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A 2011 year in review

By Gabe Hewitt, iLander Student Editor

The year 2012 may have just started, but it's not too late to forget last year. Various events made 2011 what it was and some events people will remember more than others.

Here are some in no particular order:

Heights basketball goes to state
The Columbia Heights varsity boys basketball team played in the state tournament in late March for the first time since 1930. An iLander article said that the team was led by one of the state's best players, Zach Lofton. The entire community supported the team as they played the championship game on March 26 against Orono at the Target Center. They may have lost the game, but they still had one of the most historic seasons in Heights basketball history.

Aldi opens in Columbia Heights
The construction of the Aldi grocery store on Central Avenue began in May after the old Cafe Donuts and Crosstown Eatery was torn down. According to the iLander, this was all part of a proposal that was approved by the Columbia Heights City Council in April. Aldi opened in late November and is bustling with customers everyday.

Tornado hits the metro area
In late May a vicious tornado hit the Minneapolis area (including Columbia Heights and Fridley). According to an iLander article, the damage totaled more than $160 million. The tornado knocked down trees and power lines. Many had their homes destroyed and were left homeless.

Japan disasters
A 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Tohoku, Japan, on March 11. A Huffington Post article said that the quake, which was one of the largest recorded in history, lasted for six minutes and caused insurmountable damage. The quake triggered a 30-foot tsunami that devastated eastern parts of Japan. The National Policy Agency listed more than 16,464 people missing and 11,620 dead. Footage of the disasters swept the news and internet. The tsunami knocked out the cooling systems at a nuclear power plant in Tokyo, which led to increased radiation levels and a nuclear crisis in the area. Damage from the disasters totaled $235 million.

Rebecca Black
Whoever thought a teenager singing about a day of the week would become the viral sensation of 2011? Rebecca Black probably didn't. Her song, "Friday," was released on YouTube on March 14. Entertainment Weekly said the song received almost universal criticism from anybody who heard it. Some even called it "the worst song ever made." All of the criticism didn't account for the millions of views the video received on YouTube and it easily became the most-watched online video of the year.

Royal wedding
The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was the most-watched televised event of the year, according to BBC News. The wedding took place on April 29 and nearly 3 billion people watched, whether it was on television or over the internet. What was interesting about the wedding was that William was marrying a commoner and not someone in the aristocracy. William and Kate became the most famous couple in the world.

Osama bin Laden
Nearly ten years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that he plotted, Osama bin Laden was found and killed on May 2. He was the leader of terrorist group al-Qaeda and his name was known worldwide. bin Laden had been on the run for years and his whereabouts were unknown. When his hideout was found, President Obama ordered an operation to kill bin Laden that would be carried out by United States Navy SEALs, according to an ABC News article. The sudden news of his death was a shock to the world and it would become a "where were you when you heard it?" news story.

Dallas Mavericks
If there was one story that highlighted the sports world, it was the Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA Finals on June 12. Their opponent, the Miami Heat, was looked at as the heavy favorite, given its elite players such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The Mavericks beat the Heat in six games and it would become one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history, according to NBA.com. Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki led his team to several fourth-quarter comebacks and helped the Mavericks win their first ever NBA championship.

Steve Jobs
An icon in the technological world, Steve Jobs passed away from pancreatic cancer on Oct. 5. Jobs was the co-founder of Apple and was the mind behind many of their products, including the iPod and the iPhone. A CNN article said his ideas helped create a lot of the technology that people use everyday. Apple's sales increased after his death and the world remembered Jobs for his visionary mind.

Angry Birds
Angry Birds had already been a popular game, but in 2011 its popularity peaked. The game was created by European game developer Rovio in late 2009. The game was a must-have for anybody with a smartphone. In Nov. 2011 Rovio announced that Angry Birds had reached more than 500 million downloads. It became the most downloaded game of all time. In addition, merchandise sales increased and a retail store was opened in Finland.

U.S. Troops pull out of Iraq
President Obama announced in October that American troops would be fully out of Iraq in December after nearly nine years. A Yahoo article said that 4,500 soldiers and 100,000 Iraqis died during the United States' time in the country. America invaded Iraq in 2003 with the intent of capturing its leader, Saddam Hussein, and searching for weapons of mass destruction. Financially, the U.S. will have paid $1.9 trillion.

(Photo: The purple indicates immense earthquake energy from Japan. Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.)