Top News Stories from 2011

World Events

World Statistics

Population: 4.378 billion
population by decade
Nobel Peace Prize: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia), and Tawakkul Karman (Yemen)
More World Statistics...
  • May 2: U.S. troops and CIA operatives shoot and kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a city of 500,000 people that houses a military base and a military academy.
  • May 4: Fatah and Hamas, rival Palestinian parties, sign a reconciliation accord. The two factions cite common causes behind the accord: opposition to the Israeli occupation and disillusionment with the American peace efforts. The deal remakes the Palestine Liberation Organization, which until now excluded Hamas. Hamas will now be part of the political leadership.
  • May 14: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a leading political figure in France, is arrested for sexually assaulting a maid at a Manhattan hotel. All charges against Strauss-Kahn were later dropped when his accuser was found to be unreliable.

  • Oct. 26: Led by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, leaders of the euro zone agree on a package to bring the debt crisis in Europe under control. The terms include forcing banks to take a 50% cut in the value of Greek debt and to raise new capital to protect them from future defaults, increasing the euro-zone's bail-out fund to $1.4 trillion, more austerity measures in Greece, and a reduction of Greece's debt to 120% of its GDP by 2020.
  • Oct. 18: Gilad Shalit, a 25-year-old Israeli soldier, is released after being held for more than five years by Hamas, a militant Palestinian group. He is exchanged for 1,000 Palestinians who have spent years in Israeli jails. Shalit had been held in Gaza since Palestinian militants kidnapped him in 2006.
  • April 29: Kate Middleton marries Prince William in a lavish royal wedding at Westminster Abbey in London.
  • Oct. 20: Libya's interim government announces that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has been killed by rebel troops in Surt, his hometown.
  • May 26: Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb general responsible for the massacre of over 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995, is found and arrested in Lazarevo, a farming town north of Belgrade, Serbia.
  • Oct. 24: Millions of Tunisians vote in their first ever free election. The vote is for an assembly to write a constitution and shape a new government. Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party, is the winner with 41% of the vote.
  • Nov. 12: Silvio Berlusconi, who has weathered political and personal scandals that would have ended most political careers, steps down as prime minister of Italy. Mario Monti, an economist and former antitrust commissioner for the European Commission, takes over, leading a cabinet of technocrats to implement the austerity plan.
  • June 3: Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh barely survives an attack when a bomb hits the mosque at the presidential compound where he and other government officials are praying. Days later he travels to Saudi Arabia for treatment.
  • July 9: After more than 50 years of struggle, South Sudan declares independence and becomes Africa's 54th state.
  • Jan. 11: The Arab Spring movement begins in Tunisia when demonstrators take to the streets to protest chronic unemployment and police brutality. Jan. 14: After 23 years of authoritarian rule, Tunisian president Ben Ali flees the country for Saudi Arabia amid protests. Jan. 25: Similar protests break out in Egypt. Feb. 11: Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak announces his resignation and handed power of the country over to the military. Feb. 14: Violence erupts in Bahrain as protestors select Feb. 14th as a day of protest to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the National Action Charter. Feb. 16: In Benghazi, Libya, thousands of protesters demand that Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi step down. The next day, declared the Day of Rage, saw the number of demonstrations burgeon throughout the country. March 18: Bahrain brings in troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to crack down against peaceful protestors clamoring for reform. March 20: In Egypt, 77.2% of voters approve a referendum on constitutional amendments that lays the groundwork for upcoming legislative and presidential elections.March 29: Syrian president Bashar al-Assad accepts the resignation of his cabinet. Aug. 3: Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is rolled into the courtroom on a hospital bed for the beginning of his trial. Mubarak faces charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters. Aug. 18: Britain, France, and Germany release a joint statement stating that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy as a leader and that he must step down. For the first time, President Obama calls for Assad to leave office. Nov. 18: Protesters-representing both Islamists and the liberal opposition-return to Tahrir Square in Egypt to demand the ruling military council step aside in favor of a civilian-led government. Nov. 21: As the protests in Egypt grow in size and intensity and police are widely criticized for their crackdown, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet resign. In an agreement reached with the Muslim Brotherhood, the military council vows to install a civilian prime minister and to accelerate the transition to a civilian government, with presidential elections being held by June 2012. Former prime minister Kamal al-Ganzouri is named to replace Sharaf, and in response to the demands of protesters, the military council transfers most powers of the president to him. Nov. 28: Parliamentary elections begin in Egypt.
  • Sep. 25: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia grants women the right to vote and run for office in future elections. The new ruling will not go into effect until the next election cycle in 2015.

  • Dec. 4: International and local monitors condemn parliamentary elections in Russia as fraudulent. United Russia, the party led by Vladimir Putin, comes out on top, receiving nearly 50% of the vote, but the party lost 77 seats. Monitors say that United Russia would have lost more seats were it not for ballot-box stuffing and voting irregularities. Protests—the largest since the 1990s—take place near the Kremlin.
  • Sep. 23: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas officially requests a bid for statehood at the UN Security Council. The request comes after months of failed European and U.S. efforts to bring Israel and Palestine back to the negotiating table.
  • July 22: Norway is hit with consecutive terrorist attacks. First, a bomb explodes in Regjeringskvartalet, the government quarter of Oslo. The explosion happens right outside the prime minister's office, killing eight people and wounding several others. Two hours later, a gunman disguised as a policeman opens fire at a camp for young political activists on the island of Utoya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud. The gunman kills 68 campers.
  • July 23: The award-winning, internationally known singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse is found dead in her apartment in London.
  • July 11: The News of the World, a British newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, closes after several allegations that the paper's journalists hacked into voicemail accounts belonging to not only a 13-year-old murder victim, but also the relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prime Minister David Cameron orders two separate investigations. Murdoch's News Corporation feels an immediate impact as its stock price falls. July 13: Murdoch's News Corporation withdraws its $12 billion bid to buy British Sky Broadcasting. July 17: Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the News of the World, is arrested on suspicion of illegally intercepting phone calls and bribing the police. Her arrest comes two days after her resignation as chief executive of News International, which runs the British newspaper operations of Murdoch's News Corporation.July 18: Paul Stephenson and John Yates, two Scotland Yard senior police officials, resign. Both officers have ties to Neil Wallis, a former deputy editor at the News of the World who was recently arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and bribery of police officers.

U.S. Events

U.S. Statistics

President: Barack Obama
Vice President: Joe Biden
Population: 311 million
Life expectancy: 78.37 years years
More U.S. Statistics...
  • May 5: Heavy rains cause flooding in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. People in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas are forced to leave their homes. May 14: Engineers open a portion of the Morganza Spillway to relieve pressure on levees along the Mississippi River and to protect New Orleans and other areas downriver from flooding. The decision to open the Morganza Spillway does have consequences; water pours into the Atchafalaya River basin, flooding marshes, bayous, farmland, and thousands of homes. May 15: According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River breaks the elevation record in Vicksburg, Miss., which was set by the 1927 flood. The river rises to 56.3 feet, 13 feet above flood stage, at a rate of nearly 17 million gallons per second.
  • Aug. 27: Beginning as a Category 3 with 115-mile-per hour winds, Hurricane Irene moves up the eastern seaboard. At least 44 people are killed in 13 states. Evacuations are ordered for about 2.3 million people. Damage is estimated at $7 billion.
  • Jan. 25: President Obama announces his intention to reduce the federal deficit by $400 billion over 10 years in his State of the Union Address. His plan for enacting this dramatic reduction includes budget cuts and freezes, including a spending freeze on many domestic programs.
  • July 19: With the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling quickly approaching, members of the House and the Senate as well as President Obama work to agree on a budget deal to lower the deficit. If a deal is not reached by the debt ceiling deadline, the U.S. would be forced to default, affecting its credit rating. July 31: With the debt ceiling deadline only 48 hours away, an agreement still has not been reached. Credit rating agencies, such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's, report that they will downgrade the country's current AAArating if the U.S. defaults and fails to pay its bills on August 2nd. Aug. 1: Congress makes an 11th-hour deal to prevent a national default. The deal raises the debt ceiling in two steps to $2.4 trillion and cuts an initial $1 trillion in spending over ten years. Also, a bipartisan committee will be formed to recommend $1.5 trillion in additional budget cuts. Aug. 5: For the first time in history, the U.S. has its credit rating lowered. Credit agency Standard & Poor's lowered the nation's credit rating from the top grade of AAA to AA+, removing the U.S. from its list of risk-free borrowers. Nov. 21: The Congressional Supercommittee in charge of finding $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions fails to agree on what programs to cut after more than 10 weeks of meeting. Because the group could not agree on a deficit reduction plan, automatic cuts to military and domestic programs will go into effect in 2013.
  • Feb. 14: President Obama's $3.8 trillion budget proposal runs into trouble in Congress among lawmakers who say that the plan doesn't go far enough to reduce the deficit, despite a $1.6 trillion savings over 10 years.March 2: Congress approves a two-week budget extension that keeps federal agencies open through March 18 while work continues to reach a budget agreement. March 17: The Senate passes a second measure to keep the government open while budget talks continue. April 1: With less than two hours to spare, an agreement on the federal budget is made, avoiding a government shutdown. Republicans demand a provision to restrict financing to Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions. Obama and the Democrats refuse to budge on the abortion provision, but they do agree to tens of billions in spending cuts.
  • June 24: New York passes a law to allow same-sex marriage, becoming the largest state that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry. The vote comes on the eve of the city's annual Gay Pride Parade and gives new momentum to the national gay-rights movement.
  • Oct. 17: Occupy Wall Street, an organized protest in New York's financial district, expands to other cities across the U.S., including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Occupy Wall Street defines itself as a group of activists who stand against corporate greed, social inequality, and the disproportion between the rich and poor. Nov. 3: The Occupy Wall Street movement turns violent in Oakland, Calif. when a small group of about 100 demonstrators break windows, burn garbage, and spray graffiti. Dozens of protesters are arrested. Nov. 15: During a sweep of Zuccotti Park in New York City, 140 protesters are arrested. A judge rules that the city has the right to enforce the rule against camping in the park. Nov. 21: A video showing two University of California, Davis police officers using pepper spray at close range on seated, passive protesters goes viral.
  • Feb. 15: State employees and teachers stage protests in Madison, Wisconsin and Democratic senators flee the state in an effort to hault Governor Scott Walker's plan to cut bargaining rights and benefits of public workers. May 26: Judge Maryann Sumi of Dane County Circuit Court grants a permanent injunction that voids the new Wisconsin law curbing collective bargaining rights for many state and local employees. The ruling comes because Republicans in the state senate violated the state's open meetings law during their vote on March 9th, when they failed to give at least two hours' notice to the public.
  • Feb. 23: The Obama Administration determines that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The Justice Department will stop defending the law in court. The Defense of Marriage Act is the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
  • June 22: Legendary Boston crime boss, James "Whitey" Bulger is found and arrested by federal authorities in Santa Monica, Calif. Bulger is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list and has been indicted in 19 murders. The arrest ends a 16-year international search.

  • Nov. 5: Former Penn State defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, is arrested on charges of 40 counts of sexual abuse over a 15-year period. Nov. 9: Celebrated Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno is fired by the school's Board of Trustees because he failed to notify the police in 2002 after he was informed of a suspected assault by Sandusky. Dec. 7: Sandusky is arrested again after two more victims came forward. With the additional charges, Sandusky now faces more than 50 counts of child sexual abuse. Penn State is being investigated for its handling of the abuse allegations by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • May 19: President Obama declares that the borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war should be the basis of a Mideast peace deal between Israel and Palestine. The Israeli government protests immediately, saying that a return to the pre-1967 borders would leave Israel "indefensible."
  • Aug. 13: The race for the Republican Presidential Nomination heats up as Texas Gov. Rick Perry announces his candidacy in South Carolina while Michele Bachmann wins the Iowa straw poll. Sept. 25: Mitt Romney wins the Michigan Straw Poll with 51% of the vote. Herman Cain wins the Florida straw poll by nearly 40%. Dec. 3: Cain suspends his campaign for the U.S. presidency after five women come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct.
  • March 1: The Interior Dept approves the first new deepwater drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico since the BP explosion and spill last spring. The approval is a milestone after a period of industry uncertainty.
  • Jan. 8: Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords is among 17 shot by a gunman who opened fire on the congresswoman's constituent meeting outside a local grocery store. Six people are fatally wounded, including United States District Court Judge John Roll, and a young girl. The gunman, who police identify as Jared Lee Loughner, is apprehended.
  • Nov. 8: In the general election, voters choose against conservative-backed measures across the nation. An anti-abortion measure in Mississippi, an anti-labor law in Ohio, and a measure to clampdown on voting rights in Maine are all rejected. Overall, voters show support for current officials on city and state levels. Mayors win re-election bids in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Baltimore. In Iowa, Republicans fail to take over the State Senate.
  • April 27: In one of the worst U.S. tornado seasons, 137 reported tornadoes sweep through the south, killing nearly 300 people in six states. Most of the fatalities occur in Alabama. May 22: At least 140 people are killed and hundreds more injured as a three-quarter-mile-wide tornado hits Joplin, Missouri. The tornado is among the deadliest in the nation's history, destroying nearly a third of the city and damaging about 2,000 buildings, including water treatment and sewage plants.


US GDP (1998 dollars): $15,100 billion
Federal spending: $3,360 billion
Federal debt $15,222 billion
Unemployment: 9.0%
Cost of a first-class stamp: 44 cents


Super Bowl
The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV
World Series
The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers 6-2 in game seven
NBA Championship
The Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA championship in franchise history, beating the Miami Heat 105-95 in Game 6
Stanley Cup
The Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in a decisive Game 7
Women: Petra Kvitova defeated former Wimbledon champ Maria Sharapova, 6-3, 6-4
Men: Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
Kentucky Derby Champion
Last minute jockey replacement John Velazquez won riding Animal Kingdom
NCAA Basketball Championship
Connecticut Huskies defeated Butler Bulldogs, 53-41
NCAA Football Champions
The Auburn Tigers defeated the Oregon Ducks, 22-19
World Cup
In the FIFA Women's World Cup, Japan defeated USA in a post-match penalty kick shoot-out


Entertainment Awards

Academy Award, Best Picture: The King's Speech
Nobel Prize for Literature: The Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 was awarded to Tomas Transtromer (Sweden) "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality."
More Entertainment Awards...


  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
  • The Hangover Part II
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Fast Five
  • Cars 2
  • Thor
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Captain America: The First Avenger


  • 21 , Adele
  • Christmas, Michael Buble
  • Born This Way, Lady Gaga
  • Tha Carter IV, Lil' Wayne
  • My Kinda Party, Jason Aldean
  • Sigh No More, Mumford & Sons
  • Take Care, Drake
  • Under The Mistletoe, Justin Bieber
  • Watch The Throne, Jay Z & Kayne West
  • Own The Night, Lady Antebellum


  • The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  • Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
  • Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
  • Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney
  • Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
  • Steve Jobs: A Biography, Walter Isaacson
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
  • Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand


Nobel Prizes in Science

Chemistry: Dan Shechtman (Israel) for "the discovery of quasicrystals"
Physics: One-half to Saul Perlmutter (U.S.) and one-half jointly to Brian P. Schmidt(Australia) and Adam G. Riess (U.S.) for "the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae"
Physiology or Medicine: One-half jointly to Bruce A. Beutler (U.S.) and Jules A. Hoffmann (Luxembourg) "for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity"; and one-half to Ralph M. Steinman (Canada) "for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity"
More Nobel Prizes in 1998...
  • April 27: In one of the worst U.S. tornado seasons in history, 137 reported tornadoes sweep through the south, killing nearly 300 people in six states. Most of the fatalities occur in Alabama.
  • Aug. 11: Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, and parts of South Sudan have been rocked by the worst drought there in 60 years, creating a hunger crisis that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said is the "most the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today and the worst that East Africa has seen in several decades." The hunger crisis has also been brought on by weak agricultural systems as well as a lack of infrastructure, government, and education.
  • July 8: The space shuttle Atlantis launches into space for the last time from the Kennedy Space Center. It is the 135th and final flight of the space shuttle program, which started in 1981. For its final mission, the Atlantis is carrying 8,000 lbs of spare parts and supplies to the International Space Station. The space shuttle program officially ends when the Atlantis returns in two weeks.
  • May 22: At least 140 people are killed and hundreds more injured as a three-quarter-mile-wide tornado hits Joplin, Mo. The tornado is among the deadliest in the nation's history, destroying nearly a third of the city and damaging about 2,000 buildings, including water treatment and sewage plants.
  • March 11: Japan is hit by an enormous earthquake that triggers a deadly 23-foot tsunami in the country's north. The earthquake, Japan's largest ever, hit about 230 miles northeast of Tokyo. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issues warnings for Russia, Taiwan, Hawaii, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the west coasts the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and South America. Cooling systems in one of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station fail shortly after the earthquake, causing a nuclear crisis.
  • Feb. 14: An X-class solar flare, the most powerful form of solar flare, erupts and jams radio communications in China. Such a solar blast has the potential to disrupt electrical power grids and satellites used on Earth.


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