Entries in New Year's Day (4)


In New Year’s Speech, North Korean Leader Pushes for Unity, Peace

Ed Jones/AFP/GettyImages(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- The new year came with all the fanfare that North Koreans have come to expect, but in a rare speech, the country’s young leader had a dramatically different message from what he had said before.

“This year the entire Korean nation should turn out in nationwide patriotic struggle for reunification in unity so as to usher in a new phase in the reunification movement,” Kim Jong Un said on Tuesday.  “We will, in the future, strive to develop relations of friendship and cooperation with countries that are friendly to our country.”

It was a message of peace, stability and a commitment to unify the Korean peninsula.  Analysts said the speech was directed toward the U.S. and South Korea’s new leader, Park Guen Hye, who has said she’s open to direct talks with Kim’s government.

On the streets of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, residents predictably praised the first New Year’s address in nearly 20 years.  Kim’s grandfather, North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, had started the tradition.  Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, though, shunned the public.  He spoke publicly just once in the 17 years he ruled.

“I think he has sent various signals that he’s going to move his country in a new and different direction,” said Donald Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea.  “I think this New Year’s speech was the first step in that direction.”

Kim Jong Un has been secretive since he took over a year ago.  But Pyongyang has gone to great lengths to project a modern, more outgoing image of the leader.  He’s been seen visiting an amusement park, with his wife by his side.

“I mean, he knows far more about the outside world than his grandfather or his father because of the time he spent in Switzerland and that brings a completely new dimension to North Korean leadership,” Gregg said.

But Kim Jong Un has shown the same defiance of other countries as his father.  He successfully launched a long-range rocket last month -- a direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions -- and he’s shown no intention of abandoning Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Japan Tweets Way to Record in New Year

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- It didn’t take long for Twitter users to set a new record for tweets per second in the New Year.

The social-network site ground to a halt just after midnight in Japan, as users there sent out a record 16,197 tweets per second to ring in the New Year -- nearly triple the number of tweets sent out last year minutes after the Japanese ushered in 2011.

Users around the globe were unable to post messages or re-tweet for more than an hour this year while the microblogging crush was underway.

Twitter records are becoming old hat for the Japanese, who flooded the service with thoughts on everything from natural disasters to a classic anime film last year.

In the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, users sent out 5,530 tweets per second, according to Twitter.  The site proved to be a useful communication tool and, for some, the only tool after power and phone lines shut down. Survivors tweeted loved ones to let them know they were safe, while other users turned to the site for the latest news on the Fukushima nuclear plant, frustrated by the government’s slow and confusing response.

Japanese users set another record this summer, when their soccer team pulled an upset over Team USA in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final.  The win generated 7,196 tweets per second, compared with 5,160 for the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

News of Beyonce’s pregnancy at the MTV Music Awards -- 8,868 tweets per second -- would’ve been the top tweet-getter of 2011, if it weren’t for an influx of messages generated by a popular Japanese anime.  When Castle in the Sky aired last month, viewers of the film flooded Twitter with the word “balse,” a magic word uttered by the main characters in the movie.

Fans alerted each other to tweet during a key scene in the film, and generated more than 25,000 tweets per second.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Canadian Couple Has New Year's Babies Back-to-Back 

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MEDICINE HAT, Alberta) -- Bobbi Jo and Kurtis Ketcheson of Alberta, Canada had back-to-back New Year's babies. Their son Jack was born on Jan. 1, 2011 and was the first baby of the past year in the town of Regina.

Their newest addition, a daughter named Grace Olivia, was born at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital on Jan. 1, 2012. Grace was born at 12:46 a.m. on Sunday, becoming the first baby of the New Year at that hospital.  She arrived 365 days and four minutes after older brother, Jack. Both were premature babies and weren’t expected until February of their respective years.

Bobbi Jo Ketcheson had been asked to sign a consent form for an emergency C-section, but the baby didn't cooperate. Ketcheson tells, she shouted, "I don't have time for a C-section. Somebody lift up the blanket and catch. She was born right there on the operating table." The couple has a total of four children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prince Philip Makes First Appearance Following Hospital Discharge

Paul Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince Philip attended church with other royals on New Year's Day, making his first public appearance since leaving the hospital for a four night stay over Christmas.

There was a palpable sense of New Year's goodwill on the Sandringham estate as about 500 well-wishers watched Prince Philip lead the royal party into church. It was the 90-year-old Prince's first public appearance just days after being discharged from the hospital.  

From the purposeful way he strode ahead it was clear Prince Philip wanted to be seen once again at the head of the family, putting behind him the scare of last week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio