After the success of our first monthly list of important world news stories at http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-important-world-news-stories-of-january-2013.php that received over one hundred Facebook likes in under a week along with over two dozen comments in the same amount of time, it come as no surprise that we are presenting a second edition for the month of February 2013. Although many of the issues in the first list remain relevant for February, I do not want to merely repeat things. Moreover, I also thought I would touch upon some more uplifting topics of global cultural relevance or of economic and social importance rather than dwell entirely on political and/or military crises. Indeed, February has been full of many compelling developments in entertainment as well as politics. For example, World Wrestling Entertainment superstar The Rock started the month during his eighth reign as WWE Champion. Meanwhile, his new theatrically released film Snitch was released on 22 February 2013. In the realm of technology, Sony announced the Playstation 4 on 20 February 2013, which will likely be part of multi-million dollar games industry associated with the home entertainment device. Finally, according to http://www.examiner.com/article/plan-announced-for-manned-mission-to-mars-2018 a plan for space tourism to Mars in 2018 was also announced in February 2013. I am not exactly sure how realistic this proposal is to actually being realized, but in the off chance it does happen, it would of course have tremendous influence on mankind’s exploration beyond our Earth and its moon. Yet, despite these fascinating news stories having major importance for February and beyond, ten other stories earn ranking in the top ten list for this past month! So, here are the top ten most important world news stories of February 2013 that all world citizens should be aware of. I encourage you to first read the previous month’s list if you have not yet done so before moving on to the latest update!
- Source 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWE_Championship
- Source 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_WWE_Champions
- Source 3: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rock_%28wrestler%29
- Source 4: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snitch_%28film%29
10. In central Russia, shock waves from a meteor—the largest recorded object encountered by Earth since 1908!
As the above headline making the rounds of the internet suggest, a potentially frightening incident known as 2013 Russian meteor event occurred the day after St. Valentine’s Day. On 15 February 2013, a meteor broke up in the vicinity of the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring more than 1,200 people, two of them seriously, from the shattering of windows caused by the shockwaves and the debris. The incident occurred on the same day as Near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 with an estimated diameter of about 50 meters (160 ft) came within 17,200 miles (27,700 km) from the Earth’s surface, which is a record close approach for a known object of such size. Thus, collectively, the two incidents serve as yet another reminder of how vulnerable Earth is to a potentially catastrophic collision with an asteroid or meteor. Let us just hope that the films Armageddon and Deep Impact do not turn out to be prophetic! For more information on these two important news stories, please see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21468116 and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/14/asteroid-da14-facts-information-flyby_n_2689679.html respectively.
9. Super Bowl XLVII had a record 164.1 million viewers in the United States alone despite unprecedented 34 minute power outage due to equipment failure at stadium.
Really, for this entry I do not have much to say as anyone interested in the topic has likely already learned the score and watched the halftime show, but it is worth keeping in mind just how much key sporting events influence the sale of advertised products during commercials, the careers of its star athletes and halftime show performers, not to mention television revenues. It also is a moment where millions of fans come together with friends and family to peacefully, albeit spiritedly celebrate mankind’s athleticism in one of the most watched annual sporting events in the world.
February 2013 also included the naming of other notable champions. Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500, the season-opening and most prestigious race of the NASCAR season, on Sunday, 24 February 2013 at the Daytona International Speedway, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second and pole-sitter Danica Patrick came in eighth place.
That same day, or rather night, a different kind of slew of winners was named at The Academy Awards ceremony. Argo won the Oscar for best picture. Jennifer Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar, while Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor Oscar for his performance in Lincoln. Ang Lee won the Oscar for Best Director for Life of Pi. Finally, Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress Oscar for her performance in Les Miserables and Christoph Waltz won best supporting actor Oscar for Django Unchained. Sadly, I have not yet seen any of these films…
8. The Star Wars and Star Trek franchises announced new films and pinball games.
With regards to other major events concerning world cinema, two of the most enduring and popular franchises in popular culture have reasserted their relevance this past month. Not only are they still discussed in such lists as http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-reasons-yoda-was-actually-dead-all-along.php on this site, but they have tantalized millions of fans across the world with details concerning upcoming films and pinball games in both franchises. For the official websites of the new Stark Trek and Star Wars themed pinball tables, see http://www.startrek.com/article/relive-tng-pinball-with-pinball-arcade-mobile-game and http://www.starwarspinball.com/
And speaking of science fiction space operas, let us not also forget SyFy’s debut of Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome on 10 February 2013 on home media on 19 February 2013, which is currently locked in an intriguing debate among fans of the various above mentioned franchises in such discussions as found in the comments for http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-reasons-we-should-consider-building-a-battlestar-and-not-a-death-star.php
- Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlestar_Galactica:_Blood_%26_Chrome
7. The US Postal Service announced it will end Saturday mail delivery beginning in August.
For decades the US Postal Service has delivered mail on Saturdays and now a major change affecting shipping of letters not just nationally, but also from international letters mailed to people in the United States, will be eliminated for a day. Packages are apparently not affected and will continue to be delivered. Why is the development important? Well, consider what Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said: “Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s plan to end Saturday delivery is a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers. It would be particularly harmful to small businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication.” Given that the US Postal Service involves billions of dollars and again includes internationally received letters, eliminating one of six days that mail is delivered has ramifications for millions of Americans and people outside of Americans who correspond with and do business with Americans. For more information on this important news story, see http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/06/postal-service-to-cut-saturday-mail-to-trim-costs/
6. UFC 157 was the first time ever in the world’s largest mixed-martial arts promotion’s history that women competed for a championship and that an openly gay fighter competed.
In a televised event broadcast and watched around the world, the first ever female Ultimate Fighting Champion defended her belt against the first ever openly gay mixed martial artist to compete in the promotion. This change after nearly two decades and over 150 events in the promotions history represents major milestones in how society views fighters. Given that the UFC holds events all over the world from the Americas to Europe to Asia, expanding its roster to include greater diversity is a significant sign of the times. The fact that the women competed in the main event makes this card even more historic. Moreover, it also illustrates the bravery of the UFC to promote such a fight and of the challenger to compete as an openly gay fighter despite the expected online hostility from the ignorant. See, for example, the discussion at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFC_157 where certain “contributors” dismiss the overwhelming and most factually accurate viewpoint of the majority of commenters while spouting off veiled homophobic and misogynistic nonsense that denigrates and dismisses the importance of not only women and gay athletes, but of the entire sport of mixed-martial arts. This sport has a global fan base in the millions and is a billion dollar international industry. Yet, a few self-appointed judges blatantly lie to suppress knowledge about something they just do not like. It is sad to see that in this day and age, electronic book burning, homophobia, and misogyny are still prevalent enough to stifle human knowledge and diminish the potential of Wikipedia, but it is just a further reminder that women’s rights and gay rights are still hot topics. Kudos for the UFC for making progress in these regards and shame on Wikipedia for allowing accounts with checkered pasts as seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Log/block&page=User%3AClaritas and http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Log/block&page=User%3AKww to get their way. For more information on this notable event, see the coverage found in such mainstream press reports as http://www.inquisitr.com/452753/ronda-rousey-and-liz-carmouche-will-make-history-at-ufc-157/
Nevertheless, UFC 157 is one of several key developments in February 2013 with regards to women’s and gay rights. Women appear to continue making strides in various competitions from racing to singing. In mid-February, racer Danica Patrick became the first woman to win pole position at the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, while American Idol, which continues its dominance as one of the highest rated weekly television shows in American history, seems to pulling for its first potential female winner after several years in a row of male winners. The singing competition is now into its twelfth season and while ratings have declined, it still attracts headlines and remains a ratings powerhouse, perhaps pinning its hopes on a gender changeup for this season’s champion? Finally, on the final day of February 2013, The U.S. House voted 286 to 138 to pass a Senate version of a bill renewing the Violence Against Women Act. As CNN reported, “The measure now heads to President Obama, who is expected to sign it. Eighty-seven Republicans joined all 199 Democrats to pass the bill in the House. Earlier, House Republicans failed to pass their own version of the bill, struggling again with an issue important to women and minority groups. Originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized since, the act provides support for organizations that serve domestic violence victims. Criminal prosecutions of abusers are generally the responsibility of local authorities, but the act stiffened sentences for stalking under federal law.”
For other important developments in February with regards to women’s and gay rights, see http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/02/04/it-is-now-legal-for-women-to-wear-pants-in-paris/ about how Paris recently officially ended a ban on women’s pants that dated back to Napoleon’s government and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21433198 about how France’s National Assembly has approved a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. For similar developments across the Channel, see also http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/05/world/europe/uk-gay-marriage-vote/index.html about increasing support in Britain’s Parliament for legalizing gay marriage in the island country. Finally see http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/us/boy-scouts-postpone-decision-on-gays.html?_r=0 for the ongoing debate about whether or not the Boy Scouts of America will admit gay members in its organization. I will be interested to read in your comments what you think about the UFC now including women and gay fighters, Wikipedia’s limiting of content, women being permitted to wear pants in Paris, Britain potentially legalizing gay marriage, and the Boy Scouts being open to gay members? Please do keep your comments civil and respectful concerning these hot button issues. Thank you!
5. English king Richard III’s remains were positively identified as was the oldest town in Europe.
Two major archaeological finds in Europe grabbed the international media’s attention in February 2013. Receiving the most coverage was the discovery of King Richard III’s skeleton under a parking lot. The discovery is important to historians for giving us a sense of not only what happened to him (among other things he was apparently stabbed in the buttocks after death), but also for giving us a better idea of how he looked and as such whether William Shakespeare’s critical depiction is accurate. Richard has been regarded as one of the most villainous kings in English history and his disastrous defeat ended the Wars of the Roses in 1485 and brought to power the Tudors, a dynasty with world historic significance that reigned until 1603 (the Tudors, for example, started English colonization of North America and established the Anglican Church). For more information on this important story, please see http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/feb/10/richard-iii-discovery-news-teaching-resources
- Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wars_of_the_Roses
Meanwhile, another major archaeological find concerning skeletal remains was found in Bulgaria. In this case, the discovery concerns not just one king, but a community dating back to 4700 to 4200 B.C., and thereby possibly being the oldest such town in European history. Both of these discoveries were actually made prior to February 2013, which is why they are not ranked higher; however, they have received renewed coverage this past month and demonstrate just how much about our past is still being unlocked. For all you would be Indiana Jones-types, rest assured, there is still much, much more to be discovered yet, which is what makes history and archaeology such exciting professions! For more information on this important story, please see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/bulgaria/9649220/Oldest-town-in-Europe-discovered.html
Finally, still another important European archaeological development occurred in the famous Roman Colosseum old frescoes and X-rated graffiti were recently discovered. These finds help to provide further insights into the Roman Empire’s cultural life. See http://webcenters.netscape.compuserve.com/whatsnew/package.jsp?name=fte/colosseumart/colosseumart for more information.
4. The debate over gun control in the United States of America intensified.
One need only look at the comments to http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-reasons-to-increase-gun-regulation-in-the-us.php and http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-myths-about-guns.php on this site to get an idea of how heated the gun control debate has been this past month. The rights of gun owners in one of the largest countries in terms of both geography and population goes back to the nation’s founding over two hundred years ago. As such, any possible change in those rights has historic significance and influences the lives of over 300 million U.S. citizens as well as the large number of tourists who visit the country. Perhaps the most covered event involving a shooting incident in February concerned not a mere civilian gun owner but a former soldier and police officer named Christopher Dorner who is the suspected killer of at least three people. For more information on this man, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Jordan_Dorner and please add your thoughts on the gun debate to the comment section below.
3. Wrestling, one of the oldest sports in the world, has been announced as no longer being part of the Olympics starting in 2020, while the video game with the longest continuous running DLC release also announces a stop to future production by April 2013.
As someone who wrestled in junior high and high school, this news is especially disappointing. As my brother and I competed, I looked forward to watching wrestling at the Olympics and remember well watching Alexander Karelin’s storied matches against Matt Ghaffari and Rulon Gardner. Names like Dan Gable and Kurt Angle, not to mention such women as Sara McMann, are well known for their accomplishments as Olympians. Wrestling is a major world sport that remains relevant to everyone from professional wrestlers to mixed-martial artists. Not surprising such competitors around the world have expressed their shock at this news. For such a tradition going back over a hundred years in the modern Olympics and as the name Greco-Roman wrestling suggests, its origins goes back even further to ancient times, to potentially come to an end is just mind-blowing.
- Source 1: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/21427455
- Source 2: http://www.mmafighting.com/2013/2/12/3980656/pro-fighters-top-wrestlers-react-to-ioc-removing-wrestling-mma-news
- Source 3: http://rajah.com/node/32188
- Source 4: http://rajah.com/node/32192
- Source 5: http://www.sherdog.com/news/news/International-Olympic-Committee-Drops-Wrestling-from-2020-Games-49989
- Source 6: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_McMann
February also marked the end of a different kind of era: the downfall of the band simulator video game. A short while back the Guitar Hero franchise that became notable enough to have a whole episode spoof it on South Park had its line of video games stop production. Now, in February 2013, the makers of Rock Band also announced that not only are they not working on any further games in the series, they are also halting production of new downloadable songs starting in April 2013. What makes this announcement historic is that they have released downloadable songs for 275 straight weeks over the past five years. No other console video game has enjoyed such a steady stream of downloadable content ever. After so many years of enjoyment playing these music games, it is a bit sad to see their production coming to an end, not to mention how their discontinuation affects the jobs of the game makers.
- Source: http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/02/18/new-rock-band-dlc-ends-in-april-harmonix-working-on-new-projects
I encourage readers to write to the heads of the Olympics demanding that wrestling not be eliminated and for music video game enthusiasts to keep buying what is left of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band DLC to convince their studios that producing more is indeed still profitable. We can make a difference here so that two great eras in sports and video game history do not have to come to a conclusion!
2. Pope Benedict XVI resigned on February 28, the Vatican Press Office told Fox News, while his spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told CNN.
Lombardi did not give a reason for the resignation of Benedict, the 265th pope. Benedict, the sixth German to serve as pope and the first since the 11th century, led the church during a time in which the church declined in his native Europe but expanded in Africa and Latin America. The resignation was effective from 20:00 on 28 February 2013 making him the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415 to resign. Given that there are the pope is head of a sovereign country as well as leader of the world’s largest church, his global influence is among the most significant of all world political and religious leaders. Given the ongoing child sex abuse scandals as well as various other matters involving the Roman Catholic Church, any modern pope faces many challenges that affect the lives of millions of people on practically every continent. Given that I teach at a Catholic University as seen at http://sites.jcu.edu/history/pages/faculty-and-staff/matthew-zarzeczny/ this story is of particular interest to myself and many of my Catholic students.
On 28 February 2013, the resignation became official after Pope Benedict XVI made his last public appearance as pontiff at Italy’s Castel Gandolfo, the seaside papal resort town where, Benedict will be in seclusion until his successor is chosen. To a cheering crowd, he spoke his final words as pope from balcony: “Thank you for your friendship and for your affection. I am no longer the pope.” Benedict thereby became the first living pope to resign in 598 years. The 85 year old said he resigned because of his age, although his sudden announcement led to speculation that his move was in some way linked to brewing scandals within the Church. Regardless of the reason for the resignation, CNN reports that he “has pledged unconditional obedience to the next pope, who the Vatican hopes to have in place in time for the week of services leading up to Easter Sunday on March 31. Benedict will eventually move to a small monastery within the Vatican grounds.”
- Source 1: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/28/pope-benedict-bids-goodbye-to-cardinals/
- Source 2: http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/25/world/europe/vatican-archbishop-resigns/index.html
- Source 3: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/27/was-benedict-xvi-the-right-man-for-the-job/
- Source 4: http://cnnpreview.turner.com:82/interactive/2013/02/world/pope-contenders/index.html
- Source 5: http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/27/world/europe/pope-selection-process/index.html
- Source 6: http://ireport.cnn.com/topics/925363
For the original news stories, please see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21411304 and http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/11/pope-benedict-xvi-resigns-age while I also recommend http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resignation_of_Pope_Benedict_XVI for the latest developments
Given this particular news, it should hardly be surprising that general interest in the papacy throughout February 2013, including in list format, has increased as seen at such lists as http://listverse.com/2013/02/11/top-10-popes-who-resigned/ among numerous others including http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-popes-with-the-shortest-reigns-ever.php right here on TopTenz!
1. North Korean and Iranian nuclear developments continue to threaten world peace amidst other crises in Asia.
On 12 February 2013, The South Korean Yonhap news agency reported that an “artificial earthquake” occurred in North Korea suggesting that a nuclear test has occurred. North Korea subsequently confirmed that it successfully tested a miniaturized nuclear device. Not surprisingly, this test has increased tensions between the two nations and resulted in condemnation from U.S. president Obama on the same day as his State of the Union Address. The test represents a step forward in North Korean nuclear technology and means that the country will be that much more dangerous of an opponent in the event that tensions escalate into all out war. This incident follows up on further concerning developments out of Asia. On 7 February 2013, the Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei accused the United States of “holding a gun” to Tehran’s head to pressure it to hold direct talks and stated that it is unlikely that these talks may take place, while South Korean soldiers on the world’s most heavily armed border received orders to shoot back immediately if they come under attack.
- Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_North_Korean_nuclear_test
As if prospects of a the U.S. and its allies fighting against either or both a nuclear armed Iran and/or North Korea, tensions involving other major Asian powers also continued in February. Early in the month, the Japan Coast Guard claimed that two government ships from the People’s Republic of China entered waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands. Then on 5 February 2013, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera stated that the country has lodged a protest with China after a People’s Liberation Army Navy frigate directed weapon-targeting radar at a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer near the disputed Senkaku Islands. It should almost go without saying that any war between China and Japan would have major global economic consequences, not to forget the seriousness of any war involving the world’s most populous country (China) that also happens to possesses large stockpiles of nuclear weapons. That these tensions are occurring at the same time as the tensions in the Middle East and the Korean peninsula are especially concerning consider the terrible prospects of all of these hotspots potentially all erupting simultaneously into some kind of World War III. As such, the tensions of nuclear nations or nuclear ambitious nations in Asia are by far the most serious issues to make news in February as they carry with them the potentially of unthinkable amounts of loss of life if things should go further in the wrong direction.
Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS and the author of Meteors That Enlighten the Earth: Napoleon and the Cult of Great Men