Coffins of US military personnel are offloaded at Dover Air
Force Base in Dover, Delaware in this undated file photo. The US military
death toll in Iraq has reached 3,000 on December 31, 2006, an unwelcome
milestone for President George W. Bush who is searching for a way to turn
around the unpopular war even if it means sending more troops.
London -- From the slopes of Mount Fuji to the banks of the River
Thames, 2007 began Monday with a common theme: Hope for prosperity, health and
Fireworks and parties rang in the new year around the globe, and Romania and
Bulgaria celebrated their accession to the European Union with a dazzling
"A dream came true today, a dream for generations of Bulgarians who wished to
live together with the free and democratic peoples of Europe in peace and
prosperity," Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev said in Sofia.
In Sydney, fireworks
exploded over Harbor Bridge as a million onlookers celebrated the New Year. The
display was to celebrate the iconic bridge's 75th anniversary.
Fireworks explode over
the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge during New Year's eve
celebrations January 1, 2007. [Reuters]
After Big Ben rang in 2007, hundreds of thousands gathered Monday morning for
London's annual New Year's Day parade. Led by a US high school marching band, it
wound its way through central London under clear skies.
Officials in Florida had originally blocked the 117 members of the Fort Myers
High School Marching Band from traveling internationally because of terrorism,
but parents voted to reject the ban, and US$500,000 was raised to get them
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI prayed for peace in the Middle East, asking
that people work "courageously" to a lasting end to the Holy Land's conflict.
"How can one not turn one's glance yet again to the dramatic situation which
characterizes the very land where Jesus was born?" the pontiff said Monday in
his homily in St. Peter's Basilica during Mass. He described peace as a "gift."
In Copenhagen, Denmark's Queen Margrethe said in her traditional New Year's
speech that a year marked by the international uproar over newspaper cartoons of
the Prophet Muhammad highlighted the need for Danes to be more tolerant and
understanding of foreign cultures.
It was a rowdy New Year in the Netherlands, where riot police were forced to
break up crowds of drunken revelers in The Hague and dozens of cars were
torched. A man was killed and another seriously injured when fireworks exploded
in their faces in separate incidents.
At Berlin's signature Brandenburg Gate, some 20 DJs and music groups,
including one each from new EU members Bulgaria and Romania, entertained more
than 1 million people. An industry association estimated that Germans spent
about euro100 million (US$132 million) on fireworks to mark the new year.
But in Iraq and Thailand, death marked the start of the new year.
In Bangkok, city officials canceled the city's main
celebration after a series of bombs killed three people and wounded more than
30. Thousands of revelers who had gathered at the Central World Plaza shopping
mall complex for the event were sent home, officials said.
A policeman stands guard after bomb blasts in Bangkok January
1, 2006. [Reuters]
In Baghdad, US military officials announced the death of an American soldier
in Iraq, bringing the American death toll in the country to 3,000 since the war
In his New Year's greeting, US President George W. Bush noted the continuing
violence in the region.
"Last year, America continued its mission to fight and win the war on terror
and promote liberty as an alternative to tyranny and despair," Bush said in the
statement. "In the New Year, we will remain on the offensive against the enemies
of freedom, advance the security of our country, and work toward a free and
In Japan, thousands climbed mountains, some scaling famed Mount Fuji, to
greet the first dawn of the year. Police expected crowds at the summits to reach
Many Japanese, ranging from families with children to elderly couples,
usually start climbing at night so they can reach the top in time for sunrise.
York's Times Square, more than 1 million revelers and 3.5 tons of confetti greeted 2007.
wear "2007" glasses as revelers begin to gather at Times Square in the
afternoon as part of New Year's Eve celebrations in New York December 31,
Amanda Bermudez kissed her husband, Angel, a US Army soldier who recently
returned from Iraq, as midnight struck. She also hoped for peace in the Middle
East in 2007, "so he doesn't have to go back."