2011: Top 10 events of the year that was


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January 1, 2012

By Jordan Schatz
Reporter/news writer

The Nation

1.   May 2, 2011: Death of Osama bin Laden

“Justice has been done.”  With those words, President Barack Obama announced to the world that Osama bin Laden, the leader of the Taliban terrorist group and the mastermind behind the September 11 terrorist attacks was dead, killed by a team of elite Navy SEAL forces at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. As crowds gathered outside the White House in celebration and hundreds more cheered at Ground Zero, Obama proclaimed that bin Laden had been shot in the head and his body buried at sea.

“For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies,” said Obama in his May 2 speech. “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.”

2. October 5, 2011: Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, dies at age 56.

On October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 56. A true visionary genius and pioneer, he changed how the world receives information in the digital age. Jobs, who founded Apple in 1976, was the architect behind the personal computer iMac, the music device iPod, the electronic tablet iPad, and the iPhone.

Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple in August, admitting that he was no longer well enough to run the company. He assigned the day-to-day operations of Apple Inc. to Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook. Two months later, surrounded by his family, Jobs died peacefully, leaving a world changed by his ideas.

3March 11, 2011: Japan earthquake and tsunami

In the early morning hours on Friday, March 11, more than 15,000 people were killed and many more hurt and left homeless when an 8.9 earthquake shook the coast of Japan.  The earthquake produced a massive tsunami, which ravaged the coastal towns on the eastern shore of Japan.

The disaster caused a series of nuclear accidents including disabling the Fukushima Daiichi power plant which suffered significant radiation leaks that forced residents within 30 kilometers of the facility to evacuate.

4.  January 25, 2011: Egyptian Revolution and Arab Spring

Millions of protestors demanding a new government revolted against the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by taking to the streets in a revolution fueled by a series of peaceful demonstrations, labor strikes and rousing free speech on social networks and in newspapers. Despite a generally non-violent movement, nearly 850 people lost their life in clashes with police.

On February 11, Mubarak, 83, stepped down after 18 days of unrest. He was later arrested and is currently standing trial on charges of premeditated murder of protestors during the revolution. The Egyptian Revolution follows the triumphant ousting of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January after a similar uprising in December 2010.

5.  May 25, 2011: Oprah Winfrey Show ends

After 25 years, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” aired its final episode on May 25, 2011, ending the highest-rated talk show and longest-running daytime television series in television history in the U.S. Oprah Winfrey, an African American woman from Mississippi born into poverty rose to become one of the most inspirational and influential people in the world with her daily show touching millions of people both nationally and internationally in 149 countries.

The billionaire media entrepreneur, who also produces the magazine “O” and the Oprah Book Club, has began a new endeavor known as the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a cable network that debuted in January.

6.  April 29, 2011: Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton

Nearly 36.7 million people tuned into to see Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony dubbed “the wedding of the century.” The Archbishop of Canterbury presided over the union between Prince William (the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana) and Middleton, a commoner.

More than 1 million people lined the wedding route between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace to witness the horse-pulled carriage carrying the royal couple and over 5000 parties were thrown in the streets to celebrate the event.

7. September 17, 2011: Occupy Wall Street

Beginning in Zuccotti Park in New York City’s financial district, Occupy Wall Street was established as a protest against economic and social inequality. In the subsequent months, the movement picked up momentum, gaining support in cities across the country and the globe with many protesters camping out in public parks.

The protestors adopted the slogan, “We are the 99 percent,” referring to the growing disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the world population. Complaints by residents and a demand for order led to a crackdown on the movement, with police clashes and arrests in such large cities as Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., adding to growing tension in the U.S. during a recessionary period.

8.  December 15, 2011: War in Iraq comes to an end

United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared an end to the Iraq War on December 15 at a service in Baghdad, officially ending the highly unpopular war that lasted more than eight years. As a result of the war, more than 4,400 soldiers lost their lives and more than 32,000 soldiers were wounded.

A small number of troops remained behind as part of the U.S. embassy, which will maintain a U. S. presence in the country. On the monumental end, President Barack Obama remarked, “After a decade of war, the nation that we need to build and the nation that we will build is our own.” Presently, the U. S. turns its attention to nearly 91,000 troops in Afghanistan.

9. July 8, 2011: The Space Shuttle Program comes to an end

When Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off on July 8, 2011 to deliver supplies to the International Space Station, it marked the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program. It was a program that spanned 135 flights and sent nearly 400 astronauts into space.

The Space Shuttle Program left a lasting impression on the world with both positive and negative memories. Despite the deadly disasters involving Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 and Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, the program contributed greatly to the building of the International Space Station and increased knowledge of the Earth’s atmosphere, the galaxy and beyond.

10.  October 20, 2011: Libyan Leader Gaddhafi captured and killed

      December 17, 2011: Death of Kim Jong Il

Following months of civil war between Libyan rebels aided by NATO and the Libyan government, the ousted leader of Libya, Moammar Gaddhafi, 69, was captured and beaten to death two months after the fall of Tripoli, the country’s capital.

The civil war began in the North African state on February 15, following successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. On September 16, the rebels were recognized by the United Nations as the legal controllers of Libya and on October 23, the civil war officially came to an end.

On December 17, Kim Jong Il, the supreme leader of North Korea, died at age 69 from a heart attack and his son and successor, Kim Jong-Un, was named the new leader. The funeral for Kim Jong Il was attended by thousands of mourners whose visible displays of sorrow was not shared by many outside the Communist country.

During Kim Jong Il’s reign, the dictator amassed a mammoth nuclear program, while much of his country suffered from a lack of food, civil rights and liberty.  His policies further led to a strained relationship between the United States and other leading nations in the rest of the world.

 Famous deaths in 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Jong-il, Heavy D, Joe Frazier, Andy Rooney, Dorothy Rodham, Steve Jobs, Sargent Shriver, Amy Winehouse, Betty Ford, Peter Falk, Clarence Clemons, Jack Kevorkian, Gil Scott – Heron, Jackie Cooper, Osama bin Laden, Moammar Gadhafi, Sidney Lumet, Warren Christopher, Nick Ashford, Jane Russell, Jack Lalanne, Gerry Rafferty.


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