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Photo by Smirnov Vladimir/ITAR-TASS/Landov

Broken wings

2011 News of the Year | Russian airliner carrying hockey team crashed; killing all 44 paasengers

Issue: "2011 News of the Year," Dec. 31, 2011

The crash of a Russian airliner near the city of Yaroslavl on Sept. 7 claimed the lives of an entire Russian hockey team-and broke the hearts of the entire hockey world. The Lokomotiv team was among the brightest spots in an emerging Russian national hockey league seeking to compete with the NHL for the world's top talent. In the days following, fans in the region clung to a narrow sliver of hope as the one player who survived the immediate impact of the crash fought for his life in a Moscow burn clinic. But when 26-year-old Aleksandr Galimov died from his injuries five days after the accident, crowds of mourners numbering up to 100,000 spilled into the Yaroslavl streets. Galimov's passing brought the incident's death toll to 44, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called the tragedy "a catastrophic loss to the hockey world."

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China and the church

Photo by David Gray/Reuters/Landov

When Chinese authorities blocked the 1,000 members of Beijing's largest unregistered church from access to their indoor facility, the leaders of Shouwang Church called for an extraordinary move: Meet outdoors. That launched an unprecedented showdown between Chinese Christians and Communist officials in what China expert David Aikman called "the first bona fide civil rights movement in China" since Communists took power. Chinese police arrested hundreds of Shouwang members between April and December as they tried to worship outdoors, saying the meetings were illegal. In a November email, the pastors told the congregation: "We believe that being his church, as long as we wait for God in perseverance and seek his guidance with all our heart, his glory will rise upon his church."

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