2012 year end national stories

2012-12-30T00:00:00Z 2013-01-15T17:17:14Z 2012 year end national storiesThe Associated Press The Associated Press
December 30, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Hundreds pack Conn. church for vigil after mass shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn. | Twenty-six candles — one for each of the victims — flickered on the altar earlier this month as hundreds of grief-stricken residents gathered for a vigil in memory of the 20 children and six adults killed in a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Adam Lanza, 20, armed with at least two handguns, killed his mother at their home, then descended on the school, opening fire as youngsters cowered in fear amid the sounds of gunshots and screams. He then committed suicide, authorities said.

Shooting rampage at 'Batman' leaves 12 dead, 58 wounded

AURORA, Colo. | As the new "Batman" movie played on the screen, a gunman dressed in black and wearing a helmet, body armor and a gas mask stepped through a side door. At first he was just a silhouette, taken by some in the audience for a stunt that was part of one of the summer's most highly anticipated films.

But then, authorities said, he threw gas canisters that filled the packed suburban Denver theater with smoke, and, in the confusing haze between Hollywood fantasy and terrifying reality, opened fire July 20 as people screamed and dove for cover.

The gunman, identified by police as James Holmes, 24, used a military-style semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol, stopping only to reload. He killed 12 and wounded 58.

Obama powers to re-election despite a sluggish economy

WASHINGTON | President Barack Obama rolled to re-election Nov. 6, vanquishing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney despite a weak economy that plagued his first term and put a crimp in the middle-class dreams of millions. In victory, he confidently promised better days ahead.

Obama spoke to thousands of cheering supporters in his hometown of Chicago, praising Romney and declaring his optimism for the next four years.

"While our road has been hard, though our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come," he said.

Sandy leaves about 125 dead, devastates U.S. East Coast

The most devastating storm in decades to hit the country's most densely populated region upended man and nature as it rolled back the clock on 21st-century lives in late October, cutting off modern communication and leaving millions without power as thousands who fled their water-menaced homes wondered when life would return to normal.

Sandy killed at least 125 people in the United States and 71 in the Caribbean, including 54 in Haiti. Sandy is being blamed for about $62 billion in damage and other losses in the U.S., the vast majority of it in New York and New Jersey. It is the second-costliest storm in U.S. history after 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which caused $128 billion in damage in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Sandy damaged or destroyed homes and businesses, more than 72,000 in New Jersey alone, Gov. Chris Christie said. New York is seeking $42 billion in federal aid, including about $9 billion for projects to head off damage in future storms. New Jersey is seeking nearly $37 billion in aid, including $7.4 billion for future projects.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Obama's signature health law

WASHINGTON | The U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld virtually all of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul, including the hotly debated core requirement that nearly every American have health insurance.

The 5-4 decision held the individual mandate at the heart of the law was a tax and therefore allowable under Congress’ constitutional power to levy taxes. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the conservative wing in finding the law otherwise would have violated the Commerce Clause, by exceeding the power of Congress.

The unpopular federal law was modeled, ironically, on a state law GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney signed as Massachusetts governor but then disavowed when he ran for president.


Former Penn State assistant Sandusky convicted of abuse

BELLEFONTE, Pa. | Jerry Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually assaulting 10 boys over 15 years, accusations that shattered the Happy Valley image of Penn State football and led to the firing of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno.

Sandusky, a 68-year-old retired defensive coach who was once Paterno's heir apparent, was found guilty of 45 of 48 counts and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. In July, the NCAA imposed severe sanctions, including $60 million in fines, a four-year postseason ban on football and a reduction in football scholarships.

High court will hear same-sex marriage cases this summer

WASHINGTON | The Supreme Court plunged into the contentious issue of gay marriage Dec. 7 when it agreed to take up California's ban on same-sex unions and a separate dispute about federal benefits for legally married gay couples.

The court's action gives the justices the chance to say by late June whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals. Several narrower paths also are open to the justices as they consider both California's voter-approved Proposition 8, and the provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denies to legally married gay Americans the favorable federal tax treatment and a range of federal health and pension benefits given to heterosexual couples.

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