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article imageOp-Ed: Review of the big news stories of 2011

By Joan Firstenberg     Dec 25, 2011 in World
2011 was not a good year for most people. It had a few uplifting news stories, but the consensus about the year is basically, "good riddance". One can only hope that 2012 will be better.
The takedown of the bearded mass murderer named Osama Bin Laden from his hideaway in Pakistan is the top international news story of the year. There were celebrations around the world in select countries when the news broke. The New York Daily News front page headline for the event was,
The strike against the Al Qaeda boss led by a sizeable margin, the Number 2 story in the listing of big events of 2011. That story was the Japanese earthquake followed by a tsunami and a nuclear disaster. Nearly 20,000 people were killed or are still missing. The estimated price-tag on the disaster in Japan is $218 billion.
The killing of Libya' iron-fisted ruler, Moammar Khadafy after a brutal 42-year reign comes in third. He was captured hiding inside a sewer pipe in his hometown of Sirte by rebels who wanted him dead.
Captain Mark Kelly hugs his wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after receiving the Legion of Meri...
Captain Mark Kelly hugs his wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after receiving the Legion of Merit from Vice President Joe Biden during Captain Kelly's retirement ceremony.
Official White House Photo by David Lienemann
The fourth-biggest story of the year was among the year’s first shockers. The three-term Congresswoman from Arizona, was shot by a lone gunman outside a Tuscon supermarket. Six people were shot to death in the melee, but Giffords' remarkably survived a point blank bullet to the head.
Rounding out the top five is the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died from pancreatic cancer in October after a long fight against the disease. The man is considered to be the genius behind Apple, coming up with products from GUI, to the IPhone, IPod, IPads and of course, the Mac. He was 56 when he died.
Coming in at Number 6, the European debt crisis. In November came the resignation of Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, following what appeared to be an endless financial upheaval there. His resignation ended his 17-year hold on Italian politics. The stark economy caused riots, strikes and demonstrations in Greece. And the upheaval across Europe is likely to continue in 2012.
U.S. Federal Reserve Building.
Standard & Poor's shocker of downgrading the U.S. credit rating, comes in at Number 7. The S & P stripped the government of its prized AAA credit rating for the first time. The US's AAA rating had dated all the way back to 1941.
The number 8 story is the massive changes that came to be called the Arab Spring, which began in January when Tunisia's leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee his country. Regime changes followed in Egypt and Libya, and the Assad government is still being challenged in Syria.
No. 9 is the Penn State scandal. Famous football coach Joe Paterno was forced into retirement after the assistant he formerly trusted, Jerry Sandusky was arrested and accused of being a serial child molester.
The Casey Anthony case round out the top-ten list. The accused killer of her 2-year-old daughter beat a murder conviction in July and was able to walk out of a Florida jail a free woman days later.
Those are the top ten news stories courtesy of the Daily News. But a different top ten comes from Rochester, New York's Democrat and Chronicle. As for summing up their list, they use two words for the year of 2011,
"Good riddance."
The number 1 story is Europe's threat of default in financially weak members of the European Community, fostered a mood of horrible fear throughout the world's financial markets. And as 2011 ends, there is still a question about whether the euro as the main currency will survive.
Number 2 is the sluggish U.S. economy, now in its fourth year. In the first six months of 2011, the economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.9 percent, but growth increased to 2 percent in the third quarter, and 3 percent growth is forecast for the current quarter.
One of many tributes to Steve Jobs outside of an Apple Store.
One of many tributes to Steve Jobs outside of an Apple Store.
Number 3 is Steve Jobs death. The Apple genius who popularized the personal computer and created the iPod, iPhone and iPad died Oct. 5.
Number 4, the U.S. credit downgrade. The inability of political leaders to come up with a long-term plan to reduce the federal budget deficit led Standard & Poor's to take away Uncle Sam's sterling AAA credit rating for the first time in a long time.
Kingpin Rupert Murdoch and the phone-hacking scandal comes in at Number 5. The man whose worldwide media empire exists on covering scandal became the center of one. The British tabloid, News of the World, owned by Murdoch's News Corp., hacked the phone of a murdered schoolgirl as well as many other people. But in the end, Murdoch was not charged.
6 Is Japan's earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster was a catastrophe for that nation. Not only wer the nuclear emissions dangerous, but car companies, especially Toyota and Honda, were hit the hardest. It was the worst nuclear accident in 25 years. And it led Germany to decide to abandon nuclear by 2022.
7. A big spike in gasoline prices forced Americans to drive less and switch to more fuel-efficient cars. The retail price of gasoline averaged $3.53 per gallon for the year in the U.S. What resulted was that a larger percentage of household income went into gasing up the car or truck in 2011 than in any year since 1981.
8. On Wall Street, it was the year for social media IPOs to take off: Shares of the business social networking site LinkedIn more than doubled when it went public in May. Link-edIn was followed by large IPOs from online discount site Groupon and social gaming site Zynga.
Occupy Wall Street: Thousands of people packed shoulder-to-shoulder into Liberty Plaza on September ...
Occupy Wall Street: Thousands of people packed shoulder-to-shoulder into Liberty Plaza on September 30th, 2011
Mat McDermott
9. Occupy Wall Street began on Sept. 17, when several hundred protesters gathered at a small plaza about a block from the New York Stock Exchange. They slept in tents, ate donated meals and protested income inequality and the influence of money in politics. This inspired similar protests around the country and the world who camped out in city centers. Their complains included unemployment, CEO pay and a decline in upward social mobility.
10. The financial meltdown of MF Global and its leader, Jon Corzine. The former New Jersey governor and senator, who Is also is a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, lost control of a small brokerage firm he had agreed to run. MF Global filed for bankruptcy protection on Halloween. When Corzine was asked to testify before Congress he told the lawmakers he had no idea where $1.2 billion in customer funds had gone.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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