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CMYK The Times Leader WILKES-BARRE, PA SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 $1.50 SYRIA Stefanie Salavantis celebrates her upset victory in the race for Luzerne County District Attorney with her father, Harry. The Republican defeated incumbent Jackie Musto Carroll. Flooding in September would doom any efforts to save the historic Hotel Sterling structure as engineers called it deficient and its insurer declined to renew its policy. Mike Lazevnick plays through the rain during a golf tournament on June 24. Rain fell often in 2011, breaking a record set in 1948 at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport. YEAR OF LOSS AND CHANGE Groups will unite against Assad Move made to prepare democracy if president’s regime falls. By BASSEM MROUE Associated Press BEIRUT — Syria’s two largest opposition groups signed an agreement on setting up a democracy if President Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime falls, opposition figures said Saturday. The move is so far the most serious by the fractured opposition to uniteagainsttheregimeandshows that Assad’s opponents will accept nothing less than his departure from power. Burhan Ghalioun, leader of the Syrian National Council, and Haytham Manna of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, or NCB, signed the draft in Cairo on Friday, accordingtoanNCBstatementandOmar Idilbi of the SNC. Syria’s uprising began in March, inspired by other Arab Spring revolts. The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have died as the government has sought to See SYRIA, Page 2A DON CAREY/THE TIMES LEADER September rainfall left much of the Wyoming Valley inundated with water when it caused the Susquehanna River to overflow its banks, resulting in millions of dollars in damage from West Pittston to Shickshinny. This is an aerial view looking northward with Kingston to the left and Wilkes-Barre to the right and the Market Street and Veterans Memorial bridges crossing the swollen river. A portion of Kirby Park and the Market Street Bridge are under water. By ANDREW M. SEDER Floods, record rainfall, an earthquake and a seismic shift at the county courthouse. And so it was in Luzerne County in 2011. The most compelling story of the year was the September flooding caused by back-to-back storms – Hurricane Irene and then Tropical Storm Lee – that damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, caused one death and cost millions of dollars in damage. As with the Agnes Flood of 1972, the losses will be remembered for years to come. But the flooding wasn’t the only story involving loss. On the political side, incumbent District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll lost her re-election bid to upstart young insurance attorney Stefanie Salavantis. A few figures caught up in the ongoing corruption scandal lost their freedom in 2011. Former judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella were sent to prison for their roles in the “Kids for Cash” scandal. Also sentenced for various crimes were former Judge INSIDE Top Pennsylvania stories, Page 8A Notable deaths, Page 11A Year in pictures, Page 12A Michael Toole, attorney Robert Powell, former court administrator William Sharkey and former Luzerne County Probation Officer Sandra Brulo. On the change side of things, which the Salavantis upset of Musto Carroll would also fall under, came the voters’ decision to change the way Luzerne County government operates by approving a Home Rule form of government and the election of 11 people to serve on the inaugural council that will be sworn in on Tuesday. The voters also elected six new judges to sit on the county bench, the largest influx of new jurists in Bin Laden tops AP news poll By DAVID CRARY AP National Writer NEW YORK — The killing of Osama bin Laden during a raid by Navy SEALs on his hideout in Pakistan was the top news story of 2011, followed by Japan’s earthquake/tsunami disaster, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors. The death of bin Laden, the alQaida leader who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, received 128 first-place votes out of 247 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The Japan disaster was next, with 60 first-place votes. Placing third were the Arab Spring uprisings that rocked North Africa and the Middle East, while the European Union’s financial turmoil was No. 4. The international flavor of these top stories contrasted with last year’s voting — when the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was the top story, See POLL, Page 9A See CHANGE, Page 10A Romney has edge in Iowa Five other challengers fight to emerge as the alternative to the former Mass. governor. By THOMAS BEAUMONT Associated Press AP FILE PHOTO Terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden died May 2 during a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs on his compound in Pakistan. LE MARS, Iowa — Mitt Romney is the clear Republican frontrunner in Iowa in the final days before the first voting in the 2012 presidential election. But that’s where clarity ends in this nomination race. Five others are fighting to emerge as the alternative to the former Massachusetts governor. Rick Santorum and Rick Perry are battling to win over social conservatives. Libertarian-leaning Ron Paul is working to preserve support that’s starting to slip. Newt Gingrich is struggling to end his sharp slide. Michele Bachmann is hardly a factor. “It may be Romney’s to lose at this point,” said John Stineman, an Iowa GOP campaign strateSee ROMNEY, Page 2A INSIDE A NEWS Local News Nation/World Obituaries 3A 5A 7A No McGloin? PSU preps to go with other QBs. Story, 1C B PEOPLE Birthdays C SPORTS Outdoors 8B 11C Weather D BUSINESS Motley Fool E VIEWS 12C 6D Editorials F. ETC. Puzzles Books 2E 2F 5F 6 09815 10077

Times Leader 01-01-2012

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