Here are my top stories of 2013 (in no particular order):
1. The Boston Marathon Bombing. A terrorist attack carried out by two Islamists from Chechnya on April 15. One of them was killed as a result of a shootout with law enforcement, and the other was captured in the aftermath of a shelter-in-place order (in which residents were told to stay indoors) on April 19. Some people tried to blame the bombing on the Tea Party (since it occurred on Tax Day) until the bombers’ identities were released. Meanwhile, the capture of the surviving bomber took place only after the shelter-in-place order was lifted (some question the order’s validity). Of course, the capture took place on April 19 (the 238th anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution). Thus, the timing of the capture (along with the cheering once the people of Watertown were notified) was quite fitting.
2. A new Pope. In February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI retired, prompting the election of a new Pope. His successor (elected on March 13, 2013) was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who took the title Francis. A Jesuit, he is known for his humility, simplicity, and emphasis on helping the poor. Later, he said that Catholics spend too much time focusing on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, in addition to criticizing capitalism. One wonders if his Jesuit background contributed to such views, or if he is under pressure from the Obama Administration (via a visit from Biden and Pelosi). Either way, his statements have not set well with conservative Catholics.
3. The Edward Snowden affair. Edward Snowden, a former government employee and government contractor, became a whistleblower on the government’s surveillance methods (particularly the NSA). He has gone from country to country in an attempt to seek asylum, in addition to seeking amnesty from the United States Government. Both issues are still being debated, as is the Constitutionality of the surveillance methods.
4. The rise of knockout games. A violent crime in which a thug tries to knock out his or her victim with one hit. Although it originated in 1992, it has been on the rise lately. Some of the assaults have been fatal, and the motives range from gang activity to racial prejudice. It even seems to coincide with the emergence of flash mobs (in which a group of thugs suddenly converge to commit acts of vandalism and violence). Flash mobs actually originated ten years ago (nor are they limited to the United States) but they have been on the rise in recent years. They have also resulted in fatalities. One has to wonder if both types of crimes might be retaliation over the Trayvon Martin affair, considering that there have been crimes committed in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman.
5. Phil Robertson. The patriarch of Duck Dynasty, he was suspended from his own show by A&E over an interview with GQ Magazine (in which he disapproved of homosexuality). Such statements should not have been a surprise for anyone given his conservative views, but A&E (due to its ties with gay advocacy groups) chose to suspend him anyway. Such a decision backfired, and A&E has now reinstated him. Robertson’s comments (and his reinstatement) resulted in a major loss for gay activists and their agenda.
Happy New Year.