Terror at the Boston Marathon
Terror struck the Boston Marathon on April 15. Two bombs ripped through the crowd near the finish line of the race, killing three and injuring over 200 people. One bombing suspect died before being captured, the other was caught and is still awaiting justice. America came together behind Boston with the motto "Boston Strong." The Boston Red Sox also won the World Series, their third in ten seasons.
Britain Welcomes New Royal Heir
Britain celebrated the birth of a new member of the royal family in July. Prince George of Cambridge was born on June 22 to Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. The world got their first look at the newborn one day after as he was displayed with his smiling parents. He's the third in line to the throne.
Zimmerman Found Not Guilty of Murder
Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in July. Some legal experts say the acquittal in Sanford, FL was no surprise considering lack of evidence that Zimmerman intended to harm Martin. Other believe Zimmerman created a situation in which Martin could die by pursuing him while armed with a gun. Zimmerman is still in Florida where he was recently accused of pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend, who later recanted her story.
NSA Whistleblower Sends Shockwaves
A low-level systems administrator shocked the nation and revealed more about the scope of the government’s surveillance programs. Edward Snowden is currently in Russia after unveiling documents that showed the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting massive amounts of electronic communications under a program called PRISM. The government claimed it needed the info in order to track down terrorists, but the massive size of the collected data led to questions about balancing security and privacy. Snowden fled the U.S. to avoid arrest.
Catholics Get New Pope
Pope Francis was elected in mid-March and has become a phenomenon. The humble former bar bouncer from Buenos Aires has brought a new vitality to the Vatican, while pushing it to do more to renounce materialism. He has washed the feet of inmates, uses Twitter and opted for a smaller apartment instead of the usual papal residence.
Healthcare Marketplace Off To Rocky Start
This year saw a rocky start to signups for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. After months of strong opposition from Republican lawmakers, the Healthcare.gov web site was launched to act as an online marketplace where people could shop for healthcare plans. It wasn’t ready for the load. Numerous technical glitches prevented people from signing up. In the weeks since, things have improved, but there are still questions about the quality of information being sent to insurers and linger doubts about privacy.
South Africa Bids Farewell to Nelson Mandela
Former South African president and civil rights champion Nelson Mandela died in December. He lost a long battle with a lung infection and was 95. His death prompted celebrations among the people of South Africa who are no longer oppressed by apartheid. At his massive memorial ceremony, President Obama said the world wouldn’t see the likes of Mandela again, but the flame of justice he ignited with others would live on.
The federal government came to a standstill for 16 days in October due to bitter divisions over Obamacare. The Republican-controlled House insisted on cuts to the healthcare reform law to pass a funding bill. President Obama insisted the House Republicans were holding paychecks for federal employees hostage for something that will deprive people of healthcare. In the end, House Republicans ended their stand, but the funds for running the government expire in mid-January, and the debt limit will be reached in early February.
Twitter Goes Public
Twitter went public in the most hyped IPO of the year. Some investors shied away from the social media giant because of disappointing performance by Facebook a year and a half earlier and foggy projections on how exactly Twitter makes money. But others drove the stock up more than 70 percent from its asking price of $26 per share, raising nearly $2 billion for the company.
Paul Walker Dies in Fiery Car Crash
Paul Walker died like Brian O’Conner lived on the final day of November. News of the car crash that claimed the “Fast & Furious” star sent shockwaves around Hollywood and put the movie series on hold. Walker played O’Conner in five of the six films in the drag racing franchise. Production of the seventh film was halted.