2013 Year in Review: Top news stories - New York News

2013 Year in Review: Top news stories

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The year 2013 had its ups and downs, accomplishments and tragedies.  

Here is a list of the top news stories of 2013.

There was a nearly-unprecedented level of partisan gridlock in Congress.

But terrorism, kidnappings, and a historic change in the Catholic Church also marked the year in news...

2013 started with all eyes on Congress.

With hopes for a  last minute deal to avoid the most serious consequences of the so-called 'fiscal cliff.'

But the failure of both parties to reach a broader agreement led to steep budget cuts known as sequestration and a debt ceiling showdown months later.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un claimed he conducted an underground nuclear test.

The UN responded with new financial restrictions that even China approved.

The Carnival cruise ship Triumph lost power after a fire in the engine room.

Thousands of passengers drifted in the Gulf of Mexico for 5 days, with hardly any food or water.

And no working toilets.

A tugboat finally pulled the ship into port in Mobile, Alabama....

Jimmy Lee Dykes shot a school bus driver, kidnapped a 5- year- old boy, and held him in an underground bunker in Alabama. The standoff lasted almost a week before the FBI raided the bunker, rescued the boy and killed Dykes.

Former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner went on a killing rampage, taking out police officers and their families. The manhunt went nationwide. Dorner killed himself during a standoff with law enforcement.

Gunman Aaron Alexis killed 12 people and injured others at the Washington DC. navy yard, before police shot him dead.

Pope Benedict became the first Pontiff in nearly 600 years to resign . His successor, Argentine cardinal Jorge Bergoglio took the name Pope Francis.

Two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing 3 people and injuring more than 250. The search for the bombers shut down the city for almost an entire day. Police say Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also killed an MIT police officer. Investigators say Tamerlan died after his brother ran over him during a gun battle with police. Cops later found Dzhokhar in a boat in nearby Watertown, Mass.

Two days after that bombing, an explosion rocked a fertilizer plant in the town of West Texas. The blast killed 15 people, injured more than 160 others, and damaged more than 150 buildings.

Gay rights took a major leap forward this year...

Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii and Rhode Island all legalized same-sex marriage. And the Supreme Court struck down the defense of marriage act. The high court also struck down key portions of the voting rights act opening the door for new election laws in at least a dozen states.

An EF5 tornado swept through Moore, Oklahoma killing 23 people including many children.

Nineteen firefighters died after battling wildfires in Arizona. Investigators blamed faulty radio systems for the deaths.

Three women were rescued after a decade as captives at a home in Cleveland. Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to more than 900 charges ... Including kidnapping and rape. He later killed himself in prison.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden made off with thousands of classified documents and exposed top- secret phone and internet surveillance programs.

He hid out in Hong Kong, before getting Asylum in Russia.

Asiana flight 214 crashed as it landed at San Francisco International Airport.

Most passengers made it out alive.  

But 3 teenagers died.

Investigators say one victim actually survived the crash, but a fire truck ran over her on the runway.

A jury cleared George Zimmerman of all charges in the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. But the trouble hasn't stopped for Zimmerman. Since the trial, cops have pulled him over for speeding and charged him with aggravated assault after a fight with his girlfriend. While he was in jail on that charge, his wife served him with divorce papers.

A new British royal came into the world. Prince George of Cambridge is 3rd in line to become king.

Chaos erupted again in Egypt. The military ousted President Mohammed Morsi ... The country's first democratically- elected leader. It happened after weeks of protests by Egyptians who accused Morsi and the Muslim brotherhood of abusing their power.

The death toll from the Syrian civil war topped 100,000 according to the UN.

US officials claim a chemical weapons attack near Damascus killed nearly 1500 people.

The Obama administration threatened a military response...

Then accepted an offer from President Assad to hand over his entire chemical weapons stockpile to a UN watchdog.

House Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling or fund the Federal government unless senate Democrats agreed to de-fund or delay Obamacare. The standoff led to the first partial government shutdown in 17 years. Sixteen days later ... The two sides reached a compromise.

The Healthcare. gov website went live as planned. But technical problems made it nearly impossible for Americans to enroll in the new insurance exchanges. By the end of the year the White House said the site had made 'dramatic' improvements. But the Obamacare fallout continued. Millions of Americans got cancellation notices from their insurance companies because their plans didn't meet the new requirements.

Critics of the law said President Obama lied when he promised:

“If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan."

The President announced he would let Americans keep the canceled plans but only if their insurance companies agreed.

And ending the year on a solemn note...

Civil Rights icon Nelson Mandela died in December at the age of 95... The entire world mourned the man who spent 27 years in prison before leading South Africa out of Apartheid and toward the path of reconciliation, to become its first black president.

Looking ahead ... We're waiting to see if Congress can come together on a budget deal before yet another deadline, January 15th.

The midterm elections in November will decide who controls the next Congress, and could give us clues about the 2016 Presidential race.

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