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.


How Zahran Hashim went from obscure extremist preacher to the alleged mastermind of the Sri Lanka bombings

Updated 19 min 22 sec ago
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How Zahran Hashim went from obscure extremist preacher to the alleged mastermind of the Sri Lanka bombings

  • He split from the National Thowheed Jamaath and formed his own faction, which experts say was the ‘main player’ in the attacks
  • Using social media, he spread pro-Daesh propaganda under the banner Al-Ghuraba Media

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Until last Sunday, the only thing Zahran Hashim was known for was being a member of a local Sri Lankan group accused of defacing Buddhist statues.

Now, the obscure radical preacher is believed to be Daesh’s point person in Sri Lanka and the “mastermind” of the coordinated Easter Sunday attacks that have left 359 dead and more than 500 injured.

A video released by Daesh on Tuesday shows seven black-clad, masked men pledging allegiance to the organization, and an eighth man, whose face is visible, leading them. That man is Hashim. Security officials in Sri Lanka claim to have “credible information” that he was planning another attack targeting Muslim shrines that followed the mystical stream of Sufi Islam.

Sri Lanka has no history of Islamist extremism. The Sri Lankan government first named a local militant group, National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), as the main suspect behind the attacks. It is one of the few Islamist radical groups operating in the country and was thus seen as the main contender for involvement with Daesh. Hashim is known to have been a member of the group until at least 2016 when security officials say he left and formed his own faction because the core group disapproved of his increasingly hard-line views.

Hashim was driven out of his hometown Kattankudy in eastern Sri Lanka by townspeople and moderate clerics because of his divisive teachings. Media reports say he received his early schooling in Kattankudy and then traveled to India to start a seven-year course on Islamic theology. He dropped out midway. Since then, he has reportedly traveled frequently between India and Sri Lanka.

Shunned by his hometown and the NTJ, Hashim found a small, but loyal, band of supporters online. Over the past two years, he gained thousands of followers for his impassioned sermons against non-Muslims on YouTube and a Sri Lankan Facebook account, which he called Al-Ghuraba Media and used to spread pro-Daesh propaganda.

According to Robert Postings, a researcher whose work focuses on Daesh, Hashim had been a supporter of the group at least since 2017, when he began posting pro-Daesh propaganda on Facebook. In many of Hashim’s videos, the backdrop is images of the burning Twin Towers after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

Last year, Hashim appeared on intelligence officials’ radar after several of his students defaced three Buddhist statues in central Sri Lanka. The subsequent investigation led officers to a large weapons cache, including 100 kg of explosives and detonators, on the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka.

Experts say Daesh has been recruiting for years in Sri Lanka and other Asian countries. On the ground, the group seems to have received help from Hashim after he created the Al-Ghuraba group. “That is the Islamic State (Daesh) branch in Sri Lanka,” said Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based expert on militancy in the region.

Experts with knowledge of the investigations said Hashim’s faction of the NTJ was the “main player” in the Easter attacks and that he worked with international support, given the sophistication of the bombings and the fact that foreigners were targeted.

“Most Sri Lankans have not heard about this (National Thowheed Jamath) group before,” said Jehan Perera, executive director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka. “There is someone behind them, a handler.”

Caption

As of Thursday, Daesh had not provided any further proof for its claim of responsibility for the attacks, and Sri Lanka’s Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said investigators were trying to determine if it had directly provided training or financing to the bombers. There was no evidence to suggest the bombers had traveled to the Middle East to fight for Daesh, he said..

“There were many people who understandably doubt that the attacks were a purely domestic operation,” said Taylor Dibbert, a Sri Lanka expert and fellow at the Pacific Forum.

“The investigation surrounding intelligence failures and the bombings should be done with significant international assistance. The Sri Lankan government cannot be trusted with this type of thing on its own,” he said.

 

TIMELINE OF SRI LANKA BLASTS

 

April 11 

Sri Lanka’s police chief issues an intelligence alert, warning that suicide bombers from a group called National Thowheed Jamath plan to hit “prominent churches.”

April 21

8.45 a.m. Four bombs explode on Easter Sunday at the Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels, and
St. Anthony’s church in Colombo; and St. Sebastian’s church in Negombo, north of the capital.

8.50 a.m. Explosion at Colombo’s Cinnamon Grand Hotel.

9.05 a.m. Blast hits the Zion Roman Catholic church in Batticaloa on Sri Lanka’s
east coast.

1.45 p.m. Explosion at the New Tropical Inn, Dehiwala.

2.15 p.m. Three police officers are killed in an explosion while raiding a house in Colombo.

8 p.m. Curfew begins in the capital; police say they have made their first arrests.

April 22

4 a.m. Evening curfew is lifted amid tight security. Police find 87 detonators at Colombo’s main bus stand.

8 p.m. Another night curfew begins.

April 23

Midnight State of emergency comes into effect.

Daesh releases a video that shows eight men, all but one with their faces covered, standing under the terror group’s flag and declaring their loyalty to its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. The man with his face uncovered is identified as Moulvi Zahran Hashim, a preacher known for his militant views.

April 24

Bomb squads carry out controlled explosions of suspicious packages; US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says there is “every indication” the bomb attacks were inspired by Daesh.

April 25

Sri Lanka’s Catholic churches suspend all public services over security fears.