Sunday, June 26News That Matters

George Bush Senior dies at the age of 94

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Former US President George HW Bush has died at the age of 94, his son George W Bush has announced.

Bush Sr served as the 41st US president between 1989 and 1993, his term defined by the end of the Cold War and the first Iraq war against Saddam Hussein.

While his health had been failing in recent years, he still managed to make public appearances.

The former president died at 22:10 local time on Friday (04:10 GMT Saturday), a family spokesperson said.

In April, he was admitted to hospital with a blood infection but had since been discharged. Bush was also being treated for a form of Parkinson’s disease.

He died seven months after his wife, Barbara.

“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” his son George Bush Jr, who went on to serve as the 43rd US president, said in a statement.

“[He] was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.”

Tributes have poured in for the former Republican – current US President Donald Trump praised his “essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family and country.”

The US flag has been lowered to half mast at the White House.

Who was George HW Bush?

Bush Sr’s single presidential term in office was dominated by foreign policy – the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

He was instrumental in building the international military coalition that forced Iraq’s Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

Bush became president after serving two terms as vice-president to Ronald Reagan, but he suffered the ignominy of becoming a single-term president – defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 election amid a weakening economy.

His famous 1988 campaign promise – “Read my lips. No new taxes” – came back to haunt him when he felt compelled to reverse policy.

George HW Bush: Life in pictures

Bush entered politics in 1964 after starting a Texan oil business and becoming a millionaire by the age of 40.

During World War Two, he was an aviator before being shot down by the Japanese in September 1944 while on a bombing raid.

Following his honourable discharge from the navy in 1945, Bush married then 18-year-old Barbara Pierce. Their marriage would last 73 years and they would have six children together.

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In later life, his character came under scrutiny when he was accused of groping a number of women at public events.

A statement issued by his spokesman after a recent incident said he would never “intentionally cause anyone distress”.

How has the US media reported his death?

New York Times: “Some critics have said that Mr Hussein would not have been so bold as to invade Kuwait had Washington not shamelessly cultivated him over the years; others faulted Mr Bush for not pushing Mr Hussein all the way back to Baghdad and removing him from power. Such a course, Mr Bush said later, would have ‘incurred incalculable human and political costs … We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq.’ Which is exactly what his son, George W Bush, a less cautious man, set out to do 12 years later – with disastrous results.”

Fox News: “Although occasionally criticized for his lack of eloquence – such as referring to a focus on the larger picture as ‘the vision thing’ – Bush’s comments also could be endearingly frank. Referring to his dislike for a particular vegetable, he once said, ‘I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.'”

Who has been paying tribute?

Theresa May said that “in navigating a peaceful end to the Cold War he made the world a safer place for generations to come”.

“Today Britain remembers a great statesman and a true friend of our country. We send our deepest condolences to the American people and to the family he leaves behind,” the prime minister said.

Former UK PM John Major issued a statement saying he was “privileged to have worked” with George HW Bush.

Bill Clinton said he and Hillary gave “thanks for his great long life of service, love and friendship”.

“I am grateful for every minute I spent with him and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts,” he tweeted.

Celebrities have also been messaging their reflections.

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres recalled Bush’s help after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

When will the funeral take place?

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced, but family spokesman Jim McGrath said they would be made public “as soon as is practical”.

The last state funeral for a former president was that of Gerald Ford which began on 30 December 2006 with a lying in state and service at the US Capitol.

Further services were held at the Washington National Cathedral on 2 January 2007 and the following day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his boyhood home.

The US flag was flown at half mast on official buildings for 30 days.

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BBC News – World

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