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Updated: December 18, 2011 01:56 IST

Killing of bin Laden voted top news story of 2011

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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 The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors. File photo
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 The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors. File photo

The killing of Osama bin Laden during a raid by Navy SEALs on his hideout in Pakistan was the top news story of 2011, followed by Japan’s earthquake/tsunami disaster, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The death of bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, received 128 first-place votes out of 247 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The Japan disaster was next, with 60 first-place votes. Placing third were the Arab Spring uprisings that rocked North Africa and the Middle East, while the European Union’s financial turmoil was No. 4.

The international flavour of these top stories contrasted with last year’s voting when the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was the top story, President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul was No. 2, and the U.S. midterm elections were No. 3.

Here are 2011’s top 10 stories, in order

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-Qaeda followers carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In May, the long and often-frustrating manhunt ended with a night-time 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.

ARAB SPRING: It began with demonstrations in Tunisia that rapidly toppled the long-time strongman. Spreading like a wildfire, the Arab Spring protests sparked a revolution in Egypt that ousted Hosni Mubarak, fuelled a civil war in Libya that climaxed with Muammar Qadhafi’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 hit with 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.

U.S. ECONOMY: 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 long-time president was ousted. Paterno wasn’t charged, but expressed regret he didn’t do more after being told there was a problem.

QADHAFI TOPPLED IN LIBYA: After nearly 42 years of mercurial and often brutal rule, Muammar Qadhafi was toppled by his own people. Anti-government protests escalated into an eight-month rebellion, backed by NATO bombing, that shattered his regime, and Qadhafi finally was tracked down and killed in the fishing village where he was born.

FISCAL SHOWDOWNS 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 “super committee” 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.

Among the news events falling just short of the Top 10 were the death of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, Hurricane Irene, the devastating series of tornados across Midwest and South-eastern U.S., and the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred gays from serving openly in U.S. military.

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Hi Bimal,

Although Anna Hazare has been a news sensation in India, foreign media
organizations have covered the Hazare story only in passing (except for the
BBC which covered it in somewhat greater depth). You must realize that the
issue of corruption and Hazare's movement is primarily domestic in
influence and has affected national politics. There have been equally
mammoth movements in other countries that we don't know of.

If you were to list out the top ten changes in political landscapes, I
would be inclined to agree with you. Then again, this list from the AP.

from:  Raghu
Posted on: Dec 18, 2011 at 20:19 IST

This is all rubbish. In my eyes, The Royal Wedding was the news event
of the year. Its like the world stopped to look and sighed at the
sight of the them. It was simple beautiful!

from:  Sangeeta Ramanan
Posted on: Dec 18, 2011 at 20:08 IST

I agree with the order of top 10 stories in the world except the story of "PENN STATE SEX ABUSE SCANDAL". Anna Hazare led agitation for Lokpal Bill must include the top 10 stories, because any decision on Lokpal bill by the government and Parliament will affect one-sixth of the world population. The indefinite fast undertaken by Anna Hazare in Tihar jail and later on RAMLILA ground in Delhi has witnessed the whole parliament standing on one foot and appealing to Hazare to end fast and had assured him to bring a strong and effective Lokpal bill. India is a democratic country and represents one - sixth of world population. So, top stories must include this news item.

Posted on: Dec 18, 2011 at 10:27 IST

When the history is written by objective historians, it is going to record that the Arab spring was the defining event of not just 2011 but the 21st century.

from:  Tipu Qaimkhani
Posted on: Dec 18, 2011 at 09:11 IST
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