U.S. politics, the London Olympics, economic developments in the United States and Europe and the unrest in the Arab world topped the news in 2012.
As the year draws to a close, the U.S. presidential election that saw Barack Obama triumph over Republican rival Mitt Romney was in the history books but the raucous partisan wrangling that marred the campaign promised to remain a staple in the year to come.
The campaign saw an unprecedented level of outside money funding largely negative commercials, many with outright misstatements that were repeated despite objections from fact-checkers.
Voters largely decided on the status quo, leaving the White House and Senate in the hands of Democrats and the House under the control of the GOP, setting up two more years of partisan bickering.
By year's end, Republicans were examining their approach to voters to try to determine how to expand their appeal to give them a shot at the White House in 2016.
Team Great Britain, on its home turf, made its best showing at an Olympics since 1908, taking home 29 gold medals, behind 46 for the United States and 38 for China.
U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps boosted his Olympics medal take to 22 (18 gold) and teammate Ryan Lochte angled for spots on the television reality shows "Dancing with the Stars" and "The Bachelor."
The London Summer Games were marked by controversy as well as feats of athleticism. Olympics officials withdrew the women's shot put gold medal won by Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus because of a positive drug test for a banned substance.
The ghost of Olympics past reared its head with the disqualification of four 2004 gold medalists for doping. India, which won six gold medals, was suspended for failing to comply with the Olympic Charter. And Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas told talk show host Oprah Winfrey she felt bullied while training in Virginia Beach, Va., and demanded a switch to a coach in Iowa. As the year came to a close, the sports world eyed Sochi, Russia, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The economy weighed heavily on people's minds as the U.S. recovery seemed to stall and Greece threatened to pull down the euro as its debt crisis refused to resolve. International economists predicted Asian economies, led by China, were poised to overshadow the U.S. and European economies.
As the end of the year approached, U.S. politicians argued over whether tax cuts adopted during the administration of President George W. Bush should be allowed to expire and draconian spending cuts should be allowed to kick in and perhaps drag the economy back into recession.
In Europe workers, fed up with government austerity measures designed to shore up borrowing power, took to the streets, demanding cuts in benefits and government services be rescinded. Not just Greece sought help from the rest of the European Union. Ireland and Spain lined up for help and Italy's government toppled as it fought to avert disaster. At year's end, Britain and Japan teetered on the brink of recession.
The Arab Spring dawned in 2011 with hopes of more freedom throughout the Arab world but by the close of 2012 Syria was mired in civil war and the gains initially won in Egypt appeared threatened. Fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad raged throughout the year in Syria where the United Nations has pegged the death toll upward of 40,000. The fighting threatened border areas of Turkey and Lebanon as well, with Turkey seeking NATO Patriot missile batteries to protect itself and pro- and anti-Assad forces squaring off in Lebanon.
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