by Dr Solomon A Feyissa
1. Passing of Nelson Mandela
After suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection, Mandela died on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95. He died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, surrounded by his family. His death was announced on television by President Jacob Zuma.
On 6 December 2013, President Zuma announced a national mourning period of ten days, with the main event held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on 10 December 2013. He declared Sunday 8 December 2013 a national day of prayer and reflection. Mandela’s body lay in state from 11–13 December at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and a state funeral was held on 15 December 2013 in Qunu, South Africa. More than 91 world leaders, the largest gathering in the continent’s history, made their way to his memorial.
Mandela died, leaving a legacy that extended far beyond ending 46 years of apartheid in South Africa. He inspired generations around the world to fight not just for racial equality, but for inclusiveness.
2. Political crisis in Egypt: Correction of high jacked revolution or return to authoritarianism.
In 2013 we have seen the removal of Mohamed morsi and Muslim brotherhood from power and the return of military led government.
Almost three years after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, some question what has become of the revolution. Some say Egypt has returned to the kind of police state which the revolution aimed to remove. Others point out that it is disappointing to see that Egypt is almost back where it started three years ago. There is growing concern about a return to authoritarianism in Egypt, where the military-installed authorities have cracked down on freedom of speech, stifled protests, and arrested activists. Mohammed Morsi and many thousands of Brotherhood members have been detained. The crackdown on the Brotherhood has been portrayed by officials as a struggle against terrorism. Protests against the new law on public gatherings are continuing despite dozens of arrests. Many Egyptians share the belief that Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi averted a civil war.
Next year ( 2014)Egyptians will vote for a new constitution, president and parliament.
3. Conflict in South Sudan
By the end of 2013 the world has witness a political conflict with possible ethnic /tribal dimensions in southern Sudan. More than 1000 people are believed to have died in clashes in South Sudan between rival army factions. President Salva Kiir says it was a coup attempt, blaming soldiers loyal to former Vice-President Riek Machar for the trouble, but Mr Machar denies this. The trigger appears to have been political and escalated into ethnic violence. President Kiir believes there was and has pointed the finger of blame at Mr Machar, who is now in hiding. Mr Machar denies the accusations, but has publicly criticized Mr Kiir in the past for failing to tackle corruption and said in July that he would challenge him for the SPLM’s leadership. Mr Machar also has a troubled history with the SPLM, leading a breakaway faction in the 1990s.
The current conflict has the potential to be a “fully-fledged war throughout the country” between the Dinka and Nuer communities. More than 80,000 people are said to have fled their homes and there are reports of mass killings along ethnic lines. Forces backing Mr Machar had seized the key towns of Bor (now back in government forces) and Bentiu, capital of the oil-producing Unity State.
The country is awash with guns after the decades of conflict and there is a history of tension between rival ethnic groups, which politicians could whip up if they believe that could help them gain, or remain in, power.
4. Syria’s civil war
Fueled by the Arab Spring, Syrian protests have devolved into a brutal civil war with more than 2 million refugees and 120,000 others killed in a country of 21.1 million. The use of sarin, whose prohibition Syria had agreed to in 1993, nearly brought direct U.S. action. Peace talks have been scheduled for January 2014.
5. Philippines Typhoon
Typhoon Haiyan strikes the Philippines on November 8, 2013, killing more than 5,000 people. Haiyan, aka Yolanda, is possibly the strongest recorded storm to make landfall.
6. Edward Snowden NSA leaks
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaks info on the NSA’s mass surveillance program on civilians. He’s charged with espionage and theft, and flees to Russia, where he is given temporary asylum.
7. A new pope
In a shocking move, Pope Benedict XVI becomes the first pope to resign in almost 600 years. A month later, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is elected his successor, taking the papal name Pope Francis.
Mario Jorge Bergoglio, a former papal candidate, found himself in the Holy See when Pope Benedict opted for a centuries-first retirement package. His homage to St. Francis of Assisi and humility endeared Pope Francis to millions.
8. Boston Marathon attacks
On Patriots’ Day, April 15, as more than 23,000 runners wended through historic Boston, two brothers allegedly set off a homemade bomb near the finish line, killing three and injuring 264. They picked the wrong city. Within days, police tracked down the Tsarnaev brothers, one of whom died and the other faces trial in 2014.
9. Iran-US warming of ties
For the first time since 1979, President Obama speaks directly to the leader of Iran. Iran later reaches an agreement to limit its nuclear activities in return for lighter sanctions.
10. Rollout of Affordable care act ACA ( Obama care)
Obamacare has been a lightning rod since the president signed the executive order in 2010. The ACA survived a Supreme Court challenge and a presidential election, but it buckled under technical glitches during roll out.
The pre ACA health care financing and coverage leave out about 15 % of the population. Thus ACA tried to address the coverage issue and aimed to make heath insurance reform in order to increase the coverage up to 95 to 100% of the population.
Core Aspects of the ACA: Primarily based on Massachusetts health care reform ( Romney Care)
1. Medicaid ( medical assistance ) expansion by changing the income criteria so that many more millions would be eligible.
2. Mandating employer sponsored insurance for employers with work force of 50 or more.
3. Allowing children to stay on their parents plan/insurance until age of 26.
4. Creating health exchanges as online one stop insurance comparison and shopping site/tool to encourage competition among insurance providers and help individuals get a better choice and deal.
5. Provide subsidies for those who can’t afford insurance so that they will be able to buy one.
6.Individual mandate ( every one should buy insurance or pay penalty) to decrease risk pool by mandating young and healthy people to buy insurance in order to off set the cost for health care of older and sicker people.
7. Individuals will not be discriminated based on age, gender and pre-existing medical condition by insurance companies