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Cary Brunswick

December 31, 2011

Unrest, energy, economy were big news in 2011

Perhaps you've seen The Associated Press list of the Top 10 stories of the past year, based on a polling of about 250 editors and news directors from across the country. It's difficult to argue with the selections, but I would combine some of them and certainly rank them differently.

The AP list included (1) the killing of Osama bin Laden, (2) Japan's earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disaster, (3) the Arab Spring uprisings, (4) the European Union's financial turmoil, (5) the U.S. economy, (6) the Penn State sex abuse scandal, (7) the toppling of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, (8) the fiscal fighting in Congress, (9) the Occupy Wall Street protests, and (10) the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

During the year, I wrote about most of the stories on the list, either directly or in reference to specific aspects of an issue or event. While the killing of bin Laden was big news, its importance in the ongoing fight against terrorism was primarily symbolic. After all, it took nearly a decade to "git 'eem," as President George W. Bush had put it.

After President Barack Obama insisted that "justice has been done" when he announced bin Laden's death to Americans on May 1, I wrote that I wasn't "sure gunning down an unarmed enemy qualifies as justice. Revenge perhaps, retaliation for sure, but justice would have meant capture and a trial to prove he was actually behind the horrific 9/11 attacks.

I also criticized the Americans who felt the need to celebrate the killing as some Arabs had done shortly after 9/11. "Our goal should be an occasion to celebrate more peace in the region, rather than the killing of suspected terrorists," I wrote.

I would put Osama bin Laden's death further down in the rankings. Instead, I have come up with the Top Three groups of stories that do well in summing up the news of the year.

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