Top news stories of 2011


Arizona bloodbath

Representative Gabrielle Giffords is shot in an assassination attempt in Arizona.

She is among at least 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, Jared Lee Loughner, is apprehended and remains in police custody.

Australian floods

At least 8 people died and over 70 missing after massive flooding ravaged Brisbane, Australia.

The area had been subjected to several weeks of heavy rain and flooding after a drought that had lasted 10 years.

Revolution in Tunisia.

At least two dozen people were killed during government protests in Tunisia.

The protests were over chronic unemployment and claims of police brutality. President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali ordered a night curfew, while schools and universities were temporarily closed.

After 23 years, President Ben Ali fled for Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announces he will take over.

Protests in Egypt

Spurred on by the protests in Tunisia thousands of people took to the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities to demand an end to the rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

Cairo-based journalist Max Strasser reported  on the events from Istanbul. Marilyn Gardner posted updates  on the situation after speaking with her daughter, who was living in Egypt for school.


New Zealand earthquake

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand, killing at least 75 people.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the earthquake was part of an aftershock sequence from a 7.1 earthquake that hit the same area in September 2010.


Japan earthquake

At 2:46 p.m. local time on March 11 Japan was hit by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake centered off the coast of Honshu.  It was the strongest in its history.

The author of was at a grocery store in Shibuya-ku when it happened. She recounted the experience in We’re Being Shaken and Stirred in Japan . According to Liz Tagami, who was at Narita International Airport when the quake hit, “It started as a silent rolling wave.

More than 20,000 people were killed and tens of thousands more were left homeless. Roads and rail lines were damaged, water and sewage systems were disrupted, and electric lines were damaged.

Several nuclear power stations damaged in the massive earthquake became a concern, including the Fukishima plant, which lost power and overheated. Radiation concerns necessitated an 18-mile evacuation and no-fly zone before the situation was brought under control.

The earthquake triggered a deadly 23-foot tsunami in the country’s north.

Revolution in Libya

American and European forces unleash warplanes and missiles, striking against the government of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi in a mission to impose a UN-sanctioned no-fly zone.

The no-fly zone was set up to keep Col. Qaddafi from using air power against rebel forces and to prevent a massacre in Libya. French warplanes begin the campaign. U.S. forces knock out air defence systems as well as missile, radar, and communication centres around Tripoli, Misurata, and Surt.

Myanmar earthquake

A powerful earthquake strikes northeastern Myanmar, toppling homes and killing more than 70 people. Tremors from the earthquake are felt hundreds of miles away, in cities as far away as Bangkok and Hanoi.


US Tornadoes

In one of the worst U.S. tornado seasons, 137 tornadoes were reported throughout the southern states, killing nearly 300 people in six states. Most of the fatalities occur in Alabama.

The Royal Wedding

A million people lined the streets – half a million of them gathered in front of Buckingham Palace – and two billion tune in via television or computer to see Kate Middleton marry Prince William.

Middleton received rave reviews for wearing a modern, but restrained wedding dress designed by Sarah Burton, the creative director for the late Alexander McQueen.


Osama bin Laden killed

Despite the world’s largest global manhunt and a $25 million reward for information, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. had managed to evade capture for nearly ten years. On May 1, U.S. President Barack Obama authorised a small U.S. force to raid a compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was believed to be hiding.

Osama bin Laden was killed in the raid, and after DNA confirmation was buried at sea. Obama announced bin Laden’s killing in a televised address.

US Floods

Heavy rains caused flooding in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.

People in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas are forced to leave their homes. The Army Corps of Engineers intentionally breach a levee south of where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi in order to lower river levels and prevent widespread flooding in communities like Cairo, Illinois.


News of the World / Phone hacking

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, among others a 13-year-old murder victim.

Prime Minister David Cameron ordered two separate investigations. Murdoch’s News Corporation feels an immediate impact as its stock price falls. News Corp. withdrew its $12 billion bid to buy out British Sky Broadcasting.

Rebekah Brooks, former editor of The News of the World, was 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.

Norway terror attacks

Norway is hit with consecutive terrorist attacks.

First, a bomb explodes in Regjeringskvartalet, the government quarter of Oslo. The explosion occurred right outside the prime minister’s office, killing eight people and wounding several others.

Two hours later, a gunman disguised as a policeman opened fire at a camp for young political activists on the island of Utoya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud. The camp is run by the youth organisation of the Norwegian Labour Party.

The gunman kills 68 campers, including personal friends of Prime Minister Stoltenberg. Police arrest Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian who has been linked to an anti-Islamic group and may be connected to other terrorist groups and extremists.


Riots in the UK

These all began with a peaceful protest in early August over the fatal shooting of a local man named Mark Duggan by police.

Two days later, it devolved into full-on rioting which lasted for four days throughout several London boroughs and districts of other towns in the UK. In all, several thousand were arrested, five people died and dozens of others were injured in the night-time riots, fuelled by social media connectivity. Property damage from looting and rioting was extensive.

A man in south London is shot and killed, becoming the first fatality in the riots. (Aug. 10):

Ten thousand police officers patrol London. Residents are strongly advised to stay home and businesses close early. Prime Minister David Cameron pledges in a speech to “fight back” against the rioters, describing them as “groups of thugs.”

Hurricane Irene Hits the East Coast of the US

Beginning as a Category 3 with 115-mile-per hour winds, Hurricane Irene moved up the eastern seaboard.

At least 44 people are killed in 13 states.

New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Boston shut down mass transit systems. Airlines cancel flights and Amtrak cancels train service. Evacuations are ordered for about 2.3 million people. Damage is estimated at $7 billion.


9/11 – 10 years on

Americans remember the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

In the post 3,652 Days Later , Dale Roe of Project 2,996  declared, “Take this day, not to remember mass murder, but to remember the 2,996 people who are loved and missed.” The project uses to organize tributes to the victims of 9/11.

Amalie Flynn was just blocks away from the Twin Towers on 9/11. She started  on 9/11/2010 and posted every day last year.


The Occupy Wall Street movement gains momentum.

Terrell Starr visited New York’s Financial District to document  the demonstration. Many “Occupy” movements like Occupy Oakland , Occupy London , Occupy Albany , and Occupy Together  use the WordPress open source software or to power their web sites.

Turkey earthquake

An earthquake, measured at 7.2 in magnitude, strikes Turkey in Van Province, near the border of Iran.

The death toll quickly rises to more than 360 and is expected to climb higher. Rescue teams work to find survivors in more than 2,260 buildings that collapsed from the earthquake. More than 1,300 are injured. Over 50 countries offer aid, including Israel, despite of strained relations between the two countries.

Gadhafi killed

The long time leader of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi (Gaddafi) was killed on October 20, 2011 in cross-fire between rebels and loyalist fighters in Libya when the rebels in Gadhafi’s birthplace of Sirt attempted to take the ousted colonel, who was wounded after an attack, to an ambulance. Gadhafi had been hiding in a large sewer pipe in Sirt.

The leader of Libya since 1969, his ouster was also one of the top stories of the year.

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