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Associated Press
A mobile oil drilling unit called Kulluk ran aground Monday near Alaska’s Kodiak Island. The Coast Guard reported no severe damage or fuel leak.
Briefs

Fireworks stampede in Africa kills 61

– A crowd stampeded after leaving a New Year’s fireworks show early Tuesday in Ivory Coast’s main city, killing 61 people – many of them children and teenagers – and injuring more than 200, rescue workers said.

Thousands had gathered at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan’s Plateau district to see the fireworks. It was only the second New Year’s Eve fireworks display since peace returned to this West African nation after a bloody upheaval over presidential elections put the nation on the brink of civil war and turned this city into a battle zone.

With 2013 showing greater promise, people were in the mood to celebrate on New Year’s Eve. Families brought children and they watched the rockets burst in the nighttime sky. But only an hour into the new year, as the crowds poured onto the Boulevard de la Republic after the show, something caused a stampede, said Col. Issa Sako of the fire department rescue team.

Nation

No leak from oil rig grounded in Alaska

Crews aboard two aircraft flew over an oil drilling ship Tuesday that went aground in a severe Alaska storm and saw no sign that the vessel was leaking fuel or that its hull had been breached.

The Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig used this summer in the Arctic was aground off a small island near Kodiak Island, where the ship, the Kalluk, appeared stable, said federal on-scene response coordinator Capt. Paul Mehler.

“There is no sign of a release of any product,” Mehler said during a news conference in Anchorage. He said the Kulluk is carrying about 143,000 gallons of diesel and about 12,000 gallons of lube oil and hydraulic fluid.

When the storm eases and weather permits, the plan is to get marine experts onboard the Kulluk to come up with a more complete salvage plan.

Subway kills woman near Times Square

New York City police say a young woman stumbling around on a Manhattan subway platform near Times Square fell onto the tracks and was killed by a train.

The accident happened about 5 a.m. Tuesday at the No. 2 line station on 34th Street and Seventh Avenue. That’s one stop from where revelers gather in Times Square to see the ball drop.

Police say the victim was in her 20s. Her name wasn’t immediately released.

Although subway deaths are common in the city – last year, according to a report in the New York Daily News, there was about a fatality a week – track deaths have been getting extra scrutiny after two men were shoved to their deaths in December.

World

Flights grounded by fighting in Aleppo

Clashes between government troops and rebels Tuesday forced the international airport in Aleppo to stop all flights in and out of Syria’s largest city, while fierce battles also raged in the suburbs of the capital Damascus.

The rebels have been making inroad in the civil war recently, capturing a string of military bases and posing a stiff challenge to the regime in Syria’s two major cities – Damascus and Aleppo.

The opposition trying to overthrow authoritarian President Bashar Assad has been fighting for control of Aleppo since the summer, and they have captured large swathes of territory in Aleppo province west and north of the city up to the Turkish border.

Explosive revelry injures 400 Filipinos

More than 400 people were hurt by powerful firecrackers and gunfire in New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Philippines, down 17 percent from a year earlier but still high enough to make it one of Asia’s most violent parties to welcome 2013.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Tuesday that the 413 wounded and hurt included a 7-year-old girl fighting for her life after being hit in the head by a stray bullet fired by an unidentified person in suburban Caloocan city in metropolitan Manila.

Many Filipinos, largely influenced by Chinese tradition, believe noisy New Year’s celebrations drive away evil and misfortune. But they have carried that superstition to extremes, exploding huge firecrackers and firing guns despite threats of arrest.

Israeli arrests yield rioting in West Bank

An arrest raid by undercover Israeli soldiers disguised as vegetable vendors ignited rare clashes in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, residents said, leaving 10 Palestinians wounded.

Israeli army raids into Palestinian areas to seize activists and militants are fairly common. The raids are normally coordinated with Palestinian security forces, and suspects are usually apprehended without violence.

The clashes began early Tuesday after Israeli forces disguised as merchants in a vegetable truck arrested one man. Regular army forces then entered the town, prompting youths to hurl rocks. Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition as youths set tires and bins on fire.

Protesters denounce Hong Kong’s leader

Tens of thousands of people marched in Hong Kong on the first day of 2013 to call for the city’s Beijing-backed leader to step down over allegations he was untruthful about illegal renovations at his mansion and to press for full democracy.

Police said 26,000 people joined the march at its peak Tuesday, while organizers said 130,000 took part.

They carried banners and chanted slogans urging the leader, Leung Chun-ying, to resign. Some held signs depicting Leung as Pinocchio or with wolf-like fangs, a play on Leung’s nickname, the wolf.

Insulting president on TV risky in Egypt

Egyptian prosecutors launched an investigation Tuesday against a popular television satirist for allegedly insulting the president in the latest case raised by Islamist lawyers against outspoken media personalities.

Lawyer Ramadan Abdel-Hamid al-Oqsori charged that TV host Bassem Youssef insulted President Mohammed Morsi by putting the Islamist leader’s image on a pillow and parodying his speeches.

Other cases have been brought against media personalities who have criticized the president; some were later dropped. Morsi’s office maintains that the president has nothing to do with legal procedures taken against media critics.

French New Year’s lit by blazing cars

Hundreds of empty, parked cars go up in flames in France each New Year’s Eve, set afire by young revelers, a much lamented tradition that remained intact this year with 1,193 vehicles burned, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday.

His announcement was the first time in three years that such figures have been released. The conservative government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy had decided to stop publishing them in a bid to reduce the crime – and not play into the hands of car-torching youths who try to outdo each other.

India goes high-tech to end welfare fraud

India will send billions of dollars in social welfare money directly to its poor under a new program inaugurated Tuesday, aiming to cut out the middlemen blamed for the massive fraud that plagues the system.

Previously, officials handed out cash to the poor only after taking a cut – if they didn’t keep all of it for themselves – and were known to enroll fake recipients or register unqualified people. The new program would see welfare money directly deposited into recipients’ bank accounts and require them to prove their identity with biometric data, such as fingerprints or retina scans.

Critics accuse the government of hastily pushing through a complex program in a country where millions don’t have access to electricity or paved roads, let alone neighborhood banks.

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