People and Places 2013: Year in Review

In honor of Barbra Walters 10 most fascinating people, in which Walters included people such as, KimYe to Edward Snowden, just to name a few, I became inspired to write my own and share it with you all. Here is my list of the most fascinating people, places, and things (news, politics, entertainment and commentary, science, technology, and education) that fascinated me in 2013 

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You can find the following “Things” blog posts separated by topic: News, Politics, Entertainment and Commentary, Science, Technology, and Education.

People

The Pope, Pope Francis, since elected Supreme Pontiff on March 13, has revolutionized, changed the image of the Catholic church, and has perhaps inspired more Catholic followers with more of his actions than his words.

Pope Francis is fighting and serving the poor, as he as stated, “My people are poor and I am one of them;” he is no longer living in the Vatican but in his previous apartment; he has openly supported gay people; taken selfies with teenage fans visiting the Vatican; touched a man who was severely disfigured; decreed that all priests and archbishops within the Catholic community to give away all of their luxurious items such as, luxury cars, mansions, etc.

Pope Francis, born before the start of WWII, on December 17, 1936, is the first Pope of the Americas from Argentina.

Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio to Italian immigrant parents, his father Mario an accountant employed by the railways; and his mother Regina Sivori, a committed wife and dedicated mother to her five children. Jorge graduated a Chemical Technician, and then chose the priesthood when he entered the Diocesan Seminary of Villa Devoto. On March 11, 1958, Jorge, 22, entered the novitiate (beginner) of the Society of Jesus or Jesuits. In more than 50 years later, Jorge, 76, became Pope Francis.

Pope Francis is the most approachable, liberal, open-minded and highly sympathetic Supreme Pontiff in modern history.

People

This is for the people who died this year, and who will remembered for their contribution to the world in leadership and entertainment.

Nelson Mandela, Madiba (7/18/1918-12/5/2013), for his beneficence to South Africa against apartheid, unifying races within South Africa, and fighting HIV and AIDS affecting South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and the world.

Peter O’Toole (8/2/1932-12/14/2013), the man who embodied “Lawrence of Arabia” in the film, and in every other role since. O’Toole stated in a 2007 interview on The View, that he wanted to be remembered in this way; O’Toole referenced a time when he sent his shirt to the cleaners covered in blood, sweat and alcohol. The cleaners note stated, “It distresses us to return work that is not perfect.” That was O’Toole, always original, always hardworking.

Paul Walker, 40, (9/12/1973-11/30/2013) who revved up the love for cars and car racing in the successful film franchise “Fast and Furious.” Walker was not only the films’ franchise heart and soul, but he also had a heart for his own charity work, Reach Out Worldwide. It is with his charity that he raised funds for monsoon victims in the Philippines, and for the protection of wildlife in the U.S.

Joan Fontaine, 96, (10/22/1917-12/15/2013), was born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland during WWI in Japan. Fontaine and her family later moved to the U.S. when they were young.

Fontaine was a 1942 Academy Award winning actress for Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Suspicion.” Fontaine also starred in Fritz Lang’s last film “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” (1956); and she appeared in the “Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” the TV Series. Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland’s older sister, proved to be as talented as her sibling.

James Gandolfini, 51, (9/18/1961-6/19/2013), the actor who played New Jersey Mafia boss from the hit TV show “The Sopranos,” was loved by all his cast members. The pictures captured in the media showed a visibly shaken cast at the funeral.

Gandolfini was reportedly lovable and approachable off-set, which was a complete contrast to his psychopathic character Tony Soprano. Besides playing patriarch Soprano, he had a successful film career in “The Mexican,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” and “Crimson Tide,” just to name a few. Gandolfini was also very active in helping military veterans.

Lou Myers, 77, (9/26/1935-2/19/2013), was the sage cook from the African-American hit TV show “A Different World.” Myers might have been discovered by “A Different World” audiences, but he was very active on Broadway, Off-Broadway, as well in feature films.

In 2005, Myers was listed as one of the 50 “Outstanding Creative Artists” in the State of West Virginia by the Appalachian Education Initiative.

People

All about Benedict Cumberbatch. Some fans of Cumberbatch have been affectionately called “Cumberbabes.”  While Cumberbatch has already been discovered by British audiences, it is now by international and American audiences who are fascinated and intrigued by his acting talents.

Cumberbatch has been in a number of critically acclaimed films this year such as, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “August: Osage County,” “12 Years a Slave,” and  “The Fifth Estate.” And Cumberbatch is also known for his titular role in “Sherlock,” the British TV series.

Acting is part of Cumberbatch’s DNA; his father, Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, and mother, Wanda Ventham are both British film actors. When Benedict was a small child, his father Timothy used to read “The Hobbit” to him, using different voices. This was the source and inspiration for Benedict’s audition for “The Hobbit.”

Cumberbatch and his Cumberbabes will be looking forward to more of his work next year with the final installment of “The Hobbit” film; a rumored appearance in “Star Wars VII” in 2015 or later, and possibly playing the role of Dr. Strange. Sorry Cumberbabes the last two mentions are just rumors and speculation at this point.

J.K. Rowling‘s new “Harry Potter” film and related stage play. This sounds magical indeed.

In September, Rowling announced that she, along with Warner Bros. will be working on a new movie franchise in the “Harry Potter” world.

Rowling calls it an extension of Harry Potter, and it will be based off of the Hogwarts textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” by Newt Scamander. It will be based on adventures about Scamander, the author. However, it will take place 70 years before the Harry Potter adventures, so don’t expect Ron, Hermione or even the Weasleys to appear. The story is set to take place in New York.

Then by late December, Rowling then announced on her website the new “Harry Potter” play to be preformed at London’s illustrious West End theater. The play is about Potter’s life as an orphan, and how he was treated as an outcast, before his destiny. The play is set to debut in London first, then on to Broadway.

Potter Heads and muggles alike will have to wait a while before Rowling releases her magical adventures to them.

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Place

Dominican Republic and the Haitians that have become stateless.

In September, the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country, stripped citizenship of more than 200,000 people, mostly of Haitian ancestry, born after the year 1929.

This is at least three generations of people that will be considered “stateless.” The term “stateless” means that you are born without a country of origin. Furthermore, in becoming “stateless” Haitian descendants will no longer have access to education, the right to vote, no freedom of movement, and no access to travel or their travel documents.

It was during the 1930s that the start of Dominicans’ and Haitians’ tumultuous relationship began. It began when the Haitians came to work the sugarcane fields of Dominican Republic.

From 1930 to 1961, Dominican dictator, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, sought to drive out the Haitians by ordering the “Parsley Massacre” that killed thousands of Haitians.

A century earlier, it was Haiti with new freed slaves that brutally occupied the Dominican Republic.

This ruling law that takes away the rights of Haitians is permanent, and cannot be appealed. As a consequence, the Haitians are deemed as foreigners in the country where they were born.

Human rights groups, the United Nations,  and Caribbean nations have condemned Dominican Republic’s actions.

(Sources: Wikipedia.com; The New York Times; LA Times; JKRowling.com; International Movie Data Base (IMDB); Libreria Editrice Vaticana, http://www.vatican.va; http://www.paulwalker.com; http://www.history.com)

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