2022 was a year of headlines that shook up the globe, dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While Elon Musk became the ‘Chief Twit’ of Twitter, Putin appeared determined to press ahead despite Ukraine’s fierce resistance on the battlefield.
The United Kingdom saw a turbulent time in its politics with three prime ministers in the span of just months and Iran saw widespread protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
Here’s a list of 10 biggest newsmakers of the year of major international news:
1. Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky emerged as an international hero over his country’s brave pushback against Russia’s war. Zelensky used his daily speeches and social media to keep the world’s eyes on this big story. His efforts resulted in the international government rallying against and global companies pulling out of Russia and supporting Ukraine.
2. Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24. He originally expected the war would be easily won and underestimated the force with which the Ukrainian people would fight back to protect their country as well as the degree of support they would receive from allies around the world. His invasion has triggered the deadliest European conflict since World War Two and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. There is, thus far, little end in sight to the war.
3. Elon Musk
Elon Musk sealed a suspense-filled $44 billion takeover of Twitter in October. He slashed more than half Twitter’s 7,400 staff, including firing its leaders, so quickly his people needed to go back and unfire a few. What’s next for Twitter is anyone’s best guess as strategy shifts by tweet. He has floated ideas ranging from building a version of China’s WeChat, a super app that would include everything from shopping to banking to social media. He has hinted at disrupting the payment space as he had earlier in his career as a founder of PayPal.
As the year ends, his very leadership of Twitter is now in question — by him — after Twitter users voted in favor of Musk stepping down, results he promised to abide in a poll he created. Later that evening, he tweeted that nobody else wants the job either.
4. Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak made history as the first nonwhite British Prime Minister and the country’s first leader of South Asian descent. He assumed the post in October when his predecessor Liz Truss resigned after less than two months, making her the shortest-serving Prime Minister in British history.
5. Droupadi Murmu
Droupadi Murmu is the first tribal and second woman to become India’s President. She took over from Ram Nath Kovind and is also the youngest and India’s first president to be born after Independence. She was sworn in on July 25.
6. Johnny Depp
2022 also witnessed a widely-reported defamation case over bitterly contested allegations of domestic abuse between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. A US jury found both Depp and Amber Heard defamed each other, but sided far more strongly with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star.
Depp celebrated the split verdict as a victory and said the jury “gave me my life back.”
7. Amber Heard
Amber Heard took the top spot on the list of the most googled A-listers of 2022, according to CelebTattler. Her name had an average of 5.6 million searches per month in the US.
One of the reasons for the spotlight on the 36-year-old was due to a suit against her by Johnny Depp over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018 in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Heard, who had a starring role in “Aquaman,” did not name Depp in the piece, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and sought $50 million in damages. Heard countersued for $100 million, saying she was defamed by statements made by Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, who told the Daily Mail her abuse claims were a “hoax.”
8. Will Smith
In a moment that triggered awkward silence and confusion, Will Smith stormed the Oscars stage and struck comedian Chris Rock across the face for joking about his wife. Rock, presenting the best documentary prize with a short comedy routine, had cracked a joke comparing Jada Pinkett Smith’s tightly cropped hair to Demi Moore’s appearance in the film “G.I. Jane” and suggesting she appear in a sequel.
Smith is banned from attending the Oscars for the next 10 years and is also not permitted to attend any other events held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the next decade.
9. King Charles
With the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth in September, Prince Charles finally became king of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms, ending a wait of more than 70 years – the longest by an heir in British history. Charles confronts the challenge of being a monarch at the age of 73, the oldest to take the throne in a lineage that dates back 1,000 years, with his second wife Camilla, who still divides public opinion, by his side.
10. Mahsa Amini
Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, was arrested in Tehran on September 13 for not wearing a hijab in public. She was in custody for three days. On September 16, Iranian authorities said she died of a heart attack while in police custody. Several reports, however, claimed that she was beaten up by police following which she slipped into coma. Her death triggered protests across the country and they have turned into one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
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