2013 has slowly but surely come to an end, but the stories that made it special will live on in history.
A year is made up of more than 365 days, more than 12 months, and more than four seasons. A year is made up of events and lives that, at times, shatter through our common psyche and make us all stop in our tracks to wonder where we’re heading, how we got there or how we’ve managed to make it this far.
Here, we take a look at the top 10 news stories (in no particular order, I should say) from 2013, and discuss their implications.
The Election of Pope Francis: He is the first non-European Pope since 741AD but few could have imagined the winds of change he’d bring with him. When Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI abdicated the ‘throne’ of the Holy See in February, many waited in earnest to see white smoke billowing from the chimney at the Vatican. Since then, Pope Francis has made headlines all around the world, with some of the most noteworthy including stating that the Roman Catholic Church is ‘too obsessed’ with contraception, homosexuals and abortion; taking a selfie with young people at the Vatican; being named Time’s Person of the Year; and being named the ‘single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people’ by The Advocate, America’s oldest LGBT magazine.
Nelson Mandela’s Demise: Nelson Mandela’s role in the dissolution of apartheid in South Africa has turned him into a legendary figure on par with Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. His death, on the same night his biopic ‘Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom’ premiered in London, was one of this year’s most tragic events. His memorial service also proved to be a big news item, particularly due to President Obama, David Cameron and Helle Thorning-Schmidt taking a selfie together, and the sign language interpreter who apparently had a schizophrenic fit while on stage.
The World’s Most Powerful Country Shuts Down: Following budget disputes, the White House prompted the close of parts of its federal government for 16 days in October. Spurred from the forced cutbacks in Obama’s health-care programme, these 16 days cost the United States billions. When the government was resumed, no concessions were made regarding the health-plan, forcing many to believe that the world’s most powerful man and the world’s most powerful nation were not as stable as they had once thought.
Baby Girl Cured from HIV: Last March, doctors made one of the biggest breakthroughs in medical history when a baby girl born with HIV was cured. Given anti-retroviral treatment the day after she was born, she remained on medication until she was 18 months old and, 10 months later, tests showed that she had become HIV-negative. This was the first documented case of HIV remission in a child and it could save millions of lives in the future.
The Next Generation of Royals: On July 23, Kate Middleton gave birth to Prince George, the rightful and legitimate heir to the British throne. A newsworthy story in its own right, it also showcased two important things: that the monarchy is still popular amongst common English folk; and that Will and Kate want to do things by the book and according to tradition.
Boston Under Siege: As one of the United States’ most renowned races drew to a close, bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring dozens. America was in shock, and a week-long manhunt lead the police to a Chechen immigrant family, who were subsequently blamed for the terrorist attack. This event also proved that many Americans still have limited geographical knowledge with numerous American Twitter users thinking Chechens are people from the Czech Republic.
Chemical Weapons Unleashed: The war in Syria was a recurring news item this year, but it was the government’s use of chemical weapons on its own people in August that shocked the world to its core. A month later, President Bashar al-Assad came to an agreement to destroy its chemical-weapons production facilities by November and its supply of chemical weapons by mid-2014.
An Ancient People’s Turmoil: Protests in Egypt took a turn for the worse when Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was accused of inciting the killing of opposition protesters. He was then overthrown by the military and jailed, with his trial expected to be one of the major headlines early next year.
Beyoncé Almost Made the Internet Crash: Until a few weeks ago, Beyoncé’s fame seemed to be eroding. With her previous album deemed a flop and her getting caught lip-synching at President Obama’s second inauguration in January 2013, it looked like Beyoncé’s heyday was long behind her. That was until, in a stroke of marketing genius, she released an album and 17 videos on iTunes without any warning or promotion. The Internet went so wild that both iTunes and Twitter almost crashed. In less than 5 days, she had already sold 828, 773 non-physical copies and gone to number 1 in 104 countries, making Beyoncé the world’s biggest music sensation overnight – literally.
The Iron Lady Bids Farewell: Margaret Thatcher is one of Britain’s most infamous politicians. In her lifetime, she changed the course of history both for her country and, intrinsically, the world. She was England’s first female prime minister, and thus far, the only; and she stood tall in a world dominated by men. She was also the prime minister during the Falkland’s War and was ever-present in the country’s news. What makes her worthy of this year’s top 10 news stories, however, is not her death, but the jubilation of some Brits at her death that left England’s streets ablaze and people injured.
What do you think of James’s top 10? Would you have included or excluded anything?