LIBYA/DEATH OF MOAMMAR GADHAFI
To those from the outside, revolution seemed to have a domino effect in the Middle East. But while long-suppressed dissatisfaction brought startling turnarounds in Tunisia and Egypt, the uprising in Libya amounted to a bloody civil war.
Unlike Hosni Mubarak or Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi was a military man, and a brutal one at that. The de facto leader of Libya since 1969, Gadhafi was known beyond his borders for his roles in terrorist acts, such as the Lockerbie bombing. Within Libya, citizens witnessed public hangings of students and prison massacres, endured food stampedes and torture. The man who came to power in an Arab revolt wasn't going to step down during one.
On April 29, 2011, Prince William of England married Catherine Middleton -- and the world was invited to the wedding. The last royal ceremony of this magnitude was 30 years before, when Lady Diana married Prince Charles.
Now the couple was the heir to the British throne, the handsome son of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and a commoner named Kate. ABC called the stylish pair "the couple of the moment." Romantics everywhere rejoiced that the royal duo, who after a 10-year courtship, married for love. In the early hours of the morning, people tuned in to the ceremony: Yahoo! received one billion page views for the British event.
DEBT CRISES IN EUROPE, U.S. HIT WORLD ECONOMY
On March 7, the American credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service downgraded the credit rating of Greek sovereign debt to B1, marking the start of the European sovereign debt crisis and worsening the economic situation in the eurozone. The crisis sparked changes of government in the worst-hit countries, including Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain.
In August, the U.S.-based financial services company Standard & Poor's downgraded the credit rating of American long-term sovereign debt to AA+. It was the first time the United States lost its AAA credit rating.
TSUNAMI, NUCLEAR LEAK AFTER POWERFUL EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN
On March 11, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan's northeastern coast and triggered a huge tsunami, killing 15,645 people and leaving 4,984 others missing.
The crisis also caused radioactive leaks from several reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The accident was rated by the Japanese authorities as level seven, the most serious on an international scale, the same as the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
Experts estimate the radiation contamination from the Fukushima accident will not be eliminated for the next 70 years.
OSAMA BIN LADEN KILLED BY U.S.
On May 1, the U.S. Navy commandos killed al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden in a cross-border helicopter-borne raid at Abbotabad, a mountainous town located some 60 km north of Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, in what was seen as a heavy blow to the terrorist group.
The United States believed that Bin Laden, widely seen as the kingpin of global terrorism, was the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which killed more than 3,000 people in the United States.
SOUTH SUDAN DECLARES INDEPENDENCE
On July 9, South Sudan declared independence, splitting Sudan, Africa's largest country, in two.
On July 14, the 65th UN General Assembly accepted South Sudan as the 193rd member of the United Nations.
APPLE CO-FOUNDER STEVE JOBS DIES AT 56
Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs died of respiratory arrest caused by a pancreatic tumor, according to the death certificate.
Jobs died last Wednesday (Oct. 5) at his home in Palo Alto, California, at about 3 p.m., according to the certificate, which lists "respiratory arrest" as the immediate cause of death with "metastatic pancreas neuroendocrine tumor" as the underlying condition that caused the respiratory problem.
Jobs died at the age of 56.
GLOBAL POPULATION EXCEEDS 7 BILLION
A report published by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) showed the world's population reached 7 billion on Oct. 31, 2011. On one hand, the population growth is due to better living conditions backed by economic and science advances. But on the other, it puts huge pressure on natural resources and ecological environment.
Problems concerning an aging society, food security, education, health care and employment will continue to test policymakers in the coming centuries. And controlling population growth reasonably will be on the agenda of nations seeking sustainable development.
IRANIAN NUCLEAR CRISIS WORSENS
On Nov. 8, the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA published a report, claiming that Iran had made plans to develop nuclear explosive devices and had been carrying out related experiments at least before 2003.
Although Teheran categorically rejected the allegation, Western countries such as the United States, Britain and France took the lead in imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, sparking anger among Iranian people. Protesters broke into the British embassy compound in Tehran on Nov. 29.
The latest confrontation between the West and Iran had added fuel to the thorny Iranian nuclear issue.
DPRK TOP LEADER KIM JONG IL PASSES AWAY
Kim Jong Il, the top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), died on Dec. 17, 2011 from "a great mental and physical strain."
On Dec. 19, the DPRK set up a National Funeral Committee, led by Kim Jong Un, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the youngest son of Kim Jong Il.
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