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From Julian Assange to sharks, here are some of the most troublesome characters of 2010.
BOSTON — This past year has been marked by a whole lot of trouble, from economic meltdowns to diplomatic scuttlebutts. You can't have trouble without a troublemaker, so here's GlobalPost's list of five of the most troublesome people (and creatures) of 2010.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to reporters as he leaves The High Court on Dec. 16, 2010, in London.
Some say he is a beacon of light in an otherwise dark world, a man who stands up for the powerless by exposing the secrets of the powerful. Others say he has endangered lives and should go to prison. Either way, he caused a whole lot of trouble in 2010.
Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, a website dedicated to revealing what the United States and other governments don’t want the public to know, published tens of thousands of diplomatic cables in November that roiled leaders throughout the world. A month later and the revelations, some of which could have serious consequences, are still coming. And Assange, for all his trouble, is now being pursued by authorities from multiple countries.
|(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)|
In more than a decade there had been only six shark attacks in Egypt. That is, until December of this year, when there were five in a single week. It was hard not to remember Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” as one of the country’s busiest tourist destinations fell silent, its beaches empty.
Why the sudden feeding frenzy? It might be the result of over-fishing — leaving the sharks with no other option. Or it could be that passing vessels were dumping animal carcasses into coastal waters, luring the sharks toward area beaches. Or, as one Egyptian official thought, the sharks were outfitted with GPS and dispatched by Israel to wreak havoc on the country’s shores.
Whatever the reason, the shark attacks throttled the Egyptian tourism industry, rattling an already precarious economy.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe warns that his Zanu-PF party will use force in the 2011 election.
(Desmond Kwande/AFP/Getty Images)
Ruling Zimbabwe for more than three decades, Mugabe is not going to go down without a fight. Despite agreeing to a power-sharing government with rival Morgan Tsvangirai, it is clear Mugabe is still calling the shots. In preparation for elections in 2011, Mugabe appears to be looting the state’s resources to fund a violent crackdown on detractors, among other things.
Airline billionaire Richard Bransoncreated an investment fund to try to help lift Zimbabwe out of the doldrums and into a world where Mugabe would have little power left. But few think it will have any effect. Unless the United States or some other world power can find a way to remove Mugabe from office, Zimbabwe is likely headed for another deadly power struggle.
The Islamic Defender’s Front
|Indonesian Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab gestures as he delivers a speech to his supporters inside the court room after his trial in Jakarta on Oct. 30, 2008. (Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images)|
This merry band of urban vigilantes has taken it upon itself to rid the streets of Indonesia from sin — sometimes in spectacular fashion. Famous for smashing up nightclubs and brothels while dressed from head to toe in white robes, the Front has increasingly begun to target Christian churches it says are illegal and Muslim sects it has deemed blasphemous. Earlier this year, a pastor was stabbed.
Yet for fear of appearing anti-Muslim in a country that is nearly 90 percent Islamic, neither the government nor the police has mustered the will to do anything about it. Meanwhile, the Front has made a mockery of Indonesia’s pluralistic constitution and state philosophy — sullying the country’s reputation, which was this year deemed to be a shining light of religious moderation by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The 38th Parallel
South Koreans were evacuated to a bomb shelter during a military drill on Yeonpyeong Island, Dec. 20, 2010.
(Korea Pool/Getty Images)
This wily dividing line between North and South Korea had more or less managed to keep the peace until this year, when the two countries clashed violently multiple times. It all began when the North stopped a South Korean fishing vessel and seized its crew in August for illegally entering North Korean waters. The rhetoric on either side of the 38th parallel has gradually increased since, bringing the two countries the closest to war they have been in decades.
The back and forth culminated in November when the North suddenly shelled the tiny South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing four and injuring more than a dozen. The North then threatened more attacks after the South went ahead with its largest live-fire military exercises ever. With no signs of either side relenting, it's likely the 38th Parallel will be on this list again next year.