#THROWBACK2013 | Year in Review: Top News Stories

10. India’s Rape Epidemic

Mass protests at the time demanded greater protection for women and swift justice. The trial and sentencing of the culprits—four were given the death penalty—of the six suspects lasted through September. Subsequent incidents, including the rape of another 23-year-old girl in Mumbai, also drew widespread attention nationally and abroad, and the uproar has shone a necessary spotlight on India’s notoriously patriarchal society.

9. Syria civil war

Fueled by the Arab Spring, Syrian protests have devolved into a brutal civil war with more than 2 million refugees and 120,000 others killed in a country of 21.1 million. The use of sarin, whose prohibition Syria had agreed to in 1993, nearly brought direct U.S. action. Peace talks have been scheduled for January 2014.

8. China’s Naval Tensions

One of the most vexing challenges presented by China’s emergence as a budding superpower has to do with the Asian giant’s ability to get along with its neighbors. In January, the Philippines said it would take China to a UN arbitration court over heavily disputed claims — China considers the vast majority of the South China Sea (and likely the lucrative gas reserves beneath its waters) as its own immediate sphere of influence. That is hotly contested by a number of Southeast Asian states, especially neighboring Vietnam and the Philippines.

7. Snowden Shakes the World 

The cache of documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shed light on the extent of U.S. espionage operations in various parts of the world and threatened to damage U.S. relations with some key international players, who claimed in public to be furious with the U.S.’s snooping in their own countries. There was White House ally German Chancellor Angela Merkel, demanding answers on allegations that the NSA had tapped her cell phone, and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who canceled a trip to the U.S. and then, later, complained before a global audience at the UN about the “affront” to her country’s sovereignty.

6. Supertyphoon Haiyan

The deadliest storm to hit the Philippines since at least Typhoon Tehlma in 1991, Haiyan smashed into the archipelago with wind speeds as high as 170 mph (more than 20 mph faster than Hurricane Katrina’s worst gusts) and surging sea levels up to 20 feet.

5. Obamacare

Americans pay more for health care than other industrialized countries, yet they are afforded less care because of costs. Millions also lack health insurance. Obamacare, though, has been a lightning rod since the president signed the executive order in 2010. The ACA survived a Supreme Court challenge and a presidential election, but it buckled under technical glitches.

4. Boston Marathon bombing

On Patriots' Day, as more than 23,000 runners wended through historic Boston, two brothers allegedly set off a homemade bomb near the finish line, killing three and injuring 264. They picked the wrong city. Within days, police tracked down the Tsarnaev brothers, one of whom died in the chaos. The survivor, in solitary confinement, faces trial in 2014.

3. Royal baby birth

Britain topped a 30-year high in births in 2012. The momentum continues: His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.

2. North Korea missile threats

Nearly half of North Korea's population lives in poverty. Its former leader ill-treated his own people and blustered plenty to outsiders, but the country's wretched backwardness seemed unlikely to produce any weaponry — until this year. Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea defied sanctions to launch nuclear tests, missiles and threats of war.

1. Papal transition

White smoke rose to announce the new pope on March 13 ending one saga and setting off a new era for the Vatican. A month earlier Pope Benedict XVI resigned from the office due to his old age, becoming the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to cede his post.

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