Top 10 events in 2013

1. Rise of Common man

2013 will be mostly remembered as battle of David & Goliath the where the common man has risen up to raise his voice. Average Joe/ Mango people have challenged the powers which have shocked and sent shivers right option to the highest level of the established hierarchy. On June 6 when American Edward Snowden discloses operations engaged by the US government mass surveillance program to news which has left the US government red faced. In Asia Pacific it was the rise of Arvind Kejriwal who rise against the anti-incumbency followed by mass protests in India and elected as Chief Minister.

Edward Snowden & Arvind Kejriwal

Edward Snowden and Arvind Kejriwal; Image Credit : Wikipedia

2. Nature’s fury

February 15, A meteor explodes over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,491 people and damaging over 4,300 buildings. It is the most powerful meteor to strike the Earth’s atmosphere over a century. The incident, along with a coincidental flyby of a larger asteroid, prompts international concern regarding the vulnerability of the planet to meteor strikes.

In June 2013, Flash floods and landslides in the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh killed more than 5,700 people and trap more than 20,000. Unprecedented destruction by the rainfall witnessed in Uttarakhand state was attributed, by environmentalists, to unscientific developmental activities undertaken in recent decades contributing to high level of loss of property and lives.

Flash Floods in India; Image Credit : www.tehelka.com

Flash Floods in India; Image Credit : http://www.tehelka.com

Roads constructed in haphazard style, new resorts and hotels built on fragile river banks and more than 70 hydroelectric projects in the watersheds of the state led to a “disaster waiting to happen” as termed by certain environmentalists.

Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was an exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, in early November 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,155 people in that country alone .

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3. Rise of Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment network and digital currency based on an open source protocol[disputed – discuss], which makes use of a public transaction log. Bitcoin started out 2013 as a little-known novelty, a form of money you can’t put in your pocket. By December almost half of Americans polled had heard of it — even if quite a few thought it was an Xbox game or an app.Regulators around the world began to take notice, raising thorny questions of oversight.

Bitcoin ; Image credit : www.salon.com

Bitcoin ; Image credit : http://www.salon.com

In October, Bitcoin prices plunged after U.S. prosecutors indicted the operator of Silk Road, an anything-goes online market where drugs were peddled for Bitcoin. They soon rebounded to set new highs after the Justice Department told a Senate committee that Bitcoins can be a “legal means of exchange” and Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said virtual currencies “may hold long-term promise.” China, however, barred financial institutions from accepting Bitcoin, leading Baidu, its largest search engine, to drop the currency. And the European Union warned that users are vulnerable to fraud and theft. One British man even lost $6.5 million worth of Bitcoin when he threw out his hard drive by mistake. At the same time, a host of new competitors presented themselves as better than Bitcoin, though none gained more than a fraction of its users.

4. Benedict XVI resigns as pope

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI occurred on 28 February 2013 at 20:00 CET (19:00 UTC). The resignation was first announced on the morning of 11 February 2013 by the Vatican. Benedict’s decision to step down as leader of the Catholic Church made him the first pope to relinquish the office since Pope Gregory XII in 1415 (who did so in order to end the Western Schism), and the first to do so on his own initiative since Pope Celestine V in 1294. The move was unexpected,given that the modern era popes have held the position from election until death. The Pope stated that the reason for his decision was his declining health due to old age. The conclave to select his successor began on 12 March 2013 and elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina who took the name of Francis.

5.  Syrian Civil War and 2013 Ghouta attacks

August 21, Syrian president allegedly gasses several neighborhoods surrounding Damascus in the Ghouta chemical attack, leaving hundreds dead and sickening thousands of others. Following the Ghouta attacks, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon suggested that he might request that the United Nations Security Council vote to demand that Syria ratify the CWC. On 10 September, Syria announced its intention to join the chemical weapons convention, following a Russian proposal to assist Syria with disposing of their chemical arsenal, and subsequently submitted an instrument of accession to the United Nations as the depositary

Bashar al-Assad;  Image credit : Wikipedia;

Bashar al-Assad; Image credit : Wikipedia;

On 14 September, the United States and Russia announced that they had agreed to a disarmament framework that would eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programs.
Under this framework:

  • Syria must provide a “comprehensive listing” of its weapons “within a week.”
  • Equipment for producing, mixing, and filling chemical weapons must be destroyed by November 2013.
  • There is to be “complete elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014.”

On 27 September, the Organization for the Protection of Chemical Weapons agreed on an accelerated program for eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014, consistent with this framework. On 16 October, an OPCW-United Nations Joint Mission was established to oversee this process.

6. Iran agreement to limit their nuclear development program in exchange for sanctions relief

Iran has struck a historic agreement with the US and five other world powers, accepting strict constraints on its nuclear program for the first time in a decade in exchange for partial relief from sanctions. The deal marks arguably the most significant foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency, amounting to the most significant agreement between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

The move is intended as the first step in a six-month process aimed at a permanent resolution to the decade-old global impasse over Iran’s nuclear program, and heading off the threat of a new war in the Middle East.

The Geneva deal has released just over $4bn in Iranian oil sales revenue from frozen accounts, and suspends restrictions on the country’s trade in gold, petrochemicals, car and plane parts.

In return, Iran undertakes to restrict its nuclear activities. Over the next six months it has agreed to:

  •  Stop enriching uranium above 5%, reactor-grade, and dilute its stock of 20%-enriched uranium or convert it to oxide, which makes it harder to enrich further. The medium-enriched uranium, in its hexafluoride gas form, is relatively easy to turn into weapons-grade material, so it is a major proliferation concern.
  • Not to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
  • Freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable.
  • Not to fail or to commission the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel.
  •  Accept more intrusive nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily visits to some facilities.

7. Rise of Asian Space powers

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), informally called Mangalyaan, is a Mars orbiter launched into Earth orbit on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organization.

The primary objective of the Mars Orbiter Mission is to showcase India’s rocket launch systems, spacecraft-building and operations capabilities. Specifically, the primary objective is to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission, comprising the following major tasks:

  • Design and realization of a Mars orbiter with a capability to perform Earth-bound maneuvers, cruise phase of 300 days, Mars orbit insertion / capture, and on-orbit phase around Mars;
  • Deep-space communication, navigation, mission planning and management;
  • Incorporate autonomous features to handle contingency situations.

The secondary objective is to explore Mars’ surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments

Chinese spacecraft Chang’e 3, carrying the Yutu rover, becomes the first spacecraft to “soft”-land on the Moon since 1976 and the third ever robotic rover to do so

The official mission objective is to achieve China’s first soft-landing and roving exploration on the Moon, as well as to demonstrate and develop key technologies for future missions. The scientific objectives of Chang’e 3 include lunar surface topography and geology survey, lunar surface material composition and resource survey, Sun-Earth-Moon space environment detection, and lunar-based astronomical observation. Chang’e 3 will attempt to perform the first direct measurement of the structure and depth of the lunar soil down to a depth of 30 m (98 ft), and investigate the lunar crust structure down to several hundred meters deep

8. Sad Demises in 2013 which brought the world together

South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero passed away on December 5 after a long illness.

Mandela was celebrated for his role in trying to end racial segregation in the country. He was imprisoned for more than 27 years on charges of sabotage and conspiracy and became the country’s first black president upon his release.The 95-year-old’s death was followed by 10 days of national mourning, during which his body lay in state before being buried in his hometown Qunu. Celebrities and political leaders from around the world attended his memorial.

Known as the Iron Lady, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died in April at the age of 87.

A polarising figure, she was transformative in British politics during her 11 years in the top job. She was seen both as a saviour who laid the groundwork for an economic renaissance, but also as a ruthless tyrant.

9. Sports

Over the past decade, Lance Armstrong did more than inspire tens of thousands of Americans to take up cycling. He inspired them to look like him. He was once a seven-time winner of the Tour de France and a man admired around the world. When Lance Armstrong’s career came crashing down after admitting to doping, it became one of the great tragedies in the world of sports

Another event which shook the world was when the darling source of inspiration South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was charged with murder after the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February 2013.

On 29 December 2013, Schumacher was skiing with his son at a resort in Méribel on the French Alps when he fell and hit his head on a rock, sustaining a head injury even though he was wearing a helmet. Schumacher was skiing outside the marked pistes at that time. He was attended by two ski patrollers and airlifted within fifteen minutes to a hospital in Moûtiers, and then on to a hospital in Grenoble specialising in brain injuries. It was later revealed that Schumacher was in critical condition and coma due to a brain trauma, and had undergone neurosurgery to relieve pressure on his brain.

10. Terror Returns

On April 15, two bombs exploded as athletes crossed the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 250 others. The bombing triggered a citywide manhunt for suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, brothers from the former Soviet Union who had moved to the United States as refugees. Tamerlan, the older brother, was killed in a shootout four days after the bombing. Dzhokhar was apprehended after being found hiding in a boat trailer.

Kenya Mall Attack Image Credit : www.patdollard.com

Kenya Mall Attack
Image Credit : http://www.patdollard.com

On 21 September 2013, unidentified gunmen attacked the upmarket Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The attack, which lasted until 24 September, resulted in at least 72 deaths, including 61 civilians, 6 Kenyan soldiers, and 5 attackers. Over 200 people were reportedly wounded in the mass shooting, with all of the gunmen reported killed. The Islamist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the incident, which it characterized as retribution for the Kenyan military’s deployment in Somalia.

On 30th Decemeber, a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the entrance hall of a Russian train station on Sunday, killing at least 14 people in the second deadly attack within three days as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympics. In the second terrorist attack in the southern Russian city in less than 24 hours a fatal bomb explosion ripped apart a trolleybus in Volgograd on Monday morning, killing at least 14 people and injuring dozens.

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