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: SPPRAK segment airs on NBC News
About 9 million national TV viewers got a very positive image of Terre Haute Monday night, thanks to a tiny not-for-profit group and the Vigo County School Corp.
VIDEO: Wabash Valley residents start flood cleanup process
Several Wabash Valley counties are assessing damage as a result of flooding along the Wabash River, Eel River and Big Walnut Creek.
VIDEO: Happy Birthday Paul Dresser
The banks of the swollen Wabash River weren’t so far away Monday as several people gathered at the Paul Dresser Home in Fairbanks Park to celebrate what would have been the celebrated songwriter’s 155th birthday.
VIDEO: Massive explosion at fertilizer plant rocks Texas town
An explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas, on Wednesday night has flattened buildings and injured dozens, according to local officials.
VIDEO: ISU's Brown delivers winning block
Two years ago, Indiana State knocked Evansville out of the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament via a last-second shot. On Friday? It was a last-second swat.
VIDEO: No Arop, no energy, no victory for Sycamores
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team wanted to use its last home game of the season Wednesday as a springboard to success in next week’s Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
VIDEO: ISU crashes at Missouri State
Indiana State earned the pole position in the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball standings last weekend and had its first chance to lead a lap.
But at JQH Arena on Tuesday, the Sycamores crashed in the first turn.
Missouri State afforded ISU the respect it earned as conference leaders with an inspired effort. The Bears’ defense had ISU on its heels for the majority of the contest, and a late comeback effort by the Sycamores fell short in a 67-65 loss.
VIDEO: Sycamore stress test: ISU survives Southern Illinois
The Sycamores started flat – down by 12 four-minutes-into-the-game level of flat – and needed some heroes to infuse the energy needed to keep their Missouri Valley Conference title hopes alive.
Comes the hour, came Khristian Smith. Later, it was R.J. Mahurin. And then, on ISU’s last possession, who else but Jake Odum?
All three played a role in a 66-65 win for ISU.
VIDEO: Indiana State gets 1,400th win in school history, Odum tops 1,000 career points in rout of No. 16 Creighton
The realistic hope for Indiana State’s men’s basketball team going into its game against No. 16 Creighton was to get a win — by whatever method or whatever margin necessary — and get itself back into the Missouri Valley Conference race.
VIDEO: ISU knocks off No. 15 Wichita State
After a nonconference season in which unfancied Indiana State defeated Miami and Mississippi, many observers stood on the sideline waiting for the Sycamores to get a similar victory in Missouri Valley Conference play before they saw fit to declare them a legitimate MVC title threat.
The wait is over.
VIDEO: Sycamores' aggressive rebounding plays big part in pulling away from SIU
Indiana State's M-and-M combination continued to carry the Sycamores' women's basketball team Thursday night in Hulman Center.
The duo of Anna Munn and Racheal Mahan combined for 30 points, helping ISU improve to 11-5 overall and 3-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 72-57 victory against Southern Illinois.
VIDEO: Workmanlike Sycamores drop Bradley 68-53
The intricacies of help defense aren’t going to show up on any highlight shows.
But far as Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is concerned, help defense is as pretty as any breakaway dunk or a crowd-pleasing blocked shot.
VIDEOS: ISU's Odum breaks Miami in OT
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team never put its hammer away against Miami in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on Tuesday.
The Sycamores kept pounding at the rock. Figuratively, yes. But literally too as ISU’s faced an imposing Hurricanes’ front line.
The rock cracked in the last minute. And it broke in overtime.
Jake Odum converted a leaner in the lane with 0.8 left as ISU defeated Miami 57-55 in overtime to take third place in the Diamond Head Classic.
VIDEO: ISU’s upset bid slips through turnover-prone fingers
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum cut a forlorn figure outside the Sycamores’ locker room after a 62-55 loss to No. 18 San Diego State in men’s basketball Sunday evening.
VIDEOS: Indiana State fights past Ole Miss in overtime at Hawaii
Hakaka … it’s the Hawaiian word for “fight.”
Not unlike a Hawaiian volcano roaring to life, Indiana State’s men’s basketball team was able to summon its inner Hakaka on Saturday against Mississippi in the opening game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
VIDEOS: Sycamores have work cut out for them at Diamond Head Classic
All you have to do is take one look at Indiana State’s team hotel to realize ISU’s participation in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic is a tad different from your average road trip.
VIDEO: So far, so good for Sycamores
Perhaps the most important conversation new Indiana State football coach Mike Sanford had on Monday wasn’t with the administration, the alumni and the assembled media at his introductory press conference, but a talk that came after it.
- SLIDESHOW: Flash Back: 2012 in Pictures Tribune-Star photographers Joseph C. Garza, Jim Avelis and Bob Poynter showcase their favorite work of 2012.
VIDEO: ISU women add athleticism, experience with 2013 recruiting class
As a team stocked full of underclassmen continues to grow and gain some NCAA Division I women’s basketball seasoning, those players will blend with four recruits who will likely be ready to make a big impact for coach Teri Moren in 2013-14.
Sullivan native Rhagen Smith, daughter of former Sycamore basketball standout Maria (Stockberger) Smith, will be the only true freshman of the four. The 6-foot-2 forward is joined by 5-1 junior-college point guard Ricquia Jones, junior-college wing Jasmine Grier and Kansas State transfer Stephanie Wittman.
VIDEO: Indiana State University police officer leads rescue of student from burning car
On a typical day, Indiana State University police officer Chris Heleine might deal with theft reports, well-being checks or property damage accidents.
But Wednesday was not a typical day.
- SLIDESHOW: Veterans Day Parade 2012 Terre Haute’s annual Veterans Day parade down Wabash Avenue on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, concluded with an 11:11 a.m. post-parade ceremony and 21-gun salute at the VFW Post 972 at 12th and Mulberry streets.
- SLIDESHOW: General Election 2012 Photos by Tribune-Star photographers Bob Poynter, Joe Garza and Jim Avelis. Check back for more photos.
- SLIDESHOW: Sandy delivers snow to East
VIDEO: Sandy brings more snow to Appalachian Mountains
Snow continues to fall in the Appalachian Mountains thanks to superstorm Sandy, leaving an estimated 150,000 people without power.
VIDEO: Mammoth storm Sandy plunges NYC into darkness
Much of New York was plunged into darkness Monday by a superstorm that overflowed the city's historic waterfront, flooded the financial district and subway tunnels and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people.
- SLIDESHOW: Hurricane Sandy brings wind, water Damaging winds and storm surges from Hurricane Sandy began affecting Massachusetts on Monday.
VIDEO: Shakin’ Things Up
Trucks rumbling through the city streets have university officials hoping for good vibrations this weekend.
VIDEO: Famous Hoosier horror legend to appear at Linton haunted house
Sammy Terry, the spooktacular entertainer who captivated Hoosier television viewers every weekend in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, is ready for some new “frightmares” — and his search is returning him to Linton.
- SLIDESHOW: This year's 15 hottest toys Is it too early to start your holiday shopping? Not according to Toys R Us, which just released its "Hot Toy List" for 2012. Check out the top 15 toys that made the list. Find all 50 at toysrus.com/hottoys.
VIDEO: Mark Bennett: Terre Haute featured in ‘strange, offbeat, evocative, wonderful movie’
Some people hold a fond memory of Terre Haute. Some even dream of escaping to Terre Haute to start a new life.
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