News Briefs: National and International



George H. W. Bush, 41st president, passes away

George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, died Friday at the age of 94. Bush, president from 1989 to 1993, had long suffered from a form of Parkinson’s disease and had been in and out of hospitals for several years. Bush was an accomplished politician and served as a congressman, U.N. ambassador, CIA director and vice president under Ronald Reagan before his election to the White House. A decorated Navy pilot, he was known for his role in helping end the Cold War and threats of nuclear engagement. Bush was also father to George W. Bush, the 43rd president, and Jeb Bush, two-term governor of Florida. Bush’s passing comes just eight months after his wife, Barbara, to whom he was married for 73 years. Bush will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda before a funeral on Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington.

Alaska shaken by more than 1,000 aftershocks following earthquake

Since being hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Friday, Alaska has been shaken by more than 1,000 aftershocks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The original quake struck about eight miles north of downtown Anchorage, causing structural damages and buckling highways. Of the aftershocks since then, most have registered at magnitude 2.5 or less, about 350 were higher than 2.5 and about 12 were higher than 4.5. No deaths or injuries were reported to have been caused by the quake or ensuing aftershocks. According to the Weather Channel, Alaska records an average of 40,000 quakes every year, including more large tremors than the other 49 states combined.

Former FBI Director Comey to testify before House panel

Former FBI Director James Comey will testify privately before a House of Representatives panel on separate FBI investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Comey announced on Twitter Sunday. Comey said the conditions of the closed-door testimony included being able to speak freely afterward and that a public transcript will be released within 24 hours. Comey had fought against a subpoena requiring him to testify privately in front of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees and thanked U.S. Circuit Court Judge Trevor McFadden for his hearing. Comey had attacked the House Republicans for the process of his testimony, which House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, called “baseless.”


‘Yellow Vesters’ riot in France

More than 136,000 people participated in protests across France after French President Emmanuel Macron announced a green tax on fuel last month to goes into effect Jan. 1. The so-called “yellow vesters,” nicknamed for the yellow safety vests they wore, reached Paris over the weekend, where demonstrations turned into riots and incidents of civil unrest sparked up all over the city, according to an NPR report. Most of the protesters were people from rural areas who have to drive long distances as part of their daily life and said they wouldn’t be able to afford the increase in fuel prices. They originally sought to repeal the tax but have begun advocating for an increased minimum wage, the report said. According to police, most of the protesters were peaceful, with violence breaking after anarchists became involved. The French government has responded by saying new measures will be announced later this week in response to the crisis.

UK, Spain sign Gibraltar deal as part of Brexit process

The United Kingdom overcame one large obstacle in the path to completing the Brexit process when it signed four Memorandums of Understanding with Spain on the future of Gibraltar. Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, was ceded to Great Britain as part of a 1713 treaty, but Spain has always asserted a claim to the territory. Ensuring Gibraltar’s future after the U.K.’s exit from the European Union was a major concern for Spain, which led to the signing of the memorandums. The new agreements address four aspects of relations between Gibraltar and Spain: tobacco, the environment, customs and policing cooperation and the rights of cross-border workers. However, the memorandums are only temporary and will expire at the end of the Brexit transition period in 2021, and Gibraltar remains a U.K. territory.

Pope Francis addresses gay priests in new book

Men with homosexual tendencies should not be accepted into priestly or consecrated life, Pope Francis said in a new book that was released Saturday. “In consecrated and priestly life, there’s no room for that kind of affection,” the pope said. “Therefore, the church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry or consecrated life.” Francis made the comments as part of an interview for the book “The Strength of a Vocation,” which also quotes the pope as saying, “The issue of homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be adequately discerned from the beginning with the (priestly) candidates.” The Holy Father’s comments, which affirmed the Catholic Church’s position on the issue of gay priests, come after a months-long clergy sex abuse scandal that has rocked the U.S. Catholic Church, including alleged gay relationships between Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and seminarians.