Here are some of the top headlines from 2011....
From the Statesman for Top Austin Headlines:
Tragic toll from wildfires
High winds and drought-parched land made for a tragic combination as downed power lines sparked wildfires over the Labor Day weekend, destroying 1,691 homes and claiming two lives in Bastrop County. At the same time, smaller fires destroyed 57 houses in Steiner Ranch, Spicewood and Pflugerville, all in Travis County. And Leander lost 26 homes in a pair of wildfires this year.
A summer like no other
Crops wilted, lake levels dropped, lawns turned brown, and wildlife went thirsty as Texas endured record drought. At one point in October, 88 percent of the state was deemed to be in exceptional drought, the most severe level. Austin received just less than 15 inches of rain, about half of its normal precipitation, and sweated through a record 90 days of triple-digit temperatures.
F1 is off-again, on-again
After much debate, the Austin City Council gave its blessing to allowing $25 million in state sales-tax receipts to flow to Formula One race organizers for each of the next 10 years for an event to be held southeast of Austin. But construction on the Circuit of the Americas racetrack briefly halted when contract disputes arose between local and international race officials. At year's end, the disputes were settled and the race was on for November 2012
Longhorns gain network, lose rivalry
ESPN agreed to pay the University of Texas $300 million over 20 years to operate the Longhorn Network of sports programming, but the effort got off to a rocky start when major cable and satellite providers refused to carry the channel.
Perry seeks White House
No Texan garnered as many headlines as Rick Perry in 2011. Already the longest-serving governor in Texas history, he was inaugurated for an unprecedented third full term in January, then drew a hard line on preserving rainy day fund money during the legislative session. He rebuffed talk of a presidential run but reversed course, saying he felt he had been called to seek the White House. A late entrant to the race, he rocketed to front-runner status only to slide back into the pack after too many "oops" moments.
More top news stories from 2011....From yahoo.com
A 21-year old motorcyclist who collided with a BMW on the campus of Utah State University was lying unconscious beneath the burning wreckage when bystanders rushed to help. Workers at a nearby construction site tried to lift the car along with students, while a professor shot the scene on his camera phone from an upper floor window
Almost 10 years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden is finally found and killed3
Japan is hit with a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. This earthquake was so strong, it rattled the planet on its axis and shifted parts of Japan's main island 3 to 16 feet. After the earthquake came the waves, some as high as 30 feet and reaching to about 6 miles inland. According to Yahoo.com, the latest death toll reached 15,703 and 5000 are still missing. This earth quake was a natural disaster that we will not be likely to forget for some time.
Casey Anthony Trial-- (copied from yahoo.com) In December 2008, the body of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony was found a quarter-mile from her Orlando home. She had been reported missing by her grandmother, with whom she lived, along with her grandfather and her mother, Casey. Three years and countless headlines later, Casey Anthony's murder trial was the courtroom spectacle of 2011 (or, as CNN described it, "one hot ticket"). The media furor had been whipped up partly by Casey's astonishing number of lies, which had eroded her faltering credibility. Still, no one had a clue how sharply this trial would seize the public imagination in 2011. Obsessed "tot mom" watchers descended on Florida from across the country, waiting in long lines overnight to duke it out for one of the coveted 50 courtroom seats reserved for the public. Police were called in more than once to deal with brawls and stampedes. In the end, Casey Anthony was convicted of nothing more than lying to police and being a terrible mom -- neither of which necessarily make her a murderer. In the court of public opinion, she was already sentenced to life, which will surely make the rest of her days insufferable.
On April 29, 2011, Prince William of England married Catherine Middleton -- and the world was invited to the wedding. The last royal ceremony of this magnitude was 30 years before, when Lady Diana married Prince Charles.
Six people were killed and 14 injured when a gunman opened fire January 8 on a crowd gathered to meet U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords at a Safeway store near Tucson. Among the dead were 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, born on September 11, 2001; federal judge John Roll; and Gabriel "Gabe" Zimmerman, Giffords's community outreach director. Giffords, the alleged assassination target, was shot in the head at point-blank range. Quick-thinking citizens were lauded for preventing further deaths. When the shooter reached for a new clip for his semiautomatic handgun, a bystander hit him in the head with a metal folding chair, and another man pinned him to the ground. Patricia Maisch, then 61, wrestled away the ammunition clip.
Amid the contentious rhetoric and complicated legal developments, observers held close to the concrete milestones of Giffords's recovery. Crime scene photographs gave way to the first images of a smiling, short-haired survivor. Her struggle to walk became a triumphant return to the House floor. She continues to progress, although it is unclear how complete her neurological recovery can be.
Death of Amy Winehouse--Nothing testified to the staying power of her music than the heartbroken worldwide reaction to her sudden death from accidental alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011.
Occupy Wall Street--The notion of a privileged 1% has been kicking around for a while. About 1% of the population owns 40% of global wealth. To put it another way, if the 48 poorest nations pooled their resources, they'd still own less than the three richest guys in the world. Protesters took to the streets -- including Wall Street -- and went online almost immediately. "Occupy Wall Street" buzzed in searches September 16, the day before the first protest, with searchers ages 13 and up, from coast (New York) to coast (Oregon). Some supporters fretted about the lack of media coverage, and some journalists thought the movement's leaderless concept backfired.