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News Wrap: Kim Jong-un discusses talks with South Korea, first victim of AirAsia crash identified

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Around the world, people welcomed the start of a new year and all the promise it holds. But for some in Shanghai, the year began tragically, after a street celebration turned into a stampede that killed 36 people.

    Anxious friends and relatives filled the waiting rooms at hospitals in Shanghai today. They sought information about loved ones caught in the deadly stampede during New Year's Eve celebrations. As authorities looked for answers, people gathered at a makeshift memorial, and witnesses recounted the horror of the city's worst disaster in recent history.

  • CUI TINGTING, (through interpreter):

    It's too cruel. People in front of us had already fallen to the ground. People were stepping all over them. People just needed to leave the site. It's people's lives at stake. We felt death so close to us last night. We were horrified.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Police today denied reports that the stampede started after people rushed to grab fake money falling from a nightclub in Shanghai's waterfront area. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded an investigation and New Year's Day celebrations in the city have been canceled, according to Chinese media.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Thousands of miles from the tragedy, Pope Francis made a wish for no more wars.

  • POPE FRANCIS, (through interpreter):

    This proximity of God to our lives gives us true peace, peace, a divine gift that we implore, especially today. Peace is always possible. It's always possible. We have to search for it.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    In the U.S., New Year's events were accompanied by protests in places like Boston, where a small group of demonstrators staged a peaceful die-in over recent police killings of unarmed black men around the country.

    But the biggest celebrations went off without a hitch. The traditional ball drop in Times Square drew a million people. And, today, the 126th annual Rose Parade was the center of attention in Southern California. This year, one of the coldest on record, there was a new face involved in the old tradition. Joan Williams rode the lead float, nearly 60 years after she was denied the honor because she is African-American.

    The first victim of the AirAsia plane disaster has now been identified. The woman's remains were returned to her family and laid to rest in a funeral ceremony in Surabaya, Indonesia, where the jetliner took off Sunday before disappearing with 162 people aboard. Recovery efforts to find more bodies in the Java Sea resumed briefly, until wind and rain hindered the operation. Nine victims have been found so far. But there's still no sign of the plane itself.

    North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, said his country is open to talks or even a summit with South Korea. Kim made the remarks during a New Year's address on state television. North and South Korea are technically still at war. Even as he indicated a willingness to talk, he blamed South Korea for current tensions.

  • KIM JONG-UN, Supreme Leader, North Korean (through interpreter):

    The South Korean government should stop all war maneuvers and reckless military drills that it has made with foreign countries and turn its steps towards relieving the tension of the Korean Peninsula.

    Needless to say, faithful conversation can't be implemented, nor the relationship between the North and South proceed, when there are military drills to oppose one another in a warlike atmosphere.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    South Korean officials later called the move meaningful. The two nations last held a summit in 2007.

    The president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, made a rare visit to the front lines of the civil war over New Year's Eve. State television aired footage of Assad visiting different troops of — soldiers in eastern Damascus last night. He also sat down and ate with some of them. The Damascus neighborhood has seen intense fighting in recent months.

    A British-based human rights group reported today more than 76,000 people were killed in fighting in Syria in 2014. That makes it the deadliest year since the war began in 2011.

    In the U.S., General Motors announced three new recalls today, on top of one yesterday for faulty ignition switches. The recalls affect 92,000 trucks and SUVs. In the last year, GM has recalled about 15 million vehicles around the world for ignition and key-related problems.

    The fast food chain Chick-fil-A has announced it is investigating a possible data breach. In a statement on its Web site, the restaurant chain said it has received reports of potential unusual activity involving payment cards used at several of their locations. The locations were not disclosed and Chick-fil-A officials said they first became aware of the suspicious activity on December 19, even though a security Web site pointed to the breach five days earlier.

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