Thursday, February 22, 2018

George W. Bush offers tepid, 4-word endorsement of Mitt Romney

WASHINGTON

With 4 words, Bush endorses Romney

George W. Bush is backing presumptive Republican White House nominee Mitt Romney. The former president offered a four-word endorsement of Romney as the doors of his elevator were closing after a speech Tuesday in Washington. Bush said: "I'm for Mitt Romney."

ABC News caught Bush after the speech, prompting his unscripted — but not surprising — endorsement. Bush's parents, former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, endorsed Romney in March during an appearance in Texas. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also publicly backed Romney.

Romney's campaign issued a brief statement welcoming the support. Since leaving office in January 2009, George W. Bush has tried to avoid politics. He left Washington deeply unpopular with voters who blamed him for the economic crisis that unfolded on his watch.

Sanaa, Yemen

U.S. helps Yemen in assault on al-Qaida

Yemeni warplanes and troops backed by heavy artillery targeted al-Qaida militants Tuesday, trying to uproot their hold in the southern desert with the help of a team of U.S. troops at a nearby air base. The central U.S. role in the operation would be a significant stepping up of American-Yemeni cooperation against al-Qaida's local branch, which is accused of a string of attempted attacks against U.S. targets. Yemeni officials said the main goal was to retake Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan province. Yemeni officials said an air base called al-Annad is serving as a command center for nearly 60 U.S. troops who are providing advice, information and logistical support, the Associated Press reported.

Washington

Chinese activist's visa is ready, U.S. says

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday that documents to allow Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng to come to the U.S. had been completed, and Chen himself talked to lawmakers on Capitol Hill from his hospital room to describe the brutal treatment of his relatives by Chinese authorities. Chen's case has become a rallying cry for human rights activists, critics of China's one-child policy and Republicans who say the Obama administration hasn't been assertive enough. Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., led a hearing of a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee, the second this month, to highlight the case and criticize the White House response.

Baikonur, Kazakhstan

Soyuz crew departs for space station

A three-man crew blasted off from the Baikonur space center Tuesday on board a Russian-made Soyuz craft for a four-and-half-month stay at the International Space Station. The spacecraft with NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin is due to dock with the space station Thursday. They will join the three astronauts currently staying at the orbiting laboratory. The crew, which is being commanded by retired Russian Air Force Col. Padalka, 53, will prepare for the arrival next week of the privately owned SpaceX's Dragon Capsule. It will be the first time a private company has launched space station supplies.

GREENSBORO, N.C.

Edwards, daughter may take stand today

Attorneys for John Edwards on Tuesday indicated that their defense in his criminal trial for alleged campaign finance violations is winding down, but they did not say whether the former presidential candidate or his one-time mistress will take the witness stand. Defense lawyer Abbe Lowell said his team was still in the process of deciding, but the defense could close out its case by calling Edwards, his oldest daughter Cate and Rielle Hunter, the woman with whom he had an extramarital affair while running for president in 2008.

Elsewhere

MIAMI: The family of Daniel Wultz, a Weston teen killed in a 2006 suicide bombing in Israel has won a $332 million court judgment against the governments of Syria and Iran for sponsoring the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the terrorist group responsible for the attack. Wultz was among 11 people killed in the attack on a Tel Aviv restaurant on April 17, 2006.

Yorktown, Va.: The Obama administration is offering active-duty military personnel and their families annual passes, which usually cost $80 and allow entrance to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands. They will be made available beginning Saturday, Armed Forces Day, National Park Service officials said Tuesday.

SALT LAKE CITY: Stephen Fletcher, director of Utah's Department of Technology Services, resigned Tuesday following the theft of about 780,000 online medical records from state computers by unknown hackers. The information stolen was of Medicaid recipients and participants in the Children's Health Insurance Program and included about 280,000 Social Security numbers.

JAKARTA, Indonesia: The voice-and-data recorder of a new Russian passenger plane that slammed into a mountain May 9, killing 45 aboard, has been found, Indonesian officials said today.

Times wires

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