News stories continually emerge that shock the world and earn a place in the history books. From the ongoing problems in the Middle East and Africa, to the birth of an heir for the British throne, 2013 has been a particularly dramatic year…
Conflict, Terrorism and Crime
The civil war in Syria has raged on throughout 2013, gathering speed in late summer when it was confirmed by the UN that chemical weapons were used in an attack on Ghouta, Damascus which killed around 300 people. Although these weapons are being destroyed following an international agreement, the conflict continues. Egypt also faced trouble again in July 2013, when elected President Morsi was deposed following mass protests, leaving a provisional government in power.
January saw a dramatic crisis in Algeria, when militants associated with al-Qaeda took 800 workers hostage at a gas facility in the North African country. Although most were freed by Algerian Special Forces, 39 foreign hostages were killed, three of which were British nationals. Another shocking attack on the African continent included the shootings at Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Unidentified gunman killed 61 civilians and six Kenyan soldiers, with Islamist group al-Shabaab claiming responsibility.
Three people were killed and over 250 injured in April when two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon on April 15th. Within days the FBI had identified the terrorists as Chechen brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a manhunt ensued. By the 19th April, Tamerlan had been killed and Dzhokhar captured.
The following month, in broad daylight in Woolwich, London, British soldier Lee Rigby was killed by two men. Remaining at the scene of the crime until police arrived; Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale claimed that they had carried out the attack to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British Armed Forces. Both men were found guilty of Lee Rigby’s murder on the 19th December. Despite the Muslim community in the UK condemning the murder, there were several crimes carried out across the country towards Muslims following the incident, ranging from verbal and physical abuse to attacks on mosques.
Environment and Accident
On the 15th February, a meteor entered the earth’s atmosphere over Russia and exploded at around 76,000 feet. While no-one was killed as a direct result of the meteor, 1500 people sought medical treatment as a result of secondary effects. The meteor was brighter than the sun and travelled at around 60 times the speed of sound, with many residents in the area initially believing it was a nuclear attack or apocalypse.
In early November, the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record. It killed over 6,000 people and left millions homeless – relief efforts and international aid are ongoing. There was also disaster in Bangladesh in April, when an eight-storey factory collapsed killing over 1,100 people and injuring more than 2,500.
The last six weeks has been a particularly dramatic month for the UK. On the 29th November, a helicopter crashed into a pub in Glasgow, killing 10 people in total and injuring many more. Then only this week, part of the ceiling at the Apollo theatre in London collapsed during a performance, leaving over 80 injured.
Politics and Religion
There was finally some good news regarding the economy this year, with the UK beginning to show signs of recovery following the recession and forecasters claiming that there will be significant growth in 2014. Another positive story relating to politics occurred in September in the US, when Nina Davuluri became the first Indian-American woman to hold the title of Miss America. Although the announcement was followed by racist comments on Twitter, the pageant winner determinedly rose above it, encouraging diversity across the country.
Edward Snowden played a huge part in politics this year, and will likely feature in our headlines in the coming months. A former CIA agent, Snowden is reported to have leaked US government documents to the press, the contents of which are closely related to the security agencies of several Western countries. Snowden is currently living in Russia under asylum, and is wanted by the American authorities.
In February, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, becoming the first to do so in almost 600 years. He was replaced in March by Pope Francis, who has recently been named Time Person of the Year for 2013.
There were echoes of London’s 2012 Olympics this summer as Andy Murray won Wimbledon, making history as the first British male to win since Fred Perry, 77 years ago. In December, he also picked up Sports Personality of the Year award, which was a controversial, but well deserved win.
Another sportsman who featured in headlines this year was diver Tom Daley. Earlier this month, the 19 year-old posted a video online in which he told fans that he is dating a man, causing much debate across social media websites. Daley’s brave move has earned him a great deal of respect, encouraging LGBT awareness in sport and prompting people to question why his sexuality should make headlines in this day and age – it is 2013 after all.
History was made at Manchester United in May when Alex Ferguson announced his retirement as manager, after being at the club for more than 26 years. He was the longest-serving manager in Manchester United’s history and is highly respected in football and throughout the sporting world, collecting an OBE and CBE alongside countless other awards during his career.
On Valentine’s Day this year, the shocking news emerged that Olympian, Paralympian and world record holder Oscar Pistorius had fatally shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at their home in South Africa. The circumstances surrounding the case are still unclear, but it is likely that more details will emerge in his trial, set for March 2014.
Deaths and Births
Several high-profile people died in 2013, including the internationally recognised and admired Nelson Mandela. On the 5th December, the first black leader of South Africa died at the age of 95. Mandela was acclaimed for challenging apartheid in South Africa and promoting racial harmony, with tributes pouring in from around the world in the days following his death. Other world leaders who died this year include the former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Both deaths attracted widespread media coverage and grief in their respective nations. Another death which was highly reported was that of 31 year-old Glee actor Corey Monteith, who had faced a long-term struggle with substance abuse. An episode of Glee entitled ‘The Quarterback’ served as a tribute to Monteith, featuring his on and off-screen love interest Lea Michele.
Prince George of Cambridge was born on the 22nd July to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, providing Britain with a future heir to the throne. The Queen’s great-grandson is now third in line behind his grandfather Prince Charles, and his father Prince William. The slightly less significant but equally as reported birth of 2013 was that of North West, daughter to rapper Kanye West and reality star Kim Kardashian.
So what will 2014 bring?
A considerable amount of the news reported this year has been negative – but what about Reshma, a Bangladeshi woman who was miraculously found alive 17 days after the factory collapse? Or the women in Woolwich who faced Lee Rigby’s killers minutes after his brutal murder? Often the most dramatic and horrific stories are entwined with tales of bravery and goodwill, and we should keep that in mind as we move into next year.