2013: A look back

As we close the book on 2013, Charles Osgood presents moments we'll remember:

In January, cyclist Lance Armstrong confessed after years of denial that he had used performance-enhancing drugs  to win the Tour de France again and again. Armstrong blamed what he called his "win at all cost" attitude.

In February, a 10-ton meteor, packing the power of an atomic bomb, exploded over Russia's Ural Mountains. The resulting sonic blast shattered windows in the town of Chelyabinsk, damaging 3,000 buildings and injuring 1,100 unsuspecting residents.

March saw white smoke at the Vatican -- and word of the election of a new pope for the world's Roman Catholics. Jorge Bergoglio, from Argentina, became Pope Francis I. His election followed the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI for health reasons.

On April 15th, two crude bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, ripping through the crowd of runners and spectators. Three people were killed, more than 260 were injured.

In May, actress Angelina Jolie revealed that she had chosen to have a double mastectomy, after learning that she carried a gene mutation greatly increasing her risk of breast cancer.

In June, Edward Snowden sent shock waves around the world by leaking thousands of classified U.S. documents he had access to while working at the National Security Agency. The documents exposed an unprecedented program of surveillance of  Americans and U.S. allies abroad.  Snowden was later granted temporary asylum in Russia.

In July, it was a boy for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Prince George Alexander Louis is third in line to the British throne.  

August brought grim images from the civil war in Syria. The government of Bashir al-Assad was accused of using chemical weapons against its own people in Damascus, killing more than 1,400 men, women and children. The images stirred outrage around the world and led to Syria's agreeing to U.N. supervision of its chemical weapons stock.

August brought grim images from the civil war in Syria. The government of Bashir al-Assad was accused of using chemical weapons against its own people, killing more than 1,400 men, women and children.

In September, a small band of Islamic extremists opened fire at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Seventy-two people were killed and more than 200 were injured. 

The federal government's health insurance website was launched -- though just barely -- in October. The computer system promptly collapsed.  It took until just a few days ago to get most of the kinks worked out.

In November, Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, agreed to curtail the country's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting economic sanctions, raising hopes for a new era of cooperation with Iran.

And in December, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it will start to cut back on buying Treasury bonds because the economy is getting stronger on its own. At the same time, the stock market soared to record heights, up 25 percent for the year.

Things seem to be looking up -- as we head into 2014.

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