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January 1, 2014

2014 welcomed around the world

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — With fireworks, dancing and late-night revelry, millions around the world welcomed 2014 on Tuesday, gathering for huge displays of jubilation and unity as the new year arrived.

Dubai, a Persian Gulf city known for glitz, glamour and over-the-top achievements like the world’s tallest skyscraper, sought to break another record by creating the largest fireworks show.

In Ukraine, anti-government protesters hoped to set their own record for the most people to sing a national anthem at the same time.

Crowds heading to New York City’s Times Square could expect the traditional ball drop but no mayor this year. The new year was to be rung in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor instead.

The Dubai skyline was a canvas for a dazzling 30-minute show capping off with six minutes of fireworks that engulfed the city’s man-made, palm-shaped island, with its fronds and trunk shimmering in thousands of lights.

More glitches loom as health coverage begins

WASHINGTON (AP) — All things good, bad and unpredictable converge with the new year for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul as the law’s major benefits take effect, along with an unpopular insurance mandate and a risk of more nerve-wracking disruptions to coverage.

The changes bring big improvements for some, including Howard Kraft of Lincolnton, N.C. A painful spinal problem left him unable to work as a hotel bellman. But he’s got coverage because federal law now forbids insurers from turning away people with health problems.

What’s good for millions like Kraft is secured through what others see as an imposition: requiring virtually every American to get covered, either through an employer, a government program, or by buying a plan directly.

But the health care headlines early this year could come from continued unpredictable consequences of the insurance program’s messy rollout.

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