2019 was second-hottest year ever, more extreme weather coming: World Meteorological Organization

GENEVA (Reuters) – Last year was the second-hottest year since records began, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday, warning that heat was likely to lead to more extreme weather events like the Australian bushfires in 2020 and beyond.

The data from the Geneva-based WMO crunches several datasets including from NASA and the UK Met Office. It showed that the average global temperature in 2019 was 1.1 degree Celsius (34°F) above pre-industrial levels.

“Australia had its hottest, driest year on record in 2019, setting the scene for the massive bushfires which were so devastating to people and property, wildlife, ecosystems and the environment,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“Unfortunately, we expect to see much extreme weather throughout 2020 and the coming decades, fuelled by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

The hottest year on record was in 2016, the WMO said, due to the warming impact of a strong El Nino event.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Iran makes arrests over plane disaster as protests rage on

By Parisa Hafezi and Babak Dehghanpisheh

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran said on Tuesday it had arrested people accused of a role in shooting down a Ukrainian airliner and had also detained 30 people involved in protests that have swept the nation for four days since the military belatedly admitted its error.

Wednesday’s shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752, killing all 176 people aboard, has led to one of the biggest public challenges to the Islamic Republic’s clerical rulers since they took power four decades ago.

In a step that will increase diplomatic pressure, Britain, France and Germany launched a dispute mechanism to challenge Iran for breaching limits on its nuclear program under an agreement which Washington abandoned in 2018.

Since the United States killed Iran’s most powerful military commander in a drone strike on Jan. 3, Tehran has faced escalating confrontation with the West and unrest at home, both reaching levels with little precedent in its modern history.

Iran shot down the airliner on Wednesday when its military was on high alert, hours after it had fired missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq. After days of denying a role in the air crash, it admitted it on Saturday, calling it a tragic mistake.

Protesters, many of them students, have held daily demonstrations since then, chanting “Clerics get lost!” and calling for the removal of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in power for more than 30 years.

Police have responded to some protests with a violent crackdown, video posts on social media showed. Footage showed police beating protesters with batons, wounded people being carried, pools of blood on the streets and the sound of gunfire.

Iran’s police denied firing at protesters. The judiciary said 30 people had been detained in the unrest but said the authorities would show tolerance toward “legal protests”.

‘WHERE IS JUSTICE?’

Video posts on Tuesday showed scores gathered peacefully at two Tehran universities. “Where is justice?” one group chanted.

The extent of the unrest is difficult to assess because of limits on independent reporting. Demonstrations tend to gather momentum later in the day and clashes have been at night.

President Hassan Rouhani promised a thorough investigation into the “unforgivable error” of shooting down the plane. He spoke in a television address on Tuesday, the latest in a series of apologies from a leadership that rarely admits mistakes.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said some of those accused of having a role in the plane disaster had been arrested, although he did not say how many or identify them.

Most of those on board the flight were Iranians or dual nationals. Canada, Ukraine, Britain and other nations who had citizens on the plane have scheduled a meeting on Thursday in London to consider legal action against Tehran.

The disaster and subsequent unrest comes amid one of the biggest escalations between Tehran and Washington since 1979.

Missiles launched at a U.S. base in Iraq killed an American contractor in December, an attack Washington blamed on an Iran-backed group. Confrontation eventually led to the U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed Qassem Soleimani, architect of Iran’s regional network of proxy militias.

Iran’s government was already reeling from the reimposition of sanctions by the United States, which quit an agreement with world powers under which Tehran would secure sanctions relief in return for scaling back its nuclear program.

SEEKING COMPLIANCE

Since Washington withdrew, Tehran has stepped back from its nuclear commitments and has said it would no longer recognize limits on enriching uranium. After months of threatening to act, European signatories to the deal, France, Britain and Germany, activated the agreement’s dispute mechanism on Tuesday.

The European Union’s top diplomat said the European move aimed to bring Tehran bank to compliance, not impose sanctions.

Iran’s leaders have been facing a powerful combination of pressure both at home and abroad.

Just two months ago, Iran’s authorities put down anti-government protests, killing hundreds of demonstrators in what is believed to be the most violent crackdown on unrest since the 1979 revolution.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, where Iran has wielded influence through a network of allied movements and proxies, governments that include powerful Iran-sponsored armed factions have faced months of hostile demonstrations in Lebanon and Iraq.

Iran’s president said in his address that those responsible for shooting down the plane would be punished, describing the military’s admission of its mistake “a good first step.”

Rouhani also said the government would be accountable to Iranians and those nations who lost citizens. Iranian state television said aviation officials from Canada, which had 57 citizens on the doomed flight, as well as from Iran and Ukraine, met in Tehran on Tuesday to discuss the investigation.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Babak Dehghanpisheh and John Irish in Paris; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Peter Graff)

U.S., Iran draw back from brink but new threats show crisis not over

By Babak Dehghanpisheh, Parisa Hafezi and Ahmed Aboulenein

DUBAI/BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iran spurned the U.S. president’s call for a new nuclear pact and its commanders threatened more attacks, after both sides backed off from intensified conflict following the U.S. killing of an Iranian general and Tehran’s retaliatory missile strikes.

Concern the Middle East was primed for a wider war eased after U.S President Donald Trump refrained from ordering more military action on Wednesday and Iran’s foreign minister diplomat said missile strikes “concluded” Tehran’s response.

But each side’s next move in their protracted shadow war was uncertain, although Iranian generals resumed their habitual barrage of warnings to Washington.

Trump’s Democratic critics have accused him of reckleness in his handling of Iran.

But analysts say that in an election year, he wants to avoid getting into a drawn-out conflict. In turn, Iran will try to avert direct confrontation with superior U.S. forces but can call on proxy militias across the region as U.S. sanctions bite.

Iran fired missiles on Wednesday at bases in Iraq where U.S. troops were stationed in retaliation for the killing in a U.S. drone attack of powerful Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3.

The actions followed months of tension that has increased steadily since Trump pulled the United States out of Iran’s nuclear pact with world powers in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have driven down Tehran’s oil exports and hammered its economy.

Trump told Americans in an address on Wednesday: “The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it”.

The Iranian missiles fired on military bases in Iraq had not harmed any U.S. troops, he said. Iran “appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned,” he said.

‘ECONOMIC TERRORISM’

Trump also said it was time for world powers to replace the 2015 nuclear accord with a new deal that would allow Iran to “thrive and prosper”.

But Trump, who was impeached last month, also said he would impose more stringent sanctions on Iran, without giving details.

Iran’s U.N. ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said in response that Tehran could not trust any idea of dialogue when Trump was threatening to intensify the “economic terrorism” of sanctions, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards also issued new threats to Washington, with one senior commander warning of “harsher revenge soon” and another saying Wednesday’s missile strikes were only the start of a series of attacks across the region.

The new head of the Quds Force, which handles Iran’s foreign military operations, said he would follow the course pursued by his slain predecessor Soleimani.

“We will continue in this luminous path with power,” Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani said.

Soleimani carved out a sphere of Iranian influence running through Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, challenging regional rival Saudi Arabia as well the United States and Israel.

Soleimani was a national hero whose funeral drew vast crowds of mourners. The West saw him as a dangerous and ruthless enemy.

The military comments contrasted with Wednesday’s remarks by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who said Tehran did not want an escalation.

Despite tough talk, analysts said Iran would not seek a conventional war with Washington although it might turn to allied forces in the area.

“I’m not expecting further direct attacks from Iran. We are likely to see more indirect responses through proxies,” said Ali Alfoneh, senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

He said there might be a chance for a negotiated solution to the latest standoff as “the Trump administration does not appear to actively pursue a war and Iran needs sanctions relief”.

Trump has often criticized his predecessors for involving the United States in long and costly foreign wars.

PATIENCE

Washington said it had indications Tehran was telling its allies to refrain from new action against U.S. troops.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on Fox News, said: “We continue to receive word that Iran is standing down, but at the president’s direction we’re going to remain vigilant.”

In neighboring Iraq, Muslim Shi’ite groups opposed to the U.S. presence there also sought to cool emotions that have been running high for weeks.

Moqtada al-Sadr, an influential Shi’ite cleric opposed to U.S. and Iranian interference in Iraq, said the crisis was over and called on “Iraqi factions to be deliberate, patient, and not to start military actions”.

Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia the United States blamed for an attack in Iraq in December that killed a U.S. contractor, said “passions must be avoided to achieve the desired results” of expelling U.S. forces.

Washington said Iran launched 16 short-range ballistic missiles in Wednesday’s strikes, with at least 11 hitting Iraq’s al-Asad air base and one striking a facility in Erbil.

Satellite pictures of al-Asad base before and after the strikes showed damage, including to aircraft hangers.

The images offered limited insight into Iran’s strategy but gave some indication of missile accuracy, an analyst said.

“The impacts are not scattershot across empty fields or airstrips on the southern side of the base,” Dara Massicot, policy researcher at RANDCorporation, said, adding that they did not appear to be purely symbolic strikes.

“Early warning, maybe tip-offs, missile failures, and on-base readiness saved lives,” Massicot said.

U.S. and European government sources said they believed Iran had deliberately sought to avoid U.S. military casualties in its missile strikes to prevent an escalation.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein and Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, Babak Dehghanpisheh, Parisa Hafezi and Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai, Jeff Mason in Washington; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Coming out of the shadows: the U.S. chief justice who will preside over Trump’s trial

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will be a central figure in the ongoing drama of the Donald Trump presidency in the coming months. He is due to preside over a Senate impeachment trial, while the Supreme Court he leads will rule on a titanic clash over the president’s attempts to keep his financial records secret.

The expected impeachment trial will focus on accusations that Trump abused his power by asking Ukraine to investigate former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden. The Democratic-led House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment on Dec. 18, paving the way for the trial in the Republican-led Senate.

The normally reserved and mild-mannered Roberts, 64, will have the largely symbolic role of presiding officer, with senators casting the crucial votes.

But it is in the marble-lined corridors of the Supreme Court across the street from the Capitol Building, hidden from the TV cameras, where Roberts wields real power. Known for his cautious approach to major cases, he holds one of just nine votes that will decide by the end of June whether Trump’s financial records can be disclosed to Democratic-led congressional committees and a New York prosecutor.

The court’s rulings in those cases – on the power of Congress and local prosecutors to investigate a sitting president – will set precedents that may affect not just Trump but also future presidents.

The impeachment trial will be an unusual and potentially uncomfortable period for the low-key Roberts, who prefers to fly under the radar even while he has navigated the conservative-majority court in a rightward direction over the last decade and a half.

“My sense is that the chief doesn’t want to make himself the story,” said Sarah Binder, a scholar at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution.

Roberts declined to comment. During a rare public appearance in New York in September, Roberts appeared concerned about the hyperpartisan politics of Washington under Trump.

“When you live in a polarized political environment, people tend to see everything in those terms. That’s not how we at the court function,” he said.

Those who know Roberts, including former law clerks, say that he would take his role seriously and, as a history buff, he is likely reading up on the previous impeachment trials of Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

WASHINGTON INSIDER

Roberts, a conservative appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, has a reputation in Washington as a traditional conservative and a strong defender of the Supreme Court as an independent branch of government.

In a frictionless rise to prominence, he served in the administration of Republican President Ronald Reagan before becoming one of the most prominent Supreme Court advocates in town. Bush appointed him to the federal appeals court in Washington in 2003 before tapping him for the chief justice post two years later.

Roberts is often viewed as an incrementalist in his judicial philosophy, conscious of the fact that the Supreme Court risks its legitimacy if its 5-4 conservative majority is characterized as being too aggressive in moving the law to the right.

He has nonetheless voted consistently with his conservative colleagues on such issues as gay rights, abortion, religious liberty and gun rights. But in 2012, he broke ranks and cast the deciding vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

Earlier this year, he again sided with the court’s liberals as the court ruled 5-4 against the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Roberts clashed with Trump more directly in November 2018 when he took the unusual step of issuing a statement defending the federal judiciary after Trump repeatedly criticized judges who had ruled against his administration.

The cases concerning Trump’s financial records, with rulings due by the end of June, puts the sober Roberts and bombastic Trump on another collision course.

Legal experts have said Trump, who unlike previous presidents has refused to release his tax returns, is making broad assertions of presidential power that could place new limits on the ability of Congress to enforce subpoenas seeking information about the president.

If it is a close call, Roberts could cast the deciding vote.

In the Senate trial set to take place in January, Roberts’ role as presiding officer is limited mainly to keeping the process on track. Roberts could, however, be asked to rule on whether certain witnesses should be called.

If a majority of senators disagree with a ruling he makes, they can vote to overturn his decision.

In the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999, Chief Justice William Rehnquist had “relatively little to do,” said Neil Richards, who was present as one of Rehnquist’s law clerks and is now a professor at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.

“I think Chief Justice Roberts is likely to approach his role… the way he has approached his judicial career to date: Doing his best to be impartial, doing his best to preserve the dignity of his judicial office,” Richards added.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley. Additional reporting by Jan Wolfe and Andrew Chung, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Get Comfy and get ready to ring in 2020 with Praise, Prayer, and Prophecy!

Tonight from 7 pm ct to midnight, Morningside will be sparkling with a Prophetic New Year Celebration and you can watch it live! What better way to begin 2020 than with an incredible evening spent worshipping God and hearing from Pastor Jim Bakker and Dr. Lance Wallnau, two leading prophets of the day! We want you to join us tonight from wherever you are to ring in this New Year and Decade giving God all the glory by watching us on the PTL Television Network!

Beginning at 7 pm ct Mondo will begin the celebration on Grace Street followed by Tammy Sue Bakker and the PTL Band and Singers who will fill your hearts and home with joyful music! From 8 pm to 10 pm God has a special word to be shared by Pastor Jim for the New Year followed by Lance Wallnau who will be giving his prophetic message. When the time is right, we will be Praising Jesus into the New Year with Jenny Weaver!

The New Year’s Eve festivities begin at 7 pm ct on the PTL Television Network from your Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or ptlnetwork.com. Don’t forget, if you download the PTL network phone app you can watch us anywhere! Get on your comfy pj’s, and celebrate with us!

God Bless you and keep you in 2020! We hope you will join us and begin this decade in a renewed friendship and trust in Jesus! We are in exciting times and YOU are a part of it!

Raise Your Voice! PTL Television Network hosts Hannah Brim’s inspirational new show!

By Kami Klein

Hannah Brim is a lover of God and compassionate about His heart. After graduating from Rhema Bible College in 2011 and serving in the prayer and healing center for two years Hannah now works with her grandmother, Billye Brim, traveling with her around the world for six years helping with the ministry. During this season the Lord began to speak to her about her generation. Through this conversation with God, Hannah began doing Raise Your voice interviews with various people on her phone through Facebook Live.

After doing this for two years the Lord supernaturally opened the door for her to have my own television program shown every Friday night at 8 pm central on the PTL Television Network called Raise Your Voice TV.

Hannah believes that God has given everyone a voice and wants her program to encourage people to use the powerful gifts that have been given to them to follow their destiny. “It doesn’t matter how young you think you are, how old you think you are, if you are alive here on this earth than your voice matters to God!”

PTL Television Network is so excited to share the inspiration with Hannah and her many amazing guests. Be encouraged! Get excited and Raise YOUR Voice for God!!

You can enjoy PTL Network inspiration anytime with programming the entire family can watch from your Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or ptlnetwork.com. And don’t forget that we now offer an app for your phone so you can watch and get your inspiration wherever you are! Simply go to the Apple App Store, Google Play, or Kindle’s App Store; type in PTL Television Network under the search and get your free download today!

Morningside USA invites you to a Prophecy Filled New Year’s Eve and a Special Invitation to Jim Bakker’s 80th Birthday!

By Kami Klein

On Tuesday, December 31st from 8 pm to midnight, Morningside will be sparkling with a Prophetic New Year Celebration! What better way to begin 2020 than with an incredible evening spent worshipping God and hearing from two leading prophets of the day, Pastor Jim Bakker and Lance Wallnau! Pastor has a very special message that God has for us for the New Year so you don’t want to miss it! Tammy Sue Bakker and the PTL Band and Singers will fill your hearts with joyful music and when the time is right, we will be Praising Jesus into the New Year with Jenny Weaver!

Prayer Mountain Chapel will be open for those that want to go up and pray into the New Year with Larry Sparks.

Come ring in the New Year at Morningside! We would love to see you here! Please make plans and follow this link to RSVP!

Pastor Jim will be turning 80 this year and we want YOU at his birthday party! On Thursday, January 2nd at 11 a.m please join us at Morningside to reminisce and show the love to Pastor Jim Bakker on this milestone of a Birthday! We want to fill Grace Street with well-wishers, friends, supporters, and family! Please be our guest and enjoy this historic show filled with amazing memories!

Make your plans today to join us at Morningside USA for a prophetic New Years’ Eve celebration and Jim Bakker’s 80th Birthday Party! We hope to see you here!

Skip the Mayhem! Join us for Morningside’s Cyber Monday event! December 2nd, at 9 am!

By Kami Klein

Wouldn’t you rather stay home on Black Friday? Skip the crowds and mayhem? How would you like some amazing deals that you can buy for everyone on your list while you stay snug and warm in your p.j.’s? On Monday, December 2nd beginning at 9 am ct please join Jim and Lori Bakker for our special Christmas Cyber Monday event!

Our Cyber events are always amazing and you won’t believe the deals! Household items, food buckets, Seychelle water products, jewelry, books, and toys will highlight this event where you can find something for everyone you love!

We are so blessed that you support our ministry and these events are our way of giving back. Plus, you have the chance to continue your support so we can produce our Christian programming, support Lori’s House and keep us on the air!

On Monday morning at 9 am ct, have your coffee mugs filled and your gift list ready, get comfortable and tune in to the PTL Television Network from your Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or ptlnetwork.com

Wall Street hits new record high on Disney, Best Buy

Wall Street hits new record high on Disney, Best Buy
By Arjun Panchadar

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s three main indexes hit all-time highs on Tuesday, as gains for Disney and Best Buy countered weak consumer confidence data and a slump in shares of discount store operator Dollar Tree.

Walt Disney Co was the top boost to the Dow Jones with a 1.8% rise, after a report its streaming service was averaging nearly a million new subscribers a day. The stock also propped up the benchmark S&P 500.

Rising hopes of a U.S.-China trade truce, upbeat domestic economic data and a third-quarter corporate earnings season that has largely topped lowered expectations have put the market back on an upward track after a torrid summer.

Beijing said on Tuesday negotiators had reached a consensus on “resolving relevant problems”. Hours later, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Washington was getting “really close” to a deal, but sticking points remained.

“They keep talking about the ‘phase one’ deal being done possibly soon, but every day is sort of a ping pong back-and-forth of will they or won’t they,” said Everett Millman, precious metals expert with Gainesville Coins in Tampa, Florida.

A third interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve this year has also played a role in boosting risk appetite, and Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Monday monetary policy was “well positioned” to support the strong labor market.

However, doubts over the strength of the U.S. consumer linger and data on Tuesday showed the Conference Board’s U.S. consumer confidence index missed analysts’ projections.

At 10:31 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  was up 20.16 points, or 0.07%, at 28,086.63, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> was up 2.10 points, or 0.07%, at 3,135.74. The Nasdaq Composite was up 11.59 points, or 0.13%, at 8,644.08.

Best Buy Co Inc  jumped 7.4% as it forecast strong holiday-quarter earnings, while discount store operator Dollar Tree Inc tumbled 15% after the company projected holiday-quarter profit below expectations, signaling the fallout from the trade dispute. The stock was the biggest on the S&P and the Nasdaq.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co fell 7.9% as the enterprise software maker missed fourth-quarter revenue estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.50-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.37-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 78 new highs and 35 new lows.

(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Revival Fire at Morningside! Be there or join us via Livestream! Tonight and Tomorrow at 6 pm central!

Morningside is ready for another Revival Fire Outpouring tonight, Thursday, November 21st from 6 pm to 8 pm ct through Friday evening November 22nd, 6 pm to 8 pm ct! The Revival begins with the Morningside worship team followed by Bishop Ronnie Webb, Pastor Joe Campbell, and our own evangelist Daniel Simonin!

Revival means to awaken and renew… and we claim it! The time is now. God is doing something different, something special and we are coming expecting – ready for what He has! Our speakers have a specific word from God directly to Morningside. This word has re-routed ministers who were scheduled to be speaking at other churches, in other states. It couldn’t wait. Their word was that God has something to share that is for this very hour!

If you are unable to attend this incredible Revival please tune in and worship the Lord with us via Livestream seen only on the PTL Television Network! Join us on the PTL Network from your Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or go to ptlnetwork.com to tune in!