Friends, family unite at cathedral for funeral of George H.W. Bush

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The funeral of George H.W. Bush took place in the National Cathedral in Washington. (AFP)
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The funeral of George H.W. Bush took place in the National Cathedral in Washington. (AFP)
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The funeral of George H.W. Bush took place in the National Cathedral in Washington. (AFP)
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The funeral of George H.W. Bush took place in the National Cathedral in Washington. (AFP)
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A joint service honor guard carries the casket of former US President George H.W. Bush out of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 05 December 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 05 December 2018
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Friends, family unite at cathedral for funeral of George H.W. Bush

  • Friends and family are gathering at Washington National Cathedral under tight security for a funeral service honoring late former President George H.W. Bush

WASHINGTON: The Latest on events honoring former President George H.W. Bush (all times local):

12:25PM
Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has praised former U.S. President George H.W. Bush as a strong world leader who helped oversee the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union and was "responsible for the North American Free Trade Agreement" with Canada and Mexico.
With President Donald Trump, a sharp NAFTA critic, seated in the front row at Bush's funeral, Mulroney said Wednesday the deal "created the largest and richest free trade area in the history of the world" and was "recently modernized and improved by new administrations." Trump had called the trade deal unfair to the U.S. and moved to replace it.
Mulroney said Bush also deserves credit for the Americans with Disabilities Act and revising the Clean Air Act. He said, "There's a word for this. It's called leadership."
Bush died last week in Houston at age 94.
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12:15PM
Former President George W. Bush appeared to hand former first lady Michelle Obama something at his father's funeral, recreating a moment from Sen. John McCain's funeral earlier this year.
At McCain's funeral, Bush and Obama were seatmates and he appeared to hand her something during a eulogy. The bipartisan moment went viral, and Obama later told NBC's "Today" show Bush slipped her a mint.
On Wednesday, Bush dug into his pocket right before he shook the hands of the former presidents and their wives gathered for the funeral of his father, former President George H.W. Bush. He appeared to switch something into his right hand before he shook Mrs. Obama's hand and then hand something to her. She smiled at him after the exchange.
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12:05PM
Humor is creeping its way into the somber ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral to remember the life of former President George H.W. Bush.
Presidential historian Jon Meacham was the first speaker on Wednesday and said that on the primary campaign trail in New Hampshire once, Bush grabbed the hand of a department store mannequin while asking for votes. Meacham says when Bush realized his mistake he said, "Never know. Gotta ask."
Meacham recounted how comedian Dana Carvey once said that the key to doing a perfect impersonation of the 41st president was "Mr. Rogers trying to be John Wayne."
Looking ahead to the 1988 election, Bush once said: "It's no exaggeration to say that the undecideds could go one way or the other."
And Meacham said that late in his presidency, Bush's tongue ran amok when he said: "We are enjoying sluggish times, but we're not enjoying them very much."
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12:05PM
George H.W. Bush's biographer is hailing the late president as a noble man who made the world better and inadvertently made it chuckle.
Historian Jon Meacham has told mourners at a Washington memorial service that Bush's credo was, "Tell the truth, don't blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course."
Meacham said Abraham Lincoln's "better angels of our nature" and Bush's thousand points of light are "companion verses in America's national hymn." Meacham says Bush "made our lives and the lives of nations freer, better, warmer and nobler."
President Donald Trump has mocked the "points of light" phrase at some of his campaign rallies this year. He contrasted it with his own campaign slogan, saying "Putting America first, we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one."
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11:05AM
It's an extraordinary scene inside the Washington National Cathedral, where former world leaders are mingling, waiting for a ceremony remembering former President George H.W. Bush to begin.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter are seated in a front-row pew.
President Donald Trump walked in and shook hands with Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, who greeted him by saying "Good morning." Trump did not shake hands with Bill and Hillary Clinton, who looked straight ahead.
Bill Clinton and Mrs. Obama smiled and chatted as music played. Carter is seated silently next to Hillary Clinton in the cavernous cathedral. Obama cracked up laughing at someone's quip. Vice President Mike Pence shook Carter's hand.
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11AM
The casket of former President George H.W. Bush has arrived at Washington National Cathedral in a lengthy, slow-moving motorcade that transported his family, friends and dignitaries.
Bush's flag-draped coffin left the Capitol on Wednesday morning and was moved to the packed cathedral. The former president had been lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda since Monday.
World figures, members of Congress, President Donald Trump and all four ex-presidents are attending the ceremony. Bush's son former President George W. Bush will give a eulogy, bidding a final Washington farewell to his father, who died Friday in Houston at age 94.
Bush's remains will be flown to Houston to lie in repose before a private burial Thursday at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station.
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10:55AM
The hearse bearing the coffin of George H.W. Bush has driven slowly past the White House in a symbolic final nod at the building where he served as the nation's 41st president.
The funeral procession of limousines on Wednesday was carrying Bush's casket from the Capitol, where thousands of mourners had been paying respects to him since late Monday.
It was en route to the National Cathedral, where President Donald Trump, all four surviving former presidents and hundreds of other dignitaries and mourners were set for a memorial service.
Bush died last week at age 94. He is to be buried Thursday in Texas.
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10:50AM
The U.N. Security Council has paid tribute to the late U.S. President George H.W. Bush, standing silently in his memory.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara (ah-lah-SAHN' WAH'-tah-rah) was presiding over the U.N.'s most powerful body on Wednesday and asked the 15 members and diplomats in the crowded council chamber to observe a minute of silence to honor Bush at the start of a meeting on sustaining peace after conflict.
Speaking on behalf of the council, Ouattara said "President Bush left us following a long, illustrious career serving his country," including as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, where he presided over the Security Council in 1972.
Ouattara conveyed the council's "warm gratitude to the people and government of the United States of America" and condolences on Bush's death.
Bush died last week in Houston at age 94.
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10:35AM
Former President George H.W. Bush's casket has left the U.S. Capitol for a state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral.
Family, friends, congressional leaders and others gathered with military brass on the steps of the Capitol for the send-off Wednesday as cannons echoed a salute and a military band played "Hail to the Chief."
Bush's flag-draped coffin was carried to a waiting hearse for the procession to the cathedral. His son former President George W. Bush put his hand over heart at the plaza.
The 41st president had been lying in state since late Monday in the Capitol Rotunda, an honor reserved for few. Hundreds of visitors, including many former White House officials, arrived to pay tribute. Bush died last week in Houston at age 94.

9:40AM
Friends and family are gathering at Washington National Cathedral under tight security for a funeral service honoring late former President George H.W. Bush.
Wednesday’s national funeral service will cap three days of remembrance by dignitaries and ordinary citizens. It will bring together world envoys, the four remaining ex-presidents and President Donald Trump.
After Wednesday’s service, Bush’s remains will be returned to Houston to lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church before burial Thursday at his family plot.
The 41st president oversaw the post-Cold War transition and led a successful Gulf War, only to lose re-election in a generational shift to Bill Clinton in 1992. He died last week in Houston at age 94.
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7:35AM
The public viewing for late former President George H.W. Bush at the Capitol Rotunda has drawn to a close.
A funeral service at Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday will cap three days of remembrance by dignitaries and ordinary citizens as they honor Bush, who died in Houston last week at age 94.
The Republican president oversaw the post-Cold War transition and led a successful Gulf War, only to lose re-election in a generational shift to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992. His funeral will bring together world envoys, the four remaining ex-presidents and President Donald Trump.
Bush’s remains will be returned to Houston to lie in repose before burial Thursday at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station
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6:40AM
Pope Francis is sending his condolences to the Bush family and says he’s praying it finds strength and peace as it prepares to bid farewell to former President George H.W. Bush.
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram of condolences on Wednesday to the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo. In it, Parolin says Francis was saddened to learn of Bush’s death last week in Houston at age 94 and assured the family of his prayers.
The telegram says: “Commending President Bush’s soul to the merciful love of Almighty God, His Holiness invokes upon all who mourn his passing the divine blessings of strength and peace.”
Funeral services for Bush are planned for Wednesday at Washington National Cathedral.


Filipino rebel chiefs become officials under peace deal

President Rodrigo Duterte, political leaders and officials flash the peace sign following Friday’s oath-taking ceremony in Manila. (AP)
Updated 22 February 2019
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Filipino rebel chiefs become officials under peace deal

  • It is a very difficult and challenging process, says MILF spokesman

MANILA: Some of the fiercest Muslim rebel commanders in the southern Philippines were sworn in Friday as administrators of a new Muslim autonomous region in a delicate milestone to settle one of Asia’s longest-raging rebellions.

President Rodrigo Duterte led a ceremony to name Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Murad Ebrahim and some of his top commanders as among 80 administrators of a transition government for the five-province region called Bangsamoro.

About 12,000 combatants with thousands of firearms are to be demobilized starting this year under the peace deal.  Thousands of other guerrillas would disarm if agreements under the deal would be followed, including providing the insurgents with livelihood to help them return to normal life.

“We would like to see an end of the violence,” Duterte said. 

“After all, we go to war and shoot each other counting our victories not by the progress or development of the place but by the dead bodies that were strewn around during the violent years.”

About 150,000 people have died in the conflict over several decades and stunted development in the resource-rich region. 

Duterte promised adequate resources, a daunting problem in the past.

The Philippine and Western governments and the guerrillas see an effective Muslim autonomy as an antidote to nearly half a century of secessionist violence, which Daesh could exploit to gain a foothold.

“The dream that we have fought for is now happening and there’s no more reason for us to carry our guns and continue the war,” rebel forces spokesman Von Al-Haq said in an interview ahead of the ceremony.

Several commanders long wanted for deadly attacks were given safety passes to be able to travel to Manila and join the ceremony, including Abdullah Macapaar, who uses the nom de guerre Commander Bravo, Al-Haq said. 

Known for his fiery rhetoric while wearing his camouflage uniform and brandishing his assault rifle and grenades, Macapaar will be one of the 41 regional administrators from the rebel front.

Duterte will pick his representatives to fill the rest of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, which will also act as a regional Parliament with Murad as the chief minister until regular officials are elected in 2022.

Members of the Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a 1996 autonomy deal that has largely been seen as a failure, will also be given seats in the autonomous government.

Disgruntled fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front broke off and formed new armed groups, including the notorious Abu Sayyaf, which turned to terrorism and banditry after losing its commanders early in battle. 

The Abu Sayyaf has been blacklisted by the US as a terrorist organization and has been suspected of staging a suspected Jan. 27 suicide bombing that killed 23 mostly churchgoers in a Roman Catholic cathedral on southern Jolo island.

“We have already seen the pitfalls,” Al-Haq said, acknowledging that the violence would not stop overnight because of the presence of the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups, some linked to Daesh. 

“It’s a very difficult and challenging process.”