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New Year Celebrations Begin in Asia, Australia - 2003-12-31

The new year has begun arriving in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, where revelers welcomed 2004 with celebrations but no reports of terrorism or other major disruptions. Cities across the United States will ring in the New Year with some of the heaviest security in place in memory.

While the rest of the world prepared for New Year's celebrations, revelers in Sydney, Australia, were already welcoming 2004.

The United States heads into the New Year with the nation on a code orange alert status, meaning the government believes the risk of a terrorist attack is high.

Even so, in New York City, more than half a million people are expected to fill Times Square for the traditional countdown to midnight. Thousands of heavily armed police, many with bomb sniffing dogs, will be on patrol and revelers will have to pass through metal detectors and have bags searched.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is not letting the threat of terrorism deter what is usually the most watched New Year's Eve event in the nation. "We know what we're doing with security and while we live in a dangerous world, the fact of the matter is New York's a very safe place," he said.

In New York as well as in Washington, D.C., fighter jets will patrol the skies as the nation welcomes 2004 under some of its tightest security ever.

Airspace over Las Vegas, Nevada will also be restricted. The city is expecting several hundred thousand people for New Year's celebrations. Jerry Bussell, in charge of the state's security, said "we are taking unprecedented steps and levels of security."

This person in California is not deterred by all the heightened security and plans to attend the annual parade in Pasadena that accompanies the Rose Bowl football game on New Year's Day. "I just feel very comfortable with the security we have here and within our country," he said.

U.S. officials say there have been no specific threats made against any New Year's celebrations even though the nation's terrorist alert status remains high and is likely to remain that way into the New Year.