Masala’s official recap of the year so far.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
- Croatia became the 20th member of the Eurozone, adopting the euro as its official currency in place of the kuna.
- Following his mysterious disappearance from the public eye, Jack Ma made a visit to Bangkok after his reappearance and trip to Japan in 2022.
- 93-year-old Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the Moon, married girlfriend Anca Faur on his birthday, making this his fourth marriage.
- Prince Harry released his memoir, Spare, which recounts his life growing up as a royal. The autobiography, which contained some eyebrow-raising reveals, received mixed reactions, despite becoming the UK’s fastest-selling nonfiction book ever.
- The literary world was titillated to hear that romance author, Susan Meachen, had faked her suicide two years ago to boost book sales, and she herself revealed that the reports of her death were greatly exaggerated via a Facebook post.
- The US reported that unidentified high-altitude objects were sighted over North American airspace, prompting many to speculate about ‘spy balloons.’ The objects, balloons or not, were shot down by US fighter jets.
- A catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, killing 59,259 people and injuring and displacing countless more; the worst earthquake for the two countries in centuries.
- Ozzy Osbourne, legendary singer-songwriter and the founding member of heavy-metal band Black Sabbath, announced his retirement from touring due to ongoing health concerns.
- After the unprecedented success of the free-to-use ChatGPT, which had taken the world and most industries by storm, OpenAI announced the release of GPT-4, a paid version of the AI chatbot, boasting several upgrades and more processing power.
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) judges issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, for their role in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
- Elon Musk-owned SpaceX launched the Starship rocket, which boasted the title of the largest rocket ever built, and which subsequently exploded shortly after its launch, to much schadenfreude online. Thankfully, the rocket was unmanned.
- NASA announced the first trip to the moon in over 50 years, and gave us the names of the astronauts who would be making this historic journey.
- Severe heatwaves hit India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, affecting billions of people. Temperatures rose to as high as 44.6℃.
- The ninth FIFA Women’s World Cup was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, and wowed the world with the skill showcased in a tournament that is unfortunately still ignored in favour of its male counterpart.
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge in Assam, India’s longest bridge spanning 9.15 km, prompting hopes for better connectivity in the region.
- The 2023 Thai general election saw unprecedented turnout from the youth, and in a surprising turn, the progressive Move Forward Party won the highest number of votes and seats. However, the party was unable to form a government, and instead, the Pheu Thai party took over the majority, dissolving its alliance with Move Forward and naming real estate tycoon Srettha Thavisin as Prime Minister.
- The Writers Guild of America went on strike, one of the most well-known in a protracted series of strikes and labour disputes worldwide, now known as “hot labour summer.” Shortly after, SAG-AFTRA also went on strike, the longest in the Guild’s history, leading to studios pushing their slate of films and series by months and even years. Among other disagreements was the use of actors’ likenesses in AI-generated content for films.
- The UK celebrated its first coronation since 1953, that of King Charles III, and estimates believe the ceremony may have cost up to GBP 250 million.
- Elon Musk was given the go-ahead by the FDA for human trials of his controversial Neuralink brain implants, even after reports of deaths of, and health issues in, monkeys that had been used for testing.
- The US experienced yet another banking crisis, resulting in the collapse of several regional banks and the acquisition of Credit Suisse by UBS in Switzerland.
- In what is now known as the deadliest rail disaster worldwide since 2004, three trains collided in Odisha, India, leading to the derailment of more than 20 coaches, over 900 injured, and a total of 296 people killed.
- A fishing trawler carrying up to 800 migrants, mostly from Pakistan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Afghanistan, sank off the coast of Greece. Over 500 people were presumed dead, with the tragedy considered the second-deadliest refugee and migrant shipwreck recorded.
- Titan, a submersible operated by OceanGate and carrying five billionaires to explore the wreck of the Titanic, imploded after the passengers ignored safety concerns from numerous industry experts. The story captured the world’s attention, eclipsing much deadlier disasters such as the sinking of the migrant boat above.
- Elon Musk announced the rebrand of social media platform Twitter to X, prompting outrage and a flurry of memes online mocking the name change. Instagram capitalised on the chaos and launched their new app Threads, which nevertheless has not captured the zeitgeist like former-Twitter has.
- Greta Gerwig’s Barbie (2023) and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer (2023) both opened in cinemas on the same day, starting what is now known as the ‘Barbenheimer’ phenomenon. Droves of people showed up to cinemas dressed in costume, to watch both movies back to back. Despite their diametrically-different genres, both films’ critical acclaim, and their viral fame, launched them both to huge box office successes.
- British pop rock legend Elton John announced the end of his touring career with a final concert in Stockholm, Sweden.
- Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Thailand for the first time since 2008, having been living in self-imposed exile since his indictment. A week later, he was granted a royal pardon, commuting his sentence to one year instead of eight.
- Russia’s Luna 25 lunar lander mission, which was meant to land on the lunar South Pole, instead crash-landed on the Moon’s surface.
- The Chandrayaan-3 lander successfully landed on the Moon’s surface, making India the fourth nation to successfully do so, and the only one to land on the Moon’s South Pole.
- After four indictments related to falsifying government documents and attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump became the first former US President to have their mug shot taken.
- The state of Hawaii suffered from a series of wildfires, predominantly on the island of Maui, resulting in over 100 deaths and USD 5.5 billion worth of damage.
- India hosted the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi, during which PM Narendra Modi introduced the African Union as the 21stmember of the G20, and both he and President Droupadi Murmu referred to India as Bharat, prompting speculations worldwide about an official name change.
- Jaime Maussan, a Mexican journalist, TV personality, and ‘UFO expert’ revealed to the Mexican congress two mummified corpses that he claimed were “nonhuman [i.e. extraterrestrial] beings.”
- North Korean President, Kim Jong-Un, held historic talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding potential military cooperation, spurring fears of an alliance online. The former arrived in Russia via armoured train.
- Shah Rukh Khan once again proved he’s the king of Bollywood in what many are calling his renaissance. Both Pathaan (2023) and Jawan (2023) pulled in huge numbers at the box office, breathing life into Bollywood’s recently-lacklustre performance.
- Heavy rains caused flash floods in Sikkim, India, the deadliest floods in the area since 1968. Water levels rose up to 6.1 metres, causing largescale destruction of infrastructure, and killing over 74 people.
- In the first crisis of its kind in Bangkok, Thailand, a mass shooting took place in Siam Paragon shopping mall, resulting in two people killed and five more injured. The suspect, a 14-year-old boy with alleged mental health issues, was caught and arrested shortly after.
- The 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup was held in India, and Team India performed spectacularly well through the season, winning every game until their tragic loss against Australia in the finals held in Ahmedabad.
- The latest development in one of the world’s longest continuing conflicts which has resulted in countless deaths in the region, Hamas launched an attack on Israel this month. This led to weeks of military bombardment in Gaza, and prompted many worldwide to speak out against the atrocities and call for a ceasefire. Despite a temporary pause in November, the humanitarian crisis continues.
- Sam Bankman-Fried, who founded FTX, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, was found guilty of fraud and money laundering at the end of a month-long trial and could face decades in prison, according to experts.
- The Board of Directors of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, announced that they were firing their CEO Sam Altman, an impulsive move that sent shockwaves through the industry and angered OpenAI’s employees and investors alike. Soon after, reports emerged of Microsoft, OpenAI’s biggest investor, hiring Sam, but then in a telenovela-esque plot twist, OpenAI announced that he was officially back as CEO – all within the space of under a week.
- Thailand’s Cabinet approved an amendment to its civil code to allow same-sex marriage, once again proving that Thailand is at the forefront of change in the region. The bill will be submitted to Parliament in December.
Some Notable Deaths
- Lisa Marie Presley
- Steve Harwell
- Michael Gambon
- Matthew Perry
- Satish Kaushik
- Pradeep Sarkar
- Pamela Chopra