The top 12 nation/world stories of 2012 from newsday.com. -- By Newsday Staff
12. The 'Fiscal Cliff'
President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner spent the waning weeks of 2012 negotiating to avoid the "fiscal cliff" -- the severe economic impact expected from a combination of expiring tax cuts and across-the-board cuts in government spending that would automatically kick in at the end of 2012 without a deficit-reduction agreement.
PHOTOS: Cartoonists visit the fiscal cliff | President Barack Obama | Timeline: Obama's first term
11. Facebook goes public
On May 18, Facebook officially became a publicly traded company -- valued at more than $100 billion when the stock began trading, it became the largest tech IPO in U.S. history by some estimates. Within six months the company's stock had collapsed to little more than half its opening price, but company co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has remained optimistic despite a reported loss in the third quarter of $59 million.
PHOTOS: Mark Zuckerberg through the years | Cartoonists visit Facebook
10. Whitney Houston's death
The 48-year old R&B singer was found dead in a hotel bathtub by her bodyguard at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 11, one day before the 2012 Grammy Awards. A coroner's report listed Houston's official cause of death as "accidental drowning" but noted that the singer had traces of cocaine in her system, which may have caused a "cardiac event." Houston is survived by her daughter, Bobbi Kristina.
PHOTOS: Whitney Houston funeral | Whitney Houston through the years
9. 2012 London Olympics
The 2012 summer Olympics were held in London from July 27 to August 12. About 10,500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees took part in the Games, with 302 medal events being held. The U.S. led the medal count with 104 total medals; China and Great Britain finished 2nd and 3rd with 88 and 65 medals, respectively. Standout performances made swimmer Michael Phelps the most decorated Olympic athlete in history with 22 medals and gymnast Gabby Douglas the first woman of color to win gold in the individual all-around competition.
PHOTOS: U.S. Gold medalists | Closing ceremonies
8. Costa Concordia runs aground
On the night of January 13, the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground off the western coast of Italy. The accident took 30 lives, with 64 others injured and thousands forced to evacuate the vessel in the middle of the night. The ship's Italian captain, Francesco Schettino, was charged with manslaughter after notoriously leaving the ship before all passengers had been evacuated and refusing to board the vessel to oversee the rescue operation.
PHOTOS: Costa Concordia runs aground
7. Turmoil in the Middle East
Turmoil in the Middle East was a major theme throughout 2012 as the revolutions of the Arab Spring continued and terrorist groups took advantage of the unrest. On Sept. 11, the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked, leaving four people -- including Ambassador Chris Stevens -- dead. Tensions also rose between Israel and Palestine, leading to open conflict before a ceasefire in November. Later that month, the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize a Palestinian state.
PHOTOS: Ambassador, 3 others killed in Libya | MORE: Timeline: Arab-Israeli relations
6. Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, was returning to the home of his father's fiancee from a convenience store in Sanford, Fla., when George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch member, followed him. The two allegedly fought before Zimmerman shot and killed Martin, igniting a controversy over perceived racial profiling and the state's "stand your ground" law. Zimmerman, currently awaiting a criminal trial, is claiming self-defense under the law.
PHOTOS: Trayvon Martin case | Timeline of events
5. SCOTUS healthcare ruling
On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold the 2010 Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, providing a major win for President Barack Obama. Chief Justice John Roberts surprised conservatives by voting with the liberal justices, and wrote the majority 5-4 opinion stating that the law "makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income. And if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, it may be within Congress's constitutional power to tax."
PHOTOS: Health care ruling | More coverage
4. Dark Knight massacre
In the early hours of July 20, authorities say James Holmes opened fire on a theater full of moviegoers attending the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo. Holmes, who was armed with two .40-caliber Glock handguns, a Remington 870 single-barrel pump shotgun, a Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault-style rifle and as many as 6,000 rounds of ammunition, killed 12 people and left 58 others injured. Holmes also booby trapped his home, presumably to ambush authorities who would search his apartment.
PHOTOS: Dark Knight shooting | MORE: Complete coverage
3. Presidential election
The 2012 Presidential election campaign saw former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney emerge as the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama after a primary fight that saw more than eight GOP hopefuls atop the national polls at one time or another. Romney, who picked conservative Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate consistently trailed in the national polls until a spirited performance in the first of three debates tightened the race. Hofstra University had its turn in the spotlight, hosting the second debate. On Nov. 6, 2012, President Obama was elected to a second term in office, garnering 332 electoral votes, 62 more than the 270 needed to win the presidency.
PHOTOS: U.S. Votes | Barack Obama | Mitt Romney
2. Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting
On Dec. 14, 2012, authorities say Adam Lanza, a 20-year old from Newtown, Conn., murdered his mother in their suburban home before driving to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School where she was a teacher and forcing his way into the school. Armed with three guns, officials say that Lanza shot his way through two first-grade classrooms, killing 20 children and six adults before turning the gun on himself. The age of the victims in the shootings -- the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history after the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007-- set off a national debate over gun control.
PHOTOS: Newtown shooting leaves 27 dead | Sandy Hook victims
1. Superstorm Sandy
Forming late in the Atlantic hurricane season, Sandy devastated parts of the Caribbean, claiming more than 70 lives, before eventually merging with two other weather fronts to form one giant superstorm. Churning north along the Northeastern coast of the U.S., Sandy left a trail of destruction in its wake: 132 deaths were attributed to Sandy, including 64 in New York, 37 in New Jersey and five in Connecticut. More than 375,000 homes and buildings were damaged by the storm, and a total of 8.51 million homes across 16 states and Washington, D.C., lost power. Combined, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have asked for $82 billion in federal aid for the reconstruction efforts.
PHOTOS: Sandy slams East Coast | Aerial photos