Secret Service had taken as evidence in the years prior.

In 1999, an agent in Chicago with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton went to a hotel bar and put her service weapon in her purse under her chair; a thief with a long arrest record stole the gun.

In 1998, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Ken Starr got permission to question Secret Service agents. Though helping a President find some personal privacy for a tryst was nothing new in the agency’s history, the Starr Report still made headlines by revealing that agents had watched her come and go from the Oval Office.

In 1997, an agent who was guarding former President Ronald Reagan was convicted of sex with a minor and possession of drugs, as well as resisting arrest.

In 1971, in the realm of legal-but-shady real-estate dealings, it was revealed that the Secret Service had arranged for a Florida home near President Nixon’s compound in the area to be sold for $150,000—the owners were, ironically, annoyed by all the Secret Service presence—to a buyer who turned out to be a friend of the administration’s, who subsequently leased the house back to the the Secret Service.

In 1964, when the Warren Commission investigated the Kennedy assassination, the group found that Secret Service agents had been drinking the night before the event—though there was no accusation that the drinking impaired their work, it was still forbidden—and that the route was not properly secured.

Then again, hope for a scandal-free secret service isn’t necessarily misplaced. After all, the agency once had a spotless record. In the April 16, 1934, issue of TIME, agency chief William Herman Moran recalled 52 years in the agency and was “proud that, since its organization in 1861, his secret police system has never had a scandal.”

The same article recounts the story of an agent who stopped President Warren Harding from getting on a boat that soon sank and President Herbert Hoover from speaking from a platform that had been “gutted by termites” to the point of collapse. Highly visible saves —like preventing President Reagan’s assassination in 1981—are few and far between, but daily successes like looking out for termites are likely to have continued over the decades that would follow, largely unnoticed. It’s the fate of the Secret Service that, until its agents do something wrong, the work that they do mostly remains, well, secret.

TIME Books

The Politician America Really Needs: A Certain First Lady

Lady Bird Johnson
Lady Bird Johnson Bettmann/Corbis

Jonathan Darman is the author of Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of A New America, out this month.

Forget the LBJ fantasies—if we could have Lady Bird back, things might be different

In this dismal hour of American politics, there is no better way to strike just the right note of sober-minded weariness than to speak, wistfully and longingly, about the wonders of Lyndon Baines Johnson. What we wouldn’t give for the impresario of arm-twisting—the president who, in the mid-1960s, forced greatness out of Washington that transformed people’s lives. The steward of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The man who delivered Medicare. If only we had LBJ around, who could force even our do-nothing politicians to do something.

The sad truth is that today’s politics are probably too hopelessly polarized to make good use of a legislative wunderkind. What we need are politicians who are unafraid to go to the most difficult places, to look painful realities in the face. And for that, we don’t need LBJ. We need his wife.

This might seem strange, sure. In pictures from the 1960s, Lady Bird often looks like the ultimate example of a smiling, silent good wife. Throughout her long career in Washington, she was always guided by a simple question: how to serve her husband best. To serve Lyndon, a wild-tempered man of expansive appetites and unending need, that often meant suffering indignities that were shocking even in a pre-feminist era. Jackie Kennedy, who watched Lady Bird write down every one of Lyndon’s thoughts and wishes, thought Lady Bird looked “like a trained hunting dog.”

LANDSLIDE -- book jacket

But Lady Bird’s dutiful subservience obscured her strength: a rare willingness to see the world as it really was. Despite his modern reputation as a pragmatist, LBJ often struggled to look at the future realistically, preferring to alternate between fantasies of great glory or doom and gloom. At key moments in the Johnson presidency, when Lyndon would give in to paranoia about the future, Lady Bird was a lone voice of reason.

During the historic campaign of 1964, as delegates to the Democratic National Convention gathered in the late-summer heat of Atlantic City, a woe-begotten Lyndon, worried about the demands of the office, took to his White House bedroom, saying he might refuse the nomination and let the presidency go. Lady Bird wouldn’t have it. In a letter to her husband she was kind but clear: “To step out now would be wrong for your country, and I can see nothing but a lonely wasteland in your future. Your friends would be frozen in embarrassed silence and your enemies jeering.” Lyndon got on a plane to the convention and accepted his party’s nomination as planned.

In the fall, even as landslide victory began to look like a sure thing, Lady Bird worried about the South, where white Democrats were enraged over the Administration’s handling of Civil Rights. Though southern politicians said they could not guarantee her safety, she set off for the confederacy in a train dubbed the “Lady Bird Special” to make the case for her husband.

And trouble came. In Charleston, she was greeted by angry protesters and a crude sign calling her “BLACK BIRD.” In Columbia, South Carolina, her words were temporarily drowned out by a booing mob. It was enough to shake a seasoned politician but Lady Bird simply held her white-gloved hand in the air. “This is a country of many viewpoints,” she said. “I respect your right to express your own. Now it is my turn to express mine. Thank you.” And with that, her harassers hushed.

Just weeks before the election, the political world convulsed with the news that Walter Jenkins, the Johnsons’ closest aide, had been caught having sex with another man in the basement of a Washington YMCA. Lady Bird urged her husband to show public support and compassion for a man who had served their family for decades. When he refused, Lady Bird defied the advice of his counselors and released her own public statement: “My heart is aching today for someone who has reached the end point of exhaustion in service to his country.”

In the course of the ‘64 campaign, Lady Bird displayed a deep realism about human nature that is far more rare in a First Lady than we might think. President Obama, like his predecessors, promotes his wife as a source of real-talk, the one person who is unimpressed by his office and still gives it to him straight. But a First Lady, like any spouse, often feels the criticisms of her husband more acutely than does the president himself. A bunker of denial and recrimination can be an enticing escape for both partners in a political marriage. Hillary Clinton provided many assets to her husband during their time in the White House, but relief from paranoia and self-pity was not among them.

Even Lady Bird’s powers had their limits. As the Johnson presidency wore on, Vietnam overwhelmed everything, including Lady Bird’s ability to cut through the illusions in her husband’s head. It is tantalizing to imagine an alternate history of the Johnson presidency in which the First Lady was empowered to help her husband in Vietnam the way she helped him in other areas.

And it is tempting to imagine what would happen if more leaders today had Lady Bird’s spirit, her willingness to go to the unkind places, to face the fury of hostile crowds. Imagine how things might be different if our leaders had faith that when you look at the hard things plainly, they often to turn out to be far less frightening than they seem. And then imagine what would happen when a truly gifted leader broke that silence and spoke.

Jonathan Darman, a former political correspondent for Newsweek, is the author of Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of A New America, out this month.

 

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Protests in Hong Kong: A Brief History

Hong Kong protest 1967
A pro-China protester arrested by police officers during a demonstration in Hong Kong on May 18, 1967. Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images

The city has seen plenty of demonstrations over the past half century

Correction appended: Sept. 29, 2014, 9:50 a.m. E.T.

For a region of only about 400 square miles, Hong Kong has seen more than its share of protest in the last century. The uprising that sprang into action this week — as “Occupy Central” protesters demand the ability to elect their next local government head, the Chief Executive, without the intervention of Beijing — is part of a long history of political conflict in the area.

1967: Communists in the British colony of Hong Kong rise in support of the Cultural Revolution sweeping China

When England took control of Hong Kong in 1842 after the first Opium War, British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston is said to have remarked that it was “a barren island with hardly a house upon it” — but by the middle of the 20th century Hong Kong was becoming a prosperous business center. The cultural difference between the Communist mainland and the neighboring region was thrown into stark contrast in 1967.

Though the initial protests of that summer seemed to have arisen organically among Hong Kong workers, China supported the movement from afar and issued an ultimatum demanding that arrested protesters be freed; the ultimatum, however, did not involve any question of British control of the area. As TIME explained, the situation between the two nations was one of “mutual dependence”:

Britain wants to hold onto Hong Kong to protect its vast investments and to retain a Far Eastern headquarters for British banking and trade interests. It also does not know how it could gracefully withdraw from Hong Kong under the present circumstances without totally losing face in the Orient. In recent years, Red China has been building up its influence in the Crown Colony, and Britain has been too afraid of offending its overpowering neighbor to do anything about it. As a result, about one-fifth of the colony’s Chinese, who make up 99% of the 4,000,000 population, are openly pro-Peking, and the rest play it safe. Red China commands the support of three of Hong Kong’s major daily newspapers, the most important labor unions, and a large number of schoolteachers, which is one reason a high proportion of young Chinese in Hong Kong are Maoists.

That July, when shots from across the Chinese border killed five Hong Kong police officers, the U.K. responded by sending in troops, the first armed confrontation between British and Chinese soldiers in Hong Kong since Communist rule had begun in China nearly two decades before. Though the stand-off between the two powers could have gotten even more intense, by early August things had calmed down.

And that bitter history did not keep China and Hong Kong from getting closer in the decade that followed. Rather, they grew to rely on one another, economically at least: TIME reported in 1979 that China sent an annual $2 billion in exports to Hong Kong, while the same amount went back to the mainland in remittances from residents and earnings of Chinese companies located there. Hong Kong businesses relied on Chinese labor, while the Chinese government used Hong Kong as an outlet for its economic dealings with the rest of the world.

1989: Tiananmen Square helps Hong Kong’s independent political identity take shape

Economic interdependence was a major factor in shaping the 1984 decision about what Hong Kong would look after the U.K. handed over control in 1997. According to the agreement, the preexisting “system of law” and capitalist economy would be preserved even as the region became part of China. The decade-long period of transition, however, was marked by more strife.

In 1989, as pro-democracy protests gripped the mainland, a full one-sixth of Hong Kong’s population (by TIME’s count) came out to march in support of that cause. Meanwhile, many in Hong Kong weren’t much happier with the U.K. than they were with China: even as it began to seem that Beijing’s grasp on Hong Kong might be tighter than expected, Westminster also made it harder for residents of the colony to settle in the U.K., a move that left many Hong Kong residents feeling stranded between two cultures. After the Tiananmen Square massacre that summer, the modern Hongkonger identity began to crystallize. According to TIME’s reporter in Hong Kong at the time, Hong Kong residents were both firmly pro-democracy and firmly Chinese:

The glittering glass-and-steel Bank of China, Southeast Asia’s tallest building and a prominent addition to Hong Kong’s spectacular skyline, was to embody the faith that both Hong Kong and China placed in a common future, a visible symbol of the ”one country, two systems” promised when the British crown colony reverts to China in 1997. Last week two enormous black-and-white banners drooped across the tower’s facade bearing a grim message in Chinese characters: BLOOD MUST BE PAID WITH BLOOD.

Overnight the savage massacre in Tiananmen Square shattered Hong Kong’s wary faith in that future. Thousands donned funeral garb to mourn the dead of Beijing. The stock market plunged 22% in one day in a paroxysm of lost confidence. Chinese flocked to mainland banks to withdraw their money, as much in anger as in fear. And the largely apolitical people of this freewheeling monument to commercialism discovered a newfound political activism.

The grief and fury felt in Hong Kong are the latest expression of a startling change in the colony’s view of itself. Throughout its almost 150-year history as a bold, pushy trading enclave, the business of Hong Kong has been business. The colony was a place where foreigners and Chinese alike came to make money and get away from the political turmoil on the mainland. But since the student movement blossomed in Beijing last April, Hong Kong has been galvanized. It has found an identity at last, and it is Chinese.

2003: Pro-democracy protests return

In the early ’90s, Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten — the last British governor of the region — proposed a plan to further democratize Hong Kong’s government, over Beijing’s objections. So when the transfer took place in 1997, the question of how much democracy would last, and for how long, lurked beneath the smoothness of the hand-over.

Less than a decade later, that concern proved well-founded: in 2003, Hong Kong residents took part in what was the biggest pro-democracy protest in the whole country since 1989, sparked by a new antisubversion national security law, which ended up not passing. As TIME noted, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive had been counted on to “keep Hong Kong in its place,” but it was becoming clear that such a task was easier said than done.

2014: “Occupy Central” begins

Read more about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong here, on TIME.com: Hong Kong’s Protesters are Fighting for Their Economic Future

Read TIME’s 1989 cover story about the Tiananmen Square massacre, free of charge, here in TIME’s archives: Despair and Death In a Beijing Square

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the year in which England took control of Hong Kong. It is 1842, not 1942.

TIME conflict

Mandatory Palestine: What It Was and Why It Matters

"Mandated territories granted England include: Tanganyika Territory (formerly part of German East Africa), Mesopotamia and Palestine," wrote TIME in a brief news bit in 1923—a fleeting mention of a decision that would change the face of the Middle East as we know it

TIME

The map above is from a 1929 TIME article titled “Islam vs. Israel”—even though, as the map makes clear, in 1929 there was no country called Israel. (On a desktop, roll over to zoom; on a mobile device, click.)

Instead, there was Mandatory Palestine. The idea of a mandatory nation, using the common definition of the word, is an odd one: a country that’s obligatory, something that can’t be missed without fear of consequence. But the entity known as “Mandatory Palestine” existed for more than two decades—and, despite its strange-sounding name, had geopolitical consequences that can still be felt today.

The word “mandatory,” in this case, refers not to necessity but to the fact that a mandate caused it to exist. That document, the British Mandate for Palestine, was drawn up in 1920 and came into effect on this day in 1923, Sept. 29. Issued by the League of Nations, the Mandate formalized British rule over parts of the Levant (the region that comprises countries to the east of the Mediterranean), as part of the League’s goal of administrating the region’s formerly Ottoman nations “until such time as they are able to stand alone.” The Mandate also gave Britain the responsibility for creating a Jewish national homeland in the region.

The Mandate did not itself redraw borders—following the end of World War I, the European and regional powers had divvied up the former Ottoman Empire, with Britain acquiring what were then known as Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and Palestine (modern day Israel, Palestine and Jordan)—nor did it by any means prompt the drive to build a Jewish state in Palestine. Zionism, the movement to create a Jewish homeland, had emerged in the late 19th century, though it wasn’t exclusively focused on a homeland in Palestine. (Uganda was one of several alternatives proposed over the years.) In 1917, years before the Mandate was issued, the British government had formalized its support for a Jewish state in a public letter from Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour known as the Balfour Declaration.

But by endorsing British control of the region with specific conditions, the League of Nations did help lay the groundwork for the modern Jewish state—and for the tensions between Jews and Arabs in the region that would persist for decades more. Though Israel would not exist for years to come, Jewish migrants flowed from Europe to Mandatory Palestine and formal Jewish institutions began to take shape amid a sometimes violent push to finalize the creation of a Jewish state. Meanwhile, the growing Jewish population exacerbated tensions with the Arab community and fueled conflicting Arab nationalist movements.

TIME reported on some of the tensions in the 1929 article from which the map above is drawn:

The fighting that began between Jews and Arabs at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall (TIME, Aug. 26) spread last week throughout Palestine, then inflamed fierce tribesmen of the Moslem countries which face the Holy Land (see map)…

…Sporadic clashes continuing at Haifa, Hebron and in Jerusalem itself, rolled up an estimated total of 196 dead for all Palestine. A known total of 305 wounded lay in hospitals. Speeding from England in a battleship the British High Commissioner to Palestine, handsome, brusque Sir John Chancellor, landed at Haifa, hurried to Jerusalem and sought to calm the general alarm by announcing that His Majesty’s Government were rushing more troops by sea from Malta and by land from Egypt, would soon control the situation

The clashes in Mandatory Palestine, which at times targeted the British or forced British intervention, began to take a toll on U.K. support for the Mandate. As early as 1929, some newspapers were declaring “Let Us Get Out of Palestine,” as TIME reported in the article on Jewish-Arab tensions. Though the Mandate persisted through World War II, support in war-weary Britain withered further. The U.K. granted Jordan independence in 1946 and declared that it would terminate its Mandate in Palestine on May 14, 1948. It left the “Question of Palestine” to the newly formed United Nations, which drafted a Plan of Partition that was approved by the U.N. General Assembly—but rejected by most of the Arab world—on Nov. 27, 1947.

As the day of May 14 came to an end, so did Mandatory Palestine. The region was far from settled, but the Mandate did accomplish at least one of its stated goals. Mere hours earlier, a new document had been issued: the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

Read a 1930 cover story about the Zionist movement during the period of Mandatory Palestine: Religion: Zionists

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