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Thursday
Dec062018

Mourners line tracks as funeral train carries President George H.W. Bush to burial next to wife, daughter

David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The nation's farewell to President George H.W. Bush is ending in his adopted home state of Texas, when, after a more intimate service for family and friends Thursday, he will be buried where he had long hoped to be: next to his wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin, who broke their hearts when she died at age 3 of leukemia.

After the church service, a presidential funeral train carried Bush's casket on a 70-mile final journey to the burial site, moving slowly at times as mourners, some saluting, many waving American flags, stood along the tracks in his honor.

At the Texas funeral, he was eulogized by his longtime best friend, James Baker, who became his secretary of state and was with him in his last hours.

He described Bush as "a truly beautiful human being."

"Man’s glory begins and ends with friends," Baker said in a tearful description of their many decades together. He began with an apology to a man he said was always humble, but always clear in his decisions.

"I'm about to do something you always hated — brag about yourself," he said. "I will do this because it must be done."

In a gesture to ways of the past - a time well before presidential Twitter feeds - he called Bush a "charter member of the greatest generation," the "finest" one-term president the country ever had, and a man who believed in "humility toward and not humiliation of" his adversaries.

Baker also poked fun, joking that during a friendly disagreement, Bush used what Baker said was his "effective way of ending a discussion:" 'Baker, if you're so smart, why am I president and you're not?'"

As he finished, he paraphrased the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, saying, "Our glory, George, was to have you as our president, and such a friend," then broke briefly into tears. As he walked back to his pew, he got a warm hug from former President George W. Bush.

George Prescott Bush, the late president's grandson and the son of former presidential candidate Jeb Bush, followed Baker. Bush, who served in the Navy like his grandfather, shared memories of the good times the Bush grandchildren had with the man they knew as "Gampy."

Speaking at his father's emotional service in Washington on Wednesday, the 43rd president said the family took solace in knowing the elder Bush will be reunited with those who meant so much to him.

"So, through our tears, let us see the blessings of knowing and loving you – a great and noble man, and the best father a son or daughter could have," he said, choking up. "And in our grief, let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again."

H.W. Bush became a Texas transplant in the late 1950s after graduating from Yale University and leaving his home in a wealthy town in Connecticut, where he was raised. He moved his growing family to West Texas to learn the oil industry from the ground up, eventually deciding to run for Congress, embarking on his long career in politics.

Before the Texas funeral began, he lay in repose at the St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, which the Bushes joined in 1959.

The Texas ceremonies were intended for about 1,200 friends of the family -- many of whom are said to hail from "west of the Mississippi" -- and included stars from the country music world Bush came to love: Reba McEntire sang "The Lord's Prayer" and the Oak Ridge Boys performed a rendition of "Amazing Grace."

It was in marked contrast to the more formal funeral in Washington, during which the world watched as all five of the nation's living presidents, as well as first ladies and hundreds of the city's power figures, gathered at the Washington National Cathedral.

According to a Bush family spokesperson, the late president, who had a signature pair of socks for seemingly every occasion, will be buried in a pair showing Navy fighter planes flying in formation, honoring his days as a naval aviator, a lifelong source of pride.

In return, in an unprecedented gesture, the Navy will conduct the largest-ever 21-aircraft missing man formation to mark Bush's wartime legacy.

“In addition to being our president, he was also one of our brothers, flying combat missions off aircraft carriers during World War II. His service to our Navy and nation merits a tribute of this magnitude,” Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, said in a statement.

The F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets will fly over the interment ceremony at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

The special train taking Bush's casket and family to the gravesite is reminiscent of previous presidential funeral trains.

This one, designated the Union Pacific No. 4141 and painted in the colors of Air Force One, was unveiled in his honor back in 2005.

At a final, private graveside service, in the late afternoon, "Taps" will be played and the Navy hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," will be sung, and George H.W. Bush will be laid to rest.

On his simple headstone, what he once said all he wanted: his U.S. Navy identification number and the inscription: "He loved Barbara very much."

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Thursday
Dec062018

Navy veterans crew George H.W. Bush's historic presidential funeral train

Courtesy Union Pacific(HOUSTON) -- Thousands of mourners stood by railroad tracks in Texas Thursday to honor President George H.W. Bush as his funeral train carried his casket to his final resting place.

Arrangements for his presidential funeral train took years of complicated planning, but one detail worked out just the way President George H.W. Bush would have wanted: the engineer and conductor are two veterans who served in the Navy just as he did.

June Nobles, the train’s engineer, served nine years in the U.S. Navy. She’s worked for Union Pacific for 15 years. Randy Kuhanek, the train’s conductor, served eight years in the Navy and has worked at Union Pacific for 23 years.

Bush became the youngest pilot in the Navy's history when he joined in 1942 and then almost lost his life when his plane was shot down by the Japanese. He was rescued by an American submarine in a stroke of luck that changed the course of his life.

Together, Nobles and Kuhanek are taking Union Pacific No. 4141, an engine painted to look like Air Force One in honor of the 41st president, some 70 miles through Texas from his funeral at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston to his burial site at Texas A&M University, home to Bush's presidential library and museum.

Union Pacific hand-picked Nobles and Kuhanek, said company spokesman Tom Lange. "Part of it is their knowledge of the route, you have to be familiar with the territory. And both are retired Navy," Lange said.

The train will slow down when it passes through towns so mourners along the tracks can pay their respects. The car carrying the president's remains was outfitted with transparent Plexiglass, according to Union Pacific, so people can see the flag-draped casket.

The presidential funeral train ride will be the first in almost 50 years, when a train carried President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s remains from Washington to his home state of Kansas.

Dating back to President Abraham Lincoln, the presidential funeral train was a more common practice in the era before planes and interstate highways, according to the Smithsonian, as a very visible symbol for mourners.

For Bush, the presidential train arose from a friendship with the Dick Davidson, the CEO of Union Pacific, and a “great love for trains,” said Lange. It was first unveiled in 2005 for a transportation exhibit at his presidential library.

“He really had a love of trains and he was so friendly and personable with everyone,” said Lange, describing times when he rode on Union Pacific trains for other reasons.

Several years later, Union Pacific was asked if a presidential funeral train ride could be arranged, Lange said. Company officials began nailing down the details almost 10 years ago.

“It’s a great honor and privilege for us to play some small part in recognizing Bush and giving people a chance to pay their last respects in a way that’s unique to him,” Lange said.

Bush will be buried next to Barbara, his wife of more than seven decades, and his daughter Robin, who died at age 3 of leukemia.

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Thursday
Dec062018

Veteran Georgia police officer shot in the face, but manages to fire back at suspect: Officials

WSB(HENRY COUNTY, Ga.) -- A veteran Georgia police officer was shot in face Thursday morning and has been hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.

The suspect shot at the police officer at a dentist's office, Henry County Police Department Capt. Joey Smith said, and possibly shot the officer with his own gun.

The injured officer managed to fired back, shooting the suspect, the preliminary investigation indicates, according to Smith.

The suspect was shot at least once and has died, Smith said.

The officer, who was not named, has been on the force for about 10 years, Smith said.

The injured cop was undergoing surgery, Smith said.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials said that the agency is responding.

Additional details were not immediately available.

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Thursday
Dec062018

Two killed, three injured when school bus collides with semi-truck in Illinois

THEPALMER/iStock(DOWNS, Ill.) -- A truck driver in Illinois was going the wrong way on a highway when he slammed headfirst into a school bus on Wednesday night, killing himself and a volunteer school worker, police said.

The 34-year-old semitrailer driver was traveling east in the westbound lane of Interstate 74 in Downs, Illinois, around 8:30 p.m. when he collided with a yellow bus carrying a group of Normal West High School athletes, according to authorities.

The students survived, but a volunteer school worker on the bus, 72-year-old Charles Crabtree, was killed, according to the McClean County Unit District No. 5. Three adults, including two from the bus, were airlifted to local hospitals. Their conditions were unknown as of early Thursday morning.

Authorities said they were withholding the truck driver's identity, pending next-of-kin notifications.

The students, including JV girls basketball players, were taken to local hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries, the school district said in a Facebook post. It plans to have staff on hand to provide support for those affected by the crash.

"There were 11 people on the bus. All of our students on the bus have been transported to local hospitals with non life-threatening injuries," the post said.

"Please keep the Crabtree family and the entire Normal West Community in your thoughts," it added in a separate post.

The school said parents of the players involved should come to the campus.

Illinois State Police are investigating the crash.

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Thursday
Dec062018

Winter storm moving east heading into weekend

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Most of the eastern U.S. is in the grip of wintry weather with cold temperatures and snowfall.

Anywhere from 3 to 7.5 inches of snow fell Wednesday from the Carolinas to New Jersey and western New York -- producing numerous accidents and spinouts.

Now, a new storm is moving from west to east over the next several days and bringing heavy snow, ice and heavy rain.

The western storm brought more than 2 inches of rain to Southern California and wind gusts to near 70 mph. Also, several inches of snow fell in the Southern California mountains Wednesday.

The storm will continue to move through the Southwest on Thursday from California into Arizona and New Mexico with rain and mountain snow. Some minor flash flooding is possible.

By Friday afternoon, the storm system will redevelop in southern Texas and bring with it heavy rain. Heavy snow and ice will break out to the north on Friday night into Saturday morning from the Texas Panhandle to central Oklahoma.

The storm system will move into the Southeast by Sunday, bringing heavy snow and ice to the southern Appalachian Mountains and heavy rain for the eastern Gulf Coast states. Major ice and snow is forecast for the Carolinas and into Virginia and parts of northern Georgia.

Heavy snow is forecast from the Texas Panhandle to southern Virginia, where locally 6 to 12 inches of snow is possible. Some areas in the southern Appalachian Mountains could see more than a foot of snow.

Some areas from Oklahoma to the Carolinas could see up to half an inch of ice accumulate on cold surfaces -- a major deal since this far south they don’t deal well with wintry precipitation.

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Thursday
Dec062018

Man pushes random passerby in front of oncoming truck in downtown LA

KABC-TV(LOS ANGELES) -- A random passerby in downtown Los Angeles is lucky to be alive after he was pushed in front of a truck by a random person on the street Wednesday.

In the surveillance video, acquired by Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV, a man is seen sitting on a bench by the sidewalk. He jumps toward one woman and startles her, before sitting back down.

But as the next passerby, a man in a suit, walks past, the man jumps off the bench and shoves him into the street right as a box truck is pulling up. The truck manages to slam on the brakes to avoid running over the man lying in the street, but he's still caught under the front wheel.

The suspect calmly picks up something off the street and walks away.

The video shows the truck driver get out of the cab and attempt to help the injured man as several onlookers also rush to help.

The man remains in the hospital in critical condition with a collapsed lung and multiple broken bones, according to KABC. His injuries are not considered life-threatening.

The suspect was arrested just hours after the incident. The Los Angeles Police Department thanked KABC and the Los Angeles Fire Department after a firefighter saw the video and detained the suspect Wednesday evening.

"It was definitely the bright neon rain jacket and the baggy pants, and just the demeanor the guy had," firefighter Austen Johnson told KABC.

"We followed him a couple blocks and made notification to LAPD," Fire Station 9 Capt. Raymond Robles said. "I am happy [he was arrested]. I hope the gentleman he pushed has a speedy recovery and for the individual that did push him, hopefully he can do a little soul searching on what he did was wrong, and keep him off the street from hurting anybody else."

The suspect is expected to be charged with attempted murder, according to KABC.

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Thursday
Dec062018

Death of Guatemalan toddler detained by ICE sparks $60M legal claim

Yazmin Juarez(NEW YORK) -- A Guatemalan toddler who died weeks after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with her mother is at the center of a wrongful death claim that's seeking $60 million from the federal government.

Mariee Juarez and mother Yazmin, who told ABC News she was fleeing an abusive situation at home, illegally crossed into the United States earlier this year, but they were detained and taken to a family detention center in Dilley, Texas, where all medical care is provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Health Services.

Medical records obtained by ABC News amid an ongoing investigation of health care practices in immigration detention centers in partnership with the nonprofit criminal justice watchdog The Marshall Project show there was no indication Mariee was sick when she entered the facility, but she soon developed a respiratory infection that Yazmin says was inadequately treated for nearly two weeks.

Mariee visited the health clinic several times, medical records show, where she was seen on several occasions by physician assistants and a nurse, but she only saw an actual doctor once.

"Frankly, to me, it was completely irresponsible," Yazmin told ABC News of her daughter's medical treatment at the Dilley facility. "I think they should think about the children. The children are little angels, and this is not their fault."

After 20 days at the detention facility, Yazmin and Mariee were released to fly to join Yazmin's mother in New Jersey. According to Yazmin's wrongful death filing, no medical personnel examined or cleared Mariee for the flight. Mariee's condition worsened on the flight, and hours after landing she was taken to the emergency room. After six weeks in hospitals, she died.

On Nov. 27, lawyers for Yazmin filed an administrative wrongful death claim seeking $60 million from the federal government. In a letter accompanying the claim, attorney R. Stanton Jones asserted "Mariee died because the medical care she received at the Dilley detention facility was woefully inadequate, neglectful, and substandard."

In response to questions from ABC News, an ICE spokesperson said the agency was unable to comment because of Yazmin Juarez's legal claim but released a statement saying, "ICE takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care ... including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care."

But critics say Mariee's case is not an isolated one. Human Rights Watch, the prominent international research and advocacy organization, obtained medical records for 52 ICE detainees who've died since 2010, and their experts concluded that almost half of those death were linked to substandard healthcare.

Dr. Mark Stern, a former healthcare consultant for the Department of Homeland Security who once investigated allegations of insufficient or poor healthcare at ICE facilities, said those records show people are "needlessly dying" in a "broken system."

"I'm not surprised that people are dying," Stern told ABC News. "It is preventable."

For Yazmin, the tragedy has left her with an uncertain future.

"After all the ugly things I lived in Guatemala, I had so many dreams for her, so many expectations," she said.

But she's sure she knows why her daughter died.

"I think it was because they did not care," she said. "They didn't care."

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Thursday
Dec062018

Prosecutor wants death penalty for border agent accused of killing four women

stellalevi/iStock(LAREDO, Texas) -- The Texas border patrol supervisor who confessed to killing four women in September may receive the death penalty, authorities said.

U.S. Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz, 35, was indicted Wednesday on charges of capital murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful restraint and evading arrest or detention in the deaths of four sex workers in September, according to Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz.

Ortiz, a 10-year Border Patrol veteran, allegedly told investigators he killed the women in an effort to "clean up the streets" in Laredo, Texas.

If Ortiz is convicted, Alaniz said he'll seek the death penalty.

"By day, he was a family man. The evidence shows that he was a supervisor, that he would go about his daily activities like anybody here," Alaniz told reporters on Wednesday. "At the nighttime, he was somebody else -- hunting the streets ... for this community of people and arbitrarily deciding who he was going to kill next."

Among the four women -- Melissa Ramirez, Claudine Luera, Guiselda Cantu and Janelle Ortiz -- allegedly murdered by Ortiz, three died of gunshot wounds, and one, who also was shot, from blunt-force trauma, authorities said.

Ortiz also was charged with committing aggravated assault against Erika Pena, who told police he attempted to abduct her.

According to police, Ortiz picked up victims in his truck in Laredo, near the U.S.-Mexican border, and killed them over a two-week span beginning in early September. Ortiz was arrested Sept. 15 after Pena escaped from Ortiz's vehicle when he pulled a gun on her, police said.

"The scheme in this case, from Ortiz's own words," Alaniz said, "was to clean up the streets of Laredo by targeting this community of individuals who he perceived to be disposable, that no one would miss and that he did not give value to."

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Thursday
Dec062018

No more snow days for five South Carolina school districts

georgejurasek/iStock(NEW YORK) -- One school district in South Carolina has gotten rid of snow days. In fact, they’ve done away with all inclement weather days altogether.

The change is part of a pilot program for the 21 schools in Anderson School District Five as well as four other South Carolina school districts: Spartanburg 1, Spartanburg 7, Pickens and Kershaw.

Anna O. Baldwin, director of eLearning and integration for Anderson School District Five, told ABC News' Good Morning America the kids use Chromebooks to receive their lessons on days when schools have to close for inclement weather.

"The goal is to keep students learning, even when the weather prevents schools from operating," she said. "An eLearning day is very similar to a normal school day."

Baldwin said the idea was championed by the district Super Intendant Tom Wilson.

"He was visiting family in Georgia last winter and saw that a district was going to have an eLearning day and all other districts would be closed due to inclement weather. It was his vision and the financial investment of a Chromebook for all of our students K to 12 that sparked pursuing an eLearning Day for our district," she said.

The district has already experienced a school closure.

"Overall, our parents and students were positive about the eLearning Day pilot," Baldwin said.

Cathy Tims, a parent in the district, told GMA she was in favor of the idea.

"I personally really like the idea. The kids can do their school work from home and parents don’t have to worry about whether their kids are safe or not. We also don’t have to worry about how we are going to take them to school and pick them up if weather changes," she said.

Snow and inclement weather days may seem like a right of childhood passage, but Tims said her kids weren't too bothered by the change in policy.

"At first they didn’t like the fact of having to do school work at home, but after they finally had to do it, they realized it was much better to do the work in the convenience of home, than at school. So they like it much better now," Tims said.

The upside for the kids is that they don't have to make up any days at the end of the school year.

"When we have make up days at the end of the school year, students are just making up time," Baldwin said. "Typically, student attendance on inclement weather make up days is very low."

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Wednesday
Dec052018

George W. Bush eulogizes his father with laughter and tears: 'A genuinely optimistic man'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President George H.W. Bush once said about his funeral and lying in state, "Do you think anyone will come?"

On Wednesday, after thousands of teary-eyed visitors waited hours in the December cold to pay their respects to the late president in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as he lay in state, hundreds of dignitaries, heads of state and family members gathered at the Washington National Cathedral for a state funeral honoring the life of former President George H.W. Bush, answering his humble question with resounding affirmation.

The final eulogy came from the son who followed in his footsteps, George W. Bush, the 43rd president who often referred to his father endearingly as "41."

"He was a genuinely optimistic man," said Bush, recounting stories, as others did, that made the those gathered react with knowing laughter.

"Of course, he wasn't perfect," Bush said. "The man couldn't stomach vegetables," especially broccoli, he said, adding it was a genetic trait he'd passed along to his children.

As he neared the end, he broke down as he described H.W. Bush as "the best father a son or daughter could have."

He told the story of the last conversation he had with his father, which ended with the late president's last words.

"Dad I love you and you've been a wonderful father," Bush said he told his father.

"And the last words he would ever say on earth were 'I love you, too,'" Bush said.

His father, who died last Friday at age 94, has been memorialized among a bipartisan chorus of voices since his death for his commitment to national service and dedication to his family. His funeral service at the National Cathedral marked a rare and very public gathering of the nation’s living presidents and first ladies. The last time the Bush, Clinton, Trump and Obama families were at the same public event was in January 2017, at Trump's inauguration.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump entered the cathedral before 11 a.m. Trump handed his coat to a member of the military before sitting down beside his wife, who sat next to the Obamas on the end of the row. Next to the Obamas sat the Clintons and the Carters. The president and the Clintons didn't exchange greetings, though both Trump and the first lady said hello to the Obamas.

While the presidents, first ladies and hundreds of Washington power figures gathered at the cathedral, the city of Washington watched as the motorcade carrying the remains of the 41st president left the Capitol for a final time. The Bush family stood with their hands on their hearts as the casket was carried slowly down the Capitol steps as a military band played "Nearer My God to Thee." A hearse then began the drive to the cathedral past streets lined with mourners.

The first eulogist, historian and Bush biographer Jon Meacham, told the story of a 20-year-old George H.W. Bush surviving being shot down during World II. "For the rest of his life, he asked, almost daily: 'Why me? Why was I spared?' The rest of his life was spent proving himself worthy of that salvation, Meacham said.

He called him, "America's last great soldier-statesman."

"An imperfect man, he left us a more perfect union."

Other eulogies came from former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who spoke of Bush as a world leader.

"Every single person knew you were dealing with a gentleman," he said.

Former Wyoming GOP Sen. Alan Simpson, an old friend, spoke of the many laughs they shared -- and promised not to speak too long.

“Relax," he told the gathering. "George told me I only had 10 minutes.”

Simpson joked that Bush had a good sense of humor -- one he "never lost" -- despite never being able to remember a punch line.

"Humor is a universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life," Simpson said. That's what humor is."

Bush "never hated anyone," he said.

Simpson recalled how Bush, while campaigning, once walked up to a mannequin to shake hands. "You never know," Simpson said Bush replied.

The program itself is largely reflective of Bush's own service in the military, and will include full state's honors and performances by the U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra, the Armed Forces Chorus, the Air Force Singing Sergeants and the "President's Own" Marine Band, among others.

It will mark a contrast to the funeral service scheduled for Thursday after the president's return to Texas, which is said to feature friends of the family from "west of the Mississippi" and includes performances from the Oak Ridge Boys and Reba McEntire.

The attendee list at the national service is a bipartisan cadre of current and former heads of state, and will be the first time that President Trump is in the same room as all the former living presidents, as well as his defeated 2016 campaign rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

President Trump's public statements about Bush since his passing and the White House's coordination of the service have largely received praise for striking a tone of respect and being in alignment with his predecessors' handling of state funerals.

 

 

But that tone of respect will hardly erase what has been the president's overwhelmingly hostile posture towards the Bush family, the Obamas and the Clintons, both from the campaign trail and since taking office.

While both the president and the first lady met privately with members of the Bush family Tuesday, as recently as last week, Trump shared an image with his millions of Twitter followers that called for Obama and Clinton to be jailed and investigated for "treason."

Even so, the service itself is not expected to carry some of the more political overtones that were present in the service for former Sen. John McCain this year, that included multiple instances like the eulogy from McCain's daughter Meghan McCain that seemed to take veiled shots at Trump himself.

Eulogies in Bush's funeral will be delivered by his son, former President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and historian Jon Meacham. Trump was not asked to deliver a eulogy, marking a departure from the most recent state funerals for Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, where both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton delivered eulogies as acting presidents.

Upon the conclusion of the service, the president's remains will be transported by Air Force One to Houston, and will lie in repose at the St. Martin's Episcopal Church, where Bush and his wife Barbara first became members in 1959.

There will be a funeral service at the church on Thursday before Bush's remains are transported by train to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University, where he will be interred alongside his wife Barbara.

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