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  • South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius has been jailed for five years for shooting dead his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013.

Review of the year 2012

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Syria – the Arab uprising that won’t die down

While 2011 saw several long-standing Arab regimes forced from power, in Syria President Bashar al-Assad looks set to continue his resistance against those wanting to oust him into 2013. In January 2012 as violent anti-government demonstrations raged in Homs, a French journalist, Gilles Jacquier, was amongst those killed. Arab League monitors tried in vain to oversee a peace plan but to many observers their efforts were destined to remain futile. Assad’s violent reaction to the demonstrations drew international condemnation, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accusing him of “chilling cynicism”. It is estimated that around 40,000 Syrians have been killed in the uprising since street protests began in March 2011.

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Europe’s Big Freeze leaves 400 dead

Temperatures plummeted across Europe during February resulting in the deaths of around 400 people. In the east of the continent in Romania, the Black Sea froze as the thermometer plunged to -32 degrees Celsius, while there was even rare snowfall on Corsica in the Mediterranean. Countries including Italy, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Poland imposed emergency measures as questions were asked about whether gas supplies were sufficient to see out the big freeze. Many of the dead were homeless people in Ukraine and Poland.

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Greek Anti-Austerity Demos

One of the constant themes of the 2012 news year was the economic crisis gripping Europe and the rest of the world. In February, as Greece's unemployment rate topped 21 % and over a million people found themselves out of work, the Greek government announced tough austerity measures including a public sector pay freeze and fuel duty increases. In response, the country was hit by a series of general strikes and anti-austerity protests which resulted in violent clashes with police.

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Putin is back

In March Vladimir Putin was elected as Russian president for a third term, sparking protests in Moscow, St Petersburg and other cities across the country. After two consecutive terms of office that began in 2000, Putin was constitutionally required to stand down. But many observers believe his successor Dmitri Medvedev was always intended simply to keep the presidential seat warm in anticipation of Putin’s return. Demonstrators accused the government of electoral irregularities but the police response was robust; tube stations were closed and hundreds of demonstrators were arrested.

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Toulouse shootings stun pre-election France

Also in March, 23-year-old Mohamed Merah was shot dead by police after a siege at his home. He had filmed himself killing seven people in a series of attacks in and around Toulouse, in southern France. The victims were three soldiers, a teacher and three pupils from a Jewish school. Merah claimed to be “avenging Palestinian children” but after his death, no proof that he belonged to any terrorist association was found. The drama gripped France, which was in full election campaign mode and presidential candidates had to tread a thin line reacting to the drama without being seen to make electoral capital out of it.

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Aung San Suu Kyi wins landmark Myanmar election

In April pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party won by-elections in Myanmar by a wide margin, marking what may prove to be a pivotal moment in Suu Kyi’s two-decade-long struggle for democracy in the army-led state. The National League for Democracy (NLD) leader said she hoped the victory would be the start of a new era of democracy and freedom. But the parliament remains under the control of the military. Having spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest, Ms Suu Kyi has promised to push for further reform and warns there is much work left to do. The US and the EU have relaxed sanctions on Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and its ruling junta, as reward for the decision to hold open elections.

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Hollande brings joy to French socialists

Francois Hollande was elected president of France in May, ousting the incumbent centre-right president, Nicolas Sarkozy. It ended the French Socialist Party’s 17-year wait for one of their own in the Elysée Palace. Hollande took office promising to tackle the economic crisis with a programme of growth rather than austerity and tax hikes for the rich rather than benefit cuts or wage freezes. Since the election however his approval rating has dropped from 61% to 36%, the French press dubbing him an “apprentice”.

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Elections in post-revolution Egypt

June saw Egypt’s first democratic presidential elections 16 months after the revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime in February 2011. The winner, with 51% of the vote, was the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi, who called for national unity and vowed to be a president for all Egyptians. The victory was greeted with jubilation by the crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square but with less joy by Israel and the US who fear any possible rise of radical Islam in the region. Mursi’s first six months in power have been highly controversial: violent protests have been held since November in Cairo, with demonstrators accusing him of trying to assume too much power and of ‘stealing’ the revolution.

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Spain re-crowned Kings of European football

The UEFA European Football Championship was held in Ukraine and Poland in June and July and was won by Spain. The win made them the first team ever to win three successive international tournaments. Delighted crowds in Madrid greeted their team with a parade in an open-topped bus and a rally with music and entertainments. Commentators said the win proved that Spain had shaken off their “boring team” tag for once and for all.

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All eyes on London for the Olympics

The Olympic and Paralympic Games were held in London during July and August, attracting huge crowds and largely positive international reviews. Usain Bolt earned himself the title of the “fastest man on the planet” and the opening ceremony, designed and staged by Danny Boyle, got rave reviews and subsequently won a theatre award from daily newspaper, the Evening Standard.

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CERN finds the “God particle”

Scientists in Geneva working on the Cern Hadron Collider project announced that they had found the so-called ‘God particle’, the Higgs Boson. This particle is said to be the foundation stone of all matter. The collider is a ring shaped tunnel under the Franco/Swiss border in which researchers can smash protons together to recreate the conditions immediately after the Big Bang, when it is thought that the universe came into being.

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Pussy Riot sentenced in Russia

Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot were found guilty of hooliganism and received two-year jail sentences in August. The convictions related to an anti-Vladimir Putin protest performance in a Moscow cathedral and were internationally condemned by politicians, the media and Amnesty International. One of the band members was subsequently released, but the other two remain in prison.

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Mass murderer Breivik sentenced in Norway

Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in a high security prison unit, having been found guilty of the murders of 77 people in two attacks last year. He claimed the atrocities were necessary to prevent the “Islamisation” of the country and said he would not appeal his sentence, which could be extended at a later date if he is judged too dangerous to be released. Breivik has subsequently complained about his conditions in jail.

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NASA lands a Rover on Mars

After an eight-and-a-half-month voyage towards Mars, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, helped by other international agencies, successfully land the Curiosity Rover on the Red Planet. The procedure was fraught with risk: the Rover, whose mission it is to collect data that may determine whether life has ever existed on Mars, had been parachuted down from around 11 kilometres above the planets’ surface. With fewer than two kilometres to go until landing, the Rover’s pod shed its parachute (which otherwise could get in the way on touchdown) before downward facing rocket boosters were deployed to slow the Rover’s descent to a manageable speed. Then at 20 metres, to prevent the rocket boosters getting too close to the surface and created a potentially damaging dustcloud, the pod lowered the Rover down with a harness before shooting off to crash land somewhere safe. Much could have gone wrong but the mission was a resounding success, and the Curiosity Rover has since been analysing soil samples and other such data for signs of organic Martian life.

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Anti-Islam film provokes outrage in the Arab world

A trailer of the amateur, low-budget film “The Innocence of Muslims” was released on YouTube in September, dubbed into Arabic, and provoked angry reactions across the world. Both US president Obama and US Secretary of State Clinton condemned the film, but failed to stem the violent protests against both the film and the USA. The maker of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, also known as Sam Bacile, Nicola Bacily and Mark Basseley Yousseff - is a convicted felon believed to be an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian.

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Hurricane Sandy batters New York

Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York city at the end of October, having already caused massive damage across the Caribbean including Cuba and Haiti. The total death toll was over 120 people, and damage in the US alone was estimated at 80 billion US dollars. A fund-raiser was held in December featuring performances from artists including The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Kanye West, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and The Who.

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Felix Baumgartner jumps from space into history

Austrian Felix Baumgartner (43) became the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound when he jumped out of a balloon 38 kilometres above New Mexico in October. His descent took just under 10 minutes, with around half of it in freefall. The exploit broke the previous record for the highest, farthest and longest freefall, which was set by an Amercian, Joe Kittinger, in 1960.

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Yes We Can again: Obama re-elected

Barack Obama defied his critics and the economic crisis by winning the US presidential election by a far wider margin than expected in November. The tightest count was in Florida: 50% for Democrat Obama and 49.1% for Republican Romney. In total Obama won 332 electoral college votes to Romney’s 206. Having won, he said that the wealthy should pay higher taxes in order to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff”, due in January. Obama’s political survival contrasts with the fate of many world leaders such as Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi, whose careers fell victim to globally high unemployment and slow economic growth.

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UN vote: Palestine becomes an observer state amid Israel clashes

In the wake of renewed violent clashes along the Israel/Gaza border, the UN General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state. The decision was condemned by Israel and the US, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas returned from the meeting to a hero’s welcome in the West Bank. In response to the decision, Israel cancelled the transfer of around 85 million euros in tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority

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Mali in the grip of coup crisis

The president of Mali, Cheick Modibo Diarra, was forced by the country’s military to resign in December. He replaced Diouncounda Traore, who was arrested after his resignation. The coup was condemned by many countries and by the UN but the new president said that the military had merely “facilitated” the president’s resignation rather than forced it. Islamist and Tuareg separatists seized control of the north of the country earlier this year.

Pictures of the year

Deaths in 2012

whitney houston donna summer Angelo-Dundee Dave-Brubeck Etta-James hans-werner-henze Larry-Hagman lucio-dalla Michael-Clarke-Duncan Michel-Duchaussoy Neil-Armstrong Theodoros-Angelopoulos Vidal-Sassoon Oscar Niemeyer İlker Özyaşar İlker Özyaşar

euronews person of the year

malala yousafzai girl taliban

Sport

2012 : the sporting highlights

This Olympic year has been particularly rich in sporting achievement, disappointment and scandal. euronews has selected some of the highlights…

  • Euro 2012 : Poland-Ukraine / June-July Spain’s reign maintained
    Having won the last European Championships and the last World Cup, Spain’s footballers entered the history books as the first national side to win three consecutive major international football tournaments. This exceptional generation of technically gifted players has won praise for its style as well as its success, and comfortably saw off Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final.
  • 2012 London Olympics/ August Bolt’s historic double triple
    The London Olympics was a showcase of sporting excellence. In track and field Usain Bolt won the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4x100 metre relay, repeating his hat-trick of sprint Gold medals in Beijing in 2008. ‘Lightning’ Bolt is the first ever sprinter to strike twice with this hat-trick.
  • 2012 London Olympics/ August Phelps blows record out the water
    In 2012, swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time. He added four new gold medals and two more silvers to the 14 golds and two bronzes he picked up in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, bringing him to a total of 22 Olympic medals. That will take some beating, although Phelps won’t be adding to his tally; he retired after the London Games.
  • Cycling / October Armstrong outed as a doping cheat
    De « boss » Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong had all his titles stripped and was banned from professional cycling for life after the US Anti-Doping Agency found that he had used banned performance-enhancing drugs. The USADA labelled him a "serial cheat" and accused him of leading the most sophisticated doping program ever seen in the sport. Having recovered from testicular cancer in the mid to late 90s, the Texan won the first of seven consecutive Tour de France titles in 1999 but the cloud of doping allegations had already began to build above him, although Armstrong vehemently denied having cheated. Even now he maintains his innocence but has decided not to appeal against USADA's verdict that he is a cheat.
  • Tennis Nadal's six months of hell
    Rafael Nadal has not hit a tennis ball in competition since his surprise early second round exit from Wimbledon at the hands of the world number 100. Beset by a knee injury, he has missed the Olympics, the US Open and the Davis Cup. 2012 had started well for the Majorcan, who picked up three titles before a record seventh French Open crown. Nadal lost just one set in the whole tournament, to Novak Djokovic in the final. He ends the year fourth in the world rankings, having occupied one of the top two end-of-season spots for the last eight years. By November Nadal was back in training and will be hoping to pick up in 2013 where he left off in Paris last June.
  • England-Spain / May Best of footballing enemies
    It took 44 years for Manchester City Football Club to conquer their fierce rivals United and the rest of the top flight of English football, but when they did, they did it in the most dramatic scenario. A last minute goal scored by Sergio Aguero helped the Citizens to the win they needed in the last match of the season against QPR, leaving their own exhausted fans elated and their couterparts at United devastated. Another of football's great rivalries was bubbling up nicely in Spain where Real Madrid finally ended Barcelona's dominance of La Liga with 100 points and 121 goals in the season.
  • US Open: New York / August-September Slam joy at last for Andy Murray
    2012 was the year that Andy Murray finally won a Grand Slam, having lost all four of his previous Slam finals. Murray won Olympic Gold in front of his home crowd in August in London and used the momentum to carry him to the US Open title at Flushing Meadows a month later, where he beat Novak Djokovic in the final. At the age of 25 and ranked Number 3 in the world, Murray will be hoping to build on such success in 2013.
  • Cycling / summer Brits on bikes
    The cycling year has been notable for the enormous success for British riders. Bradley Wiggins set the wheels in motion by winning the Tour de France. He and his track cyclist compatriots then enjoyed a Gold-heavy Olympic Games. 36-year-old Chris Hoy of Scotland rode himself to a sixth career Olympic title with wins in the team sprint and the Keirin. No Olympic cyclist has ever achieved such a haul.
  • Brasil Grand Prix / November End of the road for Schumacher
    308 Grand Prix races, 155 podium finishes, 91 victories, 68 pole positions et 7 drivers titles. Such stats make Michael Schumacher a strong contender for the best Formula One driver of all time. After a break from the sport between 2007 and 2009 he returned for the 2012 season. But after announcing his definitive retirement after the final race in Brasil, at the age of 43 the great champion's future contribution to the sport will be from outside the driver's seat.
  • US Open: New York / August-September Clijsters and Roddick take a bow
    Several prominent tennis players announced their retirement in 2012, including Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters. The latter had already quit the game before in 2007 before returning to the court two years later. The 29-year-old Belgian leaves the sport with three Grand Slam titles. As for Roddick, he announced his decision to bow out of professional tennis on his 30th birthday in order to focus on his charity foundation. Former world Number 1 Roddick is the last American to win a Grand Slam, at the US Open in 2003.
  • European football / Summer Money no object in football
    The footbal transfer market appears not to have been affected by the economic crisis : 111,8 million € spent on players by Paris Saint-Germain, 101,8 million € byChelsea and 100 million € by Zenith St. Petersburg. And it's not only transfer fees but also salaries that have hit new heights: 20 million euros per year for Samuel Eto’o at Russia's Anji Makhatchkala, around 16 million euros annually for Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's 14 million euro salary at PSG, paid for by the club's new Qatari owners .
  • Vendée Globe / November Haut les voiles
    Held every four years, the Vendée Globe is one of the stand-out vents in sailing and sport in general. The non-stop world solo race is notoriously challenging and its reputation has earned it the nickname the "Everest of the Sea". The winner of this, the seventh edition of the race, should be known in February 2013.