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2011: The Year in Review What were the top news stories for 2011?? Courtesy of

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1 2011: The Year in Review What were the top news stories for 2011?? Courtesy of

2 1. The Casey Anthony Trial In December 2008, the body of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony was found a quarter- mile from her Orlando home. She had been reported missing by her grandmother, with whom she lived, along with her grandfather and her mother, Casey. Three years and countless headlines later, Casey Anthony's murder trial was the courtroom spectacle of 2011 (or, as CNN described it, "one hot ticket"). The media furor had been whipped up partly by Casey's astonishing number of lies, which had eroded her faltering credibility. Still, no one had a clue how sharply this trial would seize the public imagination in 2011. Obsessed "tot mom" watchers descended on Florida from across the country, waiting in long lines overnight to duke it out for one of the coveted 50 courtroom seats reserved for the public. Police were called in more than once to deal with brawls and stampedes.

3 2. Japans Earthquake & Tsunami A 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Tohoku region of Japan on March 11. It was more powerful than Hanshin or Kanto, and 900 times greater than the January 2010 tremor that devastated Haiti. It rattled the planet on its axis and shifted parts of Japan's main island 3 to 16 feet. Then came the waves, at times 30 feet high and sweeping 6 miles inland, tearing towns apart and pulling them into the ocean. Tsunami warnings went out to 50 countries and territories, including the United States. At last count, 15,703 people died and nearly 5,000 disappeared in the fires and tsunami, the highest number of casualties Japan has seen since World War II, pointed out Kyoto University earthquake scientist Manabu Hashimoto. The Tohoku earthquake recovery was delayed not just by a chain of aftershocks, but also by the threat of nuclear meltdown. Countries from the Philippines to the United States, on high alert for tsunamis bearing down on their shores, now monitored the risk of radiation. People fretted over the safety of the food supply, a concern that would persist long after Fukushima, site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, was at last shut down and spurred the shutdown or freeze of facilities in Germany and Switzerland. "Fukushima," declared der Spiegel, "marks the end of the nuclear era."

4 3. The Royal Wedding On April 29, 2011, Prince William of England married Catherine Middleton -- and the world was invited to the wedding. In the early hours of the morning, Yahoo! received one billion page views of the British event, which hadn't been seen since Lady Diana married Prince Charles 30 years before. The players included the heir to the British throne: the handsome son of Princess Diana and Prince Charles -- and a commoner named Kate. ABC called the stylish pair "the couple of the moment." Romantics everywhere rejoiced that the royal duo, who after a 10-year courtship, married for love. On a beautiful sunny day, more than a million people flocked to the streets of London to watch the royal procession. Romantics put aside Britain's social and economic troubles for the occasion. The bride wore a stunning white gown designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, a secret Kate managed to keep not just from her beloved, but also from the public. Replicas of the wedding gown were already in the works as Kate walked down the aisle, with designers feverishly working to get copy "Kates" into production for fall brides looking to be a princess for a day.

5 4. Death of Osama bin Laden When the announcement came May 1 at 11:35 p.m. ET about the death of Osama bin Laden, much of the East Coast was likely in bed. The timing was curious on two levels -- not for how late the news came, because news like this couldn't wait. Only a few days earlier, the nation had been preoccupied with a fringe issue gone mainstream -- the citizenship of President Barack Obama, thanks to the hectoring of real estate mogul Donald Trump. Obama released his long-form birth certificate on April 27, after the Hawaii State Department of Health granted an exception to release that version, so that attention could return to the budget. The next day, the president was able to deliver some lighthearted pokes to his nemesis Trump during the White House Correspondents dinner. It was in this frivolous and contentious atmosphere that Obama dropped a bomb (interrupting "Celebrity Apprentice" in the West Coast), and he took little time in getting to it. At a live press conference from the White House, Obama greeted the world. "Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al- Qaida and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

6 5. Unemployment "The unemployed need not apply. This is the line that greeted some job-hunters as they scanned the want ads this year. And with more than 4 million Americans out of work for a year or more, and an outlook that tells us higher unemployment rates should be the norm for a while, such instructions came as one more blow in a frustratingly sluggish labor market. Another blow that could hit the jobless in 2012: Emergency unemployment benefits that provide aid for up to 99 weeks in the hardest-hit U.S. states will expire if Congress makes no move by the end of this year. This will mean less money in the pockets of some job seekers -- and we all know what lighter wallets can mean for the economy.

7 6. Arizona Shooting Six people were killed and 14 injured when a gunman opened fire January 8 on a crowd gathered to meet U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords at a Safeway store near Tucson. Among the dead were 9-year-old Christina- Taylor Green, born on September 11, 2001; federal judge John Roll; and Gabriel "Gabe" Zimmerman, Giffords's community outreach director. Giffords, the alleged assassination target, was shot in the head at point-blank range. Quick-thinking citizens were lauded for preventing further deaths. When the shooter reached for a new clip for his semiautomatic handgun, a bystander hit him in the head with a metal folding chair, and another man pinned him to the ground. Patricia Maisch, then 61, wrestled away the ammunition clip. Others in the crowd tended to the victims. Daniel Hernandez Jr., then a 20-year-old intern in Giffords's office and a certified nursing assistant, was checking the pulses of other shooting victims when he saw how badly the congresswoman was injured. Hernandez provided physical and psychological first aid and is credited with helping save Giffords's life. Hernandez's welcome was second only to President Obama's a few days later at an emotional memorial service where Obama announced that Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time since the shooting. "None of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack," Obama said in his address. "None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.... [But] let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together."

8 7. Death of Amy Winehouse Amy Winehouse hadn't released a studio album in five years, and no new tracks seemed to be coming any time soon. Her one song on Quincy Jones's all-star album "Q: Soul Bossa Nostra," a slurry cover of Lesley Gore's "It's My Party," was a disappointment, and Mitch Winehouse, her jazz-singing taxi-driving father, released a new album before she did. She'd been on indefinite hiatus since she swept the 2008 Grammys. During her absence -- and then some, because of her success -- rebel-divas such as Britain's similarly soulful Duffy, FlorenceWelch, M.I.A., Jessie J, and especially Adele, and the similarly sassy Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry, came along and stole her thunder. Snooki from "The Jersey Shore" practically stole her hairstyle. Sadly, by 2011, Winehouse was mostly known -- and searched online -- for her tabloid marriage, tabloid divorce, bar brawls, drug arrests, court appearances, rehab stints, and failed comeback attempts. Nothing testified to the staying power of her music than the heartbroken worldwide reaction to her sudden death from accidental alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011.

9 8. Arab Spring The Arab revolt began in Tunisia when a young man, educated but jobless, set himself on fire to protest confiscation of fruit and vegetables he sold at a street stand without a permit. Fueled by resentment of a harsh regime and high unemployment, riots in the streets grew. On January 14, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled for the past 23 years, fled to Saudi Arabia. Uprisings spread to Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Syria, and beyond. The "Arab Spring" flowered in the Middle East and North Africa -- and took hold on the Web, where lookups of the term quickly rose to one of the most searched of the year. Social media tools were in full effect: One Egyptian activist tweeted, "We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world."

10 9. Libya/ Death of Moammar Gadhafi To those from the outside, revolution seemed to have a domino effect in the Middle East. But while long-suppressed dissatisfaction brought startling turnarounds in Tunisia and Egypt, the uprising in Libya amounted to a bloody civil war. Unlike Hosni Mubarak or Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi was a military man, and a brutal one at that. The de facto leader of Libya since 1969, Gadhafi was known beyond his borders for his roles in terrorist acts, such as the Lockerbie bombing. Within Libya, citizens witnessed public hangings of students and prison massacres, endured food stampedes and torture. The man who came to power in an Arab revolt wasn't going to step down during one. What set off Libya was a massacre that went back 15 years: Inmates, anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500, were killed over the course of three hours at Abu Salim, a political prison. Gadhafi's reign hid the bodies, refused to release victim names, and arrested those who protested. Human rights activist and lawyer Fathi Terbil represented the families, an action that led to his arrest seven times. But this last arrest on February 15 came just within a week of Egypt prime minister Hosni Mubarak's resignation. Fellow lawyers, peers, and later the victims' families protested at the Benghazi courthouse. The crowd swelled to 2,000, and Terbil, like before, was released. But the dawn release wasn't enough, and Benghazi -- the country's second largest city -- fell. By the time the holy month of Ramadan came in August, the Libyan people suffered from mass hunger, and an estimated 50,000 were dead after six months of civil war. Then the rebels captured Tripoli, the capital city. Gadhafi fled into hiding, but not a silent one, after his compound was raided and ransacked August 23. His retreat there was what one of Gadhafi's men called a "suicide mission," and he apparently said, "I prefer to die by Libyan hands." He did, on October 20, in an act now under investigation by the National Transitional Council. His 1969 coup had been hailed as bloodless, but his ending was not so. Rebels tracked the colonel to a drain outside his hometown of Sirte. The 69-year-old was dragged out. Accounts differ, but gruesome videos of his last moments circulated online. His body was put on display, and Libyans came by to see proof that the "brother leader" was indeed gone.

11 10. Occupy Wall Street The notion of a privileged 1% has been kicking around for a while. About 1% of the population owns 40% of global wealth. To put it another way, if the 48 poorest nations pooled their resources, they'd still own less than the 3 richest guys in the world. Protesters took to the streets -- including Wall Street -- and went online almost immediately. "Occupy Wall Street" buzzed in searches September 16, the day before the first protest, with searchers ages 13 and up, from coast (New York) to coast (Oregon). Some supporters fretted about the lack of media coverage, and some journalists thought the movement's leaderless concept backfired. Then again, that was what social networking, alternate media, and live-streaming were all about. Does a viral movement need mainstream buy-in? Through Occupy, would a digital generation show a new way of getting things done? In the 1960s, the antiwar protester chant was, "The whole world is watching." In 2011, protesters spread their own message and captured their own video. They were occupying two spaces: a physical one and the digital sphere. Coverage came soon enough, as encampments -- some functioning as mini villages -- spread to more than 65 cities. Occupiers were sometimes characterized as socialists or drum-circle hippies, but the wide-ranging involvement of celebrities, moms, college students, military veterans, and retired police chiefs made the movement difficult to pigeonhole. (Even the Muppets got drafted.) This diversity would also later make for compromising video footage or tweets, such as the pepper spray incidents involving an 84-year-old woman and UC Davis students. One California city's attempt to evict campers turned Occupy Oakland's ire upon the government. The police shot tear gas canisters and fractured an Iraqi vet's skull. He recovered and gained instant folk-hero status. A quickly organized general strike and mass day of action brought in thousands of peaceful marchers by day, as well as a handful of masked, so-called anarchists by night. Searchers posed the question, "Why Occupy Oakland?" Whatever the reason, the San Francisco Bay Area city served as the movement's first really raucous confrontation. Later crackdowns on college campuses and Zuccotti Park spurred media coverage, support, and a pepper spray controversy.

12 2011: The Year in Review Courtesy of _top_news Compiled and submitted by: Kailynn Barbour Rutgers University

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