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World giving hopeful welcome to 2013

9:55 PM, Dec 31, 2012   |    comments
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LONDON (AP) -- People around the world have been ushering in 2013, with hopes of a better year ahead.

In Russia, Moscow's iconic Red Square was filled with spectators as fireworks exploded near the Kremlin. President Vladimir Putin gave an optimistic New Year's Eve address, making no reference to the anti-government protests that have occurred in his country in the past year.

In austerity-hit Europe, the mood was more restrained -- if hopeful. The year 2013 is projected to be a sixth straight one of recession amid Greece's worst economic crisis since World War II. In fact, the new year was starting with a 24-hour strike by subway and train workers in Athens to protest salary cuts that are part of the government's austerity measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's New Year's message warned her country to prepare for difficult economic times ahead. Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, decided to cancel celebrations in light of the economic crisis.

Celebrating New Year's Eve with a vespers service in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI said that despite all the injustice in the world, goodness prevails.

In Spain, where a recession has left unemployment at a staggering 25 percent, people are hoping for a better new year.

The traditional crystal ball drop will take place at midnight in New York City's Times Square, where 1 million people are expected to cram into the surrounding streets.

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