By The Associated Press
2014-01-01 03:01 AM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- DECEMBER
-- Daylong clashes between police and protesters seeking the resignation of Thailand's government renew concerns of prolonged instability in one of Southeast Asia's largest economies.
-- Extensive amendments of the constitution adopted under Egypt's ousted Islamist president give the military more privileges, enshrining its place as the nation's most powerful institution and the source of real power while removing portions that liberals feared set the stage for the creation of an Islamist state.
-- Ukraine appears mired in a political standoff as massive protests show no signs of letting up and the government warns of its capability for force after a bid failed to take it down.
-- A senior commander in the militant group Hezbollah, Hassan Laqis, is shot dead outside his home in Lebanon, the latest in a series of attacks against the Iranian-backed organization.
-- Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa's first black president and was a global symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation, dies.
-- Thousands of Christian civilians seek refuge at a Central African Republic airport guarded by French soldiers, fleeing mostly Muslim rebels who rule the country a day after the worst violence to hit the chaotic capital in nine months.
-- President Barack Obama says he believes the chances for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran are 50-50 or worse, yet he defends diplomacy as the best way to prevent Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons.
-- Hundreds of thousands of protesters pour into the streets of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, toppling the statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin and blocking key government buildings in an escalating stand-off with the president on the future of the country.
-- NASA's Curiosity rover has uncovered signs of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars, which scientists say could have been a perfect spot for tiny, primitive organisms to flourish if they ever existed on the red planet.
-- President Barack Obama energizes tens of thousands of spectators in South Africa and nearly 100 visiting heads of state with a plea for the world to emulate anti-apartheid foe and peacemaker Nelson Mandela "the last great liberator of the 20th century."
Dec. 11 --
-- Time magazine selects Pope Francis as its Person of the Year, saying the Roman Catholic church's new leader -- the first from Latin America -- has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short time.
-- North Korea announces the execution of Kim Jong Un's uncle, calling the leader's former mentor a traitor who tried to overthrow the state.
-- The Obama administration faces intensified pressure to find former CIA contractor Robert Levinson both from lawmakers and the Levinson family -- nearly seven years after he disappeared in Iran during what has been revealed as an unofficial spy mission that led to a shake-up in the agency.
-- A forum of political parties chooses the industry minister as Tunisia's new prime minister set to replace an Islamic government with technocrats in what has been a faltering transition to democracy.
-- Nelson Mandela is laid to rest in his childhood hometown, ending a 10-day mourning period for South Africa's first black president, a global symbol of endurance and reconciliation in the fight against the country's racist rule.
-- A U.S. judge declares that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' phone records is almost certainly a violation of the Constitution.
-- A suicidal gunman opens fire at a Reno hospital campus, killing one person, critically wounding two others and sending police on a door-to-door search within the facility amid the chaos.
-- A presidential advisory panel recommends sweeping changes to government surveillance programs, including limiting the bulk collection of Americans' phone records by stripping the National Security Agency of its ability to store that data in its own facilities.
-- The ceiling partially collapses on a packed audience at the Apollo Theatre in London, seriously injuring more than 75 people -- seven seriously. The collapse takes place during a performance of "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time."
-- A federal judge strikes down Utah's same-sex marriage ban in a decision that marks a drastic shift toward gay marriage in a conservative U.S. state where the Mormon church has long been against it.
-- Gunfire hits three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in a remote region of South Sudan that had become a battleground between the country's military and renegade troops. Four U.S. service members are wounded in the attack in the same region where gunfire downed a U.N. helicopter the day before.
-- Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oligarch who crossed President Vladimir Putin and ended up in jail for 10 years, says in a press conference in Berlin that he plans to devote his life to securing the release of the country's political prisoners.
-- A federal judge allows gay marriage to continue in Utah, rejecting a request to put same-sex weddings on hold as the state appeals a decision that has sent couples flocking to county clerk offices for marriage licenses.
-- Pope Francis lauds Jesus' humble beginning as a poor and vulnerable baby as he celebrats his first Christmas Eve Mass as pontiff in St. Peter's Basilica. Francis has dedicated much of his nine-month-old papacy to drawing attention to the plight of the poor, of children, and other vulnerable members of society.
Egypt's military-backed interim government declares the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, intensifying its campaign of arrests and prosecutions targeting its members and tightening the noose on the group's network of charities and businesses.
-- Rounding out a tough and frustrating year, President Barack Obama signs a bipartisan budget deal easing spending cuts and a defense bill cracking down on sexual assault in the military, as the president and Congress began pivoting to the midterm election year ahead.
-- Connecticut police release thousands of pages from their investigation into the Newtown massacre, providing the most detailed and disturbing picture yet of the rampage and Adam Lanza's fascination with murder, while also depicting school employees' brave and clearheaded attempts to protect the children.
-- Twenty-five thousand young men who make up a tribal militia known as the "White Army" march toward a contested state capital in South Sudan, dimming hopes for a cease-fire. Seeking an end to the nearly two-week crisis in which an estimated 1,000 people have been killed, the government announces a "cessation of hostilities."
-- A suicide bomber strikes a busy railway station in southern Russia, killing at least 15 other people and wounding scores more, officials said, in a stark reminder of the threat Russia is facing as it prepares to host February's Olympics in Sochi.
-- Six states are named by federal officials to develop test sites for drones -- a critical next step for the burgeoning industry that could one day produce thousands of unmanned aircraft for use by businesses, farmers and researchers. Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia will host the research sites.
-- Thousands of police officers and paramilitary forces are on duty in the Russian city of Volgograd, which is reeling from two suicide bombings in two days that killed 34 people and raised fears that a terrorist campaign may have begun that could stretch into the Winter Olympics.