Nation & World Briefs 06-12-14 Bush bash: Elder ex-president marks 90th birthday today

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KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine -- Former President George H.W. Bush is celebrating his 90th birthday at his family's seaside retreat in Maine, where he has spent his summers since he was a boy.

A guest list for a private dinner in his honor this evening includes more than 200 relatives and friends, including some from his White House days, a family spokesman said.

Many of the guests are from his days in the White House, including former press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, White House counsel Boyden Gray and political director Ron Kaufman, said spokesman Jim McGrath. His children, including former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will be there, McGrath said.

During his presidential years, Bush was known for jogging, tennis and fast-paced golf but now uses a wheelchair because of a form of Parkinsonism that has robbed him of use of his legs.

"He's lost his mobility, but he hasn't lost his heart. He's still the genuine person that we've come to cherish," said Ken Raynor, a friend and pro at the Cape Arundel Golf Club.

The 41st president lives in Houston but has spent every summer at the three-story, stone-and-shingle home in Maine except when he was a naval aviator during World War II.

Vows to march on Baghdad: The al-Qaida-inspired group that led the charge in capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed today to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government's ability to slow the assault following the insurgents' lightning gains. Fighters from the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. That seizure followed the capture of much of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, the previous day. The group and its allies among local tribesmen also hold the city of Fallujah and other pockets of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province to the west of Baghdad.

Doubts raised about Iraqi premier: The United States is preparing to send new aid to Iraq to help slow a violent insurgent march that is threatening to take over the nation's north, officials said Wednesday. But the Obama administration offered only tepid support for Iraq's beleaguered prime minister, and U.S. lawmakers openly questioned whether he should remain in power. With no obvious replacement for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- and no apparent intent on his part to step down -- Washington is largely resigned to continue working with his Shiite-led government that has targeted Sunni political opponents and, in turn, has inflamed sectarian tensions across Iraq.

Barra, chief investigator to testify: General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be back in front of Congress next week to be questioned further about how GM allowed a deadly defect in an ignition switch to go undisclosed for more than a decade. Barra will appear on June 18 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight subcommittee, the panel announced Wednesday. Also testifying will be former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas, who last week issued a report on GM's delayed recall of 2.6 million small cars equipped with the switches.

Air bag ruptures under investigation: U.S. safety regulators are investigating whether 1.1 million vehicles from five automakers have air bags that could hurt people in a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it opened the probe Wednesday after getting six reports of air bags rupturing. Three people were hurt when struck by air bags or parts, but the injuries were not life-threatening. Ruptured air bags also don't protect people in crashes. Vehicles from the 2002 through 2006 model years made by Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Chrysler and Toyota are being investigated.

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