2013 was quite a notable year, from the inception of a new Pope, to a bombing at the Boston Marathon that rocked the world. Stories that changed the face of history, both nationally, and globally. Here’s a trip down memory lane with an overview of the top news stories for 2013. Be sure and look for Part Two before 2014.
The Boston Marathon was both horrific and heartbreaking. It was felt that justice was done, and that was posted on Twitter by the Boston Police Department, following the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who along with his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, are accused of being behind the Boston Marathon bombings. There were three fatalities, and more than 260 people were injured during the April 15th Patriots Day attack. After two bombs detonated near the finish line, the city went on lock down. The younger brother Dzhokhar was then caught in a shootout where Tamerlan was killed. Tsarnaev is facing the death penalty and has pleaded not guilty. It brought about such a spirit of community caring for community, and most assuredly caught us when we were being lax.
We all awaited the promise of Obama Care, affordable medical insurance for everyone. It was received with great hostility and has not carried out well at all. The Oct. 1 launch of HealthCare.gov, the federally-funded website, had problems from the start. It eventually crashed because it wasn’t set up to accommodate millions of logins at a time.
The site faced numerous issues with pages not loading, consumers unable to put their information in, and the website continuously crashing. The worst part was that millions of Americans have lost or will lose their current health insurance due to Obamacare, despite the president’s previous claims that no one would lose their plan under the new law. The president apologized and called on states to allow consumers more access to the Federal Medicaid Program on a state-wide basis. Not all states broadened their requirements to make Medicaid available to low income citizens, and Florida was one state that made no changes.
Edward Snowden is America’s Number 1 fugitive. As a National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden disclosed an estimated 200,000 classified documents on mass surveillance programs being conducted by the United States government. This will go down in history as being one of the most significant leaks ever, in the U.S. Snowden fled and ended up in Hawaii. Hong Kong, and finally Russia. Snowden secured passage and temporary asylum as a U.S. fugitive in Russia.
On March 14, Pope Francis became the 266th spiritual leader to more than 1.2 billion Catholics after Pope Benedict XVI stepped down. During his first speech, the new pope asked for everyone to pray for him rather than give blessings. In just a short nine months, Francis has captured the hearts of millions by demonstrating his love for people and dedicating his time to help reform a church tarnished by headlines around sex and money scandals. He was recently named Times Person of the Year for 2013 after his precipitous rise.
The Supreme Court Sides With Gay Rights. In June, the United States Supreme Court handed down two rulings that advanced gay rights throughout the nation. The first decision struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, a piece of legislation signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1996 that defined marriage solely as a union between man and woman. The decision regarding DOMA allowed same-sex couples throughout the nation who are married to take advantage of benefits that had, for years, only been available to heterosexuals. The second ruling dismissed California’s decision on Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that allowed for a change to the state Constitution which prohibited same-sex marriage. It did not, however, have direct national implications.
The 16 Day Government Shutdown. The shutdown of the United States federal government lasted from Oct. 1 through Oct. 16, furloughed 800,000 employees and halted most routine operations of the government. Led by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the shutdown was the result of a “funding gap” when the two chambers of Congress failed to authorize funds for the 2014 fiscal year. House resolutions to “defund” President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, were rejected by the Democratic-held Senate and forced the impasse despite the insurance exchange concurrently launching on the same day as the shutdown. Amid fears of a worldwide economic collapse that the nation would default and a lack of support from moderate Republicans, Congress passed and President Obama signed the amended Continuing Appropriations Act for 2014 shortly after midnight on Oct. 17 and temporarily raising the nation’s debt limit – opening the government, but only delaying debt ceiling negotiations until the following year.
The Iran Nuclear Deal A landmark decision was reached among several world powers that would allow for the easing of some sanctions presently placed on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a curbing of nuclear activity in the Middle Eastern nation, in particular, halting the enrichment of uranium. Officials from the United States and Iran, as well as Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia collaborated on the deal, which continues to be refined. The controversial decision drew criticism from the international community, especially from Israeli officials. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged those involved to take a hard line with Iran and called the deal an “historic mistake.”
How Close the US Came to War With Syria. The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began with 2011 protests demanding the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Reports from the United Nations and Syrian rebels placed the country’s civil war death toll at 120,000 by September, with a chemical weapon attack in the town of Ghouta in August drawing military intervention threats from Western countries, including the United States. The Syrian government and rebels blamed each other for the attack that killed hundreds as the U.S. and other Western powers debated a strike against the Iranian and Russian-backed Bashar regime. On Sept. 10, the Syrian government declared its intention to join the international Chemical Weapons Convention, ending calls for Western military strikes.