The killing of Osama bin Laden during a raid by Navy SEALs on his hideout in Pakistan was the top news story of 2011, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors. Here are 2011's top 10 stories, in order, along with a poll for you to cast your vote on the biggest story of the year.
Osama bin Laden's death
He'd been the world's most-wanted terrorist for nearly a decade, ever since a team of his al-Qaida followers carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In May, the long and often-frustrating manhunt ended with a nighttime assault by a helicopter-borne special operations squad on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden was shot dead by one of the raiders, and within hours his body was buried at sea.
Japan's triple disaster
A 9.0-magnitude earthquake off Japan's northeast coast in March unleashed a tsunami that devastated scores of communities, leaving nearly 20,000 people dead or missing and wreaking an estimated $218 billion in damage. The tsunami triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl after waves knocked out the cooling system at a nuclear power plant, causing it to spew radiation that turned up in local produce. About 100,000 people evacuated from the area have not returned to their homes.
It began with demonstrations in Tunisia that rapidly toppled the longtime strongman. Spreading like a wildfire, the Arab Spring protests sparked a revolution in Egypt that ousted Hosni Mubarak, fueled a civil war in Libya that climaxed with Moammar Gadhafi's death, and fomented a bloody uprising in Syria against the Assad regime. Bahrain and Yemen also experienced major protests and unrest.
EU fiscal crisis
The European Union was wracked by relentless fiscal turmoil. In Greece, austerity measures triggered strikes, protests and riots, while Italy's economic woes toppled Premier Silvio Berlusconi. France and Germany led urgent efforts to ease the debt crisis; Britain balked at proposed changes.
By some measures, the U.S. economy gained strength as the year progressed. Hiring picked up a bit, consumers were spending more, and the unemployment rate finally dipped below 9 percent. But millions of Americans remained buffeted by foreclosures, joblessness and benefit cutbacks, and investors were on edge monitoring the chain of fiscal crises in Europe.
Penn State sex abuse scandal
One of America's most storied college football programs was tarnished in a scandal that prompted the firing of Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno. One of his former assistants, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of sexually molesting 10 boys; two senior Penn State officials were charged with perjury; and the longtime president was ousted. Paterno wasn't charged, but expressed regret he didn't do more after being told there was a problem.
Gadhafi toppled in Libya
After nearly 42 years of mercurial and often brutal rule, Moammar Gadhafi was toppled by his own people. Anti-government protests escalated into an eight-month rebellion, backed by NATO bombing, that shattered his regime, and Gadhafi finally was tracked down and killed in the fishing village where he was born.
Fiscal showdown in Congress
Partisan divisions in Congress led to several showdowns on fiscal issues. A fight over the debt ceiling prompted Standard & Poor's to strip the U.S. of its AAA credit rating. Later, the so-called "supercommittee" failed to agree on a deficit-reduction package of at least $1.2 trillion — potentially triggering automatic spending cuts of that amount starting in 2013.
Occupy Wall Street protests
It began Sept. 17 with a protest at a New York City park near Wall Street, and within weeks spread to scores of communities across the U.S. and abroad. The movement depicted itself as leaderless and shied away from specific demands, but succeeded in airing its complaint that the richest 1 percent of Americans benefit at the expense of the rest. As winter approached, local police dismantled several of the protest encampments.
Gabrielle Giffords shot
The popular third-term congresswoman from Arizona suffered a severe brain injury when she and 18 other people were shot by a gunman as she met with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket in January. Six people died, and Giffords' painstaking recovery is still in progress.
Cast your vote
VIDEO: Watch these robots play ball
Drivers of remote-controlled robots will match skills, similar to those used in basketball and soccer, to score in the FIRST Robotics’ Crossroads Regional on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
VIDEO: Munn has made her mark on ISU women's program
Anna Munn has been a dependable leader in the Indiana State women’s basketball program. Her leadership has helped coach Teri Moren build to back-to-back 10-or-more win seasons in the Missouri Valley the last two years.
VIDEO: Mardi Gras at the Swope
Teresa Shaffer was handing out beads and masks at the Swope Art Museum's Mardi Gras celebration Saturday night. The event is an annual fundraiser for the downtown museum.
West Vigo High School's team competed in the Northview Winter Guard Invitational Friday, Feb. 28. Some 80 teams will perform their routines between Friday evening and all day today.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
VIDEO: Wilhelm leads South swimmers into state finals
Christian Wilhelm plans to compete in the distance freestyle when he gets to the University of Illinois-Chicago’s downtown campus.
Wilhelm emerged as a state qualifier in the 500-yard freestyle and 200 freestyle as a junior for Terre Haute South. But his senior season took a different turn and he’s hoping to make a big splash in a new event.
VIDEO: Inner beauty
Cheers and applause filled the room as 13 smiling women took center stage Wednesday night in Terre Haute to shine a spotlight on the unique beauty each person possesses — inside and out.
VIDEO: First responders train for ice rescues
The phrase “skating on thin ice” refers to a risky situation, and with good reason. Falling through the thin ice of a frozen lake or pond can be the last thing a person does if a rescue is not quickly made.
VIDEO: The Grascals have Wabash Valley’s toes tappin’
Bluegrass fans came from all four corners of the Wabash Valley to see Nashville, Tenn.-based band The Grascals — and its Vigo County-native member — in concert Friday night in Union Christian Church.
Jo-Ann Jones of Clinton was “pew dancing” in front of the sold-out crowd.
VIDEO: Eyes in the sky
Downtown Terre Haute gets demonstration of Pocket Drone and GPS navigation software.
Video: Navy veteran recounts tale of kayak trip
Sharing his story is exciting for a Dugger man who made history by becoming the first blind solo kayaker to travel the entire length of the Grand Canyon.
Video: SPPRAK-ers spread message
Six-year-old Sunny Santharam knows what kindness is.
When his father Ram asked him the definition, Sunny quickly responded, “Be nice to everyone!”
Video: Full-time Eagle Scout
Seth Boland poses with his Eagle Scout award at the stage extension he built in Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall. Boland had the help of family, friends and fellow scouts, taking parts of three weekends to build the structure.
VIDEO: Conserving the Wabash River, Sugar Creek corridor
More than 1,200 acres west of Turkey Run State Park along Sugar Creek will be open to the public in April, thanks to Indiana’s Healthy Rivers INitiative.
VIDEO: ‘Notes on a River’ exhibit brings Wabash scenes to gallery
The best views of the Wabash come with wet, muddy feet. Free flowing and untamed, the river’s banks often test human visitors. The Wabash looks its finest at water’s edge, where nature rules and man’s domain lies over the bank, out of sight. Nancy Nichols-Pethick set up her easel there, atop uneven stones, mossy dirt and marshy weeds.
VIDEO: Clay Schools to install district-wide video surveillance system
Soon, Clay Community Schools Corp. will have a district-wide video surveillance system in place that will enable a few school officials — and eventually law enforcement — to monitor nearly 300 cameras at 15 facilities, should security issues arise.
VIDEO: Vigo mumps case confirmed
A Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology student has been diagnosed with mumps, and there are at least six other “probable cases” of mumps in Vigo County, according to the Vigo County Health Department.
VIDEO: Rosedale igloo
Keaton Allen checks one of the rooms in the snowy structure he and friends Noelanie Loomis, Gabe Whitford and Isaiah Bowman are building at the park in Rosedale.
VIDEO: Broken heart
Heinl’s Flower Shop will not be open for Valentine’s Day — or any future Valentine’s Day.
After a devastating water pipe rupture resulted in substantial damage to the design area, show room and an upstairs apartment on Jan. 9, owner Vonda Monts has decided not to re-open as a floral shop..
VIDEO: Traveling Lincoln exhibit at ISU
A traveling exhibit that takes a closer look at Abraham Lincoln’s presidency during the Civil War has arrived in Terre Haute. “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” opened Thursday in Cunningham Memorial Library at Indiana State University. It will be on display through March 21.
VIDEO: Plans emerge for historic move from Sage House
“We’re moving into the second life … of the historical museum,” said Marylee Hagan, executive director of the Vigo County Historical Society and Museum.
Video: Historic roller rink under renovation
Robert Kramer has one of the best jobs in town.
Kramer, a native of Martinsville, is leading the charge to bring the Wigwam skating and event center back to life.
Video: Election board OKs ballot change
The Vigo County Election Board Wednesday adopted a resolution to permit the central counting of absentee ballots.
VIDEO: Cold case homicide: 15 years later
Fifteen years is a long time to wait for a payoff when it comes to arresting a suspect in a homicide investigation.
VIDEO: Judging their piece of the pie
The smell of delicious pies filled the air inside the Wabash Valley Banquet Center at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds during a pie contest on Thursday — National Pie Day.
VIDEO: Sen. Donnelly updates T-S editorial board
Passage of a long overdue U.S. farm bill could be completed by the end of this month, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Tuesday.
VIDEO: South coach to be inducted into state high school tennis Hall of Fame
When Illinois resident Bill Blankenbaker debuted as Terre Haute South High School’s tennis coach for boys and girls back in 1996, he had no idea how long he would continue with those duties.
VIDEO: Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Day of service
Indiana State University students Paige Clouse and Samantha Beccari wore face masks and gloves as they helped clean up an abandoned house on South 13 1⁄2 Street.
VIDEO: United Day for United Way
The wind combined with the cold temperatures did not freeze out the enthusiasm of the eighth annual United Day for United Way volunteers around the Wabash Valley on Friday.
VIDEO: Not just for show
Leslie Grow, Indiana Department of Natural Resources interpretive naturalist at the Hardy Lake Dwight Chamberlain Raptor Center, gave the barred owl's "Who Cooks for you, who cooks for you-all call." Grow brought six raptors to Fowler Park for the first in a series of programs offered by the Vigo County Parks Department. The next event, Nature's Design, will begin at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22.
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