Blog Posts by Year In Review Staff

  • Scandals: #4 General David Petraeus affair

    The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, a four-star general who had overseen American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, placed high on our list. An FBI investigation revealed that Petraeus had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The story eventually tied in Florida socialite Jill Kelley (who had received threatening emails from Broadwell), a shirtless FBI agent, and Gen. John Allen, who exchanged thousands of emails with Kelley.

  • International Affairs: #7 Malala Yousafzai

    On Oct. 9, Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani women's rights activist, was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen while returning home from schoola place the Taliban have, at times, banned girls from attending. Yousafzai was hospitalized in critical condition and eventually transferred to a U.K. hospital, where she continues to recover.

    Gordon Brown, the U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education, launched a U.N. petition ("I Am Malala") in her name, demanding all childrenincluding Pakistani girlshave access to schooling.

    And in November, Time magazine nominated Malala as one of its 2012 "Person of the Year" candidates. Malala, Time said, "has become an inspiration not only in her native Pakistan—where the culture wars over women's rights and religious diversity have taken many violent turns—but all around the globe."

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  • Scandals: #3 Lance Armstrong doping

    Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner, was stripped of his titles and dropped from millions of dollars in endorsement deals after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released an extensive report accusing the cyclist of doping throughout his career. Cycling would appear to have bigger issues than Armstrong—all seven runners-up to Armstrong's Tour de France wins are embroiled in their own doping scandals.

  • International Affairs: #6 Libya

    On Sept. 11 this year, four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Initial reports said the slain staffers were trying to flee the consulate building, under assault by a mob of protesters apparently angry over the film trailer "Innocence of Muslims," which mocked the Prophet Muhammad. But evidence pointed to a planned strike by an affiliate of al-Qaida and other groups that exploited, or possibly organized, the demonstrations.

    "The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack," President Obama said the next day. "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for."

    But the attack—and the Obama administration's reluctance to immediately label it an act of terror—became a controversial talking point among conservatives during the presidential campaign. In addition to hearings, a

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  • Scandals: #2 Jackson family fight

    Although Michael Jackson died in 2009, the battle over his estate continued through 2012. Michael's siblings Janet, Jermaine, Rebbie, Tito and Randy wrote to the executors of Michael's will objecting that the document was fake. (At the heart of their concern was that it named only their mother, Katherine, and Michael's three children, Paris, Prince and Blanket.)

    The controversy raged through the summer, with an altercation at the family compound that resulted in the police being called and custody of the children temporarily transferred from Katherine to a cousin. As it currently stands, Katherine has shared custody of her grandchildren, and there is little evidence that the document will be overturned.

  • International Affairs: #5 North Korea

    In April, North Korea launched a rocket from the northern part of the country, claiming it was carrying a satellite. The launch failed, and the rocket burned up in just over a minute and disappeared from radar in 10 minutes. But condemnation of the act was swift, coming from, among others, Russia, China and the U.S., which denounced the event as a "provocative act" that succeeded only in further isolating the country.

    New Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, perhaps borrowing a page from his father's playbook, made his first public appearance just two days later. Kim also got some close attention when the state media revealed the identity of his wife, Ri Sol Ju.

    Despite warnings, North Korea claims it will go ahead with the second launch of a satellite later in December.

  • International Affairs: #4 "Innocence of Muslims"

    "Innocence of Muslims," a low-budget U.S. film that mocked the Prophet Muhammad, sparked a violent international response.

    The 14-minute film trailer was posted on YouTube, prompting riots throughout Muslim communities. Libyan protesters were said to have exploited the situation after the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked by al-Qaida terrorists on Sept. 11.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, a man identifying himself as Sam Bacile, a 52-year-old California real estate developer, said he had made the film. The Associated Press, though, said "Sam Bacile" was an alias for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, aka Mark Basseley Youssef. Using an alias was a violation of Nakoula's probation for a check fraud conviction, and he was jailed. The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian and others involved in the film were sentenced to death in Egypt, a largely symbolic gesture.

    Following the tragedy, the actress featured in the film fought to have the trailer legally removed from YouTube. In early

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  • International Affairs: #3 Costa Concordia

    On Jan. 13, the Costa Concordia, a 950-foot luxury ocean liner, struck a rock and ran aground off the island of Giglio, Italy. Thirty-two people died during the partial sinking and failed evacuation, including two whose bodies are yet to be recovered.

    Francesco Schettino, the captain of the ship, was criticized for leaving the vessel before all the passengers were safely ashore. Among his accusers was Coast Guard officer Gregorio de Falco, who ordered the captain back to his ship. Schettino, who admitted he took the $570 million ship within a few hundred feet of the island to perform a "maritime salute" (perhaps to impress a blond Moldovan passenger), faces possible charges of manslaughter.

    In October, the raising of the Costa Concordia began in earnest, with more than 450 workers attempting what's been called the biggest sea salvage effort of all time. The $400 million operation is expected to take at least eight months. The pretrial proceedings also began that month, and

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  • International Affairs: #2 Punk band Pussy Riot

    The three members of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk band that mocked President Vladimir Putin during a "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral, were found guilty of hooliganism in August, and two were sentenced to two years in jail, sounding an echo of free-speech suppression familiar during the Cold War.

    "The girls' actions were sacrilegious, blasphemous, and broke the church's rules," Judge Marina Syrova said while announcing the verdict from a court in central Moscow. Yekaterina Samutsevich was released on a suspended sentence, but her bandmates were sent to separate prison camps later that month.

    The trial drew enormous international interest, sparking catcalls from global free-speech advocates and spawning dozens of protests. Several impromptu protests broke out in Moscow, London, Paris, Barcelona and elsewhere, with numerous reports of arrests. Madonna, Björk, Paul McCartney and Courtney Love were among a long list of musicians to come out in support of Pussy Riot, calling on the

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  • International Affairs: #1 "Kony 2012"

    Few stories in 2012 were as weird as the meteoric rise and fall of Jason Russell, the 33-year-old filmmaker behind "Kony 2012," the megaviral 30-minute documentary on Ugandan guerrilla leader Joseph Kony. The film became an unprecedented Internet sensation, racking up more than 80 million views and bringing again to light the dire situation of child soldiers.

    In March, a week after its release, Russell was detained and subsequently hospitalized after police found him naked and incoherent in his San Diego neighborhood. His wife blamed the meltdown on "exhaustion, dehydration, malnutrition and stress" brought on by criticism of the film.

    Russell later told Oprah it was "an out-of-body experience ... it really wasn't me."

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