Chronology of news events in 2013
— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu plays spoiler to any easing of Iran’s relations with the West, telling world leaders his country will do whatever it takes to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it has to stand alone.
— Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi stages one of Italy’s most stunning plot twists in memory when he takes the Senate floor at the last minute to announce his support for Premier Enrico Letta’s government in a confidence vote after key loyalists in Berlusconi’s center-right party refuse his bid to collapse the ruling coalition.
— A rickety fishing boat overloaded with African migrants seeking a better life in Europe catches fire and capsizes near the Italian island of Lampedusa, throwing hundreds of men, women and children into the Mediterranean. At least 114 people die and hundreds are missing.
— President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap his Asia trip is a setback for his much-advertised pledge to shift the focus of U.S. foreign policy to the Pacific and a boost for China’s attempt to gain influence in the region.
— Iran’s top leader hints that he disapproved of the phone call between President Hassan Rouhani and President Barack Obama during the Iranian leader’s trip to New York last month, but he reiterates his crucial support for the president’s policy of outreach to the West.
— U.S. forces nab a suspected Libyan al-Qaida figure in a dramatic operation in Tripoli hours after U.S. Navy commandos swim ashore in Somalia and engage in a fierce firefight, but do not capture their target.
— Three U-S.-based scientists win the Nobel Prize in medicine for illuminating how tiny bubbles inside cells shuttle key substances around like a vast and highly efficient fleet of vans, delivering the right cargo to the right place at the right time.
— A pan-African magazine says Africa has more billionaires than previously reported, 55 of them worth more than $143 billion, including a Nigerian said to be the richest black woman in the world.
— The U.S. decision to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt creates new friction in Washington’s already uneasy relationship with the military-backed government and raises concern among regional allies of the U.S. commitment to Mideast security.
— Gunmen from one of Libya’s many militias storm a hotel where the prime minister has a residence and hold him for several hours, apparently in retaliation for his government’s alleged collusion with the U.S. in a raid last weekend that captured an al-Qaida suspect.
— The watchdog agency working to eliminate chemical weapons wins the Nobel Peace Prize in a powerful endorsement of inspectors now on the ground in Syria on a perilous mission to destroy the regime’s stockpile of poison gas.
— Secretary of State John Kerry says a partial agreement is reached with Afghanistan on a security accord, but the potentially deal-breaking issue of jurisdiction for American troops remains unresolved.
— Mass evacuation spare India the widespread deaths many had feared from a powerful cyclone that roared ashore over the weekend as the country sorted through the wreckage of flooded towns, tangled power lines and tens of thousands of destroyed thatch huts.
— In a sting worthy of Hollywood, Mohamed Ali Hassan is lured from Somalia to Belgium with promises of work on a documentary about high seas crime that would “mirror his life as a pirate” and is arrested, nabbed as he lands at Brussels airport.
— Iranian negotiators present world powers with what they say is a plan to break the decade of deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear program, declaring the time has come to end the country’s “walk in the dark” of international isolation and crippling sanctions.
— Congress passes and sends to a waiting president for his eventual signature legislation to avoid a threatened U.S. default and end the partial, 16-day government shutdown. It’s the culmination of an epic political drama that threatened the U.S. and global economies.
— A British scientist says he may have solved the mystery of the Abominable Snowman, the ape-like creature of the Himalayas. He thinks it’s a bear.
— Saudi Arabia does a stunning about-face and rejects a coveted seat on the U.N. Security Council, denouncing the body for failing to resolve world conflicts such as Syria’s civil war.
— The U.S. has quietly decided to release more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan that was suspended when relations between the two countries deteriorated over the covert raid that killed Osama bin Laden and deadly U.S. airstrikes on Pakistani soldiers.
— A suicide bomber slams his explosives-laden car into a busy cafe in Baghdad, part of a day of violence across Iraq that killed at least 45 people.
— France joins the growing list of angry allies who are demanding answers from the U.S. over aggressive surveillance tactics by the National Security Agency, this time it swept up — and in some cases recorded — 70.3 million French telephone calls and emails in one 30-day period.
— The United States defends drone strikes targeting al-Qaida operatives and others, rejecting claims by two human rights groups questioning the legality of the strikes they assert have killed scores of civilians in Yemen and Pakistan.
— German Chancellor Angela Merkel complains to President Barack Obama after learning U.S. intelligence may have targeted her mobile phone, saying it would be a “serious breach of trust” if confirmed. Obama denies the allegation.
— The leaders of a movement for self-rule in oil-rich eastern Libya unilaterally announce formation of a shadow government, the latest challenge to a weakened central authority.
— Indignant at reports of U.S. electronic espionage overseas, the leaders of France and Germany say they will insist the Obama administration agree by year’s end to limits that could put an end to alleged American eavesdropping on foreign leaders, businesses and innocent civilians.
— More than 60 women across Saudi Arabia claim they drove cars in defiance of a ban keeping them from getting behind the wheel, facing little protest from police in their push for easing restrictions on women in the kingdom.
— The candidate backed by Georgia’s billionaire prime minister easily wins the presidential election in the U.S.-aligned former Soviet republic.
— A U.S. research institute says North Korea is conducting major construction at its main missile launch site, apparently to accommodate larger rockets and mobile missiles.
— The U.N. confirms an outbreak of polio in Syria for the first time in over a decade, warning the disease threatens to spread among an estimated half a million children who have never been immunized because of the civil war.
— The U.S. National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, The Washington Post reports, citing documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
— Israeli war planes attack a shipment of Russian missiles inside a Syrian government stronghold, a development that threatens to add another volatile layer to regional tensions arising from the civil war.