Top News Stories of 2012: Sandy Hook Shooting, Fiscal Cliff, Hurricane Sandy, Presidential Election, and Jerry Sandusky Trial


2012 was a year that was challenging for America in many ways. Even though unemployment reached it’s lowest levels in 4 years, there are still millions of people who are unemployed or underemployed.

2012 was a year that was challenging for America in many ways. Even though unemployment reached it’s lowest levels in 4 years, there are still millions of people who are unemployed or underemployed. And, while the economy has been on the verge of a complete turnaround, the fiscal cliff threatened to undo the momentum created over the past year.

Despite pleas from American citizens and politicians from both sides of the aisle, Congressional Democrats and Republicans battled into the wee hours of New Years Day to avert the fiscal cliff.

Obama Romney

The Presidential Election between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama was brutal, expensive, and in the end we still are back where we started prior to the election. Democrats and Republicans cannot get along in Washington and were barely able to work out a compromise on the fiscal cliff.

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Jersey shore and left thousands of people without homes. It’s by far the biggest natural disaster to affect the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina. Governor Chris Christie and Barack Obama put their politics aside for a week and made nice. This made many Democrats very happy and turned many Republicans off who thought that Chris Christie was just pandering to the liberals.

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The mass shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school and in Aurora, Colorado put the nation on notice. Nobody is truly safe anymore. At any given time a mass shooting can happen if an insane, heartless coward puts their mind to it. These shootings have also reinvigorated the gun control debate.

2012 was also a year where we saw a once proud and famous Penn State University take a huge fall from grace. Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of sexually abusing children. And, it resulted in unprecedented sanctions against the university. Joe Paterno’s legacy went up in smoke literally.

There were many, many other huge stories in 2012 both in the United States and abroad. For the purposes of this year-end recap, I will touch on the top 5 stories of the nation in 2012.

#1 Sandy Hook Shooting

The mass shooting at Sandy Hook

elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut is the worst disaster to take place since the World Trade Center attacks on 9-11. A total of 26 people were killed by Adam Lanza, who carried out the murders before turning the gun on himself.

20 children in the first grade were killed along with 6 adults inside the school. Lanza stole the guns from his mother and first killed her before heading to the school to commit this unthinkable act of terror.

The events at Sandy Hook have reinvigorated the gun control debate and a potential ban on assault weapons. Just like on 9-11, this event has forever changed out nation. And, we will never be the same. It will change the way we guard over our schools. And, legislation will follow which will either address how guns are purchased in this country. Lost in this debate is the issue of mental illness. Should a parent legally own guns who is the parent of an at-risk child? This is certainly something that should be addressed in the coming months.

#2 The Fiscal Cliff

As was expected, the Fiscal Cliff negotiations between Democrats and Republicans went into the wee hours of New Years Eve and into New Years Day. What is at stake is huge. Most Americans will see a tax increase should nothing be done. And, there will be severe cuts to spending, which will result in layoffs. Now that the Senate has voted in favor of a fiscal cliff compromise, it’s up to the House to go along with it.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) were down this path before during the debt ceiling crisis in 2011. Should the House do the right thing and get this hashed out, it is just yet another battle which will ensue. Experts contend that an even uglier battle will take place in a few months.

#3 Hurricane Sandy

Chris Christie President Obama Hurricane SandyWhen Hurricane Sandy was set to hit the New Jersey shore prior to Halloween, citizens all across the Tri-state area were prepared.

Despite the massive preparations by residents along the Jersey coast, there was destruction which we once thought could only happen in areas like Florida and New Orleans. The destruction to shore towns like Sea Isle City and Long Beach Island was extensive. The storm, which hammered the shore for over 24 hours rocked structures (like the roller coaster in Sea Isle City) off their foundations.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stepped up to the challenge and showed tremendous leadership during this tough time as many residents needed their spirits uplifted. He and President Obama put aside their differences and worked together during the aftermath to get New Jersey turned around.

The effects of the devastation will take months even years to recover from. But, New Jersey residents are proving to be resillient in the aftermath of the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina.

#4 The 2012 Presidential Election

The 2012 Presidential Election between incumbent Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was long, nasty, and expensive. By default it was the most expensive election on record, costing over $2 billion. It goes without saying that as the years go on, elections only get more expensive as TV advertising rates go up. And, the name of the game is to be on TV as much as humanly possible.

The debates between Obama and Romney were contentious and hard-fought. Ultimately, President Obama came out on top in this election. The Democrats’ “ground game” in battleground states proved to be the difference-maker as they took states like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. Their ability to win over young voters and voters within the cities was the difference in the 2012 election. Furthermore, Obama’s decision to run a “permanent campaign” by keeping the offices open in the battleground states since 2008 proved to be huge.

Now that he has won a second term, Obama will have to make nice with John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and other Republican rivals. It won’t be easy, but can be done. One thing is clear, both sides have to work together these next four years or it could send our country into a downward spiral.

#5 The Jerry Sandusky Trial and Penn State University Fallout

The Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal virtually destroyed Joe Paterno’s legacy at Penn State University in just a few weeks. Once news broke in Jerry SanduskyNovember, 2011 – Paterno was relieved of his coaching duties shortly thereafter. The months following – many of his wins were deleted from the record books and his statue was taken down.

The NCAA followed up with severe sanctions against Penn State University, which were unprecedented. They were fined $60 million, banned from the bowl games for four years, and will lost 10 intitial and 20 total scholarships each subsequent year over the next four years.

Despite the crushing sanctions, incoming coach Bill O’Brien was able to come in and make Penn State a winner. They finished the year 8-4 and he was a runner-up for NCAA coach of the year.

Now, he’s at the top of many wish lists for many NFL teams which fired their coaches on New Years Eve. This includes the Philadelphia Eagles, who gave Andy Reid his walking papers after 14 seasons.

Despite Penn State’s tremendous turn-around, the crimes of Jerry Sandusky will never be forgotten. And, this will go down as the worst scandal involving either a college or professional sports team since the 1919 Black Socks scandal.

As we enter 2013, it’s a turning point for both America and many nations around the world. And, if we learned anything from 2012, nothing is really shocking anymore. All too often we find out that humans are capable of tremendously horrifying things.

Contact Dennis Bakay at

Photo of Obama and Christie from

Photo of Romney and Obama from

Photo of Sandusky from AP

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