2011 National Year In Review: Natural, Economic Storms Leave Their Mark
From deadly natural disasters to the Occupy Wall Street movement, the nation's news events were far reaching in 2011. NY1's Annika Pergament filed the following report.
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The national economy continues to show signs of improvement in 2011. By year's end unemployment rates dip below nine percent, resting at 8.6 percent, while the number of Americans making new claims for unemployment falls to its lowest levels since April 2008.
But its too little and its too late for protestors who set up camp adjacent to Wall Street in September. It's part of a movement called Occupy Wall Street and is meant to draw attention to the unequal wealth distribution in this country and around the world. For the most part, protests are peaceful, though not without incidents and injuries as demonstrators are dislodged from temporary encampments from New York to Oakland.
One week into the new year gun violence claims the lives of six, with 13 injured outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, meeting with constituents is shot in the head, and spends months in rehabilitation. She is met with thunderous applause on August 1 as she visits the House of Representatives to cast a vote. Her long road to recover continues. Jared Loughner, a 23-year-old high school drop out is charged in the attack and awaits trial.
Severe weather continues to grab headlines and claim lives in 2011. April 27 makes history in weather almanacs as a record-breaking 353 tornadoes touch down in 21 states. The death toll tops over 300. In May, Joplin, Missouri is devastated by a twister, which flattens the city and leaves 160 people dead.
War weary armed forces have reason for celebration in September as the nearly 18-year-old law banning gays in the military is officially repealed. However, there is no joy for a mother and father in New York's Chinatown as eight soldiers in Afghanistan face charges that include manslaughter as they harass and taunt their 19-year-old son, Private Denny Chen, into committing suicide.
Finally, in August after 30 years in flight, NASA closes the book on its shuttle program, and opens a new window in space with Kepler -- the planet hunting telescope -- looking for the goldilocks planet: Not too hot and not too cold.