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World Begins to Ring In New Year

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  • World Begins to Ring In New Year

    World Begins to Ring In New Year By VOA News
    31 December 2008

    Pope Benedict is calling for greater sobriety and solidarity in 2009
    as the world struggles with economic and social problems.

    Speaking Wednesday in Vatican City, Benedict described the current
    times as being marked by uncertainty and worry for the future; but he
    urged the faithful to work together and to not be afraid.

    The pope is also expected to celebrate a Mass on New Year's Day, which
    the Roman Catholic Church celebrates as its World Day of Peace. Church
    officials said the pontiff will talk about poverty as a contributing
    factor in armed and other conflicts and discuss globalization as well.

    Meanwhile, many parts of the world are celebrating the start of the
    new year with fireworks and other festivities. Sydney, Australia was
    the world's first major city to ring in 2009, showering its simmering
    harbor with fireworks that drew cheers from more than a million

    Fireworks were also set off from Seoul to Hong Kong as television
    presenters counted down to welcome in the new year. In Japan, temple
    bells rang out as worshippers threw coins as offerings and prayed.

    In Moscow, fireworks lit up the night sky over Red Square after the
    national anthem was played. Russia has been celebrating the start of
    2009 over 11 time zones. As the clock struck midnight in each zone, a
    pre-recorded message from President Dmitri Medvedev was broadcast,
    beginning in Russia's eastern corner.

    Many people around the world are eager to say goodbye to 2008, which
    has been tarnished by the global economic meltdown. Celebrations in
    some cities were more subdued, while in other places, they did not
    take place at all.

    Festivities were muted in China, which rings in the Lunar New Year
    later in January. The Associated Press reported that Malaysia, mindful
    of its shaky economy, opted not to sponsor celebrations at all.

    Elsewhere, Indian authorities threw a security blanket around the
    financial capital, Mumbai, following November's terrorist attacks that
    left more than 170 people dead.

    Later, revelers in New York City's Times Square will watch the annual
    dropping of the ball and countdown to the new year [which begins at
    0500 UTC on the U.S. East coast].

    Some information for this report was provided by AP.