Time magazine released its annual list of the 100 "Most Influential People in the World" on Thursday. Among them: President Barack Obama; first lady Michelle Obama; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old activist who survived a Taliban attack; Miami Heat forward LeBron James; Justin Timberlake; Jay-Z; Beyoncé; Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome; Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge; and Yahoo's chief executive, Marissa Mayer.

The magazine picked people "who inspire us, entertain us, challenge us and change our world," and not always for the better: North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un made the list for the second year in a row.

As has become tradition, Time solicited essays about honorees from fellow luminaries. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was on the list last year, wrote about her former boss:

When Barack Obama was first elected, the world saw the realization of the American Dream. Today, they see a leader who delivers—whether it’s ending the war in Iraq, imposing crippling sanctions on Iran or reasserting our role as a Pacific power and building a world with more partners and fewer enemies.

Time also solicited an essay from Sarah Palin on Paul, who in March famously filibustered on the Senate floor to get a response from the White House on its domestic drone program:

Senator Rand Paul is a voice of reason awakening the public to what must be done to restore our prosperity and preserve the blessings of liberty for future generations. ... I sent him some caribou jerky from Alaska to help keep up his strength on the Senate floor. There’s more where that came from for this bold Senator with 20/20 vision willing to take a stand for liberty.

[Related: Inside the Time 100 party: Clinton, Colbert, Lin but no Tebow]

And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed an essay on the unofficial mayor of hip-hop, Jay-Z:

He’s never forgotten his roots—'Empire State of Mind' was a love song to our city—and as a co-owner of the NBA Nets, he helped bring a major league sports team back to Brooklyn, not far from his old neighborhood. In nearly everything he’s tried, he’s found success. (He even put a ring on Beyoncé.) And in doing so, he’s proved that the American Dream is alive and well.

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who has fought against gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, also made the list. Ted Nugent, who contributed the essay on LaPierre, called the NRA leader "a sledgehammer for truth, logic and freedom."

The Time 100 issue will hit newsstands Friday. The release of the list comes on the same day a tablet-only edition of the magazine focused on the Boston Marathon bombings was published. The special edition includes a chilling cover showing a frightened child with blood-stained hair being carried away from the scene by a Boston police officer after the second explosion.

Click here to see the complete Time 100 list.

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