With the year winding down, here's a look back at some of the biggest stories of 2011.
-Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, heightened Congressional gridlock that would shape the year in politics and negatively impact debate over handling the US debt.
-22-year-old Jared Loughner begins shooting at the Arizona Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords outside at a shopping center near Tusco during a political stop. Six people are murdered and 16 injured. Giffords endures a near fatal wound to the head.
-Treacherous rainfall in Rio de Janiero causes massive floods and mudslides. 665 die and and thousands more lose their homes.
- President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia is forced to exit the company and forfeit his power after uproar about unemployment and poor living conditions.
-Moscow suicide bombing kills 37 and injures 180.
- Riots in Egypt against the reign of President Hosni Mubarak begin a domino effect in Middle Eastern Nations. Huge demonstrations rage on for weeks as protestors begin connecting through social networking sites. Their efforts are successful and Murbarak exits, but not before he bars internet and mobile access..
-The success of the Egyptian protests spreads to Libya where thousands begin protesting the rule of Mummar Gaddafi, American media outlets have difficulty deciding on a spelling of his name. Gaddafi refuses to resign and says he will fight until the death against the rebels. Gas production during this time is halted and oil increases by over 20 percent.
-President Obama unveils a highly controversial budget plan.
-CBS (CBS)Two and a Half Men actor Charlie Sheen goes on several news shows babbling nonsense, popularizing the words “Tigerblood” and “winning”. He continues to claim no drugs were involved.
-A devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake hits Japan, prompting a destructive tsunami. More than 10,000 people are killed or missing and the Fukushima nuclear reactors are damaged causing radiation leaks and long-term evacuations.
-Fighting continues in Libya through March. The UN imposes a no-fly zone. The U.N. launches an airstrike to discourage the government’s violence against the rebels.
-Syrian protests begin after revels are killed by government security. Thousands protests and hundreds are killed.
-The marriage of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton becomes a global media sensation.
-Paul Ryan releases a massive plan for cutting the U.S. debt. The government and public are highly divided on the merits of the plan which intended to reduce spending by over $6.2 trillion over the next decade.
-Osama Bin Laden is killed in his compound in Pakistan.
-Dominic Strauss-Kahn- The French chief of the IMF is arrested on a flight on charges of sexual misconduct toward a hotel maid. He is forced to resign from his position. Kristine Lagarde takes over.
-Finance ministry in Greece pass bills in response to pressures from international lenders in order to avoid a default. The extent of Greek’s debt crisis is revealed and many fear its impact on the global economy.
-News of the World, operated by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS), is closed after its involvement in numerous phone hacking scandals is brought to light.
- 32-year-old gunman Andres Behring Brevik kills 77 and injures 151 after firing in a youth camp and setting off a bomb.
-After months of it becoming a recognized possibility, the United States credit rating is reduced from AAA to AA+ for the first time in the nation’s history. The massive deficit and failure for Congress to make a determination on how best to reduce it are cited as the reasons behind the S&P decision. The determination causes weeks of massive volatility in the US and global financial markets.
-The London riots break out and persist for weeks.
- Apple (AAPL) CEO and innovator, Steve Jobs announces his resignation. Some doubt the capacity for Apple to survive without his guidance.
-WikiLeaks unleashes American diplomatic cables. There is a huge media response.
-Occupy Wall Street, the movement protesting big banks begins in Zucotti Park after months of planning via social networking. The protests would spread across the nation and become a major media focus for the next several months.
-Debates are ongoing over the fates of ailing European nations. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor gets support for a massive EU bailout though squabbling will be ongoing.
-Gold peaks at over $1800 amid global debt concerns.
-After 4 years in jail for the alleged murder of her abroad roommate Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox is released from a prison after an acquittal. Investigation of the evidence after the fact would prove there was little evidence connected her to the killing.
-America mourns the death of Steve Jobs, who passes at age 56.
-After months of fighting and over four decades in power Libya’s longtime leader Muammar Gadaffi is murdered during a rebel assault. The nation rejoices.
-President Barack Obama plans an exit for U.S. troops from Iraq before the end of the year.
-An agreement among EU leaders over a plan to help resolve the debt problems in Greece and insert stilts for European banks is widely celebrated. For months the global markets have been highly influenced by the talks in the EU. The threat of a European inspired ongoing fear everywhere from the U.S. to China.
-Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou resigns amid the nation’s massive debt problems and role as the first domino in the European debt crisis.
-Protests in Washington surrounding the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline force the President to address and the topic. He ultimately decides to delay a decision.
-Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi resigns on the basis of the dire economic conditions and massive debt in Italy. For months, stories concerning his sexual dalliances and massive parties occupy the international media.
-The protests in Zuccotti park come to an end after the city police force an exit from their home base. The movement lives on and has plans to make further moves in the coming year. Violence, including pepper spray by the police officers becomes a topic of public discussion.
-International environmental leaders sign an agreement in South Africa to begin more aggressively handling global warming.
-The Iraq war comes to a final conclusion in Baghdad after nine years