Supreme leader in tears as huge crowd mourns slain commander in Tehran

By Parisa Hafezi and Jeff Mason

DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader wept in grief with hundreds of thousands of mourners thronging Tehran’s streets on Monday for the funeral of military commander Qassem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. drone on the orders of U.S. President Donald Trump.

As the coffins of General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who also died in Friday’s attack in Baghdad, were passed over the heads of mourners, Soleimani’s successor vowed to expel U.S. forces from the region in revenge.

The killing of Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s drive to extend its influence across the Middle East, has stoked concern around the globe that a broader regional conflict could erupt.

Trump has listed 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, that could be hit if Iran retaliates with attacks on Americans or U.S. assets, although U.S. officials sought to play down the president’s reference to cultural targets.

General Esmail Ghaani, the new commander of the Quds Force, the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards charged with overseas operations, promised to “continue martyr Soleimani’s cause as firmly as before with the help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to rid the region of America”.

“God the Almighty has promised to take martyr Soleimani’s revenge,” he told state television. “Certainly, actions will be taken.”

Other political and military leaders have made similar, unspecific threats. Iran, which lies at the mouth of the key Gulf oil shipping route, has a range of proxy forces in the region through which it could act.

The crowd in Tehran, which state media said numbered in the millions, recalled the masses that gathered in 1989 for the funeral of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

NATIONAL HERO

Soleimani was a national hero in Iran – even to many who do not consider themselves supporters of Iran’s clerical rulers.

Aerial footage showed people packing thoroughfares and side streets and chanting “Death to America!”, a welcome show of national unity for Tehran after anti-government protests in November in which many demonstrators were killed.

Iran’s demand that U.S. forces quit the region gained traction on Sunday when Iraq’s parliament backed the prime minister’s recommendation for foreign troops to be ordered out.

Iraq’s rival Shi’ite leaders, including ones opposed to Iranian influence, have united since Friday’s attack to call for the expulsion of U.S. troops, who number about 5,000.

Soleimani, widely seen as Iran’s second most powerful figure behind Khamenei, built a network of proxy forces that formed a crescent of influence – and a direct challenge to the United States and its regional allies led by Saudi Arabia – stretching from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Iran. Outside the crescent, Iran nurtured allied Palestinian and Yemeni groups.

He notably mobilized Shi’ite Muslim militia forces in Iraq that helped to crush Islamic State, the Sunni militant group that had seized control of swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2013-14.

Washington, however, blames Soleimani for attacks on U.S. forces and their allies.

Prayers at Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran, which moves to the general’s southern home city of Kerman on Tuesday, were led by Khamenei, who wept as he spoke.

His daughter Zeinab Soleimani told mourners the United States would face a “dark day” for her father’s death.

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, on his first trip to Iran since taking up his role in 2017, said “resistance against America” would continue.

NUCLEAR DEAL

Iran adding to tensions on Sunday by dropping all limitations on its uranium enrichment — another step back from commitments under a landmark deal with major powers in 2015 to curtail Iran’s nuclear program that Trump abandoned in 2018.

European Union foreign ministers plan to hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss ways to save the deal, two diplomats said. [nL8N29B3O7]

After quitting the deal, the United States imposed new sanctions on Iran, saying it wanted to halt Iranian oil exports, the main source of government revenues. Iran’s economy has been in freefall as the currency has plunged.

Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Monday that Trump was still confident he could renegotiate a new nuclear agreement “if Iran wants to start behaving like a normal country”.

Tehran has said Washington must return to the existing nuclear pact and lift sanctions before any talks can take place.

Trump stood by remarks that cultural sites were potential targets, despite criticism from U.S. politicians that this amounted to a threat to commit war crimes.

“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump said.

Democratic critics of the Republican president have said Trump was reckless in authorizing the strike. Republicans in the U.S. Congress have generally backed his move.

Trump also threatened sanctions against Iraq and said Baghdad would have to pay Washington for an air base in Iraq if U.S. troops were required to leave.

It was not clear if Washington had advised its allies of its plans before killing Soleimani. Britain, which also has troops in Iraq, said it understood why the United States had acted but called for a de-escalation to avoid war.

(Reporting by Reuters reporters in Dubai Newsroom; Jeff Mason in Washington; Ahmed Aboulenein in Baghdad; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Kevin Liffey)

Former President George H.W. Bush laid to rest in Texas

By Loren Elliott

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Reuters) – Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush was laid to rest at his presidential library in College Station, Texas, on Thursday, following funeral services at his longtime church in Houston.

Bush’s casket traveled in a special train car about an hour northwest from Houston to College Station and was then carried to the gravesite behind his library by a military honor guard, in a ceremony overseen by his son and former President George W. Bush.

Bush, the 41st U.S. president, died last week in Texas at 94. His remains were flown to Texas on Wednesday following a state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral attended by President Donald Trump, the four living former presidents and foreign leaders.

“The memorial was a beautiful tribute to President Bush’s extraordinary life and a noble legacy to public service,” Trump said at a Hanukkah reception at the White House on Thursday. “He was a wonderful man. We will always remember this great statesman and beloved American patriot. He really was very special.”

Thursday’s funeral service in Houston was held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush worshipped for more than five decades and took on a more personal tone with remarks by family members.

George W. Bush, who followed his father to the White House after President Bill Clinton’s two terms, sat in a front pew near the flag-draped casket and joined in as some 1,000 mourners sang “America the Beautiful.”

George P. Bush, son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and one of the former president’s 17 grandchildren, remembered fly fishing and sharing ice cream with the man he called “Gampy.”

James Baker, a longtime friend who served as Bush’s secretary of state, eulogized the former Republican president as a peacemaker and “a truly beautiful human being.”

“He was not considered a skilled speaker, but his deeds were quite eloquent and he demonstrated their eloquence by carving them into the hard granite of history,” Baker said.

Mourners laughed as Baker recalled how Bush would let him know a conversation was over: “‘Baker, if you’re so smart, why am I president and you’re not?'” His voice cracking at moments, Baker said he was at his friend’s deathbed last week.

Raised in an Episcopalian family in Massachusetts, Bush fused his preppy New England background with the more free-wheeling traits of his adoptive state of Texas, where he moved as a young man to work in the oil industry.

That mix was reflected in the music heard at his funeral: the St. Martin’s Parish Choir sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” country music star Reba McEntire performed “The Lord’s Prayer,” and the casket was carried out of the church to the thunderous strains of “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

People pay their respects as the train carrying the casket of former President George H.W. Bush passes Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, along the route from Spring to College Station, Texas. David J. Phillip/Pool via REUTERS

LOCOMOTIVE 4141

Following the funeral service, Bush’s remains were taken by train some 80 miles (130 km) northwest to College Station for the burial alongside his wife, Barbara, who died in April, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3 in 1953.

Residents of small towns along the route gathered to wave at the train, a Union Pacific Corp locomotive numbered 4141 and bearing the name “George Bush 41” on the side, as it passed.

Bush, a U.S. Navy aviator who narrowly escaped death when he was shot down by Japanese forces over the Pacific Ocean during World War Two, was honored with a 21-plane flyover in a “missing man” formation before he was carried to his gravesite for a private interment.A light rain that had fallen for much of the day in College Station ended just before the train carrying his body pulled into the station.

Bush was president from 1989 to 1993, navigating the collapse of the Soviet Union and expelling former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces from oil-rich Kuwait.

He supported the passage of the American with Disabilities Act, a major civil rights law protecting disabled people from discrimination.

A patrician figure who served as vice president to Ronald Reagan, Bush lost re-election to a second term in part for failing to connect with ordinary Americans during an economic recession.

He has also been criticized for supporting tough drug laws that led to the disproportionate incarceration of black people, as well as what activists call an insufficient response to the AIDS epidemic.

But tributes in recent days have focused on the former president as a man of integrity and kindness who represented an earlier era of civility in American politics.

(Reporting by Loren Elliott in College Station, Texas; Additional reporting by Liz Hampton and Gary McWilliams in Houston, Steve Holland in Washington and Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Frances Kerry and Peter Cooney)

Houston mourns former U.S. President George H.W. Bush

People pay their respects as the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush lies in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Houston. David J. Phillip/Pool via REUTERS

By Liz Hampton

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush will be mourned on Thursday at the Houston church where he worshipped for many years, a final public farewell before his remains are taken to their resting place at his Texas presidential library.

Bush, the 41st U.S. president, died last week in Texas aged 94. His remains were flown to Texas on Wednesday evening after a formal state funeral at Washington’s National Cathedral.

The casket was accompanied by members of his family, and taken by motorcade to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

The church remained open through the night so mourners, who began lining up on Wednesday morning, could pay their final respects.

Country music star Reba McEntire was due to be among the musical performers at the service, which was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. CT (1600 GMT).

Following the funeral at St. Martin’s, where Bush and his late wife, Barbara Bush, were long-time worshippers, a train will carry his remains about 80 miles (130 km) northwest to College Station, Texas, where he will be laid to rest at his presidential library.

The train is a Union Pacific Corp locomotive, numbered 4141 and bearing the name “George Bush 41” on the side that has been in service since 2005.

Bush, who narrowly escaped death as a naval aviator who was shot down by Japanese forces over the Pacific Ocean in World War Two, will be buried with military honors, including a flyover by 21 aircraft from the U.S. Navy.

Bush was president from 1989 to 1993, navigating the collapse of the Soviet Union and expelling former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces from oil-rich Kuwait.

He supported the passage of the American with Disabilities Act, a major civil rights law protecting disabled people from discrimination.

A patrician figure, Bush was voted out of office in part for failing to connect with ordinary Americans during an economic recession. He has also been criticized for supporting tough drug laws that led to the disproportionate incarceration of black people, as well as what activists call an insufficient response to the AIDS epidemic when he was in power during some of its deadliest years.

But many tributes in recent days have focused on the former Republican president as a man of integrity and kindness who represented an earlier era of civility in American politics. That image has been burnished in recent years by the divisiveness and anger in the United States that accompanied the rise of President Donald Trump.

(Reporting by Liz Hampton in Houston; Additional reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston, Steve Holland in Washington, D.C., and Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Master of bygone civility, Bush is hailed at funeral as U.S. ‘soldier-statesman’

The flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush is arrives carried by a military honor guard during a State Funeral at the National Cathedral, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Washington. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former President George H.W. Bush was hailed at his state funeral on Wednesday as a warrior-statesman of uncommon personal kindness who went from being a hero of American conflicts to representing a bygone era of civility in politics.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand with former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady Hillary Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter in the front row at the state funeral for former U.S. President George H.W. Bush at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, U.S., December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand with former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady Hillary Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter in the front row at the state funeral for former U.S. President George H.W. Bush at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, U.S., December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Amid an unusual bipartisan spirit at the service at the Washington National Cathedral, both Republican and Democratic politicians honored a president who called for a “kinder, gentler” nation.

Bush, the 41st U.S. president, died last week in Texas aged 94. He occupied the White House from 1989 to 1993, navigating the collapse of the Soviet Union and expelling former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces from oil-rich Kuwait.

“George H.W. Bush was America’s last great soldier-statesman,” Jon Meacham, a presidential biographer, said in a eulogy. “He stood in the breach in the Cold War against totalitarianism. He stood in the breach in Washington against unthinking partisanship,” he said.

At a ceremony full of pomp but also peppered with laughter, the capital’s current political feuds were briefly set aside in honor of the late president, a naval aviator who survived being shot down by Japanese forces over the Pacific Ocean in World War Two, and a former head of the CIA during the Cold War.

 

A patrician figure, Bush was voted out of office in part for failing to connect with ordinary Americans during an economic recession.

But he has been remembered as representing an earlier era of civility in American politics, that image burnished in recent years by the divisiveness and anger in the United States that accompanied the rise of President Donald Trump.

Former President George W. Bush said his father “valued character over pedigree, and he was no cynic. He’d look for the good in each person, and he usually found it.”

“The best father a son or daughter could ever have,” the former president said in his eulogy, his voice cracking with emotion as he spoke near his father’s flag-draped coffin.

Former President George W. Bush places his hand over his heart with Laura Bush as they watch the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush depart the U.S. Capitol enroute to the National Cathedral for funeral services, Washington, U.S., December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Former President George W. Bush places his hand over his heart with Laura Bush as they watch the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush depart the U.S. Capitol enroute to the National Cathedral for funeral services, Washington, U.S., December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

TEARS AND MEMORIES

Taking his seat at the cathedral, Trump shook hands with his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who he has often sharply criticized.

Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 election opponent, and her husband former President Bill Clinton shared the front pew with Trump, Obama, and their spouses.

Trump, like Bush a Republican, infuriated the late president by attacking his sons, George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, a rival in the 2016 Republican primary campaign.

Trump sat mostly motionless next to first lady Melania Trump throughout much of the service.

He had tweeted earlier that he was “Looking forward to being with the Bush family. This is not a funeral, this is a day of celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life. He will be missed!”

Bush did not endorse Trump in the 2016 presidential election. He did not publicly say who he voted for but a source told CNN at the time that he had voted for Hillary Clinton.

Bush, who was ailing in recent years, did send Trump a letter in January 2017 saying he would not be able to attend his inauguration because of health concerns but wishing him the best.

All surviving former U.S. presidents were at the cathedral. During one of the eulogies, Bill Clinton wiped away tears and former first lady Michelle Obama leaned over to pat him on the arm.

‘RESOLUTE AND BRAVE’

Canadian former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney lauded Bush’s role in handling the end of the Cold War and helping the delicate reunification of Germany.

Bush put together a U.S.-led international coalition that ousted invading Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991 and was president when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

“When George Bush was president of the United States of America, every single head of government in the world knew that they were dealing with a gentleman, a genuine leader, one who was distinguished, resolute and brave,” he said.

The guest list included Britain’s Prince Charles and leaders from Germany, Jordan, Australia and Poland, along with a host of former world leaders, such as former British Prime Minister John Major, who was in office during Bush’s term.

Trump closed the federal government on Wednesday to mark a day of mourning for Bush, and several U.S. financial exchanges were closed.

During his presidency, Bush was dogged by domestic problems, including a sluggish economy, and he faced criticism for not doing enough to stem the tens of thousands of deaths from the AIDS virus ravaging America.

When he ran for re-election in 1992, he was pilloried by Democrats and many Republicans for violating a famous 1988 campaign promise: “Read my lips, no new taxes.” His opponent Bill Clinton coasted to victory.

An ad from the 1988 campaign also came back to haunt Bush and tarnish his reputation as a fair player.

A political group close to the Bush campaign was accused of racism after releasing an ad about African-American prisoner Willie Horton who raped a white woman after being released on furlough. The ad suggested that Bush’s Democratic presidential opponent Michael Dukakis had been weak on crime while governor of Massachusetts.

Bush is to be buried on Thursday at his Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

Before Wednesday’s service, his body lay in state since Monday evening in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington.

Thousands of people filed past to pay their respects, some getting a chance to see Sully, a service dog who was Bush’s friendly companion. Sully became an internet sensation after being photographed lying next to his late master’s coffin.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Heavey and Jeff Mason; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Loved ones mourn Khashoggi after Riyadh seeks to execute five suspects

People attend a symbolic funeral prayer for Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the courtyard of Fatih mosque in Istanbul, Turkey November 16, 2018. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

By Stephen Kalin and Sarah Dadouch

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Family and friends of Jamal Khashoggi said funeral prayers in Saudi Arabia and Turkey on Friday for the Saudi journalist killed by agents of his own government, in a case that has sparked a global outcry and mired the kingdom in crisis.

The Saudi public prosecutor said on Thursday it would seek the death penalty for five suspects in the murder inside the country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2. They did not provide names but at least two are senior officials closely associated with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

People holding pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi attend a symbolic funeral prayer for Khashoggi at the courtyard of Fatih mosque in Istanbul, Turkey November 16, 2018. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

People holding pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi attend a symbolic funeral prayer for Khashoggi at the courtyard of Fatih mosque in Istanbul, Turkey November 16, 2018. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

In an unusual measure against an important security and economic partner, the U.S. Treasury imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudis, including Saud al-Qahtani, the crown prince’s former top adviser.

Riyadh maintains that Prince Mohammed had nothing to do with the murder, even as Turkey and some Western allies, including U.S. President Donald Trump, have said ultimate responsibility lies with him as the country’s de facto ruler. Changing Saudi accounts of the murder, including initial denials, have been met with skepticism abroad.

Tens of thousands of worshippers at Mecca’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, Khashoggi’s hometown, joined in prayers for the deceased, though the imams did not name him.

In Istanbul, mourners raised their hands in prayer outside Fatih Mosque. An imam recited Koranic verses under a tent set up to protect against the rain, and Khashoggi’s friends eulogized him.

“What we heard yesterday from the Saudi public prosecutor is not the justice we were expecting or waiting for, but represents injustice itself,” said Ayman Nour, a liberal Egyptian politician.

An adviser to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for Prince Mohammed to distance himself from the legal proceedings.

“There is no chance to have a court proceeding that is independent from the crown prince in Saudi Arabia,” said Yasin Aktay.

For weeks, Khashoggi’s family has urged Saudi and Turkish authorities to find his remains and hand them over for burial, but the Saudi prosecutor said their whereabouts are unknown.

Islamic tradition places immense importance on the proper handling of the dead, mandating quick burial. The revelation that the body was dismembered has thus been particularly disturbing.

The decision to hold prayer services in the absence of a body suggests the family does not expect it to be recovered.

Khashoggi’s son, Salah, met the king and crown prince in Riyadh last month to receive condolences along with other relatives. He then departed for Washington after a travel ban was lifted and told CNN on Nov. 5 that he wanted to bury his father in Medina with the rest of the family.

“We just need to make sure that he rests in peace,” Salah said. “Until now, I still can’t believe that he’s dead. It’s not sinking in with me emotionally.”

NEW LIFE

Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish researcher who had waited outside the Istanbul consulate for hours on the day he was killed and alerted the authorities and the media when he never left the building, called last week for Muslims around the world to perform the funeral prayer for him.

On Thursday, she tweeted a selfie of Khashoggi outside the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina mosque, writing: “Dear Jamal.. rest in peace. We will meet in heaven inshallah (God willing)..!”

Cengiz and Khashoggi met at a conference in Istanbul in May and soon decided to wed. He had entered the consulate that day to obtain documents proving an earlier marriage had ended.

The pair purchased an apartment in Istanbul and Khashoggi was planning to live between there and Washington, where he moved 18 months earlier fearing reprisals for his views. He obtained U.S. residency and wrote for the Washington Post, becoming familiar to many American policymakers.

“I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison,” he wrote in Sept. 2017, referring to intellectuals, activists and clerics arrested under Prince Mohammed.

His murder has provoked the biggest political crisis in a generation for Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and a supporter of Washington’s plans to contain Iranian influence across the Middle East.

It has also tarnished the image of Prince Mohammed, who has pushed social and economic reforms while cracking down on dissent, upending the delicate balance inside the ruling family, and leading the country into messy conflicts in Yemen and Qatar.

(Additional Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun, writing by Stephen Kalin, Editing by William Maclean)

Barbara Bush remembered for her dignity and wit at Houston funeral

The hearse carrying former first lady Barbara Bush passes through members of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets as it nears her husband's presidential library at the university in College Station, Texas, U.S. April 21, 2018. Smiley N. Pool/Pool via REUTERS

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Former first lady Barbara Bush was remembered at her funeral on Saturday as a formidable but caring figure whose devotion to her family was matched only by her commitment to public service.

Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush looks at the casket of his late wife, former first lady Barbara Bush with his daughter Dorothy "Doro" Bush Koch during the visitation at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S. April 20, 2018. Mark Burns/Office of George H.W. Bush/Pool via REUTERS

Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush looks at the casket of his late wife, former first lady Barbara Bush with his daughter Dorothy “Doro” Bush Koch during the visitation at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S. April 20, 2018. Mark Burns/Office of George H.W. Bush/Pool via REUTERS

“She was our teacher and role model in how to live a life of purpose and meaning,” one of her four sons, former Florida governor and 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush, told the crowded Houston church.

He then drew laughs with a nod to Bush’s famously sharp tongue: “She called her style a benevolent dictatorship, but honestly, it wasn’t all that benevolent.”

Some 1,500 mourners, including governors, senators and former U.S. presidents, gathered at a televised but invitation-only service at the church to pay tribute to the matriarch of one of the country’s most prominent political dynasties, who died on Tuesday at age 92.

Bush, the wife of the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, and the mother of the 43rd, George W. Bush, was lauded as an inspiration both to the country and her loved ones, a woman who leavened a strong sense of decency and honor with a self-deprecating wit she employed to great effect.

“She was candid and comforting, steadfast and straightforward, honest and loving,” said the historian and author Jon Meacham, who wrote a biography of George H.W. Bush and was one of three eulogists whom Barbara Bush herself selected before her death.

“Barbara Bush and George Bush put country above party, the common good above political gain and service to others above the settling of scores,” he said.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, current first lady Melania Trump, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama were all on hand for the service.

President Donald Trump, who clashed with the Bush family during his 2016 campaign, did not travel to Houston. The White House said this week he wanted to avoid disrupting the service with added security.

Pallbearers escort the casket of former first lady Barbara Bush after funeral services at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 21, 2018. David J. Phillip/Pool via Reute

Pallbearers escort the casket of former first lady Barbara Bush after funeral services at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 21, 2018. David J. Phillip/Pool via Reuters

In a Twitter post, Trump said his “thoughts and prayers are with the entire Bush family.”

Former President Jimmy Carter was overseas and unable to attend.

Barbara Bush’s longtime friend, Susan Baker, the wife of former Secretary of State James Baker, described her in a eulogy as a “tough but loving enforcer” whose 73-year marriage to her husband was a real-life fairy tale.

George H.W. Bush would write a letter to his wife on each wedding anniversary, Jeb Bush said, before reading aloud one such letter from 1994, a year after his father left the White House.

“I was very happy on that day in 1945, but I’m even happier today,” he read, as his 93-year-old father squeezed his eyes shut and wept. “You have given me joy that few men know … I have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.”

To honor his late wife’s commitment to literacy, the former president wore to the funeral a pair of colorful socks “festooned with books,” Bush spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted, adding that Barbara Bush had raised more than $100 million for the cause.

As the service ended, Bush’s grandsons bore her casket out of the church, with George W. Bush pushing his father in a wheelchair directly behind it.

Barbara Bush was buried on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station, next to her daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia at the age of 3. The motorcade carrying her body traversed George Bush Drive and Barbara Bush Drive on its way there.

More than 700 Texas A&M cadets lined the driveway to the presidential library grounds as the cortege passed, the Houston Chronicle reported. When the last vehicle entered the property, the gates were closed ahead of the private ceremony, the newspaper said.

Members of the public had a chance to pay their respects on Friday, when Bush lay in repose at the church. George H.W. Bush, seated in a wheelchair in front of the casket, greeted mourners in turn with a handshake.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston; Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Additional reporting and writing by Joseph Ax; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Daniel Wallis)

U.S. evangelist Billy Graham to be laid to rest in North Carolina

Members of the public visit the late U.S. evangelist Billy Graham as he lies in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

By Ian Simpson

(Reuters) – U.S. evangelist Billy Graham, who preached to millions around the world in a 70-year career, will be laid to rest on Friday in his native North Carolina following a funeral service that will draw thousands of mourners including President Donald Trump.

The service for Graham, who died on Feb. 21 at age 99, comes after he lay in honor at the U.S. Capitol in recognition of a clergyman who counseled presidents and was the first noted evangelist to take his message to the Soviet bloc.

Graham will later be buried in a pine coffin made by Louisiana prison inmates next to his late wife, Ruth, at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, organizers said.

The 90-minute funeral service is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. EST. It will be held at a library parking lot under a tent emblematic of Graham’s 1949 Los Angeles revival under canvas that marked his breakthrough as an evangelist.

“It was Mr. Graham’s explicit intent that his funeral service reflect and reinforce the Gospel message that he preached” for decades – the need for a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said in a statement.

Trump, a Republican, will be among about 2,300 invited guests, along with first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, organizers said.

Graham’s son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, will deliver the eulogy at the funeral service, which will include singing by Grammy winner Michael Smith.

One of the guests, Jim Daly, the head of the Focus on the Family evangelical organization, said the funeral would be “a tribute to a wonderful life. This man lived it well.”

Asked about the prospects of another evangelist like Graham arising, Daly said by phone, “No diamond is alike. In that regard, Billy Graham was a unique gemstone that God created.”

Graham’s headstone will carry his name, dates of birth and death and the inscription “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” above the Bible reference “John 14:6.”

According to his ministry, Graham preached Christianity to more people than anyone else in history. Some 77 million saw him in person, and nearly 215 million more watched his crusades on television or through satellite link-ups, it has said.

Graham also became the de facto White House chaplain to several presidents, most famously Richard Nixon.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Philippines’ Duterte says police can kill ‘idiots’ who resist arrest

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte greets Lorenza de los Santos and husband Saldy, parents of 17-year-old high school student Kian Delos Santos, who was killed recently in police raid in line with the war on drug, during their visit at Malacanang presidential complex in metro Manila, Philippines August 28, 2017

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told police on Monday they could kill “idiots” who violently resist arrest, two days after hundreds of people turned the funeral of a slain teenager into a protest against his deadly war on drugs.

Duterte met the parents of the schoolboy, 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, at the presidential palace in Manila on Monday, to assure them their son’s case would be handled fairly.

Delos Santos’ mother, Lorenza, said she was confident the president would help quickly resolve the case, while the father, Saldy, said he no longer feared for their lives and felt reassured by the meeting.

“He promised he would not allow those who have committed wrong to go unpunished,” the mother said in an interview posted online by Duterte’s communications office on a Facebook page after the meeting.

Duterte unleashed the anti-drugs war after taking office in June last year following an election campaign in which he vowed to use deadly force to wipe out crime and drugs.

Thousands of people have been killed and the violence has been criticized by much of the international community.

Domestic opposition has been largely muted but the killing of delos Santos by anti-drugs officers on Aug. 16 has sparked rare public outrage.

Residents stay at a wake of a victim of a shooting by masked motorcycle-riding men during a local community protest march against extrajudicial killings in Sampaloc, metro Manila, Philippines August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi

Residents stay at a wake of a victim of a shooting by masked motorcycle-riding men during a local community protest march against extrajudicial killings in Sampaloc, metro Manila, Philippines August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

More than 1,000 people, including nuns, priests and hundreds of children, joined his funeral procession on Saturday, turning the march into one of the biggest protests yet against Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.

Earlier, Duterte broke off midway through a prepared speech at the Hero’s Cemetery on the outskirts of Manila and addressed impromptu comments to Jovie Espenido, the police chief of a town in the south where the mayor was killed in an anti-drugs raid.

“Your duty requires you to overcome the resistance of the person you are arresting … (if) he resists, and it is a violent one … you are free to kill the idiots, that is my order to you,” Duterte told the police officer.

Duterte added that “murder and homicide and unlawful killings” were not allowed and that police had to uphold the rule of law while carrying out their duties.

Delos Santos was dragged by plain-clothes policemen to a dark, trash-filled alley in Manila before he was shot in the head and left next to a pigsty, according to witnesses whose accounts appeared to be backed up by CCTV footage.

Police say they acted in self defense after delos Santos opened fire on them, and Duterte’s spokesman and the justice minister have described the killing of the teenager as an “isolated” case.

U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, described the killing of delos Santos as “murder” in a tweet on Aug. 25, earning the ire of Duterte who in a separate speech on Monday called her “son of a bitch” and “stupid”.

“She should not threaten me,” Duterte said as he challenged Callamard to visit and see the situation in the Philippines.

A planned visit by Callamard in December was canceled because she refused to accept Duterte’s conditions that she must hold a debate with him. She turned up in unofficial capacity in May to address an academic conference on human rights.

 

 

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Robert Birsel)

 

More than a thousand turn Philippine funeral to protest against war on drugs

The flower-decked hearse of Kian delos Santos, a 17-year-old student who was shot during anti-drug operations, stops in front of a police station during the funeral march in Caloocan, Metro Manila, Philippines August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

By Erik De Castro and Andrew R.C. Marshall

MANILA (Reuters) – More than a thousand people attended a funeral procession on Saturday for a Philippine teenager slain by police last week, turning the march into one of the biggest protests yet against President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs.

The death of Kian Loyd delos Santos has drawn widespread attention to allegations that police have been systematically executing suspected users and dealers – a charge the authorities deny.

Nuns, priests and hundreds of children, chanting “justice for Kian, justice for all” joined the funeral cortege as it made its way from a church to the cemetery where the 17-year-old was buried.

Delos Santos’ father, Saldy, spoke briefly during a mass to defend his son’s innocence and express anger over the police.

“Don’t they have a heart? I’m not sure they do. There’s a lot of churches, they should go there,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

Delos Santos was dragged by plain-clothes policemen to a dark, trash-filled alley in northern Manila, before he was shot in the head and left next to a pigsty, according to witnesses whose accounts appeared to be backed up by CCTV footage.

Police say they acted in self defense after delos Santos opened fire on them.

The parents and lawyers of delos Santos filed a murder complaint against the three anti-narcotics policemen on Friday.

If accepted, the complaint would follow at least two cases filed last year against police over Duterte’s war on drugs, which has killed thousands of Filipinos, outraged human rights groups and alarmed Western governments.

Delos Santos’ flower-draped coffin passed through a major highway on a small truck decorated with tarpaulins reading “Run, Kian, Run” and “Stop the killings” displayed on each side. Passing motorists honked in support.

“This is a sign that the people have had enough and are indignant over the impunity that prevails today,” Renato Reyes, secretary general of left-wing activist group Bayan (Nation), said in a statement. “The people protest the utter lack of accountability in the police force.”

Mourners, some of them wearing white shirts, held flowers and small flags, and placards denouncing the killing.

A member of Rise Up, a Manila-based coalition of church-related groups opposing the drug war, told Reuters that families of about 20 victims joined the procession.

“I came to support the family. I want justice for Kian and all victims – including my son,” said Katherine David, 35, whose 21-year-old son was shot dead by police with two other men in January.

Department of Justice personnel armed with assault rifles were on guard during the procession and outside the church.

Most people in the Philippines support the anti-drug campaign, and Duterte remains a popular leader but questions have begun to be asked since the death of delos Santos, which came during a spike in killings across the Philippines’ main island, Luzon, last week.

(Graphic: http://tmsnrt.rs/2ixnYFu)

The president’s communication office reiterated on Saturday he will not tolerate wrongdoing by law enforcers and called on the public to “trust the justice system under the Duterte presidency.”

But bereaved mother David believes the response to Kian’s killing marks a turning point in opposition to the drug war.

“There’s been a big change. Before, police could kill and nobody paid attention. Now people are starting to show support and sympathy,” she said.

 

(Writing by Karen Lema; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

 

Cubans throng Revolution Square in mourning for Fidel Castro

People stand in line to pay tribute to Cuba's late President Fidel Castro in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba,

By Nelson Acosta and Ana Isabel Martinez

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cubans will begin massing on Havana’s Revolution Square from Monday to commemorate Fidel Castro, the communist guerrilla leader who led a revolution in 1959 and ruled the Caribbean island for half a century.

Castro died on Friday at the age of 90, a decade after stepping down due to poor health and ceding power to his brother Raul Castro.

Castro was cremated on Saturday and a nine-day period of mourning declared. His ashes will be carried in a cortege to a final resting place in Santiago de Cuba, the city in eastern Cuba where he launched the revolution.

The government has invited people to Revolution Square for a two-day ceremony starting at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT). The urn holding the late leader’s ashes could be displayed.

Workers rushed to install speakers and light standards in the plaza, where a giant photograph of Castro was draped over the national library, the same space where an enormous poster of Jesus Christ was hung for last year’s visit by Pope Francis.

“Who is not going to be affected by a man who did everything for us?” said Jose Luis Herrera, part of the 12-person crew to hang the giant image. “He is the one who guided me and my children. He is my god.”

If previous public memorials are any guide, Raul Castro and other government, Communist Party and military leaders will lay flowers near the monument to Cuban national hero Jose Marti, followed by a long line of ordinary Cubans.

The ceremony in the capital will end on Tuesday night when foreign leaders are expected to pay their respects to a man who dedicated his life to fighting capitalist and colonial oppression, aligned his country with the Soviet Union and outlasted nine U.S. presidents who had sought to oust or undermine him.

Some world leaders will be notably absent.

The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin would not attend the funeral as he was preparing for a major speech. His close ally and speaker of the Russian State Duma or lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, would lead the Russian delegation, it said.

North Korea called for three days of mourning and said it would keep flags at half mast to honor Castro, its state news agency said.

And in Japan, Kyodo said that a senior lawmaker would head to Cuba in lieu of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

BIRTHPLACE OF THE REVOLUTION

A cortege will carry Castro’s remains east across the 750-mile-long (1,200-km long), eyebrow-shaped island to Santiago de Cuba. His cremated ashes will be laid to rest in the birthplace of the revolution when the mourning period ends on Dec. 4.

Along the way, admirers will mourn a man that many here saw as a visionary who stood up to U.S. domination of Latin America, brought healthcare and education to the poor, and inspired socialist movements across the world.

But critics, including exiles concentrated largely in Miami, have celebrated Castro’s death, saying he was a tyrant who jailed his opponents, banned opposition parties and wrecked Cuba’s economy with a failed socialist experiment.

Reacting to his death, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump called Castro “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.”

Trump has also has threatened to reverse outgoing President Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba, which included restoring diplomatic relations and easing a half-century economic embargo.

Tourists passed through Revolution Square on Sunday, snapping photos and taking joy rides in classic U.S. cars from the 1950s that are still widely used.

“What I have been impressed with is the love that the Cuban people had for him,” said Martha Pons, a Mexican tourist who came to Cuba to attend a Placido Domingo concert on Saturday that was postponed after Castro’s death.

Cuba’s rich variety of music, a soundtrack on the streets of Havana, has been muted since Friday night and the government has also temporarily banned alcohol sales and suspended the professional baseball season.

(Additional reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana, Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow, Tony Munroe in Seoul and William Mallard in Toyko; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Simon Gardner, Simon Cameron-Moore and Bernadette Baum)