2012 was certainly a busy year on a variety of news fronts. The Olympics dominated the summer news headlines, the Arab Spring continued and found new hurdles to overcome, Israel and Palestine again clashed over land, mass shootings across the US sparked renewed debates, the US elected a new president, scientific breakthroughs rocked our worlds and celebrity gossip again dominated the Twitter-sphere. 2012 definitely had it all – good and bad, heart-warming and devastating – and we continued to move forward as a people as we even survived a prophesized Armageddon. There was no shortage of news stories in 2012, but the following ten news stories arguably had the most effect on society in the US over the course of the year.
Before I begin with the proper list of 10 items, there is one news story that I personally felt was worthy of mentioning. In 2012, the publishers of the Encyclopedia Britannica announced that they would discontinue the print version of the book in favor of an online version of the title. I know that may not be news to a lot of people, but to someone who grew up loving books of all kinds and feels that the new online age is quickly spelling the end of printed publications; this is a very big news story. For 244 years, the Encyclopedia Britannica has been one of the most resourceful books published in the world. They continually were the fountain of knowledge that people around the world searched for information on a number of subjects. But with the continuing reliance on online searches and sites, the print version of the series became too expensive to print, and outdated. It is just another example of how computers and the digital sharing of knowledge are changing the world around at an exceedingly accelerated pace,
10. Penn State Scandal
Do not diminish what the implications of a scandal at an American university means for victims far and wide. Because of a failure to act by a number of people in authoritative positions, many young men were subjected to abuse and molestation at the hands of one sick individual, Jerry Sandusky – an individual who had close ties to the university and friends who were unwilling to act against him and put these boys in danger. The passing of the buck around high ranking school administrators from football coach Joe Paterno to university president Graham Spanier was finally brought to light after someone close to the investigation came forward and spoke to the media. And it is a horrible thought that many people near the community were more worried about the status and reputation of the school and a long-time football coach than the safety and well-being of the victims of the individual found guilty of the crimes.
9. Mass Shootings and Gun Control
Norcross, Georgia. Oakland, California. Seattle, Washington. Aurora, Colorado. Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Newtown, Connecticut. Each of these cities experienced the horror of mass shootings that claimed the lives of many innocent people this year; the last one taking place at an elementary school where 20 innocent 6 and 7 year olds lost their lives. These shooting, as well as multiple other gun violence crimes across the country, once again sparked the heated debate over gun control. People who feel they have an unrestricted right to own firearms (even high powered assault rifles) and those who feel that their right to safety supersedes anyone else’s rights to own such potentially dangerous weapons. And there is a growing and dangerous monsterization of mentally ill people as the true root causes of these types of violent crimes. On a side note, in each of the seven cases that I listed up there, all of the weapons were purchased legally.
8. The 2012 London Summer Olympics
For a more light-hearted look at the world, it was nice to see the entire world community come together in London, England to cheer on more than 10,000 athletes representing more than 200 countries in the spirit of friendly competition. For more than three weeks lasting from July through August, the world watched as the best athletes in the world competed for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in a variety of sporting events – and we watched and cheered as one as these athletes surpassed our expectations and entertained us as one world, one community. In the end, I was proud as the US led the medal count standings with more than 104 medals being awarded to US athletes that included 29 Bronze medals, 29 Silver medals and 46 Gold medals.
7. SOPA Debate
While I understand the idea behind the Stop Online Piracy Act, the execution of the act would be a mess and a detriment to many businesses and individuals who rely on the internet for their daily connectivity. I agree that online piracy needs to be curbed somehow, but this totalitarian act would have put such a stranglehold on so many peoples’ rights to access and information, it just seems like the wrong way to do things. I hope in the future that other acts trying to curb piracy take a look at the mistakes that SOPA was making, but I rather doubt any real lessons were learned here. As long as people who do not fully understand what the internet is and peddle in the business of fear mongering the “dangers” of online activity continue to write and support these kinds of bills, we will be stuck trying to clean up the mess they make.
6. Facebook Goes Public
Yeah, I predicted the Facebook IPO failure from the moment that I heard inklings that they were going public. I don’t know what practical purpose Facebook would serve in a real life setting especially since they themselves admitted that they did still not know how to generate sustainable revenue on the site after going public. And the fact that so many idiots bought into the hype and put down as much money as they did for their Facebook shares – is it any wonder why the economy is in the tank the way it is? This was easily the biggest IPO fiasco I have ever personally witnessed and I am glad that I was able to dissuade as many friends of mine as I could from buying into this nonsense as I did.
5. Israel vs. Palestine
This is more tragic than news really. The fact that peace cannot be sustained in Israel between them and the Palestinians is just sad. There are many, and I mean many factors involved that make this tragedy that much more saddening, but whatever the case is, hundreds of innocent people on both sides are being affected by this. I have my own personal feelings about the whole conflict, but for the sake of being civil, for now, I will keep them to myself.
4. European Debt Crisis Continues
While there are some in Washington DC that would have you believe that the “fiscal cliff” is the threat to the economy in the US, you had better keep your eyes to the world around you because the continuing European debt crisis has the potential to send world markets plunging should the crisis worsen any more than it already is in. The fiscal cliff is one thing, but a complete failure of the European economic structure would not just affect the European countries involved, but also plunge the US into a deeper recession as some of the biggest importers of US goods and services would no longer be able to do so. $2000 more in taxes per average US family is nothing compared to the fiscal downfall that would occur should the EU fail to right itself and cause thousands their jobs here in the US.
3. CERN Discovery of Higgs Boson Particle
The far reaching implications of the discovery of the Higgs boson particle are still occupying the best scientific minds on the planet right now. Should this discovery prove to be true, we may in fact have in our possession the particle in all of existence that could answer every question about creation we have ever entertained. Think of the religious and even social implications that could have on the lives of millions of people – billions of people – should we be able to answer the questions that have plagued humanity since our earliest thoughts and dreams. I still remain a bit skeptical about the actual discovery, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping this was true.
2. Curiosity Lands on Mars
“Curiosity killed the cat.” I have always felt that saying was complete and utter bullshit as curiosity is what has led us to create new and exciting inventions over the years. With the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars this past year, I believe we are now on the threshold of the next step in human exploration. We have arrived on Mars and there is no way we can step back now. I know we have been there before, but the attempt and discoveries we are awaiting from this mission will lead us to the steps that we will need to finally move on to the next step in our venture to the stars – landing a manned team on the surface of Mars. Explorers, true explorers, will accept the risk associated with such an endeavor and take us to our rightful place amongst the stars.
1. Obama Re-Elected
For those people who feel that the US is no longer in a position of power in the world as it once was thanks to the first term of President Barrack Obama, take a look at just how much media coverage the 2012 presidential election garnered worldwide. The US is still the leader in the global political stage. And the people of the US spoke loud and clear that they wanted Barrack Obama back for four more years. Hate him or love him, he will continue to be the president until 2016. Yet, he is still not the one man that will lead the country in the future direction it needs to be led in – the people we also elected to the Senate and House need to finally work together; they need to remember what the business of politics really is and work to make this country the shining light it is for the rest of the world to follow.