2011 in Review

Occupy Wall Street marchers on Sept. 30. (Thomas Altfather Good/NLN)
Occupy Wall Street marchers on Sept. 30. (Thomas Altfather Good/NLN)

A big picture of the story of need for December 2011 (and for all of 2011), courtesy of blogs, articles and news services from around the world:



  • The Person of the Year according to Time Magazine is “The Protestor.” In the Middle East and North Africa, the “Arab Spring” protests freed the people of Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt from repressive regimes and led to outright civil war in Libya. Unrest and demonstrations have spilled over into Yemen, Bahrain and Syria, where the outcome of the protests is still in doubt. In the United States, the Occupy movement spread to large cities throughout the country, and continues to maintain some momentum heading into 2012.
  • Deforestation reportedly declined in Brazil.
  • South Sudan became the world’s newest country on July 9.
  • Earlier this month, the last U.S. troops left Iraq.
  • At least 112 countries worldwide have recognized Palestinian statehood this year.
  • Women in Kabul, Afghanistan, marched against public sexual harassment.
  • North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died on Dec. 17, leaving a nation with one of the world’s largest armies and most malnourished civilian populations in the midst of political uncertainty.
  • Political dissident Aung San Suu Kyi was released in Myanmar in November after spending much of the past two decades under house arrest. Elections will take place in April 2012.
  • Workers across Europe walked off the job in protest against austerity measures undertaken by their governments.
  • In the wake of the recent economic recession, food pantries have been popping up on college campuses across the United States. Jobs and the economy generally top voter concerns in opinion polls, and the “economic pain” experienced in places like Florida could shape the outcome of the November 2012 elections.
  • The U.S. federal government declared three times the normal number of major disasters in 2011, making it likely that insured losses will total $35 billion. Rebuilding is still underway in the wake of the tornado outbreak that hit the Southeastern U.S. in April, and the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., on May 22.



  • In October 2010, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed a cholera outbreak in earthquake-shattered Haiti. According to a recent Partners in Health newsletter, cholera continues to rage in Haiti.
  • The fight against human trafficking closed a brothel in Cambodia.
  • The war between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels continues to rage in Mexico, and has led to the displacement of thousands of people in Ciudad Juarez.
  • Thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of several Syrian cities on the cusp of the new year. Protesters defied a government crackdown to show their discontent to monitors representing the Arab League.
  • The disputed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to abuse of members of the press.
  • In eastern Congo, conflict over control of the region’s mineral wealth, some of which is used in the manufacture of cell phones and other electronics, has led to the death of more than 5 million people in the last decade.
  • Several separate but related clashes are taking place in South Sudan and South Kordofan, involving the control of oil-rich territory, theft of cattle, abductions and tribal reprisals.
  • Famine and ongoing conflict in Somalia have displaced thousands of people and led to an alarming increase in the incidence of rape as a “spoil of war.”


Reviews & Previews

  • The Help — The critically acclaimed 2011 movie based on the book of the same name by Kathryn Stockett is now out on DVD. It follows a secret writing project between a young white journalist and two black maids. The unlikely three-some work together to tell the story of Southern society during the 1960s from the perspective of “the help.”
  • Bowl Sponsors — Among the annual slate of college football bowl games were the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 31 and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, formerly known as the Humanitarian Bowl, on Dec. 17.
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