Apr 23

Natalie Portman snubs $1 million award, blames Benjamin Netanyahu

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) — Natalie Portman has drawn ire from her native Israel after declaring to boycott receiving a $1 million award known as the “Jewish Nobel.”

But the activist actress explained the rationale behind not attending the fete, for which she was going to be the prize laureate: It was a direct rebuke against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a post on the Oscar winner’s Instagram account, she wrote, “I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony.”

She added that she is not part of a Palestinian-inspired movement known as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions — or BDS. Instead, she said she was determined to hold Israel’s leadership accountable for what she stated were a mix of malfeasance.

“The mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality and abuse of power,” she wrote. “Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation.”

Portman stressed that she intends to support “a number of charities in Israel,” which she said she will name soon.

But the organization that was set to recognize Portman — the Genesis Foundation, which launched in 2003 to laud Jewish achievement to the humanities — announced that it was “very saddened” by her decision.

The foundation still maintains Portman’s picture and accolade on its website and has a banner that reads, “Congratulations Natalie Portman, 2018 Genesis Prize Laureate.”

It announced it was canceling the prize ceremony, however, which was scheduled for June 28.

“We fear that Ms. Portman’s decision will cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid,” according to a statement.

Portman was criticized by some in the Israeli government. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz stated that to boycott Israel “has elements of anti-Semitism.”

And the country’s internal security minister, Gilad Erdan, penned a letter to Portman alluding to Star Wars metaphors to drive home his point.

“Anakin Skywalker, a character you know well from Star Wars, underwent a similar process. He began to believe that the Jedi Knights were evil, and that the forces of the Dark Side were the protectors of democracy. I call upon you not to let the Dark Side win.”

Netanyahu had not responded to Portman’s award snub as of Sunday afternoon.

Portman did not specify what Netanyahu had specifically done to cause her to boycott the award ceremony.

But the prime minister has drawn criticism for his handling of Palestinian affairs, among other foreign matters. He has also been suspected of corruption at home.

In February, Netanyahu was questioned for more than four hours by Israeli police at his residence in Jerusalem as part of an investigation of a corruption case. He still remains a suspect in the case.

Israeli police announced at the time that there was “sufficient evidence” against the prime minister in both cases “for the offense of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.” Israeli police accuse Netanyahu, known by the nickname “Bibi,” of accepting at least 1 million shekels, around $283,000, in gifts and bribes.

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Apr 23

‘Obviously, Kim Jong Un has learned about public relations’ with suspension of nuclear tests: Senator

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said North Korea’s announcement that it is suspending nuclear testing shows that Kim Jong Un has “learned about public relations.”

 Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday that he is “glad” President Donald Trump is planning to meet with the North Korean leader, but added that “all of us look at this with great caution and skepticism.”

“Obviously, Kim Jong Un has learned about public relations and is setting it up well” for himself for the talks by announcing the suspension of nuclear and missile tests, Corker said. “But I think everyone that’s been around this looks at [the talks] as just the beginning. It may lead to something. It may not.” The Tennessee senator noted that Kim Jong Un has suspended nuclear testing before and that such a move is easily reversible.

“Is it realistic to think that Kim Jong Un is actually going to give up his nuclear weapons?” Stephanopoulos asked.

Corker responded, “[Kim Jong Un] views having deliverable nuclear weapons as his ticket to dying as an old man in his bed. He saw what happened with [Moammar] Ghadafi,” the longtime Libyan leader who was killed by rebel forces in his country in 2011.

“Ghadafi’s a dead man now because he gave up his nuclear weapons,” Corker said. “And so to think that somebody’s going to go in and charm [Kim] out of that is not realistic.”

The Republican senator said of the planned talks between Kim and Trump, “Is there some progress that can be made? I hope so. But, you know, it’s, that’s a big hurdle.”

North Korean state media announced this weekend that Kim had decided to suspend the country’s nuclear and missile tests and to close one of its nuclear-testing sites.

According to state TV, Kim said the country had “verified the completion of nuclear weapons” and that now “the Party and our nation will focus all its efforts towards socialist economic development.”

The announcement comes ahead of a planned summit between North and South Korea, scheduled to take place on Friday, and a meeting between Trump and Kim possibly in May or June. Trump tweeted Friday that the North Korea announcement indicated “big progress,” and that he was looking forward to his and Kim’s summit.

However, on Sunday morning, the president tweeted that “only time will tell” if the U.S. will succeed with North Korea.

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Apr 23

North Korea says it is suspending nuclear tests ahead of much-anticipated talks

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared the country will be suspending its nuclear tests ahead of much-anticipated talks between the two Koreas next week, and the U.S. and North Korea sometime next month.

Kim announced his country would “no longer need any nuclear tests, mid and long and ICBM rocket tests,” and therefore is suspending nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles starting Saturday.

The communist country also says it is also shutting down the Poongye-ri nuclear test site where six underground tests have taken place.

The surprise announcements were delivered through North Korean state news outlet, Korean Central News Agency, and later on state TV.

North Korea has “verified the completion of nuclear weapons” and now “the Party and our nation will focus all its efforts towards socialist economic development,” Kim was quoted saying at a meeting of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea convened Friday. The state TV stressed the meeting discussed policy issues related to a “new stage” in an “historic period.”

The two Koreas are set to hold a summit meeting next Friday at the truce border village of Panmunjom, while U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim plan to meet sometime in May or early June at a yet-to-be-announced location.

Trump hailed the news of Korea suspending its nuclear tests as “very good news for North Korea and the World.”

The news came earlier this week that Mike Pompeo, Trump’s as-yet-unconfirmed pick for secretary of state, met with Kim in early April. No details of the talks were released, though Trump said this week the meeting went “very smoothly” and the two got along “really well.”

Denuclearization of North Korea has been a key issue going into the talks between the U.S. and North Korea. The North is suspending, not freezing, its nuclear tests for now, but both Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have expressed high hopes that the North is ready to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic assistance.

Policy measures announced by the North’s state TV suggest that Kim aims to improve quality of living. The country’s leaders is quoted as saying that North Korea’s long-term economic plan is to “provide proficient and culturally [advanced] lifestyle to all people.”

“North Korea’s announcement signals a stepping stone for phased denuclearization,” said An Chan Il, president of Seoul-based World Institute for North Korean Studies. “They are showing proof to the world that they have begun their efforts to eventually denuclearize, starting with shutting down the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Punggye-ri test site is known to be the one and only nuclear weapon facility in North Korea at the moment. A significant slowdown in this facility was monitored in March, adding evidence that North’s announcement was not a spontaneous one.”

Experts have cautioned that the wording of Kim’s announcement specifically mentions a “suspension” and not a “freeze.”

“For North Korea to announce a nuclear freeze, they must have mentioned shutdown of the nuclear facility in Yongbyon,” said Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korean Studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. “But this announcement said to suspend only the Punggye-ri facility and missile launches according to KCNA’s report. Still, there is a possibility open for discussion regarding Yongbyon facility which produces plutonium.”

“Some say this beginning phase should be called a ‘freeze,'” said Kim Kwang-jin, a former congressman at the National Assembly’s Defense Committee. “But others see a complete abolishment of already-made plutonium, uranium and missiles as a ‘freeze.’

That is why key terms should be clarified before the final negotiation.”

South Korea’s presidential office welcomed North Korea’s announcement as well.

Presidential secretary Yoon Young-chan said in a written statement released Saturday, “[The] North’s announcement will brighten prospects for successful talks between Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington.”

The statement referred to the North’s suspending of nuclear tests and missile tests as meaningful progress toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

“It is not a declaration of nuclear dismantlement because it has not yet reached the consensus of some practical compensations for the abandonment of nuclear weapons,” said Cheong Seong-Chang, director of unification strategic studies program at the Seoul-based Sejong Institute.

“Since the economy has been in a state of containment after several nuclear tests and missile launches, the compromise with the international community was an inevitable choice for Kim Jong Un,” Cheong added.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited Trump in Florida this week, was more cautious in his acknowledgment of Kim’s announcement of suspending nuclear tests.

“What is crucial here … is how this development is going to lead to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of nuclear arms, weapons of mass destruction and missiles,” he said. “And I will keep a close eye on that.”

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Apr 23

Gunman on the run after killing four people at a Waffle House near Nashville

Nashville Police Department(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Four people were killed and four others injured when a man naked from the waist down and wielding an assault-style rifle opened fire at a Waffle House in Tennessee early Sunday morning, police said.

The suspected gunman was identified as Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Illinois, who ran away after a patron at the restaurant outside Nashville wrestled the rifle away from him, police said. Police on Sunday morning were using dogs and a helicopter to search a wooded area near the restaurant where the gunman was last seen.

A witness of the shooting, Chuck Cordero, 50, told ABC News that he had just pulled up to the Waffle House in Antioch when gunfire broke out.

“He was only wearing a jacket and nothing else on,” Cordero, a roadside-assistance worker, said of the gunman.

Police said two of the dead were shot outside the restaurant and one inside. A fourth person died at the hospital. Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville was also treating two other people who were shot in the incident that occurred around 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

The person who wrestled the rifle away from the shooter is a “hero,” police said.

Cordero used the same word.

“There’s a hero,” Cordero said. “I don’t know what his name is, but there’s a gentleman who was in there, who when this guy stopped to reload or stopped to do something with his gun, he took that opportunity and wrestled the guy till the gun went flying and then the dude took off running.”

“I talked to him afterward and told him, ‘You are a hero, man,’ because had that guy reloaded, there were plenty more people in that restaurant,” he said.

But the courageous patron, identified as James Shaw Jr., 29, refused to call himself a hero.

“I don’t really know, when everyone said that [of being a hero], it feels selfish,” Shaw told The Tennessean newspaper of Nashville. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”

Shaw said that when the gunfire broke, a bullet grazed his elbow as he ducked for cover near the restaurant’s restroom. He said that when he saw the gunman look down at his weapon apparently to reload, he made his move.

“When he [the gunman] came in, I [distinctly] remember thinking that he is going to have to work for this kill,” Shaw said. “I had a chance to stop him and thankfully I stopped him. I grabbed the gun and kept it down. He had one hand on it. I pulled it away and threw it over the bar.”

Cordero said there were about 30 people in the restaurant at the time of the shooting.

He said the first victim, a man, was shot in the head and killed at the front door of the restaurant. He said the second victim was his friend, a cook at the Waffle House, who was outside on a cigarette break when he, too, was fatally shot in the head while trying to run from the gunman.

“Once he started shooting inside I dropped to the ground and I started to crawl around my car because I didn’t know if he was gonna come after me,” Cordero told ABC News. “So I was able to see his feet from underneath the car. Once he went inside I tried to run across the parking lot and I fell because my legs just … I was scared.”

Cordero said the gunman did not say anything during the rampage. He said there were about 30 people inside the Waffle House when the shooting erupted.

Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, said the suspect arrived at the restaurant in a gold pickup truck and waited four minutes before getting out and unleashing a barrage of gunfire.

“He was wearing only a green jacket, no pants, no shirt,” Aaron said at a news conference outside the restaurant about 9 a.m.

He confirmed that a 29-year-old patron in the restaurant intervened to stop the shooting.

“He is the hero here and no doubt he saved many lives by wrestling away the gun and tossing it over the counter,” Aaron said.

He said the courageous patron suffered an injured elbow and abrasions while battling the gunman. He was taken to TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville for treatment.

Aaron said the gunman shed his jacket while wrestling with the patron and ran from the restaurant, leaving his truck parked outside. The truck was registered to Reinking, he said.

Police found several ammunition cartridges in the gunman’s jacket left at the scene, Aaron said.

Aaron said police believe Reinking ran to a nearby apartment complex where he lives, put on a pair of pants and ran into the nearby woods shirtless.

He said three victims died at the scene, two outside and one inside. A fourth victim died at Vanderbilt Hospital.

Aaron said some of the injured victims were cut by flying glass when the gunman fired through the front window. Of the eight victims injured, six had gunshot wounds, he said.

He said Reinking’s has an Illinois driver’s license and is known to law enforcement in Illinois. Reinking is believed to be from Morton, Illinois, but had been living in the Nashville area, Aaron said.

A motive for the shooting remains under investigation.

Antioch is a suburban neighborhood about 12 miles southeast of downtown Nashville.

There were 35 officers from three precincts responding to the shooting, police said. The FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agents were also assisting in the investigation.

Pat Warner, director of public relations and external affairs for Waffle House, called it a “very troubling” situation.

“We are sending our corporate team from Atlanta and heading to Nashville now,” Warner said. “Our thoughts are with those affected.”

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident,” Waffle House said later in a statement. “Right now, our first thoughts are with the victims and their families, and we will be there for them in this most difficult time. We are still gathering the details, and so we do not have much information to share … This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family.”

Nashville Mayor David Briley released a statement on Twitter, saying, “It’s a tragic day for our city anytime people lose their lives at the hands of a gunman. My heart goes out to the families & friends of every person who was killed or wounded in this morning’s shooting. I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devasting crime.”

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Apr 23

Man wearing ‘MAGA’ hat, Trump shirt attacks Hispanic subway rider in New York, police say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Police in New York City are searching for a subway commuter who did anything but “Make America Great Again.”

New York ABC station WABC reports the New York City Police Department is looking for a man who attacked a fellow subway rider on Friday. The suspect was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap, sold by Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, and a red “Make America Great Again” T-shirt at the time of the attack, police said. 

According to police, the Trump supporter got into a verbal argument with the fellow rider before punching him in the head on a 4 train as it approached the Union Square station in Manhattan. He then followed the victim, described by police as a 24-year-old Hispanic man, off the train and shoved him onto the tracks.

The attacker allegedly made a number of racially derogatory statements during the assault.

The victim suffered cuts on his head, and was treated at an area hospital, police said.

The alleged assault comes just eight days after a Danish tourist wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat was attacked and robbed of the hat at the same Union Square subway station. In that case, the attacker actually flashed a knife at the victim, according to police. The attacker in last week’s case does not meet the same description as Friday’s suspect.

Anyone with information about either incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

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Apr 23

Mother accidentally shoots, kills 2-year-old daughter: Police

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A 2-year-old girl is dead after being shot in an apparent tragic accident late Friday at a Cleveland-area hotel.

Police in Wickliffe, Ohio, said Saturday that it appears as though the mother of the child was handling the gun when she dropped it and it went off, hitting the girl. Police said the girl was struck in the chest and rushed to the hospital where she died.

Wickliffe is a suburb of Cleveland, about 16 miles northeast of downtown.

Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS-TV reported that the mother admitted to dropping the gun in a 911 call and said the girl was not breathing. She also told operators she thought the safety was off, but then later told authorities the safety was on, WEWS reported.

Police said the gun was legally registered and she owned a concealed carry permit.

Any criminal charges would have to be filed by the prosecutor’s office after an investigation by the Lake County Crime Lab, according to WEWS.

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Apr 23

Verne Troyer, who played Mini-Me in “Austin Powers” films, dead at 49

Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — The actor famous for playing Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies died Saturday.

Verne Troyer, who was 32 inches tall and played the villain in the James Bond spoofs, was 49 years old.

“It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away [Saturday],” reads a post on Troyer’s official Facebook page.

Mike Meyers, who played the title role and Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies, released a statement expressing his grief.

“Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him,” Myers said. “It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed.”

Troyer’s Facebook post described him as “an extremely caring individual” who “wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh.”

The actor, who starred in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Austin Powers in Goldmember, also played the role of a goblin in the cinematic smash film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

“Even though his stature was small and his parents often wondered if he’d be able to reach up and open doors on his own in his life, he went on to open more doors for himself and others than anyone could have imagined. He also touched more peoples hearts than he will ever know,” the Facebook post adds.

Troyer’s cause of death remains unknown, but the Facebook post offers insight into the actor’s death.

“Over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much,” the post reads. “Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another.”

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Apr 22

White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar in critical condition after suffering brain hemorrhage

Brian Davidson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — Chicago White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar is in critical but stable condition after suffering a ruptured aneurysm.

The team put out a statement on Twitter telling fans to “please keep Danny and his family in your positive thoughts and prayers.”

Farquhar, 31, was taken to the hospital after passing out in the sixth inning of Friday night’s 10-0 loss against the Houston Astros.

He is being treated in the neurosurgical ICU unit at RUSH University Medical Center by Dr. Demetrius Lopez, according to team.

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Apr 22

Queen Elizabeth’s 92nd birthday: Royal family pulls out all the stops

Andrew Parsons – WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) — The Royal Family paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth at a star-studded birthday party at Royal Albert Hall tonight — where the likes of Sting, Sir Tom Jones, Shaggy, Kylie Minogue and Shawn Mendes joined a cast of commonwealth Nation artists to pay tribute to the 92-year-old Queen.

The monarch took her seat at the concert hall flanked by her two heirs, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. Prince William attended solo for the “Queens Birthday Party” as the event was named without Kate, who remained home with Prince George and Princess Charlotte and is due to give birth any day.

The second in line could be seen periodically peering down at his phone, no doubt checking in his very pregnant wife.

Prince Philip, who would normally be seated at Queen Elizabeth’s side, was home recovering from hip replacement surgery.

Roads were shut down, concrete and steel barriers installed along with magnetometers, and heavily armed police showed a massive presence in one of the most high profile security operations ever seen in London, with 40 members of the Royal Family all congregating in one place.

The security did not dampen the spirit of the crowd. Queen Elizabeth was beaming at her birthday party.

Welshman Sir Tom Jones kicked off the night with a rendition of his classic hit “It’s Not Unusual,” followed by a rousing duet by Sting and Shaggy.

Prince William appeared to lean down to explain to his grandmother who Shaggy was.

The concert included acts from across the generations. Queen Elizabeth at one point was seen bopping and clapping to a George Formby medley while her family looked on, thrilled that she was enjoying herself so much.

Prince Harry made a poignant tribute to his grandmother in his first speech in his new role as President of the Queens Commonwealth Trust. He vowed to carry on her work and legacy.

“Tonight we are celebrating the Queen’s Birthday but Your Majesty, if you do not mind me saying, you are not someone who is easy to buy gifts for. But I think we have the perfect present,” he said, referring to the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust charity of which he was appointed president last week.

The fifth in line, who was accompanied by his fianceé, Meghan Markle, was also appointed by Queen Elizabeth this week as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, a role that will see Harry and Meghan using their magic as humanitarians and role models to the 2.4 billion Commonwealth citizens, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30.

“As we celebrate your 92nd birthday this evening and in recognition of your incredible life of service, I am delighted to say that the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust has now been launched to support young leaders around the Commonwealth. This organization, in your name, will provide a platform for those working to make a difference in their communities across 53 countries. Happy Birthday, Your Majesty,” Harry added.

Prince Charles closed the show on stage with his mother, asking the audience to give a “hip hip hooray” to “Your Majesty, Mummy” before the iconic venue dropped balloons and shot off firecrackers inside the hall.

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Apr 22

Barbara Bush remembered at funeral as ‘the first lady of the greatest generation’

Scott Olson/Getty Images(HOUSTON) — Barbara Bush was remembered at her funeral as a loving wife, mother and friend with a devilish sense of humor and who represented the best of the World War II generation.

“Barbara Bush was the first lady of ‘the greatest generation,'” presidential historian Jon Meacham, a friend of the Bush family, said in a eulogy at Saturday’s funeral service in Texas that drew signatories from across the nation and around the world.

Meacham recalled the snowy-haired former first lady’s “long and consequential life,” not least her promotion of literacy, her quick-witted humor and her trademark faux pearls.

“She was candid and comforting,” Meacham said, describing her as a “point of light” who “kept everything and everyone together.”

Some 1,500 guests filled St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston for the service. Barbara Bush, who died on Tuesday at the age of 92, had requested in her last wishes a modest funeral at the Gothic-style cathedral, where she and her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, were devoted members for decades.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his homily described his “precious mother” as someone who “filled our lives with laughter and joy.”

“She was our teacher and role model on how to live a life of purpose and meaning,” he said.

Susan Baker, the wife of James Baker who served as secretary of state under former President George H.W. Bush., also paid tribute to her longtime friend, Barbara Bush, whom she called “Bar.”

In her homily, Susan Baker recalled how the former first lady “took me under her wing.” She described her as “smart, fun and feisty” and an “amazing, caring and beautiful friend.”

“The world saw a compassionate but strict mother who inspired her children with tender but firm lessons,” she said. “Barbara, the tough but loving enforcer, was the secret sauce of this extraordinary family.”

“Bar’s beauty was evident in every day of her life,” she added. “Saying goodbye to our special friend is painful.”

Barbara Bush’s casket on Friday arrived at St. Martin’s, the nation’s largest Episcopal church, where she lay in repose as the public was invited to pay respects from noon to midnight, according to the Geo. H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home in Houston.

The Rev. Russell Levenson Jr. and the Rev. Dr. Peter Cheney will be co-officiants of Saturday’s service, which is set to begin at 11 a.m. ET. Barbara Bush’s son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will deliver a eulogy along with her longtime friend, Susan Baker, and historian Jon Meacham, according to a statement from the Bush family.

Four of the five living ex-presidents are attending Saturday’s funeral service, including former President Barack Obama and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton. The Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea Clinton, is also in attendance.

Following the service, a funeral procession will bring Barbara Bush’s casket to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum near Texas A&M University in College Station for a private service, where she will be buried in a family plot beside her daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia at the age of 3 in 1953. The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets are expected to line Barbara Bush Avenue outside the library to pay tribute to the former first lady.

First lady Melania Trump is attending Saturday’s service “on behalf of the first family,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement. “To avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service, President Trump will not attend.”

Similarly, in 2016, then-President Obama did not attend the funeral of former first lady Nancy Reagan, while his wife did. Sitting presidents have rarely in recent decades gone to the funerals of former first ladies, according to FactCheck.org, a project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia.

Trump, who’s at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida for the weekend, extended his “thoughts and prayers” to the Bush family via Twitter and said he planned to watch Barbara Bush’s funeral service from the “Southern White House.”

Barbara Bush served as first lady from 1989 to 1993. She died shortly after deciding to forgo further medical treatments for her failing health.

Former President George H.W. Bush is “broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years,” according to Jean Becker, chief of staff at the 93-year-old former president’s office.

“He held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good earth,” Becker said in a statement.

Their eldest child, former President George W. Bush, described his mother as a “fabulous first lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions.”

“To us, she was so much more,” he said in a statement after her death. “Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly.”

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