Chronology of news events in 2012

The Associated Press
January 1, 2013

Dec. 1

— Enrique Pena Nieto takes the oath of office as Mexico's new president promising to return peace and security and to take on the vested interests and sacred cows that have kept a lid on the country's economic prosperity.

Dec 2

— An Associated Press analysis of trade data shows that in just five years, China has surpassed the United States as a trading partner for much of the world, including U.S. allies such as South Korea and Australia.

Dec. 3

— The most widely anticipated pregnancy since Princess Diana's in 1981 is official: Prince William's wife, Kate, is pregnant.

Dec. 4

— A protest by at least 100,000 Egyptians outside the presidential palace in Cairo turns violent as tensions grow over Islamist President Mohammed Morsi's seizure of nearly unrestricted powers and a draft constitution hurriedly adopted by his allies.

Dec. 5

— Gunmen loyal to opposite sides in neighbouring Syria's civil war battle in the streets of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli where two days of clashes have killed at least six people and wounded more than 50.

Dec. 6

— NATO moves forward with its plan to place Patriot missiles and troops along Syria's border with Turkey to protect against potential attacks.

Dec. 7

Long-exiled Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal makes his first-ever visit to Gaza, welcomed by thousands lining the streets and illustrating how the group's defiance of Israel is forcing a change in Palestinian politics, pushing the Western-backed Palestian President Mahmoud Abbas whose Fatah movement controls the West Bank into the background.

Dec. 8

— Rebel commanders from across Syria join forces under a united command they hope will increase co-ordination between diverse fighting groups and streamline the pathway for arms essential to their struggle against President Bashar Assad.

Dec. 9

— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez heads back to Cuba for a third cancer surgery after naming his vice-president as his choice to lead the country if the illness cuts short his presidency.

Dec. 10

— Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a hotel maid settle her lawsuit over sexual assault allegations that sank his political career and spurred scrutiny of his dealings with women on two continents.

Dec. 11

— Most Egyptian judges reject any role in overseeing the country's constitutional referendum, a move likely to cast further doubt on the legitimacy of the disputed charter.

Dec. 12

— Syrian government forces have fired Scud missiles at insurgents in recent days, escalating the 2-year-old conflict against rebels seeking to overthrow the regime.

Dec. 13

— U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdraws her name from consideration for secretary of state in the next Obama administration because she didn't want to endure confirmation hearings that were "very politicized." She faced withering criticism from some congressional Republicans over her initial statements about the Dec. 11 attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Dec. 14

— A man opens fire Friday inside a Connecticut elementary school, killing 26 people, including 20 children in one of the deadliest school shootings in the U.S. and then commits suicide as police arrive. Earlier he had killed his mother.

Dec. 15

— Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who skipped an overseas trip this past week because of a stomach virus, sustains a concussion after fainting, but is recovering at her home where doctors have told the 65-year-old official to remain.

Dec. 16

— Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party returns to power in a landslide election victory after three years in opposition, signalling a rightward shift in the government that could further heighten tensions with China, a key economic partner as well as rival.

Dec. 17

— Syria's vice-president acknowledges that the army cannot defeat the rebel forces trying to topple the regime and calls for a negotiated settlement to save the country from ruin.

Dec. 18

— In unusually rare and blunt criticism of its top Mideast ally, the Obama administration slams Israel for continuing to announce new settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians.

Dec. 19

— Park Geun-hye, daughter of a divisive military strongman from South Korea's authoritarian era, is elected the country's first female president, a landmark win that could mean a new drive to start talks with rival North Korea.

Dec. 20

— The State Department acknowledges major weaknesses in security and errors in judgment exposed in a scathing independent report on the deadly Sept. 11 assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya.

Dec. 21

The National Rifle Association says guns and police officers in all American schools are what's needed to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings," taking a no-retreat stance in the face of growing calls for gun control after the Connecticut shootings that claimed the lives of 26 children and school staff.

Dec. 22

— Egypt's Islamist-backed constitution heads toward likely approval in a final round of voting, but the deep divisions it has opened up threaten to fuel continued turmoil.

Dec. 23

— A government airstrike on a bakery in a rebel-held town in central Syria kills more than 60 people, casting a pall over a visit by the international envoy charged with negotiating an end to the country's civil war.

Dec. 24

— An Afghan policewoman walks into a high-security compound in Kabul and kills an American contractor with a single bullet to the chest, the first such shooting by a woman in a spate of insider attacks by Afghans against their foreign allies.

Dec. 25

— In his Christmas message to the world, Pope Benedict XVI calls for an end to the slaughter in Syria and for more meaningful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, while encouraging more religious freedom under China's new leaders.

Dec. 26

— Syria's chief of military police defects to the opposition, becoming one of the highest-ranking officers to switch sides during the 21-month-old revolt against the authoritarian rule of President Bashar Assad, whose isolation deepens.

Dec. 27

— Egypt's chief prosecutor orders an investigation into allegations that opposition leaders committed treason by inciting supporters to overthrow Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Dec. 28

— Doctors say a young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten on a bus in New Delhi has died at a Singapore hospital.

Dec. 29

— Defectors, analysts and activists say that in the contest for power within the closed world of North Korea money is now slowly and often silently competing with the domination of a political caste system known as songbun that is now fraying.

Dec. 30

— Turkey is holding talks with the Kurdish rebels' jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan to press the autonomy-seeking guerrilla group to relinquish arms and end its decades-long conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.