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AP Poll: Top Stories of 2013

NEW YORK (AP) -- The glitch-plagued rollout of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was the top news story of 2013, followed by the Boston Marathon bombing and the dramatic papal changeover at the Vatican, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The saga of "Obamacare" - as the Affordable Care Act is widely known - received 45 first-place votes out of the 144 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The marathon bombing received 29 first-place votes and the papal transition 21.

Other strong contenders were the bitter partisan conflict in Congress and the leaks about National Security Agency surveillance by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

Last year, the top story was the massacre of 26 children and staff at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. That result came after a rare decision by the AP to re-conduct the voting; the initial round of balloting had ended Dec. 13, a day before the Newtown shooting, with the 2012 election at the top.

The first AP top-stories poll was conducted in 1936, when editors chose the abdication of Britain's King Edward VIII.

Here are 2013's top 10 stories, in order:

HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL: The White House had hoped the Oct. 1 launch of open enrollment would be a showcase for the upside of Obama's much-debated overhaul. Instead, the website became a symbol of dysfunction, providing Republicans and late-night comics with ammunition, and worrying the president's Democratic allies. The site gradually improved, but a wave of cancellation notices from insurers undercut Obama's oft-repeated promise that people who liked their existing coverage could keep it.

BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING: In seconds, a scene of celebration transformed into one of carnage, as two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured, including at least 16 who lost limbs. Authorities soon identified two suspects - 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police, and his brother, Dzhokhar, 20, who faces multiple charges, including 17 that carry a possible death penalty. Though jolted by the bombings and a subsequent lockdown, the city rallied under the slogan "Boston Strong."

VATICAN CHANGEOVER: Pope Benedict XVI stunned Catholics around the world with his announcement in February that he would resign. The cardinal elected to succeed him, soon known as Pope Francis, proceeded to captivate many Catholics and non-Catholics alike with a new tone of openness, modesty and tolerance. Without challenging core church doctrine, he suggested it was time to rethink policy on divorce, focus more on serving the poor, and devote less rhetoric to condemnations of gay marriage and abortion.

DIVIDED CONGRESS: Opinion polls showed Congress with historically low approval ratings, and the key reason was seemingly intractable partisan conflict. Among the consequences were the harsh automatic spending curbs known as sequestration, the partial shutdown of the government in October, and bitterness in Senate after the Democrats used their majority to reduce the Republicans' ability to stall presidential nominations via filibusters.

NSA SPYING: The ripple effect continues, seven months after the world learned of Edward Snowden. The former NSA analyst leaked vast troves of secret documents detailing NSA surveillance operations, including programs that collected Americans' phone records and eavesdropped on allied leaders. After a stay in Hong Kong, Snowden spent a month in Moscow's airport before obtaining asylum in Russia. The leaks have roiled diplomacy, triggered lawsuits and calls for reform, and prompted warnings that terrorists could benefit from the disclosures.

GAY MARRIAGE: Capping decades of activism, the gay-rights movement won a monumental victory in June in the form of two Supreme Court decisions. One cleared the way for ending a ban on same-sex marriages in California, the most populous state. The other struck down a 1996 law passed by Congress that banned federal recognition of same-sex marriages. In subsequent months, Hawaii, Illinois and New Mexico boosted the number of states allowing gay marriage to 17.

NELSON MANDELA: A freedom fighter, a political prisoner, a statesman revered for preaching reconciliation in a nation torn by racial strife. Nelson Mandela was all that and more - the icon of the anti-apartheid movement and South Africa's first black president. With his death at the age of 95, his compatriots, world leaders and countless other admirers mourned the loss of a one-of-a-kind hero.

PHILIPPINES TYPHOON: There were dire warnings beforehand, but the toll wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan was still stunning in its scope after it struck on Nov. 8. More than 6,000 people died; hundreds more remain missing. The typhoon damaged or destroyed the homes of more than 16 million people, with rebuilding expected to take years.

SYRIA: The death toll mounted inexorably, past 120,000, as Syria's nearly 3-year-old civil warfare raged on with no signs of resolution. The government of Bashar Assad did agree to eliminate its chemical weapons, but prospects for peace talks were complicated by infighting among anti-government rebels. Nearly 9 million Syrians have been uprooted from their homes, with many of them seeking refuge abroad.

MISSING WOMEN FOUND: The call for help came on May 6, and the revelations that followed were gripping and grim. A former bus driver, Ariel Castro, had abducted three women from the streets of Cleveland from 2002 to 2004 when they were 14, 16 and 20. He periodically kept them chained, restricted access to food and toilets, and repeatedly raped and assaulted them until their escape. Castro pleaded guilty to multiple charges, and in September, faced with life in prison, hanged himself in his cell.


Projects Editor Brooke Lansdale contributed to this report.

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grelbrich December 30 2013 at 9:44 PM

As far as men who cruelly abuse women in captivity; they should be given estrogen on a regular
basis....the amounts depending on the seriousness of their crimes....When they're released from
prison if enough estrogen is in their systems....they would be less inclined to commit sexual acts. Maybe estrogen could be made into a powerful spray....for men only. But I think it has to be ingested; spray alone won't do the job. A sexual act has testosterone behind it. Life imprisonment won't do the job alone. Imprisonment and heavy doses of Estrogen should be given....until the men are a heartbeat away from being a eunich. If they survive this, then the next imprisonment from a sexual crime should have 3x the amount of Estrogen given. Testosterone has to be made ineffective. Or else, have their sex organs removed. Those sex crimes would absolutely diminish....All we do is put these crazies in prison, feed and clothe them, exercise them, pay for their medical, their legal fees. Now we have to build more prisons because too many criminals: not enough prisons. THIS HAS TO COME TO A STOP. It is bleeding our Economy. What a waste of taxpayer money.

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Mark--- Aileen December 30 2013 at 7:28 PM

Seeing that Obamacare website was such a hope, shouldn't we be getting a major refund on a defunt system that a company could not even come to making work. Not sure exactly how much we (Americans) paid for this. I heard $600 million, then it dropped to $480 million, & now gosh, it dropped to $60 million (which I do not believe).It always seems that the first number is the correct one.We should get at least 80% back And how did we find this company. Betha it is friends of the Obama or his wife. Please do not ask me about Obamacare also known as Socialist medicine. The paragraph would be way to long to read...MT

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steves1709 December 30 2013 at 11:34 PM

So, Romney proposed this "socialist" thing in MA? I bet you believe air traffic control is socialist too...

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andrewc627 December 30 2013 at 6:45 PM


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newtexan503 December 30 2013 at 6:26 PM

Well it might have for Obama's goverment protected media but not mainstream America! We need an Native American Indian now to round out the ethnic classes elected to President.

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Linda & Richard December 30 2013 at 5:46 PM

What about Clinton and Obama and the whole crappy white house lying to all the American citizens....didn't look like that was one of the choices. Seems to me that should have been number one. His transparent presidency seems to have a big dark cloud hanging right over the People's house. I think the headline should read...Shame on the residents of the People's house. Oh well..."what difference does it make???" We are screwed no matter what!!!

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we84599 December 30 2013 at 10:40 PM

Fox News much?

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steves1709 December 30 2013 at 11:34 PM

Or the massive debt, brought on by Bush tax cuts right before he started two wars.

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backdoc301 December 30 2013 at 5:22 PM

Newtown & Sandy were 2012

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eeverettm December 30 2013 at 4:45 PM

Kowtowing to the Arab Spring and giving Egypt over to the Muslim Brotherhood; The Benghazi cover-up; Giving weapons to gangs in Mexico; Obama talking out of both sides of his mouth about terrorism but won't secure the borders. Duh.

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marmax1022 December 30 2013 at 5:25 PM

Not to mention Obamas lovely IRS campaign to target Conservatives.... Whatever happened with that story?? Was anyone EVER held accountable?

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we84599 December 30 2013 at 10:40 PM

Fox News much?

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Bonnie December 30 2013 at 4:44 PM

What about the Newton school tragedy? That was about as tragic and sad as you can get.

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rbg2352 December 30 2013 at 5:27 PM

Bonnie, Newtown was in 2012. Read the fourth paragraph.

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aggieflapp December 30 2013 at 3:29 PM

What about Newtown and hurricane sandy

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Natalie December 30 2013 at 3:39 PM


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holtz1903 December 30 2013 at 2:57 PM

how meny chucks could a wood chuck wood if a wood chuck could chuck wood?

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emmett December 30 2013 at 11:36 PM

Hold your tongue and say, 'she was born on a pirate ship' .

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