Remember the this year
A message from Mnemosyne; Titan Goddess of Memory.
"Remember some of the key moments of 2013."
March 13: Pope Francis elected
Roman Catholic history was bent in 2013 by two stunning events: Pope Benedict XVI resigned, the first in 600 years to do so, and elected to replace him was Argentinian bishop Jorge Bergoglio, the first South American and first of the Jesuit order to rise to the papacy.
Starting with his appearance on the Vatican balcony March 13, Bergoglio has struck the world as "different." He is the first Pope Francis, honoring mostly St. Francis of Assisi, who renounced family wealth to live as and serve the poor. The new pope followed suit, refusing to move into the luxurious papal apartment. His sharp focus on the poor is just one of the startlingly plainspoken attitudes now issuing from the tradition-bound Vatican. Others include less judgment toward gays and those who've had abortions, more connection with other faiths, firmer determination to fix the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank, and a push to reform the church into a more welcoming, less rule-bound institution.
June 5: Massive NSA spying exposed (Big Brother is watching you)
Two newspapers, a few reporters and a leaker blew a gaping hole in the spy world in June.
Reporter Glenn Greenwald's June 5 story in The Guardian, a British newspaper, and The Washington Post unveiled the U.S. National Security Agency's secret order to collect millions of phone records of Verizon customers. A June 6 story unveiled a U.S. spy program called PRISM that mined personal data by tapping major Internet companies like Google and Microsoft — without permission or warrants. Countries all over the world went nuts over privacy concerns. (Disclosure: Microsoft publishes MSN News.)
Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald named his source June 9: Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA who had swiped more than 200,000 documents about surveillance programs and wanted the world to know about them. He also wanted Greenwald to reveal his identity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said.
But he knew enough as an NSA contractor to know his fate would be prison — or worse — and he had prepared for a life in exile. The 29-year-old disappeared from his Hawaii home May 20 and holed up in a Hong Kong hotel. The U.S. sent a warrant for his extradition, but Hong Kong refused to execute it because, it said, Snowden's middle name was wrong. Snowden slipped out of Hong Kong, flew to Russia and was expected then to fly to Cuba, but didn't show up for the flight. For days, he was nowhere. He turned up in a Russian airport transit area June 23, stuck there with no papers to let him in the country and no guarantee of safety if he left. And there he stayed as U.S.-Russian relations combusted over his fate. Russia finally granted him asylum Aug. 1.
June 26: Supreme Court boosts gay rights
In a major victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court issued two landmark rulings on June 26, effectively allowing same-sex marriages to occur in the country.
In a highly anticipated ruling, the high court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, in a landmark 5-4 vote. The provision of the law defined marriage as a "union between a man and a woman" and was ruled unconstitutional and in violation of the Fifth Amendment. DOMA was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton.
Overturning this provision means legally married same-sex couples would be entitled to the same benefits as married heterosexual couples under federal law. These benefits include the ability to file joint tax returns and receive Social Security benefits.
In a separate ruling, the court cleared the way to eliminate Proposition 8, a controversial ballot measure that was introduced in California in 2008. The high court dismissed the case on technical grounds after the state's governor and attorney general declined to defend the proposition. While the court didn't say same-sex marriages were a federal right, its refusal to hear the case paves the way for states to legalize same-sex marriages.
There are still state laws around the country banning same-sex marriages, and the court declined to say whether same-sex marriages are a constitutional right. Justice Kennedy said the DOMA ruling applied only to marriages from states that allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. On Dec. 2, Hawaii became the 15th state to allow gay marriage.
Oct. 1: Government shutdown
A 16-day shutdown of the U.S. federal government began Oct. 1, when a group of conservative House Republicans (the Tea Party) demanded a defunding of President Barack Obama’s health care plan in exchange for passing a bill to fund the government. An angry American public blamed all sides for the shutdown, basically being fucked. But polls showed most held the GOP primarily responsible for the impasse. It may cost them future elections.
Approximately 800,000 federal workers were initially furloughed by the shutdown, the first in 17 years, which closed national parks and landmarks and various government agencies. Under the threat of the U.S. defaulting on its debts and the specter of throwing the world economy into crisis, the Senate and the House passed a bipartisan bill Oct. 16 to end the shutdown and fund the government until Jan. 15, 2014. And in late December, Congress passed a two-year budget deal, with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.