10 Stories That Defined 2012

With Christmas nearly upon us and a new year on the horizon, it is that time of year that many look back on the year that was.

Some have already started this process. Time has named President Obama its Person of the year. The Associated Press has started to release its end-of-the-year stories. Soon other publications will follow suit.

I strive to be no different. I enjoy these end-of-the-year stories, because they allow us to look back while also looking forward. They help us to see where we have been and help us to see where we are going.

What follows is my attempt to look back on the year’s biggest stories. I admit this snapshot look  is absent of full context and is missing of needed reflection. I hope to do that in the days to come. For now, these are my suggestions as to what the top stories were for 2012.

1. Newtown, Conn. Elementary School Shooting: Though this tragedy occurred on Friday, I believe we will be talking about it for years to come. The heartbreak of 26 people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, the killing of the shooter’s mother, and then the shooter’s own death is a devastating act of violence that impacted all of us.

2. President Obama Wins a Second Term: The election was one of the most hotly contested in recent memory. After billions of dollars spent, President Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney by a sizable margin.

3. Benghazi Attack on September 11: The attack on the U.S. Embassy on September 11 took the lives of several Americans, including that of Ambassador Chris Stevens.

4. Hurricane Sandy: October’s Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the shoreline in Staten Island and New Jersey. It also created a “superstorm” of blizzards in West Virginia and storm damage along other Atlantic coast states.

5. Penn State Child Abuse Scandal: Though this story initiated in November 2011 with the arrest of Jerry Sandusky, it culminated this year with his conviction on multiple counts of sexual abuse of minors. The NCAA also handed down severe penalties on the school for its failure to provide a safe place for children.

6. The World Economy: The sluggish economy continued to make headlines in 2012. Unemployment is still high, but has been treading downward in recent months. The Greek economy was tenuous at best. The year ends with the ongoing debate about how to avoid falling off the  “fiscal cliff” in the United State.

7. The 2012 Olympics in London: The 2012 Olympics were highlighted by Michael Phelps, Gabrielle Douglas, Missy Franklin, Team GBR, and Usain Bolt. Another highlight was the highly-criticized NBC prime time coverage, which featured the common practice of tape delayed airing of popular events.

8. The Syrian Civil War: The Civil War in Syria, which began in 2011, showed no signs of ending. Some estimate more than 44,000 people have been killed in the war.

9. Palestine Granted Non-Member Status by United Nations: In November, the United Nations voted to declare Palestine a non-member state. This is the same recognition given to Vatican City.

10. General David Petraeus Resigns from the CIA: A man known for his high character and contributions to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus was forced to resign as the Director of the CIA because of an extramarital affair. It was a shocking development and one that scarred and otherwise outstanding career.

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