Top News Stories from 2012

World Events

World Statistics

Population: 4.378 billion
population by decade
Nobel Peace Prize: The European Union (EU), which for "over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."
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  • July 7: For the first time since Col. Muammar Qaddafi was ousted, Libyans vote in a national election. The National Forces Alliance, a secular party led by Mahmoud Jibril, a Western-educated political scientist, prevailed over Islamist parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, in the election to form a national congress.
  • Dec. 12: North Korea successfully launches a rocket into orbit. The launch indicates that the country is inching closer toward developing the expertise to build an intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • Jan. 4: The European Union imposes an oil embargo on Iran in an attempt to get Iran to halt uranium enrichment and end its nuclear weapons efforts. Feb. 15: Iran warns six European countries that it might cut them off from Iranian oil. The threat is made to the ambassadors of Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Greece and Portugal at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran.
  • Feb. 1: At least 73 people are killed in a fight between fans of rival teams at a soccer match in Port Said, Egypt.
  • March 4: Vladimir Putin wins the presidential election in Russia, claiming 64% of the vote. It will be his third full term as president of Russia.
  • March 10: A U.S. soldier goes on a door-to-door rampage in Afghanistan, brutally killing 17 civilians, including nine children. March 23: The U.S. military announces that Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the attacks.
  • June 17: The Center-right New Democracy party prevails in parliamentary elections in Greece. June 20: New Democracy quickly forms a coalition with Pasok and the Democratic Left, and Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, is sworn in as prime minister.
  • June 24: Egyptian election officials declare Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, the winner of presidential election. Nov. 22: Morsi announces a brazen power grab when he declares authority over the courts, thereby removing any check on his actions by the courts. He says the move is necessary because the judiciary, made up of Hosni Mubarak appointees, is threatening to suspend the constitutional assembly before it completes the task of drafting a new constitution. Nov. 29: Under threat of being suspended by the courts, the constitutional assembly hastily approves a draft document, which is widely criticized for its ambiguity and lack of depth and originality. Dec. 26: President Morsi signs the new constitution into law. The referendum passed in two rounds of voting, on Dec. 14 and Dec. 22. About 64% of voters approved the constitution, but turnout was low—less than 33%.
  • July 27: The 2012 Summer Olympics open in London. More than 10,000 athletes from 205 countries participate in the Games.July 31: Michael Phelps wins his 19th Olympic medal, becoming the winningest Olympic athlete of all time. He surpassed the record held by Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina.
  • Aug. 22: After 19 years of negotiations, Russia joins the newest member of the World Trade Organization.
  • Sep. 11: Armed gunmen storm the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and shoot and kill U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other embassy officials.
  • Oct. 7 Hugo Chávez is elected to a third term as president of Venezuela.
  • Oct. 9 In Pakistan, Taliban members shoot 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head and neck. The shooting occurs while Yousafzai is on her way home on a school bus filled with children. She was targeted for her outspokenness against the Taliban and her determination to get an education.
  • Nov. 29: The UN General Assembly upgrades the status of the Palestinian Authority from current observer to non-member state.
  • March 21: Syrian president Bashar al-Assad agrees to a cease-fire. The UN-brokered plan calls on the Syrian government to stop killing civilians, engage in talks with the opposition, withdraw forces from the streets, and begin a transition to a democratic, political system. The country has been in a civil war for several months, following the March 2011 uprising. April 12: The cease-fire goes into effect, but observers are skeptical that it will last. May 26: 32 children under age 10 are killed when the Syrian government attacks the village of Houla. The United Nations blames the deaths on government tanks and artillery, saying many of the victims were executed in their homes. President Assad, however, claims terrorists carried out the attack. The cease-fire is considered moot. June 12: A United Nations official declares that Syria is in a state of civil war. June 22: The Syrian military shoots down a Turkish military jet. President Abdullah Gul of Turkey responds by saying that his country will do "whatever is necessary" in retaliation. Aug. 2: Kofi Annan resigns as UN special envoy to Syria, citing the refusal of the Syrian government to implement the UN-backed peace plan, intensifying violence by rebels, and discord within the Security Council.
  • April 1: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who in October 2010 was released after spending nearly 20 years under house arrest, wins a seat in parliament.
  • May 1: On the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan. During his visit, Obama signs an agreement with Afghan president Hamid Karzai that says the U.S. will provide Afghanistan development assistance for 10 years after troops withdraw in 2013.
  • May 6: Francois Hollande defeats Nicolas Sarkozy to become president of France. With the victory, Hollande becomes the first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995.
  • June 11: Hosni Mubarak, former president of Egypt, is sentenced to life in prison for being an accomplice in the killing of unarmed protestors during the January 2011 demonstrations.

U.S. Events

U.S. Statistics

President: Barack Obama
Vice President: Joe Biden
Population: 313.8 million
Life expectancy: 78.49 years years
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  • Aug. 5: Wade Michael Page, age 40, opens fire in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six people and wounding three others. Police shoot and kill Page, an Army veteran who had ties to the white supremacist movement.
  • Feb. 9: The Pentagon announces that women will now be permanently assigned to battalions. Many women already serve in those battalions due to demand in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new ruling only makes these job assignments official and upholds the ban on women serving in combat.
  • Jan. 5: President Obama makes a rare appearance at the Pentagon briefing room to outline a new national defense strategy. The new strategy takes into account the Pentagon budget cuts, the end to the war in Iraq as well as new threats from Iran and China.
  • Oct. 9: Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach, is sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for molesting young boys.
  • March 6: In the Super Tuesday primaries, Mitt Romney wins six states, including a crucial victory in Ohio, Rick Santorum takes four states and Newt Gingrich Newt Gingrich wins one.
  • April 3: Mitt Romney takes three more primaries, inching closer to the nomination. Romney wins Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia where his main rival, Rick Santorum, is not on the ballot.
  • May 17: The Census Bureau releases data stating that over a 12-month period, which ended in July 2011, Asians, blacks, Hispanics and mixed races made up just over 50 percent of all births, becoming a majority for the first time in the history of the United States.
  • Nov. 6: President Obama is re-elected, narrowly defeating Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Obama prevails in both the electoral college and the popular vote, buoyed largely by taking several crucial battle states, including Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • Nov. 6: In the 2012 election, Democrats keep their majority in the Senate. Democrats take Republican Senate seats in Massachusetts and Indiana. Key victories for the Democrats also include a win for Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin. Her victory makes her the first openly gay candidate to capture a seat in the Senate. The Republicans keep the majority in the House of Representatives with 232 seats to 191 for the Democrats.
  • Nov. 14: The case count for the meningitis outbreak continues to rise in the United States. Thirty-two people have died. More than 400 have been infected while 14,000 may have been exposed.
  • Jan. 22: Representative Gabrielle Giffords, still recovering from the 2011 assassination attempt, announces that she is vacating her seat in the House of Representatives.
  • Feb. 13: Washington becomes the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage as Gov. Christine Gregoire signs the legislation. Opponents are already working to block the bill and put the issue before voters in a referendum.
  • Oct. 24: Hurricane Sandy hits Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica. A category 2 hurricane, Sandy leaves 44 dead in the region. Oct. 26: Hurricane Sandy blows through the Bahamas. As it approaches Florida and the east coast of the United States, it is downgraded to a category 1. Oct. 27: Although it is downgraded, the storm picks up energy when it collides with a midlatitude trough. The storm system grows as it barrels up the East Coast, spreading to some 1,000 miles wide. Oct. 29: Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in Atlantic City, N.J., and is re-classified as a post-tropical cyclone. New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are hardest hit by Sandy. Eight million people lose power as a result of the storm. Sandy has caused at least 132 deaths and an estimated 82 billion in damages, making it the second costliest hurricane in the United States, behind Katrina.
  • Nov. 9: Former four-star general David Petraeus resigns as CIA director after the FBI uncovers evidence that he had an extramarital affair. Paula Broadwell is the woman with whom Petraeus had the affair. Broadwell is the author of "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus", a biography published in 2012.

  • Sept. 10: Twenty-six thousand public school teachers go on strike in Chicago to protest against proposed changes. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has proposed a number of concessions, including that the school board revoke a promised four percent raise and that student test scores count more toward whether teachers receive tenure or not. Sept. 18: The strike ends when 800 union delegates vote to suspend the strike and agree on a contract. The contract gives annual raises to teachers, but evaluates them, in part, on student test scores. The contract also makes the school day longer.
  • Sept. 17: Occupy Wall Street marks its one-year anniversary with a demonstration at the New York Stock Exchange. Protesters attempt to block access to the New York Stock Exchange and 185 arrests are made. Rallies are also held in other parts of New York City and in more than 30 cities around the world.
  • Oct. 16: In the second presidential debate, both candidates are aggressive, often interrupting each other with accusations of lying. President Obama takes charge of the tone and terms of this debate with observations such as, "When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility think about who he was talking about."
  • Jan. 3: The Iowa caucuses kick off U.S. Presidential Election. President Barack Obama goes uncontested in the Democratic caucus. In the Republican caucus, at first, Mitt Romney is declared the winner over Rick Santorum by eight votes. Certified results in Iowa show that Rick Santorum narrowly beat Romney by 34 votes in the Jan. 3 caucus. However, since results from eight precincts could not be located for certification, Santorum and Romney officially tie and split the delegates in Iowa.
  • Nov. 29: The lame duck session of Congress faces the Bush-era tax cuts as well as the stimulus measures expiring on December 31, 2012. These measures and cuts are set to expire just as the government plans to severely cut federal spending, thus sending the U.S. economy over a fiscal cliff. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presents the deficit reduction proposal from President Obama in a meeting with Speaker of the House John Boehner. The proposal asks for a $1.6 million tax increase over ten years, refinancing of home mortgages, an end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits, and $50 billion for immediate stimulus spending. Republicans react immediately to the proposal with very strong resistance. Dec. 3: Republicans make a deficit reduction proposal of their own. Their proposal is for a $2.2 trillion deficit decrease over the next ten years by cutting $1.2 trillion in spending and raising $800 billion in revenue. Dec. 4: President Obama rejects the proposal by Republicans to avoid the rapidly approaching fiscal cliff. He tells them he will not agree to any proposal that does not include increases on tax rates for the wealthy. Dec. 9: President Obama meets privately with House Speaker John Boehner in an attempt to hammer out a deal and avert a fiscal crisis. Republican Senator Bob Corker, of Tennessee, says in a TV interview that a growing number of Republicans are open to compromising on tax rates. Dec. 30: Republicans in the Senate back off on their demand that the deal has to include new inflation calculations for Social Security and other programs. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell works with Vice President Joe Biden into the late hours of the night finalizing a deal.
  • Dec. 7: The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear two cases that challenge federal and state laws over the issue that marriage is defined only as a union between a man and a woman. Decisions on the cases are expected no later than June 2013.
  • Dec. 14: Adam Lanza, age 20, forces his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, and kills 26 people, including 20 children between the ages of six and seven. Then Lanza takes his own life while still inside the school.
  • March 26: The U.S. Supreme Court reviews the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act. June 28: The Supreme Court upholds the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The ruling is a victory for President Obama and a loss for the twenty six states that sued over the individual mandate, which requires that individuals buy health insurance by 2014 or face a fine.
  • Oct. 22: President Obama continues to be aggressive in the third debate. In response to a comment from Mitt Romney about downsizing the U.S. military, Obama says, "You mentioned that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. And so the question is not a game of Battleship."
  • June 25: The United States Supreme Court rules against all but one provision in the 2010 immigration law in Arizona. The one provision the Supreme Court upholds is the one which allows the Arizona police to check the immigration status for any person they arrest.
  • Jan. 24: In his election-year State of the Union address, President Obama argues that the government should strive to bridge the gap between rich Americans and the rest of the U.S. by changing the tax code and other policies. In his speech, he says: "We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot."
  • Feb. 7: A federal appeals court in California rejects the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage passed in 2008. The court rules that the ban, known as Proposition 8, violates the constitution rights of gay men and lesbians in California.
  • Feb. 13: President Obama issues a budget plan for 2013. The plan includes job-creation initiatives for infrastructure as well as job-training. The proposal comes up short as far as the goal to cut the deficit in half by 2013. Republicans seize on this, calling it a broken promise in deficit reduction.
  • July 20: During a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, a gunman opens fire on the crowded theater in a Denver suburb. Twelve people are killed and 58 others are wounded. Directly after the incident, James Holmes, age 24, is arrested in a parking lot behind the theater.
  • Aug. 11: Mitt Romney introduces Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his presidential running mate during an appearance in Norfolk, Virginia. The announcement immediately energizes the Romney campaign, which raises over a million dollars in just four hours after the announcement.
  • Sept. 5: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton gives a rousing speech which brings the audience at the Democratic National Convention to its feet as he officially nominates Barack Obama as the 2012 Democratic candidate for president. Like the Republican National Convention, the DNC has to work around bad weather. The convention, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, is moved indoors.
  • Oct. 3: President Obama and Mitt Romney square off in the first debate. Romney and Obama come out aggressive on issues such as the tax policy, budget deficit, and the role of government. Romney has an energetic performance that provides a much needed boost to his campaign.
  • Feb. 10: President Obama announces a change to a recent rule requiring all health insurance plans, including those offered by Roman Catholic institutions, provide birth control coverage to female employees. The revision will require that insurance companies, not religious institutions, offer free contraceptive coverage.
  • June 5: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker easily wins a recall election against his 2010 opponent, Tom Barrett. Receiving 53 percent of the vote, Walker becomes the first governor in U.S. history to win a recall election. The win is a huge loss for Democrats and labor unions. Walker has been in the national spotlight for his ongoing battle with unions over his plan to trim the state budget by decreasing collective bargaining rights and benefits for public workers.
  • Aug. 28: Due to Hurricane Isaac, major events at the Republican National Convention begin a day late. Held in Tampa, Florida, convention highlights include a keynote speech from Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and a personal address from Ann Romney who assured female voters that they can trust her husband.
  • April 10: Rick Santorum announces his decision to end his campaign for the Republican nomination. His decision comes after taking Easter weekend off from the campaign and after his youngest daughter, who suffers from a chromosomal disorder, was hospitalized again.
  • May 8: North Carolina passes an amendment to ban gay marriage by a margin of more than twenty percent. By doing so, North Carolina becomes the 30th state in the U.S. to include an anti-gay marriage amendment in its constitution.
  • May 9: During an interview at the White House with Robin Roberts, President Obama declares his support for gay marriage for the first time. Regarding the issue, he says, "For me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." With the declaration, Obama becomes the first U.S. president to back gay marriage while in office.
  • June 12: Ron Barber, one of the top aides of Gabrielle Giffords, wins a special election to replace her in Congress. Also wounded in the 2011 shooting, Barber defeats Republican rival Jesse Kelly.


US GDP (1998 dollars): $15290 billion
Federal spending: $3790 billion
Federal debt $6900 billion
Unemployment: 7.8%
Cost of a first-class stamp: 45 cents


Super Bowl
In a rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl, the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21–17.
World Series
The San Francisco Giants defeat the Detroit Tigers in a four game sweep to win their second World Series title in three years. In the fourth and final game of the series, the Giants beat the Tigers 4-3 in ten intense innings.
NBA Championship
The Miami Heat win their second NBA championship in franchise history, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 121–106 in Game 5. The win is the first championship for NBA star LeBron James.
Stanley Cup
The Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils four games to two to win their first title. The Kings won game six by a score of 6-1.
Women: Serena Williams beat first time finalist, Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 to win her fifth Wimbledon singles title.
Men: Roger Federer breaks the heart of all Brits, including Andy Murray, when he defeats Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 for the singles championship.
Kentucky Derby Champion
The race was won by Ill Have Another, ridden by Mario Gutierrez.
NCAA Basketball Championship
Kentucky Wildcats defeated Kansas Jayhawks, 67-59
NCAA Football Champions
Alabama defeated LSU, 21-0 2012 Summer Olympics


Entertainment Awards

Academy Award, Best Picture: The Artist
Nobel Prize for Literature: Mo Yan (China) "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary."
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  • The Avengers
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • The Hunger Games
  • Skyfall
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Brave
  • Ted
  • Madagascar 3


  • 21 , Adele
  • Red, Taylor Swift
  • Up All Night, One Direction
  • Babel, Mumford & Sons
  • Take Me Home, One Direction
  • Believe, Justin Bieber
  • Blown Away, Carrie Underwood
  • Tailgates & Tanlines, Luke Bryan
  • Tuskegee, Lionel Richie
  • Night Train, Jason Aldean


  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  • The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association Sixth Edition, American Psychological Association
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney
  • Steve Jobs Biography, Walter Isaacson
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
  • Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
  • Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo, Colin Burpo, and Sonja Burpo
  • Go the F**k to Sleep, Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes
  • Protector, Laurel Dewey
  • Boo, J H Lee and Gretchen LeMaistre


Nobel Prizes in Science

Chemistry: Jointly to Robert J. Lefkowitz (U.S.) and Brian K. Kobilka (U.S.) for "studies of G-protein-coupled receptors"
Physics: One-half to David J. Wineland (France) and one-half jointly to David J. Wineland (U.S.) and Adam G. Riess (U.S.) for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems"
Physiology or Medicine: One-half jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon (UK) and Shinya Yamanaka (Japan) for "the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent"
More Nobel Prizes in 1998...
  • May 21: A government task force concludes that the prostate specific antigen blood test, also called the P.S.A. test, is more harmful than beneficial. The task force reports that one man in every 1,000 who takes the P.S.A. test may avoid death due to the screening, but one man for every 3,000 will die prematurely due to complications from prostate cancer treatment. The findings are met with resistance, especially from various medical groups, especially prostate cancer advocacy groups.
  • October: Meningitis spreads throughout the U.S. The outbreak has been linked to a contaminated steroid drug. The drug is administered to patients as a spinal injection for back pain. The contaminated steroid has been traced back to the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. More than 30 people die in the outbreak.
  • Oct. 29: Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in Atlantic City, N.J., and is re-classified as a post-tropical cyclone. New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are hardest hit by Sandy, and about 8 million people lose power as a result of the storm. Sandy has caused at least 100 deaths and an estimated $30 billion in damages, making it the second costliest hurricane in the United States, behind Hurricane Katrina.
  • Nov. 27: By the end of November, 48 states had reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. A total of 5,245 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 236 deaths, occurred throughout the year.
  • July 4: Ending what has become the most expensive and longest search in science, physicists discover a new subatomic particle. The particle appears to be the Higgs boson, the elusive last key to understanding why we have life and diversity in the universe. The Higgs boson is the missing part of the Standard Model, equations that have stood as law of the cosmos for 35 years. The announcement comes from physicists at CERN, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, located outside Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Aug. 5: A plutonium-powered rover named Curiosity successfully lands on Mars. Larger than earlier rovers, Curiosity will spend two years examining the land, looking for evidence that conditions on Mars are fit for life.
  • March 2: Several tornadoes and severe thunderstorms hit 17 states in the Midwest and South, causing at least 27 deaths and injuring hundreds. Southern Indiana, northern Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and southern Ohio are among the hardest areas hit. The tornadoes and storms are caused by a warm, unseasonable air mass mixing with colder air.
  • June 1: A massive wildfire spreads in New Mexico. The fire burns through 190,000 acres of the Gila National Forest. More than 1,200 firefighters attempt to battle the wildfire, the largest in state history. June 11: A wildfire burns across 60 square miles in the Colorado mountains, 15 miles west of Fort Collins. The fire destroys more than 100 buildings and houses. In New Mexico, hundreds of people flee a wildfire burning near Ruidoso. The fire burns 54 square miles wide. Meanwhile, the largest fire New Mexico history continues to burn through the Gila National Forest. According to officials that fire is raging across 434 square miles and is only 37 percent contained. June 27: At least 32,000 people are evacuated in Colorado as a wildfire burns close to Colorado Springs. The fire is one of nearly a dozen burning in Colorado. Military aircraft tankers are called in to help battle the fires. Surveying the fire near Colorado Springs from the air, Gov. John Hickenlooper says, "This is the worse fire season in the history of Colorado."
  • Sept. 5: Scientists announce they discovery that gene switches, once thought of as junk in DNA, actually play vital roles in how cells, organs, and tissues behave. The discovery is considered a major scientific breakthrough. Many diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure appear to be caused by tiny changes within these gene switches. The discovery will also provide clues to how the environment affects disease risk and how one identical twin gets a disease like cancer while the other remains healthy.


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