New year brings new hopes!

After a turbulent year marred by terror woes, Ebola outbreaks and a horrifying series of airline disasters, many could be forgiven for saying good riddance to 2014 and gratefully ringing in a new year.  Residents of Australia’s Christmas Island were the first to welcome 2015 while Baker Island and Howland Island, small regions in the US, will be the final places to celebrate the New Year.

Sydney preceded its trademark glittery celebrations with a tribute to the two hostages killed in the December siege inside a cafe. Up to 1.5 million people lined the shores of Sydney harbour to watch the city’s famous firework display. A giant clock in Auckland’s sky tower counted down the minutes until midnight, when fireworks erupted. he Gulf Arab emirate of Dubai was aiming to break the world record for the largest LED-illuminated facade. Some 70,000 LED panels wrapped around the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which draws throngs of thousands of spectators every New Year’s eve.

In London, hundreds of thousands of people were expected to line the River Thames for a fireworks display timed to the midnight bongs of Big Ben. Amid the celebration, some US cities are on a alert for New Year’s Eve protests related to recent police killings of unarmed black men. In Afghanistan, the date will bring the last day of Nato’s combat mission in the war-weary nation, with a new “train and support” mission to begin as the conflict against the Taliban still rages.

The loss of Air Asia Flight QZ8501 muted celebrations in Indonesia. Prayers were conducted in capital Jakarta for the victims of air tragedy. Other Indonesian cities also opted to cancel or tone down their celebrations.

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