Top 10 news stories of the past year
By Mark Luedtke
National unemployment hovered around 9 percent all year. In November, unemployment dropped to 8.6 percent to great fanfare, but even this was bad news because most of the drop came from 315,000 unemployed workers giving up and dropping out of the system. Also, 50,000 of the jobs created were seasonal. Unemployment in Dayton hovered around 11 percent most of the year, but the good news is it has slowly dropped every month recently.
2. Sovereign debt crisis
The financial problems of the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) governments dominated the financial press all year. Despite, or because of, several different bailout packages including funds from the U.S.-funded IMF, the Greek government already defaulted on its bonds; it will only pay off 50 percent of face value. Bond prices for Portugal, Ireland and Spain are barely sustainable. Italy’s bond rates are over seven percent, which is considered beyond the point of no return. The last trappings of democracy in Italy and Greece were shredded when the parliaments of both countries appointed new prime ministers, both previously central bankers, without elections. The sovereign debt of the U.S. government is comparable to the PIIGS. Japan’s is worse. Both Ohio state government and Dayton city government have cut budgets to compensate for dwindling tax revenues.
3. Arab Spring
Uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco toppled dictators long supported by the U.S. government. Similar protests were violently suppressed in other Arab countries. While the press presented these as spontaneous uprisings in support of democracy, they were actually sparked by significant increases in the price of food that resulted from the Federal Reserve inflating the money supply. NATO intelligence agencies took advantage of these uprisings to foment a revolution in Libya that killed over 30,000 people including strongman Moammar Gadhafi. They are doing the same in Syria.
4. Navy SEALs kill Osama bin Laden
President Obama reported that members of SEAL Team Six assassinated Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani compound. Bin Laden was hiding in plain sight in Abbottabad, Pakistan near a major military training academy. This could have been the biggest story of the year, but the Navy quietly buried bin Laden at sea so his death could not be confirmed. This provided fodder for conspiracy theorists, but little for the press to report. One of the two SEAL helicopters crashed without casualties, turning over advanced technology to the Pakistani government. Perception that the Pakistani government was hiding bin Laden coupled with anger at the U.S. incursion into Pakistan greatly increased tensions between the two governments.
5. Japanese earthquake and tsunami
In March, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck just east of Japan. It was the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan on record, and it triggered a tsunami over 130-feet high. The tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people and struck the Fukushima nuclear reactor, causing the worst nuclear power plant accident since Chernobyl.
6. Perpetual war
2011 was the second most deadly year for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. President Obama has expanded U.S. wars into Libya and central Africa without a declaration of war from Congress. CIA agents are reportedly fomenting rebellion in Syria and assassinating nuclear scientists in Iran, both acts of war. Even though the Iraqi government is officially kicking most U.S. troops out of Iraq at the end of the year against the wishes of the Obama administration, 17,000 U.S. forces will remain. The rest will move to Kuwait, not home. A recent attack by NATO forces on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, prompting the Pakistani government to shut down supply lines to NATO forces in Afghanistan. Local resident Gustavo A. Rios-Ordonez was killed in Afghanistan in June.
7. The Occupy Movement
After training and organizing young protesters, American leftist leaders launched Occupy Wall Street over the summer. Copycat groups sprang up across the country. Many protests became breeding grounds for violence and disease, hurting the leftist cause, so the Department of Human Services shut most down en mass before Thanksgiving. Now they struggle to remain relevant. Local officials recently ousted the Occupy Dayton protesters from Courthouse Square then Dave Hall Plaza.
8. Casey Anthony trial
Casey Anthony was acquitted of the murder of her toddler daughter in Florida despite her bizarre behavior after the child disappeared and numerous lies she told during the investigation. Because of the lynch mob mentality fomented by the press, she now hides in a safe house and reportedly survived an assassination attempt.
9. Institutionalization of child sex abuse
The Pennsylvania Attorney General charged a former Penn State assistant football coach with 52 counts of child sex abuse. Iconic football coach Joe Paterno was fired as a result. The New York District Attorney has arrested a former Syracuse assistant basketball coach for child sex abuse. Memphis police also accused a youth basketball leader of child sex abuse.
10. A tale of two weddings
In April, Prince William married Catherine Middleton to great fanfare. The wedding was a spectacle watched by millions around the world. In August, Kim Kardashian married NBA player Kris Humphries only to file for divorce 72 days later after pocketing $17 million and causing many to believe the marriage was a scam from the beginning. Humphries has filed for an annulment.
In October, a Zanesville man released his menagerie of exotic animals and then killed himself. Sheriff’s deputies were forced to kill nearly 50 animals including 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions and two grizzly bears. The Ohio legislature is considering banning residents other than zoos from owning exotic animals as a result.
Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.