Below are the top headlines of 2012, excluding those related to sports and entertainment. In general, the following events fall into two categories: politics and tragedies.  Of course, the political stories could be tragedies, relative to where the reader places him-or-herself on the political spectrum.

But don’t consider this list one to despair. While the old saying “history is a tragedy” is by no means an empty one, 2012 did bring occasions to rejoice, such as Felix Baumgartner’s first-ever skydive from the edge of space and discovery of the so-call “God particle,” the Higgs boson.

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In remembrance of 2012, look at the stories that captured America’s attention, if only for a moment:

Top 2012 Headlines

January 16: Costa Concordia Crash

The shipwreck off the Italian coast claimed the lives of 32 victims, including Barb and Jerry Heil of White Bear Lake, Minn. The cruise ship’s captain is now facing multiple manslaughter charges after failing to tell his thousands of passengers to promptly abandon ship.

(credit: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

January 20: SOPA Is Defeated

From an initial CBS report: “Yielding to strong opposition from the high tech community, Senate and House leaders said [Jan. 20] they will put off further action on legislation to combat online piracy.”

Tech Activists Protest SOPA And PIPA Bills

February 26: Trayvon Martin Shooting

When neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., it sparked outrage after Zimmerman was not immediately arrested. The shooting raised questions on  gun control and racism in America, and made one article of clothing (the hoodie) into a national symbol. At the time of writing,  Zimmerman faces second-degree murder charges and is slated to go on trial next summer. President Barack Obama, who remarked on the shooting, said if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.

Civil Rights Activists Join Protest Rally And Town Hall Mtg On Killing Of Trayvon Martin

March: ‘Kony 2012′ Controversy

‘Kony 2012’ was the viral video that told of filmmaker Jason Russell’s mission to take down the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony. The video stirred the emotions of its viewers as well as controversy. Critics said the video simplified the issue, among other things. Not long after the video’s release, Russell‘s suffered under the weight of its success and was arrested after rambling naked in the streets of San Diego.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

May 26: Florida ‘Zombie’ Attack

From the initial CBS Miami report: “new details back claims [police] had no choice: the naked man they shot was trying to chew the face off another naked man, and refused to obey police orders to stop his grisly meal, which one source now claims included his victim’s nose and eyeballs.”

Other zombie-like attacks followed in Maryland, where a man allegedly ate parts of his roommate, and in Canada, where a porn star allegedly mailed dismembered body parts to the country’s conservative party headquarters.

Man's Face Eaten Off During Memorial Day Parade in Miami

July 4: Science World Rejoices After Higgs Boson Discovery

From a CBS report: “Evidence for the new particle was reported [July 4] by scientists from the world’s largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Researchers reported they’d seen a particle weighing roughly 125 times the mass of the proton, with a level of certainty that all but seals the deal it’s the Higgs boson. The Higgs represents the last undiscovered particle predicted by the Standard Model, the reigning theory of particle physics.

Participants applaud after the presentat

July 20: Colorado Theater Massacre

From the CBS Denver initial report: “Police said a gunman with a gas mask on and dressed in black shot and killed dozens and dozens of people. Authorities say the suspect, James Holmes, 24, killed 10 people inside the theater complex and that three others died after they were taken from the scene.”

August 5: Sikh Temple Attack In Wisconsin

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From the initial report: “[Wade Micheal Page] killed six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee on [Aug. 5] in a rampage that left terrified congregants hiding in closets and others texting friends outside for help.”

(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

August 6: Curiosity Lands Safely On Mars

After Curiosity safely landed on the surface of the red planet, scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory rejoiced, rejoiced and rejoiced some more.

(credit: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times-POOL)

(credit: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times-POOL)

October 14: Skydiver Jumps From The Edge Of Space

From the CBS initial report: “Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner landed safely on Earth after a 24-mile jump from the stratosphere in a dramatic, daring feat that may also have marked the world’s first supersonic skydive.”


October: Superstorm Sandy Slams East Coast

In late October, Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast, killing dozens, cutting power to millions and washing out many, many seaside homes. Estimates of the damage reach upwards of $20 billion. It was one of the worst storms to have hit the Unites States.

 (credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

November 6: Obama Wins Re-Election

From the initial AP report: “A triumphant President Barack Obama heralded his re-election with a call to action early [Nov. 6], telling Americans that their citizenship doesn’t end with their vote and declaring that the “best is yet to come.'”

(credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

December 14: Gunman Kills 20 Children In Elementary School Massacre

Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where he opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults. Lanza took his own life, and his actions had America talking about guns (either the need for more restrictions or more firearms in general) for weeks following the massacre.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

December 30: Lawmakers Convene As ‘Fiscal Cliff ‘ Looms

Lawmakers came together in the last moments of 2012, hoping to hammer out a deal to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff.” Doing so will mean that Americans will pay more in the taxes, and have some benefits cut, starting Jan. 1.

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