65 Signs That 2013 Wasn't the Worst

There was lots to be sad about this year, but let's not forget the rays of light peeking through the clouds

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Obama Reaches Nuclear Accord with Iran
President Obama's long game to build diplomatic relations with Iran payed off with an historic, interim accord to block Iran's nuclear ambitions. "Diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure," the president said, "a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon."

Portland, Maine Legalizes Pot
At the ballot box in Maine, Portland voters made their city the first on the east coast to legalize possession of cannabis, up to 2.5 ounces for adults. The measure passed with nearly 70 percent support.

Gay Marriage Comes to Hawaii andIllinois
With marriage-equality bills signed in the Land of Lincoln and the the Hawaiian Islands, 16 states have now lined up on the right side of history.

Senate Passes ENDA
By a vote of 64-32, the Senate passed the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would extend workplace protections to queer and, for the first time, transgender Americans. It awaits action in the House.

Scientists Discover Billions of Earthlike Planets
Analyzing data from the Kepler telescope, scientists discovered that the Milky Way is teeming with as many as 8.8 billion Earth-like planets, orbiting their stars in a cosmic sweet spot, where life as we know it is likely to thrive. The upshot? We are (probably) not alone. "The chance for life of some sort out there in the universe has to be essentially 100 percent," said one Kepler scientist.

U.S. Extracting More Oil Than It Imports
America's decades-long happy talk of returning to energy independence came closer to reality. The  Energy Information Administration announced that the U.S. had, for the first time nearly 20 years, produced more oil than it imported.

Harry Reid Goes Nuclear
Facing unprecedented GOP obstructionism of executive nominees in the Senate, majority leader Harry Reid exercised the so-called nuclear option. Democrats voted, unilaterally, to change the filibuster rules, lowering the threshold for the confirmation of presidential nominees to a democratic 51 votes.

Word of the Year: "Selfie"
Move over, boomers: Millennials are remaking the English language in their own duck-faced digital image. "Selfie" reigns as Oxford Dictionary's word of the year. (Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig had some thoughts about this subject.)

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