In no particular order the following are the top news stories of the year.
With the new year almost upon us it is time once again for our "Top 10 News Stories of 2013."
The Death of Nelson Mandela: On December 5th, at the age of 95 the first black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela died. Mandela served 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid political activities. After being freed in 1990, Mandela went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize and become the president of South Africa. Mandela remains in our collective memory as a symbol for peace and equality and has served as the inspiration for many including President Obama.
Government Shutdown: Starting on October 1st, the United States government for the first time since 1995 shut down over disagreements between the Senate Democrats and Republicans over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As a result of the shutdown, thousands of “non-essential” government employees were temporarily laid off. Besides government employees, everyone from families who had planned to vacation at a national park, to Nobel prize winning scientists who wanted to continue conducting their research were effected. Finally on October 17th, the government was reopened.
Yellen nominated to Fed: On Wednesday, October 9th Janet L. Yellen was nominated by President Obama to replace Ben Bernanke as the Federal Reserve Chairman. The Senate will vote on her nomination on January 6th and if confirmed she will be the first female chair.
Health Care Website Crashes: After the historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama in 2010, many waited in anticipation to see how some of its major components would be implemented this year. One of the key pieces to the healthcare legislation involved health plan marketplace exchanges through HealthCare.gov. Unfortunately for the Obama administration and supporters of the act, almost as soon as the website was launched on October 1st it crashed. Despite the rocky start, according to the NY State of Health in NY alone 214,077 people have enrolled in health insurance through the website.
Iran and Nuclear Weapons: With the accelarated mining of Uranium in Iran, President Obama and other world leaders began to fear that the country was beginning to build nuclear weapons. This November in Geneva an agreement was reached between and Iran and six other countries forcing Iran to increase its transparency in its mining and reducing its progress.
NSA and Edward Snowden: The activities of the National Security Agency of the United States of America came to the attention of millions of Americans after former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden leaked key information about their surveillance operations this past summer. Many see Snowden as the leader in a call for more political transparency; others see him as causing a threat to our national security. Snowden currently resides in Moscow, Russia where he has been given temporary asylum.
Zimmerman Trial: After George Zimmerman killed black teen, Trayvon Martin in 2012 in Sanford, Florida his trial in 2013 became one for the history books as his act sparked debate on both race and gun control. Zimmerman’s eventual acquittal caused demonstrations and protests across the country.
ENDA Passes the Senate: The original Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was first introduced in both houses of Congress in 1994. It ended up being brought up again in 1996 and then again in 2007, however both times it failed to pass the Senate. Since President Obama took office, ENDA has now gained bipartisan support starting in 2011 when Senator Ron Kirk of Illinois joined Senator Merkley of Oregon in advocating for the bill. Then on November 7th of this year in a 64-32 vote, the Senate passed ENDA. According to CNN, this version of ENDA protects against employment discrimination “based on a person’s ‘actual or perceived’ sexual orientation or gender identity” (Caldwell).
Assad and Syria: After two years of an ongoing civil war sparked by the Arab Spring, this year it looked as if the United States might step in in Syria. The reason for this supposition is President Bashar al-Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons on his people. In 2012 at a news conference President Obama deemed such weapons as the, “red line” which if crossed might change his position on the situation in Syria. In an unlikely compromise the United States and Russia in Geneva decided to deal with Assad by eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons. As of right now, Syria has yet to begin taking measures to move out any of their chemical weapons.
Pope Named Person of the Year: Only nine months into his career and already Pope Francis has served to reimagine the Catholic Church for a modern era. He is the first pope in a very long time that is not European (he is from Argentina). Pope Francis has also not shied from topics such as homosexuality and women’s role in the church. It is for these reasons that he became Time’s 2013 Person of the Year beating out a range of contenders from Miley Cyrus to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.