Time unveils the 100 most influential people

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, German chancellor Angela Merkel and pop music heartthrob Justin Bieber are among the 100 “most influential people in the world,” Time magazine announced.

The yearly list also included 30-year-old Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who became the hero of the Egyptian revolution.

“Wael Ghonim embodies the youth who constitute the majority of Egyptian society,” read a profile in the magazine penned by influential Egyptian politician Mohamed ElBaradei, a potential presidential candidate.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“But, as with many of his generation, [he] remained apolitical due to loss of hope that things could change in a society permeated for decades with a culture of fear.

“By emphasising that the regime would listen only when citizens exercised their right of peaceful demonstration and civil disobedience, Wael helped initiate a call for a peaceful revolution,” added ElBaradei, a former chief of the UN atomic agency.

Other nods to the popular Arab uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East included Hamada Ben Amor, a Tunisian rapper better known as El General, whose song Rais Lebled (Mister President) helped inspire the rebellion that ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

There were, however, some contradictions in the list.

Saif al-Islam Kadhafi, whom the magazine dubbed a “motormouth” for his vows to crush a popular rebellion in Libya, was included but not his father, Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

US President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were listed, but not the leaders of Asian giants China and India.

And yet the list included the likes of South Korean pop idol and actor Rain, Gossip Girl TV drama star Blake Lively and Bieber.

Pop diva Lady Gaga, famous for bizarre costumes and chart-topping dance music, featured in the 2010 list but was a surprising omission this year.

Britain’s royal couple Prince William and Kate Middleton, due to wed next week in a highly anticipated ceremony to be beamed around the world, appear together as an entry.

Receiving praise from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh was US Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a conservative Tea Party favourite seen as a likely 2012 presidential contender who said she was “humbled” by Time’s selection.

“If she were liberal, she’d be celebrated from the mountaintops. But she’s conservative,” Limbaugh wrote in an essay accompanying Bachmann’s selection.

“So because she is smart, talented and accomplished and a natural leader – not to mention attractive – the left brands her as a flame-throwing lightweight. They underestimate her at their own risk.”

“Tiger Mother” Amy Chua was also featured. Her confessional book detailing her no-nonsense Chinese-inspired parenting philosophy scandalised Western sensibilities but nevertheless shot to the top of sales charts.

The list included Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, DVD rental and video streaming firm Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings, Brazil’s first female president Dilma Rousseff, European Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“They are artists and activists, reformers and researchers, heads of state and captains of industry. Their ideas spark dialogue and dissent and sometimes even revolution,” Time wrote.

The US weekly has said its often counter-intuitive choices are “not about the influence of power but the power of influence”.


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