We teeter on the edge of the fiscal cliff as this year ends, looking uncertainly and warily into the future. But isnt that always the way? We couldnt and wouldnt have dreamed up some of the biggest stories of 2012, those that lingered on our front pages and during dinner conversations, in heated Facebook exchanges and testy, overemotional Tweets.
The top stories of 2012 tapped into our collective conscious with horror and anguish, anger and uncertainty, pride and fear any of the universal emotions that bind us as a nation.
Heres our take on the top five national/international and top five local stories of 2012.
National and international
1: Mass shootings: At a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, a gunman opened fire on a theater full of moviegoers in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people and injuring almost 60 others. Arrested and charged with the crime is James Eagan Holmes, who is awaiting trial. But Eagans act of terror was not to be the only one of 2012. On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and killed 20 children and six adults. Lanza, who died after shooting himself, killed his mother, a Sandy Hook teacher, before his rampage. The horrific attacks propelled the arguments for and against gun control to the forefront of American debate.
2: Hurricane Sandy: The superstorm bypassed Florida and slammed into the shore near Atlantic City, N.J. on Oct. 29. The storm killed more than 100 people and pulverized communities on the Jersey shore, leaving tens of thousands homeless, millions without electricity and billions of dollars worth of infrastructure damage. Preliminary reports indicate that Sandy was the second costliest hurricane to hit the U.S. (after Hurricane Katrina in 2005), and the depth of the devastation underscored the dangerous vulnerability of our coastline.
3: 2012 presidential election: The campaign lasted years and tested patience and friendships (if you didnt have a fight with a friend or family member on social media over it, you were in the minority). But on Nov. 6, President Barack Obama won re-election over challenger Mitt Romney despite some polls predicting a Romney victory. Projected to be a pivotal state, Florida instead played the jokers role as undermanned and overstuffed precincts and limited early voting left thousands standing in line to cast ballots long after the polls closed. The debacle left many voters furious and clamoring for change and possibly made the road to re-election a little rockier for Gov. Rick Scott, who took the blame for the cutbacks in early voting.
4: Unrest in the Middle East: The conflict between Israel and Hamas reignited in November, when Israel launched airstrikes at what it said were terrorist targets in Gaza in retaliation for rocket attacks from the area. War loomed, but a cease-fire was called. Meanwhile, the effects of the Arab Spring surged throughout the Middle East, with a civil war erupting in Syria and a presidential election that ended up setting off more protests and demonstrations in Egypt. The upheaval continues to have a profound effect on the political structure and the future of the region.
5: Gen. David H. Petraeus scandal: What essentially started as an affair between the CIA director and his biographer quickly descended into a tawdry soap opera. The secrets unwound when Petraeus mistress, Paula Broadwell, sent emails to Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, warning her to stay away from Petraeus, a retired four-star general, and Gen. John Allen, the top NATO Commander in Afghanistan. Kelley reported the emails to the FBI, triggering an investigation that led to the exposure of the affair and Kelleys own questionable emails to the married Allen. In the end, the disgraced Petraeus resigned; Allen is under investigation and his appointment to become NATOs Supreme Allied Commander in Europe is in jeopardy. Broadwell went into temporary hiding and Kelley lost her diplomatic and military privileges and the nation was inundated with too much information about the private lives of its military leaders.