According to the WMO update, sea surface temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific have been at weak El Niño levels since October. However the atmosphere has not yet responded to the extra warmth that’s produced by the upwelling seas.
Scientists have been predicting the likelihood of a new event since May this year, with confidence increasing.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology are now estimating that an El Niño event will start in December. US forecasters are saying there’s a 90% chance of the event starting in January.
The WMO models are say that a fully fledged El Niño is estimated to be 75-80% likely between December and February 2019.
At this point, the WMO says its predictions for the event range from just a warm-neutral condition through to a moderate strength event with sea surface temperatures peaking between 0.8C to 1.2C above average.
The chance of a strong event are currently low.
“The forecast El Niño is not expected to be as powerful as the event in 2015-2016, which was linked with droughts, flooding and coral bleaching in different parts of the world,” said Maxx Dilley, director of WMO’s Climate Prediction and Adaptation branch.
“Even so, it can still significantly affect rainfall and temperature patterns in many regions, with important consequences to agricultural and food security sectors, and for management of water resources and public health, and it may combine with long-term climate change to boost 2019 global temperatures,” he said.
In terms of food security, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have issued a report detailing the countries that could suffer food shortages as a result of the event.
A suicide bomb attack on a gathering of religious scholars in the Afghan capital, Kabul, has killed at least 43 people, officials say.
At least 83 more were injured as the clerics met at the Uranus hall to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.
It is one of the deadliest attacks in Kabul in recent months.
No-one has admitted responsibility for the blast, but the Islamic State group has said it was behind most of the recent deadliest attacks.
Continuing attacks by the Taliban have also stepped up pressure on security forces.
Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul police, said: “Hundreds of Islamic scholars and their followers had gathered to recite verses from the holy Koran to observe the Eid Milad-un-Nabi festival at the private banquet hall.”
A manager at the hall said the suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of the gathering.
1TV News quoted the health ministry as saying that 24 of the wounded are severely injured.
Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán goes on trial in New York City on Tuesday. The trial could last up to four months.
Why does it matter?
There is a case to be made that El Chapo is the most powerful person to be prosecuted in modern times. He is certainly among the richest.
He headed up the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico, which became the world’s most powerful drug trafficking gang and dominated the heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine trade into the US.
The cartel made up to $3bn (£2.3bn) a year and had influence in at least 50 countries.
El Chapo escaped twice from prison and was finally caught in 2016, then extradited to the US. He’s also accused of being behind the killing of rivals and witnesses, so security in court will be extremely tight.
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘DAILY BEAST’ NEWS)
Bolsonaro Makes Judge Who Jailed Lula His New Justice Minister
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro made the judge who ousted the previous president his new justice minister, BBC News reports. Sergio Moro, a judge whose corruption investigation took down ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, reportedly accepted Bolsonaro’s offer to lead the justice ministry on Thursday. “Federal Judge Sergio Moro has accepted our invitation to be minister of justice and public security,” Bolsonaro reportedly tweeted. “His anti-corruption, anti-organized crime agenda and his respect for the constitution and the law will be our guiding principle!” Moro reportedly led a major investigation known as Operation Car Wash, which probed alleged bribes between officials and the state oil company Petrobras. Lula was reportedly the frontrunner in Brazil’s election until he was accused of corruption as a result of the probe. He was subsequently handed a 12-year prison sentence last April. While the investigation implicated many officials, Moro was reportedly accused of “disproportionately targeting left-wing politicians.”
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Extremely saddened by the train accident in Amritsar. The tragedy is heart-wrenching. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly. Have asked officials to provide immediate assistance that is required.
It is a mountainous place with volcanic soils that are rich for agriculture, but it is also densely populated, which puts a lot of pressure on arable land, reports the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire in the capital, Kampala.
After previous disasters, people have been told to move away but many return because of the fertility of the land and their attachment to their ancestral home.
The Uganda Red Cross says that 36 bodies have been recovered, but a local official quoted by the Daily Monitor newspaper has said 40 bodies have been found so far.
“When the water flowed down it brought a number of big stones with it that destroyed people’s houses,” Red Cross spokeswoman Irene Nakasiita told AFP news agency.
The prime minister’s office has sent a team to assist with the search and recovery efforts, which were set to continue on Friday in the difficult hilly terrain.
The European Parliament has voted to pursue unprecedented disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the EU’s core values.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has been accused of attacks on the media, minorities, and the rule of law – charges which he denies.
More than two-thirds of MEPs backed the censure motion – the first such vote against a member state under EU rules.
If also approved by national leaders, Hungary could face punitive measures.
The ultimate sanction, the suspension of Hungary’s voting rights, is unlikely as Poland is likely to veto any such move.
The BBC’s Nick Thorpe in Budapest says Mr Orban appears increasingly isolated among European conservatives but is being applauded by nationalist parties.
What is Hungary accused of?
Since coming to power, Mr Orban’s government has taken a hardline stance against immigration. It introduced a law which made it a criminal offence for lawyers and activists to help asylum seekers, under the banner of “facilitating illegal immigration”.
But there have also been reports of pressure being put on the courts and the electoral system, and of widespread corruption.
After the vote, the European Parliament said it was also concerned about:
The constitutional and electoral system
Privacy and data protection
Freedom of expression and religion
Academic freedom and freedom of association
Equal rights, particularly for refugees and minorities such as Roma and Jews
Mr Orban addressed the parliament on Tuesday in defence of his government, labelling the threat of censure as a form of “blackmail” and an insult to Hungary.
He claimed a report by Dutch Greens MEP Judith Sargentini was an “abuse of power”, and included “serious factual misrepresentations”.
Ms Sargentini’s report into Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party alleged such actions were “a clear breach of the values of our union”.
Centre-right split over Hungary action
Analysis by BBC Brussels reporter Adam Fleming
The opposition to Viktor Orban received a boost last night when Manfred Weber, leader of the European Parliament’s centre-right group the European People’s Party (EPP), lost patience with his erstwhile ally and announced he would vote to trigger Article 7.
But it has created a split within the EPP because Forza Italia, some Bulgarians, a few Germans and assorted others gave their backing to Budapest.
Most British Conservative MEPs supported the Hungarian government, arguing that the EU had intruded into purely national matters. They strongly deny it was to secure Hungary’s support in the Brexit process or out of admiration for the country’s leader.
However, this episode might not bother Mr Orban at all, as it boosts his image back home as a scourge of the European establishment.
What could happen now?
Under an EU rule called Article 7, breaching the union’s founding principles can lead to the suspension of a member state’s rights as a punitive measure.
However, Hungary is currently facing “preventative” measures, which the parliament says are designed to avoid sanctions entirely.
However, because this step has never been taken before, it is not clear what will happen next, or when.
Suspension of Hungary’s voting rights is the most serious possible consequence – but is considered unlikely.
Poland is also facing disciplinary proceedings, launched by the European Commission in December last year. The case has yet to reach the European Parliament.
What has the reaction been?
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto reacted angrily to the vote, calling it the “petty revenge” of “pro-immigration” politicians.
Some politicians from other countries also defended Mr Orban’s government. Britain’s Nigel Farage, a pro-Brexit MEP, wrote that the decision demonstrated “the authoritarian grip of the EU”.
Anti-Islam Dutch populist Geert Wilders tweeted: “Hungary is the example for all EU countries and Orban is a hero and deserves the Nobel Prize.”
But Ms Sargentini, who wrote the report on Mr Orban’s government, said the decision sent an important message that the EU would stand up for citizens’ rights.
“Viktor Orban’s government has been leading the charge against European values by silencing independent media, replacing critical judges, and putting academia on a leash,” she said.
“Individuals close to the government have been enriching themselves, their friends and family members at the expense of Hungarian and European taxpayers. The Hungarian people deserve better.”
Amnesty International’s expert on human rights in the EU, Berber Biala-Hettinga, hailed the vote as “historic”.
“The European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU. They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation,” she said.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said that he would have voted for the measure if he was an MEP.
“The European Commission is using the tools we have, launching infringement procedures against countries that don’t respect EU law. [I] am in harmony with today’s decision,” he said through a spokeswoman’s Twitter account.
After the first meeting between sitting leaders from the two countries, the two men pledged to work towards denuclearisation. Mr Trump later said North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat”.
But Mr Trump was criticised at home for making concessions without securing any firm commitment from Mr Kim to end the nuclear and missile programmes.
What do the latest reports say?
On Monday, the Washington Post newspaper quoted officials as saying North Korea appeared to be building one or two new liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at the Sanumdong facility near the capital, Pyongyang.
The factory is known to have produced the Hwasong-15, the first North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the US.
However, a US official told news agency Reuters that a liquid-fuelled ICBM didn’t “pose nearly the threat that a solid-fuelled one would because they take so long to fuel”.
Reuters also added that satellite imaging showed vehicles moving in and out of the facility, but not the extent of any missile construction.
What are experts saying about this?
These are not the first reports that North Korea may be continuing its weapons programme, casting doubt on the real impact of the summit in Singapore.
Satellite imagery of the Sanumdong facility shows that the site is “active”, Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) told the Washington Post.
“[The facility] is not dead, by any stretch of the imagination,” said Mr Lewis. “We see shipping containers and vehicles coming and going. This is a facility where they build ICBMs and space-launch vehicles.”
Another North Korean expert from MIIS, Melissa Hanham, told the BBC that the facility had “regular traffic in and out of the building”, adding that this “traffic pattern” on the site stayed “about the same through the Panmunjom and Singapore meetings”.
This indicated that there had not been a complete stop in activity during the summit talks.
She also noted that large “brightly coloured containers” also showed up in satellite imagery, saying that “containers similar to these have appeared during previous ICBM inspections by Mr Kim.”
Ms Hanham added that while that experts at MIIS could not “find a way to confirm the [intelligence] leak”, the information has matched evidence from satellite imagery.
What was agreed on in the Singapore summit?
North Korea has carried out a total of six nuclear tests, the most recent of which took place in September last year. It has in the past two years quickly advanced its nuclear programme.
But at their landmark meeting in Singapore, Mr Trump and Mr Kim agreed to work towards the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.
It’s been unclear what both sides mean by “complete denuclearisation”, and no further details have been released about when or how Pyongyang would renounce its nuclear weapons nor how the process would be verified.
Experts have also cast doubt on whether Pyongyang has been genuine in its apparent commitment to “denuclearise”.
Last week, it appeared North Korea had begun dismantling part of a key rocket launch site, but according to recent reports based on US intelligence leaks, Pyongyang might still secretly be continuing its nuclear weapons programme.
Reports had indicated that North Korea was upgrading its only official nuclear enrichment site, and was stepping up enrichment at other secret sites.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was forced to admit that North Korea was continuing to produce nuclear fissile material, though he insisted that “progress is happening”.
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