2011: The Year in Photographs

By Ken Wells - 2011-12-23T19:35:38Z

Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Image

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U.S. Debt Ceiling

Rampaging natural catastrophes, global financial calamities, the deaths of despots and desperados, the passing of America's greatest modern technical innovator and roiling protests that shook the Arab world and occupied Wall Street -- they made 2011 a year that will be remembered for its almost unrelenting turmoil.

Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. debt one level to AA+, criticizing lawmakers for failing to reduce record budget deficits. The Aug. 5 move came even as Congress and the Obama administration had reached an earlier accord to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and cut spending.