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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Best and Worst of 2013 - The Breaking News


I don't know...there's just something about the very first blog entry of a brand new year that gets me all giddy inside! Maybe it's the rush of hanging up a new calendar. Maybe it's the joy of starting fresh. Maybe it's the new car smell. Whatever the case, 2014 is finally here, and with the arrival of 2014 comes a year with brand new opportunies and brand new outlooks.

But, while we're welcoming in the year 2014, we are still paying our respects to the year gone by, as we resume the Best and Worst countdown of the year gone by after taking yesterday off.

Today we're going to take a look at the world's biggest news stories and reflecting back on what ultimately became a topsy-turvy year. After all, had Harold Camping been correct, we likely should have never seen the year 2013 ushered in at all. Of course, maybe we could speculate that he was actually trying to predict his own death, as he ended up passing away in November of this past year.

(At least he had a better track record than psychic Sylvia Browne, who predicted that she would die at the age of 88, but really only lived to be 77.)

So, I think we can all agree that 2013 had its definite highs, and some tragic lows...and everything in between. From North America to Australia, it seemed that every place in the world had its big news story.

(Well, except where I live, in which the biggest news story that happened here was of an ice storm that really didn't do much damage here. Toronto, Ontario, on the other hand...)

So, let's have a look at what happened over the course of the twelve months and three hundred and sixty-five days that made up 2013, shall we?

We'll go in chronological order.

January 16 – As many as forty people were killed during a hostage crisis at a natural gas facility in Algeria. The hostage crisis began on January 16 and lasted until January 20.

February 15 – People who lived in Chelyabinsk, Russia got a rude awakening when a meteor exploded over the city, shattering windows, crushing cars, and injuring people. By the time the dust settled, it was estimated that at least 1,500 people were injured, and over 4,000 structures needed repairing. The meteor was the most powerful to strike the Earth's atmosphere in over one hundred years.

February 21 – Scientists in the United States use a 3D printer to create a living lab-grown ear from collagen and animal ear cell cultures. It is hoped that this technology can assist in transplants and fixing ear related traumas in the years to come.

February 28 – For the first time in nearly six hundred years, a Pope (Pope Benedict XVI) resigns. He would be succeeded by Pope Francis on March 13.

March 27 – Canada becomes the first country to withdraw from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

April 15 – Runners and spectators of the Boston Marathon were shaken up after two bombs were detonated yards from the finish line. Three were killed, and another 264 were injured in the blast. The bombs were placed by two brothers who were Chechen Islamist immigrants. One brother would later die in a shootout with police. The other is still in police custody.

April 24 – An eight-story building located near Dhaka, Bangladesh collapses, killing over eleven hundred people, and leaving another 2,500 injured.

May 13 – Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield returns to Earth following a well-documented social media journey about his experiences aboard the International Space Station (which lasted from December 2012 until May 2013.)

June 6 – American Edward Snowden discloses operations engaged by a United States government mass surveillance program to news publications. He would later flee the country, and is reportedly living in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum.

July 3 – It's chaos in the country of Egypt as President Mohamed Morsi is deposed in a military coup d'etat, which sees once peaceful protests erupt in violence.

July 6 – Tragedy strikes the small community of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, after a train derailment ignites mislabeled petroleum cars and a gigantic explosion wiped out a section of the entire city. Forty-seven people were killed in the blast, and at least thirty buildings – including the town library, archives building, and a crowded bar/restaurant – were completely destroyed. It is considered one of the deadliest train accidents in Canadian history.

July 22 – The world rejoiced as Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge is born. The happy parents – Prince William and Princess Catherine – show off the baby the following day as Catherine leaves the hospital.

August 21 – Reports surface that Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria, has allegedly gassed several neighbourhoods surrounding Damascas in the Ghouta chemical attack, which kills and sickens thousands of people.

September 21 – The Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya becomes a battleground as al-Shabaab Islamic militants storm the crowded mall, leaving 62 dead and over 170 injured.

November 5 – Canadian press have a field day as disgraced Canadian Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, and Pamela Wallin are suspended from their duties over the Canadian Senate expenses scandal. The trio are allowed to keep all of the benefits associated with their duties however, which angers some Canadian citizens.

November 8 – Typhoon Haiyan strikes the Philippines and Vietnam, killing over six thousand people. It is one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded.

November 12 – The piece “Three Studies of Lucien Freud”, painted by artist Francis Bacon, is sold at auction for $142.4 MILLION...setting a new world record for an auctioned work of art.

November 15 – In what was considered to be one of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's worst kept secrets, Ford admitted that yes, he did smoke crack cocaine. He was rewarded for his honesty by having most of his mayoral powers stripped away on this date. A media circus complete with late night talk show hosts poking fun at him shortly followed.

November 24 – The world breathed a sigh of relief as Iran agrees to limit their nuclear development program – in exchange for sanctions relief.

December 14 – Chinese spacecraft Chang'e 3 becomes the first spacecraft to soft-land on the moon since 1976.

So, those were the events that shaped 2013. Now you understand what I mean by having it as one of the most unusual and controversial years so far. All you'd have to do is mention Obamacare and Tea Party in the same sentence and watch the arguments fly.

(NOTE: Please don't argue because I just happened to write both Obamacare and Tea Party in the same sentence. I was just doing it to illustrate a point. Whoops, I just did it again. My bad.)

Now, let's take a look at the world of sports. There were no Olympics this year (though there was a lot of controversy over the 2014 Winter Olympics being held in Russia given that country's stance on gay marriage...which I'm sure we'll hear more about as we get closer to the opening ceremonies), but we did have a Super Bowl, World Series, and Stanley Cup! So, who won this year?


And, finally, we're going to end this blog off on a sad note, as we pause to remember the famous faces who passed away during the year 2013. So, let's take a moment to remember those we loved and lost in the world of entertainment, politics, and sports.


1 - Patti Page, 85 - singer
7 – David R. Ellis, 60 - director
9 – James M. Buchanan, 93 – American Nobel economist


1 – Ed Koch, 88 – former mayor of New York City
17 – Tony Sheridan, 72 – singer
19 – Armen Alchian, 98 – American economist
19 – Robert Coleman Richardson, 75 – American Nobel physicist
28 – Donald A. Glaser, 86 – American Nobel physicist


5 – Hugo Chavez, 58 – Venezuelan president
6 – Alvin Lee, 68 – guitarist
7 – Peter Banks, 65 – guitarist
28 – Richard Griffiths, 65 – actor


4 – Roger Ebert, 70 – film critic
8 – Margaret Thatcher, 87 – former British prime minister
11 – Jonathan Winters, 87 – actor/comedian
26 – George Jones, 81 – country music singer
30 – Deanna Durbin, 91 – singer


2 – Jeff Hanneman, 49 – guitarist
8 – Jeanne Cooper, 84 – actress
26 – Jack Vance, 96 – author
31 – Jean Stapleton, 90 – actress


6 – Esther Williams, 91 – actress/swimmer
9 – Iain Banks, 59 – author
15 – Kenneth G. Wilson, 77 – American Nobel physicist
19 – James Gandolfini, 51 – actor


13 – Cory Monteith, 31 – actor/singer
19 – Mel Smith, 60 – comedian/actor
20 – Helen Thomas, 92 – journalist
22 – Dennis Farina, 69 – actor
28 – Eileen Brennan, 80 – actress


5 – George Duke, 67 – keyboardist
8 – Karen Black, 74 – actress
10 – Eydie Gorme, 84 – singer
20 – Elmore Leonard, 87 – novelist
24 – Julie Harris, 87 – actress
31 – David Frost, 74 – journalist/broadcaster


1 – Tommy Morrison, 44 – boxer
2 – Ronald Coase, 102 – British Nobel economist
12 – Ray Dolby, 80 – engineer/inventor
18 – Ken Norton, 70 - boxer
19 – Hiroshi Yamauchi, 85 – former president of Nintendo


1 – Tom Clancy, 66 – author
10 – Scott Carpenter, 86 – astronaut
16 – Ed Lauter, 74 – actor
25 – Marcia Wallace, 70 – actress
27 – Lou Reed, 71 – singer/songwriter


2 – Walt Bellamy, 74 – basketball player
30 – Paul Walker, 40 – actor


5 – Nelson Mandela, 95 – former president of South Africa
9 – Eleanor Parker, 91 – actress
10 – Jim Hall, 83 – guitarist
14 – Peter O'Toole, 81 – actor
15 – Joan Fontaine, 96 – actress
16 – Ray Price, 87 – country singer/songwwriter

And, that wraps up the news of 2013.

For tomorrow's entry...I talk about my own personal triumphs and struggles of 2013 via video blog. Enjoy what 2014 has to offer. It's only just begun!

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