Monday January 21, 2019
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As New Year Comes Around, The World Rings With Celebration

The United Nations issued a somber warning to the world of continued threats of climate change, growing intolerance, geopolitical divisions and inequality, but also expressed "reasons for hope."

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The World Rings in 2019. VOA

Fireworks displays lit up cities across the world Tuesday as people marked the beginning of 2019.

Tens of thousands of people packed New York City’s Times Square where the traditional ball drop took on extra meaning this year in recognizing journalism and free speech.

In another first, New York police used a drone to monitor the crowds. The camera-carrying drone was be added to the arsenal of more than 1,200 fixed video cameras that will be deployed by police.

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Confetti drops over the crowd as the clock strikes midnight during the New Year’s celebration in Times Square as seen from the Marriott Marquis in New York, Jan. 1, 2019. VOA

In Paris, revelers gathered on the Champs-Elysees to watch fireworks, as well as a light show above the Arc de Triomphe, despite continuing antigovernment protests.

In a televised address, French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged Monday the French government “can do better” to help people economically.

In Berlin, residents and tourists enjoyed a huge open-air concert at the Brandenburg Gate with fireworks set off at midnight.

Londoners heard the familiar chime of Big Ben at midnight, even though the famous clock is undergoing renovations and has been disconnected. A specially built electric mechanism was used to power the clock’s hammer. Revelers in London also watched fireworks over the River Thames.

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Fireworks light up the sky around the London Eye wheel to welcome the New Year in London, Britain, Jan. 1, 2019. VOA

Russia ushered in the New Year over several time zones, having started in far eastern Kamchatka.

Fireworks were set off over Moscow’s Red Square, and concerts and light shows were held across the city’s parks. More than 1,000 ice rinks were also opened in the Russian capital for celebrators.

Revelers in Dubai saw fireworks and a colorful light show at the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa. Elsewhere in the United Arab Emirates, a fireworks display in Ras al-Khaimah reaching nearly 12 kilometers attempted to set a new Guinness World Record.

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Fireworks explode at the Burj Khalifah, said to be the world’s tallest building, on New Year’s Eve to welcome 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 31, 2018. VOA

Australia, New Zealand, and surrounding Pacific Island nations were among the first countries to ring in 2019 with fireworks and other celebrations.

Monday evening thunderstorms threatened the fireworks show in Sydney, but an estimated 1 million people gathered around various points in Australia’s largest city to witness the annual show.

Over 400 couples in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta rang in the New Year by participating in a mass wedding ceremony amid tight security.

Thousands of spectators gathered in the South Korean capital of Seoul for a laser show, as well as a fireworks display at the city’s COEX Mall, as a traditional bell-tolling ceremony rang in 2019 at City Hall.

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People attend a ceremony to celebrate the new year in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 1, 2019. VOA

In Japan, many locals went to temples to celebrate the New Year, while others attended an exhibition match between retired U.S. boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather and Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa — a multimillion dollar fight outside of Tokyo that Mayweather said “was all about entertainment.”

Also Read: The New Year’s Eve Ball To Drop For Honoring Journalism

The United Nations issued a somber warning to the world of continued threats of climate change, growing intolerance, geopolitical divisions and inequality, but also expressed “reasons for hope.” (VOA)

Next Story

Signs Of The U.S. Government Shutdown Ending May Soon Be Emerging

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats.

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President Donald Trump speaks about American missile defense doctrine, Jan 17, 2019, at the Pentagon. VOA

The first tangible signs of movement may be emerging in the impasse that has shut down the government for weeks: President Donald Trump is promising a “major announcement” about the closure and the U.S.-Mexico border and Democrats are pledging more money for border security.

It was unclear whether the developments, following days of clashes between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., might represent serious steps toward resolving the partisan fight or instead may simply be political posturing as the partial shutdown reached a record 29th day. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have gone without paychecks, enduring financial hardship. Many public services are unavailable to Americans during the closure.

The White House has declined to provide details about what the president would announce midafternoon Saturday. Trump was not expected to sign a national emergency declaration he has said was an option to circumvent Congress, according to two people familiar with the planning.

Instead, he was expected to propose the outlines of a deal that the administration believes could have the potential to pave the way for a shutdown end, according to one of the people. They were not authorized to publicly discuss details about the impending announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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From left, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. VOA

 

Democrats are now proposing hundreds of millions of dollars for new immigration judges and improvements to ports of entry from Mexico but nothing for the wall, a House aide said, as the party begins fleshing out its vision of improving border security.

Trump’s refusal to sign spending bills that lack $5.7 billion he wants to start constructing that wall, which Democrats oppose, has prompted the shutdown.

Whatever the White House proposed would be the first major overture by the president since Jan. 8, when he gave an Oval Office address trying to make the public case for the border wall. Democrats have said they will not negotiate until the government reopens, raising questions about how Trump might move the ball forward.

Democrats were proposing $563 million to hire 75 more immigration judges, who currently face large backlogs processing cases, and $524 million to improve ports of entry in Calexico, California, and San Luis, Arizona, the Democratic House aide said. The money is to be added to spending bills, largely negotiated between the House and Senate, that the House plans to vote on next week.

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Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, opposed to immigration raids targeting Central American families with children. VOA

In addition, Democrats were working toward adding money for more border security personnel and for sensors and other technology to a separate bill financing the Department of Homeland Security, but no funds for a wall or other physical barriers, the aide said.

It was possible Democrats would introduce that measure next week as the cornerstone of their border security alternative to Trump’s wall, the aide said. Earlier Friday, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., who leads the House Appropriations Committee’s homeland security subcommittee, said in an interview that some Democrats were asking leaders, “What is our plan?”

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the details publicly.

In a video posted on his Twitter feed late Friday, Trump said both sides should “take the politics out of it” and “get to work” to “make a deal.” But he also repeated his warnings, saying: “We have to secure our southern border. If we don’t do that, we’re a very, very sad and foolish lot.”

Few would argue that a humanitarian crisis is unfolding at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the demand for entry by migrants and the Trump administration’s hard-line response overwhelm border resources. But critics say Trump has dramatically exaggerated the security risks and they argue that a wall would do little to solve existing problems.

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Migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Central America queue at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, to cross the border and request political asylum in the United States, Jan. 9, 2019. VOA

Trump’s Friday evening tweeted announcement came after Pelosi on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip. The White House said there was no such leak.

It was the latest turn in the high-stakes brinkmanship between Trump and Pelosi that has played out against the stalled negotiations.

Also Read: U.S. President Donald Proposes Deal To End Shutdown

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats. It is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 29.

Trump never responded directly. Instead, he abruptly canceled Pelosi’s military flight on Thursday, hours before she and a congressional delegation were to depart for Afghanistan on the previously undisclosed visit to U.S. troops. (VOA)