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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Asia Rings in New Year Amidst Shadow of Conflict


NEW YORK — The world welcomed the arrival of 2024 with a mix of hope and concern, as revelers⁤ across Asia celebrated the New Year with fireworks and brightly lit‌ signs.

As the clock struck midnight in Australia, more than 1 million people watched a 12-minute firework⁣ display focused ⁤on the Sydney Harbor Bridge from the ‍shore ‌and from boats in the harbor.

Organizers worldwide have readied for large-scale celebrations despite the ongoing conflicts in various parts​ of the world. In New York City, officials and party organizers said they were prepared to ensure the safety of tens of thousands of revelers⁣ who will flood Times Square in the heart ​of midtown Manhattan.

Fireworks exploded up and down the Burj ​Khalifa, ‌the world’s tallest building, as clocks struck midnight in Dubai, ⁤United Arab⁤ Emirates.

China celebrated relatively quietly, with ‌most major cities banning fireworks over safety ⁣and pollution concerns. Still, people gathered⁤ and performers danced ‌in colorful costumes in Beijing, while a crowd‌ released wish balloons in Chongqing.

In Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, the mood appeared upbeat as revelers gathered for a ⁣fireworks show at the bamboo-shaped Taipei ‍101‌ skyscraper, as well as at concerts and other events held throughout the city.

In India, thousands of revelers from the financial hub of Mumbai‌ flocked to a bustling promenade to watch ​the sun set over the Arabian Sea. In New Delhi, fireworks⁤ raised concerns that the capital — ‍already infamous for its poor air quality — would be blanketed by ‌a toxic haze on the first morning of the new year.

Temple bells rang out across Japan as people gathered at ⁢shrines and temples. At the Tsukiji Temple in Tokyo,⁤ visitors were given free hot ⁣milk and corn soup as they stood in line to strike a big bell, and a pipe-organ concert was held ⁢before a majestic ‍altar.

At the ⁤Vatican, Pope Francis recalled⁣ 2023 as‌ a year marked by wartime suffering. During ‌his traditional ⁤Sunday blessing from a ​window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, he offered prayers for “the tormented ⁤Ukrainian people and the Palestinian and Israeli populations, the Sudanese people and many others.”

In Russia,‍ the country’s military actions in Ukraine have overshadowed end-of-year celebrations, with the usual fireworks and concert on Moscow’s Red Square canceled, as they were last year.

After shelling in the center of the Russian​ border city⁣ of Belgorod Saturday killed 24 people, some local authorities across Russia also canceled their usual firework displays, including in Vladivostok.‌ Millions throughout Russia were expected to have tuned into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s prerecorded address, where he asserted there was no force that⁤ could divide ⁣Russians and stop the country’s development.

Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip killed at least 35 people Sunday, hospital officials said, as⁣ fighting raged across the tiny enclave a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the war will continue for “many more months,” resisting ​international calls for a cease-fire.

In Muslim-majority Pakistan, the government⁢ has banned all New⁤ Year’s Eve celebrations in solidarity with the ⁢Palestinians.

In Iraq, a Christmas tree was decorated with Palestinian flags and symbolic bodies in funeral shrouds, placed beside a liberty monument ‍in central Baghdad. Many Christians in Iraq have canceled this year’s festivities in solidarity with Gaza, and have chosen to limit their celebrations to prayers and rituals.

“We hope⁣ that ⁤the new year, 2024 will be a year of goodness, prosperity, and ‌joy,” said Ahmed Ali, a Baghdad ⁤resident.

New York Mayor Eric Adams said there were “no specific threats” to his city’s annual New Year’s Eve ⁤bash. Police said they would expand the security perimeter around the party, creating a “buffer zone” that would allow them to head off potential demonstrations. During​ last year’s party, a machete-wielding ⁣man attacked three police⁣ officers a few blocks from Times Square.

Security was also heightened across European cities on Sunday.

German authorities ⁢said‌ they had detained⁢ three more people in connection with a reported threat of​ a⁢ New Year’s ‌Eve ‌attack by Islamic extremists on‍ the world-famous Cologne Cathedral.

In Berlin, some‌ 4,500 police⁤ officers are expected to‌ keep order and avoid riots‍ like a⁣ year ago. Police ⁢in the⁤ German ⁤capital issued a ban on the traditional use of firecrackers for several streets across the city. They also banned a pro-Palestinian ⁢protest⁤ in‌ the Neukoelln neighborhood of the city, which has seen ⁢several pro-Palestinian riots.

In Paris, over 1.5 million ‍people are expected to attend ‌celebrations on the Champs-Elysees, with⁣ around⁢ 90,000 law enforcement officers would be deployed nationwide, top officials said. Celebrations in‍ the French⁤ capital will center on the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, including DJ sets, fireworks and video projections‌ on the Arc de Triomphe.

In a ⁣New Year’s message, French President Emmanuel Macron predicted that the 2024 European ⁣Parliament elections will be crucial to Ukraine’s future‌ and the​ fate of democracy⁢ across Europe.

Truth Media Network
Truth Media Network
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  1. Disagree: It’s disheartening to see conflict overshadowing such an important event. Peaceful celebrations should be cherished and prioritized.


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