Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Review of Some of the Stories from 2011

Here’s a short review of some of the headlines and the less well known stories of 2011.

January 1st: Toys, left in memory of six year old cancer victim Keira Darkes, were stolen from her grave.

January 8th: Republican Gabrielle Giffords is shot in the head at a public event and survives.

January 19th: President Barack Obama gives a lavish welcome to Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

January 20th: President John F Kennedy’s electrifying inaugural address was delivered half a century ago today and still resonates in today’s society.

February 15th: A UK Government spending watchdog went to talks on how to save public cash – in a chauffeur-driven limo that cost taxpayers £464.

March 11th: An earthquake off the Pacific coast of Japan triggers an enormous tsunami, which kills tens of thousands of people. The tsunami leads to partial meltdowns, explosions and radiation leaks at nuclear reactors.

April 20th: The Prince of Wales becomes the longest serving heir apparent in British history, having been first in line to the throne since 1952. Prince Charles, 63 in 2011, beats the record held by his great-great-grandfather, Edward VII.

April 29th: Prince William marries Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey.

June 3rd: Three people are left in a trance in Portland, Dorset, after the stage hypnotist David Days trips and knocks himself out during a show. The confused – two men and a woman who were told they were Martians – are finally rescued when Days recovers.

July 7th: A month after it was performed in Sweden - on a 36-year-old cancer patient - the world’s first artificial organ transplant is declared a success. The synthetic windpipe was created by scientists in London.

July 9th: South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, is born. Achieving independence from Sudan as part of a 2005 peace deal, it is the first new African country since Eritrea separated from Ethiopia in 1993.

July 21st: When Space Shuttle Atlantis landed at Kennedy Space Center just before dawn this day in 2011, it marked the end of NASA's Space Shuttle program. The shuttle was the space agency's No. 1 space vehicle for 30 years, with numerous successes under its belt - notably the deployment and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope and construction of the International Space Station.

August 5th: In the apparent absence of a plan to tackle the nation’s long-term debt, the US is stripped of its AAA status by the credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s.

September 3rd: An advertisement for an anesthetist on an NHS website, with the words ‘usual rubbish about equal opportunity employer’ – slips through the internal checks.

September 25th: Saudi women win the right to vote – but not to drive a car.

October 5th: Steve Jobs dies. The college dropout who helped popularize the personal computer and created the iPod, iPhone and iPad. His passing was nearly two months after Apple Inc., which Jobs started in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976, briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp. as the most valuable publicly traded company in the world.

October 31st: The world’s population officially reaches 7 billion.

Dec 5th: The discovery of Kepler-22b, 600 light-years away from earth. Although twice the size of the Earth, the so-called Christmas Planet is right in the "goldilocks zone" - a distance from its star that would make it neither too hot or too cold to support life. With the revelation of two more Earth-size planets a couple of weeks later, we could be on the cusp an exoplanet-discovery bonanza.

December: In the US 25 million people remain unemployed or unable to find full-time work. The unemployment rate fell from 9 percent in October to 8.6 percent in November, providing a hopeful sign. Yet the housing market remained burdened by foreclosures and falling prices in many metropolitan areas. How to fix the economy became the top campaign issue for Republican presidential contenders.

December 20th: South African media reported that between the 1st and 19th December there were 710 fatalities on South Africa's roads (one wonders, with a feeling of trepidation, what the figure will be by the end of December and after the New Year celebrations).

And in memory of a small fraction of those who said a final farewell in 2011;

6th February; Gary Moore at 58 (the former Thin Lizzy guitarist died of a heart attack while asleep on holiday in Spain);

20th March; Dorothy Young at 103 (stage assistant to Harry Houdini);

23rd March; Elizabeth Taylor at 79 (actress);

26th March; Dr Harry Coover at 94 (the inventor of Super Glue, the world’s strongest adhesive);

1st May; Sir Henry Copper at 76 (best remembered for his two momentous fights against Muhammad Ali in 1963 and 1966);

5th May; Claude Choules at 110 (the world’s last known combat veteran of World War I – after joining the navy at 15 years old);

3rd June; Jack Kevorkian at 83 (US right-to-die campaigner);

18th June; Yelena Bonner at 88 (Russian human-rights activist);

8th July; Betty Ford at 93 (former US first lady who founded the Betty Ford Center);

10th July; The News of the World at 168 (due to immoral acts);

17th July; Alex Steinweiss at 94 (inventor of the album cover);

23rd July; Amy Winehouse at 27 (way too young);

7th August; Nancy Wake at 98 (British agent and Second World War heroine);

13th September; Richard Hamilton at 89 (pop-art pioneer);

20th September; Robert Whitaker at 71 (Beatles photographer);

5th October; Steve Jobs at 56 (founder of Apple);

19th November; Basil D’Oliveira at 80 (cricketer who became a force against apartheid); and

25th December; Sue Carroll at 58 (legendary Daily Mirror Journalist - who was among the first women to break into the male dominated world of Fleet Street national newspapers).

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