Elections, end-of-the-world fears and the fiscal cliff have kept Americans in a roller-coaster of emotions in 2012. As the year closes here's a recap of some of the biggest stories.
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From flesh-eating stories to one of a suspect hurling bits of his own intestines at authorities, several gruesome assaults in Florida, Maryland and New Jersey this passed year fueled speculations of a "zombie apocalypse."
On May 26, 2012, officers shot and killed 31-year-old Rudy Eugene, who was found apparently chewing on a homeless man's face on a downtown Miami highway ramp, and growling at a police officer who told him to stop. The attack left 65-year-old Ronald Poppo missing about 75 percent of his face. Lab tests found only marijuana in Eugene's system, but no other drugs or alcohol.
The Daily Beast even developed a Google "Map of the Dead," charting instances of possible activity.
Members of The Department of Zombie Defense in Phoenix, Arizona, offered their services to train others for a possible zombie apocalypse. Zombie talk was everywhere, in films, blogs and San Diego's Comic Con. But, the largest number of 'zombies' can probably be found in Turners Hill, England. That's where visitors to the Oct. 6, 2012 Shocktober Fest turned out in droves to set a new Guinness World Record for most zombies in one place. So far, no apocalypse.
Several families and businesses in the Devine area suffered major losses when a EF2 tornado touched down March 20, 2012. The Medina County twister ripped apart 30 homes. We spoke to Jessi Juarez whose home literally fell to pieces around her and her Miniature Schnauzer, Jack-Jack.
JBSA-LACKLAND MILITARY SEX SCANDAL
Investigators say more than 40 women at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland in the past year had inappropriate contact with instructors or were sexually harassed or raped. Five instructors have been convicted since July. Nearly a dozen others have been under investigation.
4 PERISH IN S.A. GROUP HOME FIRE
When four mentally-disabled residents of the Amistad group home died in a fire in August 2012, it launched an investigation into code compliance and prompted City Hall to craft a new ordinance designed to regulate certain group homes.
“It will be primarily code-related, some registration and licensing and building codes. We won’t get into the quality of health care, that’s really not the function,” said city attorney, Michael Bernard.
Officials estimated they could have 300 unlicensed group homes across San Antonio and they can’t say when any of them have been inspected.
STAND YOUR GROUND: The Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman Case
On Feb. 26, 2012, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin as the teen was walking back from a convenience store in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman claimed he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense and was released by the police shortly after the incident. The shooting and police decision not to arrest Zimmerman sparked outrage, and set off a nationwide debate over race and justice. On April 11, Zimmerman turned himself in after being charged with second-degree murder. The 29-year-old has pleaded not guilty to the charge and was released from Seminole County Jail on $1 million bond in July. The case is ongoing.
In San Antonio Raul Rodriguez claimed Texas' version of a stand-your-ground law allowed him to fatally shoot a neighbor after an argument about a noisy party In June 2012, he was sentenced to 40 years for the murder.
On Dec. 20, 2012 a Tampa Bay man arrested for shooting and wounding another man during an argument about slow service at a pizza restaurant claimed the action was justified under Florida's "stand your ground" law.
In December 2012, George Zimmerman sued NBC on Thursday, claiming he was defamed when the network edited his emergency services call to police after the shooting of Trayvon Martin to make it sound like he was racist.
JERRY SANDUSKY SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced on Oct. 9, 2012 to at least 30 years in prison after being convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse for molesting boys over a 15-year period. The scandal surrounding his indictment toppled longtime head coach Joe Paterno and eventually led to severe NCAA sanctions against the football team. Witnesses accused him of violent sexual attacks inside campus facilities, as well as using the charity for troubled children he founded to find and groom boys that become his victims.
TERRELL HILLS HONEY BEE BOY
Bo Deweese has more than a few bees in his backyard. He has a few million. The third-generation beekeeper and fledgling entrepreneur has turned a family interest...and his backyard...into a pretty sweet little business.
"So far I've made $3,000," Bo said. That's so far this year. His entrepreneurial spirit has landed Bo a lucrative contract with Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka.
Bo is expanding his operation and is moving out of his backyard. He wants 30 hives. Hopefully he will be able to supply all the honey to Deep Eddy.
"I want to be a millionaire some day," Bo beamed.
BATTLES AT THE ALAMO
Remember the Alamo? Then you may recall the hubbub going on there these days. That includes an investigation into a missing authentic copy of the Texas Declaration—believed to have been replaced with a fake, the Texas AG's claim of mismanagement by the DRT, and even tinkling tourists. Steve Oswald, the state director of the Alamo resigned his position effective December 2012.
As a prelude, the storm named Sandy killed more than 70 people in the Caribbean in late October, 2012. Then its high winds and high waters slammed into more than 800 miles of the eastern U.S. seaboard, killing at least 125 more people, and causing damage calculated at well over $60 billion — the second-costliest storm in U.S. history after 2005's Hurricane Katrina. New York and New Jersey were the worst hit, with several hundred thousand homes and businesses damaged or destroyed.
Armed with a high-powered rifle, 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and shot dead 20 children — all ages 6 and 7 — and six staff members in the second-worst school massacre in U.S. history. Sadly, it was only one of several mass shootings, including the killing of 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. After the Newtown tragedy, President Barack Obama and many others, including some staunch gun-rights supporters, said it was time to find ways to rein in gun violence.
COLORADO MOVIE THEATER SHOOTING
Just after midnight on July 20, 2012, police say James Holmes, dressed in black and sporting nearly head-to-toe tactical garb, set off some sort of smoke bomb inside Theater 9 of the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Holmes allegedly began shooting at the audience, who was there to see a premiere of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Twelve people were killed, 58 others injured. Holmes surrendered to police soon after the massacre in the parking lot behind the theater. Holmes is charged with multiple first-degree murder and attempted murder counts.
JESSICA GHAWI, SAN ANTONIO VICTIM OF COLORADO SHOOTING
Jessica Ghawi, a sports blogger and aspiring journalist from San Antonio was one of 12 people killed in the Colorado movie rampage July 20, 2012. A statement from Ghawi's mother described her as a "jolt of lightning, a whirlwind, a Labrador puppy running clumsily with innocent joy."Now her family and friends are establishing a nonprofit aimed at collecting sports equipment and money for children who've lost their homes to wildfires.
ALAMO HEIGHTS 'USA'Chant
Both the San Antonio and Alamo Heights school districts released statements in March in response to reports about an incident at a Region IV-4A playoff game between the Edison and Alamo Heights boys basketball teams. The Alamo Heights students chanted "USA, USA, USA" after the Mules were presented the championship trophy at Littleton Gym in March 2012. SAISD reportedly field a complaint with the UIL.
AHISD Superintendent Dr. Kevin Brown called the timing and place of the "USA" chant after the game "inappropriate," saying he "applaud[s] our community and students for stopping it immediately." He added, "We live in the best country in the world, and cheering for our country should be celebrated," he said. "However, cheering for our country should be done for patriotic reasons, not to offend other Americans."
U.S. ELECTION: Mitt Romney outcampaigned an eclectic field of Republican rivals, and bested Obama in their opening head-to-head debate. But on Election Day, thanks in part to a vigorous get-out-the-vote operation, Obama won a second term with a large lead in electoral votes and a solid advantage in popular votes. The GOP hung on to its majority in the House, but lost two seats to remain a minority in the Senate despite early-campaign projections of gains there.
ELECTION SIGN, LEAKEY
A controversy in the small, west Texas town of Leakey stirred attention and controversy across the U.S. when the Church in the Valley pastor displayed a sign that read: "Vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim! The capitalist, not the communist!" But Americans United wanted the IRS to punish the church for violating federal tax law that prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political elections.
POLITICAL SIGN, VICTORIA
The Secret Service was called out to Victoria, Texas to check out a "Pray for Obama." The sign also cited Psalms 109:8, which reads, "Let his days be few, and let another take his office."
By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court upheld the core elements of Obama's much-debated health care overhaul, which even he embraced as "Obamacare." To widespread surprise, the decisive vote came from John Roberts, the generally conservative-leaning chief justice appointed by Republican George W. Bush. Romney, as GOP presidential nominee, vowed to repeal the law if he won, but Obama's victory ensured the plan would proceed, with complex ramifications for insurers, employers, health-care providers and state governments.
Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner engaged in high-stakes negotiations over a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" that would trigger automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. The leaders narrowed some differences on Social Security and tax rates for the wealthy, but faced intense pressure from their bases to resist certain compromises.
The last day of the Mayan Calendar came and went, but we are still here. There was quite a bit of anxiety about this critical date: December 21, 2012. Doomsayers claimed the end of the calendar spelled the end of our world. NASA tried to debunk the myth via a special website. But many weren't taking any chances. They stockpiled goods, built-up arsenals and self-sustaining compounds and underground bunkers to prepare for the worst. Looks like the worst is still ahead: the 'fiscal cliff.' (Knock on wood.)