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Worldwide, crowds celebrate the new year

PARIS — Paris jazzed up the Eiffel Tower with a multicolored, disco-style light display as the world basked in New Year's festivities with hopes that 2010 and beyond will bring more peace and prosperity.

From fireworks over Sydney's famous bridge to balloons sent aloft in Tokyo, revelers across the globe at least temporarily shelved worries about the future to bid farewell to "The Noughties" — a bitter-tinged nickname for the first decade of the 21st century playing on a term for "zero" and evoking the word naughty.

In New York City, hundreds of thousands of revelers gathered in chilly weather in Times Square to usher in the new decade. Organizers were preparing 3,000 pounds of confetti that will be scattered when the New Year's Eve crystal ball drops at midnight.

Las Vegas prepared to welcome some 315,000 revelers with fireworks from casino rooftops, a traffic-free Las Vegas Strip and toasts at nightclubs from celebrities including actress Eva Longoria and rapper 50 Cent.

Even as some major stock market indexes rose in 2009, the financial downturn hit hard, sending many industrial economies into recession, tossing millions out of work and out of their homes as foreclosures rose dramatically in some countries.

"The year that is ending has been difficult for everybody. No continent, no country, no sector has been spared," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on national TV in a New Year's Eve address. "Even if the tests are unfinished, 2010 will be a year of renewal," he added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned her people that the start of the new decade won't herald immediate relief from the global economic ills. South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, was more ebullient, saying the World Cup is set to make 2010 the country's most important year since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hailed events in 2009 like the inauguration of the United States' first black president, and international attempts to grapple with climate change and the global financial crisis.

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