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Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have paid tribute to Senator John McCain at a memorial service at Washington’s National Cathedral.

Vietnam War hero John McCain, who became one of America’s most high-profile politicians, died a week ago from brain cancer at the age of 81.

John McCain’s daughter Meghan was the first to speak, paying an emotional tribute to her father while also criticizing President Donald Trump’s agenda.

President Donald Trump did not attend the service.

The two Republicans had major differences, both personal and political, and John McCain’s family made it clear that President Trump was not welcome.

Members of the Trump administration who were present included Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Following memorial services in the state of Arizona – which John McCain represented as a senator, and where he died on August 25 – and in Washington, a private burial service will be held at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on September 2.

On August 31, John McCain’s body was taken back to the Congress buildings where he worked for decades and lay in state in the Capitol rotunda overnight.

On the way from the Capitol to the cathedral, the cortege stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where John McCain’s widow Cindy laid a wreath.

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Meghan McCain told mourners at the cathedral: “We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness.

“The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.

“The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold, she is resourceful and confident and secure, she meets her responsibilities, she speaks quietly because she is strong.

“America does not boast, because she does not need to. The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.”

Former President Barack Obama paid tribute to the man he defeated in the 2008 US presidential election.

He described John McCain as an “extraordinary man – a warrior, a statesman, a patriot” who embodied much of what made America great.

Barack Obama said that, despite their many differences, “we never doubted we were on the same team”.

The former president added: “John understood that our security and our influence was won not just by our military might, not just by our wealth, not just by our ability to bend others to our will, but from our capacity to inspire others with our adherence to a set of universal values – like rule of law and human rights – and an insistence on the God-given dignity of every human being.”

George W. Bush – who defeated John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 – paid tribute to the senator’s courage, honesty and sense of honor.

“At various points during his long career, John confronted polices and practices that he believed were unworthy of his country. To the face of those in authority, John McCain would insist: <<We are better than this, America is better than this.>>

“John would be the first to tell you he was not a perfect man, but he dedicated his life to national ideals that are as perfect as men and women have as yet conceived.”

Other speakers included former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 95.

Before he went into politics, John McCain was a US Navy pilot who was shot down over Hanoi while on a bombing mission in 1967.

He was held as a prisoner until 1973, enduring torture that – along with the injuries he sustained bailing out of his jet – left him with life-long injuries.

While deeply conservative on some issues, the Arizona senator had a maverick streak that endeared him to political friends and opponents.

John McCain championed reform of US immigration, campaign finance and environmental laws, and was outspoken in criticizing those who advocated what he considered torture against captured enemies of the US.

The pallbearers he chose reflected his desire to reach across political divides.

They included actor and liberal political activist Warren Beatty; former independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; liberal former Senator Russ Feingold, who drew up campaign finance reform legislation with McCain; and Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara Murza.

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Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have gathered for a concert in aid of victims of the hurricanes which ravaged the US this year.

The five living former presidents appeared in Texas on October 21.

The three Democrats and two Republicans came together behind The One America Appeal, set up to help those caught up in the devastating trails of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

The One America Appeal has raised $31 million so far.

Image source Wikipedia

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The former presidents launched the appeal in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which caused billions in damage after it made landfall in Texas in August.

However, it has since been expanded to include the communities in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands which were hit by the storms which followed.

Barack Obama explained to concertgoers in a pre-recorded message: “As former presidents, we wanted to help our fellow Americans begin to recover.”

George W. Bush added: “People are hurting down here but as one Texan put it, we’ve got more love in Texas than water.”

All five presidents appeared on stage for the anthem, before taking their seats to watch acts including Lee Greenwood, who opened with Proud to be an American, and Lady Gaga.

They were not joined by sitting President Donald Trump, who sent a message ahead of the show praising their “wonderful” work and expressing his “deep gratitude”.

Both Barack Obama and George W. Bush have made speeches in the last week which have been seen as veiled criticism of Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House.

Ex- Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have expressed their concerns regarding the current political climate in the US, in comments seen as a veiled rebuke of President Donald Trump’s leadership.

Barack Obama urged Americans to reject the politics of “division” and “fear”, while George W. Bush criticized “bullying and prejudice” in public life.

They were speaking separately and neither mentioned President Trump by name.

Donald Trump, who has been critical of his two predecessors, is yet to comment.

Ex-presidents traditionally shy away from commenting publicly on their successors, and Barack Obama said on leaving office he would extend that courtesy for a time to Donald Trump, as George W. Bush had to him.

Barack Obama has broken his silence since to issue statements on President Trump’s efforts to dismantle ObamaCare, as well as his controversial “Muslim ban” and decision to abandon the Paris climate accord.

Speaking at a Democratic campaign event in Newark, New Jersey, Barack Obama said Americans should “send a message to the world that we are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear”.

The former president added: “What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries.

“Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That’s folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st Century, not the 19th Century. Come on!”

Image source Flickr

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Barack Obama touched on similar themes at another event later in Richmond, Virginia, saying: “We’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonize people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage.”

Speaking just hours earlier in New York, George W. Bush said: “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

“There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned – especially among the young.”

Americans, the former president said, have “seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty”.

“At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.

“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.”

Both ex-presidents have until now largely avoided commenting publicly on President Trump’s policies.

Before his election last year, Donald Trump was highly critical of both Barack Obama and George W. Bush, describing each of them at one time or another as “perhaps the worst president in the history” of the US.

Since his inauguration in January, Donald Trump’s combative style and direct public comments on a number of key issues have caused controversy both among Democrats and Republicans.

The president has regularly blamed the media, which he says do not focus on his achievements and instead choose to concentrate on what he describes as “fake news”.

Hillary and Bill Clinton have confirmed they will attend Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony on January 20.

Meanwhile, former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura have also announced plans to turn up, saying they want to “witness the peaceful transfer of power”.

Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th US president on Capitol Hill.

He defeated Hillary Clinton in November’s election and castigated George W. Bush over the Iraq war and 9/11.

Before January 3 announcement, Jimmy Carter was the only former president to have said he would attend the nation’s 58th inauguration.

Another former White House incumbent, 92-year-old George H.W. Bush has already said he will not attend the event, citing his age.

Despite Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by nearly three million ballots, Donald Trump succeeded in getting the all-important Electoral College votes required to win.

During the election campaign, Donald Trump ridiculed George W. Bush’s claim to have kept Americans safe, pointing out the 9/11 attacks happened on his watch.

The New York billionaire had also accused the 43rd president of lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Donald Trump pummeled another member of the Bush clan, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, calling his primary season rival “low-energy”.

The now president-elect had also savaged his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, labeling her “Crooked Hillary”.

George W. Bush has started to campaign for his younger brother Jeb’s presidential nomination bid.

The former president met veterans and appeared at a rally in South Carolina on February 15, ahead of the primary election on February 20.

George W. Bush’s legacy has come under fierce attack from Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has spent a lot of campaign cash but failed to make an impact.George W Bush and Jeb Bush campaign

Jeb Bush is struggling to catch up with Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who won the New Hampshire and Iowa contests respectively.

His famous family has largely kept out of his presidential nomination battle and he insisted last year that he was running as his own man.

However, last week his mother Barbara Bush, wife of former President George H.W. Bush, spoke out in his support.

During February 13 Republican debate, Jeb Bush defended his brother’s presidency, saying he had built a “security apparatus to keep us safe”.

Donald Trump tore into George W. Bush’s record, accusing him of lying about the reasons for the Iraq War, which he said had destabilized the Middle East.

Experts say that Donald Trump’s tactic of attacking the former president is risky because he still maintains wide appeal among Republicans in South Carolina, from churchgoers to business leaders and retired military personnel.

On February 15, George W. Bush, alongside his wife Laura, met US military veterans at an American Legion Post in Columbia, South Carolina.

Last week, he praised his brother’s abilities in a radio advert, and Jeb Bush will hope his personal appearance will bring dividends on polling day.

Although George W. Bush remains a divisive figure nationally, he and his father both won primary elections in South Carolina.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who quit the presidential race and is now backing Jeb Bush, said: “The Bush name is golden in my state.”

While Republican voters in South Carolina make their choice for president, the Democratic Party is holding its own contest in Nevada on February 20. Republicans in Nevada and Democrats in South Carolina get to express their views in separate contests the following week.

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President George W. Bush has been called for jury duty at a Dallas court on August 5.

The former president appeared at the George L Allen Sr Courts Building in downtown Dallas, prompting excitement amongst fellow jurors.

As it turned out, George W. Bush was not actually selected for duty but he spent time talking to the other jurors and took photos and spoke with everyone before he was spirited away from the building by secret service agents.George Bush jury duty Dallas

This is not the first time a former president has been called for duty – in 2003 Bill Clinton was a prospective juror in a gang shooting case in New York.

However, he was excluded by the judge, who said his secret service retinue could “undermine our efforts to keep the case focused quietly on the evidence”.

Judge Eric Moye insisted George Bush’s profile was not the reason he was not called for duty, the Dallas Morning News reported.

“He was number 27 of a 35 member panel and we only got through number 23,” the judge said.

Even actors have to turn up when summoned.

Often those who appear for jury duty in the first instance are not actually selected to serve on a trial.

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The US National Archives released photos showing former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

The never-before-seen 9/11 photos show George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and senior officials in their immediate response to the attacks.

The photos, taken by then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff photographer, show the scene inside the president’s Emergency Operations Center as officials worked the phones amid the fallout.

Dick Cheney is seen in several photos watching on a small square television in his office as smoke billows from the World Trade Center, and other photos show him with his glasses off and hands clasped.

Photo US National Archives

Photo US National Archives

Former CIA Director George Tenet, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell are seen in the photographs, along with first lady Laura Bush.

Many photos show blank or grim expressions as officials speak among themselves or watch President George W. Bush address the nation hours after the attacks.

The photos were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Colette Hanna, a documentary coordinating producer for films appearing on Frontline.

More than 350 photos from 9/11 can be viewed on the US National Archives’ Flickr page here.

Jeb Bush has said he admires his father and brother’s presidencies but he is his “own man” on foreign policy.

In a speech in Chicago, the former Florida governor outlined a broad strategy of projecting American power and addressing “the shortfalls in our defense spending”.

Jeb Bush also criticized President Barack Obama for an “inconsistent and indecisive” foreign policy.

He is one of several Republicans expected to run for president in 2016.

Jeb Bush is the brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush.

He has developed campaign infrastructure but has not officially said he is running.

In the speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Jeb Bush says he has been “lucky” to have family who “shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office”.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs,” Jeb Bush said.

“But I am my own man – and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.”

The Washington Post reported 19 of 21 Jeb Bush’s foreign policy advisors are pulled from his brother and father’s administrations, although many were also considered as advisors to Mitt Romney before he backed out of a run.

Jeb Bush has demurred from answering whether he believes his brother’s choice to go to war in Iraq was appropriate.

During the speech, he criticized Barack Obama as someone who “has left America less influential in the world”.

“I believe fundamentally that weakness invites war … and strength encourages peace,” Jeb Bush said.

Jeb Bush also expressed concern over negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme and backed the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata records of Americans.

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George W. Bush’s younger brother, Jeb Bush, has reportedly scaled back his business commitments as he thinks seriously about a 2016 White House run.

One of the Republican’s aides told the Washington Post the former Florida governor had ended his board memberships and resigned as a paid adviser to an education company.

Jeb Bush last month announced he was “exploring” running for president.

A 2016 bid could bring him up against the former first lady, Hillary Clinton.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Jeb Bush’s father, former President George H.W, Bush, was defeated by Hillary Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, in the 1992 election.

Hillary Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner and widely expected to run, although she says she will make a decision in 2015.

Jeb Bush’s spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told the Post his decision to shed a large number of his business commitments, effective from New Year’s Day, meant he could focus on a “potential” run for president.

The Post reported that Jeb Bush has even stepped down from the board of his education foundation.

He recently terminated a consulting deal with Barclays, the British investment bank that reportedly paid him more than $1 million a year.

When he announced he was thinking about a presidential run, Jeb Bush said he would set up a political action committee in January to gauge support among donors and supporters.

Although he became the immediate frontrunner among the Republican candidates, Jeb Bush’s pro-immigration views have enraged some conservatives in his party.

Jeb Bush, a moderate conservative, has a Mexican-born wife, Columba, and three children. He speaks excellent Spanish and spent eight years as Florida governor, until 2007.

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George W. Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush, has announced he himself is looking into running for the White House in 2016.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will “actively explore the possibility of running for President” as he wrote on Facebook on December 16.

He will also create a political action committee to “facilitate conversations with citizens across America”.

Jeb Bush has pro-immigration views, an issue likely to top the 2016 campaign.

But his views on this subject and on education have enraged some conservative Republicans.

Jeb Bush is not the only familiar name circling the upcoming election.Jeb Bush 2016

Former First Lady and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic ticket.

The announcement marks the first major Republican candidate to make a formal move toward announcing candidacy for the 2016 presidential nomination.

“In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America,” Jeb Bush wrote on Facebook.

His committee, named Leadership PAC, will help “support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans”.

He is not expected to announce his decision until next year “after gauging support”, Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Jeb Bush, told the Associated Press news agency.

“This is a natural next step and represents a new phase of his consideration process,” she added.

Jeb Bush’s Facebook statement is the strongest yet to indicate he plans to attempt to become the third member of his family – after his father, George H.W. Bush, and brother, George W. Bush – to become the president of the US.

During two terms as governor of Florida, he overhauled the state’s education system and pushed for substantial tax cuts.

In a recent televised interview, Jeb Bush claimed he “would be a good president” and promised to release a cache of emails from his time as governor.

Other names in the frame for the Republican nomination include Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Governor Chris Christie.

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President George W. Bush was “fully informed” about CIA interrogation techniques condemned in a Senate report, his vice-president, Dick Cheney, says.

Speaking to Fox News, Dick Cheney said George W. Bush “knew everything he needed to know” about the program, and the report was “full of crap”.

The CIA has defended its use of methods such as waterboarding on terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.

The Senate report said the CIA misled politicians about the program.

However, George W. Bush dismissed this, saying: “The notion that the committee is trying to peddle that somehow the agency was operating on a rogue basis and that we weren’t being told – that the president wasn’t being told – is a flat-out lie.”

In the interview on December 11, Dick Cheney said the report was “deeply flawed” and a “terrible piece of work”, although he admitted he had not read the whole document.

A summary of the larger classified report says that the CIA carried out “brutal” and “ineffective” interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on the US and misled other officials about what it was doing.

The information the CIA collected using “enhanced interrogation techniques” failed to secure information that foiled any threats, the report said.

However, Dick Cheney said the interrogation program saved lives, and that the agency deserved “credit not condemnation”.Dick Cheney on CIA torture report

“It did in fact produce actionable intelligence that was vital in the success of keeping the country safe from further attacks,” he said.

The UN and human rights groups have called for the prosecution of US officials involved in the 2001-2007 program.

“As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said in a statement made from Geneva.

He said there had been a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level”.

Correspondents say that the chances of prosecuting members of the Bush administration are unlikely, not least because the US justice department has said that it has already pursued two investigations into mistreatment of detainees since 2000 and concluded that the evidence was not sufficient to obtain a conviction.

None of the countries where the prisons were located has been identified in the report, but several countries suspected to have hosted so-called “black sites” reacted strongly to the publication.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is among the world leaders to have condemned how the agency imprisoned and questioned al-Qaeda suspects.

He said the program “violated all accepted norms of human rights in the world”.

President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he hoped that the publication of the report would “help us leave these techniques where they belong – in the past”.

He banned harsh interrogation techniques after taking office in 2009, and has acknowledged that some methods amounted to torture.

Some Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee released a minority report, accusing the Senate of having a “flawed analytical methodology”, “inadequate objectivity” and “political considerations”.

However, influential Republican Senator John McCain argued that torture “rarely yields credible information” and that even in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden the most important lead came from “conventional interrogation methods”.

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Human rights groups and the United Nations have called for the prosecution of US officials involved in what a Senate report called the “brutal” CIA interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects.

A top UN human rights envoy said there had been a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level”.

The CIA has defended its actions in the years after the 9/11 attacks on the US, saying they saved lives.

President Barack Obama said it was now time to move on.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Ben Emmerson said that senior officials from the administration of George W. Bush who planned and sanctioned crimes must be prosecuted, as well as CIA and US government officials responsible for torture such as waterboarding.

“As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” Ben Emmerson said in a statement made from Geneva.

“The US attorney general is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible.”CIA torture report

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said that the CIA’s actions were criminal “and can never be justified”.

“Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of officials, torture will remain a <<policy option>> for future presidents,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that the attorney general should appoint a special prosecutor to conduct “an independent and complete investigation of Bush administration officials who created, approved, carried out and covered up the torture program”.

“The crime of torture has no statute of limitations when torture risks or results in serious injury or death, and the US government has the obligation under international law to investigate any credible evidence that torture has been committed,” an ACLU statement said.

“If there’s sufficient evidence of criminal conduct… The offenders should be prosecuted. In our system, no one should be above the law, yet only a handful of mainly low-level personnel have been criminally prosecuted for abuse. That is a scandal.”

CIA torture report key findings:

None of 20 cases of counterterrorism “successes” attributed to the techniques led to unique or otherwise unavailable intelligence

The CIA misled politicians and public

At least 26 of 119 known detainees in custody during the life of the program were wrongfully held, and many held for months longer than they should have been

Methods included sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, often standing or in painful positions

Saudi al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah was kept confined in a coffin-sized box for hours on end

Waterboarding and “rectal hydration” were physically harmful to prisoners, causing convulsions and vomiting

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The US has increased security at its facilities around the world ahead of the release of a report expected to reveal details of harsh CIA interrogations, the White House says.

Embassies and other sites were taking precautions amid “some indications” of “greater risk”, a spokesman said.

A 480-page summary of the Senate report is due to be released on December 9.

It is expected to detail the CIA’s campaign against al-Qaeda in the aftermath of 9/11.

As well as detailing the controversial methods used by CIA operatives in an effort to extract information from high-value suspects, the report is expected to say harsh interrogations failed to deliver appropriate results.

Publication of the report has been delayed amid disagreements in Washington over what should be made public.

The full 6,000-page report, produced by the Senate Intelligence Committee, remains classified.

The 480-page summary is being released by Democrats on the panel.

President Barack Obama halted the CIA interrogation program when he took office in 2009, and has acknowledged that the methods used to question al-Qaeda prisoners amounted to torture.

During the presidency of George W. Bush, the CIA operation against al-Qaeda – known internally as the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation – saw as many as 100 suspected terrorists held in “black sites” outside the US.CIA abuse report

They were interrogated using methods such as waterboarding, slapping, humiliation, exposure to cold, and sleep deprivation.

Leaks about the Senate report first emerged in August this year, prompting Barack Obama to declare: “We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

President Barack Obama added that he believed officials at the time had used harsh methods because of the “enormous pressure” to prevent another attack on the US in the wake of 9/11.

A previous investigation into the program, by the US justice department, ended with no criminal charges in 2012 – a result that angered civil rights organizations.

Reports that US intelligence had used waterboarding first emerged in the years following the 9/11 attacks, and the CIA confirmed in 2008 that it had interrogated three al-Qaeda suspects using that method in 2002 and 2003.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on December 8 that the Obama administration welcomed the impending release, but said there were “some indications” it could increase the risk to US facilities across the world.

“The administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place,” Josh Earnest said.

Secretary of State John Kerry had earlier asked Senate Intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein to “consider” changing the timing of the report.

Josh Earnest told reporters it would be “difficult to imagine” an ideal time to make the summary public.

Human Rights Watch said last-minute attempts to delay publication showed how important the document was for understanding the “CIA’s horrific torture program”.

“US foreign policy is better served by coming clean about US abuses rather than continuing to bury the truth,” HRW’s Washington director Sarah Margon said.

Despite reports that CIA operatives went beyond legal interrogation limits imposed by the Bush administration, the former president has led the charge against the report’s release, defending the CIA on US TV.

The full report is the outcome of years of research by the Senate intelligence panel, currently controlled by Democrats. Republicans on the committee are expected to release their own report.

The panel first voted to make the executive summary public in April.

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President George W. Bush sent an incredible reply after President Bill Clinton asked why he wasn’t on Twitter on November 12.

Bill Clinton questioned George W. Bush with a tweet saying he received his copy of 41: A Portrait of My Father, the biography of former President George H.W. Bush written by his son.

In the message, Bill Clinton asked why George W. Bush had not joined Twitter.

George Bush responded on another social media site, Instagram. He asked why Bill Clinton didn’t have an Instagram account. His message included the hashtag “#BrotherFromAnotherMother”.Photo AP

“Thanks, 42! Hope you like the book about your pal, #41. #HowAreYouSTILLNotOnInstagram #PresidentialGrammers?”

This is almost certainly the first time two former presidents have referred to themselves as brothers from another mother.

Both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton could find themselves involved in the 2016 presidential race. Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, is widely considered the Democratic frontrunner and there is mounting speculation George Bush’s brother, former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, could run on the Republican side.

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Former President George W. Bush accepted his daughter Jenna Bush Hager’s ice bucket challenge on August 20.

In a hilarious twist, former First Lady Laura Bush surprised him with the face full of cold water after the former president offered just to write a check.

Jenna Bush Hager nominated her dad for the viral challenge, which has helped raise over $22 million for ALS Association, when NBC News’ Craig Melvin doused her last week.

George W. Bush wrote on Facebook: “Thanks to Jenna Bush Hager, Rory McIlroy, Woody Johnson, and Coach Jim Harbaugh for the #IceBucketChallenge – and to Laura W. Bush for the check. Next up: President Bill Clinton. Help #StrikeOutALS at www.alsa.org.

The former president starts his video by trying to forgo the ice altogether.

George W. Bush accepted his daughter Jenna Bush Hager's ice bucket challenge

George W. Bush accepted his daughter Jenna Bush Hager’s ice bucket challenge

“I do not think it’s presidential for me to be splashed with ice water,” George W. Bush said.

“So, I’m simply going to write you a check.”

Then Laura Bush sneaks up behind her husband and splashes him with the required bucket of ice water.

“Now it’s my privilege to challenge my friend Bill Clinton,” George W. Bush tells the camera after he gets a moment to dry himself off.

“Yesterday was Bill’s birthday. And my gift to Bill is a bucket of cold water,” President George W. Bush said.

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George W. Bush’s paintings are to be exhibited for the first time in April at the Texas library and museum that bears his name.

More than 24 portraits by the former president will feature in the exhibit, called The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy.

America’s 43rd president’s works will be displayed at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.

The subjects of the portraits, signed with the number 43, are not known.

George W. Bush’s paintings are to be exhibited for the first time in April at the Texas library and museum that bears his name

George W. Bush’s paintings are to be exhibited for the first time in April at the Texas library and museum that bears his name

George W. Bush did famously present a portrait of Jay Leno to the chat show host on an edition of his show last November.

Artefacts, photographs and personal reflections will also be part of the exhibition, which aims to “provide an insider’s view into President George W. Bush’s unique relationships with other world leaders”.

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Benjamin Smith was charged on Friday with threatening to kill former President George W. Bush after professing a romantic interest in his oldest daughter, Barbara, prosecutors said.

The New York man was found sitting in a car with a loaded rifle, machete and a container of gasoline.

Benjamin Smith, 44, was arrested in Manhattan by the Secret Service, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

“Bush will get his,” Benjamin Smith screamed as he was taken into custody, according to the complaint. Later, when asked about his marital status, he told agents he was divorced and “working on a relationship with Barbara Bush”.

At a preliminary hearing, Assistant Attorney Andrea Griswold told Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman the government believes Benjamin Smith was referring to the former president’s daughter and not George W. Bush’s mother, who shares the same name.

It is a crime under federal law to threaten a current or former president.

Benjamin Smith was charged with threatening to kill former President George W. Bush

Benjamin Smith was charged with threatening to kill former President George W. Bush

On Thursday, Benjamin Smith’s mother called police to report she had found a threatening note in the home she shares with her son and that a rifle was also missing, the complaint said.

“I’m going to work for George W. Bush and the Pentagon,” the note said, according to the government.

“I have to slay a dragon and then Barbara Bush is mine.”

The Secret Service tracked Benjamin Smith using his cell phone to Manhattan, where they arrested him early Friday morning.

It was not clear why Benjamin Smith went to New York City or where the former president and his family were at the time.

Benjamin Smith’s defense lawyer, Peggy Cross-Goldenberg, said the note and Smith’s outbursts did not constitute a “true threat”.

The judge also conceded it was “unclear” a jury would find Benjamin Smith guilty.

“Admittedly, there is some inconsistency in the notion that the way to win Barbara Bush’s affections is to kill her father,” Judge Henry Pitman said.

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George W. Bush revealed his painting hobby, talked about his granddaughter and poked fun at his post-White House years on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night.

The former president said that he was inspired to take up painting after reading a Winston Churchill essay.

When he hired an instructor for weekly lessons, the 43rd president said he told her: “There’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body. Your job is to find it.”

George W. Bush, 67, shared paintings of his dog Barney and a stray cat that he adopted and named Bob said painting has changed his life.

George W. Bush presented Jay Leno with a portrait of the comedian

George W. Bush presented Jay Leno with a portrait of the comedian

He presented Jay Leno with a portrait of the comedian, prompting him to say: “I can’t make fun of him now.”

When asked what caused a blocked artery that led to his hospitalization in August, George W. Bush joked that it was because he “didn’t behave that well when I was younger and I might have smoked some”.

George W. Bush has kept a mostly low profile since exiting office in early 2009 while the country was in two wars and struggling with an economic crisis.

“It’s hard for some to believe, but I think eight years in the spotlight’s enough,” he said.

Former First Lady Laura Bush also appeared on Jay Leno’s show to discuss the couple’s charitable causes. They also showed the strand of pearls George W. Bush gave her for their 36th wedding anniversary and a video clip of their first grandchild, nicknamed Mila.

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George W. Bush has undergone successful heart surgery in Dallas, Texas, after doctors found an artery blockage, a spokesman has said.

The former US president had a stent inserted on Tuesday morning, a day after the blockage was discovered during a routine check-up.

George W. Bush has undergone successful heart surgery in Dallas after doctors found an artery blockage

George W. Bush has undergone successful heart surgery in Dallas after doctors found an artery blockage

George Bush, 67, was in “high spirits” afterwards and would be discharged on Wednesday, the spokesman added.

The Republican planned to return to his usual schedule on Thursday and encouraged everyone see the doctor regularly.

“President Bush is in high spirits, eager to return home tomorrow and resume his normal schedule on Thursday,” his office said after the procedure.

George W. Bush held office for two terms from 2001-2009, and before that was the governor of Texas.

Since leaving office, George W. Bush has retreated from public life. He lives in Dallas with his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush.

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A new research suggests that Wikipedia articles about former US President George W. Bush and anarchism are the most hotly contested on its English-language edition.

Scientists analyzed page edits in 10 editions to find topics fought over by contributors to the open encyclopaedia.

While some topics were locally controversial, many religious subjects, such as Jesus and God, were universally debated, they found.

Further research is planned to log how controversial topics change over time.

Researchers from the University of Oxford and three other institutions analyzed logs of the changes made to Wikipedia pages to identify those in the throes of an “edit war”. Such a conflict involves editors of pages making changes that are almost instantly undone by another editor.

Finding the pages over which editors scrap about such changes was a better guide to controversial subjects than simply picking out those that changed a lot, wrote the researchers in a paper describing their work.

Pages that get updated a lot might just be about a rapidly changing field or topic, they said. By contrast, a topic page in which words and phrases are constantly removed and re-instated gave an insight into the depth of feeling it evoked among contributors.

Millions of articles from 10 separate language editions of Wikipedia were subjected to analysis to find the topics over which editors scrapped most fiercely. English, Spanish, Persian, Arabic and Czech editions were among those analyzed. Data was taken from editions of Wikipedia published on the web in 2010.

Wikipedia articles about former US President George W. Bush and anarchism are the most hotly contested on its English-language edition

Wikipedia articles about former US President George W. Bush and anarchism are the most hotly contested on its English-language edition

The most controversial topics across all the 10 editions analyzed were:

  • Israel
  • Adolf Hitler
  • The Holocaust
  • God

In addition other religious subjects, such as Jesus, The Prophet Muhammad and Christianity were regularly fought over by editors.

The analysis also revealed many local controversies.

Among French editors, the page about French politician Segolene Royal was the one contributors fought over the most.

By contrast, in Romania information about the Universit­atea Craiova football team proved most controversial.

Further work planned by the team will look at a more recent data set from Wikipedia and map edit wars over time to see the ebb and flow of controversial subjects.

Top 10 touchy topics:

  • George W. Bush
  • Anarchism
  • The Prophet Muhammad
  • World Wrestling Entertainment employees
  • Global warming
  • Circumcision
  • The United States
  • Jesus
  • Race and intelligence
  • Christianity

President Barack Obama ended his Africa tour by visiting Tanzania, after trips to Senegal and South Africa.

Earlier Barack Obama laid a wreath for the victims of the 1998 US embassy bombing in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam.

Eleven people were killed in the al-Qaeda attack, which coincided with a bombing in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, which left hundreds dead.

President Barack Obama was joined for the ceremony by predecessor George W. Bush.

George W. Bush was in Dar es Salaam for a conference on African women sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute.

While the former president and Barack Obama attended the ceremony at the US embassy memorial, their wives took part in the African First Ladies Summit.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete walked Barack Obama and his wife down a red carpet to the Air Force One at the international airport in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.

A guard of honor saluted and marching bands played as the couple boarded the plane.

Barack Obama laid a wreath for the victims of the 1998 US embassy bombing in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam

Barack Obama laid a wreath for the victims of the 1998 US embassy bombing in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam

President Barack Obama had arrived in Tanzania on Monday.

During his stay, he also visited a US-owned power plant, following his announcement over the weekend of a multi-billion-dollar electricity initiative.

The $7 billion five-year initiative is intended to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, in partnership with African countries and the private sector.

“We’re starting with countries that are making progress already with reforms in the energy sector – Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Mozambique and Liberia,” Barack Obama told a business leaders forum in Dar es Salaam.

“And with a focus on cleaner energy, we will initially add 10,000 megawatts of new electricity generation, which expands electricity to 20 million homes and businesses.”

At the same forum on Monday evening, Barack Obama launched a programme helping Africa’s eastern nations of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda trade both with each other and with the US.

“We’ll work with the countries involved to modernize customs, move to single more efficient border crossings, reduce bottlenecks, reduce the roadblocks that stymie the flow of goods to market,” he said.

Barack Obama’s second tour to sub-Saharan Africa since becoming president began in Senegal where he called on African governments to give gay people equal rights.

President Barack Obama excluded from his week-long itinerary Kenya, where his father was born, and Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer which has been hit by an Islamist insurgency.

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Five living American presidents and their wives gathered in Dallas Thursday to honor the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

All presidents – George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter – were cheered by a crowd of former White House officials and world leaders as they took the stage together to open the dedication. They were joined on stage by their wives – the nation’s current and former first ladies – for the outdoor ceremony on a sun-splashed Texas morning.

“To know the man is to like the man,” President Barack Obama said of his predecessor.

“He is a good man.”

The last time all five living presidents were together was shortly before Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, when he said he needed their advice before taking office.

“We’ve been called the world’s most exclusive club – and we do have a pretty nice club house – but the truth is, it’s more like a support group,” Barack Obama said.

Five living American presidents and their wives gathered in Dallas Thursday to honor the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center

Five living American presidents and their wives gathered in Dallas Thursday to honor the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center

The leaders were putting aside the profound ideological differences that have divided them for years for a day of pomp and pleasantries.

For George W. Bush, 66, the ceremony also marked his unofficial return to the public eye four years after the end of his deeply polarizing presidency.

Bill Clinton, who spoke just before Barack Obama, revealed that George W. Bush would call him “a couple of times a year in his second term… just to talk politics”.

He drew laughs from the crowd as he added: “Dear God, I hope there is no record of those conversations in this vast and beautiful building.”

Bill Clinton also joked about the perception that he has grown so close to the Bush family that he has become their “black sheep son”.

“My mother told me not to talk too long today – and Barbara, I will not let you down,” Bill Clinton quipped, referring to George W. Bush’s 87-year-old mother.

George W. Bush was equally light-hearted as he took the podium on Thursday.

“Alexander Hamilton once worried about ex-presidents wandering among the people like discontented ghosts,” he said.

“Actually I think we seem pretty happy.”

Despite his humor, George W. Bush was clearly emotional about the dedication.

He choked up toward the end of his remarks as he declared that he believes the nation’s best days are ahead.

Standing in an exact replica of the Oval Office in the museum honoring him earlier Thursday, George W. Bush uttered a quick and definitive “No” to a question of whether he missed his old job.

“I had all the fame and power I needed for eight years and Laura and I knew when our time was up… It was time to go home,” George Bush told Matt Lauer during a broadcast tour through a museum depicting his presidency.

He said the museum, which will be unveiled to the public on Thursday, is meant to explain the events that led up to some of his most controversial decisions – not to “defend” or “argue” those decisions.

“The whole purpose is to lay out the facts as I saw them at the time,” he said.

Items on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Center

Items on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Center

“Because ultimately, history will judge whether critics are right or wrong. But this is a place to educate people.”

In designing the museum, George W. Bush said: “I never thought about my critics. I thought about just laying out for the American people the events that began the 21st century and let them understand what it’s like to make a decision, talk about the different events that took place, talk about some of the successes and some of the failures.”

Former first lady Laura Bush interjected that the museum is also meant to illustrate the difficulties of sorting through conflicting guidance from a variety of advisers – and also the challenge of being “prodded” by the press along the way.

“<<Prodded>> is a polite word,” Laura Bush quipped, laughing.

George Bush also said he empathizes with President Barack Obama’s tough job in uplifting the country from tragedies like the Boston bombings.

Another emotional moment came as George Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, spoke to the crowd and then rose out of his wheelchair with the help of his wife and son.

“It’s a beautiful day in Dallas and it’s a great pleasure to be here,” the elder Bush said.

“This is very special to Babara and me.”

“I wish the president all the best in dealing with the trauma and the heartbreak, because I understand that part of the job of being president is the <<comforter-in-chief>>,” he said.

George W. Bush knows that role all too well after experiencing the September 11, 2001 terror attacks while he was president.

“I became a war-time president, something I didn’t want to be,” he said.

He recalled the moment that his then-chief of staff, Andy Card, interrupted him while he was reading a story to an elementary classroom in Florida to tell him about the attack.

“My job became clarified that minute in the classroom, and that is to protect the homeland,” George W. Bush said.

Items on display in the new presidential library include a pistol that was captured with Saddam Hussein on December 13, 2003 and a pair of cowboy boots commemorating George W. Bush’s tenure as general managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Also on display is the bullhorn President George W. Bush used to speak to firefighters and emergency crews at Ground Zero after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In a series of interviews before his Presidential library and museum is unveiled, George Bush also said he was “very comfortable” with his decision to go to war in Iraq.

VP Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush had a strained relationship, as Bush was concerned over the public’s general belief that Cheney was a puppet master, controlling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through a presidential conduit.

As the New York Times reported in 2010, George Bush also considered dropping Dick Cheney from the Republican ticket in 2004 to “demonstrate I was in charge”, the former president wrote in his memoir.

When asked about his darkest days in office, George W. Bush responded that 9/11 was of course difficult. Also hard? “Trying to be the comforter in chief, trying to mend broken hearts.”

“There were things I didn’t want to deal with,” he said.

He also said that the decision to sign off on the bailout was “frustrating and difficult”, though riding on the advice from Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke put him more at ease.

“Katrina was tough,” he added.

“And you see human suffering firsthand.”

George W. Bush also spoke on the uniqueness of the museum, as his was the first presidency that relied heavily on digital communication, such as emails and texts.

The former president said that he never sent an email in his eight years in office, however, because he was “fearful of Congress’ intrusion into [his] emails” and the possibility that he could be subpoenaed.

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It appears Barack Obama may have got worse high school grades than George W. Bush after new evidence showed the current president was among a college class with poor average SAT scores.

Doubts about the supposedly superior intellect of Barack Obama were first raised after he refused to release his academic record.

Barack Obama has also made some factual errors during his time in the job – although he is still a very long way behind his gaff-prone predecessor.

But now it has emerged that Barack Obama was among a 1981 intake of transfers to New York’s Columbia University that was at the time branded one of the worst ever.

The president, who moved from Occidental Community College in Los Angeles, was among 67 students whose average combined math and verbal score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test is a 1,100, according to a report obtained by Breitbart News.

By comparison, George W. Bush – who earned a history degree from Yale in 1968 – got 1206 out of a possible 1600 points in the same test he took at Andover boarding school in Massachusetts.

If Barack Obama, who majored in political science at Columbia, were near the average of that year, it would mean he had worse high school grades than a president derided by many as the dumbest in history.

Barack Obama may have got worse high school grades than George W. Bush after new evidence showed the current president was among a college class with poor average SAT scores

Barack Obama may have got worse high school grades than George W. Bush after new evidence showed the current president was among a college class with poor average SAT scores

Of course, Barack Obama went on to distinguish himself by going on to earn the second highest honor in a graduate law degree at Harvard .

And he became the first black president of the prestigious legal journal, the Harvard Law Review.

Barack Obama also taught at the University of Chicago for twelve years – with eight years spent as senior lecturer in constitutional law.

But, the possibility that Barack Obama got lower high school scores than George W. Bush, would take some of the shine off his image as an intellectual heavyweight.

In his autobiography, Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama describes himself as an unfocused high school student whose mother criticized him for being a “loafer”.

Barack Obama also describes his attitude toward his studies at Occidental as ‘indifferent’ and called himself a “bum” who was notorious for partying.

However, despite his apparent lack of focus, he was able to win a place at Columbia.

Of the 450 students applied to transfer to the Ivy League university in 1981, only 67 were admitted, according to the Columbia Spectator.

This compared to 650 applicants just four years before, signifying that those who wanted to study there has lower grades.

A November 18, 1981 article in the Columbia Spectator revealed the SAT average for the transfer intake that year.

It stated: “On paper at least, the quality of the students accepted [as transfers] has declined along with the number of applicants, the officials say.”

In that story, Robert Boatti, the then Assistant Dean of Admissions, also attributed the drop in transfer application to the College’s policy of requiring transfer students to take courses in its core curriculum and to the limited availability of financial aid for them.

“He had said that many come from community colleges, rather than the nation’s top schools.

“Even the unhappiest people don’t transfer from Harvard,” Robert Boatti added.