* New Year's Eve 2012: Celebrations start in Pacific Revellers around the world are celebrating the end of 2011 and starting to see in 2012.
* Iraq celebrates U.S. withdrawal Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared a new dawn on Saturday as Iraq celebrated the departure of American troops.
* Short spring, long winter One year ago, Tunisian street vendor Muhammad Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest social and political injustice in his country.
* Libya's Army Tries to Reassert Itself as Militias Have Their Way The drenching rains and whipping winds off the Mediterranean Sea were not enough to keep Major Anwar al-Mishri in his Toyota pickup truck.
* Iran denies test-firing long-range missiles in Gulf Iran has denied reports by state media that it test-fired long-range missiles during military exercises in the Gulf.
* Syrian opposition fears failure of Arab mission The Syrian opposition is pessimistic about the chances that Arab League monitors now visiting the country can halt President Bashar al-Assad's 9-month crackdown on anti-government protest.
* Ethiopian troops capture Beledweyne from Somalia militants Ethiopian forces have captured the central Somali town of Beledweyne from al-Shabab Islamist militants.
* Gold's 10 percent gain in 2011 extends run to 11th year Bullion posted a gain of 10 percent for 2011, its smallest annual rise in three years.
* China unveils ambitious plan for space exploration China plans to put laboratories in space, collect samples from the moon and prepare to build space stations over the next five years.
* EU open to talks with Iran, without preconditions The European Union is open to meaningful talks with Tehran provided there are no preconditions on the Iranian side.