News in brief for April 16

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON (AP) — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in “failing health” and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday.

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“Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors, Mrs. Bush, now age 92, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care,” spokesman Jim McGrath said in a news release.

McGrath did not elaborate as to the nature of Bush’s health problems. She has been treated for decades for Graves’ disease, which is a thyroid condition, had heart surgery in 2009 for a severe narrowing of her main heart valve and was hospitalized a year before that for surgery on a perforated ulcer.

“It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others,” McGrath said. “She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.”

Bush, who is at home in Houston, is one of only two first ladies who was also the mother of a president. The other was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, the nation’s second president, and mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president.

Boston marks 5 years since marathon attack with tributes

BOSTON (AP) — The bells of Old South Church in Boston rang at 2:49 p.m. to commemorate a citywide moment of silence in honor of Boston Marathon bombing survivors and victims.

It was an emotional moment in a day filled with service projects and ceremonies to remember those impacted by the deadly bombings five years ago.

Boston began the anniversary of the attacks Sunday with Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker laying wreaths early in the morning at the spots along downtown Boylston Street where two bombs killed three spectators and maimed more than 260 others April 15, 2013.

Both addressed families and survivors at a private ceremony inside the Boston Public Library.

“On April 15, 2013, our city changed forever but over the last five years, we have reclaimed hope. We have reclaimed the finish line and Boston has emerged with a new strength, a resilience rooted in love,” Walsh said.

US to hit Russia with new sanctions for aiding Assad

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his use of the phrase “Mission Accomplished” to describe a U.S.-led missile attack on Syria’s chemical weapons program, even as his aides stressed continuing U.S. troop involvement and plans for new economic sanctions against Russia for enabling the government of Bashar Assad.

Stepping up the pressure on Syria’s president, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley indicated the sanctions to be announced Monday would be aimed at sending a message to Russia, which she said has blocked six attempts by the U.N. Security Council to make it easier to investigate the use of chemical weapons.

“Everyone is going to feel it at this point,” Haley said, warning of consequences for Assad’s foreign allies.

“The international community will not allow chemical weapons to come back into our everyday life,” she said. “The fact he was making this more normal and that Russia was covering this up, all that has got to stop.”

Syria’s allies say airstrikes undercut political resolution

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The leaders of Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah group in Lebanon said Sunday that Western airstrikes on their ally, Syria, have complicated prospects for a political settlement to the country’s seven-year conflict.

A day after the U.S., Britain and France bombarded sites they said were linked to a chemical weapons program, Syrian President Bashar Assad appeared briefly on state TV, seemingly unfazed by the military action — and even reportedly in high spirits.

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Assad told a group of visiting Russian lawmakers that the strikes were accompanied by a campaign of “lies and misinformation” against Syria and Russia in the U.N. Security Council.

Moscow and Damascus are waging the same “battles” against terrorism and “to protect international law based on respect of the sovereignty of countries and the wills of people,” Assad said in comments, an apparent jab at the three Western allies.