Fireworks exploded over Sydney's shimmering harbor today, as the world's first major city to ring in 2009 celebrated the end of a rocky year with cheers, beers, and a sense of relief. "I'm looking forward to 2009," said a spectator. "Because it can't get much worse." Facing the end of a year that saw global markets come crashing down, partygoers struggled to forget their troubles.
In the Philippines, the president spoke of hope for "greater peace and stability," while in Hong Kong, some admitted they were too depressed over their monetary woes to join in the revelry. And in Malaysia, the government opted against sponsoring any celebration at all. In Tokyo, volunteers stirred pots of rice-cake soup, pitched tents, and doled out blankets and clothing to the needy at the city's New Year's Village for Temporary Workers, which will stay open through Jan. 5.