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News Wrap: Nearly Two Dozen Die in Violence Targeting Shiite Communities in Iraq

December 31, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: Wall Street rallied on the final trading day of the year, hoping for a fiscal cliff deal. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 166 points to close at 13,104, up 7 percent for the year. The Nasdaq rose 59 points to close at 3,019, up nearly 16 percent this year.

Nearly two dozen people died in a string of attacks across Iraq today. Most of the violence targeted Shiite communities and police. One of the blasts rocked Baghdad’s Karrada neighborhood, sending smoke billowing above the skyline. The car bomb went off near a tent where Shiite pilgrims were gathering. Five people were killed there.

In Syria, elite troops, along with tanks, battled to dislodge rebels from a key southern suburb of Damascus. The area is within firing distance of major government sites in the capital. Amateur video also showed the aftermath of what appeared to be airstrikes in the northeastern suburb of Duma. The attacks toppled buildings and sent civilians fleeing.

Celebrations began today as the new year, 2013, dawned around the globe.

We have a report from Richard Pallot of Independent Television News.

MAN: Here we go!

RICHARD PALLOT: A perfect summer’s night ushering in 2013 in Sydney, seven tons of fireworks lighting up the famous harbor, the world’s biggest and most expensive.

An emotional commentary accompanied the scene in the North Korea capital, Pyongyang, reportedly the first ever New Year’s fireworks displaying this secretive country.

In Shanghai in China, they sang an alternative version of “Auld Lang Syne.”

(MUSIC)

RICHARD PALLOT: And, in Hong Kong, a more familiar one.

(MUSIC)

KWAME HOLMAN: A somber mood prevailed across India on New Year’s Eve, as the country mourned the victim of a gang rape. Celebrations were scaled back after the 23-year-old woman died on Saturday at a hospital in Singapore. The attack on her has triggered mass protests in India. Today, amid candlelight vigils, there were more calls for tougher rape laws.

HARI CHANDRA GIRI, student (through translator): We have all decided that we will not celebrate New Year’s, because this year we have lost a sister from amongst us. And whenever we lose someone of our own, or that person passes away, we mourn for them. This time, we are spending New Year’s in mourning.

KWAME HOLMAN: Six men have been arrested and charged with murder in the attack.

Former President George H.W. Bush is showing signs of improvement. Over the weekend, the 88-year-old was moved out of intensive care at a Houston hospital, where he’d been fighting off a fever. The 41st president was admitted on Nov. 23 with what began as a bronchitis-related cough.

The end of the year brought the end of the line for seven of the 32 head coaches in the National Football League. The Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Diego Chargers all fired their coaches a day after the regular season ended. Five teams also axed their general managers.