At the end of 2012, a civil war had been raging for 22 months in Syria. More than 60,000 people from both sides had reportedly been killed in the battle for control of the country. The opposition party, seeking to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, gained control of several cities. In 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama endorsed the main Syrian opposition group, known as the Syrian National Coalition, calling it the only “legitimate representative” of Syria’s people. Great Britain, France, and Turkey are some countries that had previously made a similar declaration
Greece has been in a severe debt crisis since 2009. Part of the European Union, it shares the euro as its unit of currency. To avoid running out of money completely, Greek leaders accepted money from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. In exchange for bailout money, Greece enacted series of extreme measures, known as austerity (aw-ster-ih-tee) measures, to control its spending on public programs. Pensions and wages have decreased, and many people have lost their jobs. Fees have been added to hospital visits that used to be free, and the retirement age has been raised. The government also hoped to bring in more money by raising taxes. But few people wanted to live with fewer services and higher taxes. The Greek people, already suffering from the global recession, took to the streets in protest.
In 2012, South Korea, which is a democratic republic, elected Park Geun-hye as its first woman president. The 60-year-old is no stranger to the presidency. Her father was President of the country from 1961 to 1979. He first gained that office by seizing power in a military coup and was assassinated 18 years later by his own chief spy!
At around 9:20 a.m. on February 15, 2013, people in the town of Chelyabinsk, in central Russia, heard an explosion and watched a big streak of light burst across the sky over the nearby Ural Mountains. A 10-ton (9 metric tons) meteor, moving at a speed of 33,000 miles (53,108 km.) per hour, had exploded 12 to 15 miles (19 t0 24 km) above the surface of Earth. The explosion was as powerful as dozens of atomic bombs. It was the largest recorded space rock to hit Earth in more than a century.
Fragments of the meteor fell to Earth in a lo-population area of the frigid Chelyabinsk region. The blast injured nearly 1,500 people and damaged buildings and other property. Governor Mikhail Yurevich estimated the damage would cost about $33 million to repair,
- A driver captured that image with his car’s dashboard camera.
Are Space Rocks Dangerous?Tons of space debris flies around the Earth every day. On the same day as the Russian meteor, a 150-foot (46 m) asteroid flew past Earth and came within 17,000 miles (27,359 km) of the surface. That’s closer to Earth than some satellites. According to astronomers, this asteroid and the meteorite that landed on Russia are unrelated events.
NASA keeps a close eye on the skies for all-near Earth space objects, in case any threaten our planet. The space agency—and others—are working on ways to redirect incoming asteroids away from Earth.
In October 2012, 14-year old Malala Yousafzai was attacked on her way home from school in Mingora, Pakistan. She was shot by a group of fighters called the Taliban. The group’s members follow strict version of Islam. They believe girls should not go to school. Yousafzai was targeted because she writes about girls’ rights and children’s education in Swat Valley, one of the most dangerous and remote places in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister and President, President Obama, and many world leaders immediately said the attack on Yousafzai was wrong. Support for the girl poured in over social media and from member of the international human rights community. After two major operations, Yousafzai left a London hospital in February 2013. She told reporters, “I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated.” She continues to give hope to millions of people around the world who are working for good causes.