Global newsmakers: Terrorists, pope and a baby
War leaders and terrorists make the list, as do a pope and a baby. We take a look back at the top 10 global newsmakers of the year.
1. POPE FRANCIS
The new pope was a pope of firsts - the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere and the first non-European pope in nearly 1300 years. He shook up the Catholic church following the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February. He made headlines for his willingness to speak out on several taboo issues, criticising the church's obsession with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and calling for it to find a "new balance". It was this openness that led TIME magazine to select Pope Francis as its 2013 Person of the Year.
2. KIM JONG UN
A Korean crisis kept the world on its toes this year, and the man at the middle of it all was North Korea's supreme leader. Tensions were high after the nuclear-armed nation launched a satellite and conducted a nuclear test. It then threatened the United States with a pre-emptive strike and declared it was in a state of war with South Korea. The crisis simmered down, but that didn't stop Kim's violent antics. He reportedly had his singer ex-girlfriend murdered, along with a number of other popular performers. By the year's end, he had also ordered the execution of his uncle - the second-most powerful man in North Korea.
3. MARGARET THATCHER
Britain's first and only female prime minister died of a stroke on April 8 at the age of 87. The "Iron Lady" remained as divisive in death as she was in life, and reactions to the news of her death were mixed. While her supporters remembered how she saved Britain's economy, her detractors recalled how she crushed the trade unions and left millions unemployed. Amid controversy, Thatcher received a full ceremonial funeral at the taxpayers' expense, attended by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. She also inspired the re-entry of the song, Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead into the UK singles charts, after an anti-Thatcher campaign attempted to get the song to number one.
4. BOSTON BOMBERS
It was an event that shocked the world. On April 15, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon, killing three people and injuring an estimated 264 more. The suspects were identified as Chechen brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. A few days later the men, who would become known as the "Boston Bombers", triggered a massive manhunt in Watertown, Massachusetts after they killed a police officer and hijacked a vehicle. Boston went into lockdown as police searched for the brothers. Tamerlan was killed during the chase, but Dzhokhar was captured and arrested on 30 charges, including use of a weapon of mass destruction. He is being held in prison awaiting trial.
5. SAVAR FACTORY OWNERS
Bangladesh's reputation as a producer of cheap garments came under fire after a building collapse killed more than 1000 people. The eight-storey Rana Plaza building contained factories that supplied several Western fashion chains, and more than half of the victims were female workers. Some survivors were trapped under rubble for days. Police arrested factory owners and the building's owner, who had gone into hiding. They were charged with negligence and homicide. It was the world's worst garment industry disaster.
6. GEORGE ALEXANDER LOUIS
On July 22, in true royal tradition, a formal bulletin was posted outside Buckingham Palace, announcing the news the world had been waiting for: It's a boy. Royalists and reporters had camped outside St Mary's Hospital in London for weeks awaiting the birth of the new heir to the British throne. Prior to the baby's birth, a law was enacted changing the rules of succession, so the first-born child of an heir to the throne could be monarch regardless of its gender. But all of that was forgotten when Prince William and Catherine duly appeared on the hospital steps to show off little Prince George and discuss William's nappy-changing skills.
7. BASHAR AL ASSAD
As Syria descended further into a civil war that began in 2011, its president cut a tyrannical figure. United Nations figures showed deaths in the war had reached 120,000 by September, but activists estimated there were many more. Global outrage was sparked when the regime was accused of attacking civilians with chemical weapons, including sarin gas. While al Assad denied the attacks, evidence mounted against the regime and the United States prepared to intervene. Following weeks of diplomatic maneuvering, the US and Russia agreed in September on a resolution forcing Syria to give up its chemical weapons. The war continues to rage on.
8. EDWARD SNOWDEN
The saga smacked of a Hollywood blockbuster - a computer-geek-turned-spy with some of the US government's top secrets in his hands. The 29-year-old computer specialist, former CIA employee and National Security Agency contractor became a fugitive after he released as many as 200,000 classified documents to the media. His actions were described as one of the most significant leaks in US history. Snowden told Britain's Guardian newspaper his sole motive was to inform the public about the US Government's "massive surveillance machine". He fled to Hong Kong, applying for political asylum in several countries, and is now living in temporary exile in Russia.
9. HAIYAN aka YOLANDA
Typhoon Haiyan, also known also as Yolanda, it was one of the deadliest typhoons in history to make landfall. The super-storm devastated the Philippines in November, killing more than 6000 people. As it ripped through the country's central islands, weather officials said the storm reached gusts of 275kmh. It destroyed buildings and triggered landslides that blocked roads and cut off communication with whole towns. The country was placed under a state of "national calamity" and international aid and donations poured in. Millions were left homeless and displaced and the total cost of damage from the storm was estimated at $US12.9 billion. (NZ$15.7b).
10. NELSON MANDELA
The beloved former South African president passed away following a well-documented health battle. In June the 95-year-old anti-apartheid icon took ill with a lung infection, and was admitted to hospital in a serious condition. His health fluctuated in the following months, but on December 5 he lost his final fight at home in Johannesburg, surrounded by family. President Jacob Zuma announced his death to the world and declared a national mourning period of 10 days. Tributes flowed for the republic's first black president, called the father of the nation, and world leaders flocked to the country to attend memorial events. A state funeral was held on December 15.
- © Fairfax NZ News