Timeline for 2012 to 2014 CE
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We are Losing Life
on Planet Earth
Ongoing Disruptions and Conflict in the Middle East
Peace negotiations continue to bring appearance of security but true peace is fleeting at best (see: 1Th 5:3)
Within the WindowView... Many themes converge... And here you are!
- Consider that this time line is part of a web site that through science, reveals humans and all life are the product of origins that are not adequately explained as a result of biological evolution. Take a look at the science and the evidence. There is a special relationship to being here. How so? To start exploring this perspective see the Science area.
- Global change grips our planet, degrades the environment, and promises continued decline in the future. Scientists now tell us that life on earth is going to encounter even more worrisome change. How can we grasp the importance of this for our future's sake? See and experience the science to Scripture 'transition' here within the Window area.
- Furthermore... the Middle East and especially Israel are in the news... daily... the stories keep coming. Within the mix of news there are one people who are the intended focal point, the messenger to all nations, the kingpin to your future... see how this is reflected in the Harmony area.
Continued Uneasiness continues in World Markets as the new year begins (Jan2) France and Germany make progress, but market pundits continue to warn that current political and economic moves are mere band aids for temporary relief.
Obama Unveils Plan for a Leaner Military (Jan. 5): President makes appearance at the Pentagon to outline a new national defense strategy, including budget cuts, the end to the war in Iraq as well as new threats from Iran and China.
Internet Protests Hurt Piracy Bills (Jan. 18): A major protest online shakes up Congressional support for anti-Web piracy measures. The protest is over two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate. The main goal of both bills is to stop illegal downloading and streaming of TV shows and movies online.
Obama Provides Economic Blueprint in State of the Union Address (Jan. 24): In his election-year State of the Union address, President Obama argues that the government should strive to bridge the gap between rich Americans and the rest of the U.S.
US Economy Adds 200,000 Jobs in December; Unemployment falls to 8.5% (Jan. 6)
Protests Turn Violent over Austerity Measures in Greece (Feb. 12): Demonstrations in Athens turn violent the day before Parliament is set to approve Greece's new austerity measures. 80,000 people protest. Demonstrators throw rocks and by nightfall, protestors use Molotov cocktails. More than 40 buildings are set on fire. (Feb. 13): The Greek Parliament votes and approves harsh, new austerity measures as the only way foreign lenders will loan Greece the money it needs to keep the country from defaulting on its debt.
Report Exposes Assassination Plot against Putin (Feb. 26): Russian television reports an assassination plot against Vladimir Putin was stopped. Russian and Ukrainian intelligence worked together arresting two men after an apartment explosion in Odessa. A third would-be assassin is killed in the explosion. The three men were sent by Chechen terrorist leader, Doku Umarov. The report is released one week before the presidential election on March 4.
U.S. Economy Adds 243,000 Jobs in January; Unemployment falls to 8.3% (Feb. 3) The U.S. economy adds 243,000 new jobs in January, while unemployment fell to 8.3%, lowest in three years.
California Court Overturns Ban on Gay Marriage (Feb. 7) Federal appeals court in California rejects the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage passed in 2008.
Obama Compromises on Contraception (Feb. 10) President announces a change to a recent rule requiring all health insurance plans, including those offered by Roman Catholic institutions, provide birth control coverage to female employees. The revision, an accommodation to calm furor over the new rule, will require that insurance companies, not religious institutions, offer free contraceptive coverage.
Washington State Legalizes Gay Marriage (Feb. 13) Washington becomes the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage as Gov. Christine Gregoire signs the legislation. Opponents are already working to block the bill and put the issue before voters in a referendum.
Putin Wins Presidential Election in Russia (Mar. 4) Vladimir Putin wins the presidential election in Russia, claiming 64% of the vote. (Mar. 5): Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe challenge the election. The US and the European Union call for an investigation into fraud allegations. Meanwhile, thousands of demonstrators in Moscow hit the streets, chanting, "Russia without Putin." A similar demonstration happens in St. Petersburg. In Moscow, 250 people are arrested. In St. Petersburg, 300 demonstrators are detained.
U.S. Economy Holds Steady in February (Mar. 9) The U.S. economy adds 227,000 new jobs in February 2012.
Goldman Sachs Executive Resigns and Writes Scathing Editorial (Mar. 14) Greg Smith, a Goldman Sachs executive director of equity derivatives, resigns from the company. In a letter, entitled "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs", Smith describes the company as a place where profits come before the interests of clients and blames top management for what he describes as a culture of greed within the company.
Tornadoes Rip through U.S. South and the Midwest (Mar. 2): Several tornadoes and severe thunderstorms hit 17 states, causing at least 27 deaths and injuring hundreds.
North Korea Prepares to Launch Missile despite International Disapproval (April 11) North Korea prepares to launch a ballistic missile, insisting that the launch is only for the purpose of sending a satellite into orbit. [Later, the launch is a failure]
Jobs Recovery Slows in March (Apr. 6) The U.S economic recovery slows down in March, adding only 120,000 new jobs.
Romney Edges Closer to the GOP Nomination (Apr. 3) Mitt Romney takes three more primaries, inching closer to the nomination.
Tornadoes Rip Through Dallas-Fort Worth (Apr. 4)
Earthquakes Trigger Tsunami Warnings in Indonesia (Apr. 11) Two earthquakes hit off the coast of Indonesia, triggering tsunami warnings. The first quake is magnitude 8.6, sending tremors through India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. A second quake, a magnitude of 8.2 follows but there is no tsunami and no serious damage.
François Hollande Becomes President of France (May 6) François Hollande defeats Nicolas Sarkozy to become President of France. Hollande becomes the first Socialist president since François Mitterrand's term ended in 1995. Hollande's victory is seen as a sign that France has grown weary of Germany's dominance with the economic austerity policy in the euro zone.
Jobs Recovery Still Slow in April (May 4) Only 115,000 jobs are added in April, less than economists' predictions.
Facebook Shares Go Public to Disappointing Results (May 17) Facebook becomes a public company, raising $14 billion in its initial public offering, at $38 a share, which gives the company a value of $104 billion.
North Carolina Votes to Ban Gay Marriage (May 8) North Carolina passes an amendment to ban gay marriage by a margin of more than twenty percent. By doing so, North Carolina becomes the 30th state in the U.S. to include an anti-gay marriage amendment in its constitution.
President Obama Declares Support for Gay Marriage (May 9)
U.S. Adds Fewest Jobs in a Year (June 1): Only 69,000 jobs are added in May, the fewest in a year. Also, the unemployment rate rises from April's 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent in May, the first increase in 11 months.
European Central Bank Cuts Lending Rates to a Record Low (July 5): In an effort to prevent further deterioration of the euro zone crisis, the European Central Bank cut its benchmark rate from 1 percent to 0.75 percent.
Russia and China Veto U. N. Sanctions on Syria (July 19): Russia and China veto a United Nations Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on the Syrian government.
2012 Summer Games Open with an Unconventional Ceremony (July 27): Some 80,000 people in Olympic Stadium and billions worldwide watch
India Hit By Massive Power Failure (July 30): More than half of India's population—700 million people living in 22 out of the country's 28 states—loses power.
Twelve Killed in Colorado Theater Shooting (July 20): During a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, a gunman opens fire on the crowded theater in a Denver suburb. Twelve people are killed and 58 others are wounded.
Another Weak Month for U.S. Economy (July 6): Only 80,000 jobs are added to the U.S. economy in June. The unemployment rate remains at 8.2, the same as the month before.
Physicists Find Elusive Key to Universe Particle (July 4): Ending what has become the most expensive and longest search in science, physicists discover a new subatomic particle. The particle appears to be the Higgs boson, the elusive last key to understanding why we have life and diversity in the universe. The Higgs boson is the missing part of the Standard Model
Ecuador Grants Asylum to Julian Assange (Aug. 16): Ecuador announces that it is granting political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Russia enters the World Trade Organization (Aug. 22): After 19 years of negotiations, Russia becomes the newest member of the World Trade Organization.
Another Weak Month for U.S. Economy (Aug. 3): After three months of stagnant hiring, U.S. employers add 163,000 jobs in July. However, the unemployment rate rises from 8.2 in June to 8.3 in July.
Rover Lands on Mars (Aug. 5): A plutonium-powered rover named Curiosity successfully lands on Mars. Larger than earlier rovers, Curiosity will spend two years examining the land, looking for evidence that conditions on Mars are fit for life.
Floods Submerge Manila (Aug. 7): Floods from torrential rains submerge Manila, capital of the Philippines, and its suburbs. More than 50 people are killed in the storms and flooding.
Hurricane Isaac Hits the Gulf Coast (Aug. 29): Exactly seven years after Katrina battered the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Isaac hits the same area. Declared a Category 1, Isaac's winds roar at 80 miles per hour
Gunmen Storm U.S. Embassy in Libya (September 11): Armed gunmen storm the American consulate in Benghazi and shoot and kill U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other embassy officials.
(Sept. 14): Libyan authorities arrest four people who are suspects in the U.S. embassy attack in Benghazi. U.S. officials believe the attack may have been planned in advance.
More U.S. Embassies Attacked over YouTube film (September 13): The U.S. embassies in Egypt and Yemen are attacked in protest over a film which demonstrators feel insults Islam.Demonstrations are also held at U.S. missions in Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia.
(Sept. 14): Attacks spread throughout the Middle East as protesters attack the German Embassy in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and climb into the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia.
New DNA Discovery Provides Crucial Data on Complex Diseases (Sept. 5): Scientists discovered that gene switches, once thought of as junk in DNA, actually play vital roles in how cells, organs, and tissues behave. The discovery is considered a major scientific breakthrough.
U.S. Begins Retaliatory Action against Embassy Attack in Libya (Oct. 2): The U.S. Special Operations Command prepares data to use in the capture of the militants suspected in the attack on its embassy last month in Libya. The suspects include members of Ansar al-Shariah, an Islamist militia group, and other militants with ties to Al-Qaeda.
Hugo Chávez Wins Third Term (Oct. 7): Hugo Chávez wins the presidential election in Venezuela. He receives 54 percent of the vote.
Taliban Gun Down 14-Year-Old Girl Who Defied Them (Oct. 9): In Pakistan, Taliban members shoot 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head and neck. The shooting occurs while Yousafzai is on her way home on a school bus filled with children.
U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops to Lowest Point Since 2009 (Oct. 5): The U.S. unemployment rate falls to 7.8 percent in September.
Meningitis Outbreak Spreads throughout the U. S. (Oct. 4): An outbreak of meningitis has killed five people in the United States. In addition, 30 people have meningitis in six states. The outbreak has been linked to a contaminated steroid drug.
Hurricane Sandy Wreaks Havoc (Oct. 24): Sandy, which blew into the Caribbean as a tropical storm, is upgraded to hurricane status as it hits Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica. A category 2 hurricane, Sandy leaves 44 dead in the region.
Morsi Declares Authority over Courts (Nov. 22): Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi announces a brazen power grab when he declares authority over the courts, thereby removing any check on his actions by the courts.Progress on writing a new constitution has been stalled by members of the opposition on the committee.
(Nov. 26): Morsi seems to be backtracking in response to the outpouring of rage, saying only "acts of sovereignty" will be exempt from judicial oversight. The clarification does little to placate his opponents.
Barack Obama Wins Re-Election (Nov. 6): President Obama is re-elected, narrowly defeating Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
The U.S Economy Approaches Possible Fiscal Cliff (Nov. 29): After President Obama's re-election, the focus in Washington shifts quickly toward the Federal Budget and a possible approaching fiscal cliff.
The Economy Holds Steady in October (Nov. 2): The U.S. adds 171,000 jobs in October, showing steady, consistent economic growth.
BP Agrees to Pay Over $4 Billion (Nov. 15): The British oil company, BP, agrees to a guilty plea on 14 criminal charges involving the rig explosion in 2010 that caused a giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and killed 11 people. BP also agrees to pay $4.5 billion in fines and penalties.
Egypt's New Constitution Continues to Cause Unrest (Dec. 1): While the Muslim Brotherhood organize hundreds of thousands of supporters for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at Cairo University, several thousand protestors rally in Tahrir Square to oppose the new constitution. Despite the unrest, Morsi continues to move forward with the new constitution, setting December 15th as the date for the national referendum on it.
North Korea Successfully Launches Rocket (Dec. 12): North Korea's next attempt to put a satellite into orbit is not a failure. The successful launch of the rocket indicates that the country is inching closer toward developing the expertise to build an intercontinental ballistic missile.
U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Two Same-Sex Marriage Cases (Dec. 7): The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear two cases that challenge federal and state laws over the issue that marriage is defined only as a union between a man and a woman.
Gunman Kills 26 at Elementary School (Dec. 14): Adam Lanza, age 20, forces his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, and kills 26 people. The victims include 20 children between the ages of six and seven. Then Lanza takes his own life while still inside the school. Before going to the school, Lanza shoots and kills his mother,
U.S. Economy Continues to Show Consistent Growth (Dec. 7): The U.S. adds 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate falls to 7.8 percent from 7.9 percent in October.
Protests Intensify in Syria (Jan. 1) An 88-member Arab Parliament calls for the withdrawal of Arab League monitors in Syria because the government continues to crackdown on opponents. (Jan. 6): A bomb explodes in Damascus, killing 25 people -- the second attack in the capital in the last two weeks. (Jan. 11): President Bashar al-Assad appears in public for the first time since the uprising began, thanking the crowd for supporting him.
European Union Agrees to Impose Oil Embargo on Iran (Jan. 4) The countries within the European Union agree to impose an embargo on Iranian oil—as a way to get Iran to halt uranium enrichment and end its nuclear weapon efforts. Since December 2011, Iran responded to talk of new sanctions from Europe and U.S. by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, test-firing new missiles, announcing its first nuclear-fuel rod, and warning a U.S. aircraft carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf.
CBS news clip on Iran's nuclear program and Oil (Jan 15) Follow this link to a video clip that sets the tone for tensions with Iran and signs for trouble ahead.
Riot at Soccer Match Causes Turmoil in Egypt (Feb. 1): At least 73 people are killed in a fight between fans of rival teams at a soccer match in Port Said, Egypt. Fans used knives, clubs, and other weapons in the brawl. (Feb. 2): Thousands protest against authorities in Cairo and other cities over the deaths caused by the soccer match riot. (Feb. 3): Four protestors are killed and over 600 injured due to stampeding crowds and tear gas. (Feb. 4): The third night in a row of street fighting in Cairo between the police and protestors leads to the death of 12 people. Questions about the legitimacy of the military-led government intensify as they are unable to stop the fighting. (Feb. 5): The military-led government announces it will put 19 Americans as well as 24 others on trial in a criminal investigation involving the foreign financing of nonprofit groups. The investigation could impact American aid to Egypt. (Feb. 9): The Muslim Brotherhood demands that the current prime minister and cabinet resign and be replaced with a new coalition government formed by parliament.
A Series of Attacks Increase Tension between Israel and Iran (Feb. 13) Israeli Embassy personnel are the targets of bombers in the capitals of Georgia and India. The attacks are similar to those recently used on Iranian nuclear scientists, attacks Iran has blamed on Israel. (Feb. 14): A residential neighborhood in Bangkok is the site of a series of explosions. Several people are wounded. Thai authorities arrest two men with Iranian passports and find bombs in a rented house. Israel says the attacks are not significant enough to warrant a counterattack. (Feb. 15): Reacting to international sanctions against its nuclear program, Iran warns six European countries that it might cut them off from Iranian oil. Meanwhile, Iran announces advances to its nuclear program on state television. Iran says the nuclear program is for civilian use. Israel believes Iran's goal is to build nuclear weapons and has called on other nations, including the U.S., to help prevent Iran from doing so.
Netanyahu Travels to the U.S. for Crucial Meeting with Obama (Mar. 5) Israel's Prime Minister travels to Washington to discuss Iran with US President. Obama encourages Netanyahu to give diplomacy and the European Union's oil sanctions a chance before taking military action. The two leaders fail to agree on a solution in dealing with Iran's nuclear threat; however, they do agree to attempt to diffuse the heated debate about Iran in the U.S. and Israel. A White House official describes the meeting as "friendly, straightforward, and serious."
U.S. Soldier Kills 16 Afghan Civilians (Mar. 10): A U.S. soldier goes on a door-to-door rampage, brutally killing 17 Afghan civilians, including nine children. The events immediately spark nationwide anti-U.S. protests in Afghanistan.
Man Kills Four at Jewish School in France (Mar. 19) Mohammed Merah, a French man of Algerian descent, shoots and kills a rabbi, two of his children, and another child at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.
Assad Agrees to Cease-Fire (Mar. 21) The UN Security Council issues a presidential statement backing a plan outlined by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that largely mirrors the proposal brokered in Nov. 2011 by the Arab League. The plan calls on the Syrian government to stop killing civilians, engage in talks with the opposition, withdraw forces from the streets, and begin a transition to a democratic, political system.
Uncertain Cease-Fire Begins in Syria (April 12) A United Nations backed cease-fire begins in Syria. No attacks by government forces are reported. (Apr. 13): Thousands of Syrians protest across the country. The demonstrations are seen as a test for the day-old cease-fire. (Apr. 18): While UN representatives attempt to reach an agreement with the Syria on how to monitor the cease-fire, government forces attack the city of Homs. (Apr. 19): Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, writes in a letter to the Security Council that Syria has not implemented all the steps of the cease-fire.
President Obama and Karzai Sign Agreement (May 1) On the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Obama makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan. During his visit, Obama signs an agreement with President Karzai that promises the U.S. will provide Afghanistan development assistance for 10 years after troops withdraw in 2013.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Calls for Early Elections (May 6) During a speech, Prime Minister Netanyahu calls for early elections in Israel. The official reason for early elections is the upcoming expiration of the Tal Law, which exempts ultra-Orthodox Jews from Israeli Army service. Some election analysts believe Netanyahu wants to act swiftly while his Likud Party is polling strongly. (May 8): Two days later, Netanyahu forms a unity government with Shaul Mofaz, the newly elected chief of Kadima, the opposition party. The new coalition gives Netanyahu a very large legislative majority. It also ends the need for early elections. Mofaz is made deputy prime minister. Some see the new coalition gives Netanyahu even more political power. More than 1,000 people march in Tel Aviv to protest the alliance. Among the demonstrators is former Kadima chief, Tzipi Livni. The new coalition is one of the largest in Israel's history. Netanyahu promises that the coalition will rewrite the Tal Law, pass a budget, revise the electoral process and move forward on the peace process.
Mubarak Sentenced to Life in Prison (June 2) Former President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, is sentenced to life in prison for being an accomplice in the killing of unarmed protestors during the January 2011 demonstrations.
Unrest Continues in Syria as Soldiers Defect (July 2): In one of the largest military defections since the uprising in Syria began, eighty-five Syrian soldiers flee to southern Turkey. The defecting soldiers include one general and over a dozen lower-ranking officers.
(July 11): Syrian ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf Fares, defects from Baghdad
(July 12): According to opposition activists, more than 200 people are killed by Syrian government forces in Tremseh
(July 19): Fighting becomes more violent in Damascus between the Army and opposition forces. Residents begin to flee the capital.
Libya Holds First National Election Since Qaddafi (July 7): At least two people are killed due to armed assaults on voting centers. In the city of Kufur, some voting centers close due to an ongoing battle between tribes
Hezbollah Is Accused for Attack on Israeli Tourists (July 18): Outside a Bulgarian airport, a suicide bomber attacks a tour bus of Israelis passengers who were in Bulgaria on vacation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says in a statement, "All the signs lead to Iran.
Syria Sinks Further into Civil War (August): Kofi Annan resigns as UN special envoy to Syria, citing the Syrian government's refusal to implement his peace plan, intensifying violence by rebels, and discord within the Security Council.
(August 6): Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab and at least two other Syrian ministers defect to Jordan and announce that they would support the opposition.
(Aug. 16): The United Nations Security Council terminates its observer mission in Syria due to the increasing violence. (Aug. 20): President Obama vows military action against the Syrian government if biological or chemical weapons in Syria are moved.
Egypt Launches Airstrike in Sinai Peninsula (Aug. 8): Egypt launches its first airstrike in years in the Sinai Peninsula. Attack helicopters strike at gunmen in retaliation after 16 soldiers were shot and killed on August 5 at an Egyptian Army checkpoint.
(Aug. 12): Morsi reassigns several senior generals and the heads of each service branch of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), an influential force in Egypt that has effectively been in control since the fall of Hosni Mubarak and recently has been in a power struggle with the new civilian government.
Violence Continues in Syria (September 1): Opposition fighters seize an air base in Deir el-Zour. Along with the base, they capture 16 Syrian soldiers, weapons, and ammunition.
(Sept. 4): The United Nations reports that more than 100,000 people fled Syria in August.
(Sept. 5): Iran resumes sending military equipment to Syria to aid the government in its fight against the opposition. Iran is using Iraq's airspace to send the supplies.
Turkey Retaliates Against Syria (Oct. 3): Turkey hits four targets within Syria in retaliation over the mortar attack in Akcakale, Turkey, which killed five civilians, including three children. (Oct. 4): The Turkish Parliament authorizes further military action against Syria. Turkey continues to fire artillery into Syria.
(Oct. 14): Officials from the U.S. and the Middle East report that most of the arms shipped from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Syrian rebels are falling into the hands of Islamic jihadists.
Lebanon Is Dragged into War in Syria (Oct. 19): A bomb explodes in Beirut's Christian section. Eight people are killed and at least 80 are wounded.
Truce Announced in Syria for Muslim Holiday (Oct. 24): Lakhdar Brahimi, the Algerian envoy attempting to negotiate a peace deal in Syria, announces a cease-fire between the Syrian army and rebels during Id al-Adha, the most important Muslim holiday of the year.
New Proposal Presented to End Conflict in Syria (Nov. 1): China, one of the Syrian government's main allies, presents a new proposal to end the conflict in Syria. The plan calls on stronger international support for refugees and a truce brought about in phases. The proposal does not call for President Bashar al-Assad to step down
(Nov. 11): Syria's opposition groups agree to form a new governing body that will unify the many rebel groups under one umbrella.
(Nov. 12): Tanks from Israel fire on Syrian artillery units in response to mortar fire near an army post in the Israeli-held Golan Heights.
(Nov. 26): The Syrian rebels seize a key military base and airport near Damascus.
Israel Kills Hamas Commander in Gaza Attack (Nov. 14): In one of its biggest attacks on Gaza since the invasion four years ago, Israel launches an aerial attack and hits at least 20 targets. One of those targets is a Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari. He is killed while traveling through Gaze in a car.
(Nov. 15): Israel continues a second day of airstrikes on Gaza and the Palestinian death toll rises to 11. Meanwhile, Hamas fires rockets into southern Israel, killing three civilians.
(Nov. 18): Israel continues to target members of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza, and Hamas launches several hundred rockets, with some hitting Tel Aviv. Egypt, while a staunch supporter of Hamas, attempts to broker a peace agreement between Hamas and Israel to prevent the conflict from further destabilizing the region.
(Nov. 21): Egypt's foreign minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, and U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton announce that a cease-fire has been signed. Both sides agree to end hostilities toward each other and Israel says it will open Gaza border crossings, allowing the flow of products and people into Gaza, potentially lifting the 5-year blockade that has caused much hardship to those living in the region.
UN Approves Non-Member State Status for Palestine (Nov. 29): The United Nations General Assembly approves an upgrade from the Palestinian Authority's current observer status to that of a non-member state. Of the 193 nations in the General Assembly, 138 vote in favor of the upgrade in status. While the vote is a victory for Palestine, it is a diplomatic setback for the U.S. and Israel. Having the title of "non-member observer state" will allow Palestine access to international organizations such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). If they join the ICC, Palestine can file complaints of war crimes against Israel.
As Fighting Continues, Syrian Merchants Attempt Peaceful Protest (Dec. 2): Throughout the country Syrian merchants close their shops as part of a nonviolent protest movement called "Strike of Pride."
French Troops Head to Mali (Jan. 1): In response to a plea from the Mali government, France sends its military forces to the country to fight against extreme Islamist militants. French forces, including paratroopers, engage in combat in Mali with the Islamists militants. The exact number of French troops in Mail is unknown, but it is estimated to be between 800 and 900. (Jan. 17): France sends reinforcements, bringing the number of French troops in Mali to 1,400. Reinforcements are needed because the militants have seized much of the country and the battleground has expanded.
Global Change issues are highlighted in red text along this time line.
At Least 41 Engineers Are Held Hostage in Algeria (Jan. 16): Islamist militants take about 40 foreign hostages at a remote BP site in Algeria. At least sixty armed militants attack the BP gas field.According to officials in Algeria, 37 hostages are killed in the raid.
The Senate and House Approve Last Minute Budget Deal to Avoid Fiscal Cliff (Jan. 1): In the early hours of January 1, 2013, the Senate approve a deal to raise tax rates from 35 to 39.6 percent for those earning more than $400,000. The deal also temporarily suspends across-the-board spending cuts. Later that night, the House also passes the legislation. The House's vote ends the long dramatic showdown over the fiscal cliff with only a few hours left of the 112th Congress.
US Economy Adds 155,000 Jobs in December; Unemployment holds steady (Jan. 4): U.S. employers added 155,000 new jobs in the month of December 2012, while unemployment stayed at 7.8%, the same as it was in November.
Flu, Whooping Cough Hits U.S. Hard (Jan. 1): Three epidemics spread through the United States at the beginning of 2013. First there is the flu virus, more aggressive than in recent years. There is also the worst whooping cough outbreak in decades and a new type of norovirus. (Jan. 9): The flu outbreak in Boston, Mass., becomes so bad that Mayor Thomas M. Menino declares a public health emergency for the city.
Wildfires and Record High Temperatures Strike Australia (Jan. 1): In January 2013, summer for Australia, wildfires spread throughout the southeastern part of the country. National parks are evacuated as temperatures reach 113 degrees Fahrenheit. The extremely high temperatures mix with dry and windy conditions combine to raise the threat level to catastrophic, the most severe rating. The country is having its hottest summer on record.
Pope Benedict XVI Announces He Will Resign (Feb. 11): The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI announces his retirement, becoming the first pope to do so since 1415. He will retire on February 28.
North Korea Appears to Detonate Third Nuclear Bomb (Feb. 12): North Korea says it has detonated a third nuclear bomb. World leaders, scientists, and intelligence officials rush to determine if the bomb is fueled by uranium or plutonium.
Obama Addresses the Role of Government During State of the Union (Feb. 12): In the first State of the Union Address of his second term, President Obama focuses on the role government should play in growing the economy and stabilizing the middle class. He veers away from any ambitious proposals such as a new stimulus plan in the speech.
Republicans Back a Legal Brief Supporting Same-Sex Marriage (Feb. 27): In a policy shift for party members, several Republicans back a legal brief asking the Supreme Court to rule that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. More than 100 Republicans are listed on the brief, including former New Hampshire Congressman Charles Bass and Beth Myers, a key adviser to Mitt Romney during his 2012 presidential campaign.
Meteorite Fragments Injure Hundreds in Russia (Feb. 15): Debris from a meteor hit Siberia and more than 1,000 people are hurt, including 200 children. The injuries are mostly from shattered glass, which occurred when the meteor entered the atmosphere and exploded over Russia.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies (Mar. 5): After 14 years at the helm of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez succumbs to cancer.
UN Passes More Sanctions Against North Korea (Mar. 8): In response to the North Korea's nuclear test last month, the UN Security Council unanimously passes another round of strict sanctions against North Korea.
Congress Fails to Stop Budget Cuts (Mar. 1): Congress and President Obama do not reach an agreement in time to stop the large budget cuts to federal spending.
The Supreme Court Debates Same-Sex Marriage (Mar. 26): The Supreme Court begins two days of historical debate over gay marriage.
Scientists Confirm Higgs Boson (Mar. 14): Scientists confirm that the new particle discovered last year is the Higgs boson, the missing piece of physics' Standard Model that was first hypothesized in the 1960s.
France Becomes 14th Nation to Approve Same-Sex Marriage (Apr. 23)
Multiple Bombs Explode during the Boston Marathon (Apr. 15): Multiple bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Powerful Earthquake Kills 186 in China (Apr. 20): A strong earthquake strikes southwestern China. At least 186 people are killed and around 8,200 people are injured. The earthquake causes mountainsides to collapse. Available drinking water becomes a problem following the earthquake. Reports conflict on the magnitude of the earthquake. China's Earthquake Networks Center reports that the earthquake was a 7.0 magnitude, while the U.S. Geological Survey puts it at 6.6.
Huge Turnout for Anti-Gay Marriage Rally in France (May 26): An estimated 150,000 people protest gay marriage during a rally in Paris
Three Additional Arrests Made in Boston Marathon Bombing (May 1): Three arrests are made in connection to the Boston Marathon bombing.
Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota Legalize Same-Sex Marriage (May 2)
Death Toll Increases in Bangladesh Factory Building Disaster (May 9): The number of casualties in the Bangladesh factory building collapse rises to at least 900 workers.
Mile-Wide Category 4 Tornado Hits Oklahoma (May 20): An enormous category 4 tornado hits Oklahoma City, Moore, and Newcastle.
U.S. Government under Heavy Scrutiny after NSA leaks (June 6): The Guardian receives information that reveals that the National Security Agency (NSA) is using PRISM to spy on the web activities, including email, of U.S. citizens.
(June 7): The Wall Street Journal reports that the NSA also monitors the credit card transactions and customer records of three major phone service providers. U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper calls the recent newspaper reports on government surveillance "reprehensible." (June 8): The Guardian publishes a report on another NSA tool called Boundless Informant, used by the U.S. government to watch activity in every country in the world. President Obama confirms PRISM's existence and use to spy on the online activity of U.S. citizens. The New York Times reports that some companies negotiated with the U.S. government over spying on customers. The report contradicts previous denials by those companies. (June 9): Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, comes forward and admits that he is the source of the recent NSA leaks. Snowden, fearing prosecution, defects to Hong Kong and is currently on the run, wanted for questioning.
Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA (June 26): The Supreme Court rules that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.
Supreme Court Rules on California Same-Sex Marriage Case (June 26): The Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage opponents in California did not have standing to appeal the lower court ruling that overturned the state's ban, known as Proposition 8.
Same-Sex Marriage Is legalized in England and Wales (July 17): Queen Elizabeth II approves a same-sex marriage bill for England and Wales. Her approval comes a day after it passes in Parliament.
The Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to a Baby Boy (July 22): Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to a baby boy. The baby is born at 4:24 p.m. and weighs 8 pounds 6 ounces.
Russia Grants Asylum to Fugitive, Angers U.S. (Aug. 1): Russia grants Edward Snowden, the American who leaked info about U.S. surveillance, asylum for one year.
Minnesota and Rhode Island Begin Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses (Aug. 1): Two more states, Minnesota and Rhode Island, begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this month.
Manning Sentenced to 35 Years for Leaking U.S. Files (Aug. 21): Private Bradley Manning, age 25, is sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking over 700,000 U.S. government files to WikiLeaks, files that contained classified U.S. military activities.
Somalian Militants Terrorize Luxury Mall (Sept. 21): Shabab militants attack an upscale mall in Nairobi, killing nearly 70 people and wounding about 175. The siege continues with persistent fighting between government troops and militants. The attack is meticulously planned, and the militants prove to be challenging for the government to dislodge from the Westgate mall. Shabab, based in Somalia, says the attack is in retaliation for the Kenyan military's role in helping Somalia battle the militant group.
Rowhani's charm offensive continues on his trip to the U.S.(Sept. 26): he addresses the UN General Assembly ... speech notably lacks the anti-Israel bluster of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he is careful to refrain from making statements that will raise eyebrows at home or expectations by the West. He repeats his earlier claim that Iran will never seek nuclear weapons but will continue to pursue uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes. He also suggests that the U.S. and Iran can come to agreement on Iran's nuclear program within six months. In another remarkable turn, Rowhani calls the Holocaust "reprehensible." The statement further illustrates how Rowhani is steering a markedly different course from Ahmadinejad, who denied the Holocaust on several occasions.
Gunman and 12 Victims Killed in D.C. Navy Yard Shooting (Sept. 16): Former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis, 34, kills 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, near the U.S. Capitol. Alexis, who had been employed at the base by a military subcontractor, is killed in a shootout with police.
Massive Storms Hit Both Coasts in Mexico (Sept. 12): Hurricane Ingrid, coming from the Pacific, and Tropical Storm Manuel, coming from the Gulf of Mexico, hit Mexico at the same time.
Magnitude 7.7 Earthquake Kills at least 327 (Sept. 23): A 7.7 magnitude earthquake hits Baluchistan, an area of deserts and mountains in Pakistan. The earthquake causes hundreds of mud houses to collapse on residents. At least 327 people are killed. The earthquake is the worst in the country since 2005 and is felt throughout South Asia.
Top al-Qaeda Operative Captured in Tripoli (Oct. 5): U.S. commandoes capture Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, a high-ranking al-Qaeda operative who is known as Abu Anas al-Libi, in Tripoli. U.S. authorities have been pursuing Abu Anas, who was indicted for helping plan the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, for about 15 years. While commandoes capture Abu Anas, U.S. Navy SEALs storm a villa in Somalia in pursuit of an Al Shabab leader who goes by the name Ikrimah. The commandos are met with strong resistance and engage in a gun battle with militants before retreating without capturing or killing Ikrimah.
Relations between U.S. and France Strained by NSA Spying (Oct. 22): Documents leaked to the media by Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency's surveillance program reveal that in one 30-day period between Dec. 2012 and Jan. 2013, the NSA collected information on some 70 million digital communications in France. President Francois Hollande expresses outrage.
Relations between U.S. and Germany Also Strained by NSA Spying (Oct. 24): NSA documents leaked to the media by Edward Snowden reveal that the agency tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone for about 10 years, beginning in 2002. Outraged, she calls U.S. president Barack Obama, who apologizes and promises that such activity will not continue. The incident sours the relationship between the U.S. and Germany who are normally close allies.
Standoff over Obamacare Results in Government Shutdown (Oct. 1): Congress fails to agree on a budget and pass a spending bill, causing the government to shut down. (Oct. 16): The night before the debt ceiling deadline, both the House and Senate approve a bill to fund the government until January 15, 2014, and raise the debt limit through February 7, 2014.
New Jersey Becomes 14th State to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage (Oct. 21): In an unanimous vote, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejects Gov. Chris Christie's request to delay the implementation date of same-sex weddings.
Two Dead, Two Injured in Nevada School Shooting (Oct. 21): At Sparks Middle School in Nevada, a middle-school student shoots and kills Michael Landsberry, a math teacher. The student then shoots himself in front of other students.
7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes the Philippines (Oct. 15): A powerful earthquake hits the Philippines and kills at least 144 people. Nearly 300 more are injured. The quake also destroys one of the country's oldest churches and causes widespread damage.
Airpocalypse Forces People Indoors in China (Oct. 21): Schools are closed in Harbin, a northeast city in China, because of extreme air pollution. Visibility is so bad, less than 10 meters, that traffic stalls and the airport also closes. The local weather bureau refers to the air pollution as "heavy fog", but international media calls it the Airpocalypse.
Worst Fire Emergency in almost 50 Years (Oct. 22): Australia's New South Wales is facing its worst fire emergency in almost 50 years. Dozens of fires have broken out across the state. As of October 22, 2013, 60 fires still burn, and 14 of those are described as out of control. Just west of Sydney, two fires merge into one mega fire.
U.S. Tests China's New Air Defense Zone (Nov. 25): China announces a new air defense zone in an area over disputed islands in the East China Sea. However, their new air defense zone overlaps with an air zone declared by Japan decades ago. The United States challenges the new military action threat by sending two unarmed B-52 bombers into the new air defense zone. China responds that their military closely monitored the planes from the United States. (Nov. 28): Japan and South Korea announce that they have also flown military planes into the newly declared air defense zone and that the flights were not uninterrupted by China.
Man Opens Fire in New Jersey Shopping Mall (Nov. 4): Richard Shoop, age 20, opens fire inside the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in New Jersey.
Illinois Becomes the 15th State to Approve Same-Sex Marriage (Nov. 5): Illinois becomes the 15th state to recognize same-sex marriages when the House of Representatives approves the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which passed the state Senate in February 2013.
Hawaii Becomes the 16th State to Approve Same-Sex Marriage (Nov. 12): Hawaii becomes the 16th state to recognize same-sex marriages when the Senate passes a gay marriage bill, which had already passed in the House.
Typhoon Haiyan Kills Thousands in the Philippines (Nov. 8): Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall, hits several islands in the central Philippines. Tacloban, a coastal city with a population of 220,000, is destroyed. According to the Social Welfare and Development Department, Typhoon Haiyan, called Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, affects 4.28 million people in at least 270 towns.
Several Tornadoes Strike the Midwest (Nov. 17): At least 60 tornadoes hit the Midwest. It is the deadliest and most violent tornado outbreak on record in Illinois for the month of November. Along with Illinois, tornadoes touch down in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.
Job Numbers Increase, So Does Unemployment (Nov. 8): The U.S. economy adds 204,000 jobs in October.Meanwhile, the unemployment rate increases from 7.2% in September to 7.3% in October.
Massive Protests Call for Resignation of Ukraine Leader (Dec. 1): Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Kiev demand that President Viktor Yanukovich resign. The protestors also call for the country to develop stronger ties to Europe and the West.
First Ruling Is Made Against NSA Surveillance Program (Dec. 16): The first ruling against the NSA's surveillance program is handed down says the program is "significantly likely" to violate the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches.
Nelson Mandela Dies (Dec. 5): After a lung infection and several months of ill health, Nelson Mandela dies at age 95. The former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize recipient is mourned all over the world.
The Indian Supreme Court Bans Gay Sex (Dec. 11): The Supreme Court reinstates an 1861 law in India banning gay sex. The ruling comes after the court determined that the law had been improperly ruled unconstitutional by a lower court in 2009. The Supreme Court rules that only Parliament has the power to change the 1861 law, which includes a decade long jail sentence for "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal."
A look through this window anticipates increasing stress and strife in the Middle East. Watch the focus on Israel and think about the future timeline segment that follows (see next section of the timeline).
More Than 60,000 Have Died in Syria's Civil War (Jan. 2): The United Nations releases information that more than 60,000 people have been killed during Syria's civil war, which has been going on now for 22 months.
Election Shows a Slight Move Toward the Center for Israel (Jan. 22): As polls close in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims victory for his third term. The favorite, Netanyahu is followed closely by Yair Lapid, who founded Yesh Atid, a new centrist party.
Protests Threaten Morsi Government (Jan. 25): Violent protests erupted throughout Egypt on the second anniversary of the revolution. Demonstrators focus their ire on the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohammed Morsi's government, frustrated that the country is on an ideologically conservative path under the Islamists and that Morsi has failed to bolster the economy or fulfill promises to introduce broader civil liberties and social justice.
Suicide Bomber Hits U.S. Embassy in Turkey (Feb. 1): Ecevit Sanli detonates a bomb near a gate at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. Unlike the bombing at the embassy in Benghazi last September, the U.S. government immediately calls the bombing a terrorist attack.
Syrian Opposition Open to Talks, Excluding al-Assad (Feb. 15): The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces announce that they are open to talks with members of the Syrian government in the hope of finding a political solution—with conditions, mainly that Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad be excluded.
Livni Joins Netanyahu's Coalition to Head Talks with Palestine (Feb. 19): Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invites Tzipi Livni to join his coalition and head Israel's peace talks with Palestine. Livni will also serve as Justice Minister.
Obama Negotiates Reconciliation between Israel and Turkey (Mar. 22): President Obama visits Israel and helps negotiate a reconciliation with Turkey. Erdogan accepts Israel's apology. After the apology, both countries announce that they will reinstate ambassadors and completely restore diplomatic relations.
Syria Faces Chemical Weapon Allegations (Apr. 18): Diplomats from both Britain and France report to the United Nations that there is credible information that the government in Syria has used chemical weapons recently in its civil war. According to both diplomats, the Syrian government has used chemical weapons multiple times since December 2012.
Israel Takes Responsibility for Airstrikes in Syria (May 5): Israel makes two airstrikes on Damascus. Israeli officials maintain that the airstrikes are not meant as a way for Israel to become involved in Syria's ongoing civil war. Instead, the strikes focus on military warehouses in an effort to prevent Hezbollah from getting more weapons.
Civil War in Syria Spills over into Lebanon (May 25): Hezbollah and Syrian forces bomb the rebel-controlled town of Al-Qusayr, Homs. (May 26): Multiple rockets strike Beirut, mainly hitting Shiite suburbs, which are also strongholds of Hezbollah. (May 27): The ban against arming the Syrian rebels is lifted by the European Union.
Taliban Opens Office in Qatar (June): Taliban representatives hold a press conference with an international media contingent. The U.S. says it will begin long-delayed peace talks with the group. Afghanistan says it will not engage in any dialogue with the Taliban, saying such discussions lent the militants credibility. Karzai pulls out of talks with the U.S. on the important status-of-forces agreement (SOFA), which will govern the status of remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdraws in 2014. (June 18): The Afghan National Security Force assumes complete responsibility for the security of the country.
Reports of Chemical Weapon Use in Syria Continues (June 4): A human rights team with the UN reports there are "reasonable grounds" that government forces in Syria used chemical weapons. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius reports that sarin, a nerve gas, was used on multiple occasions.
Centrist Wins Presidential Election in Iran (June 15): Hassan Rowhani, a moderate cleric and Iran's former negotiator on nuclear issues, wins June 2013's presidential election. Thousands of Iranians take to the streets to celebrate. Rowhani served in parliament for more than 20 years and played a strategic role in the execution of the Iran-Iraq war. He has campaigned on a promise to reach out to the west and improve relations with the United States. After his victory is announced, Rowhani promises to "follow the path of moderation and justice, not extremism."
Massive Protests Erupt in Egypt (June 30): On the first anniversary of President Mohammed Morsi's inauguration, as many as one million people take to the streets in planned demonstrations throughout Egypt and call for the president to step down. Protesters complaints against Morsi include the dismal state of the economy, Morsi's installation of members of the Muslim Brotherhood into many positions of power, as well as his failure to stem the sectarian divide between Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians, among other issues.
Morsi Deposed by Military After One Year in Office (July 1): The military issues a statement saying they will step in if Morsi does not respond to the protesters in 48 hours. (July 4): The military deposes Morsi and suspends the constitution. Morsi, calls it a "complete military coup." He is taken into custody and several members of his inner circle are placed under house arrest. Adli Mansour, the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, is sworn in as interim president. (July 5): Thousands of Morsi supporters take to the streets of Cairo in protests organized by the Muslim Brotherhood. (July 8): Troops and police fire on protesters during morning prayers, killing more than 50 Morsi supporters and wounding more than 300. The violence escalates the political crisis. (July 6): Hazem el-Beblawy, a respected economist who supported the ouster of Mubarak, named as prime minister. A new constitution will be drafted and elections will be held within six months. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates say they will loan Egypt $8 billion, giving the country a much-needed infusion of cash to shore up the crippled economy. (July 26): At the urging of Gen. Sisi, hundreds of thousands of protesters take to the streets to back the military and to "confront terrorism." The next day, members of the Muslim Brotherhood stage their own demonstration in Cairo. Despite the escalating violence, the Islamists vow to continue their protests.
Hitto Steps Down as Prime Minister of Syrian National Coalition (July 8): Ghassan Hitto steps down as the prime minister of the opposition Syrian National Coalition after holding the post for less than four months and making little progress in organizing the rebels and their strongholds.
Israel and Palestine Begin New Peace Talks (July 30):New peace talks set with the goal of reaching an agreement within nine months. Livni and Erekat both meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden. White House spokesman Jay Carney says that Obama wanted to "express his personal support for final status negotiations." Both sides vow to meet again within two weeks to begin negotiations. The negotiations will be mediated by Martin Indyk, Kerry's new Mideast peace envoy. Of these new negotiations, Kerry says that both sides agree to put all "final status issues, all of the core issues and all other issues" on the table.
Egypt Declares State of Emergency (Aug. 14): In Cairo, riot police raid protest camps. They open fire and use armored bulldozers, tear gas, snipers, and helicopters to clear the camps. Protesters throw rocks and burn tires in response. More than 500 people are killed, and the government declares a state of emergency. Mohamed ElBaradei resigns as vice president in protest of the military's action. President Barack Obama cancels joint military exercises between Egypt and the U.S. that are scheduled for September in response to the military's repressive and heavy-handed tactics.
Israel and Palestine Begin Talks on Their Own Turf (Aug. 14): Israelis and Palestinians officially begin peace talks in Jerusalem. Expectations are low going into the talks, the third attempt to negotiate since 2000, and nearly five years since the last attempt. The talks begin just hours after Israel releases 26 Palestinian prisoners.
Opposition Accuses Government of Chemical Weapon Attack in Syria (Aug. 21): Opposition groups accuse the Syrian government of attacking rebel areas in Zamalka, Ein Terma, and Erbeen, suburbs east of Damascus, with chemical weapons. Gruesome, graphic images in the media show victims foaming at the mouth and twitching and lines of covered corpses. The opposition say as many as 1,000 people died in the attack. The government denies it launched a chemical attack.
President Obama Seeks Approval for Military Action Against Syria (Sept. 1): President Obama surprises many when he announces that he will seek Congressional approval for military action against Syria. The military action will be in response to the chemical attack that killed 1,429 people last month. In a televised address, Obama calls Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons "an assault on human dignity."
United Nations Confirms Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria (Sept. 16): The UN confirms in a report that the chemical agent sarin was used near Damascus on Aug. 21. "Chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale," the report says.
Iranian President Takes Steps to Thaw Relations with the West (Sept. 20): In an opinion article in the Washington Post, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani signals his willingness to engage the international community to forge mutually beneficial relationships. Such diplomacy, he says, means "engaging with one's counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives."
Netanyahu Maintains Tough Stance against Iran (Oct. 1): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travels to Washington D.C. to meet with President Obama to discuss the situation with Iran, including Iranian President Hassan Rowhani's recent overtures toward thawing relations with the west. The meeting between Netanyahu and Obama comes less than a week after Obama had spoken with Rowhani on the phone, the first time the leaders of the United States and Iran have talked in 34 years. During their meeting, Netanyahu and Obama present a united front when it comes to Iran having nuclear weapons. Obama assures Netanyahu that the U.S. will still turn to military action to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. (Oct 2): Netanyahu gives his annual speech at the United Nations. During the speech, he refers to Iranian President Rowhani as a "wolf in sheep's clothing" and warns the international community not to be fooled by Rowhani's recent overtures. "I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone," Netanyahu says.
Nuclear Talks between Iran and UN Security Council Resume (Oct. 15): Talks about Iran's nuclear program between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany resumes in Geneva after being on hold for six months.
Saudi Arabia Declines UN Security Council Seat (Oct. 18): Saudi Arabia declines a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council, a position it had been working toward for several years. The unprecedented move stuns both the UN and U.S. diplomats. "Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people by the chemical weapons, while the world stands idly, without applying deterrent sanctions against the Damascus regime, is also irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and responsibilities," the Saudi ambassador to the UN says in a statement. Saudi Arabia has become increasingly frustrated with the U.S.'s Middle East policy. Saudi Arabia, which supports the opposition in Syria, feels betrayed by President Obama backing off his promise to aid the opposition and Obama's choice of diplomacy over a military strike on Syria for its use of chemical weapons. In addition, Saudi Arabia feels threatened by the warming of relations between the U.S. and Iran, as well as by the reopening of multi-nation talks on Iran's nuclear weapons program. It fears that closer ties between the U.S. and Iran would compromise Saudi Arabia's standing in the Middle East.
Israel Releases More Prisoners to Help with Peace Negotiations (Oct. 30): Israel frees another 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of the current U.S.-brokered peace talks. However, soon after the prisoners are released, Israel's army radio reports that the Israeli government plans to build 1,500 new homes in east Jerusalem, an area claimed by the Palestinians. The settlement announcement is seen as a way for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make up for the prisoner release.
Mohammed Morsi Trial Begins (Nov. 1): Mohammed Morsi's trial on charges of inciting the murder of protesters opens briefly, but is adjourned until January 2014. He denounces the court as illegitimate and proclaims himself the leader of Egypt. Fourteen other defendants also appear in court, and they as well as Morsi are held in a caged area of the courtroom.
Taliban Leader Killed in Pakistan (Nov. 1): The U.S. achieves an important victory over the Taliban with the assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan. He dies in a CIA drone strike in Danday Darpa Khel, a militant stronghold in North Waziristan. While the government expresses outrage that the U.S. overstepped its boundaries, many citizens indicate they are relieved about the death of a man whose group has destabilized and terrorized the country.
New Report Supports Theory That Arafat Was Poisoned (Nov. 6): A new forensics report is released by a team of Swiss scientists that supports the theory that Yasir Arafat was poisoned. The 108-page report says that radioactive polonium-210 was found within Arafat's remains. … the report supports the suspicions that Arafat's supporters have had since his death, that he was killed by rivals of Palestine or Israeli agents. Israel has repeatedly denied any involvement with Arafat's death.
After Three Months, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks on Verge of Collapse (Nov. 11): Peace talks appear to be on the verge of collapse when a Palestinian negotiator says that no deal would be better than one that allowed Israel to keep building settlements. In a statement, Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh says, "In the absence of political will from the Israeli side to take the negotiations seriously, we believe that it is better not to reach a deal than to reach a bad deal." Shtayyeh went on to say, "By insisting on building settlements in Palestine, the government of Israel is showing that it is not interest in reaching a peace agreement."
Iran Agrees to Scale Back Nuclear Program (Nov. 24): Iran reaches a six-month deal with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. Iran agrees to halt production of uranium beyond 5%, which means it could only produce uranium for peaceful purposes; dilute or convert to oxide its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20%; not install new centrifuges; give UN inspectors daily access to enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordo. In return, the crippling sanctions against Iran will be eased, pumping between $6 billion and $7 billion back into Iran's economy.
Take a look at Info Please for a complete listing of this year's events!
• Protests in Ukraine Continue (Jan.): Massive protests in Ukraine continue throughout January 2014. (Jan. 16): Parliament hastily passes sweeping measures that stifle protesters and demonstrations. The protests then turn violent, with demonstrators attacking police.
• Another Bombing and Suspicious Deaths Heighten Fears Ahead of Olympics (Jan. 8): Another bomb explodes and suspicious deaths occur in Russia's Stavropol territory, which borders the province where the Winter Olympics will be held next month.
• Yellen Confirmed as Federal Reserve Chairman (Jan. 6): The United States Senate confirms American economist Janet Yellen as the 15th Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
• Same-Sex Marriages Blocked in Utah (Jan. 6): The United States Supreme Court blocks any further same-sex marriages while Utah officials appeal the decision made by Judge Shelby in December 2013. (Jan. 10): The Obama administration announces that the federal government will recognize the marriages of the same-sex couples in Utah.
• Chemical Spill Causes Water Ban in West Virginia (Jan. 10): After a chemical spill at a plant, 300,000 residents in West Virginia are asked not to drink the tap water.
• President Obama Announces NSA Reforms (Jan. 17): President Obama announces reforms to the country's surveillance program based on his advisory panel's recommendations. The NSA will stop eavesdropping on leaders of allied nations.
• Passengers Rescued from Antarctica (Jan. 2): Crew members from the Chinese ship, the Snow Dragon, rescue 52 people from a Russian research vessel that had been stuck in the ice in Antarctica for nine days. ;
• The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Begin (Feb. 7): Despite threats of terrorist attacks, complaints about poor preparations and the international condemnation over their anti-gay law, Russia kicks off the costliest Olympic Games in history with an opening ceremony filled with music, floats and a light show using the most advanced technology available. (Feb. 23): The 2014 Winter Games close with an impressive ceremony. Despite the controversies and terror threats, the Sochi Games are incident free and a success.
• China and Taiwan Officials Hold First Meeting in 65 Years (Feb. 11): High-ranking officials from China and Taiwan meet in Nanking, China. It is the first time since the 1949 split that minister-level officials held talks. While the meeting is largely symbolic, it signals that both sides want to maintain stability and warmer ties.
• Protest Becomes Violent in Venezuela (Feb. 12): Frustrated over increasing economic problems such as high inflation, thousands of demonstrators pour into Caracas. Three people are killed after several hundred protesters throw rocks at government buildings and police officers.
• UN Releases Stunning North Korea Report (Feb. 17): The UN's Human Rights Council releases a report accusing North Korea of crimes against humanity and compare the regime to that of Nazi Germany. The report is stunning in its graphic description of the horrors endured by political prisoners-who number between 80,000 and 120,000. China is cited for "aiding and abetting crimes against humanity" for supporting North Korea and detaining and repatriating refugees from North Korea.
• Ukraine Protests Take Violent Turn (Feb. 20): Riot police and protesters clash as the demonstrators attempt to reclaim portions of Independence Square, a central plaza in Kiev, the Ukraine capital that police had taken over two days before. (Feb. 21): The clash ends with a truce. (Feb. 22): Yanukovich flees Kiev on Feb. 22, and an interim government is put in place. (Feb. 27): Demonstrations against the turn of events in Ukraine break out in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, a pro-Russian region in eastern Ukraine. Masked gunmen, believed to be ethnic Russian extremists, take over several government buildings and raise the Russian flag. (Feb. 28): Similarly clad gunmen appear at two airports in Simferopol. The Black Sea Fleet, a Russian military base, is located in Crimea, and acting president Turchynov warns Russian troops not to intervene. Russia denies any involvement by its military.
• World's Most Wanted Man Arrested (Feb. 24): Drug cartel kingpin Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as El Chapo, is apprehended in the resort town of Mazatlan, Mexico, by Mexican marines and U.S. agents.
Earthquake (magnitude 6.5) Vanuatu (February 7) Earthquake (magnitude 6.9) Southern Xinjiang, China (February 12) source: https://www.emsc-csem.org/Earthquake/world/?view=342 Earthquake (magnitude 6.5) East of Martinique (February 18)
• Budget Cuts Shrink US Army to pre-World War II Size (Feb. 24): Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announces that the Pentagon will be shrinking the U.S. Army to the smallest size it's been since before World War II. The cuts come as the Pentagon prepares for nearly a trillion dollars in spending reductions over the next decade.
• Arizona Governor Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill (Feb. 27): Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoes a bill that would have allowed businesses in the state to deny service to gays and lesbians in the name of religious beliefs.
• Russia Dispatches Troops to Crimea (Mar. 1): Russian president Vladimir Putin dispatches troops to Crimea, citing the need to protect Russians from extremist ultranationalists. (Mar. 3): Putin says he doesn't see an immediate reason to initiate a military conflict "reserves the right to use all means at our disposal to protect" Russian citizens and ethnic Russians in the region. Meanwhile, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry travels to Kiev in a show of support for the interim government. (Mar. 6): The U.S. imposes sanctions on officials, advisers, and other individuals who have been involved in the undermining of democracy in Crimea.
• North Korea Has Legislative Election (Mar. 10): North Korea holds legislative elections. Considered a sham election for the rubber-stamp Parliament, only one candidate appears on the ballot for each district. Not one vote is cast against the government's candidates, and voter turnout is 100%. The elections are held every five years.
• Violent Protests Continue in Venezuela (Mar. 13): Three protestors are shot to death during demonstrations in Valencia, bringing the total number of people killed during demonstrations in Venezuela over the last month to more than 20.
• Crimea Votes to Secede from Ukraine (Mar. 16): Nearly 97% of voters in Crimea choose to secede from Ukraine in the referendum. (Mar. 17): The Crimean Parliament declares the region independent and formally seeks annexation by Russia. Obama tells Putin that neither the U.S. nor the international community will recognize the results of the referendum. (Mar. 18): Putin signs a treaty stating that Russia has annexed Crimea ... jeopardizes Russia's relationship with the U.S. and Europe, complicates any hopes for a peace agreement in Syria and casts a cloud over the talks over Iran's nuclear program. (Mar. 21): The European Union and Ukraine sign a portion of the EU Association Agreement-the same deal that former President Yanukovich refused to sign, sparking the unrest. The section that is signed lends Ukraine political support; the economic part will be enacted once a new president is elected. (Mar. 24): Ukraine withdraws its military from Crimea. (Mar. 27): The UN General Assembly passes a resolution that declares Russia's annexation of Crimea illegal.
• North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles; Exchanges Fire with South Korea (Mar. 26): North Korea test fires two medium-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Japan, South Korea, and China. The missiles land in the sea between North Korea and Japan. It is the first such test since 2009. (Mar. 30): The country threatens to conduct "a new form of nuclear test for bolstering up its nuclear deterrence. (Mar. 31):North and South Korea exchange artillery shells across their disputed western maritime border.
• Senator Wages War on the CIA (Mar. 11): Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of the CIA's staunchest defenders, lashes out at the agency, accusing it of spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee ... and potentially violating the constitution. Many predict that this is just the beginning of a scandal that could become one of the most controversial in recent years.
• NSA Reform Plan Is Introduced (Mar. 25): President Obama introduces a NSA reform plan, developed by the Justice Department and intelligence agencies, which will be presented to Congress for approval. The NSA will no longer directly collect phone data from Americans. The NSA will have to seek a court order to access phone records.
• Malaysia Airlines Flight Disappears (Mar. 8): Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, loses contact en route to Beijing, China. The plane disappears between Malaysia and Vietnam. Prime Minister Najib Razak announces that satellite data confirms that the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean, a remote location far off course. Many questions remain unanswered.
• Washington State Mudslide Kills Dozens (Mar. 22): A mudslide in Oso, Washington, kills at least 41 people. The number of casualties and injuries is expected to rise as officials compile a list of people who are missing. Search and rescue efforts immediately begin after the mudslide occurred.
• UN Report Predicts Dire Effects of Climate Change (Mar. 31): The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases an alarming report that predicts dire environmental and economic consequences for the entire world if the world's leading economies do not start to reduce greenhouse gas emissions immediately. The repercussions of climate change include a rise in sea level, a shrinking of ice and snow cover, the melting of glaciers, food and water shortages, crop loss, destruction caused by coastal storms, and increased poverty. In addition, the report says drought caused by global warming could contribute to geopolitical conflicts over water and land. In fact, several scholars and experts blame some of the current political instability in the Middle East on drought.
• Japan Lifts Decades Old Arms Ban (April 1): Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet approve a measure that lifts Japan's ban on weapons exports, a self-imposed ban that had been in place since 1967. Under the new policy, arms sales are still banned to countries in conflict and nations that can undermine international peace. In fact, weapons sales must contribute to international peace and Japan's security."
• Voter Turnout Unexpectedly High in Afghanistan's Presidential Election (April 5): April's elections in Afghanistan are successful for the high voter turnout and the lack of violence or attempts to disrupt the vote. About 60% of registered voters turn out to vote for president and provincial councils despite threats from the Taliban.
• India Holds Largest Election Ever (April 7)
• Pro-Russian Movement Continues in Ukraine (April 12): Pro-Russian protesters and armed militants in the eastern cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Mariupol take over several government buildings and police stations. They also announce they are forming an independent republic and will hold a referendum on secession from Ukraine and annexation by Russia in May, clearly borrowing from the playbook used in Crimea. (April 17): In Geneva, representatives from the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union reach an agreement intended to de-escalate the tension in eastern Ukraine. (April 28): In response to the increasing volatility in eastern Ukraine and Russia's refusal to back down, the U.S. imposes additional sanctions on Russian officials and companies with close ties to Putin.
• Mass Kidnapping in Nigeria Sparks International Outrage (April 14): Islamist militant group Boko Haram is accused of kidnapping about 280 girls from a school in northeast Nigeria with the intention of making the girls sex slaves.
• Supreme Court Upholds EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (April 29): The Supreme Court rules 6-2 that under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has the authority to regulate air pollution emitted from coal plants that crosses state lines. Smog from coal plants in 28 Midwest and Appalachia states blows toward the east and increases pollution in states that are downwind of the plants.
• Coding Error Causes Internet Security Scare (April 10): A coding error is discovered in OpenSSL, encryption software that makes transactions between a computer and a remote secure, making users vulnerable to having their usernames, passwords, and personal information stolen. Millions of banks, Internet commerce companies, email services, government sites, and social media sites rely on OpenSSL to conduct secure transactions. The coding error, dubbed "Heartbleed," was made in 2012.
• Tornadoes Strike the Southeast US, Killing Dozens (April 27-29): Tornadoes touch down throughout the Southeast, killing at least 29 people. A single half-mile wide tornado appears to be responsible for much of the damage in Arkansas where 16 of the 29 casualties happen. High winds, heavy rain, and hail cause damage to Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Nebraska. Tornadoes also touch down in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama, causing severe damage and loss of life. Threats of tornadoes reach as far as Georgia and North Carolina.
• Fighting Escalates in Eastern Ukraine, Referendums Held (May 2): The Ukrainian government launches an offensive in the rebel-held eastern city of Sloviansk. The separatists shoot down two Ukrainian military helicopters in the fighting. (May 7): As the fighting and chaos escalates in eastern Ukraine and the U.S. and Europe threaten additional sanctions for Russia. (May 11): The referendums on regional autonomy are held in Donetsk and Luhansk. Both provinces overwhelmingly approve the referendums. Polls show, however, that the results are not an accurate reflection of how a majority of eastern Ukrainians feel about independence. Most prefer to remain part of Ukraine.
• Tension increases between China and Vietnam (May 4): Vietnamese officials report that their vessels have been hit by Chinese ships. "Chinese ships, with air support, sought to intimidate Vietnamese vessels." (May 7): The situation intensifies when Vietnamese ships confront Chinese ships, while the Chinese vessels place an oil rig off the coast of Vietnam. (May 22): Anti-China protesters set fire to at least 15 foreign-owned factories throughout Vietnam. At least one person dies in the protests.
• Boko Haram Takes Responsibility for Kidnapping (May 5): Islamist militant group Boko Haram claims responsibility for kidnapping about 280 girls from a school in northeast Nigeria last month. In a video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says, "I abducted your girls." The mass kidnapping-and the government's inept attempts to rescue them-continue to spark international outrage.
• Opposition Dominates India's Election (May 12): In India's general election, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party trounces the governing Indian National Congress Party. (May 21): India invites Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Narendra Modi's inauguration. The invite is one of Modi's first decisions as prime minister. (May 26): Sharif accepts the invitation to attend the inauguration. The two shake hands and exchange pleasantries at the ceremony, a sign that there may be a thaw in relations between India and Pakistan.
• U.S. Charges Five in Chinese Military With Hacking (May 19): The U.S. Justice Department unseals an indictment of five members of Unit 61398 of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, charging them with hacking into the computer networks of Westinghouse Electric, U.S. Steel Corp., and other companies. The move is considered largely symbolic since there is little chance the men will surrender.
• Military Stages a Coup in Thailand (May 20): Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief, declares martial law throughout Thailand. He says the move is to restore peace and order and requests that both sides stop protesting. (May 22): Prayuth announces that he has indeed seized power from the interim government in a coup.
• Billionaire Businessman Wins Presidential Election in Ukraine (May 25): Petro Poroshenko easily prevails in Ukraine's special presidential election. (May 26): Pro-Russian separatists attempt to take over the airport in Donetsk. The government in Kiev dispatches the military and fighter jets to take back the airport.
• Supreme Court Rules on Council Meeting Prayers (May 5): In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court rules 5-4 that Christian prayers said at the beginning of council meetings in an upstate New York town do not violate the constitutional prohibition against government establishment of religion.
• Two More States Legalize Same-Sex Marriage (May 19): Oregon. (May 20): Pennsylvania: the 18th to legalize gay marriage.
• Mudslide Kills Thousands in Afghanistan (May 2): As many as 2,100 people are killed in a mudslide in Abi Barak, a village in northern Afghanistan. About 300 mud homes are buried in mud that is 200 feet deep in some areas.
• Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina See Worst Flooding in a Century (May 15): ... are hit with the heaviest rains and flooding in over a century. Electricity is lost in several towns and villages. At least 44 people are killed in the flooding, and authorities believe that the death toll will rise.
Take a look at Info Please for a complete listing of this year's events!
• Poroshenko Declares Unilateral Ceasefire in Ukraine (June 20): After the rebels shoot down a military transport jet and kill 49 people, President Petro Poroshenko declares a week-long, unilateral ceasefire in Ukraine. After initially resisting, the rebels agree to observe the temporary ceasefire.
• Supreme Court Rules on Cellphone Privacy (June 25): In an unanimous vote, the Supreme Court rules that police need a warrant to search the cellphone of anyone that they arrest.
• Supreme Court Rules against Contraceptives Mandate (June 30): In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court decides in favor of corporations owned by religious families. In a close five to four vote, the Court rules that corporations like Hobby Lobby cannot be forced to pay for insurance that covers contraception for female workers under the Affordable Care Act because it is a violation of the federal law protecting religious freedom.
• U.S. Places New Sanctions on Russia (July 16): Obama announces new sanctions against Russia due to increased tension between forces in Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists along the Ukrainian border. These latest round of sanctions are the most punitive yet against Russia and target large defense and energy firms and banks.
• Chinese Hackers Gain Access to U.S. Employee Data (July 9): American officials announce in that Chinese hackers breached the computer network of the Office of Personnel Management back in March. The officials say the hackers from China seemed to target employees applying for top security clearances. This comes weeks after the U.S. Justice Department indicts of five members of Shanghai-based cyber division of Chinese People's Liberation Army, charging them with hacking into the computer networks of US companies.
• Passenger Jet Crashes in Eastern Ukraine (July 17): A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is shot down by Russian built missile in eastern Ukraine killing all 298 passengers and crew members. President Poroshenko says the crash is an act of terror and accuses the separatists of launching the missile, which they deny. Russian president Putin also denies having any role in the disaster. (July 18): A day after the crash, President Obama says he believes that the rebels shot down the plane. He calls the crash a "global tragedy" and faults Putin for continuing to arm the rebels and for not stopping the fighting.
• Prime Minister of Ukraine Resigns (July 24): Prime Minister Yatsenyuk resigns when two major parties, Svoboda and Udar, bolt from the governing coalition.
• U.S. Accuses Russia of Treaty Violation (July 29): The U.S. accuses Russia of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an agreement between the two countries banning medium range missiles.
• Argentina Defaults Again (July 30): For the third time in 25 years, Argentina defaults on its debt. Standard & Poor's declares that the country is in default on some of its obligations after the government fails on an agreement with a group of bondholders.
• Ebola Outbreak Hits West African Countries (July 31): According to the World Health Organization, the death toll from the Ebola virus in West Africa is 672, with the total number of confirmed, infected patients at 1,323, making this outbreak the worst since the virus was first identified almost forty years ago.
• China Denies Democratic Elections to Hong Kong (Aug. 31)
• Scotland Votes to Remain with UK (Sept. 18): In an independence referendum, Scottish voters opt, 55% to 45%, to remain part of the United Kingdom.
• Police Attempt to Crack Down on Protests in Hong Kong (Sept. 28): Protests in Hong Kong intensify throughout September with tens of thousands of demonstrators shutting down the heart of the business district.
• Britain Votes to Recognize Palestine (Oct. 13): Britain's Parliament votes 274-12 to give diplomatic recognition to Palestine. The symbolic nonbinding vote is an indication of the British government's shift since the recent conflict in Gaza, the latest round of failed peace negotiations, and Israel continuing to build settlements.
• Gunman Attacks Canada's Parliament (Oct. 22): A Canadian soldier is shot and killed while guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada's capital.
• Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes (Oct. 31): A Virgin Galactic space plane, known as SpaceShipTwo, breaks apart over the Mojave Desert soon after takeoff. Co-pilot Michael Alsbury is killed. Pilot Peter Siebold parachutes out of the plane and survives. Later, during a news conference, investigators explain that the crash happened because the plane shifted too quickly into a mode designed to slow it down.
• China and U.S. Reach Landmark Agreement on Climate Change (Nov. 11) The agreement includes a commitment for the first time by China to stop its emissions from increasing by 2030. One way China plans to achieve that goal is to use clean energy sources, such as windmills and solar power, as 20% of the country's total energy by 2030. Also in the plan, the U.S. sets new goals for carbon emissions reductions, pledging to reduce emissions 26-28% by 2025.
• Fight Against Ebola Outbreak Continues (Nov. 6): President Obama asks Congress for more than $6 billion to fight Ebola in West Africa as well as protect U.S. citizens from the virus.
•Spacecraft Lands on Comet and Makes History (Nov. 12): For the first time ever, a spacecraft lands on a comet. After leaving the mother ship Rosetta, a probe named Philae lands on Comet 67P, located 310 million miles from Earth.
• One World Trade Center Opens (Nov. 3): More than 13 years since the twin towers were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, One World Trade Center opens for tenants in lower Manhattan.
SOCIAL CHANGE CONTINUES
• Two More States Legalize Marijuana (Nov. 4): Voters in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. vote on marijuana legalization ballot measures similar to those that passed in Colorado and Washington two years ago. In all three, voters approve them. Oregon's law, which passes by 54%, plans to create a commercial regulatory system for the distribution and sale of marijuana, like Washington and Colorado did. Alaska's new law is also similar. The measure in Washington D.C. passes with nearly 65% of the vote. That new measure will allow anyone age 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use and grow no more than six cannabis plants in their home. However, not every state votes in favor of marijuana. Florida voters decide against a measure to legalize the use of medical marijuana in their state.
• Supreme Court Allows Same-Sex Marriage in South Carolina (Nov. 20)
• Obama Takes Executive Action on Immigration (Nov. 20)
• Sunni Militants Claim Falluja, parts of Ramadi (Jan. 3): The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (a.k.a. ISIS) take control of Falluja and most of Ramadi, both cities in Anbar Province that are Sunni strongholds and were major battlegrounds during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
• Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dies (Jan. 11): Israel's former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dies. The official cause of death is heart failure, although Sharon had been in a coma since suffering a stroke on January 4, 2006.
Global Change trends continue to be recognized in this decade with increasing ominous overtones concerning the future of planet earth ...
The global change 'megaphenomena' described by Ed Ayers of World Watch Institute are iconically represented by the graphic below. Change comes now with a recognition of what must be precipitous events to follow. The four changes Ayers focuses on in his book (entitled: God's Last Offer) are Population Growth, Consumption, Green House Emissions, and Extinction of Species. All of these fit the basic trend illustrated below.
• UN-Led Negotiations Begin in Geneva (Jan. 22): Much-anticipated negotiations brokered by the UN between the Syrian government, members of the opposition, the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Russia begin in Switzerland.
• Earthquake activity noticeably ramp[s up to a set of larger quakes (magnitude 7 or 8) during the spring of 2014. Examples listed below for February to July need to be viewed as a select listing. Many quakes each day from 2.0 to 6.3 ring the globe. (Source: https://www.emsc-csem.org/#2w)
• Second Round of UN-Led Negotiations Begin in Geneva (Feb. 10): A second round of negotiations brokered by the UN between the Syrian government, members of the opposition, the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Russia begin in Switzerland. U.S. officials criticize Syrian government for its lack of commitment to the peace process. The negotiations end without making any progress.
• Israel Passes Landmark Military Service Legislation (Mar. 12): Israel's Parliament passes legislation eliminating exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox Israelis. The issued has long been debated in the country where most 18-year-olds, men and women, serve in the military for up to three years. Ultra-Orthodox students enrolled in seminaries have been exempt in the past. The legislation passes by a 65-1 vote. The law includes a modest quota for drafting ultra-Orthodox students, an adjustment period of three years where increased service would be encouraged and a threat of penalties for draft evasion.
• Syrian Army Recaptures City from Rebels (Mar. 17): Syrian government troops, with the help of Hezbollah, recapture from the rebels the city of Yabroud, which is on the border with Lebanon and has been a key route for supplies from Lebanon.
• 529 Sentenced to Death in Egypt (Mar. 24): After a two-hour trial, a judge in Matay in Egypt's Minya Province sentences 529 people to death for the killing of a police officer during the protests against the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in August 2013. About 400 people are sentenced in absentia. It is a stunning verdict that met with international condemnation. Fearing reprisals from the military-led government, few Islamists dare to speak out or demonstrate against the verdict.
• Abu Ghaith Is Convicted (Mar. 26): Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, is convicted by a federal jury in Manhattan of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiring to provide support to al-Qaeda, and providing support to al-Qaeda.
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.5) Ryukyu Islands, Japan (March 2)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.9) Offshore northern California (March 10)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.7) Offshore Tarapaca, Chile (March 16)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.5) Nicobar Islands, India (March 21)
• Kerry Heads to Israel to Rescue Peace Talks (April 1): When Israel failed to release the promised last batch of prisoners in late March 2014, U.S. Secretary John Kerry heads there in an attempt to rescue the latest round of peace talks. Israel had promised to release Palestinian prisoners in four groups and released the first three groups as promised. But Israel's failure to release the last group of 26 prisoners as well as their continued settlement expansion in the West Bank threatens to derail a peace agreement that is supposed to be reached by the end of April 2014. Palestine says the peace talks will end on April 29 if Israel does not release the 26 prisoners.
PASSOVER (April 4-11)
... watch closely, something ugly is coming ...
• Palestinian Unity Deal Threatens Peace Talks (April 23): The troubled peace talks hit another snag when Palestinian leadership and Hamas forge a new reconciliation agreement. The new unity deal angers the Israeli government. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacts by saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is choosing "Hamas, not peace." The U.S. government warns that the new accord could prevent any progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Since 1997, Hamas has been a designated foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. (April 24): The day after the Palestinian leadership announces its new unity deal with Hamas, Israel responds by halting the peace talks. (April 25): Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah resigns. (April 30): The deadline for this latest round of peace talks passes without an agreement.
• Earthquake (magnitude 8.1) Off shore Tarapaca, Chile (April 1)
• Earthquakes (magnitude 6.5 and 7.6) Off shore Tarapaca, Chile (April 3)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.6) Nicaragua (April 11)
• Earthquake (magnitude 7.4) Solomon Islands (April 12 and again April 13) Earthquake (magnitude 6.8) Southern Atlantic (April 15)
• Earthquake (magnitude 7.2) Guerrero, Mexico (April 18)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.6, 7.2 and 7.5) Bougainville Region (April 11 and 19): northeast of Australia
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.5) Vancouver Island, Canada (May 4)
• Voter Turnout Is Unexpectedly Low for Egypt's Presidential Election (May 27): Voter turnout in Egypt's presidential election is so low that officials add a third day of voting and declare the added day a state holiday. The low turnout suggests that Abdul-Fattah Sisi does not have the overwhelming support he has claimed and that has been widely reported. (May 29): Provisional results show Sisi winning the election by 90% of the vote.
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.6) Iran-Iraq Border (May 1)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.6) South of Fiji (May 4)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.4) Guerrero, Mexico (May 8)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.5) South of Panama (13): Earthquake (magnitude 6.9) Aegean Sea (May24)
• Earthquake (magnitude 5.1) Southern Iran (May 27) (source: https://www.emsc-csem.org/Earthquake/world/?view=99)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.2) Off Coast off Jalisco, Mexico (May 31)
• New Palestinian Unity Government Includes Hamas (June 2): The Palestinian government announces a new "government of national unity." The new unity government, formed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, includes Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. The reconciliation agreement ends two separate governments in Gaza and the West Bank. The new government will still be led by moderate Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Hamdallah and is considered a huge step toward ending the seven year battle between the two separate political factions in Palestine. In a televised speech, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says, "Today we declare the end of the split and regaining the unity of the homeland. This black page in our history has been closed forever." Abbas also vows that the new government is committed to continuing the course of nonviolence.
• Assad Is Re-elected in a Disputed Election (June 3): In Syria's presidential elections, Bashar al-Assad is re-elected to a third seven-year term, taking about 89% of the vote. However, votes are cast only in areas under government control as the opposition boycotts the election. President Obama and many other western leaders denounce the election as illegitimate. After the election, Assad says he will grant amnesty to prisoners involved in the uprising who have been detained for "all crimes other than terrorism." It is not clear when they will be released and if the declaration will apply to members of the opposition, who Assad has referred to as terrorists.
• Taliban Attacks Pakistan's Largest Airport (June 9): The Pakistani Taliban launches a brazen overnight attack at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Pakistan.
• Members of ISIS take control of Mosul (June 11): Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) take control of Mosul, in northern Iraq, dealing the government an enormous-and unexpected-blow. The militants release Sunni insurgents from prison, loot banks of about $425 million, and occupy an airport, several government and military buildings, and a police station. Government troops abandon the fight and join civilians fleeing the city. (June 14): As the militants expand their areas of control and the stability and future of Iraq grows even more dire, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country's senior Shiite religious leader, calls on all Iraqis to fight the militants. Thousands of Shiites heed Sistani's call and join the fight. The untrained fighters are met with brutal attacks from ISIS, and hundreds of Shiites are reportedly massacred after taking up arms. (June 21): President Obama says 300 military advisers will be sent to Iraq but says combat troops will not be deployed. There are calls from both inside Iraq and by foreign leaders for Maliki to step down so a unity government can be formed.
• Earthquake (magnitude 5.1) Eastern Mediterranean Sea (June 11): Earthquake (magnitude 6.5) South Indian Ocean (June 14):
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.3 and 6.8) Kermadec Islands, NZ (June 23):
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.9) South Sandwich Islands (June 29):
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.4) Samoa Islands Region (June 29):
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.6) Tonga (June 29): Tonga east of Australia in Pacific.
• ISIS Declares Territory in Iraq (July 1): ISIS changes its name to the Islamic State and declares the territory in Iraq under its control-Anbar province (west of Baghdad) and most of Nineveh (north of Baghdad)-a caliphate. Iraqi forces, with the guidance of U.S. military advisers, begin developing a strategy to maintain control of Baghdad and the surrounding area.
ISIS EXPLAINED (link)
• Murders of Israeli and Palestinian Teenagers Increases Tension (July 2): The body of a missing Palestinian teenager is found the day after the burial of the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and killed while hiking in the West Back in June. Both incidents increase tension between Israelis and Palestinians, including riots in East Jerusalem and an exchange of rocket fire in Southern Israel and Gaza. Hamas leaders praise the kidnapping and killing of the three teenagers, but do not take credit for the incident. (July 7): Several Israeli Jewish suspects are arrested in connection with the killing of the Palestinian teen. (July 9): Hundreds of rockets are launched into Israel by militant groups in Gaza. The rockets reach areas in Israel that previous rocket attacks did not. Israel's Iron Dome intercepts at least one rocket over Tel Aviv, while another reaches the outskirts of Jerusalem. In response, Israel launches an aerial offensive in Gaza and calls up thousands of reservists for a potential ground operation. (July 16): So far this month, Israel has bombed 60 targets, most of them in northern Gaza. Hundreds of rockets continue to be fired from Gaza into Israel, many intercepted by Israel's missile-defense system, the Iron Dome. (July 17): Israel launches a ground offensive into Gaza. Israeli officials say that the mission's main focus is on tunnels near Gaza's borders that are used to enter Israel. Within hours of the start of the invasion, one Israeli soldier is killed. At least 20 Palestinians are killed, bringing their death toll to more than 260 by the end of the first day of the offensive.
• New Parliament Speaker Elected in Iraq (July 15): As Iraq teeters on the brink of civil war, Parliament fails on two occasions to elect a speaker, a crucial step in forming a government. On its third attempt, Salim al-Jubouri, a moderate Sunni Islamist, is elected. Under the Constitution, parliament has two weeks to elect a president, and four weeks after that it must name a prime minister. As part of a power-sharing agreement, the speaker is a Sunni, the president a Kurd, and the prime minister a Sunni.
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.6) New Britain Region, (July 4)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.9) Chiapas, Mexico, (July 7)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.5) Off east coast Honshu, Japan, (July 11)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.3) Mindanao, Philippines (July 14)
• Earthquake (magnitude 6.8) Fiji (July 21)
SUKKOT - FEAST of TABERNACLES
(Sept 28 - Oct 6)
... keep watching closely ... we live among ugly events ... and two more blood moons to come ...
WARS and RUMORS of WARS
• U.S. Launches Limited Airstrikes on ISIS (Aug.): ISIS threatens to kill all Christians in Mosul who don't convert to Islam. Nearly all of the city's Christians, who numbered about 60,000 ten years ago, flee. (Aug. 7): ISIS militants take control of the largest dam in Iraq, which is located in Mosul. The dam provides electricity for all of Mosul and is the water supply for the city and much of the surrounding area. The UN has declared the dam is unstable and is vulnerable to collapse. If the dam is compromised, a 65-foot-high wave of water could deluge the city. Meanwhile, President Obama announces in a press conference that he has authorized limited airstrikes on ISIS as well as airdrops of humanitarian supplies. While not a full-scale engagement in Iraq, the mission does mean the return of the U.S. military for the first time since 2011.
• Offensive by Ukrainian Military Continues (Aug.): The rebels continue to struggle, as Ukrainian government troops move into Luhansk and Donetsk, former rebel strongholds.
• Egypt Mediates Israel Hamas Cease-Fire (Aug. 5): A 72-hour cease-fire mediated by Egypt begins. Israel withdraws its forces from the Gaza strip. Both Hamas and Israel agree to talks, mediated by Egypt, in an effort toward lasting peace. (Aug. 26): After fighting for seven weeks and attempting several short-term cease-fires, Israel and Hamas agree to an open-ended cease-fire. The agreement comes after seven weeks of fighting and is also mediated by Egypt. The interim agreement still has Hamas in control of Gaza while Israel and Egypt still control access to Gaza, leaving no clear winner in this latest conflict. However, Hamas declares victory. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is criticized in Israel for how costly the conflict has been. Since the conflict began last month, 2,143 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, with more than 11,000 wounded and 100,000 left homeless. On Israel's side, 64 soldiers and six civilians have been killed.
• ISIS Members Kill American Journalist (Aug. 19): Members of ISIS behead American journalist James Foley, 40, in apparent retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against the group. Foley, who worked for GlobalPost, went missing in Syria in November 2012. ISIS releases a graphic video of his killing. After his death, the U.S. announces that troops had attempted to rescue him and other U.S. hostages in July, but they had been unable to locate him. ISIS says Steven Sotloff, another kidnapped American journalist, will be killed if the airstrikes continue. President Obama refers to ISIS as a "cancer." "The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people," he says. "We will be vigilant, and we will be relentless." The U.S. steps up its airstrikes against the militants following Foley's murder.
FLOODS, FAMINE, DISEASE, PURSECUTION
• Ebola Outbreak Continues to Spread (Aug.): The outbreak of Ebola continues to spread through West Africa. By the end of summer, it has become the worst single Ebola outbreak in history. It is also the deadliest. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1,500 people have died from the outbreak. The total number of suspected and confirmed cases is at least 3,000, including the more than 1,500 deaths.
• 6.1 Earthquake Hits China (Aug. 3): A 6.1 magnitude earthquake hits Ludian County, Yunnan, China. At least 617 people are killed and 2,400 others are injured. More than 12,000 houses are destroyed, while another 30,000 are damaged.
• Floods and Landslides Kill Dozens in Nepal and India (Aug. 18): At least 160 people are killed in floods and landslides after days of heavy rain in Nepal and northern India. The landslides and flooding destroys rural villages and cuts off transportation. Nepal health officials fear an outbreak of cholera.
• Fleeing ISIS, Refugees Pour into Turkey (Sept. 1): About 130,000 mostly Kurdish refugees from north-central Syria flood into Turkey as ISIS militants seize large swaths of territory in the region and unleash attacks on the population. The influx of refugees create a humanitarian crisis. More than 1 million refugees had already entered Turkey from Syria.
• ISIS Members Kill Second American Journalist (Sept. 2): ISIS releases a video showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff, 31, who worked for Time and had been abducted in 2013 in Syria. Sotloff's execution comes two weeks after American journalist James Foley was beheaded by ISIS in reaction to the U.S. airstrikes against the terrorist group. Sotloff is executed even though his mother pleaded directly to ISIS's top leader to spare her son's life. Meanwhile, the day before, a coalition of Shiite militias delivers ISIS its first major setback in Iraq. ISIS had been surrounding and attacking Amerli, a town between Erbil and Baghdad that is home to Shiite Turkmens, for about three months before the militias, aided by U.S. airstrikes, beat back ISIS, ending the siege. (Sept. 10): President Obama authorizes airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. He also asks Congress to authorize money to fund and train moderate rebel groups in Syria to aid in the fight, which it does in late September. During a prime-time televised speech, Obama says, "ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East-including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States." The White House uses the name Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). (Sept. 13): ISIS beheads a third victim, 44-year-old British aid worker David Cawthorne Haines. (Sept. 23): Airstrikes begin in Syria, with Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates joining the U.S. in its campaign against ISIS bases and training camps in Raqqa, which is considered the group's capital, and four other provinces.
• Houthis Take Advantage of Instability in Yemen (Sept. 2): After gaining wide support from both Shia and Sunnis, the Houthis enter Sana, Yemen's capital, and set up camp there. Yemen's president, Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi, agrees to form a new government, with the Houthis nominating the prime minister. Hadi also announces a 30% reduction in the price of fuel. The Houthis, however, reject the concessions as inadequate. Fighting breaks out between the rebels and security forces in Sana days later and continues until the Houthis take control of Sana, a stunning accomplishment for the rebels and an equally significant blow for Hadi. (Sept. 20): The UN brokers a peace deal between the Houthis and the government. (Sept. 21): Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwa announces his resignation. As part of the deal the Houthis agree to withdraw from Sana, and Hadi says he will reinstate the fuel subsidy, a "technocratic national government" will be established, the Houthis will select presidential advisers, and the provisions of the National Dialogue Conference will be implemented.
• Ukraine Cease-Fire Begins (Sept. 5): Representatives from the Ukrainian government, the Russian-backed separatists, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who had been meeting in Minsk, Belarus, announce that they have agreed on a cease-fire.
• U.S. Launches Airstrikes on Kobani (Oct. 14): The U.S. launches airstrikes on Kobani, Syria, in an effort to prevent ISIS from taking over the strategically located town and gaining additional smuggling routes to arm fighters. Rather than assist the U.S. in its fight against ISIS, Turkey in October attacks installations of the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the southeast, near the border with Iraq. The move outrages Kurds and also frustrates U.S. officials who are counting on the NATO ally for support. (Oct. 21): The Turkish government shifts its policy and starts to allow a limited number of Iraqi Kurdish members of the pesh merga to cross from Turkey into Kobani to fight ISIS. (Oct. 27): ISIS maintains its hold on many cities in the largely Sunni Anbar Province, as U.S.-led airstrikes prove largely ineffectual without the support of Iraqi troops on the ground. U.S. and Iraqi officials are concerned that if ISIS takes over Anbar, it can then close in on Baghdad and the international airport there. Despite making conciliatory gestures toward Sunnis, Prime Minister Hadi fails to encourage Sunnis to join the fight against ISIS. The Iraqi military remains weakened by desertions, diminished morale, and mistrust of the new government.
• Five Killed at Synagogue in Jerusalem (Nov. 18): Two Palestinians, armed with knives, meat cleavers, and a handgun, enter a synagogue in Jerusalem during morning prayers and kill five people. Four of the people killed are rabbis; the other is a police officer who died hours after the incident. The two attackers are shot and killed by police. It is the deadliest assault that has occurred in Jerusalem since eight students were killed during a Jewish seminar in March 2008. The incident increases tension in Israel, which is already on high alert after a recent rise in religious violence. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemns the attack. In a televised address, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Abbas' condemnation isn't enough.