20 Biggest News Stories of 2011 That Made Us Mad, Sad, or Glad

gay pride ny
NYC celebrated the passage of the same sex marriage bill in 2011.
With the push toward the 2012 election, I've been feeling lately like 2011 was just a year we had to "get through" in order to get to the big day. But now that the new year is upon us, I've been looking back on this one, and I have to admit it. I owe a big fat apology to 2011.

Boasting the likes of the death of Osama Bin Laden and the not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony, this wasn't just a year to get through! It was the year when some pretty darn major things happened in these here United States and abroad. Let's take a walk back through the major news that kept you tied to The Stir this year, shall we?


Death of Osama Bin Laden

This was "the" biggie, the one moment of 2011 we will look back on and say "do you remember where you were when the world's most wanted terrorist was confirmed dead, shot by a Navy SEAL team in Pakistan?" I do. I was sitting at my computer, writing up the news for The Stir as President Obama shared it with the nation during a rare late-night news conference on May 2. 

Tenth Anniversary of September 11

Could there have been a more poignant follow-up to the good news in May than the myriad memorials held in New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania to honor the lives lost 10 years ago?

Shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was putting democracy in action when she set up a meeting with constituents back home in Arizona, but a deranged man named Jared Lee Loughner stole away the innocence of the January day. Shooting Giffords at close range and opening fire on bystanders, Loughner killed six people that day, including a little girl who was born on 9/11/01. Today Giffords is on the mend; she even showed up in Congress to cast her vote on the debt ceiling issue.

Casey Anthony Verdict

The announcement that "tot mom" Casey Anthony was declared not guilty of killing daughter Caylee by a jury of her peers in Florida this past July shocked the world (and sent Nancy Grace on a tirade). But life is hardly smooth sailing for Casey with death threats and lawsuits up the yin yang.

Lara Logan Assaulted in Egypt

Egyptians celebrating the toppling of ruler Hosni Mubarak's rule really hit home for Americans when we learned a CBS news correspondent had been sexually assaulted as she covered the story.

President Obama's Birth Certificate

Donald Trump joined the birthers this year, and The Apprentice star learned an important political lesson: don't base your entire campaign on a complete fantasy. When the White House released a copy of the president's long-form certificate in April, the Trumpster's goose was all but cooked.

Congressman Anthony Weiner's Twitter Scandal

A one-time hero for women's rights, Democrat Anthony Weiner's crash and burn moment back in late May/early June seemed to have been powered by jet fuel. Caught sexting photos of a certain body part that shares the name with the Congressman himself, he first claimed he'd been hacked, and we were outraged. Until we found out he made it all up, and he'd really been stepping out on his marriage by sending pornographic pics out to other ladies.

East Coast Earthquake

It was a nice change for Washington to be shaken not by scandal but by something a little more natural this year. A rare 5.8 magnitude in Virginia shook buildings up and down the East Coast, creating panic ... and absolute glee for those jokesters on that other coast.

Japanese Earthquake

Sadly the earthquake that hit Japan in March was no laughing matter. The 8.9 magnitude quake was the most powerful to hit the island nation in 100 years, and created a disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

The End of the World -- Harold Camping's Version

Doomsday prophet Harold Camping wasn't about to let the Mayans steal his thunder. The founder of the Family Radio Network declared the world was going to end on May 21 -- more than a year before the Mayan calendar is set to end (next December 21 in case you're wondering). So he was wrong? That didn't stop him from coming out with yet another ... wrong ... prediction. Fortunately, we didn't meet our doom in October either.

The Royal Wedding

They came, they kissed (twice!), and Princess Diana's little boy is officially a married man. Sooooob. But at least the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton introduced the world to Pippa.

Occupy Wall Street

The 99 percent showed up in New York's Zuccotti Park en masse this fall, and they started an international uprising that roped in parents, zombies, and more.

Pepper Spray Becomes Weapon of Choice

As protesting became more popular this year, so did the use of pepper spray by cops to subdue people they felt were causing a ruckus. But from the campus of UC Davis to Wal-Mart during Black Friday shopping, its use has raised eyebrows by people who note its damaging affects.

Freaky Bird Deaths

Most people had never heard of Beebe, Arkansas, and when 1,000 dead birds dropped around the town just as 100,000 dead fish cropped up in the Arkansas River in early January, people marked the town on their "not likely to vacation" list.

Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal

The world of college football was rocked by news that one of the most respected schools in the NCAA employed Jerry Sandusky, a man accused of sexually abusing a number of young boys over the years. Sandusky allegedly encountered the boys while working with the non-profit Second Mile, but university officials including Coach Joe Paterno have been forced out of their jobs because they are thought to have known about the abuse and did nothing to stop it.

Steve Jobs Died

The co-founder of Apple Computers was a visionary, and his death from cancer in October left a void in the fast-growing technology industry.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver Split

They were the very definition of a power couple: a top-billed actor and a member of the Kennedy clan. But when she learned her husband's mistress had been working in their house for years, and he'd fathered the woman's child, Shriver was left with little choice but to end her marriage in June.

Lisa Irwin Disappears

A missing child grabs headlines like nothing else, but the twists and turns in the story of little Lisa Irwin made this one especially impossible to walk away from. The baby was allegedly grabbed in the middle of on October night when her mother was passed out drunk and her father was at work. Although she was supposedly sleeping in her crib, we still have no clear picture of what happened that night, and sadly we may never know.

Joplin, Missouri Tornado

One of the most terrifying natural disasters to hit on American soil made the town of Joplin, Missouri a household name. More than 100 people were killed, tying the Joplin tornado with Flint, Michigan's 1953 disaster as the deadliest twister on record since the National Weather Service began keeping track.

Same Sex Marriage Bill Passes in New York

It's not the first state to acknowledge gays and lesbians deserve equal rights under the law, but the timing of the New York legislature's vote -- just before the famous Gay Pride Parade in New York City -- made it top news around the country.

Did you remember all of these headlines of 2011? What news story hits home for you?


Image via bettyx1138/Flickr

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