These will be the big news stories of 2014


2014 is almost here. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)


Rob Kim

Brace yourselves: 2014 is going to be another big year for news.

From presidential elections and votes on independence to global sporting events and historic anniversaries, the calendar for the next 12 months is filling up fast.

GlobalPost has trawled through its diary and selected 10 of the most important stories for the coming year.


1. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to retire 

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a news conference. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke took over the world’s most important central bank in February 2006 and a little over two years later global financial markets went into meltdown.

Amid worldwide panic, Bernanke was forced to intervene on Wall Street in ways never before considered by the Fed, including pumping mind-boggling amounts of money into the financial system and slashing interest rates to near zero.

The measures did the trick and the US economy is getting back on its feet. Bernanke is expected to make way for Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen by the end of January, when his term expires.

Read more: Analysis: Jellin’ for Yellen


2. Winter Olympics, Russia

Workers constructing a spectator stand in Krasnaya Polyana, which will host the snow events for the Russian Winter Olympics. (AFP)

In less than two months, the Black Sea resort city of Sochi in Russia will be swarming with thousands of super-fit, lycra-wearing athletes participating in the 22nd Winter Olympics. The huge sporting event has attracted a lot of attention in recent months, mostly for reasons Russian President Vladimir Putin would probably prefer had stayed out of the international spotlight.

From threats of boycotts over the country’s controversial anti-gay law and massive cost blow-outs to harassment of journalists and embarrassing power failures, Russian organizers have had more than their fair share of problems to deal with. Let’s just hope it snows before Feb. 7. 


3. 20th anniversary of the Rwanda massacre

The skulls of victims of the Rwandan massacre displayed in the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. (Steve Terrill/AFP)

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the genocide in Rwanda, which was triggered by the shooting down of a plane carrying the country’s then President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, on April 6.

Over the following weeks, more than 800,000 people, mainly from the Tutsi ethnic group, were brutally murdered in a wave of violence that ranks among the worst atrocities of the last century.

Read more: Rebuilding Rwanda: Reflections on a nation two decades after genocide


4. India national elections 

Indian supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) light fireworks and hold pictures of Narendra Modi in New Delhi. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

The world’s biggest democracy goes to the polls in the first half of 2014 to elect a new national government. Based on the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s strong showing in recent state elections, the Hindu nationalist party is looking more likely to defeat the ruling Indian National Congress.

The BJP candidate for the role of prime minister, Narendra Modi, is seen as more business-friendly than leaders of the current government, but is dogged by controversy over his role in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat.

Whoever gets elected will have to deal with an India that's struggling with low economic growth.

Read more: Narendra Modi: Nightmare or savior for India’s struggling economy?


5. FIFA World Cup, Brazil

The best soccer players on the planet will take to the field in Brazil over the summer. (Gerard Julien/AFP)

Thousands of fans will descend on Brazil over the summer to watch 32 of the best soccer, er, football teams on the planet battle it out for the FIFA World Cup. Croatia will have the honor of kicking off the tournament against Brazil at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paolo on June 12.

Brazil has had a troubled build-up to the once-every-four-years event, marked by nationwide protests, deadly construction accidents and strikes delaying the completion of venues.

Hopefully, by the time the first ball is kicked, all we'll have to worry about is the sound of stray vuvuzelas.

Read more: World Cup 2014 set in Brazil with your choice for 'group of death'


6. Egyptian elections 

Celebrations in Tahrir Square on July 4, 2013, after former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted from power. (Ed Giles/Getty Images)

After months of turbulence, Egypt is scheduled to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in the summer, completing a political transition plan unveiled by the military after it ousted former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last July.

A key step in the process to elect a new government will be a referendum on the country’s amended constitution next month. However, the military-backed government's crackdown on protests and its designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization promise more bloodshed and turmoil before any chance for peace.

Read more: In Egypt, the regime moves to snuff out the Muslim Brotherhood


7. 100th anniversary of the start of World War I

French troops stand in the Douaumont Ossuary in France on Dec. 5, 2013, following the burial of 24 French soldiers who died during World War I. (Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP)

Countries around the world are preparing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, also known as the Great War, which began on July 28, 1914, after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by a Serbian nationalist.

Over the following four years more than 16 million people were killed and 20 million wounded in one of the deadliest battles in history.

Lest we forget.


8. Scotland independence referendum

A yes vote will end Scotland’s more than 300-year-old union with England. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

Voters in Scotland will decide whether the nation will become independent or remain part of the United Kingdom in a referendum scheduled for Sept. 18. People will be asked to answer 'yes' or 'no' to the question “Should Scotland be an independent country.”

The ruling Scottish Nationalist Party has been pushing to end Scotland’s more than 300-year union with England, but recent polls show most of the country’s five million citizens are reluctant to go it alone, and many others are undecided.

Read more: 6 things to know about Scotland’s independence plan


9. US Congressional mid-term elections

The US Congress building is seen behind a parking meter in Washington, DC, on Oct. 14, 2013. (Mladen Antonov/AFP

Americans will have the chance to rearrange the chairs in the US Congress in the mid-term elections on Nov. 4.

While the disastrous roll out of the Obamacare website has hurt the Democrats in the polls, the federal government shutdown didn’t do the Republicans any favors either.

If a week is a long time in politics then 11 months is an eternity and a lot can change between now and election day.

Read more: The 12 (rocky) months of US foreign policy


10. NATO drawdown in Afghanistan

This photo taken on Dec. 12, 2013, shows Afghan security forces outside the main gate of the National Directorate of Security intelligence agency in the capital Kabul. AFP

NATO plans to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, unless President Hamid Karzai signs a bilateral security agreement allowing some US troops to stay on the ground post-2014 to help Afghan forces with training and counterterrorism.

Coalition forces have been on Afghan soil for 12 years and there is little political appetite left among NATO members to keep any more boots on the ground than is absolutely necessary. 

Read more: Afghanistan: The war is over! Long live the war!