New Year's Eve 2018: Celebrations around the world – live | International news

adminDecember 31, 2018

The Times Square ball drop organizers, New York City's New Year's Ceremony, have invited a group of journalists to press the ceremonial button.

Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said in a statement that it was "appropriate to celebrate free press and free speech as we reflect on where we have been over the past year and what we value most as a society".

Among the group will be Karen Attiah, who, as global opinion editor of the Washington Post, monitors the work of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi writer resident in the United States who was murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

The death of Khashoggia may have been the highest-profile event of a year ago of worrying developments for press freedom around the world. Attiah has become a prominent voice in attempting to account for the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, accused of killing, and his allies in the Trump White House.

The group of journalists on the stage as midnight industries will be accompanied by Joel Simon, CEO of Selection to protect journalists, a group that has had a busy year under attack from President Donald Trump's criticism.

Among institutions that are regularly bullied by the president as "false news", the New York Times will be represented by deputy editor Rebecca Blumenstein, CNN will send anchor Alisyn Camerota, and NBC will give Lester Holt, anchor who famously interviewed Trump about his firing of the FBI Director James Comey, an event in the heart of the Mueller study of Russian election interference and links between Trump and Moscow.

In September, CNN was among the targets of explosive devices reportedly sent in the mail by an avid Trump supporter.

The Times Square celebrations will feature the regular celebrities and singers, with Snoop Dogg, Sting and Christina Aguilera booked to do their spangly stuff. The forecasts have predicted a more pleasant evening than last year, which was one of the coldest on record. This time, it will be possible rain, as the gathering sees the Bebe Rexha singing Imagine, by John Lennon, before the recorded traditional New Year.

Jeff Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment, which produces the Times Square show, said: "When the ball falls, the special guests will lead the 60-second countdown to 2019 along with millions of revelers with a message of unity and harmony for the new year.

"We thank the news organizations and journalists for helping us celebrate journalism and press freedom around the world."

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