TIME White House

Former President George H.W. Bush Spends Christmas in Hospital

George H.W. Bush, Mike Elliott
Robert F. Bukaty—;AP Former President George H.W. Bush, left, strapped to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, land on the lawn at St. Anne's Episcopal Church after making a tandem parachute jump near Bush's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Thursday, June 12, 2014.

Even so, his day was "terrific" and spent with family

Former President George H.W. Bush is in “great spirits” despite spending Christmas in a Houston hospital, to which he was taken by ambulance for shortness of breath two days earlier, his spokesman said.

Bush was brought to Houston Methodist Hospital on Tuesday and is being kept there as a precaution, Reuters reports. The 90-year-old, who will also spend Thursday night in the hospital, was visited by his wife, Barbara, son Neil and daughter-in-law Maria Bush.

“President Bush had another terrific day and is in great spirits,” Bush’s spokesperson, Jim McGrath, said in Thursday in an emailed statement. “He asked that his sincere wishes for a very Merry Christmas be extended to one and all.”

McGrath added that the former president’s “prognosis was good” and that continued hospitalization was just precautionary.

The 41st president last suffered a health scare two years ago, when he was hospitalized for bronchitis and at one point thought to be near death. Nevertheless, Bushy, who has Parkinson’s disease and uses a wheelchair, recently celebrated his ninth decade by skydiving near the Bush family’s summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

TIME Transportation

JetBlue Offers Police Free Flights to Attend Slain NYPD Officers’ Funerals

JetBlue Airways Corp. planes sit docked at the gates of Terminal 5 as another of the company's jets lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Jan. 28, 2014.
Craig Warga—Bloomberg/Getty Images JetBlue Airways Corp. planes sit docked at the gates of Terminal 5 as another of the company's jets lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Jan. 28, 2014.

It's also offering free flights to other law enforcement agencies who wish to "support their brethren"

JetBlue Airways is offering free flights to relatives and two members of any American law enforcement agency who wish to attend the funerals of the two New York policemen fatally ambushed by a gunman last weekend.

Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were sitting in a patrol car Saturday when authorities say they were shot by a man identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who then turned the gun on himself in a nearby subway station. The airline is also offering free air travel for two officers in any U.S. law enforcement agency who want to attend the services, CBS News reports.

“We’re honored to do what we can to support the communities we serve, and our team has made flights available to law enforcement agencies across our route network who wish to send representatives to New York to support their brethren,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

(READ: TIME’s Q&A with Former New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly)

JetBlue says it is working with another airline to help fly some of Liu’s family members in from China for his funeral, which has not yet been scheduled. Thousands of law enforcement officials and Vice Present Joe Biden are expected to attend Ramos’ funeral on Saturday.

[CBS News]

TIME weather

West Awakes to White Christmas as Storms Hamper Holiday Travel

Snow Storm Christmas
Brent Lewis—Denver Post/Getty Images A snow plow clears the streets on Dec. 24, 2014 in Denver.

Even Hawaii is expected to see some snow

Western parts of the U.S. awoke to a white Christmas Thursday, as much of the nation dealt with a drenching from the storm front that snarled holiday travel plans for millions of Americans.

Between two and six inches of snow was forecast in the valleys in northern California, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, according to the National Weather Service, with higher elevations facing up to a foot of powder.

Even Hawaii was expected to see some snow, as a blizzard warning remained in effect for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island…

TIME Crime

Crowd Protesting Antonio Martin’s Death Shuts Down Missouri Highway

Protesters shut down an interstate at Airport Road on Dec. 24, 2014, in Berkeley, Mo.
Robert Cohen—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP Protesters shut down an interstate at Airport Road on Dec. 24, 2014, in Berkeley, Mo.

The teenager was shot and killed after pointing a gun at an officer

A small group of demonstrators shut down an interstate highway and marched through the town of Berkeley, Missouri, to protest the fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old who authorities said pointed a gun at an officer.

As police in riot gear looked on, protesters held a candlelight vigil before midnight mass at the steps of a local church. Earlier, a group of about 70 people brought traffic on I-170 southbound to a halt at around 7:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET) and later marched to the Mobil gas station where Martin was shot…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Cuba

Alan Gross to Get $3.2 Million After Being Freed From a Cuban Prison

Alan Gross speaks to an entourage of family and friends who were awaiting his return from five years of captivity in Cuba to Joint Base Andrews Maryland
Reuters Alan Gross speaks to an entourage of family and friends who were awaiting his return from five years of captivity in Cuba to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Dec. 17, 2014

His release came as the U.S. announced it was seeking to restore ties with Cuba

Alan Gross, who was freed last week after serving five years in a Cuban prison, is to receive $3.2 million from the U.S. government.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had made a deal with Gross’s former company, Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) at the time of his arrest, the BBC reports.

Gross was working as a subcontractor for USAID setting up Internet access for the island’s Jewish community when he was arrested by the Cuban government in 2009.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The payout is a settlement from a suit filed by DAI against USAID.

Another suit filed by Gross and his wife against USAID and DAI for negligence was dismissed in November.

[BBC]

TIME People

Watch the Highs and Lows of 2014 in 165 Seconds

What a year you were, 2014 - here's some of the highlights

2014 was a year of bearing witness. From grainy footage of police confrontations in the U.S. to acts of senseless violence abroad, this year we saw, we shared and ultimately – we connected.

We watched borders being redrawn in Eastern Europe, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the spread of a microscopic, yet formidable, enemy: the Ebola virus. Some led thousands into protest; some led countries into battle, others began to heal rifts that began half a century ago.

Whether it was tragedy, transition or triumph, here’s a look at the most significant actions that helped shape 2014.

TIME Crime

Missouri Mayor Urges Calm After Officer Fatally Shoots Armed Teen

"We are different from the city of Ferguson"

The mayor of the St. Louis suburb where a teenager was shot and killed Tuesday after authorities claim he pointed a gun at an officer called for calm Wednesday and sought to distance the incident from the police-involved shooting in nearby Ferguson.

Authorities claim that a man pointed a gun at an officer who was at a Mobil gas station in Berkeley during a “routine business check” and, “fearing for his life,” St. Louis County Police said in a statement, “fired several shots, striking the subject, fatally wounding him.”

The police department did not immediately confirm the man’s identity, but a woman identified him to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as her 18-year-old son, Antonio Martin. “This doesn’t make any sense for them to kill my son like this,” Toni Martin-Green told the newspaper Wednesday morning. “I am trying to be calm.”

At a news conference later in the morning, Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins spoke out to both urge local residents to await the findings of an investigation and avoid jumping to conclusions about the shooting. “We are different from the city of Ferguson,” Hoskins said, adding that he is confident in Berkeley’s roughly 30-strong police force.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also advocated for calm in the wake of the shooting. “Particularly during this season that so many Americans hold sacred, the NAACP is calling for patience and peace as the circumstances of Mr. Martin’s death are thoroughly investigated,” said Cornell William Brooks, the association’s president and CEO.

Ferguson has been the scene of unrest since August when white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, prompting months of protest over police brutality and poor relations between law enforcement officials and communities of color. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson in the killing, reigniting tensions.

READ NEXT Police Shoot Teenager a Few Miles Away From Ferguson

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Winter Storms Slam the East Coast

Severe weather set to complicate holiday travel plans

High winds, thunderstorms, snow, fog and twisters are set to hit the East Coast this week, and it’s all sure to complicate holiday travel. Some airlines have waived change fees and are encouraging travelers to leave as early as possible. One-to-two-hour delays are anticipated at major East Coast airports, with flight delays possible. According to AAA, a record 98.6 million people are expected to travel for the holidays this year.

The West Coast will also see winter weather as well. The northwest will see snow in the mountains and rain in the valley. Snow will spread into parts of North and South Dakota and Nebraska on Thursday. Salt Lake City may see as much as 8 inches of snow on Christmas Day.

Watch today’s #KnowRightNow to hear more.

TIME Crime

See the Aftermath of the Fatal Police Shooting of Antonio Martin

Missouri police say teen pointed a gun at an officer

Authorities in Missouri said a police officer fatally shot a teenager, identified by his mother as 18-year-old Antonio Martin, after he allegedly pointed a gun at the officer Tuesday evening at a gas station about two miles away from Ferguson. At least 100 demonstrators gathered at the scene of the shooting and clashed with police; Chief Jon Belmar said 4 people were arrested and one officer was hospitalized after a brick struck his face, NBC News reports.

TIME Military

Jordanian Pilot Captured by ISIS Militants

Jordan pilot captured
EPA A still image released by the Islamic State on Dec. 24, 2014 purportedly shows a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS fighters after they shot down a warplane from the US-led coalition with an anti-aircraft missile near Raqqa city.

First allied troop captured in the four-month war against militants

The second-worst fear of U.S. commanders came true Wednesday, as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria captured a Jordanian pilot attacking ISIS targets in northeastern Syria.

It could only have been worse, from the U.S. perspective, if the pilot had been American, falling into a barbarous enemy’s hands on Christmas Eve. It marked the first capture of an allied fighter in the four-month war against ISIS.

Jordan acknowledged their pilot had been captured near ISIS’s self-declared capital city of Raqqa. “Jordan holds the group (IS) and its supporters responsible for the safety of the pilot and his life,” a statement from the Jordanian army read on state television said. It did not specify whether the plane had crashed or been shot down, as ISIS has claimed.

The family of pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh publicly sought his release. “Please send him back to us,” his brother, Jawad, told CNN. “He is just a soldier who is following orders and has no authority.”

ISIS posted two photographs allegedly showing the capture. In one, a man labeled as the pilot is seen being pulled by militants from a lake, soaking wet and clad only in a white shirt. A second shows him surrounded by militants, some of them masked.

“A Jordanian F-16 aircraft crashed in the vicinity of the northern Syrian city of Ar-Raqqah on Wednesday and the pilot has been taken captive by ISIL forces,” U.S. Central Command said several hours after the plane went down. “Evidence clearly indicates that [ISIS] did not down the aircraft as the terrorist organization is claiming.”

An earlier statement issued by the allies said that an air strike had been conducted against a “weapons stockpile” near Raqqa. “All aircraft returned to base safely,” it added. Twenty-two minutes later it issued what it called a “corrected” statement with that sentence gone.

READ MORE The First Western Journalist to Interview ISIS Is Home With a Terrifying Message

The chance of a pilot being shot down and captured has been a major concern of U.S. war planners. That’s why the Army’s AH-64 Apache helicopters—flying low and slow—haven’t seen much action. High-and-fast flying fixed-wing aircraft are much less vulnerable to ground fire.

But even the world’s best warplanes can be shot down with what pilots call a “golden BB” that hits the plane in the right spot. F-16 and F-117 fighters were shot down over Yugoslavia in Balkan wars of the 1990s. Both pilots were rescued. An RPG downed a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan in 2011, killing all 38 aboard, including 25 SEALs and other special-ops troops.

Repeated flights over those trying to shoot you down increase the chances those shooting from the ground will eventually succeed. Since the U.S. and its allies began stepped-up bombing runs against ISIS targets Sept. 23, they have flown 10,000 sorties. About one of every four has been a non-U.S. flight.

As of Dec. 15, the 11 allies flying such missions have accounted for 14% of 1,287 air-strike missions, the most dangerous kind. In addition to the U.S., allies attacking targets in Iraq are Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have joined the U.S. in bombing runs against targets inside Syria.

READ MORE ISIS’s Harrowing Sexual Violence Toward Yezidi Women Revealed

al-Kasasbeh’s fate is grim. The jihadist group holding him has beheaded non-military Westerners for simply being Westerners. Pentagon officials fear he could be used for propaganda purposes, as several of the murdered Westerners were. If the allies claim he is a prisoner of war—and needs to be treated humanely, under the Geneva Accords—that suggests they recognize ISIS as a legitimate state, something they don’t want to do.

The pilot’s Facebook page was filling up with prayers from friends shortly after news broke of the shoot down. U.S. Army General Lloyd Austin, chief of Centcom, said the U.S. would “support efforts to ensure his safe recovery, and will not tolerate [ISIS’s] attempts to misrepresent or exploit this unfortunate aircraft crash for their own purposes.”

It’s a safe bet the U.S. will do all it can to help Jordan rescue him, although such missions have only a slim chance of success.

The topic came up at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in September. “Will U.S. forces be prepared to provide combat search and rescue if a pilot gets shot down, and will they put boots on the ground to make that rescue successful?” Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., asked Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey’s answer: “Yes.”

Inhofe was referring to a U.S. pilot, but that caveat seems moot now.

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