My Choices For The Most Influential People Of 2014

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We’ve seen a lot this year. Some amazing accomplishments, but also some horrific tragedies. The fact is, the actions of people with a lot of power influence our daily lives.

To end 2014, I have compiled a list of 15 people who I believe are to be the most influential of the year. Ranging from world leaders to artists, I have taken everyone into consideration and this list is uniquely mine.

The List:

15) Xi Jinping

The premier of China, Jinping took office last year. He has taken moderate steps to reduce corruption and to lessen the grip the government has on the people, though we must wait to see how much of this continues. Will the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong influence any of his decisions?

14) Prime Minister David Cameron

Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain, has faced opposition from both the Labour Party and his own Conservative Party. However, Cameron has stood firm for Britain and her interests in the Middle East, and is a key player in the ongoing Russian conflict.

13) Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi

After overthrowing Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in July of 2013, General Al-Sisi has been an uncertain rock that Egypt has stood on. Elected as President in June of 2014, we must wait to see if Al-Sisi is a democrat or another dictator for a weary Egypt.

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12) Michael Brown

Michael Brown’s death in 2014 at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson reopened the debate on race, poverty, the use of force by police, and the justice system. It also revealed that, sadly, we are very much the same country we were 50 years ago when it comes to race, except just less blatantly.

11) Lebron James

Lebron James made by far the biggest sports news (yes, bigger than Ray Rice) by announcing he was returning to the Cavaliers. There, he has helped the team accumulate a 18-13 record, and has proven that, even at the age of 30, he is still the greatest basketball player of the 21st Century.

10) Jennifer Lawrence

Starring in the 2014 films “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” and the critically-acclaimed “X-Men: Days of Future Past” Jennifer Lawrence is on a mission to prove that acting is not a lost art along with empowering women. Her influence is not likely to go anywhere but up.

9) Angelina Jolie

An influential mainstay, along with being one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history, Angelina Jolie has not gone anywhere in 2014. Starring in “Maleficent” and continuing her work with refugees through the UNHCR has easily earned Jolie a spot on this list.

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8) Jimmy Fallon

The greatest comedian to come out of Hollywood since Johnny Carson, Jimmy Fallon now hosts that legend’s “Tonight Show”. Fallon has proven he is a comedic legend himself many times over, and is a breath of real comedy in the (luckily ending) Age of Adam Sandler. I believe that 2014 may be the start of the new Comedic Age Of Jimmy Fallon. Thank God for that.

7) Pope Francis

The most influential leader the Catholic Church has had in decades, Pope Francis proves time and time again that his commitment to make the Church a place of greater compassion and tolerance should inspire us all.

6) Janet Yellen

After taking over as Chair of the Federal Reserve, Yellen became the first woman to hold that position. Yellen’s influence will truly be felt in 2015 as the economy begins to return to more normality after the Great Recession.

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5) Malala Yousafzai

Recipient (along with Kailash Satyarthi) of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize (its youngest recipient), Malala Yousafzai has proven that her work for children and women around the world is only just beginning. I consider her to be one of the bravest and courageous people currently living on this Earth. Her influence will only increase.

4) Angela Merkel

From dealing with the affairs of the European Union to those internally in Germany, Angela Merkel has been waist-deep in every international conflict of 2014. She will be one to watch when the Second Cold War picks up next year and beyond.

3) Hillary Clinton

From the publication of Hard Choices to a campaign being run for her even without her officially running yet, Hillary Clinton has proven truly how influential she is to the world. Voted as the most admired woman of the year for the 19th time in a row, Clinton will be gearing up for the beginnings of a presidential campaign next year.

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2) Beyoncé Knowles

2014 has cemented Beyoncé as the greatest artist ever, surpassing Michael Jackson. From the most successful (5 million+ copies sold), well-crafted, and most-original album since Thriller being released at the very end of 2013 to the On The Run Tour to the legendary VMA performance, Beyoncé has proven herself to be way above any other artist. Worth more than any other black artist at almost $500 million, the most Grammy-nominated artist in history, and her stand as a humanist (real equality for men and women) has made her the greatest artist in history. And she’s only 33.

Now, 1 is a tie between:

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1) Barack Obama

Unhindered by any future election or by what other people think, Obama kicked 2014 into high gear by accomplishing all possible in his power on immigration, civil rights, and the economy. With job numbers almost at 11 million, Obama has proven to be the most courageous leader we have had since Kennedy. He has stood for all free people when it comes to Russian aggression, and defends American interests by leading the fight against ISIS. I am excited to see what he accomplishes in 2015.

And:

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1) Vladimir Putin

I have covered the Russian invasion of Ukraine on this blog, writing a total of 17 articles on it. Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent, has embarked on a campaign to “restore Russian greatness”. From the loss of 298 innocents in the downing of MH17 to the systematic expulsion or elimination of any opposition to his administration, Putin has succeeded in starting a Second Cold War. Listen to me when I say that Crimea is only the beginning.

All of these choices are my own.

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My Personal Connection To A Host City Of The 2014 FIFA World Cup

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Poster for 2014 FIFA World Cup- Recife. Credit Here.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil kicks off today (June 12th), with the first match between Brazil and Croatia starting off the festivities. Running June 12th to July 13th, it will a month-long celebration of the world uniting in the celebration of fùtbol (soccer).

As much as the world can come together for this event, I have my own personal connection to this specific World Cup. One of the host cities, Recife, is where my (many greats)-grandfather Resolved Waldron came to in 1633. He signed up in the Dutch West India Company in his home city of Amsterdam, and due to his knowledge of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and English, became the Dutch governor’s translator. Dutch Brazil is little known; the Dutch conquered the east coast of Brazil in 1630. Its capital was Recife, where Resolved Waldron, and his wife, Rebecca, immigrated to in 1633.

I am at work on a historical fiction novel including 2 of my ancestors, Resolved Waldron and Christian Fast, that is meant to show how the dream of democracy took generations to achieve in America. Part of the book talks about Resolved’s time in Recife, and I would like to share with you a bit of that part of my work-in-progress. (NOTE- This is the first draft, not the finished product)

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Recife in 1630s.

~ 1633
As the Orange pulled into Recife’s harbor, I was talking to Captain Boeke. I said, “How long will you be here?”
The captain said, “Oh, about a month. Enough time to load up the sugar from the plantations and get it back to Europe.”
“If you ever need a place to stay here, you are more than welcome in my home.”
“That is very kind of you, Mr. Waldron. Thank you.”
As our conversation ended, I grabbed our bags and met Rebecca, who was already on the pier. I said, with a huge smile, “This city is more beautiful than I could have imagined! The colors, smells. Magnificent!”
Rebecca said, “I couldn’t agree more!”
As we walked on the pier, away from the Orange, we saw merchants selling sugar, spices, and rum. Rebecca would stop every so often to smell the spices, and at one point began to talk to a sugar merchant.
Rebecca said, “How much do you charge for a pound?”
I translated this to him, and he said, “Mi amigos, cinco reales.”
“Oh!” Rebecca said. “Resolved, 5 reales?”
“That is much cheaper than Amsterdam.” It was.
Turning back to the merchant, she said, “We will take 2 pounds.” She held up 2 fingers.
“Oh, si, si!” He handed me the sack. “Muchas Gracias!”
I said, “De Nada,” and we both resumed walking.
As I was talking to Rebecca about how happy I was to be off the ship, a man ran over to us and said, “Mr. Waldron?”
I responded, “Yes?”
“I am your guide. Governor Maurits asked me to lead you around our great city.”
“Okay, that is very kind of you, um…”
“Ricardo. I have lived my entire life here, and know this city better than anyone.”
We began to walk, heading to the city center. Ricardo said, “We have about 10,000 people here.” He pointed to his left. “That is the zoo. You know, it was the first to be built in the New World.” Motioning right, “Those are the botanical gardens of our city. If you want quiet time or a place to think, come here.” As we walked through a small part of the gardens, we saw orchids, hibiscus, and chrysanthemum flowers, and the wonderful fragrance could only be rivaled by Amsterdam’s spice district.
As we reached the city center, we saw the main buildings. There was a small floral area in the center and structures all around. One of the greatest things about this city is the colors. All of the buildings had walls painted with magnificent aqua blues, yellows, orange, and reds. The colors matched perfectly with the climate, too.
While being lost in the colors, I was interrupted by Ricardo. Pointing to the stand-alone home right off the center of the city square, he said, “And we have arrived at your new house!”
My mouth dropped as we saw our new house. The home was built with a center and 2 wings that stuck out toward the dirt and sand streets. It was painted a reddish-orange and had a red tiled roof.
Rebecca said, “Thank you, Ricardo, for the wonderful tour. Your city has a lot to offer.
I then said, “Tell the Governor that I will see him first thing tomorrow.”
Ricardo said goodbye to us, and went on his way.
“Oh Rebecca!” I said. “This city is so wonderful, and look at our house!”
“Yes, dear. Do not let your excitement cloud your judgment, though.”
What did she mean by that? I told myself that she was just tired, but in the back of my mind that comment replayed itself over and over.
We walked inside our new home, and I sat down our luggage in the doorway. I paid the money I had saved working at the printer’s shop years ago to pre-furnish the home, so Rebecca and I decided to just lay down in our new bed and sleep. }

~ END

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Team USA. Credit Here.

A few of the matches in Recife include the United States team. Team USA will be playing the Germans on June 26th. There are a multitude of other matches to be played there, but that is the highest-profile game to be played at this point in the standings.

Recife is a beautiful coastal city, and Brazil’s 5th largest city, with almost 4 million inhabitants. It was considered the first cosmopolitan city in the Americas, and had the first zoo in the Western Hemisphere.

I look forward to all the matches in Recife, and all the other cities in Brazil. Go Team USA! ¡Ole Ola!