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Rear view



This year, the world's most powerful man won an election to stay the world's most powerful man. And a tough election it was. But President Barack Obama was ready to take on a world full of armed conflict and economic turmoil as well as nearly half a country that didn't believe in him.


If a woman was making this list, this space would have been devoted to Christian Grey, the object of affection for millions of women. But since a woman isn't, E L James, the creator of the fictional Grey, gets that honour. The erotic Fifty Shades. . . series has already sold over 65 million copies making it the fastest selling paperback of all time. The book, which features BDSM, also seems to have lit the spark for many floundering romantic relationships by encouraging women (and men) to explore their naughtier sides.


When Felix Baumgartner stepped out of his hot air balloon 39 km above the earth, he took a small step for man and a giant leap for his sponsor. The Austrian skydiver, whose surname should be regarded as a joke by the law, set the world record for the highestever skydive. He also became the first man to break the sound barrier without vehicular power on his descent. Felix live-tweeted the event during his climb. Needless to say, the product he was endorsing during the jump, Red Bull, did give him wings.


He epitomised Indian-American success. Unfortunately, for the IIT/ Harvard alumna, who counts Bill Gates and Bill Clinton among his friends, it was all too good to last. In a stunning fall from grace, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of insider trading and sentenced to two years in a US federal prison for leaking corporate secrets about a bank to a hedge fund. Of course, any deals he does in the jail could also be 'insider trading'.


The official death toll in the Syrian civil war has now crossed 45, 000. Some say the unofficial toll may be as high as 1, 00, 000. Yet, President Bashar al-Assad refuses to resign. The Ba'ath party has unleashed a reign of suppression and what began as a small movement sparked by the Arab Spring to oust a government has transformed into a full blown war with innocent civilians being the biggest casualties. Assad, a former eye specialist, seems to have turned into an "I specialist". On brutality by his security forces, he said: "I don't own them, I am president, I don't own the country so they are not my forces. "


Adam Lanza was seen by his classmates as a shy, intelligent boy who wore oversized formal shirts. Reportedly, he also suffered from Asperger's syndrome. Investigators are still perplexed about why he killed his gun-collecting mom and then walked into an elementary school and massacred 27 people. It was one of the biggest school shootings ever seen in the US. The incident led to President Obama breaking down on air and has reopened the debate about gun-control laws in the US.


Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi gave her acceptance speech for the Nobel 21 years after she got it. It was a landmark moment for a country torn by strife and dictatorship for years. In fact, the pro-democracy campaigner took up her seat in Myanmar's parliament in 2012, a full 22 years after her election victory. The JNU alumna was given a red-carpet welcome around the world, including India, where she gave a light slap on the wrist to New Delhi for straying from Gandhi's ideals.


What is the Taliban really afraid of? Armed drones, helicopter gunships or a 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl fighting for education and women's rights? Turns out it is the teenage girl who had the dreaded outfit quaking in their ISI-sponsored boots. Malala Yousafzai's effort earned her a bullet in the head and neck and the Taliban worse-than-usual press. Now recovering in the UK, her courage reminded the world that the pen is still mightier than an AK-47.

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