What was November 2013 all about? On the international stage, we saw several seismic shifts in national policy, in Ukraine and in the relationship between Iran and the USA. It was a big media event of celebration for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and the month also saw one of the biggest typhoons on record. Here is a list of the key events celebrating, mourning and witnessing history in the making.
1. 50 Years of Doctor Who
The month saw a massive worldwide celebration of a very British tradition as cult science fiction hit Doctor Who celebrated its fiftieth year in the media. Initially cancelled in 1989, it made a return to TV screens in 2005 with a revamped format. To celebrate, the BBC commissioned a special one off episode featuring then present Doctor Matt Smith, previous Doctor David Tennant and a version not seen on screen before, played by veteran actor John Hurt. Cinemas across the globe showed special 3D versions of the episode.
2. Pope Francis’ ‘Magna Carta’
The apparent structural changes to the Catholic Church by the new Pope Francis took another step in the month of November when he declared that the church needed to decentralise in order to remain relevant in the modern era. In the same speech, he also called for a concerted effort to tackle poverty and “economy of exclusion and inequality”. One observer referred to the Evangelii Gaudium document as a ‘Magna Carta for church reform’. However, those hoping for more sweeping reforms were disappointed when he claimed that an exclusively male priesthood was not open to question
3. Ukraine for Europe or Russia?
The President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who had always been against closer ties to Europe, finally shelved plans to begin proceedings to join the European Union following extensive meetings with the Russian head of state Vladimir Putin. The move was very unpopular with a population at odds with the policy of the national government. Pro-Europe activists immediately began protesting the move and by the end of December, protests were ongoing in the streets of Kiev and other cities across the country. Several police exercises had failed to disperse the protests.
4. An Independent Scotland?
With Scotland’s population due in 2014 to take a referendum on whether to continue within the United Kingdom or to go independent, the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond published a White Paper during the month outlining how Scotland might proceed. His plan to keep the pound was immediately hit with ridicule ‘ effectively the national bank would be in a ‘foreign’ country. Further questions also remain about whether Scotland would stay in Europe, and if so whether they would need to apply as an independent nation. His paper has its supporters and its critics on both sides of the England-Scotland border.
5. Groves vs Froch
The biggest sporting shock of the month was in the heavyweight fight between George Groves and Carl Froch. The two were largely evenly match for the first five rounds but the judges later revealed that they have Groves winning on points. In the ninth round, the referee controversially stopped the fight in favour of Froch. The crowd felt that Groves was on the verge of victory and gave Froch a hearty boo when he celebrated in the ring. Groves had been on the ropes but did not appear on the verge of defeat ‘ according to some pundits.
6. Buddhist Relic Found
Archaeologists in Nepal were celebrating in November after discovering what is now considered the world’s oldest Buddhist shrine. Found at a temple in Mayadevi, traces of a wooden structure were confirmed to date to around 600BC ‘ placing it to around the time of life of the actual Buddha upon whom the religion is based. The previous oldest shrine was dated to 300BC, making this new example 300 years older. Archaeologists hope to learn more about the date of the temple now that it is contemporary with the religion’s founder.
7. Xbox One released
The third generation in the Microsoft Xbox family was released toward the end of the month, just in time for the beginning of the Christmas shopping period. It marked a seismic shift away from the older 360 system. It is not backwards compatible with older games, uses blu ray rather than DVD and is being marketed as an all-in-one entertainment system with a fully integrated online gaming experience. Interestingly, it also moved back to the framework of the original Xbox whereas the 360 was more of a PC based platform.
8. Iran Nuclear Deal
The apparent warming relationship between Iran and the USA took another important step in November when the new Iranian leader agreed to allow the UN to place strict regulation on development of their nuclear program. The biggest concern about the nature of the deal came naturally from Israel. President Obama sought to reassure Netanyahu of his continued commitment to preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons. Though some Republicans expressed concern, most were convinced that it was workable in the short term ‘ not a solution in itself.
9. Death of a Priest
Normally, the death of a priest would not be international news but when Irish priest Father Alec Reid died in November aged 82, he was mourned by both sides in the ongoing battle to finally bring peace to Northern Ireland. Despite being a Catholic, he was considered a trustworthy middleman between the British government and Republican activists. In the background, he passed messages between British and Irish governments parties and personal oversaw the decommissioning of arms. He was most famous for giving the last rites to two British soldiers who had been killed by an angry Republican mob.
10. Typhoon Haiyan
No year is complete without its natural disaster and the biggest of the year came in November. Typhoon Haiyan hit the East Indies as an exceptionally strong storm and is now considered the strongest typhoon presently on record. It caused over $1.5bn (US) in damage, leading to a global aid campaign to help those who lost family members and their homes in the backwash. Over six thousand people were killed, twenty seven thousand injured with some two thousand officially listed as missing. Millions suffered injury and loss of property in the disaster.
November 2013 had many more stories than the one above. Storms in Europe, ongoing banking crises in the EU and the USA, but it also recorded clear and definite growth following several years of recession. Despite some of the tragedies shown above, many people were starting to feel upbeat as 2013 started to come to a close and look forward to 2014.