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10. The Moore, Okla. Tornado

A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., May 20, 2013.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Like most tornados, the storm that tore through Moore, Okla. on May 20 arrived with little progress detect. Though forecasters knew the conditions were present for a potentially dangerous cruller, it wasn ’ triiodothyronine until 2:40 post meridiem that the National Weather Service issued its most serious warn : a “ crack emergency. ” 16 minutes late, the storm barrelled through the Oklahoma City suburb, flattening homes, whipping cars into the air and collapsing an elementary educate to rubble. By the time it ended, 24 people were dead, including nine children. But as so much happens in moments of crisis, the storm brought out the best in people. Teachers threw their bodies over students as the elementary school caved in and residents and first-responders rushed to dig their neighbors out of the debris. “ You hear screams, ” one of those residents, Brandon Moore, told TIME, “ you go help. ” Ben Goldberger

9. The IRS Overreaches

Bernie Brunner, of Springfield, Pa., holds a flag during a tea party rally protesting extra IRS scrutiny of their groups, May 21, 2013, in Philadelphia.
Matt Slocum / AP
When a report surfaced in May that the IRS was targeting nonprofits with words like “ Tea Party ” in their name for increased scrutiny, it looked, momentarily, like President Obama was facing a major political scandal. Within days, the IRS ’ acting commissioner resigned and Republicans were calling for Obama ’ s impeachment. But things didn ’ metric ton unfold as expected. Obama maintained he had no cognition of the policy, and it soon became clear that the IRS besides targeted broad groups seeking nonprofit organization condition. rather, the revelations served as a reminder of the bureaucracy ’ s potential to overstep its bounds and spurred an inner revue that found ongoing malpractice within the means. Noah Rayman

8. Gun Control Loses Steam

Senate Votes On Proposed Gun Legislation That Expands Background Checks
Alex Wong / Getty Images
The awful educate shooting in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 children and six adults dead was supposed to have been a turning compass point for gunman control advocates. Riding the collective dismay over the massacre, democratic Congressional leaders sought to ban assail weapons and high-capacity magazines and expand background checks on artillery sales. Despite President Obama throwing the full weight of his bang-up dais behind the feat, the beak failed in the Senate in April, with 45 Senators — including four democrats — voting against it. A rough year for gunman control advocates got even worse in September when gun rights supporters waged an effort to recall two Colorado state of matter senators who supported state-wide measures expanding background checks. As the National Rifle Association and gun control activists like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg poured money into the campaign, the vote became a proxy conflict for the larger national battle. When the votes were counted in prefer of the recall, TIME wrote, “ any wreathe even left in the sails of gun control advocates probably died—at least for now. ” Noah Rayman

7. Detroit Files for Bankruptcy

Detroit Struggles To Re-Build A Bankrupt City Amidst Poverty And Blight
Andrew Burton / Getty Images
After years of population losses and mounting debt, Detroit filed for bankruptcy on July 18, becoming the largest city in U.S. history to hit the reset button. The move was an acknowledgment that the Motor City, once the richest in America, was incapable of digging itself out from an $ 18 billion hole. “ The 2009 bailouts may have revived the carmakers, ” TIME wrote after the file, “ but they haven ’ t saved the city. ” To some residents, specially municipal workers and retirees who stand to have their pensions cut, declaring bankruptcy amounted to a particularly embarrassing resignation for a once-mighty city. But to supporters, settling with creditors and restructuring closely $ 3.5 billion in unfunded pension obligations was seen as an substantive tone to restoring fiscal solvency and, as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said the day of the charge, make a “ clean start ” without “ burdens of debt it can not hope to repay. ” The bankruptcy besides served as a wake-up call to municipalities across the area struggling with their own rickety finances. They ’ ll be watching closely as Detroit attempts to turn its historic crumble into a model of urban recovery. Noah Rayman

6. George Zimmerman Acquitted

Sonia Medina, of Suwanee, Ga., holds a sign while joining a protest the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / AP

By the time George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in April of 2012, the small-town affray had already become a major national story. only the basic facts were clear : Zimmerman, a vicinity watch volunteer, shooting and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old african American, after a confrontation in the Florida vicinity he patrolled. Zimmerman maintained he acted in self-defense, while Martin ’ s supporters saw it as an case of racial profiling played out to a deadly end. On July 13, after two days of deliberations, the jury delivered its verdict : not guilty on all charges. The decision settled the criminal charges, but it did short to address the larger issues about race and the judge organization the casing raised. The verdict, TIME noted, “ may do little to satisfy a area at the intersection of demographic change that promises a new chapter and ancient divisions that refuse to heal. ” Noah Rayman

5. The Federal Government Shuts Down

Sen. Ted Cruz hosts a press conference following the end of the government shutdown
Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images
unable to reach agreement on federal spend levels, a dysfunctional Congress stumbled into the first politics closure since the mid-1990s, grinding a lot of the union bureaucracy to a freeze for more than two weeks in October. The confrontation was forced by a cadre of bourgeois Republicans, who sought to tie politics support to a bill to gut the Affordable Care Act. The 16-day deadlock, which ended with a short-run deal that averted a debt default option, torpedo Republican approval ratings, slowed economic growth and ultimately cost some $ 24 billion, according to the credit agency Standard and Poor ’ south. While the political and economic fallout should prevent a reprise when fund deadlines expire in early 2014, the episode may have long-run ramifications. Moderate Republicans and business lobbies aligned with the GOP vowed to take a more aggressive carriage against the Tea Party conservatives who spurred the closure, setting up a battle for the soul of the party that will define the 2014 midterm elections. Alex Altman

4. The Supreme Court Finds for Gay Marriage

Michael Knaapen, left, and his husband John Becker embrace outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Charles Dharapak / AP
On June 26, the Supreme Court made official what may be the fastest chemise on a civil rights consequence in the nation ’ mho history. In a landmark 5-4 decision, the high motor hotel struck down the federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, clearing the manner for gay marriage throughout the U.S. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy framed the decision as a matter of basic equality. The Defense of Marriage Act, Kennedy wrote, “ undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages ; for it tells those couples, and all the global, that their differently valid marriages are despicable of federal recognition. ” In a branch case, the court dismissed an entreaty to uphold California ’ s banish on same-sex marriage, thus allowing gay marriage to resume in the Golden State. Minnesota, Rhode Island, Hawaii and Illinois have since followed befit and legal challenges of same-sex marriage bans are pending in other states. The rulings marked an amazingly rapid social evolution. fair 17 years earlier, President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law with far-flung defend from both parties. At the clock time, no department of state allowed same-sex marriage. By 2013, 12 states and the District of Columbia allowed them and Clinton, Barack Obama and many early big politicians had reversed their earlier opposition. When the motor hotel ruled that same-sex couples are no unlike under the police, it was merely keeping pace. Ben Goldberger

3. Obamacare’s Bungled Rollout

President Obama Speaks About Changes in the Affordable Care Act
T.J. Kirkpatrick / Corbis
The passage of the Affordable Care Act may have been President Barack Obama ’ s greatest wallow, and its roll-out his greatest failure. The Oct. 1 launching of the federal web site for purchasing private indemnity coverage through a government-operated commute was an unmitigated calamity. A combination of technical glitches, high gear demand and defective code rendered healthcare.gov scantily available for its first calendar month of process. By the goal of October, less than 2 % of the 7 million Americans government officials hope to enroll in Obamacare by the end of 2014 had signed up. The President didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate help his own campaign when his promise that anyone who liked their current health plan could keep it proved to be untrue. The side effect has been substantial : Obama ’ s popularity hit an all-time low as voters disapproved not just of his operation but besides of his personal credibility. As his administration races to fix the broken web site, the fortune of its signature domestic accomplishment – and potentially, Obama ’ s bequest — hang in the balance. Noah Rayman

2. The Boston Marathon Bombing

Explosions At 117th Boston Marathon
John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

When two atmospheric pressure cookers exploded near the finish agate line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, the blast killed three people, injured more than 260 others, and put an stallion nation on border. The bomb calorimeter — a crude shuffle of nails and shrapnel that tore through the crowd of cheering spectators, volunteers and gallant, almost-finished runners — immediately transformed a moment of shared rejoice into one of corporate terror. On April 17, the FBI sought the public ’ second help in identifying farinaceous surveillance images of two new men thought to be the perpetrators. The search took a violent turn merely hours former when brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officeholder and then exchanged fire with police as they tried to escape in a commandeer SUV. Tamerlan, 26, was killed in the affray ; his younger brother, Dzhokhar, 19, managed to escape. As day broke April 18, submit officials shut down Boston area public transit and urged residents to “ shelter in set ” behind lock doors, effectively paralyzing a major american english city. Police ultimately found a bloody and dazed Dzhokhar hide in a small boat, in which he allegedly wrote pro-Islamist messages with his own blood. He has pleaded “ not guilty ” to 30 charges related to the fail, including 17 penal by death. Noah Rayman

1. The Snowden Leaks

Edward Snowden Speaks To The Guardian
The Guardian / Getty Images
On June 6, the Guardian and the Washington Post broke the first stories in a series that would expose extraordinary surveillance at home and afield by the U.S. National Security Agency in arguably the most authoritative leak of classify news ever. The stories initially detailed the NSA ’ s program of bulk data collection of Americans ’ call and internet records, but soon exposed U.S. spying against allies and early more traditional espionage targets abroad. NSA-contractor Edward Snowden revealed from Hong Kong that he had handed over hundreds of thousands of documents to reporters, and said he was doing indeed to prevent the establishment of “ turn-key dictatorship ” in America. The ensuing revelations and Snowden ’ s flight to Russia infuriated the Obama administration, which sought his extradition on condemnable charges. They besides embarrassed the intelligence community and initiated an international discussion on the boundaries of surveillance in this age of clamant communication. Massimo Calabresi
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