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 China

Britain’s Prince William Handles His China Visit With Polish

The Duke Of Cambridge Visits China - Day 2
WPA Pool—Getty Images Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on March 2, 2015 in Beijing, China.

Pretty impressive, when you consider the diplomatic line he has to tread

Diplomacy is full of awkward moments. But the fact that an English prince met yesterday with “red princeling” Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and the President of the People’s Republic of China, is still, if you think about it, strikingly odd. What could the symbolic heir to the British empire and China’s avowedly anti-imperialist new leader have to talk about?

Not history. Since coming to power in 2013, Xi has spoken at length about the great “rejuvenation” of the nation. The message is that after suffering centuries of humiliation at the hands of foreign powers, the country, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, is once again on the rise. So while Prince William toured Beijing’s Forbidden City, his handlers probably did not mention the fact that the British burned the city’s other great palace, Yuanmingyuan, on Oct. 18, 1860. Or that Anglo-French forces looted its treasures.

Nor can they talk about Hong Kong. The fate of the former British colony returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 might be old news by now, if not for the months-long protests that shuttered parts of the Chinese Special Administrative Region last fall. Many, including the protesters themselves, say the movement was a grassroots push for genuine universal suffrage. Beijing blamed “hostile foreign forces.” A British delegation sent to look into the protests was turned away, prompting a rather pointed editorial from the Chinese ambassador to the U.K.

And they certainly can’t talk about family. Prince William and Xi Jinping are both royalty in their own right — the former, a Windsor, the latter, a scion of China’s red royalty. (Xi’s father Xi Zhongxun was a contemporary of Mao and a hero of the Long March.) But don’t expect either to bring that up. Xi rarely trades on his pedigree, at least publicly, preferring to cast himself as just another cadre. And William, if he’s wise, will know that royalty is a touchy subject in China, not least because his grandfather, the racist-gaffe-prone Prince Philip once warned an exchange student about “slitty-eyed” Chinese, and his father Prince Charles once called China’s leaders “appalling old waxworks.”

It’s safe to guess that absolutely none of this came up during the first two days of the tightly choreographed three-day tour. After landing in Shanghai, the prince opened a festival and met with business leaders including Alibaba’s Jack Ma. On Tuesday, local time, he watched Chinese students play soccer (football) to mark the addition of the sport to the Chinese curriculum. “I also gather you’re quite a football fan,” the prince reportedly told the President. On Tuesday evening, he will take in the premiere of Paddington, a kid’s film about a stuffed bear.

So how did young Prince William do? “Defter diplomat than Dad,” judged NBC.

And that, really, is all there is to say.

TIME Afghanistan

U.K. Paratrooper Honored for Saving U.S. Marine

Handout photograph of VC recipient Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey of the Parachute Regiment
Reuters Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey of the Parachute Regiment is seen in this undated photograph released in London by Britain's Ministry of Defence February 26, 2015.

The Victoria Cross has only been awarded 15 times since the end of World War 2

A British paratrooper was awarded the highest British military honor Thursday for his actions during a firefight in 2013 in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey, 27, is only the third serviceman to receive the Victoria Cross for service in Afghanistan and the fifteenth since World War 2, according to the BBC.

Leakey was with a group of British and American troops who were pinned down on the side of a hill in Helmand province by about 20 insurgents. During the Taliban attack, he ran through heavy fire multiple times to assess the situation, assist the wounded U.S. Marine Captain, and fire on the enemy, ultimately helping the troops regain the initiative. During the battle, 11 Taliban were killed and four were wounded.

MONEY Odd Spending

Are Snowdrop Bulbs the Next Speculative Bubble?

Snowdrops growing on the edge of a woodland garden.
Clare Gainey—Alamy Snowdrops growing on the edge of a woodland garden.

Probably not—but they sure are popular.

In the early 1630s, the Dutch became obsessed with tulips. So obsessed that bulbs sold for 10 times the average annual salary of a skilled craftsman. At the peak of their popularity, bulbs were trading hands 10 times a day, in exchange for everything from two tons of butter to oxen to farmhouses. They were the big-ticket item of the Dutch Golden Age.

Until they weren’t. In February 1637, the people of Haarlem decided they’d had enough and stopped buying tulips at auction, sparking a panic throughout the country that resulted in the devaluation of the bulb. The market evaporated, and the world witnessed the bursting of one of its first economic bubbles.

Fast forward to today. A snowdrop (Galanthus) known as “Golden Fleece” just sold on the U.K.’s eBay website for a record £1,390 ($2,150), surpassing the previous record of $1,115. Last weekend, a variety known as “Treasure Island” sold for more than £500 (about $775). In 2014, the naming rights to a snowdrop varietal, along with a bulb, sold for $2,500. While it’s not nearly the same level of economic fervor the tulip generated—you can still get bulbs for less than $10—Galanthomania is definitely a thing.

What accounts for the tiny flower’s big price tag? For one thing, the dainty bloom is tough as nails, often braving the cold and snow to become a harbinger of spring. They are also easy for horticulturists to split, and years of cross-pollination have led to more than 1,500 varietals. Though less popular in the United States, they are celebrated in United Kingdom with festivals and special events throughout the beginning of the year.

According the Carolyn Walker, owner of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in Bryn Mawr, Pa., there are fewer galanthophiles in the U.S., in part because of trade restrictions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (C.I.T.E.S.). Buying a snowdrop bulb or plant from overseas requires detailed forms and permits, which increases the price, and hassle, of a sale.

But that doesn’t mean a galanthophile community hasn’t taken root stateside. When Walker, one of the nation’s few sellers, posts a new catalogue with snowdrop bulbs, she sells out in days. Though her bulbs typically top out at $89, she says that spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a bulb makes sense if you consider it a collector’s item.

People pay thousands of dollars for a bottle of wine, jewelry, or an item of designer clothing, she says. If you’re not into designer clothes but you’re really into Daphne’s Scissors or Lady Beatrix Stanley, splurging makes sense.

Are we about to see another Tulip Mania? Probably not.

“One specific element of Tulip Mania in the 1600s was that tulips were not traded directly,” said Markus Brunnermeier, a professor of economics at Princeton University. They were sold as forward contracts, or the promise of a bulb at a future date.

“In general, as long as speculation stays within a small group of (non-systemic) speculators, I would not be worried from a regulatory perspective,” he says.

Whew.

TIME United Kingdom

Witness This British Politician Crash and Burn in a Live Interview

Britain's Green Party leader Natalie Bennett speaks during the party's general election campaign launch in central London
Stefan Wermuth—Reuters Britain's Green Party leader Natalie Bennett speaks during the party's general election campaign launch in London on Feb. 24, 2015.

Later apologized for suffering a "mind blank"

A warning for anyone with a crippling fear of freezing up while public speaking or being interviewed: This gets awkward.

U.K. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett appeared on a London radio station Tuesday to unveil her party’s manifesto ahead of the country’s general election in May. Although the Green Party currently exists on the margins of national politics in the U.K., with just one elected member of parliament, it has big proposals to introduce a universal welfare payment or “citizen’s income” of 72 pounds ($111) a week, and to build 500,000 public housing units.

The problem came when the interviewer, Nick Ferrari of London broadcaster LBC, asked how her party proposed to pay for all those new homes. Her answer—that it would remove tax breaks for private landlords—did not satisfy her interlocutor, who pressed the question as British interviewers tend to do. And that’s when things began to get excruciating:

Ferrari: The cost of 500,000 homes, let’s start with that. How much would that be?

Bennett: “Right, well, that’s, erm… you’ve got a total cost… erm… that we’re… that will be spelt out in our manifesto.

Ferrari: So you don’t know?

Bennett: No, well, err.

Ferrari: You don’t, ok. So you don’t know how much those homes are going to cost, but the way it’s going to be funded is mortgage relief from private landlords. How much is that worth?

Bennett: Right, well what we’re looking at with the figures here. Erm, what we need to do is actually… uh……… we’re looking at a total spend of £2.7… billion.

Ferrari: 500,000 homes, £2.7billion? What are they made of, plywood?

Bennett later apologized for suffering a “mind blank” during the LBC interview. “I am very happy to confess that and I am very sorry to the Green Party members who I did not do a very good job representing our policies on,” she said. “That happens, I am human.”

Listen to the entire interview here:

 

TIME United Kingdom

British Anti-Terror Cops Hunt 3 Teen Girls Feared Bound for Syria

The girls, aged 15 to 17, flew to Istanbul Tuesday

U.K. counterterror officials were urgently searching for three teenage schoolgirls they feared had run away from home to travel to Syria, police said Friday.

The girls, all good friends aged 15 to 17, boarded a Turkish Airlines flight at London’s Gatwick Airport at 12:40 p.m. (7:45 a.m. ET) Tuesday and arrived in Istanbul later that evening, police said in a statement. Thousands of wannabe ISIS rebels have crossed into Syria through Turkey since the civil war there started four years ago.

The girls were last seen at their homes at 8 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) that morning, where they made plausible excuses to their families as…
TIME United Kingdom

Watch Prince William Wish China a Happy New Year in Mandarin

The Duke of Cambridge will visit China in March

Prince William gave his best wishes for the Chinese New Year in Mandarin in a video broadcast on Chinese television

After a brief greeting, the British Prince concluded his message in Mandarin. “I wish you a happy Chinese New Year and good luck in the Year of the Sheep,” he says, according to a Xinhua translation.

The Duke of Cambridge will arrive in Beijing on March 1 to launch a cultural exchange program as the two countries aim to mend ties that were upset in 2012 after Prime Minister David Cameron met with the exiled Dalai Lama. Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Britain later this year.

TIME United Kingdom

U.K. Defense Secretary Says Russia is a ‘Danger’ to Baltic States

British Defence Minister Michael Fallon arrives at the Cabinet Office in central London in 2015.
Leon Neal—AFP/Getty Images British Defence Minister Michael Fallon arrives at the Cabinet Office in central London in 2015.

The same day, Russian jets were spotted off the UK coast

The U.K. Defense Secretary said there is a “real and present danger” of Russia trying to destabilize the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Michael Fallon told reporters Wednesday, “I’m worried about Putin. I’m worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing Nato,” BBC reports. Fallon said he was concerned that Putin would use the same tactics he’s been testing in Ukraine on Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, so Nato must be prepared for more Russian aggression.

The three Baltic states, like Ukraine, were once part of the Soviet Union and have significant Russian-speaking minorities.

Fallon’s statements came the same day as two Russian military aircraft were coas off south-west England. Royal Air Force jets escorted the Russian bombers away from the UK.

TIME

Here’s How Many Brits Don’t Drink Alcohol

London 2012 - Restaurants And Bars
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images Beer pumps in a pub on March 11, 2011 in London, England.

A new survey finds a surge of teetotallers, particularly among young adults

One in five British adults don’t fancy a pint, or even a drop, according to a national survey released Friday that finds drinking rates in decline across the nation and plummeting among certain age groups.

Young adults accounted for most of the change, according to survey results gathered by the Office for National Statistics. The proportion of teetotallers in this age group surged by 40% since 2005, news which health officials greeted with relief. The study notes that excessive drinking posed a chronic public health risk, causing as many as 7,000 alcohol-related deaths in 2013.

But health experts interviewed by the Guardian dismissed the celebrations as premature. They pointed to demographic shifts, such as a growing number of elderly and Muslim citizens, who tend to drink less than the wider population or abstain from drinking on religious grounds.

TIME United Kingdom

UK Police Reconsider Round-the-Clock Watch on Julian Assange

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Makes A Statement After Six Months Residing At The Ecuadorian Embassy
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the Ecuadorian Embassy on December 20, 2012 in London, England.

A spokesperson said endlessly keeping tabs on the WikiLeaks founder was "sucking our resources"

British police are reviewing a policy to maintain a 24-hour watch on Julian Assange, more than 2 years after the WikiLeaks founder fled into the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition for a sexual assault case in Sweden.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said in a radio interview that the constant surveillance of Assange was “sucking our resources,” the Associated Press reports.

Posting police outside of the embassy had cost upwards of $15 million a year, according to official estimates released last week.

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