2012 YEAR IN REVIEW
The standout news & pop obsessions gleaned from your search habits
Top tweets of 2012
Obama, Justin Bieber and Green Bay Packers' TJ Lang have garnered the highest number of retweets this year.
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- Putin may have passed point of no-return over Ukraine
By Timothy Heritage MOSCOW (Reuters) - Vladimir Putin risks becoming an international pariah over the Ukraine crisis but the Russian president is battening down the hatches for the gathering economic and political storm. The United States and the European Union saw the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 as a chance for Putin to distance himself from pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine and seal the border across which they say arms are reaching the rebels. Instead Putin has stood firm, blamed the crash on his pro-Western antagonists in Kiev and signaled no change in his stance, leaving Russia facing the threat of much tougher international sanctions and economic and political isolation. With an about-turn all but impossible for Putin after a fierce media campaign that has demonized the West, painted Ukraine's leaders as fascists and backed the rebels to the hilt, he appears to have passed the point of no-return.
- Israel calls up another 16,000 reserves
- European ransoms now Al-Qaeda's major funding: NYTimes
Al-Qaeda is increasingly funding terror operations thanks to at least $125 million in ransom paid since 2008, largely by European governments to free western hostages, the New York Times reported. While Al-Qaeda's network was first funded by wealthy donors, "kidnapping for ransom has become today’s most significant source of terrorist financing," said David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a 2012 speech. "Kidnapping hostages is an easy spoil," wrote Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, "which I may describe as a profitable trade and a precious treasure." The paper listed more than $90 million paid to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb since 2008 -- by a Switzerland, Spain, Austria, and state-controlled French company and two payments from undetermined sources.
- Guy's Wife Didn't Pose for Maternity Photos, So He Posed for 'Manternity' Photos
Maternity photos capture a unique time in the life of any family, or family-to-be. They also, of course, usually feature pregnant women — until now. Reddit user DruishPrincess69 wanted to celebrate the new addition to his family with some portraits, but his wife wouldn't go for it. So, rather than photograph her pregnant belly, he decided to feature his beer belly. He hired a photographer, dubbing the resulting album "manternity photos." Each one parodies photos seen in conventional maternity albums. There's the use of hands to highlight his belly, as he sports classic Superman undies. Another spotlights his killer ice cream craving. In another image, he inserts himself twice to create the classic "dad kisses baby bump," except it's him kissing his own beer bundle of joy.
- U.S. blacklists North Korea shipping firms over arms shipments
The United States on Wednesday blacklisted two North Korean shipping firms that it said tried to conceal arms shipments from Cuba to North Korea, following a similar move by the United Nations. The ship, Chong Chon Gang, was discovered last July near the Panama Canal hiding a large amount of arms, including two MiG-21 jet fighters under 200,000 bags of sugar, which the United States said showed a clear attempt to circumvent U.N. and U.S. sanctions against North Korea. North Korea is under an array of sanctions for nuclear and ballistic missile tests since 2006 in defiance of global demands to stop. "The Chong Chon Gang episode, in which (North Korea) tried to hide an arms shipment under tons of sugar, is a perfect example of North Korea's deceptive activity, and precisely the sort of conduct that we are committed to disrupting," David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
- Sheriff: Baby left in van outside doctor's office
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A doctor and nurses went to the aid of a 2-month-old baby girl after a Florida mom left the infant in a hot minivan outside a pediatrician's office for about an hour, authorities say.