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Bush asks for law to settle asbestos claims

President Bush urged Congress on Friday to find a way to settle tens of billions of dollars in claims by victims of asbestos in hopes of stanching a flood of litigation that he blamed for driving scores of companies out of business.

"This is a national problem . . . that requires a national solution," the president said at a forum he hosted here in this Detroit suburb.

The appeal was the president's third event in as many days promoting restrictions on what he calls "junk lawsuits," one of his top legislative priorities for the beginning of his second term. Along with the asbestos litigation, Bush wants Congress to impose caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases and limit the ability to bring class-action suits.

Rosemary Kennedy, sister of a president, dies at 86

WASHINGTON _ Rosemary Kennedy, a sister of John F. Kennedy who was born mentally retarded and lived most of her life in an institution after undergoing a lobotomy, died Friday (Jan. 7, 2005), her family said. She was 86.

Ms. Kennedy, the inspiration for the Special Olympics spearheaded by the Kennedy family, had been a patient since 1949 at St. Coletta School for Excep-tional Children in Jefferson, Wis.She was the third child of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, born a year after her brother John.

In 1941, Joseph Kennedy, worried his daughter's mild mental retardation would lead her into situations that could damage the family's reputation, arranged for her to have a lobotomy. She was 23.

Also ...

WASHINGTON GOVERNOR'S RACE: Republican Dino Rossi and the state GOP announced Friday they will contest the gubernatorial election that gave his Democratic foe, Christine Gregoire, a 129-vote victory.

They are pushing for a revote, an unprecedented step in a statewide election.

CHAPLAIN ESPIONAGE INQUIRY: A Muslim chaplain imprisoned for 76 days as part of an espionage investigation by the government has received an honorable discharge from the Army. Although Capt. James Yee has been cleared, he resigned in August, saying officials never apologized to him.

FBI SPY CASE: A federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed all charges against a former FBI informant accused of being a Chinese double agent and rebuked federal prosecutors for "deliberate misconduct" in the case. U.S. District Judge Florence Marie Cooper on Thursday said the government blocked Katrina Leung's access to a critical defense witness _ retired FBI Agent James J. Smith, who for years was Leung's lover.