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Cities Around the World Mark New Year; Napolitano Spends Holiday with Troops

Fireworks light up Sydney Harbour at the stroke of midnight to welcome in the year 2011 on January 01, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Don Arnold/Getty Images)

2011 has begun in New Zealand and Australia with massive fireworks displays at Sky Tower in Auckland and across the Sydney skyline.

Asian nations rung in the new year — traditionally, in Japan, where some ventured to offer prayers at Buddhist temples, and for the very first time officially in Hanoi, which normally reserves celebrations for the Tet, the lunar new year beginning in February.

Days after an unusually severe winter blizzard blanketed New York city, revelers were preparing to watch the Times Square Ball drop at midnight EST as higher temperatures began turning the accumulated snow into a wet slush.

Napolitano to Spend New Year’s with Troops in Afghanistan

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is in Kabul to celebrate the new year with troops, the first stop in a tour through Qatar, Israel and Belgium.

Napolitano will meet with officials to discuss the flow of funds for terrorist activities and efforts to boost aviation security in light of two cargo bombs that were intercepted en route to the U.S.

Some Airports Consider Replacing TSA With Private Security

Some of the largest airports in the nation, including San Francisco International, are looking at the option of hiring private contracting firms to replace the Transportation Security Administration, though the use of private security must meet certain compliance standards and the same training procedures as federal screeners.

Storm Conditions Lead to 100 Car Pileup in North Dakota

A chain reaction occurred on I-94 in Fargo, N.D., after two semis jackknifed in stormy weather, critically injuring one person.

Southern California also was affected by unusually cold temperatures, bringing snow to its ski resorts after weeks of rain in the region.

Australians Stranded by Massive Floods

More than 200,000 Australians have been impacted by heavy flooding in the state of Queensland. An estimated 22 towns have been evacuated by the deluge, and some residents have been brought to safety by helicopter. Prime Minister Julia Gillard praised the rescue efforts, saying “[a]s devastating as these floods are, we are seeing a magnificent response by all levels of government and by emergency personnel.”

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