Wednesday morning news: January 1, 2020

Markets end record-breaking year on a high note » AUDIO: [Sound of closing bell]

After a slow start, stocks rallied on the final day of 2019, capping off a decade of gains. President Trump’s announcement that he’ll sign phase one of the trade deal with China next month encouraged the uptick. 

The year-end marks the best close since 2013. Each of the major indexes posted strong gains. The S&P 500 grew by almost 30 percent, the Dow added more than 20 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq surged ahead by 35 percent. 

Protestors storm U.S. Embassy in Baghdad » The United States is deploying about 750 soldiers to the Middle East. The precautionary move comes after violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.

AUDIO: [Sound of chanting] 

Protesters stormed the U.S. embassy breaking through the main compound gate. Dozens of Iraqi Shiite militia and their supporters angry over Sunday’s U.S. airstrike, set fire to a reception area and chanted: “Down, Down, USA!”  

AUDIO: [Troops deploying] 

U.S. Central Command responded by deploying a detachment of 100 Marines to reinforce the Embassy. The State Department reported all diplomatic personnel secure and said it has no immediate plans to evacuate. Defense Secretary Mark Esper:

ESPER: I would note also, that we will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we defer further bad behavior from militia groups or Iran. 

He also called on the Iraqi government to assist in protecting U.S. personnel.

The additional troops are part of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces Crisis Response. It was created after the 2012 attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

Taliban leaders say no to ceasefire » Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan have emphatically denied a supposed ceasefire. The statement came this week in response to a Washington Post report on a potential agreement.

Islamic Emirate Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declared—quote—“For the past few days, a number of media outlets have been publishing false and baseless reports about a ceasefire…The reality of the situation is that the Islamic Emirate has no intention of declaring a ceasefire.” End quote. 

Mujahid acknowledged a possible “reduction in the scale and intensity of violence” but that the ruling body had yet to issue a final decree on the matter. 

The U.S. government has been attempting to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban for more than six years.

New Census data projects political shift » The U.S. Census Bureau has released new numbers that show the nation’s population is growing at its slowest rate since 1918. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

FLAVIN: The 2019 national and state population estimates show the natural growth rate dropped below 1 million for the first time in decades. The natural growth rate is the number of births minus the number of deaths. 

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia saw birth rate decreases.  The remaining eight states rose only modestly. 

International immigration numbers have dropped almost in half since 2016, from more than 1 million to fewer than 600,000.

Meantime, domestic migration could remake congressional maps, according to a Politico report. If the population estimates hold up, California is set to lose a congressional seat for the first time ever. 

Texas and Florida would gain a combined five seats. Arizona, Montana, and North Carolina would pick up one seat each, mostly at the expense of shrinking Rust Belt states.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.  

Lois Evans dies of pancreatic cancer » Lois Evans, the wife of megachurch pastor Tony Evans, has died after a second bout with cancer. She was 70. 

Evans held numerous positions at the Urban Alternative, the Dallas ministry the couple founded in 1982. Lois Evans was also a public speaker who maintained a ministry to pastors’ wives.. 

EVANS: I’m so glad you joined us today. I’m Lois Evans, and we’re going to talk today about seasons in a woman’s life. It’s gonna be fun…

In a Facebook post Tony Evans said—quote—”As she slipped away, we told her how much we love her, how proud we are of her, and how thankful we are for the life she has lived. We are what we are because of her.”

Lois Evans is survived by four children, 13 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Khalil Jenkins, CJTF-OIR Public Affairs via AP) In this photo provided by U.S. Department of Defense, the Army’s AH-64 Apache helicopter from 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, conducts overflights of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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